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Literature of Early America. Beginnings-1750. The Native Americans. Native Americans- First to inhabit North America (at least 30 time longer than Europeans). No written history. Information from archaeologists and folklorists. Earliest settlers greeted as friends.

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The native americans
The Native Americans

  • Native Americans- First to inhabit North America (at least 30 time longer than Europeans).

  • No written history.

  • Information from archaeologists and folklorists.

  • Earliest settlers greeted as friends.

  • Introduced settlers to maize, beans, squash, etc. and taught them survival skills.


Pilgrims and puritans
Pilgrims and Puritans

  • 1620- Mayflower sailed from England

  • Pilgrims- Known as Puritans (religious reformers)- Attempting to “purify” the Church of England

  • Also called Separatists

  • Established Plymouth, Massachusetts- Eventually overtaken by Massachusetts Bay Colony.


Pilgrims and puritans1
Pilgrims and Puritans

  • Wanted a theocracy- A state guided completely by God.

  • Believed in predestination.

    • God has already decided who will go to Heaven and who will not.

    • They searched for signs they were chosen for Heaven.

    • Believed they only did good through hard work and discipline.

      • Referred to as “Puritan ethic”


Pilgrims and puritans2
Pilgrims and Puritans

  • Rise in Protestants led to decline in Puritanism in early 1700s.

  • 1720- The Great Awakening

    • Reaction to decline.

    • Ministers such as Jonathan Edward and George Whitfield tried to revive Puritanism.


The southern planters
The Southern Planters

  • New England and southern coastal cities established.

  • Also established- Plantations in the South.

  • Plantations:

    • Large scale

    • Up to 1000 workers (most slaves)

  • 1619- First black slaves brought to Virginia.

  • Slavery existed in every colony.

  • 1750- Plantation system’s peak.

    • Most plantation owners were aristocrats.


Native american tradition
Native American Tradition

  • Oral tradition:

    • The story could change with each telling.

    • No set versions of any Native American myths, songs, etc. exist.

    • Instead of famous authors, they had famous orators.

      • Logan

      • Red Jacket

  • Literature shows deep respect for nature


Explorers accounts
Explorers’ Accounts

  • First Europeans to come to the Americas:

    • Vikings- Canada- around 1000 AD

  • Christopher Columbus-

    • Italian

    • Trying to reach Asia by sailing west.

    • Financial backing- Queen Isabella of Spain

    • August 1492- Set sail

    • October 12- Landed in Bahamas (thought it was Asia).

    • Wrote about it in Journal of the First Voyage to America.

  • Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca- 400-man expedition to Texas (4 survivors)

  • Garcia Lopez de Cardenas- Grand Canyon


In adams fall we sinned all
“In Adams Fall/We Sinned All”

  • Puritan writing:

    • Religious- hyms, biographies, autobiographies, theological studies

    • Purpose of all writing- Religious insight

    • Fiction, drama- Sinful

    • Did write poetry-

      • No clear form, only meant to send a spiritual message

      • Anne Bradstreet, Edward Taylor


In adams fall we sinned all1
“In Adams Fall/We Sinned All”

  • Valued education:

    • Harvard- 1636

    • First printing press- 1639

    • Free public schools- 1647

  • New England Primer- 1690

    • Like a textbook that combined education and religion.

  • Bay Psalm Book- One of the first books printed in the colonies (hymnal)


In adams fall we sinned all2
“In Adams Fall/We Sinned All”

  • Increase Mather- Wrote more than 130 books:

    • One of books about Salem Witch Trials (1692)

    • 20 people hanged as witches

  • Cotton Mather (Oldest son)- Wrote more than 400 books, very informative style

  • Puritan literary style: plain

    • Fancy writing is a sign of vanity.


Southern writers
Southern Writers

  • John Smith- The General History of Virginia

  • 1716- First theater opened in Williamsburg, Virginia

    • Southerners did not object to drama.


The planter from westover
The Planter from Westover

  • William Byrd

    • Westover- Plantation on the James River

    • Journal- served as basis for The History of the Dividing Line

    • Published almost 100 years after his death