Historian-William Cullen Bryant-Group B

“William Cullen Bryant stood among the most celebrated figures in the frieze of nineteenth-century America. The fame he won as a poet while in his youth remained with him as he entered his eighties; only Longfellow and Emerson were his rivals in popularity over the course of his life.”

Image of William Cullen Bryant:


In order to fully comprehend Bryant’s works, we must first recognize what major events were occurring during this time period. The following link: http://americasbesthistory.com/abhtimeline1810.html gives a brief timeline of the major events in American history during the time these works were written. The largest event to occur during this time span was the War of 1812. “In the War of 1812, the United States took on the greatest naval power in the world, Great Britain, in a conflict that would have an immense impact on the young country’s future. Causes of the war included British attempts to restrict U.S. trade, the Royal Navy’s impressment of American seamen and America’s desire to expand its territory. The United States suffered many costly defeats at the hands of British, Canadian and Native American troops over the course of the War of 1812, including the capture and burning of the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., in August 1814. Nonetheless, American troops were able to repulse British invasions in New York, Baltimore and New Orleans, boosting national confidence and fostering a new spirit of patriotism. The ratification of the Treaty of Ghent on February 17, 1815, ended the war but left many of the most contentious questions unresolved. Nonetheless, many in the United States celebrated the War of 1812 as a “second war of independence,” beginning an era of partisan agreement and national pride.” http://www.history.com/topics/war-of-1812
This war probably gave Bryant great pride in his country. This is shown in that he voiced his political opinions and was one of the first great American poets. Also, war ultimately brings death, and in this death one should feel proud for serving one’s country. This is a possible reason for his work “Thanatopsis.” In it he makes death seem calm and pleasant, even peaceful in a sense.


The two works written by William Cullen Bryant assigned in ethology were as followed: “Thanatopsis” (1817) and “To a Waterfowl” (1818). Born in 1794, Bryant was only in his early 20s when he wrote these. “Bryant’s most famous poem was “Thanatopsis.” What is known about its publication is that his father took some pages of verse from his son’s desk and submitted them, along with his own work, to the North American Review in 1817. The Review was edited by Edward Tyrrel Channing at the time and, upon receiving it, read the poem to his assistant, who immediately exclaimed, “That was never written on this side of the water!” Someone at the North American joined two of the son’s discrete fragments, gave the result the Greek-derived title Thanatopsis (meditation on death), mistakenly attributed it to the father, and published it. For all the errors, it was well-received, and soon Bryant was publishing poems with some regularity, including “To a Waterfowl” in 1821.”

Poetry reading of “Thanatopsis”:

Poetry reading of “To a Waterfowl”

In order to grasp how the historical context influenced the writing, we must try and better understand these two works. In William Cullen Bryant’s “Thanatopsis,” “the speaker tells us that nature can make pain less painful. It can even lighten our dark thoughts about death. He tells us that, when we start to worry about death, we should go outside and listen to the voice of nature. That voice reminds us that we will indeed vanish when we die and mix back into the earth. The voice of nature also tells us that when we die, we won’t be alone. Every person who has ever lived is in the ground (“the great tomb of man”) and everyone who is alive will be soon dead and in the ground too. This idea is meant to be comforting, and the poem ends by telling us to think of death like a happy, dream-filled sleep.”
Arguably mankind’s biggest fear is death. Bryant is telling us not to worry about death, but to instead be calm and happy. This lesson is still completely applicable to today. In his work “To a Waterfowl” he is sharing with us that “just as God guides the waterfowl to its summer home, so too He guides the speaker of the poem through life to his ultimate destination, heaven. In the end, one will be able to say about the speaker what the speaker says about the waterfowl: “the abyss of heaven / Hath swallowed up thy form” (lines 25-26). The poem is, in essence, a profession of faith in God.” http://www.cummingsstudyguides.net/Guides4/Waterfowl.html
This is what most clearly illustrates the effects of Bryant’s environment on his works. He grew up and lived in Massachusetts. During this time, this was the most devoutly religious region in the country. The prominent religion was Christianity. He had a very religious background. “The boy’s grandfather pressed a contrasting worldview on him. Western Massachusetts in that period generally eschewed the liberal religious ideas that fanned out from Boston; its dour orthodoxies looked to the more conservative Calvinism of New Haven and the Albany area of upstate New York. Ebenezer Snell, a deacon in the Congregationalist church, studied theological writers and was as intractable in his interpretation of scripture as in his rulings as a local magistrate. In prayer services he conducted for his family every morning and every evening, he made certain that religious precepts informed the Bryant children’s upbringing.” http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/william-cullen-bryant
This definitely contributed and had a great influence on the works of Bryant. His works were filled with religious meaning, values, and symbolism. Nowadays, the South is the most religious region in the country. In fact, it is nicknamed the “bible belt.” This all being said, Massachusetts is not considerably religious anymore. If William Cullen Bryant were to be alive and writing in that area today, he would probably have far less of a Christian influence upon his works. This, more than any, would be a major difference if he were writing today. Also, today he would be able to use modern technology to share his works online with everyone. This might have geared him into writing to a more broad audience and changed his writing style.

