The Pulitzer Prize

The Pulitzer Prizes: A History of the Awards in Books, Drama, Music, and Journalism, Based on the Private Files over Six Decades
By
John Hohenberg

1974
Columbia University Press
New York

1: The Grand Scheme 1902-1916
1: The Germ of an Idea
2: “To The Prizes I Am Much Attached”
3: The Will
4: The Board Takes Over
5: The Administration

2: Prizes for a Brave New World 1917-1923
1: The Beginning
2: Warriors and Peacemakers
“There’s lots to talk about and still a bit of sugar in the bottom of the glass.” –Henry Watterson of the Louisville Courier-Journal
“…the New York World set the example with a resolute attack on wrongdoing and that the mainspring of its campaigns was an aggressive and domineering journalist who already had won one Pulitzer Prize, Herbert Bayard Swope” (39).
“All this was preparation for the World’s major crusades after Swope became executive editor in 1920…During the next year, by following the World’s lead, the Memphis Commercial Appeal also won the public service gold medal for an expose of the Klan. What these two prizes did was to recognize and stimulate the investigative function of the press in reporting on the threat to civil liberties that the Klan represented” (40).
Walter Lippmann was editor of the World’s editorial page. Swope saw that with him, it was the story that counted. “He caused the World to cover so many lynchings that the paper acquired a reputation for being pro-Negro at a time when such an attitude was unpopular with advertisers.
“White’s defiance became national news. If labor was enthusiastic, many of the middle-class readers of the Gazette were not. He received numerous protests and, in response to one of them, wrote his classic editorial, ‘To An Anxious Friend,’ which he published on Page 1 on July 27, 1922. He opened with the theme: ‘You say that freedom of utterance is not for time of stress and I reply with the sad truth that only in time of stress is freedom of utterance in danger.’ And he closed with this assurance:
‘So, dear friend, put fear out of your heart. This nation will survive, this state will prosper, the orderly business of life will go forward if only men can speak in whatever way given them to utter what their hearts hold–by voice, by posted card, by letter, of by press. Reason has never failed men. Only force and repression have made wrecks in this world.’
“The governor’s suit against White was dismissed. The strike was settled. And, by recommendation of a jury and the Advisory Board, William Allen White was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing in 1923” (42).
3: The Emergence of Eugene O’Neill
“He signed with a flourish, including his middle initial, G. For Gladstone, which he soon dropped. It was the beginning of a long and profitable relationship between O’Neill and the university, for he was to win two more Pulitzer Prizes in his lifetime and one posthumously for his bitter and tragic evocation of his family’s life, Long Day’s Journey into Night. The Nobel Prize came to him in 1936, eight years after his third Pulitzer Prize, making him the first American dramatist to be honored with such international recognition” (49).
On page 50 there is a key to good writing:
“…the merit of a tense, driving, emotional sincerity, imparting to the spectator–when he withdraws a little from the spell of the tragedy–the sense that the dramatist has been imaginatively at the mercy of his people; not manipulating them so much as being manipulated by them.”
O’Neill “had even acquired his own bootlegger, an sign of prestige in the swinging New York of his middle years” (52).
4: The Novel: Whole or Wholesome?
“The issue posed by Sherman finally broke into the open with the publication of Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street, the most controversial book of 1920, which attacked the mores of Middle America and tore apart the hitherto sacred values of the people of its small towns” (58).
“In retrospect, The Age of Innocence has outlasted the vogue of Main Street. Mrs. Wharton’s book is still recognized as a classic…” (60).
5: History: The Aristocrats
“The swift growth of the American university system may have stimulated the development of the professional, but it was years before he was able to overcome criticism of his tendency toward empty pedantry and dreary prose” (62).
6: Two Poets from Maine
Joseph Pulitzer “had omitted any mention of poetry from his will” (69).
Page 70 discusses the interesting personality differences between the first two poetry winners.
It sounds like I may want to explore the poetry of Millay.

3: Changing Times, Changing Awards 1924-1933
1: Journalism: The Public Interest
2: The Embattled Novelists
3: Drama: Winners and Losers
4: History’s Progressives
5: Poetry: From Frost to MacLeish

4: The Laureates Face the Storm 1934-1942
1: The Press During the New Deal
1941…”Basically, the Supreme Court held that there can be no restriction upon freedom of speech or the press unless there is substantial proof of a ‘clear and present danger’ to the conduct of government” (128).
2: Fiction: The Mid-Victoria Cross
3: Drama: The Battle of Broadway
“W. Somerset Maugham, the British novelist and playwright, joined Mrs. Colum and Professor Phelps on the Pulitzer Drama Jury for the war year of 1942, but they found nothing that pleased them…Maugham added his own estimate: ‘It is with great regret that I have to state my opinion that no play has been produced during the last year that deserves the honour that it is in the power of Columbia University to confer. If, as I understand, the purpose of the Pulitzer Prize is to reward definite achievement, I cannot but think that to confer the prize on a poor play because it is the least poor of a poor lot would be to lessen its value. It would be no encouragement to the art of the drama’” (155-6).
4: History: The Professionals Take Over
5: Poets Pleasant and Unpleasant
“Poetry magazine called [Van Doren] ‘solidly entrenched in the tradition of definite purpose framed in strict patterns….he has never been a slave to a vogue and never having been in fashion will never be out of it’” (167).
6: The Prizes After Twenty-five Years

5: The Prizes in War and Peace 1943-1954
1: The Era of the Reporter
“Of the winners, by all odds the greatest was Ernie Pyle. Ernest Taylor Pyle was just an old-fashioned reporter in the pre-television age. Sometimes, he couldn’t read his own notes and he never did look like much. His baggy, and usually dirty, correspondent’s uniform hung on him like a used potato sack because his was scarcely an Olympian figure; he was small, scrawny, and unashamedly bald. His enunciation was poor, his language worse, for he loved the ‘Goddamned infantry’ and he expressed himself in vigorous and earthy terms that would send a sensitive television vice president into screaming tantrums.
“When Pyle began his wartime service in Europe in 1942 at the age of 42, he was among the oldest of all the correspondents and he was deplorably subject to colds. Never for a moment did he glory in the false and brassy romance of war. He hated war with a convulsive, impassioned hatred. And yet, in World War II, he became the best-loved and most influential of all American war correspondents and he brought the war into the American home with mere words on paper as no one had been able to do it before” (178-9).
“Columbia journalism faculty members of the Correspondence Jury, proposed him for the Pulitzer Prize in Correspondence. When it was announced on May 1, it was greeted with popular acclaim everywhere. For of the five hundred correspondents who were preparing at the time to cover D-Day, Ernie Pyle was No. 1.
“Soon after the first troops landed in Normandy on June 6, he was on the beach with them. On July 25, 1944, when he reported the breakthrough that sent American arms racing into the heart of France, he was under fire and narrowly escaped death. And on August 25, 1944, when he rode into Paris in a jeep with the victorious French and
Americans, he wrote: ‘I had thought that for me there could never again be any elation in war. But I had reckoned without the liberation of Paris…’ After that, he had enough and came home for a rest, but not for long. On April 12, 1945, when he was with the American 77th Division in the Pacific, he learned of President Roosevelt’s death that day. And on tiny Ie Shima six days later, when he hit the bach with the GIs of the 77th, a Japanese sniper got him in the right temple.
“Everywhere on the war fronts, the correspondents mourned him. And in the United States, the outpouring of national grief came from the White House and the humblest homes alike. For the Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Ernie Pyle had shared the trust and the love of a war-beleaguered people and he would not soon be forgotten” (180).
2: The Troublesome Novel
“The emotional, crusading fervor against the enemies of America that bulked so large in the nation’s consciousness during World War II had a predictable impact on the American novel. Not since the Civil War had so many writers of consequence felt it to be their destiny to write about war in fictional form for the benefit of their countrymen, if not entirely for themselves. Perhaps the patriotic spirit was greater in World War I, but it didn’t last as long. In World War II, the ideological commitment of the intellectuals was made years before the Nazis struck at Poland in 1939. Thus, the novelists had a long time to mull over their feelings and the books they produced about the conflict continued to reach the public years after World War II ended” (197).
The 1947 winner was All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren. Warren’s “teaching career began at Southwestern College in Memphis in 1931” (199).
Tales of the South Pacific, 1947, Michener. (Sounds like a fun read.)
3: The Theater Looks Up
4: History–The Broader View
The John Muir story, Son of the Wilderness, by Linnie Marsh Wolfe, in 1946.
5: Poets–Modern and Not So Modern
1950 “recognize Gwendolyn Brooks, the first black person to win a Pulitzer Prize. She received the award for her poetic work, Annie Allen. The report said:
‘Some years ago, Gwendolyn Brooks, a Negro writer of unusual ability, published A Street in Bronzeville, which made a great impression on all its readers and had what is unusual for poetry today–a wide sale. In 1949 she published Annie Allen, a much better book, and indeed, in our opinion, the outstanding volume of the year if you exclude Robert Frost. No other Negro poet has written such poetry of her own race, of her own experiences, subjective and objective, and with no grievance or racial criticism as the purpose of her poetry. It is highly skillful and strong poetry, come out of the heart, but rich with racial experience.’
“Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka in 1917 but grew up in Chicago, attended school there and was graduated from Wilson Jr. College. Her Annie Allen was born out of her own experiences on Chicago’s South Side, from childhood to womanhood, and included characters she knew there. The varied lyrics and ballads in the book, modestly called notes, were developed into a single short narrative called ‘The Anniad.’ Alfred Kreymborg called it ‘not only brilliant but profound in its tragic and tragi-comic implications.’
“Miss Brooks’s ability as a poet had been recognized before she won her Pulitzer, for she was the recipient in her earlier years of two Guggenheim Fellowships and a grant from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Thereafter, in 1969, she became the Poet Laureate of Illinois and a poet of the first rank in America. But she did not stand aside from the struggle of her people when it reached a violent pitch in the 1960s; like the younger black artists, writers, and poets, she became a part of the black revolution. It did not bother her that some of the black activists regarded her new activities with puzzlement in view of her status as a Pulitzer Prize winner.
“‘For me,’ she wrote in 1972, ‘the award had the effect of a doctorate, enabling me to teach in universities and colleges. It has been a ‘open sesame’ to much in this country. It has also–formerly–abashed and puzzled certain young people, who considered it ‘establishmentarian’!”
“In her autobiography, Report from Part One, she thought deeply of her old life style and the changes that time and circumstance had made in it. These were her reflections:
“‘I–who have ‘gone the gamut’ from an almost angry rejection of my dark skin by some of my brainwashed brothers and sisters to a surprised queenhood in the new black sun–am qualified to enter at least the kindergarten of new consciousness now. New consciousness and trudge-toward-progress. I have hopes for myself’” (221-2).
Seek out the works of Marianne Moore.
6: The First Music Prizes
7: The Old Order Passes

