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Early American Literature


By 1500, there were 700 distinct tribes living in North America. ... Most Africans in America were West African or coast of Central African descent. The Africans ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Early American Literature

Early American Literature
  • Native Americans
  • Europeans
  • Africans

Native Americans
  • Arrived across Bering Strait 30,000 years ago.
  • Nomadic hunters and gatherers.
  • By 1500, there were 700 distinct tribes living in
    North America.
  • Most tribes were peaceful settling difference
    through negotiation, not war.
  • Complex cultures

Native American Literature
  • Oral tradition
  • Poetry and stories
  • Presented in form of myths, folk tales, and song
  • Common theme Examines the close relationship
    between human beings and nature. Shows a deep
    respect for the land.

Native American Literature
The Spanish
  • In 1492, Columbus opened the door to a century of
    Spanish Exploration
  • Cortes in Mexico
  • Pizarro in Peru
  • Narvaez DeSoto in southeastern U.S.
  • Coronado in southwestern U.S.

The Europeans The Spanish
  • By 1550, Spanish control extended throughout
    Mexico, Central America, part of the southwestern
    U.S., most of the West Indies, most of western
    South America

Spanish Motivation for Exploration
  • Adventure Explorers were well-regarded and
  • Treasure huge amounts of Indian gold and
  • Desire for Converts to Christianity
    establishment of missions. Clothing, food, and
    housing. By 1630, over 60,000 Native American

The Spanish
  • St. Augustine, Florida oldest town in the U.S.
  • Destruction of Native America societies.
  • By 1588, Spanish influence was in decline after
    the defeat of the Armada.
  • Literature Types personal narratives of
    explorers and legends from missionary period.

The Europeans The English
  • Roanoke Island colony in 1585.
  • Jamestown founded in 1607. Within seven month,
    disease and hardship claimed the lives of 2/3 of
    the settlers.
  • Tobacco is first cash crop.
  • Successful because regarded the new settlements
    as their home.
  • Plymouth Colony established in 1620 by Pilgrims.

The English
  • Types of Literature histories of the new land
    and religious writings.
  • First book published in the New World The Bay
    Psalm Book (1640).

The Africans
  • First Africans in North America were probably
    slaves of the Spanish Portuguese.
  • Slavery developed in the colonies in early 1600s.
  • By 1644 laws requiring lifelong servitude for
    black slaves.
  • Quakers were the only religious body to oppose
    slavery for over a century.

The Africans
  • Estimated 15 million Africans were transported to
    the Americans between 1540 1850.
  • Most Africans in America were West African or
    coast of Central African descent.

The Africans
  • Slave traders maximized profit by carrying as
    many as physically possible on a slave ship.
  • The Brookes carried over 600 people from Africa
    to the Americas. It was originally built for 451
  • Only half of the peoples taken from Africa became
    effective workers in the Americas. Many died
    from disease, were crippled for life, or
    committed suicide.

The Africans
  • By the 17th century, slaves could be purchased in
    Africa for about 25 and sold in America for
    about 150.
  • Even with a death rate of about 50 percent,
    merchants could expect to make tremendous

The Africans
  • Very little literature exists from this time
  • Literature Types Slave narratives by freed
    slaves and some poetry.
  • Most personal history survived only in oral
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