Bryant’s audience was, more often than not, the people of Massachusetts. Understanding their daily life might shed light on his style and its formation. “In the 1810s, urban areas are growing, but an estimated 93 percent of the population is still rural. Likewise, despite the beginnings of a textile industry and additional cottage industries, most families still work together as self-sufficient units to produce almost everything they consume-food, clothing, tools, and furniture. The little that they don’t produce, they typically obtain in trade; purchases are uncommon, especially in rural areas. Mumps and measles, whooping cough, diarrhea, cholera, scurf, croup, and scarlet fever are common and very serious childhood diseases. Our “average” family10 of the 1810s lives on 75 acres of mostly cleared farmland in central Massachusetts. They grow corn, flax, oats, barley, clover, and vegetables, raise hogs, and keep one cow. They have several fruit trees and are grafting and planting more. The structures on their farm consist of a house, a small barn, a hog pen, a shed, and an outhouse situated at a distance from the house. Most of the family’s relatively few possessions are in full view, since closets and storage space have not yet become a necessary part of the home. The younger family members engage in numerous leisure activities. They “make their own fun,” as opposed to paying for enter- tainment. Family members and friends play cards, go berry picking, play ball, play musical instruments like the violin, make puppets and put on shows, go for walks and visit people, and go to horse races and an occasional exhibition. Sleigh riding and ice-skating are favorites in winter. The family often combines work with socializing in the form of quilting bees, husking “frolics,” and barn raisings. They pool their energy with neighbors and friends to com- plete projects that would take one family alone an enormous amount of time.The church is another important organizing center of social activity. Not only does it bring the family together with friends and neighbors to reflect on serious themes, but it also provides an occasion to catch up on the news and enjoy singing.” http://www.economicadventure.org/pdfs/ml1810.pdf
As far as tasks are concerned, the whole family helped out. The family picked flax and used a spinning wheel to make them into clothes. One of the daughters usually churned butter as a task. And the rest, from farming to cooking and cleaning, made up the tasks of this hard working generation. This rural atmosphere attributes to Bryant’s works. For instance, in both “Thanatopsis” and “To a Waterfowl” great emphasis is placed on nature. This was because people were always outside and observant of nature during this time. Sadly, we now spend most of our time inside, rather than outside, due to the luxuries of today.

Early 1800s farmhouse:


Spinning wheel:


During this time period, many were avid readers. This was one of the few forms of entertainment. They had no T.V., Internet, and radio like today.
“Some famous books published during the early 1800s include:
1800 Castle Rackrent by Maria Edgeworth
1801 Belinda by Maria Edgeworth
1805 The Lay of the last minstrel by Walter Scott
1807 Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
1808 Marmion by Walter Scott
1809 Calebs in search of a wife by Hannah More
1811 Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
1812 first 2 cantos of Childe harold by Byron
1813 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Queen mab by Percy Byshe Shelley
1814 Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Waverley by Walter Scott
The Excursion by William Wordsworth
1815 Guy Mannering by Walter Scott
1816 Emma by Jane Austen
Christabel and Other Poems by Coleridge
Headlong hall by thomas Love Peacock
1817 Manfred by Byron
1818 Persuasion and Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
The Heart of Midlothian by Walter Scott
Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
1819 Lamia and Other Poem by Keats
Prometheus Unbound by Shelley
1821 Kenilworth by Walter Scott
Adonais by Shelley
Life in London by Pierce Egan
1822 Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas de Quincy
1823 Essays on Elia by Charles Lamb
Redgauntlet by Walter Scott
1825 first edition of The Diary of Samuel Pepys
1826 the Spirit of the Age by William Hazlitt
Vivian Grey by Benjamin Disraeli
Woodstock by Walter Scott
1827 The Shepherd’s Calendar by john Clare
The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte by Walter Scott
Life of Napoleon by William Hazlitt
1830 Poems, Chiefly Lyrical by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Rural Rides by William Cobbett”

William Cullen Bryant was our ” first American writer of verse to win international acclaim.” http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/webtexts/Bryant/brybio.html
Learning about and having knowledge of his background plays an integral role in understanding the works of Bryant. Understanding the lifestyle and likes of the people during this time also factors in. I enjoyed taking on the historian’s role and hope it helps shed a new light on the works of William Cullen Bryant.


“Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?”

