"This volume is intended as a companion to the historical sketch of English literature, entitled From Chaucer to Tennyson, published last year for the Chautauqua Circle. In writing it I have followed the same plan, aiming to present the subject in a sort of continuous essay rather than in the form of a "primer" or elementary manual. I have not undertaken to describe, or even to mention, every American author or book of importance, but only those which seemed to me of most significance. Nevertheless I believe that the sketch contains enough detail to make it of some use as a guide-book to our literature. Though meant to be mainly a history of American belleslettres, it makes some mention of historical and political writings, but hardly any of philosophical, scientific, and technical works."