Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Early American Writers

Thomas Paine and Red Jacket were two of early America's more notable writers and orators. Both men knew how to influence an audience with their skills of articulation, either through the written word, or during a speech or sermon. For example, Paine connects with the reader by laying out the facts, and including his own educated opinion into the matter, "Spain has ceded Louisiana to France, and France has excluded the Americans from N. Orleans and the navigation of the Mississippi [...] Suppose then the Government begin[s] by making a proposal to France to repurchase the cessation," (Hitchens, 1987, p. 71). Here, Paine was roughly outlining the idea for what would later become the Louisiana Purchase in a letter he wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1802.
Red Jacket, a prominent figure in the world of Native Americans, often gave speeches to empower his fellow man. He had the foresight to know that his people were being taken advantage of, and his speeches said as much: "Brother, our feats were once large and yours were small. You have now become a great people, and we scarcely have a place left to spread our blankets. You have got our country, but are not satisfied. You want to force your religion upon us," (Costa Nunes, 1980, p. 6). The simple words Red Jacket used were strung together in such a way to create a sense of understanding and trust between him and his audiences. He was direct and concise, getting to the truth of the matter without preamble.

Concerning sermons and speeches, there is a difference. A sermon is a body of words that is meant to sway the reader or audience towards one side of a subject, whether it be of a religious nature or not. Whereas a speech can be a persuasive or objective address, such as a pro-life overview or a current state of affairs. This week's readings fall into the category of sermons because most of them were trying to convince the reader of something, like Paine spurring on a revolution and Red Jacket urging his people to use greater wisdom concerning the 'white' man.


Costa Nunes, J. (1980). Red jacket: the man and his portraits. American Art Journal, 12 (3). Retrieved from JSTOR online database.

Hitchens, C. (1987). The actuarial radical: common sense about thomas paine. Grand Street, 7 (1). Retrieved from JSTOR online database.

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