Colonial American Literature Of Colonial America

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While the United States was forming as a country, its literary identity was forming as well through a melting pot of writers including Benjamin Franklin, St. John de Crévecœur, Thomas Paine, and Phillis Wheatley. This included a number of forms of literature including the epic, political pamphlets, and poetry.
When the first settlers arrived in the Americas during the 15th century, some of the first literature they produced were descriptions of their new life far from the English mother country. The Puritans settlers specifically, owing to their emphasis on education. William Bradford, governor of the Plymouth Colony in what would become Massachusetts, is a well-known writer of these types of colonial “chronicles”. In his work Of Plymouth Plantation, Bradford provides a chilling description of the colony’s first winter. He describes the colony’s perilous position when he writes “Being thus passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before in their preparation (as may be remembered by that which went before), they had now no friends to welcome them nor inns to entertain or refresh their weather-beaten bodies; no houses or much less town to repair to, to seek for succor.”

Colonial American writing was also influenced by the very religious nature of the first colonies, such as the previously mentioned Massachusetts Bay Colony. Every aspect of life in this colony conformed to Puritan standards. The first writers in this colony wrote predominantly religious-derived work. One of the first such works was John Winthrop’s A Modell of Christian Charity, which outlined his goal to keep the colony deep in the faith in order to help survive alone in the New World. Winthrop told his fellow colonists on arrival “For we must consider...

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..., and “On Seeing His Works”
Wheatley’s work is considered to be a sincere expression as it confronts, for one of the first times in American history by an African-American woman, white racism and asserts spiritual equality. Wheatley is an excellent example of Revolutionary-era women writers have been rediscovered by modern-day feminist scholars. Another prominent female colonial writer was Abigail Adams, whose letters between her and Otis Warren and between her and her husband, future President John Adams, discussing women’s rights in the U.S. constitution are regarded as important documents of the era.

Between the establishments of the first colonies to the Declaration of Independence, American literature evolved and flourished. A large, diverse pool of writers in the population supported its vast variety of genres including political pamphlets, epics, etc.

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