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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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4. Spirit of Nationalism   

4. Spirit of Nationalism

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
- William Apess
- J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur
- Jonathan Edwards
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Benjamin Franklin
- Margaret Fuller
- Thomas Jefferson
- Susanna Rowson
- Royall Tyler
- Phillis Wheatley
- Suggested
•  Timeline
•  Activities


The information for each author includes biographical and contextual materials and activities.

William Apess (1798-1839)
William Apess composed the first published autobiography by a Native American. Born in Massachusetts, Apess was part of the Pequot tribe and claimed to count Metacomet, the Wampanoag leader known of the English as "King Philip," among his ancestors. Metacomet's courageous but unsuccessful resistance of the English settlers during... Go

J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur (1735-1813)
Although his writings evince a reverence for pastoral, quiet farm life, J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur led a restless existence marred by war, instability, and tragedy. Born in France to a privileged family, Crèvecoeur left for England as a young man and eventually traveled on to Canada. He worked as a surveyor in the French army during the French and Indian War and... Go

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
Jonathan Edwards's writings articulate a complex synthesis of traditional Puritan piety, Enlightenment beliefs in the potential of the human will, and an almost mystical appreciation of natural beauty. Intrigued by his unique combination of scientific rationalism and ecstatic faith, scholars continue to debate whether Edwards should be understood as the last great... Go

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Ralph Waldo Emerson was the preeminent philosopher, writer, and thinker of his day, best known for articulating the Transcendentalist ideals of creative intuition, self-reliance, and the individual's unlimited potential. In contrast to the optimism that characterized his writings and philosophy, Emerson's own personal life was pervaded by tragedy. His father died... Go

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
Benjamin Franklin's extraordinary energy and varied talents made him successful as a writer, humorist, statesman, diplomat, businessman, and scientist. The tale of his rise from humble beginnings through hard work and virtue has become a familiar lesson in the American dream. So exemplary is Franklin's story that his Autobiography is often considered, in literary... Go

Margaret Fuller (1810-1850)
Margaret Fuller ranked among the most celebrated public intellectuals in her own day, an accomplishment that is especially remarkable given the social strictures and limitations women faced in the early nineteenth century. The foundation of her extraordinary career can be traced to the rigorous education she received from her father: under his tutelage she... Go

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
President John F. Kennedy paid tribute to Thomas Jefferson's many accomplishments when he told a group of Nobel Prize winners that they were "the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." Indeed, Jefferson's intellectual... Go

Susanna Rowson (c. 1762-1824)
Susanna Rowson's colorful life story in some ways resembles one of the melodramatic plots of her popular novels and plays. Born in Portsmouth, England, Rowson was raised by her father and her aunt when her mother died shortly after childbirth. Her father, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, received a commission in the American colonies and brought his... Go

Royall Tyler (1757-1826)
Born into a wealthy Boston family, Royall Tyler would grow up to become the author of the first successful and widely performed American play. He entered Harvard at the age of fifteen and proved such a brilliant student that he earned baccalaureate degrees from both Harvard and Yale. After graduation, Tyler enlisted with the Boston Independent Company and fought... Go

Phillis Wheatley (c. 1753-1784)
One of the best known and most highly regarded pre-nineteenth-century American poets, Phillis Wheatley achieved poetic fame despite her status as an African American slave. Wheatley was kidnapped from West Africa (probably Senegal or Gambia) when she was six or seven years old, transported to America on a slave ship, and sold in Boston to the wealthy... Go

Suggested Author Pairings Go

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