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Folklore of the United States

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The folklore of the United States, or American folklore, is one of the folk traditions which has evolved on the North American continent since Europeans arrived in the 16th century. While it contains much in the way of Native American tradition, it should not be confused with the tribal beliefs of any community of native people. American folklore covers the same broad categories as the folklore of other nations. It encompasses myths, jokes, riddles, legends, cautionary tales, and many other forms of storytelling.

Founding myths

The founding of the United States is often surrounded by legends and tall tales. Many stories have developed since the founding long ago to become a part of America's folklore and cultural awareness, and non-native American folklore especially includes any narrative which has contributed to the shaping of American values and belief systems. These narratives may be true and may be false; the veracity of the stories is not a determining factor. Three so-called "founding myths" (or national myths) include: Christopher Columbus, the Pilgrims, and George Washington.

Christopher Columbus

Though Christopher Columbus did not participate in the founding of the American government, he has been interpreted as a "founder" of the American nation, in that it is descended from the European immigrants who would not have moved to the New World if Columbus had not found where it was. Indeed, one particularly pervasive story is that Columbus discovered America, as it is far easier to elevate a man to heroic status than to reflect the reality among complex series of waves of immigrants from multiple conditions and walks of life.

According to some stories, Columbus began his journey across the Atlantic Ocean on Friday, August 3, 1492, in order to prove that the world was round, because he expected to reach the Far East by sailing west. In fact, it was generally accepted by Columbus' time that the world was round. What set Columbus apart was that he believed the world to be considerably smaller than most thought, small enough that a ship sailing west to the Far East could carry enough supplies for the journey.

By this legend Columbus' mission is then rendered entirely noble, intellectual and rational. He helped dispel the inaccurate beliefs of his time, and, so, it is concluded, the nation he founded must be a nation of intellect and logic. Washington Irving is the first citation for this belief. The late 20th century, however, saw a decrease in the prestige of Columbus' legend as skepticism about Europeans' activities in the New World and elsewhere has become more prevalent.

Pilgrims

The Pilgrim ship the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620 and the Plymouth Colony was established. The holiday of Thanksgiving is said to have begun with the Pilgrims in 1621. They had come to America to escape religious persecution, but then nearly starved to death due to the unfamiliar land. Some friendly Native Americans (including Squanto) helped the Pilgrims survive through the first winter. The perseverance of the Pilgrims is celebrated during the annual Thanksgiving festival. As a legend, this story relates to the founding of the culture. The Pilgrims' dedication to their cause in spite of the hardships renders the foundation of the country, and therefore the country itself, seem stronger and more resilient. It is also a fertility festival, similar in some ways to other harvest-time celebrations in other cultures, celebrating the nourishment that comes from the earth. Although there were earlier colonies, Plymouth is one of the most famous and only the second English colony to be successful, after Jamestown in Virginia, which was settled more than 10 years earlier, in 1607.

Puritans

In 1630, aboard the ship Arbella, Puritan preacher John Winthrop delivered his famous sermon Shining city upon a hill. The ship landed in 1630 and the Massachusetts Bay Colony was established at what is now Boston, Massachusetts. Winthrop's sermon gave rise to the common belief in American folklore that the United States of America has a special status in the world as God's Country. This belief is called by historians American exceptionalism.

George Washington

George Washington, the country's first president, is often said to be the founder of the United States. Since his death, Washington has been "mythologized", with many anecdotes and stories about his life told, in general, to present the founder of the modern American nation as a just and wise cultural hero. For example, it is said that Washington, as a young child, chopped down his father's cherry tree. His angry father confronted the young Washington, who proclaimed "I can not tell a lie" and admitted to the transgression, thus illuminating his honesty. Parson Mason Locke Weems is the first citation of the legend, in his 1850 book, The Life of George Washington: With Curious Anecdotes, Equally Honorable to Himself and Exemplary to His Young Countrymen. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) is also known to have spread the story while lecturing, personalizing it by adding "I have a higher and greater standard of principle. Washington could not lie. I can lie but I won't." Stories of national value often have similar themes – that the founder of the nation, Deucalion, George Washington, Abraham – was a wise, virtuous and brave man.

