American Literature during the Colonial Period


 Many authors arose during the colonial period of America with an aim of becoming the society’s image through which they checked into their struggle for liberation. Literature also played a mouthpiece role to which the struggle was talked about in literature to the hearts of many (Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, & Helen Tiffin 45). America relied on its literature through prospecting authors who captured the historic moment that occurred during the colonial period. This has been a practical role of literature in telling historical stories generation after generation. The American literature grew more effectively as a replication of his colonial master whose literature already had a sense of identity, particularly in The English language.

 Unlike its colonies, England had a much defined and well-established literature at this period. It, therefore, bestowed the early occupants of the colonized American regions with the knowledge of English language. For approximately two centuries, most of the literary works that were done and read were done by English authors. In the early days of writing, Americans were keen when writing in English models so as to comply with the rules of the language. At that particular time, they needed to communicate the occasions of that period without in any way altering the historical events (Purcell, Sarah J 37). Most of the American authors invested in telling their stories, grievances, concerns and demands through literature in their colonial master’s language. Nevertheless, as time passed by they started developing their literature. Mid-16th century saw a distinctive direction created for the American literature. By the 18th century, works from England had also acquired some literally skills from America literature that had gained popularity over its colonial master’s literature. In the early nineteenth century, American literature had risen in quality and value capturing even the attention of English critics who admitted and even testified to the democratic element the American history was portraying. The reasons why American literature rapidly developed to spread its message was due to the changing environments at that time and the varying colonial problems that affected their lives at that particular time. Such as captured by then authors who described the phenomena and their occurrence times. The American literature during the colonial and the Puritan period is as outlined below.

 The Colonial History and Literature Associated with Virginia

 English Colonies settled in U.S through the town known as Jamestown, in Virginia by 1607. The colonial master particularly settles in such recognized regions to safeguard their economic and business interest in the region and places nearby. The settlement in the region was created as a regional headquarter in the colonial states. However, this was not what turned out to be the case, because most of the first colonists from Virginia at this period were not fit to perform the duties they were allocated. Literary works about such history clearly cite how street dwellers, beggars, and kidnapped children were sent to Jamestown. In 1649, after the bitter execution of Charles 1, and the establishment of Puritan Commonwealth, many royalties, or the Cavaliers as they were commonly known escaped to Virginia due to the oppressive Puritan rules. They grew in numbers and became the forefathers of great statesmen including indigenous rulers and a lot of aristocratic families of the south. As brought out by Captain John Smith in his literature, the people who led the Jamestown colony should be ranked beside the people who were responsible for the colonization of New England. With regards to his achievements while in Virginia, he emphasized to the colonies and colonized in his literature to try and imitate the virtues of their predecessors and ancestors.

 New England Colonized By the Puritans

 Another memorable period in the U.S colonial age is the Puritans inhabitation of the New England. Many English societies migrated to the wealthy region of America presently known as the New England. These immigrants of the New England were not after material benefits (Silverman, Kenneth 36). They mainly migrated to purify the England church from what, according to them, was an abuse of the church norms and orders. The reason for their migration was, therefore, to put up the foundation of a nation that was built upon strong religious principles. Documented literature of that period suggests that Puritans had lived there for more than a century. Their existence can be traced back to the time of one famous author, Wycliffe (1324-1384). Moreover, the Puritans received resilient opposition from both Catholics and Protestants individuals. According to them, they could not believe in the apparent “Romish taint” which was in the Church of England. In one of his historical books, James, who reigned between 1603 and 1625, gave an order that unless they adhered to the practices of a well-known church, he would chase them out of the kingdom.

 In another historical book and literature by Tyler, clearly stated that the New England had not realized how the church was involved in a series of dirty and sinful activities. He goes ahead to say that religious ministers inside the church that were committing the unpardonable sin of dissent were supposed to be haunted down. In more ways, it is worth noting that the Puritan colonization of New England took a relatively short time. Until the year 1634, Puritans were hugely persuaded to move into New England. Suddenly, in 1640 they stopped migrating to New England. Therefore, the year 1640 marks a very important point in American colonization history, with the formation and assembling of the long parliament done in that year.

 Traits by Elizabeth

 The men who led to the colonization of Virginia and New England were born during the period Queen Elizabeth was in power, and they as well as their descendants showed the characteristics that made this period noticeable. As a start, individuals during this period had a unique way of handling issues. They possessed different capabilities. For instance, they dreamed glorious dreams that they later transformed into actions. Additionally, they went around the globe; they even made it a reality for Shakespeare’s pen to create their thoughts in his literature works and later impact the actions of the world. Secondly, these people were clever thereby developing a lot of new skills and ideas that would change situations life around them. They acquired a wide range of experience in different fields which kept the source of originality filled. The example of these exemplary personalities who notably lived during the time of Queen Elizabeth reign in England is; Shakespeare, Philip Sidney, John Smith and many others. The unrelenting conditions of the new world they put into practice was an utmost ingenuity that the colonialists could rarely match.

 In addition to this, the people who lived during this period were pro-democracy. That is to say, different people in the society associated with a marked degree. Most of the individuals had social identities for the efforts they played in liberating the society. This was due to reduced specialization among the people, increased traveling and the desire to acquire new learning among others. This explains the reason Shakespeare was able to speak about humanity with some experiences in all sorts of situation. It is worth remembering that the U.S life and literature oblige their most valued qualities such as initiative, ingenuity, and democracy that are all associated with the Elizabethan period. In other words, the creativity to explore the new world, the ingenuity to deal with its varied exigencies, and the Democratic inner self that allowed them to labor side by side, notwithstanding how varied their previous trades, modes of life, and social condition were led to their success.


