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Who's Who in American Literature:

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Terri Steinmann

on 9 December 2016

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Transcript of Who's Who in American Literature:

Who's Who in American Literature:
The Enlightenment

The Age of Reason

A time when the emphasis was on the role of reason and rational thought
* Society perceived the universe as harmonious and a carefully ordered place
* Humans played a small role in the functioning of the whole
* Believed in the perfectibility of humans; if people exercised their reason to bring about scientific advances and better government, society would reach an ideal state
*Emphasis on freedom, equality, and scientific thought, and a general suspicion of traditional "authority", i.e. religion, superstition, and intolerance
Thomas Jefferson 1743 - 1826
* Third President and principal author of the Declaration of Independence
*Considered to be a leader of The Enlightenment
*Spoke five languages fluently - Latin, Greek, French, Italian, Spanish
*Founded the University of Virginia
*Opposed slavery in theory, but owned hundred of slaves in his lifetime. He freed only a fraction of them throughout the his life, or in his will after death
* Rumored affair with Sally Hemmings, one of his slaves. DNA confirms at least two of her children are his
*Wife, Martha, died in 1782. He remained a widower

Phillis Wheatley 1753-1784
Born near what is now Senegal or Gambia
Transported to the US as a slave at age 7
Bought by John Wheatley. He realized how bright she was so he taught her to read and write English and Latin. Wheatley's will freed her in 1778
She married John Peters in 1778. He was a freed black man who owned his own business which later failed. He was sent to debtor's prison
At the end of her life she was working as a servant and died in poverty after two of her three children died
Abigail Smith Adams 1744-1818
Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa) 1745-1797
Born in 1745, in what is now known as Nigeria
At the age of 11, he and his siblings were kidnapped and sold into the European slave trade
Equiano was sold and renamed several times, eventually ending up with a Quaker merchant who named him Gustavus Vassa, and who taught him how to read and write
In his early 20s, Vassa was able to buy his freedom and returned to Great Britain, where he had traveled during his enslavement. He quickly became a leader of the anti-slave trade movement happening in England
- Wife of John Adams, the second president of the United States
- Mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States
- Came from a well-to-do family, but had no formal schooling
- Made sure her daughters, Abigail and Susanna, received an education equal to that of her sons, John, Charles, and Thomas
- Vigorously supported women's rights to an education equal to the one men received
- Married at the age of 20; her husband's political duties kept him from home for the better part of 10 years
- An avid correspondent - she wrote hundreds of letters to her husband, friends, and others
- 22 years after her death, her letters were collected and published
- She is recognized as a pioneer of the American Women's Movement
Michel-Guillaume Jean de Crevecoeur
1735 - 1818
* Born in Normandy, France, to the Count and Countess de Crevecoeur
* 1755 - Immigrated to New France (Quebec). Settled permanently in New York State in 1759. There he gained American citizenship and adopted the name John Hector St. John
*1770 - he married Mehitable Tippet. They bought a sizable farm and prospered as farmers
*In 1782, while in France, de Crevecoeur published a volume of narrative essays called
Letters from an American Farmer
Patrick Henry 1736-1799
An American planter, attorney, politician
Served as Governor of Virginia from 1776-1779, and again from 1784-1789
a gifted and passionate orator
most famous for his address to the Virginia Convention regarding arming the state in preparation of defense against the British
"Give me liberty, or give me death!"
Passionate supporter of American Revolution
Ben Franklin - 1706-1790
* Born into a poor Boston family, the 10th son of 17 children
* Attended school from ages 8-10
*Apprenticed at age 13 with an older brother who was a printer
* Independently furthered his education by reading books
*Married Deborah Read, a longtime flirtation, in 1730
- In 1729 he not only bought the

, but began publishing
Poor Richard's Almanack.
- He founded local fire departments, libraries, police forces, and improved streets and sanitation, invented the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove
- He started an academy which later became the University of Pennsylvania
- Could have retired at the age of 42 because he was so successful
- Very involved in politics. Was one of the framers of the Constitution.
Literary Contributions
- Opposed racial prejudices and wrote papers on the subject
- Wrote
, which was left unfinished
- Contributed several articles and short stories to newspapers
- His last work was a parody in defense of slavery written from the perspective of an Algerian prince
- This is considered the first literary success of an American author
- De Crevecoeur was the first author to accurately portray life on the American frontier, using many American English words and phrases
- He helped build the idea of the "American Dream"; a society built on the principals of equal opportunity and self-determination
- He eventually settled back in France on land inherited from his family, where he later died

* After traveling widely, Vassa settled down in England and married
* In 1789 he published his autobiography,
nteresting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African
* His autobiography quickly gained popularity and went through several editions
* Vassa provides a unique look at African life prior to the European slave trade, and painstakingly details the hardships endured during slavery
* Considered to be the originator of the slave
Started writing poetry at the age of 13
She used Alexander Pope ("The Rape of the Lock") and Neoclassical poets as models
In 1773 - five years before she was emancipated - her book of poems,
Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral
, was published in England
Style of Poetry
*Neoclassical - great restraint, reason, order, morality, strict structure
*Formal - iambic pentameter, heroic couplets (a couplet of lines written in iambic pentameter)
*Poems dealt with Christian concerns of morality and piety
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