American folk figures

The following is a list of people who are either folk heroes, important figures in American folklore, or chroniclers and creators of such folklore.

Apocryphal people

  • Paul Bunyan
  • Cordwood Pete
  • Iron John
  • John the Conqueror
  • John Henry
  • Roy Hobbs
  • Johnny Kaw
  • Joe Magarac
  • Molly Pitcher
  • Pecos Bill
  • Zorro
  • Stagger Lee
  • Henry "Ole Pete" Peterson
  • Casey Jones

Historical persons

Statesmen

  • Aaron Burr (1756–1836)
  • Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865)
  • Alexander Hamilton (1755–1804)
  • Andrew Jackson (1767-1845)
  • Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790)
  • Bob Dole (1923-)
  • Charles Sumner (1811–1874)
  • Daniel Webster (1782–1852)
  • Eugene V. Debs (1855–1926)
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882–1945)
  • George Wallace (1919–1998)
  • George Washington (1732–1799)
  • Henry Clay (1777–1852)
  • Huey Long (1893–1935)
  • Jefferson Davis (1808–1889)
  • John C. Calhoun (1780–1850)
  • John F. Kennedy (1917–1963)
  • John Hancock (1737–1793)
  • John Jay (1745–1829)
  • Jonathan Moulton (1726–1787)
  • Joseph McCarthy (1908–1957)
  • Patrick Henry (1736–1799)
  • Preston Brooks (1819–1857)
  • R. Budd Dwyer (1939–1987)
  • Ralph Nader (1934–)
  • Richard Nixon (1913–1994)
  • Robert F. Kennedy (1925–1968)
  • Robert La Follette (1855–1925)
  • Sam Houston (1793–1863)
  • Stephen F. Austin (1793–1836)
  • Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919)
  • Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826)
  • William Bradford (1590–1657)
  • William M. Tweed (1823–1878)
  • William Penn (1644–1718)

Old West figures

  • Annie Oakley (1860–1926)
  • Bat Masterson (1853–1921)
  • Belle Starr (1848–1889)
  • Big Nose George (?–1881)
  • Big Nose Kate (1850–1940)
  • Bill Doolin (1858–1906)
  • Billy the Kid (1859–1881)
  • Brushy Bill Roberts (1859?–1950)
  • Butch Cassidy (1866–1908?)
  • Calamity Jane (1852–1903)
  • Charles Bolles (1829–1888?)
  • Charles Goodnight (1836–1929)
  • Cole Younger (1844–1916)
  • Cowboy Morgan Evans (1903–1969)
  • The Dalton Gang (1890–1892)
  • Doc Holliday (1851–1887)
  • James W. Marshall (1810–1885)
  • Jesse James (1847–1882)
  • Joaquin Murrieta (1829–1853?)
  • John Sutter (1803–1880)
  • John Wesley Hardin (1853–1895)
  • Johnny Ringo (1850–1882)
  • Jose Chavez y Chavez (1851–1924)
  • Juan Cortina (1824–1894)
  • Kit Carson (1809–1868)
  • Mysterious Dave Mather (1851–?)
  • Pancho Villa (1878–1923)
  • Pat Garrett (1850–1908)
  • Reno Gang (1866–1868)
  • Robert Ford (1862–1892)
  • Roy Bean (1825?–1903)
  • Soapy Smith (1860–1898)
  • Tom Horn (1860–1903)
  • James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok (1837–1876)
  • William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody (1846–1917)
  • Wyatt Earp (1848–1929)

Frontiersmen and explorers

  • Henry Hudson (?–1611?)
  • John Smith (1580?–1631)
  • Daniel Boone (1734–1820)
  • Simon Kenton (1755–1836)
  • Mike Fink (1770?–1823?)
  • "Johnny Appleseed" Chapman (1774–1845)
  • Zebulon Pike (1778–1813)
  • Davy Crockett (1785–1836)
  • Jedediah Smith (1798–1831?)
  • Lewis & Clark (1804–1806)
  • James "Grizzly" Adams (1807?–1860)
  • John C. Frémont (1813–1890)
  • "Liver Eating" John Johnson (1824?–1900)