The quote I’ve chosen to focus on is, “Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?” This is a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s work “Self Reliance” written in 1841. When I think about this I feel ashamed. I know Emerson would have made the last choice, but most of us today make the first. We gripe and whine about the government and their ways, especially in the South, but rarely do we make any significant effort to do anything about it. We sit around and just go with it. Occasionally people will make a slow movement towards fixing a problem, but hardly ever is someone influential and radical enough to propose and bring forth immediate change. To me, this quote is a call to action. It encourages us to speak out against what we feel is unjust.

Emerson wrote “Self Reliance” in the 1830s. During this time, “the concept of so-called “civil rights” was essentially unknown in 1830s America. While the election of Andrew Jackson to the presidency ushered in the so-called “Age of the Common Man,” the benefits of this “age” were almost exclusively restricted to white males. Although technically barred in the “Northwest Territory,” slavery and the keeping of African slaves was practiced in nearly every state and territory. Indian people were regarded in nearly the same light. Women’s right to vote would not become a reality until after the turn of the Twentieth Century.”
These are some of the issues people faced at this time. Emerson was advising people to stand up for their beliefs, fight for what’s right, and not to conform to societies standards. In fact, this whole work revolves around being a nonconformist. This directly correlates with the quote I chose. Emerson is warning the people too not get comfortable the way things are and accept it, but to instead stand up and make a difference.

Picture of an American city in the 1830s:


The quote I chose I still very applicable to today. Now, more than ever, people sit back as the government passes unjust laws. However, great leaders have stood up. Many women fought for women’s suffrage and eventually got the 19th amendment passed. Over 120 years after this work was written, a influential man named Martin Luther King Jr. stood up and made a difference. Now we have equal rights. We need more strong men like him to take charge and make a difference. One of today’s hottest debates is over the issue of healthcare. A new healthcare plan has been proposed. “When key parts of the health care law take effect in 2014, there’ll be a new way for individuals, families and small businesses to get health insurance. Whether you’re uninsured, or just want to explore new options, the Marketplace will give you more choice and control over your health insurance options.” http://www.healthcare.gov/marketplace?gclid=CPiLrby4jrYCFQ-znQodMxEAfQ

Martin Luther King Jr.


Video of Preident Obama explaining healthcare:

The fact that governing is trying to control the healthcare business and who has insurance has really put a lot of people on edge. Following Emerson’s advice, those who oppose it should speak up and not let government rule unjustly. It will be interesting to see how this issue plays out because the outcome is unknown. What can be known is that we can all learn from this quote by Emerson.

What was Nathaniel Hawthorne’s style, and what influenced it?

As I read through several of Hawthorne’s works for class, I realized they seemed very dark. His works are very gloomy and depressing. Before I can discuss what influenced his style, we my first establish what his style is. “Hawthorne’s works belong to romanticism or, more specifically, dark romanticism,cautionary tales that suggest that guilt, sin, and evil are the most inherent natural qualities of humanity. Many of his tales and novels focus on a type of historical fiction, though Hawthorne’s depiction of the past is used only as a vehicle to express themes of ancestral sin, guilt and retribution. His themes often center on the inherent evil and sin of humanity, and his works often have moral messages and deep psychological complexity.” http://icefvpphs.sharpschool.net/UserFiles/Servers/Server_29660/File/Nathaniel%20Hawthorne%20_%20Dark.ppt

What was Hawthorne’s personality and home life like? “All biographers have granted that Hawthorne was a deeply introspective, even introverted man who, for a dozen years after his college graduation from Bowdoin, kept pretty much to himself in Salem while he learned to write fiction. Afterward, he married Sophia Peabody, seemed sociable, fathered three children, published with great success, and became an esteemed public figure. Even so, Hawthorne was a true loner, a dark personality.”

I felt a little jumpy while sitting in my dorm reading “Young Goodman Brown,” and even scared a little, as I read along in the dark on my iPad. His works seem almost sinister as horrible things usually happen to the main character. In the case of “Young Goodman Brown,” the main character looses his religious faith. He never regains it again. In the case of “The Minister’s Black Veil,” the main character looses all his friends and everyone he loves. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tales are very depressing, hopeless, and filled with religious meanings.

Now that I have established his style and personality, I will explain some of the things that attributed to the formation of them. “Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts, on July 4, 1804, into the sixth generation of his Salem family. His ancestors included businessmen, judges, and seamen—all Puritans, a strict religious discipline. Two aspects of his background especially affected his imagination and writing career. The Hathornes (Nathaniel added the “w” to the name) had been involved in religious persecution (intense harassment) with their first American ancestor, William. Another ancestor, John Hathorne, was one of the three judges at the seventeenth-century Salem witchcraft trials, where dozens of people were accused of, and later executed for, being witches. Nathaniel’s father, a sea captain, died in 1808, leaving his wife and three children dependent on relatives. Nathaniel, the only son, spent his early years in Salem and in Maine. A leg injury forced Hawthorne to remain immobile for a considerable period, during which he developed an exceptional taste for reading and thinking.”
From the information above we can delineate that the loss of his father when he was only four years of age could have been a reason for his dark style. The lack of a father figure to a growing boy can often have adverse effects. Furthermore, he became enthralled with literature and writing when he was hurt and immobile for awhile as a kid. This is probably what led him to become a writer as a adult. Also, growing up in Salem, Massachusetts, probably had a very influential effect. Salem was, and is still, considered one of the most haunted and supernatural places on earth. He grew up in an extremely religious environment. Several of his ancestors were involved with the Salem witch trials. The evidence of this influence on hawthorne can be found in virtually all his writings. He loved writing on puritan society, sin, and religious issues of the time. This is made clearly evident in his most famous work “The Scarlet Letter.”