6: A Change in Direction for the Prizes 1955-1965
1: The New Board
2: The Press as Leader
“‘One of these days it will be Monday,’ Ralph McGill wrote in the Atlanta Constitution during 1953. And on May 17, 1954, Monday finally came–the Monday that a segregated South had dreaded for so many years, the Monday on which the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision desegregating the schools. McGill was ready for it, but not many others were; certainly, not the schools in the South nor their administrators, not even the bench and bar and the governors of the states that were directly affected.
“The great Georgian sometimes despaired even of his own profession because so few were willing to provide the leadership that this time of peril and change in American society so desperately required. And yet, between 1955 and 1965, no fewer than ten Pulitzer Prizes were granted for distinguished journalism dealing with the nation’s massive racial crisis–one for public service, two for reporting, six for editorial writing, and there was a special citation as well. This was more than all the prizes that had been given between 1917 and 1954 for crusades against the Ku Klux Klan and ruthless lynch law.
“One of the first to stand up against the social pressure to nullify desegregation in the South was Buford Boone, editor of the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. When student rioters on February 6, 1956, forced the withdrawal of the first black student at the University of Alabama, Boone rebuked the community in these harsh terms:
‘We have had a breakdown of law and order, and abject surrender to what is expedient rather than a courageous stand for what is right. Yes, there’s peace on the university campus this morning. But what a price has been paid for it!’
“That editorial, ‘What a Price for Peace,’ brought Boone the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing in 1957. What happened in Tuscaloosa, however, was only the beginning of a shameful campaign in some of the finest and loveliest cities of the South. What it finally came down to, in the fall of 1957, was the use of Federal troops by President Eisenhower to restore order in Little Rock, Ark.
“Governor Orval Eugene Faubus of Arkansas had forced the issue by leading the opposition to the enrollment of nine Negro children at Central High School in Little Rock. Early in September, he even called out the National Guard to surround the then empty school on the pretext that violence was threatened. The White Citizens Councils, the lineal descendants of the Ku Klux Klan, were jubilant. But the 85-year-old publisher of the Arkansas Gazette, John Netherland Heiskell, was not. He chose to stand with his editor, Harry S. Ashmore, in a campaign for decency in Little Rock. The issue, as Ashmore saw it in an editorial on September 9, 1957, was basic:
‘Somehow, some time, every Arkansan is going to have to be counted. We are going to have to decide what kind of people we are–whether we obey the law only when we approve of it, or whether we obey it no matter how distasteful we may find it. An this, finally, is the only issue before the people of Arkansas.’
“On a turbulent morning two weeks later, Relman (Pat) Morin of the Associated Press was outside Central High School in a glass-enclosed telephone booth when a shrieking mob forced its first black students to leave their classes. What Morin did in that epic report of September 23 won him the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting, his second Pulitzer award. But even more important, his first-hand description of the riot almost certainly played a part in President Eisenhower’s decision to move Federal troops into Little Rock that day.
“Order was finally restored in the city. But the segregationists turned venomously on the Arkansas Gazette, their main enemy, and cut its revenue by $2 million through advertising and circulation boycotts. Eventually, Ashmore left his post in order to relieve the newspaper of some of the pressure. But before he did so, he and the Gazette shared a rare honor–a double Pulitzer Prize; in 1958, he won the editorial writing award and the paper was given the public service gold medal.
“Throughout the years of turmoil in Dixie, Ralph McGill had been thundering defiance in the columns of the Atlanta Constitution against the violent segregationists. In return, he was threatened. His wife, chronically ill, was abused. Their home was the target for all manner of senseless outrages. But McGill resolutely maintained his position. It wasn’t in him to quit.
“Despite his crusading fervor, Ralph McGill neither looked nor acted like a champion of social reform. He was a generous and kindly man, a lively companion, and an incomparable storyteller. But he was also, for all his days, an inveterate defender of the weak and the helpless. He had been born in Tennessee in 1898, attended Vanderbilt, served in World War I, and begun newspaper work as a sports writer for the Nashville Banner in 1922. It was only when he came to the Atlanta Constitution in 1931 that he lifted his sights beyond the starry-eyed world of sports to the realities of life and experienced the first Ku Klux Klan demonstration against him. Nevertheless, in 1942, he became the Constitution’s editor and its featured columnist.
“Once the Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of the schools, McGill followed the course of events in Dixie with mounting anger–from Tuscaloosa to Little Rock and beyond, from bombings and burnings in Florida, Alabama, and South Carolina to his native Tennessee where a fine new high school at Clinton was destroyed. In mid-October 1958 when he came home, his wife told him that The Temple, home of Atlanta’s largest Jewish congregation, had been ripped apart by a bomb. McGill was appalled and outraged. He went to his typewriter and in twenty minutes produced an editorial, ‘One Church…One School,’ that ran in the Constitution on October 15, 1958. He wrote:
“‘This is a harvest. It is a crop of things sown. It is the harvest of defiance of courts and the encouragement of citizens to defy the law on the part of many Southern politicians.
“‘It is not possible to preach lawlessness and restrict it. When leadership in high places fails to support constituted authority, it opens the gates to all those who wish to take law into their hands. The extremists of the citizens’ councils, the political leaders who in terms violent and inflammatory have repudiated their oaths and stood against due process of law, have helped unloose this flood of hate.’
“The editorial brough Ralph McGill the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing in 1959. Although he was the recognized leader of liberal opinion in the South, it was characteristic of him to say, when he heard the news, ‘I never thought I’d make it.’ Two years later, he was invited to join the Advisory Board on the Pulitzer Prizes.
“The conflict over segregation in Virginia brought Pulitzer Prizes to Mary Lou Werner of the Washington Evening Star for her year-long reporting of the conflict and to Lenoir Chambers, editor of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, for his editorial writing. Miss Werner won in 1959, Chambers in 1960.
“When the focus of the struggle shifted to Mississippi in 1962, with rioters demonstrating against the admission to the University of Mississippi of its first black student, James Meredith, a small-town editor defied both the mob and the State government. The editor, Ira B. Harkey Jr., won the 1963 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing, but with it came a bullet through the front door, the violent opposition of the segregationists, and such pitiless financial pressure that he had to sell his paper, the Pascagoula Chronicle, and leave the South.
“Another small-town publisher in Mississippi, Hazel Brannon Smith, was no less vigorous in her opposition to the White Citizens’ Councils but she managed to ride out the storm that almost destroyed her best property, the Lexington (Miss.) Advertiser. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing in 1964 and the plaudits of her neighbor, Hodding Carter of Greenville, who called her ‘The Fighting Lady.’
“It remained for the Gannett Newspapers to round out the decade following the Supreme Court’s historic decision by combining their efforts to produce a series, ‘The Road to Integration,’ which cited the positive accomplishments that had been achieved even though it did not gloss over the failures. The special citations, awarded to Gannett by recommendation of the Advisory Board in 1964, was the first ever given to any newspaper group.
“If the first decade of the massive American racial crisis did nothing else, it placed a heavy–perhaps too heavy–burden of leadership on the press, a responsibility that even the best and the bravest newspapers were not designed to discharge. But even more difficult times lay ahead, when the flames of burning cities in the latter 1960s threatened to spread all over the land in an outbreak of fierce and intractable civil strife” (240-243).
3: New Novelists, New Arguments
The Reivers, Faulkner “As it happened, 1962 was also the year which saw the publication of William Faulkner’s The Reivers, his last novel and also one of his most appealing. A genial comedy of three Mississippi innocents on a visit to Memphis, it contains a minimum of the rhetoric and moralising which characterized Faulkner’s later writing. The Reivers, is, in fact, a sunny interlude (the last, alas) in the shaping of the vast Yoknapatawpha saga, in which Faulkner for once sounds relaxed, as though he were yarning to a circle of friends in that soft, elliptical drawl of his. The Reivers has been described as ‘a perfect book for that last goodnight,’ and we agree” (259-60).
4: The Drama’s Time of Troubles
“Tennessee Williams’ outspoken play about a Southern plantation family, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, involved the reconstituted Advisory Board in a lively argument in 1955 at the outset of the chairmanship of Joseph Pulitzer Jr. At issue were all the old prejudices against gamey language and displays of immorality on the stage which had animated President Butler and the Board members of his day. To be sure, they had considered themselves more as guardians of the purity of the American novel, and had been relatively liberal within their lights in accepting the more venturesome reports of their drama juries. But they hadn’t come up against anything quite like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof which, even to jaded Broadway critics, was something special in free-wheeling dramaturgy. To quote Jack Gaver of United Press International: ‘There is more and rougher dialogue of a sexual nature–a lot more and a lot rougher–than in any other American play ever produced on Broadway. Much of it is completely unnecessary.’
“That was not the only objection in terms of an older Pulitzer view of the stage as a place of inspiration and uplift. The play itself was the main issue. The self-described ‘cat on a hot tin roof,’ Maggie, a childless wife with an alcoholic husband, is sexually frustrated and worried about a former homosexual incident in her husband’s life. She also is concerned because her father-in-law, ‘Big Daddy,’ a cancer victim although he doesn’t know it, is likely to leave his estate to an older son rather than her husband. In the struggle that ensures, the characters taunt, insult, and lie to each other with Maggie still hoping at the end for pregnancy and fulfillment” (260).
“Pulitzer, the new chairman, had seen Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and thought it worthy of the drama prize. He had little patience with the arguments against its extravagant language and unpleasant sexual themes, but based himself entirely on its effectiveness as a piece of realistic theater. The reconstituted Board, after considerable discussion, went along with him and voted for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. This time, there was no Nicholas Murray Butler to threaten to invoke the veto power of the university Trustees, so Williams won his second drama award. It was the first and last time that the third Pulitzer took the lead in any discussion of the drama prize, although he often expressed his views with vigor and conviction as a member of the Board’s consultative committee on the drama” (261).
“The Advisory Board consists of a very distinguished group of representative Americans whose judgment as non-professional theatergoers has an interest and value of its own. If they are understandably tired of disagreeable plays and want something light, pleasant, and wholesome instead, they are certainly within their rights to choose the latter. But critics have to judge by different standards than their own pleasure–I mean in the ordinary sense of being entertained or cheered. Though, God willing, they don’t take themselves seriously, critics have to take the theater seriously and believe in its importance. Hence, they cannot pass over the painful merely because it is painful, and must think as professional observers in terms of careers, craftsmanship, language, ideas, etc. This is where the conflict is bound, at times, to arise between the Board and the Jurors” (265).
5: The Importance of Biography
6: Poetry and Music: Rewards of Fame

