The American Reader: Words That Moved a Nation / Edition 2

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The American Reader is a stirring and memorable anthology that captures the many facets of American culture and history in prose and verse. The 200 poems, speeches, songs, essays, letters, and documents were chosen both for their readability and for their significance. These are the words that have inspired, enraged, delighted, chastened, and comforted Americans in days gone by. Gathered here are the writings that illuminate—with wit, eloquence, and sometimes sharp words—significant aspects of national conciousness. They reflect the part that all Americans—black and white, native born and immigrant, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American, poor and wealthy—have played in creating the nation's character.

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Editorial Reviews

E. D. Hirsch
The American Reader is a splendid collection of the words and sentiments that have shaped our nation. It belongs in every American home.
USA Today
This unique multicultural patchwork of political and literary American writ-ings-some famous, some virtually unknown-is a treasure.
Albert Shanker
Far more than a marvelous collection of text and images, Ravitch's anthology is also a journey through the American democratic experience. And by showing us the contributions diverse Americans have made to articulating our common democratic ideals and to our efforts to live up to them, Ravitch has provided a sourcebook of unity for our 'teeming Nation of nations.'
A multicultural anthology of American history and literature. Educator and historian Ravitch has chronologically arranged over 200 speeches, poems, songs, and essays, chosen for literary quality and readability. No subject index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062737335
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Series: Harper Perennial
  • Edition description: 2ND, REVISED
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 656
  • Sales rank: 132,093
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch, a historian of education, is Research Professor at New York University, holds Brown Chair in Education Studies at the Brookings Institution, and is a Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. A former Guggenheim Fellow and recipient of many awards, she is also the author of the recent book Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms.

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Read an Excerpt

The Mayflower Compact

We whose names are underwritten ... doe by these presents solemnly & mutualy in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant & combine our selves togeather into a civill body politick.

The settling of America began with an idea. The idea was that the citizens of a society could join freely and agree to govern themselves by making laws for the common good.

On November 11, 1620, after sixty-six days at sea, the sailing ship Mayflower approached land. On board were 102 passengers. Their destination was the area at the mouth of the Hudson River, but because of rough seas they missed their goal and anchored in what is now Provincetown Harbor off Cape Cod. Since it was late autumn, they decided to make their landing there rather than to sail on. And since they were no longer in the territory for which they had a patent, they signed a covenant before they landed in order to establish a basis for self-government by which all of them were bound.

About a third of the passengers were members of an English separatist congregation that had earlier fled to Leyden, the Netherlands, in search of religious freedom. The entire group of English colonists was later called the Pilgrims. The colonists had negotiated an agreement with the Virginia Company of London that gave them the right to locate wherever they chose in that company's vast holdings and to govern themselves.

Forty-one of the male passengers signed the covenant aboard ship. In what was later known as the Mayflower Compact, the signers pledged to create a body politic that would be based on the consent of the governed and ruled by law.And they further agreed to submit to the laws framed by the new body politic.

The compact was signed by every head of a family, every adult bachelor, and most of the hired manservants aboard the Mayflower, It was signed both by separatists and non-separatists. Women were not asked to sign, since they did not have political rights.

On the day after Christmas, the 102 settlers disembarked at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. Those who had signed the compact became the governing body of the Plymouth colony, with the power to elect officers, pass laws, and admit new voting members. The covenant entered into on that November day on a ship at anchor in the wilderness harbor established the basis for self-government and the rule of law in the new land.

In the name of God Amen. We whose names are underwriten, the loyall subjects of our dread soveraigne Lord King James by the grace of God, of great Britaine, Franc, & Ireland king, defender of the faith, &c.

Haveing undertaken, for the glorie of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honour of our king & countrie, a voyage to plant the first colonie in the Northerne parts of Virginia, doe by these presents solemnly & mutualy in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant & combine our selves togeather into a civill body politick; for our better ordering, & preservation & furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by vertue hearof to enacte, constitute, and frame shuch just & equall lawes, ordinances, Acts, constitutions, & offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meete & convenient for the generall good of the Colonie: unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cap-Codd the11of November, in the year the raigne of our soveraigne Lord King James of England, France & Ireland, the eighteenth and of Scotland the fiftie fourth. An°: Dom. 1620.

