On February 4, 1826, The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper, was published. Cooper’s books were the first successful American novels. As with the rest of the books in Cooper’s “Leatherstocking Tales,”, the story follows the adventures of Nathanial “Natty” Bumppo, nicknamed “Hawkeye” by his Native American friends. In The Last of the Mohicans, Hawkeye and his Mohican and British allies pursue a villainous band of Hurons who kidnapped three people and massacred an entire Army division.
 
Though a fictional story, The Last of the Mohicans is set in real places in upstate New York during actual historical events. During the French and Indian War (1754-1763), upstate New York was still a frontier region filled with nations of Native Americans who allied with the French or English. In 1757, there actually was a grisly massacre of British troops surrendering Fort William Henry. 
 
Today, The Last of the Mohicans provides a window into a time before wilderness gave way to development. Native American civilizations chronicled in the novel were pushed onto reservations far from their historic homelands. Even by Cooper's time, there were few Native Americans left in the Lake Champlain region. Roads had already replaced the trails only perceptible to the wily woodsman Hawkeye and his Mohican friend, Chingachgook.
chronicle
Verb

to report.

Noun

complex way of life that developed as humans began to develop urban settlements.

development
Noun

construction or preparation of land for housing, industry, or agriculture.

division
Noun

separation.

frontier
Noun

largely unpopulated area that is slowly being opened up for settlement.

massacre
Noun

mass killing of large number of people.

Native American
Noun

person whose ancestors were native inhabitants of North or South America. Native American usually does not include Eskimo or Hawaiian people.

novel
Noun

fictional narrative or story.

reservation
Noun

land in the U.S. reserved for the political, cultural, and physical use of Native American tribes and nations.

surrender
Verb

to give up.

Noun

environment that has remained essentially undisturbed by human activity.