James Fenimore Cooper (September 15, 1789 – September 14, 1851) was a prolific and popular American writer of the early 19th century. His historical romances of frontier and Indian life in the early American days created a unique form of American literature. He lived most of his life in Cooperstown, New York, established by his father William. Cooper was a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church and in his later years contributed generously to it. He attended Yale University for three years but was expelled for misbehavior. Before embarking on his career as a writer he served in the U.S. Navy as a Midshipman which greatly influenced many of his novels and other writings. He is best remembered as a novelist who wrote numerous sea-stories and the historical novels known as the Leatherstocking Tales. Among naval historians his works on early U.S. naval history have been widely received but were sometimes criticized by Cooper's contemporaries. Among his most famous works is the Romantic novel The Last of the Mohicans, often regarded as his masterpiece.
Christendom is gradually extricating itself from the ignorance, ferocity, and crimes of the middle ages. It is no longer subject of boast, that the hand which wields the sword, never held a pen, and men have long since ceased to be ashamed of knowledge. The multiplied means of imparting principles and facts, and a more general diffusion of intelligence, have conduced to establish sounder ethics and juster practices, throughout the whole civilized world. Thus, he who admits the conviction, as hope declines with his years, that man deteriorates, is probably as far from the truth, as the visionary who sees the dawn of a golden age, in the commencement of the nineteenth century. That we have greatly improved on the opinions and practices of our ancestors, is quite as certain as that there will be occasion to meliorate the legacy of morals which we shall transmit to posterity.
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