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The most Influential Documents& Literature in American History

By: Jacy Su American Study

The Letter Section 1

to the Old World

The Monroe Doctrine -To the Mother Country

Monroe Doctrine was an American foreign policy opposing interference in the western hemisphere from outside powers. it was expressed during President Monroe's seventh annual message to Congress, December 2, 1823. James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States. He was the last president who was a Founding Father of the United States, and the last president from the Virginia dynasty and the Republican Generation. Napoleonic wars, a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions, had huge impact on America. During the war, the relationship among Britain, France and America was very complicated. Because France and Britain kept capturing American ships, the U.S government signed the 1809 non-intercorse Act and stop trading with these two countries. However, Napoleon provoked animosity between the British and the Americans in order to humble the British, therefore war of 1812 occurred between America and its mother country. The Napoleonic Wars gave the British a reason to continue their dominance over the Americans but


Picture: Napoleonic Wars

it also gave reason to the American war effort in their "second war" for At the Cabinet meeting of independence. November 7, 1823, Adams argued against Canning's offer, and The end of the Napoleonic Wars said, "It would be more candid, as in 1815 marked the breakup of the well as more dignified, to avow our Spanish empire in the New World. principles explicitly to Russia and Between 1815 and 1822 Argentina France, than to come in as a cockboat Chile and in the wake of Venezuela the British manwent out of of-war." colonialism. The new republics sought -- and President expected -James Monroe recognition finally address by the United the policy to States. Public. The Doctrine noted Britain had that the United a desire for States would new markets; neither interfere South America with existing as a whole European constituted, at colonies nor the time, a much meddle in larger market the internal for English goods than the United concerns of European countries. It States. George Canning, the British stated that further efforts by European foreign minister, proposed that the nations to colonize land or interfere United States and Great Britain join with states in North or South America to warn off France and Spain from would be viewed as acts of aggression, intervention. Both Jefferson and requiring U.S. intervention. Madison urged Monroe to accept the offer, but John Quincy Adams was The address became a defining more suspicious. moment in the foreign policy of the 4

"...with the Governments who have declared

their independence and maintain it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power � Cartoon of Moroe Doctrine

United States and one of its longest-standing tenets, and would be invoked by many U.S. statesmen and several U.S. presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Ronald Reagan and many others. The Roosevelt Corollary is a major corollary to the Monroe Doctrine that was articulated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. It took Monroe’s points further to say that the United States had the right to exercise military force in Latin American countries in order to keep European countries out. The Monroe doctrine has huge impact on American further diplomatic policy. it should be considered as one of the most influential documents in American history.

in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States..."

-Monroe Doctrine

Section 2

Declaration of Independence

The U.S Constitution

The Emancipation Proclamation

Documents The Pursuits of Happiness

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.�


Letters from an American Farmer

Common Sense

Civil Disobedience

This is an excerpt of the Declaration of Independence. For the American people, the pursuit of happiness is not only the foundation for building a nation, it is their dream regardless of race, gender, age and background. The road to happiness is full of obstacles, sacrifices and conflicting devotions. American people struggle to fulfill their dream because of all the politics that obstruct their paths. What makes America a great country is that the American Dream has never faded.

or not. Next, the Stamp Act was Parliaments’ first attempt at a direct tax, a tax charged with no mercantilist justification of regulating trade. Colonists were supposed to purchase stamps to affix to all manner of legal documents, certificates, and licenses and to even humbler paper goods newspapers. The opposition of people caused the British government to backed down. American people realized the revolutionary time is coming. Some secret society such as Sons of Liberty formed to rally colonist to resist British authority. The tension created by British actions and American reactions broken out in serious violence. The Boston Massacre happened in 1770, few people have been killed. The Boston Tea Party also increased the tension between British and Americans.

Declaration of Independence: The Foundation of Happiness The declaration of independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document, which congress would edit to produce the final version. The declaration of independence symbolized the success that achieved by American after struggling for their independence. This is a start point of American dream. From 17 century, America is one of the colonies of the Great Britain. As early as 1764 Parliament set about trying to wring money from the colonies, and the Sugar Act was the first attempt to pass a law with the sole purpose of raising revenue. Americans first realized that their economy was under the control of the British government whether that control was to their benefit