7: The Prizes: Present and Future 1966-1974
1: After Fifty Years
Editors Vermont Connecticut Royster and Virginius Dabney (what names!)
2: Press versus Government
“The publication of the Pentagon Papers was the issue that led to the first direct test of strength between paress and government in modern times–a conflict that had the strongest repercussions in the judging of the Pulitzer Prizes for 1972. Most of the documents, which consisted of forty-seven book-length volumes totaling more than 2.5 million words, had been obtained by the New York Times through the efforts of Neil Sheehan, who had become its Pentagon correspondent after leaving UPI. The top secret project, commissioned in mid-1967 by the then Secretary of Defense, Robert Strange McNamara, was a detailed record of American involvement in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from the end of World War II until May, 1968” (307).
“In the government’s view, further publication would have done immediate and irreparable harm’ to national security.
“It was not until June 30, when the United States Supreme Court rejected the government’s position, that publication was resumed. The high court, in an unsigned ruling, voted 6-3 in favor of the New York Times and the Washington Post, which had begun its own publication of the documents on June 19. It held that ‘any system of prior restraints of expression comes to this court bearing a heavy presumption against its constitutionality,’ that the government had to show justification for such suppression, and that it had failed to do so.
“The Times, alone among the newspapers that had published the Pentagon Papers in whole or in part, entered two exhibits in the judging of the Pulitzer Prizes for 1972. One consisted of more than fifty full-size pages, the text of its nine articles plus supporting materials, which was nominated in the public service category. Another was the basis for the nomination of Neil Sheehan in both the National and International Reporting categories.
“When the Pulitzer Prize Journalism Juries met at Columbia University on March 7-8-9, 1972, the chairmen held a preliminary session, as was customary, to pass on matters of classification. Without the participation of Miss Charlotte Curtis of the New York Times, who headed the Cartooning Jury, the chairmen consolidated the Time’s Pentagon exhibits in the Public Service category. After examining eighty exhibits for two days, the Public Service Jury, under the chairmanship of Stuart Awbrey, editor and publisher of the Hutchinson (Kansas) News, unanimously reached the following verdict on March 9:
“‘A gold medal is recommended for the New York Times and for Neil Sheehan for the remarkable journalistic feat which has come to be known as the Pentagon Papers….It is fortuitous that the Pulitzer Prizes can recognize the accomplishments of both the newspaper an of a persistent, courageous reporter, and thus can reaffirm to the American people that the press continues its devotion to their right to know, a basic bulwark in our democratic society’” (308).
3: Modern Fiction and Its Problems
4: The Tough Theater
5: Historians, Biographers, and Journalists
“In a lighthearted reflection on the downbeat trends of the modern age, James Reston once observed that things were getting a little mixed up in the writing business. ‘The journalists,’ he said, ‘have been winning Pulitzer Prizes for history, and the historians have been winning prizes for journalism, and it has even been suggested occasionally that we [the journalists] have been winning prizes for what was really fiction’ He could have added, as well, that novelists of the first rank were masquerading as reporters by presenting books of non-fiction in fictional guise.
“This blurring of the lines was almost a regular feature of the Pulitzer Prizes in History, Biography, and General Non-Fiction from 1966 on. With a few major exceptions, scholars and statesmen joined the journalists in the development of subjects that were deemed relevant, an academic code word of the period, to the topsy-turvy nature of the times. And the journalists, without so much as a by-your-leave, draped themselves in the trappings of scholarship on occasion and presented consequential biographies and current histories. The Advisory Board became so accustomed to this continual switching of literary chairs that relatively few jury verdicts were overturned, and then only for what seemed to be compelling reasons” (331).
“Perhaps the most excitement of all came to Professor Williams, who had given up hope that his Huey Long would win the prize on the day of the announcement in 1970 and had gone to his doctor’s office to have his ears washed out. When he returned to his office at Louisiana State University, people were shouting and a colleague breathlessly informed him, ‘Your book won the Pulitzer Prize. The News services have been trying to get you.’ There was a deluge of messages and phone calls, but Professor Williams managed somehow to inform his wife, taught part of a night class, then celebrated” (334).
7: Facing the Future
“The Pulitzer Prizes have survived two World Wars, a great Depression, the bitterness of racial conflict, a tragic national schism over the Vietnam War, and the natural tensions between press and government. Many an award has created rejoicing but others have caused both controversy and criticism–all perfectly understandable reactions that are bound to continue. Barring some monstrous catastrophe, therefore, the thousandth winner of a Pulitzer Prize is likely to be selected shortly before the end of this century if the current rate of award-giving continues.
“It is tempting to speculate on the manner in which that symbolic winner will be chosen, and the nature and character of the work that will be rewarded. But, as experience has demonstrated, it is difficult enough to deal with the awards of a current year without trying to peer into the murky dawn of a new century. Juries are unpredictable. And when the Advisory Board meets, none can say what will happen. The one basic certainty is that the strong-minded people who take part in the prize-giving process will maintain their independence, come what may.
“As long as there is genius in America, with workable guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, there will be prizes to encourage and reward it. Given continued strong direction and support, the Pulitzer Prizes assuredly will remain among them” (354).

