Rise of American Literature in the 17th century


Like any other of the national literatures, American literature was molded by the history of the country itself. For approximately one hundred and fifty years, America was simply a cluster of colonies spread near the eastern seashore of the continent of North America (Paul 110). Several colonies, which did not want to be part of the north decided to move towards the western side. After succeeding in rebelling against the motherland, the colonies came together to form the United States of America, an independent nation. The nation continued to expand even more, and by the end of the nineteenth century it had reached the Gulf of Mexico to the south, the 49th parallel to the north, and the pacific to the west (Paul 120). By the end of the same century it had found its place among the most powerful countries in the World. Its wealth attracted interest of other nations, and eventually it involved itself in both world wars. The emergence of science as well as industry, coupled with the change of people’s way of thinking and feelings all contributed to the development of the American Literature. The following is the history of literature in United States of America form the 17th century to the birth of a new nation (Paul 130).

Rise of American Literature in the 17th century

The American literature was initially a colonial literature, it was first written by men of, English origin.  The person who initiated the American literature was a soldier, by the name of John Smith who wrote down his thoughts (Paul 160). His renowned books include, A True Relation of … Virginia … (1608). The general History of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles (1624) .Even though these earlier works were mostly on praise of the authors themselves, they were to help other Englishmen get more colonies (Paul 180). With each passing day, more works were authored, every work describing a certain colony. Such work included Daniel Denton’s work in 1670 where he described New York, William Penn’s work in 1682 description of Pennsylvania, and Thomas Ashe’s description of Carolina (Paul 200). These are a few, among many works, which were in praise of America. These authors swore allegiance to the British Government, even though others had a different opinion that motivated the colonists to relocate from their own motherland. More significant, is the issues raised by the writers, questioning the government involvement with the church. The position that most authors felt was no right, was the one taken by Nathaniel Ward in 1647, where he defended the colonists who had sponsored innovative ideas in Massachusetts, in the aftermath more authors published their satisfaction with the position taken by Nathaniel (Paul 230).

 Some religious works that were also published include the work of William Bradford that described the history of the Plymouth Plantation, which showed the separation of the pilgrims Separatists from the Anglicans (Paul 250). Other published religious work includes Roger William’s work, which was more drastic as it called for the church and the state to go different ways.  He also advocated for the church to be given powers and called upon religious tolerance (Paul 270).  Some poetry work were published, in 1650 Anne Bradstreet published her work titled in The Tenth Muse. The work consisted mainly, of her feelings about the relationship between religion, and family.  Another work was that of Edward Taylor whose work was a reflection of his happiness in the beliefs of Christianity and experience (Paul 300). All works from different authors that was done in the 17th century had the British influence.

The 18th century

At the beginning of this century, some writers that included Cotton Mather, continued with the work that the older generation of writers had left. Mather’s enormous history of the Puritan in New England, Edwards was another author who tried to continue with the works from the older generation his work, the Great Awakening, the two authors work was on defense of the prehistoric convictions of the puritan’s (Paul 280). Even so the authors were putting up a defense for a hopeless cause. Other writers like John Wise, a minister moved to another less strict belief. Samuel Sewall wrote down some other changes in his diary, despite the fact that he was genuinely religious(Paul 230).. His daily records portrayed how the secular life was taking over from the stiff Puritanism.  The other work by Mme Sara Kemble which she describes her journeys to New York, her comments were from a view of an Orthodox believer. But her comments were not as rigid as the ones of the other Pilgrim founders. Down south William Byrd from Virginia differed harshly with the older generation. His major works include Restoration wit(Paul 240).  The struggle of the revolution, in America enhanced the division between the political ideas of America, and the British.

The American Revolution struggle was inspired by some of the political writers, even though the colonizers knew that a revolution was on the offing they still proceeded with the war. Of all the political writers the ones that stand out are these two writers, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine. Franklin was born in 1706 started to publish his works on a newspaper which was owned by his brother. Franklins experience to write various articles, and reports helped in his compilation of the issues he wrote in connection to the difference of opinion with Britain. Thomas Paine relocated to Philadelphia from Britain he got a job as a editor, approximately 14 months later Paine became the most  efficient propaganda peddler in aiding the colonialists. (Paul 300). His other work includes the pamphlet which motivated the colonialists to proclaim independence. The crisis paper of America motivated the Americans to fight through the most difficult years of the war.       

The new Nation

After the war, some of the persuasive men were not able to bring people to listen. Both Paine and Samuel could not persuade the people who were interested in making up the new administration. Others succeeded, like Franklin who practiced tolerance in addressing the constitution. However a dissimilar faction of authors became leaders during the new period. Hamilton later became the federal party leader, after writing approximately 51 papers for the federals (Paul 350). In which he persuaded the bestowment of power to the national government as opposed to the state governments. Thomas Jefferson remained an influential writer during and after the war (Paul 370). His greatest work was the summary he did on the Declaration of independence.

The most outstanding works of the period

During this period, the works that were now recognizable included poetry, which was used as a weapon during the revolution (Paul 390). The most outstanding poet in America during this period is Philip Freneau, whose poems revolved around satires; he later changed his poems to reflect on other areas of the American diverse culture like love, and in that he wrote some romantic poems (Paul 400). Such as on a honey Bee, and To a Caty-did. They formed the important part of poetry in 19th century.

Work Cited

Finkelman, Paul. Encyclopedia of African American history, 1896 to the present: from the age of segregation to the twenty-first century. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.

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