James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1851) is best known for his masterpiece The Last of the Mohicans. A prolific and popular American writer, Cooper wrote fiction, non-fiction, and even tried his hand at the supernatural. He wrote many stories about the sea as well as the historical novels of his series Leatherstocking Tales.
Satanstoe (Barnes & Noble Digital Library)by James Fenimore Cooper
The first book in Cooper’s Littlepage Manuscripts trilogy vividly captures “old New York” from the vantage point of one of its earliest families of settlers. This romance follows Cornelius “Corny” Littlepage as he travels from his home on Long Island Sound to nascent Manhattan and into the wilds of the territory, all along sharing
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The first book in Cooper’s Littlepage Manuscripts trilogy vividly captures “old New York” from the vantage point of one of its earliest families of settlers. This romance follows Cornelius “Corny” Littlepage as he travels from his home on Long Island Sound to nascent Manhattan and into the wilds of the territory, all along sharing his observations of country versus city.
Meet the Author
- Date of Birth:
- September 15, 1789
- Date of Death:
- September 14, 1851
- Place of Birth:
- Burlington, New Jersey
- Place of Death:
- Cooperstown, New York
- Yale University (expelled in 1805)
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In 1751 Cornelius ("Corny") Littlepage was 14. He passed through York City (Manhattan) en route to beginning college in New Jersey at the future Princeton. During a street festival he first met gorgeous 11 year old Anne Mordaunt, called "Anneke." He gave her some fruit. A lower class boy knocked an apple from Anneke's hand and made her cry. Corny then trounced the other lad.
In 1757 Corny and Anneke meet again and are properly introduced. In another street festival he rescues her when a caged lion wraps his paw around her shawl. In the next spring, during a sleigh outing on the Hudson river from Albany to Kinderhook and back, Corny coolly saves himself and his love Anneke when the ice breaks up. Finally, in July 1758 he protects her yet again. He has made his way back to her after the disastrous assault 40 miles away by 16,000 British troops on French-held Ticonderoga. Corny and others, including the novel's young Achilles, 24 year old Duerck Ten Eyck, beat the Hurons off from two land grants made to colonists and save Anneke and her best girl friend Mary Wallace, age 19. During the Huron attack, Anneke has finally admitted her love to her protector. They marry in October 1758 and found the dynasty described in two sequels by Cooper.
In 1967 George Dekker, in JAMES FENIMORE COOPER: THE AMERICAN SCOTT, rated SATANSTOE Cooper's "most mature and finished, novel" And perhaps even his best! Cooper uses a courtship story to frame a broader study of the American colonial mind's freeing itself from English overlordship. He also shows interactions between the old Dutch of New York, the conquering English and the threatening French and Indians. He also shows the challenges of carving frontier settlements out of the virgin wilderness. SATANSTOE, by the way, is the name of the southern New York farming estate of the Littlepages, a respected English-Dutch family.
Cooper produces other memorable characters. In addition to the four young lovers mentioned above, there is a priggish but acquisitive schoolteacher from Puritan Connecticut, various Indians and black slaves, cameo appearances of Lord Howe and the Patroon of Albany, also an English Major, oldest son of a baronet who falls in love with Anneke Mordaunt, despite social differences.
Another character is England-born Reverend Mister Thomas Worden, rector of the Littlepages' parish church. We first see him as young Corny's tutor in Latin and Greek. A good scholar, Worden "was very popular among the gentry of the country; attending all the dinners, clubs, races, balls, and other diversions that were given by them, within ten miles of his residence. His sermons were pithy and short" (Ch. Two) He also coached Corny in boxing. This came in handy in 1751 when 14 year old Corny first protected 11 year old Anneke.
Reverend Mister Worden is often present in these pages. He becomes a figure of fun when he moves up to Albany preparatory to a surveying expedition to a recent family grant north east of that old Dutch city. He is so afraid of riding on the frozen Hudson river that he runs away from a friendly young Duerck Ten Eyck when offered a sleigh ride. Rev. Worden briefly enters the wilderness to convert the Indians. After experiencing their murderous savagery, he abandons his mission arguing that Christianity is essentially a civilized religion of no use to uncivilized Indians.
For literary mastery and early American history, read SATANSTOE!