American Revolutionary Period

What was the literature in the revolutionary period?

Important Historical Events and Impact

The British were pressing tariffs and taxes on the colonists. The colonies wanted freedom from England and wanted to form their own country.



-The Age of Reason

-Boston Tea Party

-Lexington and Concord

-Stamp Act, Intolerable Acts, Sugar Act etc.

-Boston Massacre

-Shot Heard 'Round the World

-Valley Forge


Major Authors and Biographies

There were many influential authors during the revolutionary period.

Patrick Henry wrote speeches to support the revolution, such as the speech for the Virginia Convention where he says "Give me liberty or give me death" (Speech in the Virginia Convention 190) and "We have petitioned, we have remonstrated, we have supplicated, we have prostrated ourselves before the throne...”(A Speech to the VIrginia Convention 188) His use of parallelism is incredible and made people want to be on his side and be like him.

Benjamin Franklin wrote one of the most popular newspapers of the time.

Thomas Jefferson who wrote the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Paine wrote one of the most read publishing of that time and was one of THE most influential pieces for the colonists where he says that “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph”(The Crisis 160) Comparing this to hell in a time where religion was so important and widely debated makes tyranny seem even worse.

Phillis Wheatly who wrote many influential poems, including one to George Washington.









Predominant Genres and Themes

The majority of literature was political because of all of the fighting going on. There were a few works that were about other things, but they weren't very spectacular and have faded into the background. Everyone knew that they had more important things to get across so they didn't want to write about unimportant "pretty" topics. The overall theme was forceful and direct. These authors knew what they wanted and told everyone clearly and concisely. Most of the pieces were in the form of speeches or statements. The authors were extremely persuasive with their use of parallelism, charged words, diction, repetition, etc.

Stylistic Approach and Devices

The literature was not full of fluffy padded words. They only used the words that they needed. Many of these works were presented orally which gave the piece more impact. They were all great speakers and used that to their advantage. They were direct, blunt and got straight to the point. They used the colonists extreme emotions about this subject to fire them up and persuade them further. The works all use forceful and direct words like "tyranny", "dominion", "liberty, and despotism.