[[quoteright:320:[[Literature/LastOfTheMohicans http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mohicans-comic1_9651.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:320:The [[Literature/FenimoreCoopersLiteraryOffences further]] [[{{Marvel}} comics]] of J.F. Cooper]]

The book series by James Fenimore Cooper.

One of the first [[SeriesFranchise Franchises]] of [[NineteenthCenturyLiterature modern literature]].

In chronological order, the books are:
* ''The Deerslayer: The First Warpath''\\
-- 5th published
* ''Film/TheLastOfTheMohicans: A Narrative of 1757''\\
-- 2nd published and most [[PopCulturalOsmosis famous]]
* ''The Pathfinder: The Inland Sea''\\
-- 4th published
* ''The Pioneers: The Sources of the Susquehanna; A Descriptive Tale''\\
-- 1st published ([[ColonCancer hence the]] [[InWhichATropeIsDescribed long subtitle]])
* ''The Prairie: A Tale'' -- 3rd published

They're probably most famous these days for [[TropeCodifier codifying]] the romantic concept of the [[MagicalNativeAmerican Native]] [[{{Eagleland}} American]] [[TheWildWest Frontier]], and for their [[HeroicFantasy heroic]], [[KnightInShiningArmor chivalrous]] [[PurpleProse prose]] being [[Literature/FenimoreCoopersLiteraryOffences relentlessly mocked]] by MarkTwain. (Incidentally, the Defenses are [[http://external.oneonta.edu/cooper/articles/other/1988other-schachterle.html here]]) Nonetheless, Cooper, starting with ''The Spy: A Tale of the Neutral Ground'' (1821), became the father of the American novel and wrote the first real ''American'' adventure stories. He followed the lead of [[Creator/WalterScott Sir Walter Scott]], adapting it to an American environment and democratizing it: where Scott (like Shakespeare) limited his lower-class characters to comic relief roles, Cooper made commoners like Harvey Birch and Natty Bumppo central characters of the work they appeared in. He also instituted an American archetype, that of the misfit or outsider hero at odds with society. The Leatherstocking Tales (1823-1841) are the ancestors of the {{Western}}, while ''The Pilot: A Tale of the Sea'' (1824) was the first of a series of sea novels based on Cooper's personal experiences in the merchant marine and the U.S. Navy, which established another new literary genre and became direct inspirations for Herman Melville and Joseph Conrad. (He also spent several years living and working in Paris, which may or may not have inspired later American writers). Cooper is also credited with some of the first serious portrayals of black and African-descended characters in American literature. During his lifetime Cooper was the first American writer to achieve worldwide renown and commercial success, and also the first one to impress and influence European writers, including not only the makers of the European strain of the Western like Friedrich Gerstäcker and Creator/KarlMay, but also Creator/HonoreDeBalzac, Creator/AlexandreDumas, Creator/VictorHugo and Émile Zola. Creator/JohannWolfgangVonGoethe reread ''The Pioneers'' before describing a tiger hunt in his ''Novelle'' (1826). And while Twain tried to tear him down, Cooper still found admirers of his writing in writers as diverse as Henry David Thoreau, George Sand, Joseph Conrad, D. H. Lawrence and Arno Schmidt.

The Leatherstocking Tales are one of the first literary appearances of the NobleSavage. (Montaigne was the first to apply this trope to the North American Indians, and the trope itself is OlderThanFeudalism -- Classical Greek writers spoke of the Gauls this way.) Anyway, back then it was a [[FairForItsDay very progressive]] portrayal of Native Americans, and he was congratulated for presenting Chingachgook and his son Uncas as ''heroes'' (as opposed to thieving, cunning, drunken, heathen assholes). Of course, now we see it as just another stereotype -- but Cooper ''was'' the [[SeinfeldIsUnfunny first to use this in a novel]]. In many ways, his noble savages exemplify a way European-descended North Americans made sense of the values dissonance between their society and that of the Native Americans, who from their point of view simultaneously and most irritatingly embodied both extremely repulsive (cruelty, vengefulness etc.) and attractive (hospitality, courage etc.) qualities.

The main concern Natives have vis-a-vis Cooper is not so much the romantic portrayal of [[TheStoic Stoic]], [[OurElvesAreBetter slender and superior]] [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy warriors]], nor the prose; Native warriors were renowned as orators throughout the Indian wars and are still quoted today in Military History and Political Science classes.[[note]]due to the consensus nature of tribal government, they were required to be great public speakers to attain positions of influence.[[/note]] But the enduring stereotype is that Indians, while [[NobleSavage noble]], are [[YourDaysAreNumbered doomed to be eclipsed]] by the technologically superior white man and [[EverythingFades fade away]]. Although it was a common belief in Cooper's day, even among Indian rights advocates, this has become a bit of an UndeadHorseTrope (pun intended) and native tribesmen (including the Mohicans themselves) are quick to note that [[NotQuiteDead reports of their death are greatly exaggerated]]. Also, one has to remember that Cooper wrote from a New York perspective and in that state the number of Native Americans really did dwindle dramatically during his lifetime.

