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What did children and adults read during the time of the American Revolution? What...

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ae8488 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 26, 2009 at 4:16 AM via web

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What did children and adults read during the time of the American Revolution? What writings were popular to them?

Also if you could tell me any jobs that Georgians specifically had during the American Revolution that would be great!

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marilynn07 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted September 26, 2009 at 5:30 AM (Answer #1)

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In America, most adults read from the Bible.  Some read sermons as well. Many early American colonists kept journals Such as Anne Hutchinson, Roger Williams,  William Penn, Cpt. John Smith, and others such as the writings of "Poor Richard" aka Benjamin Franklin. Americans had access to the writings of Charles Dickens, Alexander Pope, and Milton as well.

Most American poetry of this period revolves around religious ideas. Some poets include Anne Bradstreet, Cotton Mather, Blyes Mather, and others.

There were libraries in Boston and Virginia, but these were mainly private collections and very valuable to their owners.  The idea of a public library was given to America by Benjamin Franklin. Washington Irving published "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" in 1819, and one year later James Fennimore Cooper published The Last of the Mohicans.

Those who had money and ability were able to acquire literature from Europe. However, paper was not necessarily readily availabe and mass produced as it is today. Books were expensive and a luxury.

Letter writing was another form of reading that many people did for recreation and communication. There was no mass communication at that time as we understand it. To learn the news from relatives in a distant town or country, one depended on a hand-written letter. Some of these letters could be several pages long.

Children were mainly taught to read and write at home. The most common teaching tools were slate and chalk or a pad of wax and a stylus. These were reusable and avoided wasting paper. Once a child had learned lettering and numbering, he or she moved on to proverbs and sayings that were easily remembered.  Most early American children were taught from a text called The Hornbook. This was written on harder substance than paper. It could not be torn. It was durable and able to withstand being wet, dropped, or used over and over from one sibling to the next.

 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 26, 2009 at 5:43 AM (Answer #2)

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Since the American novel had not yet evolved, Americans read mostly religious works, instructional works, autobiographies, or political pamphlets.  "The Pilgrims' Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come" by John Bunyan, published in 1678, was on the canon for all Americans since it was reagarded as one of the most significant works of literature at that time, and William Bradford's "Of Plymouth Plantation," which relates the journey of the Puritans from England to Cape Cod, a sea voyage that took sixty-five days, was widely read also.  The poetry of Anne Bradstreet, a devout Puritan, was read by many as were the writings of Cotton Mather who wrote "Bonifacius (Essays to Do Good)," a book that influenced Benjamin Franklin who later published his very popular "Poor Richard's Alamanac."  In addition, Franklin's "Autobiography" was also popular.

When Franklin purchased the Philidelphia Gazette, newspapers had gained much popularity, as well. (The Boston Gazette was also widely read.)

Before the Revolution, pamphlets and essays circulated among Americans, with the essays of Thomas Paine being read by many.  In 1728 William Byrd began his "History," but it was not published until 1841 after his death. Some literature about the Native American Indians was published, such as "A Narrative of the Captivity" by Mary Rowlandson.  This work was one of the most widely read prose works of the seventeenth century, and was especially popular in England, where people wer eager for lurid tales of the native in the Americas.

Of course, the most widely read work in early America was the Bible since this revered book was in nearly every Early American home.

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