Anne Bradstreet: 1612-1672

More educated than most women of the day. When she first came to the new world she was resistant to change. She joined the Boston church feeling it was the way of God. Bodily weak, she still had eight children. Was prone to exploring her conscience. She struggled with supposed truths found in the scriptures; didn’t believe in miracles. Her belief in God came from seeing the world with her own eyes.
She wrote poems to please her father. Her brother-in-law, John Woodbridge, brought with him to London a collection of her poetry and it was printed in 1650. The Tenth Muse was the first published volume of poems written by a resident of the New World and was widely read. The themes she explored were the ages of humankind and the seasons, concern for family and home, and the pleasures of everyday life.

The Prologue
I’m not well-versed enough to write of kings and wars. I do get jealous of not having more talent. I am simple. You cannot fix up my writing–it is irreparable. I will not get better at writing poetry given time. If I do write well they will think I must have stolen it. Yes, men are the best, but give us women credit where credit is due. Your works are awesome, but perhaps when you read mine both of our works could shine more brightly.

In Honor of That High and Mighty Princess Queen Elizabeth of Happy Memory
This poem is an ode: originally, a poem to be sung. In modern use, a lyrical poem, rhymed or unrhymed, typically addressed to some person or thing and usually characterized by lofty feeling, elaborate form, and dignified style.
The Proem [prelude]
Even though you are dead you are still famous. Your glory was so great that everyone could feel it. You’ve had exceptional gifts and sacrifices made in your name: “Mine bleating stands before thy royal hearse.” You did not disdain the poor, so I know you will also listen to me; I still sing your praises.
The Poem
Nothing can compare to your actions. She showed everyone that women can be smart. She showed up the men on many counts; she kicked butt! I literally do not have enough time to tell you all the cool things she did. She was better than Semiramis, better than Tomris. Better than Dido. Better than Cleopatra. Better than Zonobya. What does our Queen’s accomplishments say about the women’s race? You can no longer say we cannot reason. If we are the same in heaven then she will be ruling from a thrown. She is dead now–and there will never be another like her. “Here lies the pride of queens, pattern of kings, So blaze it, Fame, here’s feathers for thy wings.”
Her Epitaph Another

 

To the Memory of My Dear and Ever Honored Father Thomas Dudley Esq. Who Deceased, July 31, 1653, and of His Age 77
I have a duty to lament through verse; he taught me everything. His daughter knows best how to praise him. “Who heard or saw, observed or knew him better? Or who alive than I a greater debtor?” Everyone who knew him could also give him praise. He helped found this land and made it easier for those thereafter. He did not brag because he put worth into the afterlife in heaven. He did not show off–his thoughts and actions were more important. He served us well here and now he is at peace. I will see him again in heaven.
The last section entitled “His Epitaph” sums up the thought in truncated form.

To Her Father with Some Verses
I honor you by being honorable myself–like you taught me. I’ll try to live right in your memory–pay it forward.

Contemplations
Long days; thinking of summer. If there are so many wonders on earth, imagine how awesome God must be. Our world is so wonderful it seems like a heaven. A tall leafy tree; how long have you been growing? You have lived over many years–a reflection on the concept of eternity. What is glory to the Sun? No wonder people made the sun a god; if I hadn’t known better I would have too. The sun bursts upon the land; you wake up every living thing. We all know of the path and power of the sun. You make the seasons. Are you so powerful that we cannot look upon you? Are you so far away we cannot reach or imitate you? Think how powerful a god would have to be to make a sun. I walked alone and began to sing. Nature shows me my God, but I am not worthy. The grasshopper and cricket seem to sing better to the Lord than I. Looking back in time–God can see the farthest back. The fall of Adam. Cain is born and has no idea of his fate. Eve reflects back on a paradise lost and that she gave it all away for knowledge. Both Cain and Abel brought offerings, but Cain’s was rejected. Cain begins to plot against his brother. Abel suspects nothing before being killed. First blood was spilled–much more to come. Cain thought others would help in his quest, but none would. Cain falls into despair, guilt, worry and builds a big wall around his city. The elders hope the best for their young and teach them, but sometimes they go astray. The old ones seemed to accomplish so much yet the younger generation has hardly done anything. We eat, drink, and be merry until our end draws near. The earth rejuvenates itself with every spring, but when man grows old he must lie in a grave. We are born above all creatures but are cursed and cannot return to our innocence. Who will outlive: man or nature? Sitting outside. Nothing keeps the river from moving to its destination. Little streams mix with you, the river. I want to lead my children on their hoped-for path. Fish go wherever they may go in happiness. As I was contemplating fish, a bird began to sing–so I turned more toward hearing and wished for wings. Oh, to be a bird without care. The bird is zen. The birds all sing in the summer mornings then go to warmer places in the winter. Man is the opposite–full of woe and frustration, but no matter how much pain we endure we do not concentrate on there being a heaven. When the sea is smooth the captain thinks he is in charge, but when a storm comes he realizes his boundaries. When life is good you think you live in heaven, but when bad times come you realize you are a mere mortal. Time brings death. Life passes into the forgotten. All except the Lord will pass to dust.

 

The Flesh and the Spirit
In a secret place of crying (?) I heard two sisters discussing the past and the future. Flesh wanted money and looks. Spirit thought of the other world. Flesh asked if spirit could live solely on meditation–how could spirit live without all the worldly pleasures? If you desire it, you can see it. Set up monuments in your name. Have silver, pearls and gold. Take what you want–the world can supply more. Keep what you obtain. Spirit says “Enough!” I will fight you all the way on this. You were born of Adam, but I of God. You flatter, but that does not gain my trust. When I followed your ways my life was miserable! I look for higher things. I spend my time better than you. I value things you cannot see. My robes will one day outshine the sun. There is a description of heaven btw. lines 85-95. Heaven will not take you. I’ll live there and you can have the earth.

The Author to Her Book
What she would say to the second edition of her book:
This book was not strong; it was stolen. They didn’t spruce you up at the printer’s. You should have never been published. I would like to fix you up, but the more I try, the more mistakes I see. I couldn’t even come up with ways to make you better. Tell them you have no father and your mother is so poor that she sent you away.

Before the Birth of One of Her Children
Everything ends. We have joys and sorrow. No bond is strong enough to stave off death. How soon may I die? I hope you live longer than me. Let my faults die with me. Remember my good traits. Protect those who live on with you. If I am gone with you read this, kiss this page and remember me.

To My Dear and Loving Husband
This is a love poem.

A Letter to Her Husband, Absent upon Public Employment
How can you stand to be apart? I have so sun without you. I need your warmth. I’ll take the children to tide me over–for I see you in them. I will welcome you home and I want you to stay so we will be one again.

