28 Apr 2022


Colonial Literature on American Lifestyle

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Academic level: College

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The American culture has, with no doubt, been affected by the early American literature. Literature was a way of promoting moral values of life and passing the traditions of particular ethnic groups in the early centuries and colonial writers made this happen. This paper will explore some of the impacts the colonial literature has had on the American culture.

Religion is one of the themes that appear in most of the colonial literature. Many different authors at least gave religion a chance in their writings. The American writer James Fenimore Cooper (1826) uses his characters to bring out the role of religion in the wilderness. David Gamut is an aggressive Calvinist and his Calvinism symbolizes the entrance of religion. He believes that God has a plan for everyone and no man can change that. The inclusion of religious beliefs in the early literature has had a reasonable effect on the American culture. The national characters of the American people have been greatly shaped. 

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Some of the early American authors included Puritanism in their works and this factor played a big role in the American values. Puritanism lays a foundation for American democracy, individualism and the American people’s strong sense of mission. Individualism is the basis of American morals and is deeply entrenched in the American Puritanism which was recorded by the early authors in their literature. Individualism places great value on self-reliance, mutual respect and privacy. 

The Americans believe that it is their mission to lead humans to the New Jerusalem by spreading social justice and liberty across the world. Such values were recorded in the early American literature as a way of passing the traditions of the founders of the nation to the next generation. The sense of the American mission has been adopted by the new generation and taken as one of the core values of the American culture.

In his writing, Thomas Paine made convincing argument to the settlers that the basis of independence was just and crucial. His pamphlet convinced the Americans that the period had come to break away from the British rule. Common Sense (1776) was one of Paine’s writings that impacted the American Revolution. Paine strove for simplicity while addressing his audience and this increased his influence. The literature inspired millions of people to think in new ways. This, undoubtedly, accelerated the fight for independence.

Benjamin Franklin used his autobiography to influence the American culture. He tells a story of a man who came from nothing and strived to make something in his life. He defined himself as someone whose qualities could be imitated and achieved by his audience. His writings establish the foundation of the American dream. In his Autobiography, Franklin believes that one can create a life for him or herself and shape it to whatever they want. Franklin’s autobiography influenced the Americans by giving them hope that they can develop their lives to greater heights regardless of their backgrounds.

The main aim of the early American literature was to teach, inspire and entertain. Millions of people learnt from them and tried to accommodate the moral values and themes in their day to day lives. Franklin’s literature is one of the writings that aimed at improving the morals of the society. Paine pamphlets were mainly aimed at encouraging revolution which came to pass and left America as an independent nation. The inclusion of religion in some of the literature further increased the beliefs of the American people and also played a role in the passage of the native traditions.


Ruland, R., & Bradbury, M. (2016).  From puritanism to postmodernism: a history of American literature . Routledge.

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