Video Summary of “The Scarlet Letter” :

“The Scarlet Letter”


Nathaniel Hawthorne’s early adulthood:
“With the aid of his wealthy uncles, Hawthorne attended Bowdoin College from 1821 to 1825. Among his classmates were poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and future U.S. president Franklin Pierce.Though small and isolated, the Bowdoin of the 1820s was an unusually good college, and Hawthorne undoubtedly profited from his formal education. He also made loyal friends. Returning from Bowdoin, Hawthorne spent the years 1825 to 1837 in his mother’s Salem household. Later he looked back upon these years as a period of dreamlike isolation and solitude, spent in a haunted room. During these “solitary years” he learned to write tales and sketches that are still unique. Recent biographers have shown that this period of Hawthorne’s life was less lonely than he remembered it to be. In truth, he did have social engagements, played cards, and went to the theatre. Nevertheless, he consistently remembered these twelve years as a strange, dark dream, though his view of the influence of these years varied.”
This explains a lot about Hawthorne. He was well educated. This enabled him to be a masterful writer. Also, he was often locked away in solitude with nothing but his own thoughts. This is where he learned to take his strange thoughts and placed them into writing. This gives an insight behind his bizarre and rather dark works.

A brief biography of Hawthorne:

An example of Hawthorne’s style:
“In the depths of every heart there is a tomb and a dungeon, though the lights, the music, and revelry above may cause us to forget their existence, and the buried ones, or prisoners whom they hide. But sometimes, and oftenest at midnight, these dark receptacles are flung wide open. In an hour like his….pray that your griefs may slumber.” -The Haunted Mind

“The Haunted Mind”


Hawthorne’s works are still relevant and seen in today’s society. For instance, in 2010, the movie “Easy A” came out and was a huge success. It is about a girl labeled as adulterer in high school and the pressures that go along with it. It is one of my favorite movies. It greatly resembles the “Scarlet Letter.” In both, a young woman is bashed and outcast for her adulteress ways.

“Easy A”


Taking all of the above into consideration, Hawthorne had many different influences upon his dark writing style. He was a relatively introverted and secluded man. He was a well educated man. Perhaps the most influential, he grew up in the strict puritan society of Salem, Massachusetts. All of these attributed to his unique and dark writing style.

Was the purpose of Uncle Tom’s Cabin to promote the abolition of slavery? Was it successful? Have other writers used fiction writing to try and influence society in some way?

Harriet Beecher Stowe was a very outspoken author. She wrote several controversial works promoting the abolition of slavery. The most famous of these was Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
“Stowe’s main goal with Uncle Tom’s Cabin was to convince her large Northern readership of the necessity of ending slavery.” http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/uncletom/context.html
Stowe’s work was a major contributing factor in influencing the Civil War.
“Upon meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe for the first time, Abraham Lincoln reportedly said, “So this is the little lady who made this big war.” Stowe was little—under five feet tall—but what she lacked in height, she made up for in influence and success. Uncle Tom’s Cabin became one of the most widely read and deeply penetrating books of its time. It sold hundreds of thousands of copies and was translated into numerous languages. Many historians have credited the novel with contributing to the outbreak of the Civil War.” http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/uncletom/context.html

Stowe used this fiction writing to inspire a nation to take up arms. Uncle Tom’s Cabin may not have been a true story, but it gave a very accurate portrayal of what life was like for blacks living in slavery. She used fiction writing to influence people into seeing her point of view. Stowe did this in very blatant ways. She was blunt and obvious when painting her picture of what is right. Others have also used fiction writing to influence others. Many, like Stowe, did this through writing very realistic fiction works. The most impressive to me, however, are those who influenced by writing in more indirect ways. The absolute master of this was Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

Theodor Seuss Geisel


Dr. Seuss had a great influence on the world. He achieved this through a very innovative idea. Instead of trying to persuade grown adults, which are pretty well settled in their beliefs, he primarily focused on children as his main audience. Adults are often stubborn and close minded, but children’s minds are ready to be molded. Children are inquisitive about everything and eager to learn. “If we are to reach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with the children.” -Gandhi
While most write about serious issues to a more grown up crowd, Seuss ingeniously discussed these same serious topics through children’s books. He created an entire made up world with made up creatures living in it. His imaginative cartoon like stories have enthralled children for over a half century now. He used these stories, set in a creative and friendly world, to educate young minds on very large issues. These issues ranged from Cold War relations to racial prejudices.