ROGER WILLIAMS: 1603-1683 English

Rabble-rouser. Shipped back to England for spreading “dangerous” ideas. Before they could catch him he debunked to Massachusetts where he hung with the Narragansett Indians. He stood for the idea of religious freedom. Others who felt religiously restricted followed Williams to Rhode Island. In 1663 Charles II granted Rhode Island a royal charter in which freedom of conscience was guaranteed. This idea was eventually viewed as so “American” that provision was made for it in our 1791 Bill of Rights.
Williams worked upon four main ideas that others viewed as threatening.
Believed that the land was not King Charles I’s property–it belonged to the Indians.
No person that was unconverted or uncommitted to a certain religion should be required to pray in churches or to swear an oath in court.

Mass. Bay Colony ministers persuaded the King of England that they wanted to remain with the Church of England. Williams felt that not only should the ministers pull away from the mother church, they should repent that they ever supported it.
That civil authority was limited to civil matters and that magistrates had no jurisdiction over the soul.
He wanted separation of church and state so that the religion of Jesus Christ would not be tainted by worldly affairs.
He found it important to get to know the natives and learn their language. He recognized a civility in the Indians. He did not want to convert people–he felt they were outside the people of God and to force them into a different belief would be unchristian.

from A Key into the Language of America: To My Dear and Well-Beloved Friends and Countrymen, in Old and New England
Williams wanted to create a way to converse with the Natives. A “key”. He wanted to spread civility and perhaps Christianity.
The Indians see all the stuff we have which makes them think our God is greater. When you let them know that Englishmen themselves used to be without creature comforts, the Indians see that they too can evolve.
The Indians feel they are lost and wandering. As an Indian named Wequash lay dying I spoke to him of his soul. Wequash spoke of problems with God and God having problems with him until he repented. The Indian said he had a “naughty heart”, but continued to pray.

Directions for the Use of the Language
Indian language is copious and they sometimes have many words for one thing.

from An Help to the Native Language of that Part of America Called New England
These short pieces are excerpts from chapters from a larger work. They are poetic, short philosophical ponderings sharing information about the Indian way of life and sometimes comparing it to the English way of life. The “chapters” cover topics such as: salutations, eating and entertainment, family and home, travel, the sea, religion, the soul, and art. The chapter on the soul gives many examples of Indian words and their translations. In addition to the translations he sometimes combines short narrative pieces expanding upon an idea.
from Chapter I. Of Salutation
The courteous pagan shall condemn Uncourteous Englishmen, Who live like foxes, bears and wolves, Or lion in his den. The wild barbarians with no more Than nature, go so far.
from Chapter II. Of Eating and Entertainment
Of wholesome beer and wine. Sometimes God gives them Fish or Flesh, Yet they’re content without. And what comes in, they part to friends And strangers round about. Natives share what little they have. They have taken care of me when I needed it.
from Chapter VI. Of the Family and Business of the House
Both English and Native have similar day-to-day concerns.
from Chapter XI. Of Travel
In nature with none to comfort me I had God as my companion.
from Chapter XVIII. Of the Sea
While even on the dangerous sea I recognized God’s wonders.
from Chapter XXI. Of Religion, the Soul, etc.
I must acknowledge I have received in my converse with them many confirmations of those two great points, Hebrews II. 6: That God is. That He is a rewarder of all them that diligently seek Him. When Natives experience crisis they figure God is displeased. They have many gods. The Catholics also have many gods. The Natives believe in the sun god, moon god, sea and fire gods. They have a modest religious persuasion not to disturb any man. They believe that the souls of men and women go to the southwest. The souls of murderers, thieves and liars wander restless abroad. If you want to discuss God with the Natives, here are some things you can say: [gives translations].

from Christenings Make Not Christians: Or a Brief Discourse Concerning That Name Heathen, Commonly Given to the Indians [as also concerning that great point of their conversion]
I inquire into the name heathen, which the English give Native Americans. “How oft have I heard both the English and Dutch…say, These heathen dogs, better kill a thousand of them than that we Christians should be endangered or troubled with them; better they were all cut off, and then we shall be no more troubled with them…” “…this word heathen is most improperly, sinfully, and unchristianly so used in this sence. The word heathen signifieth no more than nations and gentiles…” “why nations? Because the Jews being the only people and nation of God, esteemed (and that rightly) all other people, not only those that went naked…their stately cities and citizens, inferior [to] themselves, and not partakers of their glorious privileges…” “…Christians, the followers of Jesus, are now the only people of God…Who are then the nations, heathen, or gentiles, in opposition to this people of God? I answer, All people, civilized as well as uncivilized, even the most famous states, cities, and kingdoms of the world…” “…for the hopes of conversion, and turning the people of America unto God…we are all the work of his hands…” Both Europeans and Native Americans are sinners. Natives are intelligent, ingenuous, plain-hearted and inquisitive.
Catholics are converting people the wrong way by using unethical ways on the Natives. I could have converted the whole country if we are speaking of the Natives. The conversion umbrellas change with each new leader. So, many who convert are profane themselves. “It must not be (it is not possible it should be in truth) a conversion of people to the worship of the Lord Jesus by force of arms and swords of steel…” “The will in worship, if true, is like a free vote…Jesus Christ compels by the mighty persuasions of his messengers to come in, but otherwise with earthly weapons he never did compel nor can be compelled…The not discerning of this truth hath let out the blood of thousands…”

 

from The Bloody Tenet of Persecution, for Cause of Conscience, in a Conference between Truth and Peace
This is an excerpt from The Writings of Roger Williams, vol. 3.
This piece is Williams’s side of the debate with John Cotton on freedom of religion. He asks how turning against those who do not hold your same beliefs can be holy; everyone thinks their religion is the best.
If we believe one religion to be true, what weapons do you think God wants us to use on the others. Christianity can be superstitious, bloody, oppressive, deadly, and like a “fiery furnace”. It is anti-Christian to persecute others for their beliefs. If you don’t practice the religion YOU think is best then you are sinning. You may have to try a few religions until you find one that fits. You cannot force a religion into a person’s soul.
We must not let go of this freedom for any reason. We must be ruled by truth.

A Letter to the Town of Providence
This is an excerpt from The Writings of Roger Williams, vol. 6. The topic is religious autonomy and civil restraint. He calls this “liberty of conscience”. Since there are people of all religions they should neither be forced to come to the ship’s prayers or worship, nor forced to pray. We can have our own religions, but civility must reign.

John Winthrop: 1588-1649 English

When the Pilgrims came to New England they were entering an already-occupied land. John Winthrop was governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and declared the land a “vacuum” saying the Indians had been unsuccessful at taming the land and only had a natural right to the land, not a “civil” right, which had a legal connotation. The Puritans appealed to the Bible in which they found reasons to believe they should take the land. Winthrop was in charge during a war with the Pequot and Narragansett Indians. The English decided to attack non-combatants as a way to psychologically break the Indian warriors.
At the very start of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630, the governor, Winthrop, had declared the philosophy of the rulers: “… in all times some must be rich, some poore, some highe and eminent in power and dignitie; others meane and in subjection.” Rhode Island and New York at this time were becoming feudal kingdoms.
Winthrop wanted to reform the national church from within by purging it of old Roman ways, especially the hierarchy of the clergy and all the traditional Catholic rituals. At the same time, Winthrop could not openly defy the king; instead he petitioned the king to emigrate. In 1629 a group of Puritan merchants were able to get a charter from the Council for New England for land in the New World calling themselves “The Company of Massachusetts Bay in New England.”
Winthrop delivered his sermon A Model of Christian Charity while on the trip to the new land. This sermon contained ideals of Christian community. Fifty years after Winthrop’s death, Cotton Mather wrote of Winthrop as a model of a perfect earthly ruler. Winthrop’s ideal of a selfless community was impossible to realize. Winthrop is known as a man of unquestioned integrity and deep humanity.

A Model of Christian Charity
1
A Model Hereof
There will always be rich, poor, high and low, mean and nice.