The thing which ties the five books into a series is the recurring [[ArchetypalCharacter archetypal]] [[SupportingLeader character]] of [[MightyWhitey Natty Bumppo]], the [[TheGunslinger Long Rifle]], who also goes by the names of [[IHaveManyNames Deerslayer]], [[ImprobableAimingSkills Hawkeye]], [[ScarilyCompetentTracker Pathfinder]], [[LimitedWardrobe Leatherstocking]] and [[HunterTrapper The Trapper]]. In that order. (They're called The Leatherstocking Tales because he was known as Leatherstocking in ''The Pioneers'', the first book.) In four of the five books, he is joined by [[BigBrotherMentor Chingachgook]] ''("Great Serpent")'', and in ''Literature/LastOfTheMohicans'' by Chingachgook's son [[LastOfHisKind Uncas]], [[spoiler:the eponymous Last of the Mohicans, who dies in battle at the end of the novel]].

In the 19th century a number of Cooper's novels were adapted for the stage. Later the Leatherstocking Tales were adapted several times into films and television series. These include
* At least seven film versions of ''Film/TheLastOfTheMohicans''
* The 1913 American silent film ''The Deerslayer'', shot on the real location on Lake Otsego.
* ''Lederstrumpf'' ("Leatherstocking"), a two-part German adaptation of ''The Deerslayer'' and ''The Last of the Mohicans'' starring Creator/BelaLugosi as Chingachgook (1920).
* ''Chingachgook, die große Schlange'' (1967), an [[DEFAWesterns East German adaptation]] of the same two novels.

!! The ''Leatherstocking'' series provides examples of:

