Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans as Native(,) American Tragedy


Although American political independence is traditionally considered to have been achieved on July 4, 1776, the formation of a distinct American national identity took considerably longer than one day. Indeed, for many years after the successful conclusion of the American Revolution, American intellectuals of all kinds worked hard to forge the “new American”. James Fenimore Cooper was one such intellectual and The Last of the Mohicans the product of such work. In this talk we will explore the ways in which Fenimore Cooper’s work of historical fiction — it was published in 1826 and subtitled “A Narrative of 1757” — participated in the shaping of an emerging American identity. We will also consider the ways in which it continues to influence the notion of “Americanness.”