The Reason Hereof
1) God has always made his kingdom with a variety of differences for the preservation of the whole.
The Lord makes the wicked so he can moderate and restrain them. He makes the rich so He can teach them to honor the poor; he makes the poor to teach them not to rebel and cause anarchy. He makes degenerates to practice their faith, patience and obedience.
We all need each other and should treat each other with affection. No man is more honorable or more wealthy than another. We must honor the Lord with our riches.
Two rules: justice and mercy. There is the law of nature, of grace and a moral law. Every man should afford his help to another in every want or distress and should perform this out of the same affection he has for his own things.
The law of nature is one in which we are saved. Do good to all. Consider all a friend and love thy enemy. Christians must sell and give to the poor. Sometimes we must give beyond our ability. When there is no other way for our brother to be relieved, we must help him beyond our ability. Giving, lending and forgiving. Give out of your abundance, or set some extra aside to give to others later when they are in need.
Every man must provide for his family. The first that gives to the poor lends to the Lord. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth. A woman must give before she must serve her own family.
We have to stand aside till His turn be served. If a man asks to borrow, but you see
he cannot pay you back, give according to his necessity. Thou must lend him, though there be danger of losing it. If you see a man cannot repay you you must forgive him. If there are no poor around, save until you see someone with whom you need to share.
What do we do when our community is in need? The same as before, but larger with less respect towards ourselves and our own right.
Such as have been most bountiful to the poor saints, God hath left them highly commended to posterity; be over liberal in this manner. He who shutteth his ears from hearing the cry of the poor shall cry and shall not be heard. The definition which the Scripture gives us of love is this: Love is the bond of perfection. First, it is a bond or ligament. Secondly it makes the work perfect.
True Christians are of one body in Christ. If one member suffers, all suffer with it. Ye ought to lay down your lives for brethren.
Adam rent himself from his creator, rent all his posterity also one from another; whence it comes that every man is born with this principle in him, to love and seek himself only, and thus a man continueth till Christ comes and takes possession of the soul and infuseth another principle: love to God and our brother. Exercise of this love is twofold: inward or outward.
In regard that among the members of the same body, love and affection are reciprocal in a most equal and sweet kind of commerce.

II
Four things will be explained: people, work, the end and the means.
People: we profess ourselves members of Christ. No matter how physically apart we may be, this knits us together.
Our work is that we want to seek out cohabitation under a form of government both civil and ecclesiastical. The group is more important than the individual; this is our civil policy.
The end is to improve our lives so that we may increase our service to the Lord.
The means to accomplishing our goals are twofold: a conformity with the work and end at which we aim. What we view as truth must be our everyday practice. Love thy brother and help with his burdens. We must serve the Lord without fail or we may be punished. When he gives us direction he expects strict observance. We have entered into a covenant with the Lord and shall not break our agreement. “Do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God.” Let us overlook small differences so we can supply our necessities. Meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must make each other’s conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together. People are looking to see how we will perform; we must live rightly as a beacon of hope. If we perform poorly we will besmirch God’s name.

First Encounters: Early European Accounts of Native America

European voyagers and colonists began writing reports on their ventures. They especially wrote about the land because that is what they wanted to colonize and use for profit. The Native peoples soon became an immense curiosity. Anthropology, as various scholars have argued, was created in the expansion of Europe to the West after 1492. Writings of initial contact between Europeans and Native Americans are often called “First Encounter” writings. European ideology allowed no place either for this other hemisphere or the peoples that dwelled in it. They wondered why Indians weren’t mentioned in the bible. Descriptions of Indians led Europeans to question what were essential human traits.
Common themes were greed, vulnerability, jealousy. European incursions soon became major factors in the economic, political, medical, and cultural life of tribal groups. The sheer geographical range of the phenomenon was enormous. Colonizers took advantage of existing group grudges between the natives. That Hudson’s crew exploited not only weaponry but also liquor as tools for dealing with the Natives reveals the unscrupulous methods often employed by their successors. Much land and people were destroyed. Empire is always implicit or explicit in these texts.
One similarity between explorers Hudson and Champlain is the amount of violence that accompanied their penetration into Native lands. It is crucial to put early American violence into a proper historical context. It occurred on both sides, although European apologists often sought to blame it on Native resistance or what they soon were describing as the inherent “savagery” of the Native peoples. The Iroquois had been carrying out aggressive warfare against other Native peoples, including those of eastern Canada, when the European powers first ventured into that part of the continent. They therefore were much feared and much resisted.
Even without European involvement, intertribal wars in this region could be bloody and widely destructive. However, it is also clear that the coming of Europeans into Native regions exacerbated pre-existing tensions. The presence of Europeans deepened and sharpened Native-on-Native violence. Furthermore, the Europeans not only caused an escalation of Native violence, but also brought their own traditions of bloody warfare with them. Native Americans of the conquest period typically waged war in a restrained, even ritualized, manner as compared with Europeans. But in conveying the Native perception that English warfare was evil because it killed too many people, Underhill provided evidence of the savagery of which European settlers were capable.

Bartolomé De Las Casas: 1474-1566 A Modern European

Concerned with Native American rights. Las Casas recognized Columbus’s seizure of seven Taino Indians as “the first injustice committed in the Indies” but in the moment, had no time to reflect upon the implications of what was occurring.  Las Casas and his writings were the chief source regarding what happened on the island after Columbus. As a young priest, he participated in the conquest of Cuba. For a while he owned slaves, but later gave them up and became a critic of Spanish cruelty. He was to write of his moral blindness in this period, noting that he “went about his concerns like the others, sending his share of Indians to work fields and gold mines, taking advantage of them as much as he could.” He transcribed Columbus’s journals and began to write his own History of the Indies. After becoming a priest, he began to reconsider the slave system as unchristian and began to urge others to give up their slaves. The Spanish government made him “protector of the Indians” and gave him permission to start a peaceful colony on the coast of Venezuela. At one point he thought that Indian slaves should be replaced by African slaves, but after seeing what it did to both the Indians and the Africans, he changed his mind. He wrote of the Indians regarding marriage, religion, trading and all the atrocities placed upon the subjugated. His peaceful colony failed as atrocities in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Peru began to grow. In 1537 the Pope forbade all further enslavement. This was followed by Emperor Charles V making New Laws of the Indies which gave Native Americans full protection of the courts and outlawed slavery.
Las Casas’s most famous writings was An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies: On the Island Hispaniola (1552). This work details the destruction visited on Native Americans by conquistador and colonizer in pursuit of wealth. In his own time. Las Casas was widely accused of treason and endured charges of heresy. Having the work translated into many languages gave Spain’s enemies ammunition of Spain’s sins against America.
When he arrived in Hispaniola in 1508, Las Casas says, “there were 60,000 people living on this island, including the Indians; so that from 1494 to 1508, over three million people had perished from war, slavery, and the mines. Who in future generations will believe this? I myself writing it as a knowledgeable eyewitness can hardly believe it…”

From An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies
On the Island Hispaniola
This was the first land in the New World destroyed and depopulated by the Christians. Subjugation of women and children—taking them away from the men. The Christians always wanted more than the Indians gave; they ate too much. The Indians began to understand that these new people were not good. They began to hide food, family members, or leave the area. The Christians intimidated everyone until they were up to the nobles of the village. One noble Indian’s wife was raped in front of him by a Christian colonizer. It was difficult for the Indians to fight back because their weapons were so basic. Las Casas goes into extremely gory detail regarding what the colonizers did to babies, children, pregnant women and men. If the Indians succeeded in killing a Christian, the colonizers would vow to kill 100 of them in pay-back for the one.

The Spaniards brought two million captives to Hispaniola to work the mines. The rich land began to die along with the people working the mines. On the slave ships the Spanish would only bring enough for the crew to eat while the captives would starve. They would dump any dead bodies over the side. Other ships did not even use maps to travel between islands; they’d just follow the trail of dead Indian bodies to the next island. The captives would arrive on Hispaniola practically dead. The colonizers would get mad about paying for slaves already practically dead.
Pearl workers had to dive all day to scrape oysters from the bottom of the ocean floor. They would be beaten on the surface of the water if they acted tired. The divers are fed terrible food and chained at night so they can’t escape. They are eaten by sharks or die of exhaustion and dissipation.

