When in American History Is the Story Set?

If you’re a fan of American literature, movies or TV shows, you may have noticed that many of them are set in specific time periods of American history. These time periods not only serve as settings but also provide context and background to the story being told. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common time periods that American stories are set in and what makes them unique.

The Colonial Era: 1607-1776

The colonial era marks the early years of America’s history when settlers from Europe arrived in North America. This era is characterized by the establishment of the first colonies, including Jamestown and Plymouth, and their struggle for survival in a new and hostile environment.

Stories set during this period often revolve around themes of exploration, colonization, survival, and conflict with Native Americans. They may also touch upon topics like religious freedom and political upheavals that ultimately led to the American Revolution.

Recommended Reading:

  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
  • Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

The Revolutionary War: 1775-1783

The Revolutionary War was a pivotal moment in American history when thirteen colonies united to fight for their independence from Great Britain. This era is characterized by battles fought on American soil, political turmoil, and significant social change.

Stories set during this period often focus on themes like patriotism, loyalty, sacrifice and freedom. They may also touch upon historical figures like George Washington or events such as the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Recommended Reading:

  • 1776 by David McCullough
  • Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

The Civil War: 1861-1865

The Civil War was fought between the Union and Confederate forces over issues of slavery, states’ rights, and regional differences. This era is characterized by intense battles fought on American soil, political tensions, and significant social change.

Stories set during this period often focus on themes like family, loyalty, sacrifice and freedom. They may also touch upon historical figures like Abraham Lincoln or events such as the Emancipation Proclamation.

Recommended Reading:

  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  • The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

The Roaring Twenties: 1920-1929

The Roaring Twenties was a decade of great social change when America experienced significant economic growth and cultural upheaval. This era is characterized by jazz music, flapper fashion, prohibition, and organized crime.

Stories set during this period often focus on themes like social mobility, rebellion against societal norms and gender roles. They may also touch upon historical figures like Al Capone or events such as the stock market crash.

Recommended Reading:

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  • Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis

Conclusion

American history is rich with stories waiting to be told. Each time period has its own unique characteristics and themes that provide rich settings for stories and characters. Whether you’re a fan of historical fiction or just curious about American history, exploring these different eras can be an enriching experience.