William Bradford

The Landing

They had now no freinds to wellcome them, nor inns to entertaine or refresh their weatherbeaten bodys, no houses or much less townes to repaire too, to seeke for succoure.

William Bradford (1590-1657) was among the 102 Pilgrims who sailed on the Mayflower, his History of Plimouth Plantation provides the most complete account of the formative years of the settlement, including the circumstances of the Mayflower Compact. Bradford was elected governor of Plymouth Colony in 1621 and was reelected to that office almost every year from 1622 to 1656. He began writing the History of Plimouth Plantation in 1630 and completed it in 165 1. His description of the hard life facing the Pilgrims when they first arrived on shore is a classic of American literature.

Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the periles and miseries therof, againe to set their feete on the firme and stable earth, their proper elemente. And no marvell if they were thus joyefull, seeing wise Seneca was so affected with sailing a few miles on the coast of his owne Italy; as he affirmed, that he had rather remaine twentie years on his way by land, then pass by sea to any place in a short time; so tedious and dreadfull was the same unto him.

But hear I cannot but stay and make a pause, and stand half amased at this poore peoples presente condition; and so I thinke Will the reader too, when he well considers the same. Being thus passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before in their preparation (as may be remembred by that which wente before), they had now no freinds to wellcome them, nor inns to entertaine or refresh their weatherbeaten bodys, no houses or much less townes to repaire too, to seeke for succoure. It is recorded in scripture as a mercie to the apostle and his shipwraked company, that the barbarians shewed them no smale kindnes in refreshing them, but these savage barbarians, when they mette with them, (as after will appeare) were readier to fill their sids full of arrows then otherwise. And for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of that cuntrie know them to be sharp and violent, and subjecte to cruell and feirce stormes, deangerous to travill to known places, much more to serch an unknown coast.