 

Christopher Columbus: 1451-1506

Born near the Mediterranean port of Genoa. Wanted to find a commercially viable Atlantic route to Asia, and in 1492 won the support of the Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, for this “enterprise of the Indies.” Series of four voyages between 1492 and 1504 provided a brief period of wonder followed by disaster and disappointment. Taino Indians of Hispaniola were the first to find trouble with the settlers Columbus left behind. When Columbus returned to see the progress of the new settlers there were none left. He tried to begin a second settlement here but it fell into such disarray that he was forced to return to Spain to clear his name of charges set against him by other Europeans in the West Indies. On his third voyage he found South America. When he returned again to Hispaniola, he found Spanish settlers there who were against Columbus. He felt he could only solve this problem by allowing the Spaniards to enslave the Tainos while he himself was sent back to Spain in chains to answer to more charges. His last voyage, in order to clear his name, resulted in a long period of suffering in Panama and shipwreck in Jamaica and a mental breakdown. He was eventually rescued and returned to Europe where he died. The West Indies remained disorderly and bloody. A letter sent by Columbus to Luis de Santangel, a royal official and early supporter of his venture, provides a more authentic account and served as the basis for the first printed description of America, issued in 1493 in Spain and widely translated and reprinted across Europe.

The Arawaks of the Bahama Islands were much like Indians of the mainland: remarkable for their hospitality and their sharing. Columbus wrote in his journal:

“They… brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned… They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features… They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane… They would make fine servants… With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

Another entry:

“As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.”

The information Columbus wanted most was: Where is the gold? Like other states of the modern world, Spain sought gold which was more powerful than land since it could buy anything. For finding gold, Spain promised Columbus a ten percent cut of the profits, governorship of the new found lands and the title of Admiral of the Ocean Sea. He was headed to Asia but never would have made it – he thought the world was smaller. The first one to sight land was to get a yearly pension of 10,000 maravedis for life. The first man to sight land was named Rodrigo, but Columbus claimed he saw land first and took the prize.

When the Santa Maria ran aground in Hispaniola (modern day Haiti and Dominican Republic), Columbus used the wood to build a fort, the first military base in the Western Hemisphere. He left thirty-nine crew members there. As the weather turned cold on the route back to Spain the Indian prisoners began to die.
Columbus’s report to the Court in Madrid was extravagant. He insisted he had reached Asia (it was Cuba) and an island off the coast of China (Hispaniola). His descriptions were part fact, part fiction. Because of Columbus’s exaggerated report, he was given more ships and men for his next expedition; (17 ships and 1,200+ men). Their aim was clear: slaves and gold. As word of their intentions spread, Columbus’s gang found more and more empty villages. When he returned to his first military outpost he found all his men dead. The Indians killed them because the men roamed the island taking women and children for labor and as sex slaves.

Because the expedition could find no gold in Haiti they sent as many Indian slaves back as possible. There was a problem with many of the Indians dying in route or during their captivity; the pressure was intense for Columbus to send back something of value. All slaves on the island over the age of 14 were commanded to find a certain amount of gold every three months. They would get a copper ring for every three month allotment of gold. If a slave was found without a copper ring they would cut the Indian’s hands off and allow them to bleed to death. There was not enough gold to find so most slaves fled, were hunted down with dogs, and were killed. The Arawaks could not fight the Spaniards who had armor, muskets, swords and horses. Among the Arawaks, mass suicides began. In two years, through murder, mutilation, or suicide, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead. When no more gold came in, the Indians were herded into large labor estates called encomiendas. By 1650 all of the Indians of the island had died.

from Letter to Luis de Santangel Regarding the First Voyage
[At sea, February 15, 1493]

I found many islands in the Indies and have taken possession of them in your name. I was met with no opposition and so began naming the islands. I found an infinity of small hamlets and people without number, but nothing of importance. I took some of the Indians who told me this space was only an island, but it was fertile and limitless with harbors, rivers, highlands, sierras, mountains, trees, flowers, fruit, birds, palms, plants, honey, metals and cultivatable lands.

from Select Documents Illustrating the Four Voyages of Columbus (1930-33)
Letter of Discovery (1493)
Sir, you will be pleased at my great victory. In thirty-three days, I passed from the Canary Islands to the Indies. I found very many islands filled with people innumerable, and of them all I have taken possession for their highnesses, by proclamation made and with the royal standard unfurled, and no opposition was offered to me. I named many islands along the way. I saw no habitation along the coast, so I sent a couple men inland. They found an infinity of small hamlets and people without number, but nothing of importance. I understood sufficiently from other Indians, whom I had already taken, that this land was nothing but an island. I named this island Espanola [Haiti] which, along with the others, is very fertile to a limitless degree. Many harbors, rivers, sierras and very lofty mountains. This island is filled with thousands of different kinds of trees; some of them were flowering, some bearing fruit. There are birds of a thousand kinds. They have cultivatable lands, honey, a diversity of fruits, mines of metals and a population without number. Espanola is a marvel. The land is rich for planting and sowing, for breeding cattle of every kind and for building towns and villages. Great harbors, good waters, the majority of which contain gold. Many spices. All go naked. They have no iron or steel or weapons. They are very marvellously timorous. They have no other arms than weapons made of canes. As soon as they have seen my men approaching they have fled, even a father not waiting for his son. Where I have been and been able to have speech, I have given to them of all that I had, such as cloth and many other things, without receiving anything for it; they are incurably timid.
The people are so guileless and so generous with all they possess. They never refuse anything which they possess, if it be asked of them. They invite anyone to share what they have and display love. Some of my men began to trade things of no value for things of immense value. It seemed wrong, so I told them to stop. These people may eventually become Christians. They strive to aid us and to give us of the things which they have in abundance and which are necessary to us. They all believe that power and good are in the heavens, and they are very firmly convinced that I, with these ships and men, came from the heavens. They are of a very acute intelligence and are men who navigate all those seas.
And as soon as I arrived in the Indies, in the first island which I found, I took by force some of them, in order that they might learn and give me information of that which there is in those parts, and so it was that they soon understood us, and we them, either by speech or signs, and they have been very serviceable. I still take them with me, and they are always assured that I come from Heaven, for all the intercourse which they have had with me and they were the first to announce this wherever I went, and the others went running from house to house and to the neighboring towns, with loud cries of, ‘Come! Come to see the people from Heaven!’ So all, men and women alike, when their minds were set at rest concerning us, came, so that not one, great or small, remained behind, and all brought something to eat and drink, which they gave with extraordinary affection. In all the island, they have very many canoes which they use for getting quickly from island to island.
In all these islands, I saw no great diversity in the appearance of the people or in their manners and language. On the contrary, they all understand one another, which is a very curious thing, on account of which I hope that their highnesses will determine upon their conversion to our holy faith, towards which they are very inclined. In this Espanola there are mines of gold. There will be great trade and gain. I have taken possession of a large town and in it I have made a fort. I have left in it sufficient men with arms, artillery and provisions for more than a year. We’ve made great friendship with the king of that land who treats me like a brother. The island is without danger for their persons, if they know how to govern themselves.
In all these islands, it seems to me that all men are content with one woman, and to their chief or king they give as many as twenty. It appears to me that the women work more than the men. In that which one had, all took a share, especially of eatable things. The whole population is very well-formed with flowing hair. They eat meats with many and extremely hot spices. We heard reports of cannibals from another island. In another, larger than Espanola, the people have no hair and gold incalculable. I bring Indians from there as evidence. Their highnesses can see that I will give them as much gold as they may need, if their highnesses will render me very slight assistance. We can get spices and cotton, mastic and aloe wood, slaves, rhubarb and cinnamon. I should have done much more, if the ships had served me, as reason demanded.

[Postscript]
He writes that, due to weather, he had to take shelter for a couple of weeks in Portugal, which he calls “Lisbon.” This made Spain suspicious, as Portugal was an enemy of Spain.

From Letter to Ferdinand and Isabella Regarding the Fourth Voyage
[Jamaica, July 7, 1503]

Paria was the mainland region of what is now Venezuela. Columbus, who had first landed in South America in 1498, argued that the terrestrial paradise lay nearby. It seems that everyone here is an expert at destruction. I pray your highnesses before I went to discover these islands and Terra Firma, that you would leave them to me to govern in your royal name. You gave me wide power over this and over all that I might further discover. Now all, down to the very tailors, seek permission to make discoveries. It can be believed that they go forth to plunder, and it is granted to them to do so, so that they greatly prejudice my honor and do very great damage to the enterprise. After I, by the divine will, had placed them under your royal and exalted lordship, and was on the point of securing a very great revenue, suddenly, while I was waiting for ships to come to your high presence with victory and with great news of gold, being very secure and joyful, I was made a prisoner and with my two brothers and was thrown into a ship, laden with fetters, stripped to the skin, very ill-treated, and without being tried or condemned. Please side with me and back me up. I pray Your Highnesses to pardon me. I am so ruined as I have said.

