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James Fenimore Cooper
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    (September 15, 1789-September 14, 1851)
    Born in Burlington, New Jersey
    Known for the 'Leatherstocking Tales' series of novels: 'The Pioneers' (1823), 'The Last of the Mohicans' (1826), 'The Prairie' (1827), 'The Pathfinder' (1840) and 'The Deerslayer' (1847)
    Also wrote 'The Spy' (1821), 'The Pilot' (1824), 'The Red Rover' (1828), 'The American Democrat' (1838), 'Afloat and Ashore' (1844), 'The Crater' (1847) and 'The Sea Lions' (1849)
    He was expelled from Yale for blowing up a door lock with gunpowder.
    When he joined the US Navy, he was quickly commissioned as an officer, in large part due to the influence of his father, a former Congressman.
    He wrote his first novel, 'Precaution' (1820), on a dare from his wife.
    He wrote, 'Slavery is no more sinful, by the Christian code, than it is sinful to wear a whole coat, while another is in tatters, to eat a better meal than a neighbor, or otherwise to enjoy ease and plenty, while our fellow creatures are suffering and in want.'
    In 'Last of the Mohicans,' he apparently conflated the names of two Indian tribes, the Mohegan and Mahican. (Both of which still exist, despite what the 'Last of' in the title would suggest.)
    One literary scholar wrote that his collected works 'are monumental in their cumulative dullness.'
    Mark Twain wrote, 'In one place in 'Deerslayer,' and in the restricted space of two-thirds of a page, Cooper has scored 114 offenses against literary art out of a possible 115. It breaks the record.'
    His Navy commission was also influenced by his record of good conduct as a sailor on merchant ships.
    After two of his brothers died young, he became the sole financial support for their families.
    Two of his seven children died in childhood.
    He was the most popular American novelist of the 19th century.
    Admirers of his writing included Honore de Balzac, Victor Hugo, Joseph Conrad and D.H. Lawrence.
    In M*A*S*H, Hawkeye Pierce got his nickname from 'Last of the Mohicans.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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