Activists

Abolitionists
  • Dred Scott (1799–1858)
  • John Brown (1800–1859)
  • Nat Turner (1800–1831)
  • Henry Highland Garnet (1815–1882)
  • Frederick Douglass (1818–1895)
  • Harriet Tubman (1822–1913)
Civil rights leaders
  • Booker T. Washington (1856–1915)
  • W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963)
  • Marcus Garvey (1887–1940)
  • Elijah Muhammad (1897–1975)
  • Rosa Parks (1913–2005)
  • Medgar Evers (1925–1963)
  • Malcolm X (1925–1965)
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968)
  • Eldridge Cleaver (1935–1998)
  • Bobby Seale (1936–)
  • Huey P. Newton (1942–1989)
  • Jesse Jackson (1941–)
  • H. Rap Brown (1943–)
  • Al Sharpton (1954-)
Women's suffrage
Labor movement
  • Mary Harris Jones (1837–1930)
  • Big Bill Haywood (1869–1928)
  • Sid Hatfield (1893–1921)
  • Molly Maguires (1861?–1878)
  • Fannie Sellins (1872–1917)
  • Frank Little (1879–1917)
  • Ginger Goodwin (1887–1918)
  • Wesley Everest (1890–1919)
  • Cesar Chavez (1927–1993)
Anti-war movement
  • Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)
  • Alice Herz (1882–1965)
  • Eugene McCarthy (1916–2005)
  • Howard Zinn (1922–2010)
  • Tom Laughlin (1931–)
  • Norman Morrison (1933–1965)
  • Ralph Nader (1934–)
  • Abbie Hoffman (1936–1989)
  • Jane Fonda (1937–)
  • Jerry Rubin (1938–1994)
  • John Kerry (1943–)
  • Sandra Lee Scheuer (1949–1970)
  • Jeffrey Glenn Miller (1950–1970)
  • William Knox Schroeder (1950–1970)
  • Allison Krause (1951–1970)
  • Michael Moore (1954–)
  • Cindy Sheehan (1957–)
American Indian Movement
  • Dennis Banks (1932–)
  • Vine Deloria (1933–2005)
  • Clyde Bellecourt (1936–)
  • Russell Means (1939–)
  • Leonard Peltier (1944–)
  • Sacheen Littlefeather (1947–)
White supremacy
  • Nathan Bedford Forrest (1821–1877)
  • Virgil Effinger (1873–1955)
  • William J. Simmons (1880–1945)
  • Hiram Wesley Evans (1881–1966)
  • William Dudley Pelley (1890–1965)
  • D. C. Stephenson (1891–1966)
  • Robert Edward Chambliss (1904–1985)
  • George Lincoln Rockwell (1916–1967)
  • Samuel Bowers (1924–2006)
  • Tom Metzger (1938-)
  • David Duke (1950–)
  • Alex Linder (1966-)

Military figures

  • Francis Marion (1732?–1795)
  • Ethan Allen (1738–1789)
  • Stephen Decatur (1779–1820)
  • John Paul Jones (1747–1792)
  • Henry Knox (1750–1806)
  • William Henry Harrison (1773–1841)
  • Zachary Taylor (1784–1850)
  • Robert E. Lee (1807–1870)
  • William B. Travis (1809–1836)
  • William Tecumseh Sherman (1820–1891)
  • Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885)
  • Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson (1824–1863)
  • William Quantrill (1837–1865)
  • George Armstrong Custer (1839–1876)
  • Chester W. Nimitz (1885–1966)
  • George Marshall (1880–1959)
  • Douglas MacArthur (1880–1964)
  • George S. Patton (1885–1945)
  • Alvin C. York (1887-1964)
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890–1969)
  • Audie Murphy (1924–1971)
  • Tuskegee Airman (1940-1946)
  • William Calley (1943–)
  • David Petraeus (1952-)

