The movie, Last of the Mohicans
The movie, Last of the Mohicans, (Mann 1992) is set in this era of North American history. Though widely fictionalized, the drama depicts real events, such as the Fort William Henry massacre.
This movie illustrates the complexity of relationships between the Native Americans, the British and the French; and how those relationships would affect the outcome of history.
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The era would also evolve into the birth of a nation, as, in 1776, the American Revolutionary War began. The second major conflict of this era would shed blood in nearly all parts of the “New World”. It would take many hard years for the American colonies to achieve this goal, and the price would be terrible. However, by 1800, the United States of America was a reality.
As the War of 1812 would show, this new nation would be a strong one. Although very costly as well, the War of 1812 would solidify the United States as an independent nation.
This era in American history not only affected its culture and political landscape, it also affected its art. Literature of the time would change, as it does so often following periods of conflict.
Benjamin Franklin would prove to be one of the most important authors of this era. His self-taught determination would lead him to own his own publishing shop, and there by further the cause of literature itself. It was, however, a single document that would secure his place among the important American writers: The Declaration of Independence. (NAAL 2003) This document sent to King George III of England would mark the beginning of the end of the British control over the Americas. Though he was an ambassador and politician, it was this act that gave Franklin the place in history he now holds.
Thomas Paine would also find his fame in politics. His penning of the pamphlet: Common Sense would press for the colonists to separate from the British Empire as a matter of economic sense. Though he would return to England after the war for independence, Paine would have to flee to France following his publication of Rights of Man, an attack on the monarchy and hereditary rule. (NAAL 2003)
This would prove to be a poor decision, however, as Paine would be jailed in France for speaking against the execution of Louis XVI. Saved from life in prison by an American diplomat, Paine would die in New York penniless.
Susanna Rowson would become a far different type of writer than Paine, or Franklin. After following her actor husband to New York, she was forced to write to earn money for her family. Her husband’s alcoholism proved too much for him to care for his family. However, this turn of events would lead to the first best seller of the American Literary tradition: Charlotte: A Tale of Truth in 1792. (NAAL 2003)
The events of any era cannot help but to affect its corresponding literature. This era is no different. Some of the most remembered works stem from the charged poltical atmosphere of the age and, reciprocally, some works affected the political atmosphere.
The Last of the Mohicans. Dir. Michael Mann. Morgan Creek Productions. Hollywood CA. 1992. video 1999.
Gura, Phillip F. Gen Ed. The W.W. Norton Anthology of American Literature. Vol. A. 2003