Literature of the Revolution

Maggie Theel 1st period

Literature had a great impact on the American Revolution

Some influential authors


Mercy Otis Warren

Mercy Otis Warren was a great patriot writer. She was born in 1728 into a family of all boys in Massachusetts. When she was young, Mercy learned to express her feelings and opinions through reading, writing, and discussing politics. In 1743, she attended the Harvard Commencement and met James Warren. In November, 1754, they got married and went lived in the Warren family estate at Eel River, Plymouth, Mass. She continued her studies with her brother James as he prepared at home for his master's degree. In 1757, they moved to Winslow house in Plymouth, Massachusetts and had two sons. Mercy is the playwright of several plays and published works including The Defeat, The Blockheads, and her collection of Poems: Dramatic and Miscellaneous.

She and her husband would read the newspaper together. She had dark brown hair and her favorite color was blue. She loved wearing blue dresses and bonnets with lace edges. She strongly believed in woman's suffrage, independence, liberty, and in the power of the written word.

RIP Mercy Otis Warren

Wednesday, Oct. 19th 1814 at 7am

634 Careswell Street

Marshfield, MA

Beloved mother, wife, and writer. She let her opinions be heard.

Thomas Paine

On January 29, 1737, Thomas Paine was born in Thetford, England. His father had high hopes for his son, but by the age of 12, Thomas had failed out of school. Paine began apprenticing for his father, but again, he failed. So, at 19, Paine went to sea. However, he soon returned home and in 1768 became an excise officer (tax collector) in England. Thomas didn't really live up to the job, getting discharged from his post twice in four years, but as a hint at what was to come, he published The Case of the Officers of Excise (1772), arguing for a pay raise. In 1774, by complete coincidence, he met Benjamin Franklin in London, who helped him emigrate to Philadelphia.

His career in journalism took off while in Philadelphia and Thomas Paine suddenly became a household name. In 1776, he published Common Sense, a famous political pamphlet arguing for American independence.

He joined with the Continental Army and failed as a soldier, but wrote The American Crisis (1776-83), which helped inspire the Army. This pamphlet was so popular that (as a percentage of the population), it was read by or read to more people than today watch the Super Bowl.

However after that Paine's help in the revolutionary cause sort of dropped off the map. He returned to Europe and pursued other careers, such as working on a smokeless candle and an iron bridge. In 1791-92, he wrote The Rights of Man in response to the French Revolution. This work caused Paine to be put in jail in England for his anti-monarchist views. He would have been arrested, but he fled for France.

By 1793, he was imprisoned yet again in France for not supporting the execution of Louis XVI. While imprisoned, he wrote and distributed the first part of what was to become his most famous work at the time, the anti-church text, The Age of Reason (1794-96). He was freed in 1794 and remained in France until 1802 when he returned to America on an invitation from Thomas Jefferson. Paine discovered that his contributions to the American Revolution had been completely disregarded due to his religious views. Ridiculed by the public and abandoned by his friends, he died on June 8, 1809 at the age of 72 in New York.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

A thinker of bold originality, his essays and lectures provide great clarity, style, and thought. Born on May 3, 1803, in Boston, Emerson received a classical education at Boston Latin School and began Harvard at the age of 14. He was an early American philosopher, preacher, writer, and poet known for his support of self reliance and individualism. He was the author of the poem "Concord Hymn" written about the battle of Lexington and Concord.

RIP Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, Dec. 20th 1882 at 7:45am

34 Bedford Street

Concord, MA

Ralph Waldo Emerson, a preacher, philosopher, and poet, embodied the finest spirit and highest ideals of his age.

Political Articles of the Revolution

Declaration of Independence

A lot of people in today's time don't consider the Declaration of Independence actual 'literature', but why not? It contains a lot of important issues surrounding the economic and political issues of the revolutionary era. It basically 'declares' all the problems the patriots had with how Britain was running things and why they thought it was unfair. Obviously, nobody's going to go to their library and just read the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson was an intelligent man who used a lot of big words that are hard to understand in unfamiliar context. However, this should not stop people from learning about the principles America was built on. Here is a website that breaks down the Declaration into simpler terms! & look above for Jefferson's social networking sites! :)

Common Sense

This political pamphlet persuaded many Americans to become patriots with it's many arguments for American Independence. He argues that there are no advantages to staying with England and that since Great Britain is smaller than the colonies, it is unnatural and wrong for them to govern us. "Nothing but independence. . .can keep the peace of the continent. . .it is infinitely wiser and safer, to form a constitution of our own in a cool deliberate manner, while we have it in our power. . ." He believed that independence was the only way to keep the nation peaceful was to declare independence and form their own constitution. Paine had great contributions to the American Revolution that, as seen in his above biography, were never really recognized. His arguments stirred up talk of revolution and independence that had been much less and not as wide-spread before.

Poems of the Revolution

Concord Hymn

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,

Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,

Here once the embattled farmers stood

And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;

Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;

And Time the ruined bridge has swept

Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,

We set today a votive stone;

That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare

To die, and leave their children free,

Bid Time and Nature gently spare

The shaft we raise to them and thee.

This elegant poem about the battles of Lexington and Concord commemorated and celebrated the first battle of the revolution. It was originally written to be performed as a hymn at Concord's independence day celebration and dedicating of the Obelisk memorial. Emerson's quote "and fired the shot heard 'round the world" became a famous quote that sums up the entire revolutionary era. Emerson's simplistic rhyme scheme puts a subtle emphasis on every line, every stanza. "To die, and leave their children free" really shows how these minutemen weren't just fighting for themselves and their way of life, they were fighting for their futures and their children's futures.

Independence Day Celebration

Tuesday, July 4th 1837 at 3pm

Monument St

Concord, MA

Celebrating our freedom, remembering our losses.

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

Published in 1863, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow narrates the story of Paul Revere. When Paul Revere rode through Lexington, Concord, and Medford, he was warning the citizens of the British who were coming to disturb their peaceful night with war and tragedy.

"A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere."

This excerpt from the poem tells how Paul Revere's warning cry wasn't in distress, but defiance. In the darkest hour there is still one voice that will call out to help.

Full Poem