 The literally works that were done by these authors during American colonial period formed the basis of literature that has since been witnessed up to the current state. The forefathers of literature did a great job in putting down their works in journals hence they can be traced to date. It is important to note that history has since been restored in such journals, no wonder they are accessible up to date. Therefore, literature is a very important aspect of the life today and should be appreciated for the development of history.

 Annotated Bibliography

 Smith, John, and A G. Bradley. Travels and Works of Captain John Smith: 1. Edinburgh: Grant, 1910. Print.

 Captain John Smith was born in 1957 (Elliott, Emory 42). Smith was referred to by many and fellow authors as the hero of the Jamestown colony. In his early days as a boy, he was a member of the Elizabethan camp that believed in people who were creative and innovative. As a result, he embarked on a journey as a young boy to different destinations to test his bravery. This ended in England, at that time, he was around 28 years old. He did his first work of literature in the year 1608. This is the same year in which another famous author of literally works, James Milton was born. His literal work was about the people of India. This was proof of his quick and sharp skills; it as well showed his capacity for quickly noting their traits. He was often accused of boasting; some people have also claimed that his literature was exaggerated. But it is certain that he always braved hardships and dangerous situations just to avail food for the colony as well as have a closer survey of Virginia. Some Smiths works were done after he had gone back to England, still, the two books he wrote while in America entitle him to a place in colonial literature. In one sense, he gave his literal works to India, making that the greatest achievement in history. He wrote a beautifully crafted work on how he went through hardships while in India and about how he risked his life to save his friends from the Indian treachery. It is true that American literature is greatly considered to have started from the time of Captain Smith, the best thing is to read his words personally. Perhaps, one can come up with his own judgement about the same.

 Wright, Louis B, William Strachey, and Silvester Jourdain. A Voyage to Virginia in 1609: Two Narratives, Strachey's "true Reportory" and Jourdain's Discovery of the Bermudas. Charlottesville [Virginia: University of Virginia Press, 2013. Internet resource.

 William Strachey was another great author of the colonial period of America. His work seemed to be same as that of Shakespeare even though they differed on many factors such as place of birth and residence. He wrote his first book while at Jamestown and sent it to London. In one of his books, he did a story about a shipwreck on the Bermuda’s and to escape in small boats. Most of his literal works, however, were not easy to comprehend unless the reader read deeply to get the inner information. Some his works as well were from the Virginia colonization. This, therefore, shows the relevance of his literature and the connection and impact it had on American history. Just like Captain Smith, his works of literature have also since been posted on different websites, and one can easily find them in cases of references or just to get familiar with his literal skills and his works.

 Bracken, James K. Reference Works in British and American Literature. Englewood, Colo: Libr. Unlimited, 1998. Print.

 As William Bradford was a child, he used to attend the religious meeting of the Puritans. When he was eighteen years old, he fled to Holland. This was as a result of religious prosecutions that were rampant during this period. His first works of literature were about the polymath plantations where he was Governor for a period not less than thirty years. The first time the U.S possessed the famous manuscripts of Williams works was in the year 1897. Other than writing on matters that were historically important in his works of literature, most of Williams works used to entertain his readers with some sense of Squanto. He as well talked about the pilgrims and their relevance to the colonial era in America. Through is works he philosophizes social relevance of the pilgrims.

 Bremer, Francis J. John Winthrop: Biography As History. New York: Continuum, 2009. Print.

 The first literature work that was done by John Winthrop was in the year 1630. He had done his first journal before he left the Isle of Wight for Massachusetts Bay. John Winthrop was a well-educated Puritan, other than being educated, he was also a wealthy man. Before he sailed to Massachusetts, he knew he was leaving behind a lot of material wealth behind all because he was craving for liberty and conscience. After a long time on the sea, he settled in modern day Boston with a large number of fellow Puritans. During this time, he served as the governor of the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay until the time of his death. His journal and works of literature are records of concurrent happenings from the time he entered Massachusetts to the time of his death. In one of his journals he shows how Franklin appealed a case after he was guilty, it also states how the Puritans gave him a death penalty after going through the Bible for a rule to base their decision upon. Most open qualities of this work by Winthrop are the manner4 in which they were simple, the repression, and most outstanding was their lack of a push effect. All of Winthrop, Bradford and Bunyan has been students of the 1611 Bible hence could easily rely on facts to cause some effect.

 Tyler, M C. A History of American Literature, During the Colonial Period. , 1909. Print.

 It would be absurd to conclude the history of American literature without mentioning the Elizabethan period. This is as described in the literature by Tyler M. C. The 1909 book covers the historical growth of American history as was influenced by the Elizabethan period. The period and its democracy had a greater influence in shaping American literature. This is also in consideration English literature acted as the reference point to which American literature was developed. The period therefore created the first literature, referred to as the Elizabethan literature. This literature as described in the book outlines the first literature created to tell of American history and struggle of democracy. As it explains, many people in the society associated with a marked degree. Majority of these individuals made previews on the social identities they had for democracy. This was due to reduced specialization among the people, increased traveling and the desire to acquire new learning among others. All these issues and growth were collected in their literature which were primarily meant for that period of time.