English 2131 – American Literature I key Themes and Ideas

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English 2131 – American Literature I
Key Themes and Ideas

1) The Frontier as a physical, spiritual, and psychological space

2) Freedom, and the American promise of it

3) Colonialism and its associated systems and interactions

4) Native American agency and interactions

5) Violence and its uses and meanings

6) Women’s roles in the colonial and antebellum eras

7) Depictions of Slavery

8) Transcendentalism and its practices and proponents

9) Typology, and Puritan interpretations of Christianity


1607 – Establishment of Colony at Jamestown

1628 – (May 1) Thomas Morton and colonists at Merrymount dance around a maypole and celebrate May Day, upsetting the Plymouth Pilgrims. In June, Capt. Miles Standish is sent to eradicate the settlement and Morton is sent back to England. 

1621 – First Thanksgiving, at Plymouth 

1630-43 – English Puritans immigrate to Massachusetts Bay Colony 

1630 - Population: 3,000 colonists in Virginia; 300 at Plymouth.  During 1630-1640, another 16,000 colonists will arrive.

1636-1637 - Pequot War.

1630-50- William Bradford begins writing Of Plymouth Plantation (pub. 1856)

1675-78 - King Philip's War.  It begins when Metacomet (King Philip) leads an attack against Swansea in retaliation for the Plymouth colony's execution of three Wampanoag tribe members. Metacomet is betrayed and shot on 12 August 1676, and the war formally ends when Sir Edmond Andros makes peace in Maine on 12 April 1678. 

1676 – (May 2) Mary Rowlandson is ransomed after her capture during an attack on Lancaster. 

1692 - (May) Salem witchcraft trials begin. From June-September 22, 20 people are executed.

1718 - French found New Orleans.

1720 - Estimated population of colonies: 474,000.

1749 - Trustees of Georgia colony revoke their prohibition on slavery in the colony, marking a legal recognition of slavery there. 

1754-63 - French and Indian War.

1770 – (5 March) When British troops arrive in Boston, they are surrounded by angry colonists and fire into the crowd, killing three Americans and wounding two others. The event becomes known as the Boston Massacre.

1775-81 - Revolutionary War.

1782 – Crevecoeur publishes Letters from an American Farmer.

1789 - George Washington elected president.

1800John Chapman, ("Johnny Appleseed") begins dispensing apple seeds and seedlings to settlers in Ohio.

1802 – (4 July) United States Military Academy opens at West Point, N. Y.  Among its cadets will be Ulysses Grant, Robert E. Lee, and Edgar Allan Poe. 

1804 – (May) Lewis and Clark expedition leaves St. Louis. By October, the expedition is encamped for the winter at a Mandan Indian village near what is now Bismarck, North Dakota.

1814 - Creek War ends with the Creek nation ceding two-thirds of its land in southern Georgia to the U. S. 

1816 - In Philadelphia, African Americans establish the first African Methodist Church. The American Colonization Society is also founded later in the same year, the purpose of which is to return freed slaves to Africa. 

1822 - Denmark Vesey, a free African American,  is convicted and hanged along with 35 others in Charleston, S.C. when his plans to lead a slave uprising are revealed. 

1826Cooper publishes The Last of the Mohicans

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