Finally, American people had to gathered weapons and prepared to defend their right. In 1775, The first war between British army and American army occurred in Lexington, MA. George Washington was the leader of the revolutionary army. After one-year-long bloody battle, American people declared the independence of a new sovereign nation, the United States of America, on July 4, 1776. Senators like Benjamin Franklin, Adam Smith also join the ratification of the Declaration of independence. In Declaration of independence, “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is the birth certificate of the United States of America. It should be consider as the foundation of the U.S. Declaration of Independence →

What's about the writer? -Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson is one of the most widely respected and admired figures in American history. A writer, diplomat, political leader, inventor, architect, philosopher, and educator, with an intense belief in equal rights and individual freedoms, Jefferson played a significant role in the creation and shaping of America. While serving in the House, Jefferson became an outspoken defender of American rights. After Jefferson displayed his persuasive abilities in his pamphlet A Summary View of the Rights of British America, he was chose to draft the Declaration of Independence at the Second Continental Congress in 1776. In 1801, after he served as Vice president under John Adams, Jefferson became the third American President. While in office, Jefferson commissioned the Lewis and Clark expedition to find a land route to the Pacific through the west, and nearly doubled the size of the nation by authorizing the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

We, the People! -United States Constitution Constitution is the most important document in American history. the supreme law of the United States of America has seven articles and 27 amendments. The first three Articles of the Constitution establish the rules and separate powers of the three branches of the federal government: a legislature, the bicameral Congress; an executive branch led by the President; and a federal judiciary headed by the Supreme Court. The last four Articles frame the principle of federalism. The Tenth Amendment confirms its federal characteristics. It’s fair to say Constitution is the one that protect American citizens’ happiness. In 1787, There are two rival plans of constitution. One is the Virginia Plan, which was posed by Medison. In addition to securing the power to tax and to regulate commerce, Madison proposed creating a government that divides power among three branches- the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The plan proposed a bicameral legislature with larger populations would have more members. The Virginia Plan also called for a strong President. Another one is New Jersey Plan. This plan

gave congress the powers to regulate commerce and to tax, but it kept the three chief principles of Articles of Confederation. First, it retained a unicameral legislature representing the states as equals, no matter how large or small. Second, it preserved an executive committee rather than adopting a singular President. Third, the states remained sovereign except for those few powers specifically granted to the national government.

Finally, led by Sanator of Conneticut, the delegates reached a compromise between the Virginia and the New Jersey plans, known as the Connecticut Compromise, or the Great Compromise. The Great Compromise decided to have three branches system; Number of House representatives based on a states' population; Senate representation eaqual for all states regardess of a state's population. Also, a

compromise known as the ThreeFifths Compromise counted each slave as three ffths of a person to be Representatives and electoral votes. It’s fair to say Constitution is the one that protect American citizens’ happiness. As the superior law of America, it is possible to find any legal basis for every cases.

Freedom! Freedom! -Emancipation Proclamation The Emancipation Proclamation is an order issued to all segments of the Executive branch of the United States by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, during the American Civil War. The first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation before the cabinet was on September 22, 1862. and on January 1, 1863, Lincoln composed the final Emancipation Proclamation. It was one of the major achievement of his administration.

as a free state. Compromise of 1850 would not only cut off the Pacific coast from slave holding states but also upset the balance of power in the Senate that had been maintained since the Missouri Compromise in 1820. In order to maintain the power of slavery states, southerners stiffen the fugitive slave law and require northerners return escaped slaves. Under these circumstances, even some African American born free in the North were sent south into slavery. However, at the same time, the underground railroad assisted and transported fifty thousand escaped slaves to safe communities in the North or to complete freedom from recapture in Canada. The conflicts between North and South toward slavery issue were inevitable.

Slavery had become a controversial topic since 40 years before the civil war actually happened. In 1820, Missouri Compromise engineered by Henry Clay of Kentucky in order to keep the balance of slave and free states in the senate. Southerners were aware of the 36 degree 30 second line of latitude and start to defend slavery. When the Civil War began, Thirty years later, the gold rush set in motion the disruptive news that the task of preserve Union seems California wanted to join the Union more important than the task of

abolish slavery. However, Almost from the beginning of his administration, Lincoln was pressured by abolitionists and radical Republicans to issue an Emancipation Proclamation. In principle, Lincoln approved, but he postponed action against slavery until he believed he had both wider support from the American Public and a correct time to announce the Emanicipation Proclamation. In battle of Antietam, the retreat of Lee into Virginia was the first significant good news for the Union forces and spurred Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln’s issuance of this document was his single most important act in saving the Union by providing a moral justification for continuing the war. In the document, Lincoln freed the slaves in all areas rebelling against the Union, ensured their personal safety and permitted black soldiers to fight for freedom.