One of his most famous works was Green Eggs and Ham.
“Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss’ best-selling book, is about more than green eggs—but it is still, most certainly, about color. Although less elaborate than some of his other analogous stories, Green Eggs and Ham is, at least on the surface, about the power of perseverance in the face of stubborn resistance. (“You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may.”) But it is more than coincidence that his Green Eggs and Ham was published the same year President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act, which mandated federal oversight of elections in the South. It may be a stretch to imagine, but when Sam-I-Am is pressing his neighbor to try a strange gastronomic concoction, Seuss is pressing his readers to consider the goodness in things previously untried—like integrated schools systems and churches. At the very least, Green Eggs and Ham is about navigating life with an open mind and, at its best, it’s Seuss’ way of saying, “Don’t judge a book, or an egg—or a man—by its color.”” http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/books/features/28468-what-dr-seuss-was-really-up-to
This is a clear example of what I discussed above. He is using a simple fictional kids tale to inform children they should not judge others. This helped create a country that is now much more equal than in the past. The children of that time grew up to be less prejudice than the previous generations so Seuss obviously got his point across.

Green Eggs and Ham


Animated version of Green Eggs and Ham


Seuss’ work The Lorax has become very popular in recent years with the release of an animated movie. It is also my favorite of his works.
“This “post enviro-pocalyptic” fable is clearly about the fragility of nature and the consequences of reckless human industry. Resources are pillaged, animal species banished and moderation is thrown to the wind by the greedy Once-Ler who disregards the grandfatherly Lorax’s warnings. The fact that readers never see the Once-Ler’s face (only his money-grubbing and cigar-wielding hands) reinforces the idea that business corporations are faceless and, in the case of the Once-Ler and his “Thneeds that everyone needs,” soulless and destructive—taking whatever they want no matter how it affects the planet. Critics have scolded Seuss’ fable as being too simplistic and negative. But seeing how this is a children’s book, and 20th-century manufacturing didn’t exactly get an A on its report card of environmental stewardship, Seuss can be forgiven his opaque symbolism. Seuss’ greater point: When you are entrusted with something, don’t squander it; take care of it, and speak up for what’s right even if you get shouted down.”
Here Seuss is more negative and serious than normal. He instills in his reader the necessity of managing our resources carefully and appropriately. Now, manufacturers and other industries are much more conscious of resource consumption and pollution’s effect on the environment. Seuss masterfully taught a generation to take care of its surroundings which has, in turn, created a much more environmentally friendly world.

The Lorax


Animated version of The Lorax


Another work by the politically savvy Seuss was The Butter Battle Book. It was so controversial for its time that it was banned from all public libraries.
“The Butter Battle Book (theme is silly conflicts can escalate into a dangerous situation) was written in response to the arms buildup and nuclear war threat during the Reagan administration. Published in 1984, Butter Battle shed light on the growing threat of war between Yooks and the Zooks. The threat stems solely from the way Yooks and Zooks choose to eat their bread: butter-side up and butter-side down, respectively. The story ends with a blank page, leaving a cliffhanger ending that is open to interpretation.” http://www.teachpeace.com/drseussbutterbattle.htm
This book taught children about the seriousness of war. It also pointed out that often the reason for the fight is no reason to fight at all. We shouldn’t be scared and build up arms against one another over silly issues. We now live in a post Cold War world. That generation grew up to democratically find its way out of the Cold War and create peace.

The Butter Battle Book


Animated version of The Butter Battle Book, part 1 and 2.


Amongst the most interesting of Seuss’ stories was Yertle the Turtle.
“If you haven’t read the story, here’s a little overview: Yertle is the king of the pond, but he wants more. He demands that other turtles stack themselves up so he can sit on top of them to survey the land. Mack, the turtle at the bottom, is exhausted. He asks Yertle for a rest; Yertle ignores him and demands more turtles for a better view. Eventually, Yertle notices the moon and is furious that anything dare be higher than himself, and is about ready to call for more turtles when Mack burps. This sudden movement topples the whole stack, sends Yertle flying into the mud, and frees the rest of the turtles from their stacking duty. Dr. Seuss actually said Yertle was a representation of Hitler.” http://mentalfloss.com/article/28843/10-stories-behind-dr-seuss-stories
Here, Seuss shows he is not afraid to cover even the biggest and most touchy subject matter. He writes about the most tyrannical, brutal, and famous dictator of all time, Adolf Hitler. He warns us to be wary of those in charge, and sometimes we have to question and even rebel against authority.

