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American Passages: A Literary Survey

Spirit of Nationalism – Timeline

This timeline places literary publications (in black) in their historical contexts (in red).


– Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac (1733)
Clergyman Jonathan Edwards preaches “The Great Awakening,” fueling religious revival in New England (1733)


– Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” (1741)
King George’s War between British and French colonies (1744-48)

[3169] Jonathan Edwards, SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD (1741) courtesy of New York Public Library.


– Jonathan Edwards, Freedom of the Will (1754)
First American Masonic Hall inaugurated in Philadelphia (1755)
Seven Years War (French and Indian War) (1756-63)


– Jonathan Edwards, “Personal Narrative” (1765)
First American medical school established at the College of Philadelphia (1765)
British parliament enacts Stamp Act, prompting anti-tax protests in the colonies (1765)
British parliament passes Townshend Acts requiring colonists to pay duties on tea and other imports (1767)


– Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography: Part One (written 1771)
– Phillis Wheatley, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773)
– Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence (1776)
Boston Massacre (1770)
Boston Tea Party (1773)
First Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia (1774)
American Revolution (1775-83)
Declaration of Independence (1776)
Thomas Paine writes pamphlet, Common Sense, in support of independence from England (1776)

[1889] Paul Revere, THE BLOODY MASSACRE PERPETRATED IN KINGS STREET BOSTON ON MARCH 5TH 1770 BY A PARTY OF THE 29TH REGT. (1770) courtesy of Library of Congress [LC-USZC4-4600].


– J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer (1782)
– Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography: Part Two (written 1784)
– Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (1787)
– Royall Tyler, The Contrast (1787)
Shays’s Rebellion, a revolt by debt-ridden Massachusetts farmers, suppressed by government forces (1786-87)
United States Constitution ratified (1789)
George Washington serves as first president of the United States (1789-97)


– Susanna Rowson, Charlotte Temple: A Tale of Truth (1794)
Bill of Rights adopted (1791)
Fugitive Slave Act passed, making it illegal to aid runaway slaves (1793)


Washington, D.C., replaces Philadelphia as the national capital (1800)
Louisiana Purchase (1803)
Lewis and Clark expedition (1804-06)


War of 1812 (1812-15)
Spain cedes Florida to United States (1819)


– William Apess, A Son of the Forest (1829)
Missouri Compromise (1820)
Democratic Party formed (1828)

[3694] Thomas Cole, THE FALLS OF THE KAATERSKILL (1826), courtesy of The Warner Collection of Gulf States Paper Corporation, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.


– William Apess, “An Indian’s Looking-Glass for the White Man” (1833), “Eulogy on King Philip” (1836)
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature (1836), “The American Scholar” (1837), “The Divinity School Address” (1838)
Indian Removal Act (1830)
Texas gains independence from Mexico (1836)
Samuel Morse develops the electric telegraph (1837)
U.S. troops force the removal of Cherokee Indians westward from Georgia (1838)


– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays (1841), Essays: Second Series (1844)
– Margaret Fuller, “The Great Lawsuit: MAN versus MEN, WOMAN versus WOMEN” (1843), Summer on the Lakes (1844), Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845)
Migration over the Oregon Trail begins (1843)
U.S.-Mexican War; annexations include California (1846-48)
California Gold Rush begins (1849)