Literature before 1820: Stories of the Beginning of the World

 

The versions found in the Norton Anthology date from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These written narratives are transcriptions or translations of oral stories whose origins long precede such transcription. Second, the Iroquois and Pima narratives present a worldview that contrasts markedly with the worldview the colonizers brought with them. They serve as representations of early Native American culture.
Literary culture and history can be presented as something changeful, alive, and available to all who read patiently and in good faith. These writings reflect the “importance of balance among all elements.”
Readings bring us into a recognition that other cultures were present, active, and imaginatively engaged at the time of European settlement. The American experience was being looked at passionately, and from many perspectives, as European and native cultures encountered one another.
Creation stories help assure people who they are because the stories attempt to describe where they came from. Native American creation stories were never written down or collected, but they are equal to the functions of Genesis for Christians who read the bible. They offer perspective on what life is and how to understand it. All Native peoples have stories of their earliest times. These stories were not understood or transcribed until the mid-to-late nineteenth century, and they were written by Euro-Americans. This time was also when the Native Americans began to extensively record their myths and legends.

The Iroquois Creation Story

Spend some time in close reading to help fully understand the human sensibility in these texts. Patience and comfort with uncertainty are required of all mature readers who seek to move across time, landscape, and large cultural barriers. Pull help from the head notes and introductory materials.
We can scrutinize the differences between these Native American creation myths and accounts from other cultures. These Native American stories do not enforce a distinction between the Creator and world created. These stories do not talk about a world somewhere else; the world spoken of is a world that is right here, to be gazed on and known firsthand as the tale is told again and again.
These differences matter because we have to then acknowledge certain habits of mind, habits of imagining and telling, that are culturally contingent and yet rarely recognized by us as paradigms, as ways of organizing not just experience, but also our narratives about experience.
It is helpful to create a visual “map” or interpretive sketch of the events of the Iroquois Creation Story. The woman who conceived begins in the “upper world” but falls to the “dark world,” where “monsters” collect enough earth to make a seat for her, on which she gives birth to the twins: the good mind and the bad mind. The twins transform the earthen seat, the Great Island that the monsters have created for the woman who fell, into a world that begins to resemble a world of humans rather than of mythical people; indeed, the story ends with the twins retiring from the earth, as the creation has been accomplished. There are three “generations” of beings: the original parent (the woman who fell from the sky), the twins (one of whom, the good mind, creates the earth and, by deceiving the bad mind, sets in motion the “nature of the system” we know as the world), and the first people with souls (who come to inhabit the universe).
The Iroquois Creation Story is only one variant of a story whose main elements may be relatively fixed but whose details change in its communal and participatory retelling. Communal participation results from viewing creation as a process of descent rather than as a one-time construction in a single god’s image.
Compare to the Book of Genesis. Descent in the Iroquois story suggests a process of creation rather than the completed act of a single creator; the woman who fell from the sky may have become parthenogenetically pregnant, thereby linking the origins of the world to women (or to an asexual being capable of parthenogenesis) rather than to a patriarchal god (note that the Iroquois were matrilineal); and the monsters in the “dark world” are benign compared with the devils that inhabit Western conceptions of hell, and these monsters actually help the falling woman give birth. The good twin creates “two images of the dust of the ground in his own likeness,” unlike the single male image the Western god creates in Genesis, where the female image is later created from a rib of the male.
One could make a list of the characters in the myth and try to determine each one’s particular contribution, without which the creation would not be complete. While a Western narrative might suggest that the woman who fell from the sky and the good twin are “central” characters, the Iroquois story highlights the importance of the other characters and the interdependence of all. The turtle, for example, who offers to endure the falling woman’s weight and who enlarges to become an island of earth is essential to the origin of the world, as are the contrivances of the bad twin, without whom we would not have mountains, waterfalls, reptiles, and the idea that even the good twin’s powers are limited (as are those of humans). This suggests that there is no human agency without help from a variety of participants and that all creative powers must know their limits. If possible, read Wiget’s beautiful interpretation of the story of the woman who fell. He says, in part, that the Earth-Diver is the story of the Fortunate Fall played out against a landscape more vast than Eden and yet on a personal scale equally as intimate. It is a story of losses, the loss of celestial status, the loss of life in the depths of the sea. But it is also the story of gifts, especially the gift of power over life, the gift of agriculture to sustain life, and the gift of the vision to understand man’s place as somewhere between the abyss and the stars.

Pima Stories of the Beginning of the World

Two prevalent themes in Native American creation myths: the “woman who fell from the sky” and the “emergence” of the world. One of the images that distinguishes the emergence narrative, connecting the Pima myth to it, is Juhwertamahkai poking a hole in the sky with his staff and emerging through this hole into another dimension, where he begins his act of world creation anew. Some scholars have suggested that this movement is a metaphor for the numerous migrations of Native American peoples, and that these myths may implicitly record those migrations. In discussing this story, students might try some comparisons, locating similarities and differences between Iroquois and Pima myths and among other Native American and Western versions of “genesis.” Unlike the Judeo-Christian tradition, which favors one story of origin, Native American traditions offer many creation stories, as if this wide and fecund world required many exploits to get it going.
In the Pima, as in Genesis, the world begins “in the beginning” with a person who floated in the darkness; in Genesis, the spirit of God hovers over the darkness. Even so, recognizing the perils of the transcription is crucial to “reading” the opening of this story, for the language of the English transcription itself echoes the language of Genesis—and those echoes could have been wished for by the English-speaking translator as much as inherently there in the original text. Later on the story ceases to resemble Genesis. Indeed, Juhwertamahkai makes several mistakes in the process of creating the world. Unlike the Western god, whose destruction of the world by flood is blamed on human behavior, Juhwertamahkai takes a trial-and-error approach to creation, starting over or letting the sky fall each time the creative act sets in motion a process that will not sustain life. As the headnote points out, he makes the world four times before he is satisfied with his creation, establishing the number four (corresponding to north, south, east, and west) as significant in Native American cosmology.
The Pima Story of the Creation includes the birth of Coyote, the trickster of many Native American legends.
In the Pima Story of the Flood, Seeurhuh, or Ee-ee-toy, and Juhwertamahkai seem to engage in a struggle—not about creation but about recreation. This is an interesting theme and a promising basis for a conversation.

Beowulf 9th century Introductory Material

This text survived as a tattered document written in Old English. It describes an heroic age of heroes, dragons and monsters; family, enemies, song and celebration. It celebrates the culture of the past that by the year 1000 had all but disappeared. The book can be dated to 1000 a.d. and is called Anglo-Saxon literature. There are other tales in the book that was found. They varied by genres, but all contained monsters and heroes. There are three monsters in Beowulf: Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon. This shows medieval English culture and its ability to integrate pagan Germanic history within frameworks of the Christian Middle Ages. The poem must be older than the book, for the copying of the story contains copying errors. These tales are known among the Scandinavians with the poem’s setting taking place sometime in the 6th century. Oral tradition of the tale would have existed first. It is an English poem, but not about English people. The character, Beowulf, is Swedish and serves in a Danish court. In the setting, England is only beginning to be settled by Germans. The Christian audience would have heard of a pre-Christian world where fate (wyrd) governs life events. Yet in the poem, Christianity is left ambiguous; Grendel is one of “Cain’s clan.” Beowulf first fights Grendel, then Grendel’s mother, returning home a celebrated hero. Decades later he confronts a dragon and Wiglaf comes to help Beowulf. The monsters are complex. Grendel is combination monster and man; a forlorn outcast. Grendel shows human emotions. Grendel’s mother is motivated by the desire to avenge her son’s death—viewed as an appropriate response. When Beowulf fights the dragon, our hero is the one who is invading the dragon’s territory. Every clash is couched in terms of equality and balance.

Another level of the story explores kinship, tribe, warrior and lord. Beowulf goes from one of an army of Geats to moving up into the ranks of Hrothgar. Later he returns to rule the Geats. The most valuable gift here is that of community. Heorot, the meeting place, is seen as the heart of community. Swords and weapons also link warriors over time and space. Rings, or golden collars, carry both material and social value and they mark loyalty between individuals and groups. Material possessions can be passed on to others to represent connections. Weapons are instruments of warfare and a symbol of continuity. Heroic songs are also a communal ritual connecting the past to the present and building bonds of friendship. In its original form, the poem had a strong rhythmic quality with an alliterative and songlike quality.