Yertle the Turtle


Animated version of Yertle the Turtle


I became intrigued with Dr. Seuss last year when I worked at a local elementary school. As I read his stories to different children I became aware of his intentions. While the kids loved the entertaining stories, they also learned valuable morals, ethics, and lessons. Dr. Seuss was one of the most influential writers of all time. He forced us to be open minded and question what is accepted. He inventively did this through the young minds of children. He used fiction writing to influence people to make the world a better place. He emphasized the importance of speaking up and the difference that just one person can make. He taught that every person is important and matters, “A persons a person, no matter how small .”-Seuss (Horton Hears a Who). The virtues and values Seuss taught are universally applicable and will remain that way forever. He was great at using fictional stories to influence and educate others about very serious issues. Dr. Seuss was an iconic literary figure whose work will continue to be cherished for generations to come.

Thomas Paine, still relevant today?

Thomas Paine was a very influential, and controversial, historical figure during revolutionary times. During the American revolution he spoke out against British tyranny. He was a faithful friend and vicious enemy. He was always causing trouble by voicing his opinion openly, not caring who he hurt or offended. In 1775 he wrote his most famous work, “Common Sense.” This work was written in common everyday vernacular in order to speak to all people, not just the rich and well educated. This was one of the first works expressing a political opinion from such a blunt, bias perspective in America, and is still one of the most well known today. He was not afraid to step on toes as he constantly made fun of nearly everyone, from the King of England to his own friends (such as Thomas Jefferson). Paine spoke to the common ordinary person, and was calling them to make their own decisions about politics. He encouraged them to form their own opinions and to revolt, to take the country as their own. This was one of the major literary influences behind the start of the revolution. Paine’s work was widely published and read by most all colonists. It called for the colonists to pick up arms and retaliate, which they did. This illustrates how powerful and influential Thomas Paine really was. While now their are thousands of politicians and lobbyists trying to spread their thoughts and opinions about various political issues, none of them have had so much as half the influence that Thomas Paine had on the American people. Paine related the current issues in a way that interested and was understood by the common everyday people of his time, an ability most politicians of our time lack.

The following video elicits how Thomas Paine was a troublemaker, failed at many things, but ultimately influenced an entire country.
“Common Sense”

Thomas Paine was a visionary. He has many quotes that are still universally applicable today. While many are profound and relatively truthful, some are still very controversial today. His statement “The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion”
is a concept nearly none can grasp. For all history people have fought and discriminated against because of different beliefs, religions, ethnicities, and gender’s. Paine claims all people of all nations as his family and equals. He just wants to be a good person to all people. Think of all that has happened over the course of time since Paine was alive. From the women’s rights movement, to the Holocaust, to the Civil Rights movement, think of all the things that would not have been an issue if people could take this advice from Paine. Thomas Paine practiced what he preached. For example, Paine was one of the first and most influential Americans against slavery.

Paine left us with a lot to think about, and also some great advice with his many witty quotes. In this paragraph I will share some of my favorites, starting with “Character is much easier kept than recovered.” This statement is so truthful. One can go decades trying to rebuild their character, but once lost people often never completely trust you again. It is not all too hard to live a life of good character, but it is nearly impossible to regain your good character once you have lost it. Another of Paine’s quotes states “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. This is the exact opposite of how most people live their lives now. We live in an instant gratification, live it up country. Most, even if they say otherwise, are not at all concerned with the future generations. This is made evident through the fact that most Americans are not very concerned with issues such as global warming and fossil fuel emissions.
Quotes from this paragraph from: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/t/thomaspain159470.html

Industry and pollution are a major issue


When I think about future generations and how we affect them, the first thing the comes to my mind is the environment. In the last century or so, from the Industrial Age to the present, pollution has changed the worlds climate in what could turn out to be catastrophic ways. Paine declares we should take on the future generations problems now, but instead we make matters worse and do not heed nature’s warning signs. Politicians today constantly tussle over what we should do, but for the most part pollution is still a major problem. Even the renowned children’s author Thedor Giesel, better known as Dr. Suess, wrote about the harmful affects of human industry on the environment. He did this in his work “The Lorax.” Looking out for future generations instead of ourselves has never been a priority in American society. We would all do good to apply Paine’s words of wisdom and take care of future issues such as pollution and global warming.