* AlwaysChaoticEvil: The Hurons in ''The Last of the Mohicans'' and the Tetons (Sioux) in ''The Prairie''.
** One would expect the Iroquois in this role, but the Hurons were allies of the French, while the Iroquois, while hostile to the English, were mostly neutral in the Anglo-French question until they wiped out the Hurons in about the 1760s. The two cultures were very similar to each other, though; this is more a question of who's pointing a gun at the hero.
* UsefulNotes/TheAmericanRevolution: Provides the backdrop e. g. to ''The Spy'', ''The Pilot'' and ''Lionel Lincoln''.
* [[BigBrotherInstinct Big Sister Instinct]]: Cora towards Alice in ''The Last of the Mohicans''.
* BilingualBonus: ''The Last of the Mohicans'' contains quite a bit of GratuitousFrench.
* TheCaptivityNarrative: Played with.
** Subverted in the case of Alice and Cora being captured in TheLastOfTheMohicans. In that novel it is actually played straighter with Magua's back story: He was captured by the Mohawks, adopted into their tribe, but eventually returned to the Hurons where he found that his wife had married someone else in the meantime.
** In ''The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish'' (1829), an inversion occurs with Conanchet, a Narraganset boy captured by Connecticut Puritans, resists all efforts to turn him into one of them and escapes. Later, Ruth Heathcote and Whittal Ring are assimilated into the tribe after being captured in a raid by the Narragansetts. Ruth as Narra-mattah becomes the wife of Conanchet and the mother of his son. She only returns to her white family after the death of her husband. [[spoiler: There is no happy end for her either.]]
* TheCavalry: The British army in ''The Deerslayer''.
* CavalryBetrayal: The garrison of Fort William Henry falls victim to this in ''The Last of the Mohicans''.
* CelibateHero: Natty Bumppo/Hawkeye, [[AdaptationDisplacement surprisingly enough]].
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: David Gamut, the Puritan psalmodist in ''The Last of the Mohicans''. Mistaking him for insane, the Hurons spare his life and allow him to roam their camp freely.
* TheColonialPeriod: ''The Deerslayer'', ''The Last of the Mohicans'' and ''The Pathfinder''. Outside the Leatherstocking Tales, ''The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish'' is set in Connecticut during the reign of Charles II.
* ComeWithMeIfYouWantToLive: The Mohican rescue in ''Last of the Mohicans''.
* ComicRelief: David Gamut in ''The Last of the Mohicans'', Dr. Obed Bat in ''The Prairie''.
* [[CompositeCharacter Composite Tribe:]] Cooper's Mohicans confound the Mahicans of the Hudson Valley with the Mohegans of eastern Connecticut (both speakers of Algonquin languages), but that was something even the experts of the day did, including one of Cooper's prime sources, the Moravian missionary John Heckewelder, who assembled extensive first-hand knowledge of the Delaware (Lenni-Lenape) nations. However [[ScienceMarchesOn three years later]] in his 1829 novel ''The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish'', which is set in 17th-century Connecticut, Cooper correctly identifies the Mohegans as a tribe of the Pequods.
* CunningLinguist: Duncan Hayward is fluent in French, which enables him to fool a French sentry and also gets him the job of negotiating with the Marquis de Montcalm.
* DawnOfTheWildWest: Mostly set in the wilderness of northern and western New York during the middle to late 18th century. ''The Prairie'' is set in the Midwest, in the new territories acquired through the Louisiana Purchase.
* DeadGuyJunior: Captain Duncan Uncas Middleton in ''The Prairie''. He's the grandson of two characters from ''The Last of the Mohicans''.
* DressingAsTheEnemy: A half-comical example occurs in ''The Last of the Mohicans'', where it entails dressing up in the Huron medicine man's bear costume. In ''The Spy'', Harvey Birch pretends to work for the British in order to entrap Loyalist conspirators and spies.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: Cooper's unsuccessful first novel ''Precaution'' (1820) is a story of three families in England wanting to marry off their childrens, an uninspired imitation of the genre started by Creator/JaneAusten. He wrote it because he disliked an English novel of this type so much that he said he could write a better one, and his family took him up on it. He then switched to historical novels of the type created by Creator/WalterScott, but in American settings.
* EnglishCivilWar: One of the characters in ''The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish'' is a Puritan Regicide on the run from the agents of King Charles II.
* EvenMooksHaveLovedOnes: Played straight and very effectively in ''The Last of the Mohicans''. After a battle in which Hawkeye and his companions kill a number of nameless Hurons who for the most part are described without individual traits, the perspective switches to the Hurons and Magua eulogizes them in a speech to the other braves. The reader then learns that the dead have names and that they are and will be mourned by their friends and families, some of whom are also mentioned by name. Later on there is a scene which shows the deep emotional pain felt by the father of another Huron warrior. Because his son was executed for cowardice and disowned by the tribe, the father is forced to [[IHaveNoSon publicly deny he is his son and not to show sorrow over his death]], but his pain is so palpable that the tribal elders cannot help to feel pity for him.
* FailOSuckyname: Natty Bumppo.
* FateWorseThanDeath: Subverted in ''TheLastOfTheMohicans''. Although according to Anglo-American standards of the time a white woman living with a "Heathen Savage" is considered this, Cora seriously considers acquiescing to becoming Magua's wife if that is what it takes to rescue her father and sister's lives.
* [[DrugsAreBad Firewater Is Bad]]: That the white men teaching Indians to drink alcohol was not a good thing is demonstrated with Magua's life story in ''The Last of the Mohicans''. Even Chingachgook gets drunk along with the citizens of Templeton during the Christmas celebrations in ''The Pioneers''.
* GoingNative: Natty clearly feels most at home living among the Mohicans and later the Pawnees than among whites. In the process he even absorbed the Mohicans' hereditary enmity towards the Iroquois-speaking nations including the Hurons.
* GuileHero: Harvey Birch, the eponymous hero of ''The Spy''.
