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Harper's Encyclopedia of United States History (ed. Benson Lossing) 539 1 Browse Search
Cambridge History of American Literature: volume 3 (ed. Trent, William Peterfield, 1862-1939., Erskine, John, 1879-1951., Sherman, Stuart Pratt, 1881-1926., Van Doren, Carl, 1885-1950.) 88 0 Browse Search
Cambridge History of American Literature: volume 1, Colonial and Revolutionary Literature: Early National Literature: Part I (ed. Trent, William Peterfield, 1862-1939., Erskine, John, 1879-1951., Sherman, Stuart Pratt, 1881-1926., Van Doren, Carl, 1885-1950.) 58 0 Browse Search
C. Edwards Lester, Life and public services of Charles Sumner: Born Jan. 6, 1811. Died March 11, 1874. 54 0 Browse Search
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Women and Men 54 0 Browse Search
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Book and heart: essays on literature and life 44 0 Browse Search
Adam Badeau, Grant in peace: from Appomattox to Mount McGregor, a personal memoir 39 1 Browse Search
George Bancroft, History of the United States from the Discovery of the American Continent, Vol. 7, 4th edition. 38 0 Browse Search
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book 38 0 Browse Search
Edward L. Pierce, Memoir and letters of Charles Sumner: volume 2 36 0 Browse Search
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Browsing named entities in Bliss Perry, The American spirit in lierature: a chronicle of great interpreters. You can also browse the collection for Americans or search for Americans in all documents.

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o be traced back for two hundred years, and sought in the history of the country from the first plantations in America. I have always laughed, he declared in an earlier letter, at the affectation of representing American independence as a novel idea, as a modern discovery, as a late invention. The idea of it as a possible thing, as a probable event, nay as a necessary and unavoidable measure, in case Great Britain should assume an unconstitutional authority over us, has been familiar to Americans from the first settlement of the country. There is, then, a predisposition, a latent or potential Americanism which existed long before the United States came into being. Now that our political unity has become a fact, the predisposition is certain to be regarded by our own and by future generations as evidence of a state of mind which made our separate national life inevitable. Yet to Thomas Hutchinson, a sound historian and honest man, the last Royal Governor of Massachusetts, a sep
Bliss Perry, The American spirit in lierature: a chronicle of great interpreters, Chapter 2: the first colonial literature (search)
d love is cold, and zeal is gone. Urian Oakes's election sermon of 1670 in Cambridge is a condemnation of the prevalent worldliness and ostentation. This period of critical inquiry and assessment, however, also gives grounds for just pride. History, biography, eulogy, are flourishing. The reader is reminded of that epoch, one hundred and fifty years later, when the deaths of John Adams and of Thomas Jefferson, falling upon the same anniversary day, the Fourth of July, 1826, stirred all Americans to a fresh recognition of the services wrought by the Fathers of the Republic. So it was in the colonies at the close of the seventeenth century. Old England, in one final paroxysm of political disgust, cast out the last Stuart in 1688. That Revolution marks, as we have seen, the close of a long and tragic struggle which began in the autocratic theories of James the First and in the absolutism of Charles. Almost every phase of that momentous conflict had its reverberation across the A
Bliss Perry, The American spirit in lierature: a chronicle of great interpreters, Chapter 3: the third and fourth generation (search)
Chapter 3: the third and fourth generation When the eighteenth century opened, many signs of change were in the air. The third generation of native-born Americans was becoming secularized. The theocracy of New England had failed. In the height of the tragic folly over the supposed witchcraft in Salem, Increase Mather and hir thus defined the Americans: They are a mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes. From this promiscuous breed that race now called Americans has arisen. The Atlantic seaboard, with a narrow strip inland, was fairly well covered by local communities, differing in blood, in religion, in political organ, John Bartram, James Logan, James Godfrey, Cadwallader Colden, and above all, Franklin himself, were winning the respect of European students, and were teaching Americans to use their eyes and their minds not merely upon the records of the past but in searching out the inexhaustible meanings of the present. There is no more fasci
nts of the Revolution with the modern verse upon the same historic themes. He will see how slenderly equipped for song were most of the later eighteenth-century Americans and how unfavorable to poetry was the tone of that hour. Freneau himself suffered, throughout his long career, from the depressing indifference of his public r post-Revolutionary American political writing, broadly social in its outlook, well informed as to the past, confident — but not reckless — of the future. Many Americans still read it who would be shocked by Tom Paine and bored with Edmund Burke. It has none of the literary genius of either of those writers, but its formative intately and noble utterance of national sentiments and national reasons to a candid world. It has long been the fashion, among a certain school of half-hearted Americans — and unless I am mistaken, the teaching has increased during the last decades — to minimize the value of Jefferson's self-evident truths. Rufus Choate, himsel
Bliss Perry, The American spirit in lierature: a chronicle of great interpreters, Chapter 5: the Knickerbocker group (search)
ase in wealth and population; a shifting of political power due to the rise of the new West--in a word, the evidences of irrepressible national energy. But this energy was inadequately expressed by the national literature. The more cultivated Americans were quite aware of this deficiency. It was confessed by the pessimistic Fisher Ames and by the ardent young men who in 1815 founded The North American review. British critics in The Edinburgh and The Quarterly, commenting upon recent works os ancient commonwealths. During the thirty years preceding the Civil War New England awoke to a new life of the spirit. So varied and rich was her literary productiveness in this era that it still remains her greatest period, and so completely did New England writers of this epoch voice the ideals of the nation that the great majority of Americans, even today, regard these New Englanders as the truest literary exponents of the mind and soul of the United States. We must take a look at them.
