James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans has never been out of print since its publication in 1826.

Photograph by Blacklake, courtesy Wikimedia

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  • 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.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    chronicle Verb

    to report.

    civilization Noun

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

    Encyclopedic Entry: civilization
    development Noun

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

    division Noun


    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.

    wilderness Noun

    environment that has remained essentially undisturbed by human activity.

    Encyclopedic Entry: wilderness