Athletes

  • Cap Anson (1852-1922)
  • John L. Sullivan (1858–1918)
  • Jack Johnson (1876–1946)
  • Ty Cobb (1886–1961)
  • Jim Thorpe (1888–1953)
  • Shoeless Joe Jackson (1888–1951)
  • Babe Ruth (1895–1948)
  • Jack Dempsey (1895–1983)
  • Lou Gehrig (1903–1941)
  • Red Grange (1903–1991)
  • Satchel Paige (1906-1982)
  • Vince Lombardi (1913-1970)
  • Jesse Owens (1913–1980)
  • Paul Bear Bryant (1913–1983)
  • Joe Louis (1914–1981)
  • Joe DiMaggio (1914–1999)
  • Gorgeous George (1915–1963)
  • Ted Williams (1918-2002)
  • Jackie Robinson (1919–1972)
  • The Harlem Globetrotters (1926–)
  • Mickey Mantle (1931–1995)
  • Johnny Unitas (1933–2002)
  • Wilt Chamberlain (1936–1999)
  • Evel Knievel (1938–2007)
  • Bob Knight (1940–)
  • Pete Rose (1941-)
  • Muhammad Ali (1942–)
  • Joe Namath (1943-)
  • Pete Maravich (1947–1988)
  • Julius Erving (1950–)
  • Dale Earnhardt (1951–2001)
  • Michael Jordan (1963–)
  • Brett Favre (1969–)
  • Lance Armstrong (1971-)
  • Shaquille O'Neal (1972-)
  • Tiger Woods (1975-)
  • Peyton Manning (1976-)

Literary figures

  • Parson Weems (1756–1825)
  • Washington Irving (1783–1859)
  • James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1951)
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864)
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
  • Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849)
  • Walt Whitman (1819–1892)
  • Horatio Alger, Jr. (1832–1899)
  • Mark Twain (1835–1910)
  • L. Frank Baum (1856-1919)
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867–1957)
  • Jack London (1876–1910)
  • H. L. Mencken (1880–1956)
  • Uncle Remus (1881–1905)
  • H. P. Lovecraft (1890–1937)
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
  • Stephen Vincent Benét (1898–1943)
  • Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961)
  • William S. Burroughs (1914–1997)
  • J. D. Salinger (1919–2010)
  • Jack Kerouac (1922–1969)
  • Kurt Vonnegut (1922–2007)
  • Hunter S. Thompson (1937–2005)
  • Stephen King (1947–)

Artists

  • Thomas Cole (1801–1848)
  • Grandma Moses (1860–1961)
  • Frederic Remington (1861–1909)
  • Edward Hopper (1882–1967)
  • Norman Rockwell (1894–1978)
  • Jackson Pollock (1912–1956)
  • Andy Warhol (1928–1987)

Musicians

  • Francis Johnson (1792–1844)
  • Old Corn Meal (?-?)
  • Thomas D. Rice (1808–1860)
  • Edwin Pearce Christy (1815–1862)
  • Dan Emmett (1815–1904)
  • Master Juba (1825?–1853)
  • Stephen Foster (1826–1864)
  • John Philip Sousa (1854–1923)
  • Scott Joplin (1867–1917)
  • W. C. Handy (1873–1958)
  • George M. Cohan (1878–1942)
  • Joe Hill (1879–1915)
  • Jelly Roll Morton (1885–1941)
  • Joe "King" Oliver (1885–1938)
  • Al Jolson (1886–1950)
  • Leadbelly (1888–1949)
  • Charlie Poole (1892–1931)
  • Mississippi John Hurt (1892–1966)
  • Tee Tot (?–1939)
  • Jimmie Rodgers (1897–1933)
  • Dock Boggs (1898–1971)
  • George Gershwin (1898–1937)
  • Emmett Miller (1900–1962)
  • Louis Armstrong (1901–1971)
  • Fats Waller (1904–1934)
  • Robert Johnson (1911–1938)
  • Woody Guthrie (1912–1967)
  • Billie Holiday (1915–1959)
  • Moondog (1916–1999)
  • Pete Seeger (1919–)
  • Hank Williams (1923–1953)
  • Ray Charles (1930-2004)
  • Johnny Cash (1932–2003)
  • Elvis Presley (1935–1977)
  • Buddy Holly (1936-1959)
  • Bob Dylan (1941–)
  • Jimi Hendrix (1942–1970)
  • Brian Wilson (1942-)
  • Jim Morrison (1943–1971)
  • Bruce Springsteen (1949-)
  • Michael Jackson (1958–2009)
  • Kurt Cobain (1967–1994)
  • Tupac Shakur (1971-1996)
  • The Notorious B.I.G. (1972-1997)

