Texts of Cooper’s Works
This page links to online texts of hard-to-find works by James Fenimore Cooper. Unless otherwise indicated, they have been transcribed and annotated by Hugh C. MacDougall.
- (1823) Tales for Fifteen. Two short stories about adolescent girls published under the pseudonym of “Jane Morgan.” The heroine of “Imagination” carries her romantic day dreams to ludicrous extremes — the story is still very funny. “Heart” is a more pathetic tale of fidelity in love.
- (1830) The Water Witch; or, The Skimmer of the Seas. The rare Dresden edition, printed in Dresden, Germany, as a copytext for Cooper’s American and European translators and typesetters. The first complete text of the novel. With a forward by Prof. Thomas Philbrick (University of Pittsburgh, Emeritus).
- (1832) Pas de Bateaux à Vapeur — Une Vision [No Steamboats — A Vision]. Satiric article about European misconceptions of America; written by Cooper in French, and published in Paris, ou le Livre des Cent-et-Un. With annotated translation.
- (1834) A Letter to His Countrymen. Cooper angrily attacks American press reviews of The Bravo and The Heidenmauer; presents a theory of limited Constitutional powers and dangers of legislative usurpation, and says he will quit writing.
- (1838) The Chronicles of Cooperstown. The first history of the Village of Cooperstown — and one of the first American local histories.
- (1843) Autobiography of a Pocket-Handkerchief. The unlikely narrator, a delicately embroidered handkerchief with clairvoyant powers, tells her story from French flax-field to a respectable Manhattan residence. An amusing but often biting social satire about poverty and exploitation, speculation and social climbing, and greed and good taste, set amidst the French Revolution of 1830 and the American financial panic of 1837. Originally published in Graham’s Magazine, it has rarely been reprinted.
- (1844) Review of the Somers Mutiny Courtmartial. Cooper’s detailed critique of the Court Martial that acquitted Captain Alexander Slidell Mackenzie of wrongdoing in the hanging of Midshipman Philip Spencer (son of the Secretary of War) and two sailors for purportedly attempting to mutiny aboard the United States Brig Somers and convert her into a pirate ship. It was originally published in 1844 as an appendix to a published transcript of the Courtmartial.
- (1850) Upside Down; or the World in Petticoats. The only surviving scene from Cooper’s only play, a comic farce aimed at radical reformers and the nascent feminist movement, produced (briefly) in New York in 1850. This text, with accompanying explanatory material (including a scenario of the whole play) was originally published in February 1992 as Cooper Society Miscellaneous Papers No. 1.
- (1850) The Lake Gun. A political fable, in the form of an Indian legend of New York’s Seneca Lake, castigating New York politics in the 1840s and especially New York Senator (later Secretary of State) William Seward.
- (1851) New York. Cooper’s last work; a long introduction for a never-completed history of New York City. Cooper outlines the glorious commercial prospects of New York City, discussed in the light of a deepening national crisis brought on by political demagogy and North-South sectionalism.
- (1853) Old Ironsides. History of the United States Frigate Constitution, posthumously published in Putnam’s Monthly from notes left by Cooper.