portrait of James Fenimore Cooper
Portrait by John Wesley Jarvis (1822)

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Quotes of the Day for 15 September 2003 – James Fenimore Cooper

James Cooper was born at Burlington, New Jersey on this day in 1789. His father was an ambitious judge who made a fortune in land development, and married another fortune. William Cooper packed up his family to move to his new project, Cooperstown, New York. James was sent to Yale at age thirteen, where he was expelled for his pranks in his junior year. He went to sea, first as a merchant seaman, then in the Navy. On his father's death, his newfound financial independence allowed him to leave the Navy and take up the life of the gentleman farmer. Disgusted with the book he was reading a few years later, he told his wife he could write better. She suggested he prove it, and though his first book was a failure, he became America's first novelist. He added Fenimore, his mother's maiden name, to his in 1826, the same year Last of the Mohicans was released.

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You will find an expanded profile, photo, additional biographical links, and all quotes from this author on the author's Notable Quotable page.

The quotes:

The Americans ... are almost ignorant of the art of music, one of the most elevating, innocent and refining of human tastes, whose influence on the habits and morals of a people is of the most beneficial tendency.

A monarchy is the most expensive of all forms of government, the regal state requiring a costly parade, and he who depends on his own power to rule, must strengthen that power by bribing the active and enterprising whom he cannot intimidate.

The tendency of democracies is, in all things, to mediocrity.

The common faults of American language are an ambition of effect, a want of simplicity, and a turgid abuse of terms.

Equality, in a social sense, may be divided into that of condition and that of rights. Equality of condition is incompatible with civilization, and is found only to exist in those communities that are but slightly removed from the savage state. In practice, it can only mean a common misery.

Hope is the most treacherous of human fancies.
     - All from James Fenimore Cooper, 1789 - 1851

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