Essay/Editorial

Essays and editorials are opinion pieces. Essays are a form of nonfiction literature where the author examines a particular topic and usually gives an opinion or some perspective about it. These are usually short, although one essay is often a part of a larger collection of essays. Editorials are journalistic pieces. They usually appear in newspapers (or later, newscasts) and express the opinion of the editor or editorial staff of the newspaper.

Washington. The Legislature. And The President’s House

In 1842 Charles Dickens was probably the most famous English language author in the world. He was received around the world as a major celebrity, often mobbed by fans. It was in that year that Dickens visited the United States. He wrote and published his thoughts about his visit in…

Where I Lived, and What I Lived For

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was a noted American writer, philosopher, and essayist. His 1854 book, Walden, explores his experiment in living a simplified life in the woods as a way to explore his inner self. He lived in the woods for two years. This passage reflects upon his selection of…

The Emigrant Train

Robert Louis Stevenson was a famous author of adventure novels. In one of his nonfiction travel books, he writes about his trip to the United states. In this passage, he tells of his meeting with a railroad newsboy. At that time, a newsboy was a boy who traveled on a…

The Extermination of the American Bison

Noted zoologist and wildlife conservationist William Temple Hornaday wrote a book on the state of the American bison, or buffalo, for the Smithsonian Institution. Hornaday’s concern was that the dramatic drop in population of the buffalo might likely lead to its extinction. An estimated 60 million buffalo lived in the…

Leaves from the Notebook of an Emigrant Between New York and San Francisco

Robert Louis Stevenson, a native of Scotland, took a train trip from New York to San Francisco in 1879. This is from the beginning of his trip. —————————————————– Tuesday.-When I awoke, it was already day; the train was standing idle; I was in the last carriage, and, seeing some others…

Susan B. Anthony Reading Passage Image

Susan B. Anthony and the Right to Vote

On November 1872, women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony and almost 50 other women voted in Rochester, New York in the election for U.S. president. At the time, only men were allowed to vote in New York. Anthony was arrested for illegally voting. Before her case came to trial, she…

The Plains of Nebraska

Robert Louis Stevens was a Scottish author, famous for his novels Kidnapped and Treasure Island. In 1879 he took a trip across the U.S. In this passage he talks about crossing the plains of Nebraska on the train. —————————— It had thundered on the Friday night, but the sun rose…

Mark Twain: How to Tell a Story

This is the beginning of Mark Twain’s essay “How to Tell a Story.” —————— I do not claim that I can tell a story as it ought to be told. I only claim to know how a story ought to be told, for I have been almost daily in the…

Fellow-Passengers

In 1879 famed Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson traveled by ship across the Atlantic to New York, then by train to San Francisco. He wrote of his travels in his book Across the Plains. In this passage he reflects on the other passengers on the train. ———————————————– I had by…

Primary Source: Is There a Santa Claus?

This editorial from The (New York City) Sun was first published in 1897. It is in response to a real letter received by the newspaper. —————————————- Is There a Santa Claus? We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our…