A literary perspective
Frederic Edwin Church, After Attack on Fort Sumter, 1860
American History is rich with literary artifacts; beyond novels, short stories and essays, the American trail was blazed with story-telling, poetry, political speeches, folk songs and letters. The young country struggled first for freedom, then to define itself and even -- during the civil war -- to hold itself together. But it also struggled to find its own literary voice; to speak "American" and write "American." It struggled to break free of the European traditions that colonists and immigrants brought with them from "the old country." Even the founding fathers, while striking the Declaration of Independence and drafting the Constitution borrowed on the deep traditions and learnings of European history. As the country progessed and its identity grew, a strong and unique voice, an American voice began to emerge in its writings and letters. This new literacy was rich in the thoughts and feelings of a free people; a unique voice borne of the uniquely American experience.
This section of American Literature will focus on the rise of this new voice -- "crying in the wilderness" -- seeking to define itself. Over time, I hope to move beyond traditional "Western American History"
(e.g. the experience of the European settlers and other immigrants) and venture to include contributions from Native American Indians and African American slaves. In addition to the historical figures below, we offer Reference Documents
, an African American Library
, Civil War Stories
and World War I Literature
We offer a collection of American Biographies for Kids
and New! American Patriotic Songs
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Robert E. Lee
Ulysses S. Grant
U.S. Congress, Senate, and States
Henry David Thoreau
Louisa May Alcott
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Oliver Wendell Holmes
J. Hector St. John de Crevoecoeur
Booker T. Washington
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Charles W. Chesnutt
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Frances Scott Key
Thomas Nelson Page
Edward Payson Roe
United States Declaration of Independence
United States Constitution
U.S. Bill of Rights
Amendments to the U.S. Constitution
Common Sense - Thomas Paine
The Federalist Papers - Hamilton/Madison/Jay
On Civil Disobedience - Henry David Thoreau
Do you have an historical figure or document in the public domain that you'd like us to add? Please email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also be interested in the African American Library, Civil War Stories and World War I Literature to better understand history by authors who experienced it.
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