Actors and filmmakers

  • Junius Brutus Booth (1796–1852)
  • Edwin Forrest (1806–1872)
  • John Drew (1827–1862)
  • Edwin Booth (1833–1892)
  • Maurice Barrymore (1849–1905)
  • D. W. Griffith (1875–1948)
  • Lionel Barrymore (1878–1954)
  • Will Rogers (1879–1935)
  • Ethel Barrymore (1879–1959)
  • Tom Mix (1880–1940)
  • John Barrymore (1882–1942)
  • Lon Chaney, Sr. (1883–1930)
  • Roscoe Arbuckle (1887–1933)
  • Jack Benny (1894–1974)
  • John Ford (1894–1973)
  • Rudolph Valentino (1895–1926)
  • George Burns (1896–1996)
  • Walt Disney (1901–1966)
  • Bob Hope (1903–2003)
  • Henry Fonda (1905–1977)
  • John Wayne (1907–1979)
  • Marx Brothers (1905-c. 1950)
  • Milton Berle (1908–2002)
  • Lucille Ball (1911–1989)
  • Orson Wells (1915-1985)
  • Marlon Brando (1924–2004)
  • Marilyn Monroe (1926–1962)
  • The Three Stooges (1925–1970)
  • Laurel and Hardy (1926–1957)
  • Abbott and Costello (1929–1965)
  • Clint Eastwood (1930–)
  • James Dean (1931–1955)
  • Bruce Lee (1940–1973)
  • Steven Spielberg (1946-)
  • Meryl Streep (1949-)
  • Quentin Tarantino (1963-)

Native American figures

  • Hiawatha (12th century)
  • Squanto (1580s–1625)
  • Pocahontas (1595–1617)
  • Cornstalk (1720–1777)
  • Sequoyah (1767–1843)
  • Tecumseh (1768–1813)
  • Sacagawea (1788–1812?)
  • Osceola (1804–1838)
  • Red Cloud (1822–1909)
  • Geronimo (1829–1909)
  • Sitting Bull (1831–1890)
  • Liliuokalani (1838–1917)
  • Chief Joseph (1840–1904)
  • Crazy Horse (1840–1877)
  • Wovoka (1856–1932)
  • Black Elk (1863–1950)
  • Ira Hayes (1923–1955)

Aviation and space exploration

  • Solomon Andrews (1806–1872)
  • John Wise (1808–1879?)
  • Samuel Pierpont Langley (1834–1906)
  • Charles F. Ritchel (1840?–1911)
  • John Joseph Montgomery (1858–1911)
  • Gustave Whitehead (1874–1927)
  • Eddie Rickenbacker (1890–1973)
  • Amelia Earhart (1897-?)
  • Charles Lindbergh (1902–1974)
  • The Wright Brothers (1903)
  • Howard Hughes (1905–1976)
  • John Glenn (1921–)
  • Alan Shepard (1923–1998)
  • Chuck Yeager (1923-)
  • Neil Armstrong (1930–)
  • Buzz Aldrin (1930–)
  • Christa McAuliffe (1948–1986)
  • Sally Ride (1951–)
  • Chesley Sullenberger (1951–)

