1. The First Americans

American Literature During the Colonial and Revolutionary Periods

  1. Richard Gray

Published Online: 21 MAR 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781444397604.ch1

A Brief History of American Literature

A Brief History of American Literature

How to Cite

Gray, R. (2011) The First Americans, in A Brief History of American Literature, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444397604.ch1

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 21 MAR 2012
  2. Published Print: 7 JAN 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405192316

Online ISBN: 9781444397604



  • the first Americans - American literature during colonial and revolutionary periods;
  • Imagining Eden, and Ralph Waldo Emerson's - “America is a poem in our eyes: its ample geography dazzles the imagination, and it will not wait long for metres”;
  • Native Americans, for whom the arrival of the white man - an announcement of the apocalypse;
  • writings - of the colonial and revolutionary periods;
  • Of Plymouth Plantation - emphasizing mysterious workings of providence;
  • New English Canaan, a satirical attack on Puritanism and the Separatists - Morton, providing a secular, alternative version - of how he came to set up “Ma-re Mount”;
  • Williams, drawn to Native Americans - those whom writers like Bradford and Winthrop, dismissed as “savage barbarians”;
  • poetry, driving home its message - converting some and restoring religious enthusiasm of others;
  • The Wonders of the Invisible World - by Cotton Mather (1663–1728);
  • Jefferson, and principle of natural rights - argumentative tool of reason, constructing a blueprint of the American nation


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Imagining Eden

  • Writing of the Colonial and Revolutionary Periods