A panoramic survey of early American life and literature-including voices black and white, male and female, Latino, French, and Native American. Drawing materials from journals and diaries, political documents and religious sermons, prose and poetry, Early American Writing explores 'the site of American culture's myths of origin.' Here are Amerindian legends, explaining the origins of the world; narratives of discovery by Columbus and Vespucci; visions of a new paradise sketched by conquistadors, naturalists, and other writers. Early settlers chronicle the establishment of a new society; Amerindian chiefs record the effects of the European encroachment on the indigenous population. Other selections offer insights into the foundation of the republic and reflect often contradictory views of both the problems and the promise of the new nation. The result is a book that extends and enhances our understanding not only of American literature but of America itself.