“...I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States and parts of States are, and henceforward shall be, free...” “...the people so declare to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence...” “...such persons of suitable condition will be received into the armed service of the United States...”

“...I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States and parts of States are, and henceforward shall be, free...” “...the people so declare to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence...” “...such persons of suitable condition will be received into the armed service of the United States...” The interesting thing is, the proclamation did not free any slaves, as slaves from conquered Confederate territory had already be freed; slaves in areas still within the control of the confederacy were obviously not affected by the proclamation. However, it had enormous impact, elevating the abolition of slavery to one of the North’s stated war aims and leading the way for the adoption of the thirteenth Amendment after the war ended in Union victory in 1865. Emancipation Proclamation leads millons of African American to the road of freedom and hapiness.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

“It is here then that the idle may be employed, the useless become useful, and the poor become rich; but by riches I do not mean gold and silver, we have but little of those metals; I mean a better sort of wealth , cleared lands, cattle, good houses, good clothes, and an increase of people to enjoy them.” This is an excerpt from Letters from an American Farmer. It is a series of letters written by French American writer J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur. The twelve letters cover a wide range of topics, from the emergence of an American identity to discussions concerning the slave trade. In the essay, Crevecoeur draws comparisons between Europe and America. He believed America is a good place to start new businesses or lives because of its widest lands, unlimited resources and non-class system. Crevecoeur’s letter expressed the idea that America is the place for dreams to start.

Letters From an American Farmer

Henry David Thoreau

Civil Disobedience

What's about the writer?

Henry David Thoreau is one of the most famous Transcendentalist writer in American history. He was born in Massachusetts. Before he became a writer, he was a teacher. In 1842, Thoreau moved into Emerson’s house and became his close friend and devoted disciple. From 1845 him with the to 1847, Thoreau lived alone in a cabin built himself at Walden Pond. Thoreau’s experiences during this period provided materials for his masterwork, Walden. A unique blend of natural observation, social criticism, and philosophical insight, Walden is now generally regarded as the supreme work of Transcendentalist literature.

Civil Disobedience was an essay written by Henry David Thoreau in 1849. The reason for Thoreau to write this essay is the Mexican war, a conflict between Mexican and the United States that took place from 1846 to 1848. The war was caused by a dispute over the boundary between Texas and Mexico and Mexico’s refusal to discuss selling California and New Mexico to the U.S. Believing that President Polk intentionally provoked the conflict before having congressional approval, Thoreau and many other Americans strongly objected to the war. To demonstrate his disapproval, Thoreau refused to pay taxes. His gesture led to his arrest and he was forced to spend a night in jail. After Thoreau got out of the Jail, he composed Civil Disobedience. “This American government - what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity? It has not the vitality and force of its integrity? It has not the vitality and force of a single living man: for a single man can bend it to his will. It is a sort of wooden gun to the people themselves: and, if ever they should use it in earnest as a real one against each other, it will surely split.” Civil Disobedience has had a wide influence on many later practitioners of civil disobedience. The driving idea behind the essay is that citizens are morally responsible for their support of aggressors, even when such support is required by law. Thoreau acclaimed that justice is superior to the laws enacted by the government, and the individual has the right to judge whether a given law reflects or flouts justice. Thoreau’s individualism idea reflect the pursuits of freedom, independence and individual happiness.

Common Sense Author: Thomas Paine

Common Sense was written by Thomas Paine in 1776. It was a pamphlet in which he accused the English king of tyranny and argued that Americans had no choice but to fight for their independence. Common Sense which sold more than 500,000 copies in three months, had a powerful effect on the American public. Less than 6 months.

"Why is it that we hesitate? From Britain we can expect nothing but ruin. If she is admitted to the government of America again, this continent will not be worth living in." -Thomas Paine, "Common Sense"

What's about the writer?

Thomas Paine was born in England. After meeting Benjamin Franklin in London, Paine decided to emigrate to the colonies to start a new life. He came to America in 1774. Because of his essays, Paine became an active protester of revolutionary war.