Bliss Perry, The American spirit in lierature: a chronicle of great interpreters, Chapter 6: the Transcendentalists (search)
e theme of its meditation is the soul as related to Nature and to God. The soul is primal; Nature, in all its bountiful and beautiful commodities, exists for the training of the soul; it is the soul's shadow. And every soul has immediate access to Deity. Thus the utility and beauty and discipline of Nature lift the soul Godward. The typical sentence of the book is this: The sun shines today also ; that is to say: the world is still alive and fair; let us lift up our hearts! Only a few Americans of 1836 bought this singular volume, but Emerson went serenely forward. He had found his path. In 1837 he delivered the well-known Phi Beta Kappa oration at Harvard on The American scholar. Emerson was now thirty-four; he had married a second time, had bought a house of his own in Concord, and purposed to make a living by lecturing and writing. His address in Cambridge, though it contained no reference to himself, was after all a justification of the way of life he had chosen: a dec
Bliss Perry, The American spirit in lierature: a chronicle of great interpreters, Chapter 7: romance, poetry, and history (search)
ver completed story about the elixir of immortality. But his vitality was ebbing, and in May, 1864, he passed away in his sleep. He rests under the pines in Sleepy Hollow, near the Alcotts and the Emersons. It is difficult for contemporary Americans to assess the value of such a man, who evidently did nothing except to write a few books. His rare, delicate genius was scarcely touched by passing events. Not many of his countrymen really love his writings, as they love, for instance the wrembered-memoirs of his friends Emerson and Motley, and many miscellaneous essays. His life was exceptionally happy, and his cheery good opinion of himself is still contagious. To pronounce the words Doctor Holmes in any company of intelligent Americans is the prologue to a smile of recognition, comprehension, sympathy. The word Goldsmith has now lost, alas, this provocative quality; the word Stevenson still possesses it. The little Doctor, who died in the same year as Stevenson, belonged lik
massive volumes of erudite and caustic and high-minded orations. He may be seen at his best in such books as Longfellow's Journal and correspondence and the Life and letters of George Ticknor. There one has a pleasant picture of a booklover, traveler, and friend. But in his public speech he was arrogant, unsympathetic, domineering. Sumner is my idea of a bishop, said Lincoln tentatively. There are bishops and bishops, however, and if Henry Ward Beecher, whom Lincoln and hosts of other Americans admired, had only belonged to the Church of England, what an admirable Victorian bishop he might have made! Perhaps his best service to the cause of union was rendered by his speeches in England, where he fairly mobbed the mob and won them by his wit, courage, and by his appeal to the instinct of fair play. Beecher's oratory, in and out of the pulpit, was temperamental, sentimental in the better sense, and admirably human in all its instincts. He had an immense following, not only in p
pageant. At no time since The Prince of Parthia was first acted in Philadelphia in 1767 has such a large percentage of Americans been artistically and commercially interested in the drama, but as to the literary results of the new movement it is to Such revival and experiment have often, in the past, been the preludes of great epochs of poetical production. Living Americans have certainly never seen such a widespread demand for contemporary verse, such technical curiosity as to the possible the continuity and integrity of race-consciousness, in the whole field of its manifestation. He does not feel, as many Americans do, that they are turning their back on life when they turn to books. Perhaps the truth is that although we are a re term than nationality. Chauvinism is nowhere more repellent than in the things of the mind. It is difficult for some Americans to think internationally even in political affairs — to construe our national policy and duty in terms of obligation to