Abstract

This article examines the influence of James Macpherson’s Ossianic verse on American cultural critics and writers. Remarks on the textual history of Macpherson’s work in America--in Scottish, English, and domestic editions--are followed by an exploration of Macpherson’s impact on American culture, including his period as Secretary to the Governor of British West Florida. By looking at a selection of poetic and political responses to Macpherson’s Ossian, I suggest that the image of the Celt in America is founded in Macpherson’s vision. Furthermore, I propose that Macpherson’s folklore of an idealized, democratic Scotland had an indirect influence on the emergence of an American national identity.

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