-Revolutionary Period and Nationalism, 1750–1815. During this period, American writers focused on explaining and justifying the Revolution. Political writings by Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson belong to this time period. With the
Revolution behind them, Americans found time to ponder what it really meant to be American. An even greater focus on nationalism, patriotism, and American identity arose following the War of 1812, which removed the last British troops from North America.
-Romanticism and Transcendentalism, 1800–1855.Romanticism was a philosophical attitude that developed in reaction to previous decades in which reason and rational thought dominated. Writers celebrated individualism, nature, imagination, creativity, and
philosophical debates. The philosophy of Transcendentalism, exemplified by Ralph Waldo Emerson, eventually evolved; it stressed respect for the individual and the intuitive pursuit of a greater truth. Writers from this period include Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau.