A Nation is Born: The Age of Reason (1750

A Nation is Born: The Age
of Reason (1750-1800)
American Literature
Ms. Oliveira
Reason and science over faith
People by nature are good
Sought to draw on the new
scientific knowledge of the
Renaissance to improve the
human condition by improving
man's institutions, government
Writing was public writingnewspapers, magazines,
almanacs- Political writing most
Main concern was the hereafter
Man sinning was inevitable
Government was a theocracy
Theological Studies, hymns,
histories, diaries and historiespurpose was to provide spiritual
insight and instruction or selfexamination
Age of Reason or The Enlightenment
Writers and thinkers valued reason over faith
Provided the philosophical basis of the American Revolution
= a blueprint for the organization of a democratic society.
Started in Europe with Voltaire, Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton,
Rousseau, John Locke
In America, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and Thomas
Jefferson – Declaration of Independence and U.S.
Cultural Identity
During this period, America began to
establish a cultural identity of its own
 Theaters built
 Colleges established: University of North
Carolina (Chapel Hill) and Blount College
 Painters and music writers emerged
Benjamin Franklin: The Rationalist
One of 17 children
1722 become vegetarian to save
money for books
Left school early to work, and by
the age of 24, he was a
prosperous merchant, owner of a
print shop, and published a
newspaper (Silence Dogoodsatirize daily life in politics)
Moved to Philly at 17- promoted
paved streets, sewer line, street
Inventor (42 retired from
printing)- lightening rod, bifocals,
Franklin stove, odometer
Started Autobiography in 1771
(65 yrs.) added 3 more sectionsnever completed
Franklin Funnies
Phillis Wheatley
1753?-Born in west Africa;
brought to America when 8 yrs.
Given her name by owners and
converted to Christianity
Native language was not English
Owners recognized her
intelligence and taught her Latin
and Greek classics, English poetry
and Bible
13- first poem published
Freed in 1773- last yrs of life
filled with sorrow: 3 children died,
husband jailed for debt, lost
recognition as poet
Died alone and impoverished in
First writer of African descent to
gain a voice in America
Patrick Henry
“Give me liberty or give me death!”
1765-elected to the
Virginia House of
Opposed the Stamp Act on
all printed paper
1775- Delivered most
famous speech t the
Virginia Provincial
Convention-urged armed
resistance to Britain
(unlike many others)
Speech had a powerful
impact on the audiencerevolutionary spirit that led
to the Declaration of
Revolutionary Romps