Conflicts and Resolutions Section 3

In American history, there are so many conflicts have been created between different classes, sectionalizations and ideologies. the American Civil War is one of the products of contradictions. Fortunately, people can always figure out a way to resolve the problems by negotiating, debating or even fighting. This section will introduce: History: Sectionalism (immigration) Reconstruction English: Andersonville Trial

[Sectional differences are major reasons of the civil war.] Industrial economy vs. Agricultural economy In the days of the American Revolution and of the adoption of the Constitution, differences between North and South were dwarfed by their common interest in establishing a new nation. But sectionalism steadily grew stronger. During the 19th century the South remained almost completely agricultural, with an economy and a social order largely founded on slavery and the plantation system. These mutually dependent institutions produced the staples, especially cotton, from which the South derived its wealth. The North had its own great agricultural resources, was always more advanced commercially, and was also expanding industrially.



Noun. Definition: Restriction of interest to a narrow sphere; undue concern with local interests or petty distinctions at the expense of general well-being. Industrial economy vs. Agricultural economy State right vs. Federal right Immigrants vs. Slaves

State right vs. Federal right When the U.S constitution has been announce, many southern states felt the new constitution ignored rights of states. Therefore, they wanted ability to decide if state should have to follow federal laws. South Carolina Ordinance of Nullification is the first Nullification which led by South Carolina on November 24, 1832. The nullification was aim to oppose new tariff that upheld by Andrew Jackson. However, most of the northern states were supporters of Federal right. Immigrants vs. Slaves In the 1840s, the new middle class and most of the nation’s farmers had been born in the United States. Increasingly, however, the working class was comprised of immigrants. Prior to 1840, immigration consisted mainly of protestants from England or Scotland. In 1840s, immigrants primarily came from Ireland and Germany, regions suffering from political upheavals, economic depressions, and rural famines. These Immigration soon got into local industries and became workers. They created the foundation of industrial-base economy in North. In the South, the cotton boom spreads Slavery. All the details of slavery have been mentioned in “Emancipation Proclamation” Section. These major conflicts between South and North made the Civil War inevitable.

The Civil War might be an outcome of all contradictions between North and South, but it was not the final solution. When the Civil War was over, the era of Reconstruction started. During the Reconstruction, the federal government struggled with how to return the eleven southern states to the Union, rebuild the South’s ruined economy, and promote the rights of former slaves. The core question is, “how to deal with the rebellion states?” Different people have different answer. For Lincoln, he had the Ten Percent Plan which offers leniency to Southerners. According to its terms, as soon as ten percent of a state’s voters took a loyalty oath to the Union, the state could set up a new government. For radical Republicans, they insisted that the Confederates had committed crimes by enslaving African Americans and by entangling the nation in war. The Wade-Davis Bill required that a majority of a states’ prewar voters swear loyalty to the Union before the process of restoration could begin. For Andrew Johnson, he wanted to restore the political status of the southern states as quickly as possible. He offered pardons and the restoration of land to almost any Confederate who swore allegiance to the Union and the Constitution.


By the time Congress reconvened in December 1865, most Confederate states had met Johnson’s requirements for readmission. The era of Reconstruction officially started.



Andersonville Trial Andersonville Trial is a play which describes the trial held in Andersonville prison. Henry Wirz was a Swiss-born Confederate officer in the American Civil War. He is best known for his command of Camp Sumter, the Confederate prisoner of war camp near Andersonville, Georgia; he was tried and executed after the war for conspiracy and murder relating to his command of the camp. This play describes Wirz as a victim of the Civil War, and indirectly interpret the evil of war. It relates to a major concern that how to deal with the Southern war criminal during the post-war period. Wirz’s death is also a resolution of the conflict- though it was not righteous at all.

Section 4


to Unknowns

American people naturally has exploring spirit. They started their adventures as soon as lading on the new continent. This kind of spirit once supported thousands of fearless expansionists discover the mystery of western lands. Later, settlers changed these no-man’s-land into their homestead. However, the westward expansion also bought disastrous effects. Sixteen thousand Native American had to leave their homeland and moved to the places thousand miles away. Almost half of the Native American dead on this “Trail of Tears.” This section will introduce: History: Indian removal act the Homestead act English: Gothicism Natives American writing

Indian Removal Act:

16,000 Cherokees to walk from their lands in the Southeast to Oklahoma The movement of tears. along what came to be called the Trail of Tears. At least 4,000 Cherokees died Indian Removal Act was a ruling of disease, exposure, and hunger on pass in 1830. This act sought to their long, hard journey. peacefully negotiate the exchange of American Indian lands in the South Native Americans should be for new lands in the Indian Territory.

Southerners opposed Johnson's land giveaway as benefiting workingclass whites who were unlikely to vote slavery into the new states. The bill was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862 after the Southern states had left the Union.

