With a determined commitment to the history of his native land, Nathaniel Hawthorne revealed, more incisively than any other writers of his generation, the nature of a distinctly American consciousness. The pieces collected here deal with essential American matters: the Puritan past, the Indians, the Revolution. But Hawthorne was highly--often wickedly--unorthodox in his account of life in early America, and his precisely constructed plots quickly engage the reader's imagination. Written in the 1820s, 30s and 40s, these works are informed by themes that reappear in Hawthorne's longer works: The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, and The Blithedale Romance. And, as Michael J. Colacurio points out in his excellent introduction, they are themes that are now deeply embedded in the American literary tradition.