The following is a video giving a brief description about global warming:

Dr. Suess: “The Lorax”


Thomas Paine was not shy about calling people out. He felt we should all do our fair share of work in society. He said, “Those who want to reap the benefits of this great nation must bear the fatigue of supporting it.” Needless to say, I bet Paine would not approve of all the handouts and social services offered in the United States today. He felt everyone should reap what they sow. He felt everyone should work and earn a living, not be lazy and taken care of by another. Paine also illustrates this as he states “The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.”Here he is telling us that adversity, struggles, and conflicts are what make us stronger, tougher people. Thomas Paine’s advice can be found through his works and statements and are still very applicable today. We can all learn from his stubborn, often controversial ways of always expressing how he felt no matter who disagreed or how much trouble he might get it. A lot can be taken away from Thomas Paine as I have illustrated above. There is plenty of knowledge and education to be found through the works of Paine and from the style by which he delivered his demanding calls for action and change. Paine’s works, statements, and style are still completely relevant to today’s world.
Quotes from this paragraph from: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/t/thomaspain159470.html


Image of Thomas Paine:


Why was Jonathan Edwards dismissed from being a minister in North Hampton, and what became of him afterwards?

I chose this topic because I was interested to know why John Edwards’ own congregation turned against him and outcast him, and was also intrigued to find out what befell of him in the later part of his life. The following is several sources documenting the dismissal of Edwards’ from his congregation in New Hampton and his life afterwards.

Jonathan Edwards’ grandfather Solomon Stoddard died on February 11th, 1729. He left his grandson the difficult job of being the only minister in charge of one of the largest and wealthiest congregations in the colony. All during his service in Northampton his preaching brought outstanding religious revivals. Jonathan Edwards became a key figure in what is now known as the First Great Awakening that took place during the 1730s and 1740s.
Tensions flared as Edwards refused to continue his grandfather’s practice of practicing an open communion. His grandfather (Stoddard) believed that communion was a “converting ordinance.” Other congregations of the area had also been convinced of this, and as Edwards believed that this was harmful, his public disagreement with the idea caused him to be relinquished of his duty as minister in North Hampton.
After his dismissal from North Hampton Edwards moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts. This was a frontier settlement where he ministered to a small congregation and served as missionary to the Housatonic Indians. Here he had more time to study and write. He finished his celebrated work, “The Freedom of the Will” in 1754.
Edwards became president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) in early 1758. He was a easy and popular choice as he had been a friend of the College since its founding and was the most respected American philosopher-theologian of his time. Sadly, Edwards died on March 22, 1758 of a fever at the age of fifty-four following an experimental vaccination for smallpox. He was buried in the President’s Lot in the Princeton cemetery beside his son-in-law, Aaron Burr.


Princeton University


The 1750 dismissal of Jonathan Edwards by his Northampton congregation was very disheveled, him being one of the greatest theologians in American history. Another aspect worth looking at is that friends and enemies alike agreed that in this drawn out and utterly degrading dismissal, Edwards continued to love and pray for these people, even when they showed their fangs.
Salary disagreements and power conflicts marred his ministry during the 1740s. In one particular occasion some teen boys in the church passed around a midwife’s manual, and used it to harass and make suggestive comments in front of girls. When the boys were caught the were summoned before the church, their response, according to documents of the proceedings, was “contemptuous … toward the authority of this Church.” Edwards made the decision to read to the church a list containing, indiscriminately, the names of both the young men along with the witnesses of the wrong doing. Several parents grew angry with Edwards.
Yet another issue was with Edwards’ personality and style as a minister. For instance at the beginning of his ministry at Northampton, Edwards’ decided that he would regularly visit his congregants but would instead come to their side when called upon as needed or in the case of sickness or some other emergency. This made many in the church see him as quite cold and distant.

North Hampton


Even though Edwards was very successful, his church and area ministers began to disapprove of him in 1748. He wanted stricter requirements on receiving communion than did his grandfather Solomon Stoddard. Edwards believed that there were too many hypocrites and unbelievers being accepted into church membership; therefore, he developed a rigid screening process. This controversy was a large contributing factor behind his dismissal from the Northampton church in 1750.Scholars see this event as a turning point in American religious history. Many believe Edwards’ ideas of reliance on God’s grace instead of good works began the rejection of Puritan attitudes from previously prevalent beliefs in New England.
Edwards’ next post was not near as grand. He ministered a small English church in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where he also served as a missionary to 150 Mohawk and Mohegan families. He served there from 1751 to 1757.
Even on the frontier, Edwards was not forgotten. In late 1757 he was called to be president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). Sadly, he only got to work here for a few months. On March 22, 1758, Jonathan Edwards died of a fever following an experimental small pox vaccination. He was buried in Princeton cemetery.

Mohawk Indian


The research I have done on the latter part of Jonathan Edwards’ life has made me feel sorry for him. At first, after reading some of his excerpts, I viewed him as just a scary pastor who loved to preach on condemnation; however, I now understand he was also a very honorable, religious, well educated, and hard working individual. He was outcast and shunned by those he served and loved, and died of a tragic death at a relatively early age. I’m glad I researched this because I now have a better understanding of Jonathan Edwards and the reasons behind his dismissal and knowledge of his latter life.

The following videos are examples of how Jonathan Edwards feels.
Jonathan Edwards Resolutions part 1.

Jonathan Edwards Resolutions part 2.