Criminals

  • Al Capone (1899–1947)'
  • Amy Fisher (1974–)
  • Baby Face Nelson (1908–1934)
  • Bernard Madoff (1938–)
  • Billy Cook (1928–1952)
  • Blackbeard (1680?–1718)
  • Bonnie Parker (1910–1934)
  • Carlo Gambino (1902–1976)
  • Black Bart (1829-1888?)
  • Charles J. Guiteau (1841–1882)
  • Charles Manson (1934–)
  • Charles Ponzi (1882–1949)
  • Charles Starkweather (1938-1959)
  • Clyde Barrow (1909–1934)
  • D.B. Cooper (?–1971?)
  • Ed Gein (1906–1984)
  • Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (1981–1999)
  • Jack Ruby (1910–1967)
  • James Earl Ray (1928–1998)
  • Jimmy Hoffa (1913-?)
  • John Allen Muhammad (1960–2009)
  • John Dillinger (1903–1934)
  • John Gotti (1940–2002)
  • John Wayne Gacy (1942–1994)
  • John Wilkes Booth (1836–1865)
  • Lee Harvey Oswald (1939–1963)
  • Leon Czolgosz (1873–1901)
  • Lizzie Borden (1860–1927)
  • Lucky Luciano (1897–1962))
  • Mary Dyer (1611?–1660)
  • Popcorn Sutton (1946–2009)
  • Pretty Boy Floyd (1904–1934)
  • Richard Lawrence (1800?–1861)
  • Robert Franklin Stroud (1880–1963)
  • Sacco and Vanzetti (1920)
  • Sirhan Sirhan (1944–)
  • Stagger Lee Shelton (1865–1912)
  • Ted Bundy (1946–1989)
  • Ted Kaczynski (1942-)
  • Timothy McVeigh (1968–2001)
  • Tommy Lucchese (1899–1967)
  • William Zantzinger (1940–2009)

Law officers

  • Allan Pinkerton (1819–1884)
  • Frank Hamer (1884–1955)
  • J. Edgar Hoover (1895–1972)
  • Melvin Purvis (1903–1960)
  • Eliot Ness (1903–1957)
  • Buford Pusser (1937–1974)

Religious figures

  • Anne Hutchinson (1591–1643)
  • Richard Mather (1596–1669)
  • Roger Williams (1603–1683)
  • John Hale (1636–1700)
  • Increase Mather (1639–1723)
  • William Rittenhouse (1644–1708)
  • Jacob C. Gottschalk (1670–1763)
  • Cotton Mather (1663–1728)
  • Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758)
  • George Whitefield (1714–1770)
  • George Lisle (1752–1820)
  • Peter Cartwright (1795–1872)
  • Charles Grandison Finney (1792–1875)
  • Brigham Young (1801–1877)
  • Joseph Smith (1805–1844)
  • Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910)
  • Anton Docher (1852-1928)
  • Charles Taze Russell (1852–1916)
  • Billy Sunday (1862–1935)
  • George Went Hensley (1881–1955)
  • Aimee Semple McPherson (1890–1944)
  • Charles Coughlin (1891–1979)
  • Billy Graham (1918–)
  • Oral Roberts (1918–2009)
  • Pat Robertson (1930–)
  • Jim Jones (1931–1978)
  • Jerry Falwell (1933–2007)
  • William DuBay (1934–)
  • Jimmy Swaggart (1935–)
  • Jim Bakker (1940–)
  • David Koresh (1959–1993)

