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The period 1765 to 1829 is remarkable in American history as the settlers of the different colonies, who had immigrated from different parts of Europe, were now beginning to think of themselves as one people. This was an age of great complexities and problems and rapid changes. The entire western civilization was bearing the weight of certain clashes. Mercantilism versus Free Trade, Imperialism versus Home Rule, Tory versus Whig and Federalism versus Republicanism . Since an integral part of American character is the belief in the rights of the individual for his fullest possible development within a free society, providing justice and equality for all, the literature of the period is of great interest and importance. For in the books written and speeches made during this period we come across repeated assertions of this belief.
An excellent literature of politics or an eually praiseworthy literature of religion was not enough. The nationalists felt the intense desire to establish a tradition of belles-lettres. If poetry, fiction and the drama were the marks of great culture, America did not want to lag behind any other country in the possession of these. This was the spirit behind the literary attempts of such writings, as Philip Freneau, the Connecticut Wits, William Cullen Bryant and others. This was the attitude that prompted Washigton Irving and Cooper to look diligently for material for romance and legends in the annals of American history. It is in the romantic period that we get the finest expression of this spirit.
The political issue produced a spate of writing mostly controversial and polemical. The Whigs and the Tories displayed zeal in arguing out their points of view. Franklin's special works Rules by which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a small one, and An Edict of the King of Prussia, Thomas Pain's brilliant pamphlets Common Sense and The American Crisis were among the most enduring specimens of prose literature of the period. The Declaration of Independence composed by Jefferson remains a classic. Along with the Struggle for independence, American literature flowered into an unprecedented grandeur.
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