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Table of Contents

The Mayflower Compact 3
The Landing 5
Poor Richard's Almanack 7
List of Virtues 12
Defense of Freedom of the Press 14
A Demand to Limit Search and Seizure 19
Yankee Doodle 22
Liberty and Knowledge 24
The Liberty Song 28
Chief Logan's Lament 30
The Slaves' Appeal to the Royal Governor of Massachusetts 31
Speech to the Second Virginia Convention 33
The Declaration of Independence 37
A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia 42
Common Sense 45
The American Crisis 50
Liberty Tree 54
Correspondence with John 55
Letters from an American Farmer 58
The Federalist, No. 1 63
Farewell Address 71
Hail, Columbia 77
First Inaugural Address 79
The Star-Spangled Banner 83
The Old Oaken Bucket 85
Home, Sweet Home 87
A Visit from St. Nicholas 88
The Meaning of Patriotism in America 90
Against Nullification 93
Woodman, Spare That Tree 96
The Height of the Ridiculous 98
Old Ironsides 99
America 100
Concord Hymn 105
Self-Reliance 106
On Top of Old Smoky 111
Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean 112
The Raven 114
A Psalm of Life 118
The Village Blacksmith 120
Paul Revere's Ride 121
Civil Disobedience 125
Walden 134
The Barefoot Boy 140
Against the Mexican War 143
The Case for Pubic Schools 148
Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions 153
Address to the Ohio Women's Rights Convention 159
Oh! Susanna 161
Old Folks at Home 162
Address to the Legislature of New York on Women's Rights 163
A Disappointed Woman 169
Success 171
Walker's Appeal 175
Prospectus for The Liberator 179
Stanzas for the Times 181
Predjudice Against the Colored Man 184
Bearing Witness Against Slavery 188
An Address to the Slaves of the United States of America 192
The Present Crisis 198
Independence Day Speech at Rochester 202
The House Divided Speech 208
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates 216
Last Statement to the Court 224
The Cooper Union Speech 227
Go Down, Moses 238
Dixie 243
First Inaugural Address 244
The Bonnie Blue Flag 250
Maryland, My Maryland 252
Battle Cry of Freedom 254
The John Brown Song 256
Battle Hymn of the Republic 257
Barbara Frietchie 259
The Gettysburg Address 261
Second Inaugural Address 263
I Hear America Singing 265
O Captain! My Captain! 266
Speech to the American Anti-Slavery Society 267
The Blue and the Gray 275
Women's Right to Vote 277
The Ballad of John Henry 285
Home on the Range 287
I've Been Working on the Railroad 288
A Century of Dishonor 290
Speech at the National Convention of Colored Men 295
The New Colossus 301
Clementine 302
Casey at the Bat 304
When the Frost Is on the Punkin 306
When de Co'n Pone's Hot 308
What Does the Working Man Want? 310
The Pledge of Allegiance 315
The Mountains of California 316
Solitude 320
America the Beautiful 321
Little Boy Blue 322
The Atlanta Exposition Address 323
Reply to Booker T. Washington 329
Dissent from Plessy v. Ferguson 330
In Praise of the Strenuous Life 333
Against Imperialism 337
No 342
The Solitude of Self 347
Women and Economics 354
The Man with the Hoe 357
Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing 359
Should Higher Education for Women Differ? 360
The Battle with the Slum 365
Prejudice Against Women 369
The Talented Tenth 373
Advice to a Black Schoolgril 378
The Niagara Movement Declaration of Principles 379
Take Me Out to the Ball Game 384
The Preacher and the Slave 385
Trees 387
The New Freedom 388
Protest to President Wilson 394
Statement of Principles 398
Anne Rutledge 401
Mending Wall 402
The Road Not Taken 404
Fire and Ice 405
Evolution 405
Chicago 406
Solidarity Forever 408
Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight 413
The Leaden-Eyed 414
I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier 415
I Have a Rendezvous with Death 416
War Message to Congress 417
Against Entry into the War 422
Over There 426
Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning 427
The Marines' Hymn 429
The Field Artillery Song 430
Grass 431
Statement to the Court 432
The Right to One's Body 435
First Fig 439
Poems of Angel Island 440
A Korean Discovers New York 441
American Names 444
America 445
Yet Do I Marvel 446
O Black and Unknown Bards 447
The Negro Speaks of Rivers 449
I, Too 450
The America System of Self-Government 451
Happy Days Are Here Again 459
First Inaugural Address 460
Second Inaugural Address 464
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? 467
Union Maid 469
So Long, It's Been Good to Know Yuh (Dusty Old Dust) 470
Which Side Are You On? 471
I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night 472
FDR at the DAR 474
God Bless America 476
This Is the Army, Mr. Jones 477
This Land Is Your Land 478
Freedom 479
High Flight 485
Anchors Aweigh 487
The Four Freedoms 488
War Message to Congress 492
Poems of the Issei 494
The Army Air Corps 496
Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition 497
The Spirit of Liberty 498
Elegy for a Dead Soldier 500
The Baruch Plan for Control of Atomic Energy 507
Confirmation Hearings 510
A Plea for Civil Rights 513
Inaugural Address 516
Declaration of Conscience 522
Nobel Acceptance Speech 527
The Silent Generation 529
Refugee in America 530
Harlem 531
Brown v. Board of Eduction 531
Farewell Address 535
It Could Be a Wonderful World 539
Duty, Honor, Country 540
Inaugural Address 549
Where Have All the Flowers Gone? 553
Address to the Broadcasting Industry 555
The Port Huron Statement 560
Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream 564
Silent Spring 565
Letter from Birmingham City Jail 568
Speech at the Berlin Wall 576
The March on Washington 578
We Shall Overcome 583
O Freedom 584
If I Had a Hammer 585
Blowin' in the Wind 586
Ballad of Birmingham 587
The Feminine Mystique 589
Little Boxes 592
Howard University Address 593
On the Death of Martin Luther King, Jr. 597
Stupid America 600
The Wilderness Idea 603
Speech at Moscow State University 605
The American Idea 610
Bibliography 613
Author Index 619
Copyright Acknowledgments 625
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2001

    Great book

    A great book, which really shows the diversity and culture of America. It has songs which are stirring to the soul, speeches that make you want to cry, sing, and work for America, and poems which are as funny as they are clever. Two thumbs up!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2001

    Must Have

    Beginning with the Mayflower Compact and ending with Ronald Reagan speech at Moscow State Universtiy, this book contains America's greatest writers, freedom fighters, Civil War veterans and WWI, WWII up to and beyond the 60's into the 80's mover and shakers. It's all here This book makes a great gift. I open mine to a different page for every American occasion. My sister gave this to my father years ago and I would pick it up and read it while I was visiting. Finally I got my own copy. Makes a great gift. This transcends all ages. It is the one book every American should have. Enjoy

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