Other

  • Leif Ericson (970?–1020?)
  • Oceanus Hopkins (1620–1623?)
  • Paul Revere (1735–1818)
  • Betsy Ross (1752–1836)
  • Joice Heth (1756?–1836)
  • Eli Whitney (1765–1825)
  • Sally Hemings (1773?–1835)
  • Samuel Morse (1791–1872)
  • Charles Goodyear (1800–1860)
  • Marie Laveau (1801–1881)
  • John Deere (1804–1886)
  • P. T. Barnum (1810–1891)
  • Chang and Eng Bunker (1811–1874)
  • Commodore Nutt (1814–1881)
  • Maria Monk (1816–1839)
  • Emperor Norton I (1819–1880)
  • Abner Doubleday (1819-1893)
  • Ranald MacDonald (1824–1894)
  • Josephine Clofullia (1827–1875)
  • Levi Strauss (1829–1902)
  • Tony Pastor (1837–1908)
  • Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919)
  • Middlebush Giant (1837–1889)
  • General Tom Thumb (1838–1883)
  • John D. Rockefeller (1839–1937)
  • The Leatherman (1839?–1889)
  • Isaac W. Sprague (1841–1887)
  • Zip the Pinhead (1842–1926)
  • Jack Daniel (1846–1911)
  • Thomas Edison (1847–1931)
  • Alexander Graham Bell (1847–1922)
  • Minnie Warren (1849–1878)
  • Jumbo (1861–1885)
  • Henry Ford (1863–1947)
  • Casey Jones (1863–1900)
  • Lucia Zarate (1864–1890)
  • Fedor Jeftichew (1868–1904)
  • Charles Grapewin (1869–1956)
  • Mary Mallon (1869–1938)
  • Leon Ray Livingston (1872–1944)
  • Harry Houdini (1874–1936)
  • Topsy (1875–1903)
  • Helen Keller (1880–1968)
  • Colonel Sanders (1890–1980)
  • Abraham Zapruder (1905–1970)
  • Colonel Tom Parker (1909–1997)
  • Timothy Leary (1920–1996)
  • Black Dahlia (1924–1947?)
  • Wavy Gravy (1936–)
  • Christine Chubbuck (1944–1974)
  • Meredith Hunter (1951–1969)
  • Frank Chu (1960–)
  • Christopher McCandless (1968–1992)
  • Monica Lewinsky (1973–)
  • Wolfman Jack (1939–1995)

Legendary and folkloric creatures

  • Babe the Blue Ox
  • Bigfoot
  • Cardiff Giant
  • Champ
  • Christmas elf
  • Chupacabra
  • Fur-bearing trout
  • Goatman
  • Greys
  • Hodag
  • Jackalope
  • Jersey Devil
  • La Llorona
  • Mothman
  • Nain Rouge
  • Rabbit's foot
  • Santa Claus
  • Skunk Ape
  • Squonk
  • Wendigo
  • The White Lady
  • The Michigan Dogman

Locations and landmarks

Cultural archetypes and icons

  • Columbia
  • Cowboys
  • Entrepreneurs and robber barons
  • Gangsters and gangs
  • Hackers
  • Hippies
  • Vagabonds
  • Hillbillies
  • Juvenile delinquents
  • Motorcycle gangs like the Hells Angels
  • Pioneers
  • Prospectors
  • Rednecks
  • Uncle Sam
  • Amish
  • Poor immigrants achieving the 'American Dream'

History

  • Salem witch trials
  • Wounded Knee Massacre
  • St. Valentine's Day Massacre
  • Paul Revere's Ride
  • Siege of Yorktown
  • September 11, 2001 attacks
  • Attack on Pearl Harbor
  • Battle of Iwo Jima
  • Battle of Gettysburg
  • Battle of the Little Bighorn
  • The Wreck Of The SS Edmund Fitzgerald
  • Boston Tea Party
  • Watergate

References

Further reading

  • Coffin, Tristram P.; Cohen, Hennig, (editors), Folklore in America; tales, songs, superstitions, proverbs, riddles, games, folk drama and folk festivals, Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday, 1966. Selections from the Journal of American folklore.
  • Ed Cray and Marilyn Eisenberg Herzog (January 1967). "The Absurd Elephant: A Recent Riddle Fad". Western Folklore (Western Folklore, Vol. 26, No. 1) 26 (1): 27–36. —the evolution of the Elephant Riddle that entered U.S. folklore in California in 1963

External links

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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Folklore of the United States. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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