American literature is mostly composed of essays. The great American writers and thought-leaders were influenced by important historical events. They contributed to the development of the nation we see today. The early American essayists were leaders of religion and government representatives, such as judges. In the beginning, sermons were often thoughtful essays. Samuel Sewall and Jonathan Edwards along with others, inspired generations of writers, and also helped define the nation. Many other American essay writers contributed to the growth of modern American literature.