If interested in his preaching style, the following is his most famous sermon “Sinners in the hands of an Angry God”

What were most women during this time like in comparison to Anne Bradstreet?

Anne Bradstreet was an upper class woman. This meant she had many privileges and abilities that most female individuals of her time did not have. I picked this question because I was curious to know the lifestyle and education of the average women of this time in Europe. I wanted to know what background set her up for her success.

Anne Bradstreet was born in 1612, in Northhampton, England. She was born Anne Dudley. She was the daughter of Thomas Dudley and Dorothy Yorke. During this time most women were educated very little if at all. Anne did not attend an actual school, however she was privileged enough to receive her education from eight different tutors. Her father, Thomas Dudley, was always more than willing to teach her something new; ergo he also heavily contributed to her excellent education. She was an extremely curious pupil whom liked to feed her hunger for knowledge through her continuous reading of the greatest authors ever known up to then. Luckily her father’s occupation was the steward of the Earl of Lincoln estate, which gave Anne unlimited access to the immense library of the manor.

Bradstreet’s childhood was very luxurious compared to most. Her father was the chief steward for Theophilus Clinton, the Puritan Earl of Lincoln. Her father (who loved history) encouraged her in her studies. She probably read the works of William Shakespeare, Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Walter Raleigh, Du Bartas, Cervantes, and many others. http://classiclit.about.com/cs/profileswriters/p/aa_abradstreet.htm


Attributes of women during the early 17th century:
-Women wore simple basic clothing similar to tunics, they were considered housewives and they spent their days doing house work and farming.
– Caucasian women during the early 1600s did have the privilege of learning basic reading and writing skills. Sadly though, few women continued past this basic learning and most were actually discouraged to achieve education.
-After achieving a basic education, women learned and practiced to become mothers and house wives.
-Women did not have an influence in politics or legal issues of the day. They did not have a say in government policies either.
-In essence, women did not have a say in anything men felt women should not be involved in.
-Women had no right to own a business and could not hold any of the property once married
-Women could not get a divorce.
-If a woman was divorced, she would be stripped of all real-estate property and would be looked down upon by society.

There was a good deal of uncertainty about women’s education in the early seventeenth century. Protestant leaders believed that women as well as men of all classes should at least be able to read the Bible, and some religious literature. Women in the upper class were taught to read and often to write in English, and also they often studied French, needlework, a small amount of geography, music, and dancing, but the classical languages or other serious studies were commonly thought to be not only unnecessary but very likely harmful to a woman’s weaker mind and to her marriage prospects.



A prime example of what happens to a woman who steps outside of her gender’s boundaries in the 1600s can be found in the case of Anne Hutchinson. The following is a brief biography of her from http://m.search.eb.com/topic/277653
“Anne Marbury was the daughter of a silenced clergyman and grew up in an atmosphere of learning. She married William Hutchinson, a merchant, in 1612, and in 1634 they migrated to Massachusetts Bay Colony. Anne Hutchinson soon organized weekly meetings of Boston women to discuss recent sermons and to give expression to her own theological views. Before long her sessions attracted ministers and magistrates as well. She stressed the individual’s intuition as a means of reaching God and salvation, rather than the observance of institutionalized beliefs and the precepts of ministers. Her opponents accused her of antinomianism—the view that God’s grace has freed the Christian from the need to observe established moral precepts.
Hutchinson’s criticism of the Massachusetts Puritans for what she considered to be their narrowly legalistic concept of morality and her protests against the authority of the clergy were at first widely supported by Bostonians. John Winthrop, however, opposed her, and she lost much of her support after he won election as governor. She was tried by the General Court chiefly for “traducing the ministers,” was convicted in 1637, and was sentenced to banishment. For a time in 1637–38 she was held in custody at the house of Joseph Weld, marshal of Roxbury, Massachusetts. Refusing to recant, she was then tried before the Boston Church and formally excommunicated.
With some of her followers Hutchinson established a settlement (now Portsmouth) on the island of Aquidneck (now part of Rhode Island) in 1638. After the death of her husband in 1642, she settled on Long Island Sound, near present Pelham Bay, New York. In 1643 she and all her servants and children save one were killed by Indians, an event regarded by some in Massachusetts as a manifestation of divine judgment.”
This woman was persecuted and banished for speaking out about her religious views and opinions. Women of the 17th century were supposed to know their place.They were supposed to cook, clean, and raise children, not too speak out against male authority. This was an interesting story I felt necessary to share to understand how women of the time were viewed as lesser beings in society.

After researching this subject I learned that Anne Bradstreet was a very exceptional women, but only managed to accomplish what she did by the good fortunes of having a wealthy upper class background and tutors and a father who cared for and contributed to her education greatly. Most women of this time were lucky to be very literate much less be well educated like Anne. I am proud to live in a time and country where the education of all people is available and encouraged.