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Important Books in US History
Terms in this set (28)
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
(1741) Jonathan Edwards; First Great Awakening; Edwards's sermon points to the judgment awaiting hard-hearted sinners.
(1776) Thomas Paine; American Revolution; Paine argued for independence and the U.S. declared independence soon thereafter.
(1787-88) Ratification of Constitution; Eighty-five editorials in NY newspapers argued for ratification of the Constitution.
Democracy in America
(1835, 1840) Alexis deTocqueville; Foreign traveler comments on the U.S.; Tocqueville wrote a very fine book in two volumes that analyzed U.S. and Americans in the 1830s, including the horrid treatment of Indians and blacks.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
(1845) Frederick Douglass; Slavery, antislavery reform; Douglass told of his life as a slave and argued for abolition of slavery.
Women in the Nineteenth Century
(1845) Margaret Fuller; Women's rights movement;Fuller said that women must fulfill themselves as individuals, not subordinates to men. The book was influential at Seneca Falls.
(1849) Henry David Thoreau; Thoreau spends a night in jail in protest of the Mexican War; civil disobedience; The book speaks to the duty of civil disobedience in response to an individual's self-reliance and conscience. (Self-reliance is a transcendentalist principle.)
Uncle Tom's Cabin
(1852) Harriet Beecher Stowe; Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 (part of Compromise of 1850); Slavery. This book enflamed both the North and the South. Upon meeting her, Lincoln said: "So you're the little lady who started this great war."
A Century of Dishonor
(1881) Helen Hunt Jackson; Reform movement leading to Dawes Act of 1887. Jackson wrote of the mistreatment of the Indians since colonial times. This book was to Indians what Uncle Tom's Cabin was to slavery.
(1885) Imperialism; racism; Strong argued that the Anglo-Saxon "race" would conquer the world.
The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783
(1890) Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan; Imperialism; naval arms race; Mahan demonstrated the importance of a strong navy for national power; his work led to the U.S. building the Great White Fleet of battleships in the 1890s and the naval arms buildup among various nations.
How the Other Half Lives
(1890) Jacob Riis; Slums; reform; Riis described the horrible living conditions in the poor tenement district of New York City.
The Significance of the Frontier in American History
(1893) Frederick Jackson Turner; The end of the frontier and the emergence of urban America; Turner wrote about the practical, inventive, coarse, individualistic American that was the product of the American frontier.
The Shame of the Cities
(1902) Lincoln Steffens; Muckrakers; Progressive reform; Steffens described corruption in major cities and cried out for reform (book appeared earlier in serial form in McClure's)
The Souls of Black Folk
(1903) W.E.B. DuBois; Blacks in America; He argues for advanced education for blacks while despairing of the plight of blacks since Reconstruction.
The History of the Standard Oil Company
(1904) Ida Tarbell; Monopolistic trusts; muckrakers; antitrust laws; Muckraker Ida Tarbell exposed the Standard Oil Co. and Rockefeller as rapacious and exploitative (book appeared earlier in serial form in McClure's)
(1906) Upton Sinclair; Muckrakers; corporate abuses; Sinclair exposed Chicago meat-packing industry. This led to Meat Inspection Act of 1906.
The Promise of American Life
(1909) Ernest Hemingway; TR's New Nationalism; Croly (and TR) preached that big government should regulate big business and big unions. [Contrast this with Wilson's New Freedom which suggested that big business should be broken up to promote competition among small businesses.]
This Side of Paradise
(1920) F. Scott Fitzgerald "Pleasure-seeking "lost generation" This fictional story follows a young Princeton student through a life filled with broken relationships, alcohol, and casual sex.
(1920) Sinclair Lewis; Provincialism and intolerance; Small-town American values are skewered as a bright young woman is frustrated as she tries to change things for the better.
The Sun Also Rises
(1926) Ernest Hemingway; "Lost Generation" of 1920s; Disillusioned by WWI, American expatriates in Europe lose themselves in alcohol, casual sex, and a frantic effort to enjoy themselves. Note: The Sun Also Rises is to the "Lost Generation" of the '20s as On The Road is to the "Beat Generation" of the '
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit
(1955) Sloan Wilson; '50s conformity; the bankruptcy of corporate life; This fictional account of the Rath family trying to live the good life in the fifties is a searing criticism of corporate life that demands everything.
On the Road
(1957) Jack Kerouac; Counter-culture in the 1950s; "beatniks"; the "beat generation" Kerouac writes about three years of restless cross-country trips involving various stories of people living on the fringes of society. Drugs, alcohol, and casual sex are routine.
The Affluent Society
(1958) John Kenneth Galbraith; Consumerism and prosperity in the 1950s; Galbraith criticized society where increasing private affluence exists alongside increasing poverty. He urged greater governmental expenditures on education and health care.
(1962) Rachel Carson; Environmental protection reform; She wrote of about the harmful effects of the pesticide DDT and began the environmental protection movement. DDT was banned.
The Feminine Mystique
(1963) Betty Friedan; Women's Rights; feminist movement; The book explained the frustration of educated American housewives trapped in roles that deny self-fulfillment. The book started the second feminist
Letter from Birmingham Jail
(1963) Martin Luther King; Civil Rights movement; King argued in favor of civil disobedience to challenge racial injustice.
The Last of the Mohicans
(1826) James Fenimore Cooper; Cultural nationalism in post War of 1812 period; This fictional work is based on the 1757 surrender of Fort William Henry to the French during the French and Indian War.
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