In 1821, a revolution toppled Spanish rule and established Mexico as an independent republic. The U.S government officially recognized its fellow republic to the south. But American expansionists, people who favored territorial growth, soon began to covet New Mexico, Texas, and California. Expansionists were soon using the term Manifest Destiny to refer to the belief that God wanted the United States to own all of North America. Voters expected President Jackson help to remove Indians. At this time, many Native Americans had remained in the South. In many cases, they had even adopted white American culture. Many Southern whites, however, denounced the Indian civilizations as a sham because they want the valuable lands held by the Indians. Jackson urged Congress to pass the Indian Removal Act in order to seize the lands. In 1838, U.S soldiers forced

The Homestead Act's lenient terms proved the undoing of many settlers. Claimants need not own equipment or know anything about farming. The quarter sections, adequate land in humid regions, were too small to support plains settlers west of the 100th meridian where scarcity of water reduced yields. Otherwise, Farmers also faced heavy debt, lack of cash, expensive rail transportation and grain storage, and market fluctuations. Today the endless rows of corn along the roadways show how farms have survived; many are occupied by the descendants of the original homesteaders. Meanwhile, the patches of prairie remind us that only a century and a half ago this looked like a most unpromising place to make a home.

considered as the victims of Westward Expansion. Without their Sacrifice, America will be different to what it seems today.

The Homestead Act declared that any citizen or intended citizen could claim 160 acres - one quarter square mile - of surveyed government land. Claimants must "improve" the plot with a dwelling and grow crops. After five years, if the original filer was still on the land, it was his property, free and clear.

The Homestead Act: Let's discover unknown places!

"That it shall and may be lawful for the President to exchange any or all of such districts, so to be laid off and described, with any tribe or nation within the limits of any of the states or territories, and with which the United States have existing treaties, for the whole or any part or portion of the territory claimed and occupied by such tribe or nation, within the bounds of any one or more of the states or territories, where the land claimed and occupied by the Indians, is owned by the United States, or the United States are bound to the state within which it lies to extinguish the Indian claim thereto."

"That any person who is the head of a family, or who has arrived at the age of twenty-one years, and is a citizen of the United States, or who shall have filed his declaration of intention to become such, as required by the naturalization laws of the United States, and who has never borne arms against the United States Government or given aid and comfort to its enemies, shall, be entitled to enter one quarter section or a less quantity of unappropriated public lands, be subject to preemption at one dollar and twenty-five cents, or less, per acre."

-Indian removal act, 1830

-the Homestead act, 1862

Literature of Mistery:


Gothicism & Romanism

Despite the name, Romanticism has little connection with word “romantic” as it is used today. Instead, it’s actually the term for a literary movement that began in the 18th century that was basically a revolt against the aristocratic society that governed Western Europe. It placed special emphasis on the aesthetic experience and in particular, focused on such sensations like awe, trepidation, horror, and terror. Folk art became something to be respected and ancient customs became noble and desirable. It was an expression of wanting to return to a more natural time.

Every once in a while, a certain movement will have such a profound influence on the world that it changes the way people think and act. Sometimes, it involves human rights, and sometimes, it involves a religion. There are also other kinds of movements, like art and literary movements. In these movements, it seems like the whole world is changing because both art and literature can change in drastic ways. The Romantic Gothic Literature movement is one of these important movements. Here’s more information about the Romantic Gothic period and literature.

Gothicism Gothicism thrived in the 19th century. It’s categorized by an emphasis on the macabre and the mysterious. Concepts such as magic, hidden passages, bloody hands, screams, ghosts, and other supernatural entities and activities were all mainstays in the Gothic literary movement. Romantic Gothic Literature "The fall of the House of Ushers" -Allen Poe

Contemporary Native American Literature: The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, a good book that few people know The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, published in 1993 by Atlantic Monthly Press, was Sherman Alexie's breakthrough book. Comprised of twentytwo interconnected stories with recurring characters, the work is often described by critics as a shortstory collection, though some argue that it has novel-like features similar to Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine. The book's central characters, Victor Joseph and Thomas Builds-the-Fire,

are two young Native-American men living on the Spokane Indian Reservation, and the stories describe their relationships, desires, and histories with family members and others who live on the reservation. Alexie fuses surreal imagery, flashbacks, dream sequences, diary entries, and extended poetic passages with his storytelling to create tales that resemble prose poems more than conventional narratives.

American Study  

History English

American Study  

History English