The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I.
§ 10. Later New England Historians
The second group, then, was American in a sense unknown to the first group. Its subjects were events rooted in American life, and save as American government and conditions were dependent on relations with the mother country, this phase of history had no relation to England. It opened, naturally, with treatments of the most striking incidents of the day, Indian wars and internal disorders. Here were struggles calling for the best efforts of the settlers, struggles in which horrors and signal victories had followed one another in dramatic swiftness. Historians arose to write about them with marked ability; and their books were read far and wide. Then a generation followed during which the colonies grew in wealth and refinement. A leisure class was developed, the struggles of the assemblies against the king’s prerogative gradually caused the formation of colony parties with colony ideals and aspirations, and in due time men appeared who undertook to tell the stories of colony development. These men belong to the later colonial period. In reflection and the power of dealing with materials, they are superior to the mere depicters of episodes. If their works are less readable, it must be remembered that their tasks are more difficult. It is easier to describe the Deerfield raid and the fate of the captured inhabitants than to trace the development of a political unit.