The Age of Reason or the Revolutionary Period in American Literature (1750-1800)
This period of the American literature took place in the most important part of the history of the U.S.A because in that period was their independence. All the works were inspired by political things; puritan’s belief had been forgotten.
The 18th-century American enlightenment as a movement marked by an emphasis on:
- Rationality rather than tradition
- Scientific inquiry instead of unquestioning religious doctrine
- Representative government in place of monarchy.
Important writers: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, James Madison, and any other of the so-called “Founding Fathers.”
Enlightenment thinkers and writers, such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine, were devoted to the ideals of justice, liberty, and equality as the natural rights of man.
Effect/Aspects :Patriotism and pride grows, creates unity about issues, and creates American character.
Historical Context :Encouraged Revolutionary War support.
"Focus on “REASON”
By the end of the 1700s, the Puritan influence on America began to decrease.
Writers used reason and logic –instead of the teachings of the Bible –to support their arguments.
People had come from all over Europe to the American colonies.
But were the colonists happy, overall, with the situation they were in?
Of Course NOT…
- 1765 Parliament passes the Stamp Act, which taxes newspapers, almanacs, and legal documents in the colonies.
- 1770 Boston Massacre (5 civilians die at the hands of British soldiers).
- December 1773 The Boston Tea Party.
- 1774 Intolerable Acts passed by King George III.
- April 19, 1775 Revolutionary War begins.
- July 4, 1776 Declaration of Independence approved by Second Continental Congress.
- 1783 United States wins its independence.
How do the events of a given time influence what is written?
But how did the Revolutionary War affect the literature that was produced?
- The most important pieces of literature during the AGE OF REASON, were political documents, speeches, and pamphlets(short, concise works that usually argue for or against a political cause.)
- Non-fiction (such as the forms mentioned above) was far more influential than fiction.
List of political documents that are part of the Age of Reason
- The Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson (political document).
- Patrick Henry’s Speech to the Virginia Convention
- Thomas Paine’s The Crisis (pamphlet).
- Works of Benjamin Franklin (aphorisms printed in Poor Richard’s Almanack).
How Writing Changed
- Writing was less private and religiously based
- Writing came away from the Plain Style and became full of flourish and colorful language
- Writing was influenced by the Revolutionary War and the growing American spirit of individualism and self-reliance.
Major events timeline in American Revolutionary Period
- 1754-1763 – French and Indian War
- 1765 – Stamp Act
- 1767 – Townshend Acts
- 1770 – Boston Massacre
- 1774 – First Continental Congress
- 1775 – Lexington and Concord
- 1776 – Declaration of Independence
- 1781 – Revolutionary War ends
- 1787 – Constitution
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