* TheGunslinger: First ever! And hence [[UnbuiltTrope rather lacking in some of the more fancy tricks]]. This might also have something to do with the fact that Natty uses a long rifle (then usually called a Pennsylvania Rifle, later a Kentucky Rifle).
* HalfBreedDiscrimination: A few examples.
** Cora Munro, the daughter of a Scotch colonel and a Creole mother, in ''The Last of the Mohicans''. One of the first interracial romance plots in American literature. Her case is a subversion, as such discrimination is mentioned as existing and referenced by her father, but in the course of the novel Cora inspires love and admiration in pretty much anyone who meets her. And at her funeral the Delaware women see her mixed blood as something that makes her superior to her bland sister Alice. Ironically, the only person to actually display a prejudice against mixed blood is Hawkeye, who gratingly often takes pride in his own pure white blood and the pure Mohican blood of his friends Chingachgook and Uncas.
** When Narra-mattah (Ruth Heathcote) shows her baby to her mother in ''The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish'', the latter is at first not exactly happy about learning that she has a half-Narragansett grandson. However, she does eventually change her tone.
* HeterosexualLifePartners: Natty and Chingachgook.
** {{Retcon}}ned into adoptive father and son for [[Film/LastOfTheMohicans the film]].
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: George Washington in ''The Spy'', Colonel George Munro (or Monro) and the Marquis de Montcalm in ''The Last of the Mohicans'', John Paul Jones in ''The Pilot'', Metacom ("King Philip") in ''The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish'', Christopher Columbus in ''Mercedes of Castile''.
* HonourBeforeReason: In ''The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish'' Conanchet dies affirming the warrior's code of the Narragansetts, refusing either to convert to Christianity or to make peace with the Mohegans in order to save something insignificant as his own life.
* HumansAreBastards: A frequent theme of Cooper's, especially as he became more critical of American society and its land-grabs after his return from Europe. The growing corruption of individuals as "civilization" expands became a the major theme of his ''Littlepage Manuscripts'' trilogy of ''Satanstoe'', ''The Chainbearer'' and ''The Redskins, or: Indian and Injin'' (1845-1846).
* HunterTrapper
* ImprobableAimingSkills: Natty/Hawkeye.
* InjunCountry: Cooper's works can be seen at the TropeCodifier for Western literature, stressing how well the Native Americans are attuned to life in their environment.
* KnightInShiningArmor: Natty/Hawkeye.
* LastOfHisKind: Chingachgook after the death of Uncas.
* TheLastTitle: ''The Last of the Mohicans''.
* LightFeminineAndDarkFeminine: Taken almost to parody with Alice (Light Feminine, all the way to golden hair and utter helplessness) and Cora (Dark Feminine, at least as far as her looks and refusal to be anyone's doormat) Munro in "The Last of the Mohicans".
* LostInImitation: The book ''Literature/LastOfTheMohicans'' has been adapted into film [[SturgeonsLaw so many times]] that the 1992 film was explicitly based on an earlier 1936 screenplay in the credits, and [[BrokenBase praised for it]] -- due to avoiding perceived narrative pitfalls of the book. Of course, by making [[MightyWhitey Day-Lewis]] the romantic lead, the film also conveniently avoided the book's mid-19th century interracial romance subplot, although it added [[StarCrossedLovers another]].
* TheMaidenNameDebate: James Cooper added "Fenimore" to his name in order to honour the wish of his mother that her family name be preserved after her death.
* {{Malaproper}}: Cooper himself. MarkTwain has a LongList of examples. Subverted in that these examples demonstrate that - surprisingly enough - Cooper writing in the early 19th century conformed to early 19th century usage and not to the somewhat different usage of Mark Twain's day. Oh, and scholars were unable to find some of Twain's examples in Cooper's works.
* MeaningfulName: As most of the characters in ''The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish'' are 17th-century Puritans, the novel [[WackyAmericansHaveWackyNames abounds in biblical names and names like Charity, Content and Submission]]. There are also two preachers, Meek Wolfe and Meek Lamb.
* MistakenAge: Chingachgook is frequently portrayed as being elderly or middle-aged. In "The Pioneers", which is set in 1793, Chingachgook is stated to be seventy telling us he was born in 1723 and thus since "The Last of the Mohicans" was set in 1757, he was thirty-four at the time.
** Although this is more likely an example of WritersCannotDoMath or Cooper changing his mind between "The Pioneers" and "The Last of the Mohicans", in which Chingachgook's son Uncas is already a feared and famed warrior in his own right. With the added complication of "The Deerslayer" -- in which Chingachgook has to rescue his betrothed Wah-ta-Wah -- being set in 1740-1745. This in turn means that Uncas would have been seventeen at the oldest or twelve at the youngest when he was killed.
* MistakenForRacist: In ''The Last of the Mohicans'' Colonel Munro flies into a rage when Major Heyward asks for his daughter's hand in marriage and it turns out that the one he wants is not Cora (whose mother was part-black), but her younger younger-half sister Alice (whose mother was white). Heyward has a hard time convincing convincing Munro that he just happens to be attracted to Alice more than to Cora (the novel at that point already has established that he in fact greatly admires Cora for her spirit and inner strength). It did not help that Heyward is English, as the crusty Scotsman Munro sees racism against blacks and people with black ancestry as a very English prejudice.
* MoustacheDePlume: Inverted. With his first novel, the anonymously published ''Precaution'', Cooper successfully created the impression that it was written by an Englishwoman (it even went to two printings in Britain). He later published two short stories as "Jane Morgan".
* NamedAfterSomeoneFamous: Reflecting the customs of the times in which the novels are set, some black characters, both slaves and freemen, have names from Roman history and Greek mythology, such as Caesar in ''The Spy'', Agamemnon ("Aggy") in ''The Pioneers'', and Scipio Africanus and Cassandra in ''The Red Rover''.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: It is the tragic paradox of Natty Bumppo and people like him that he helps to bring about the westward advance of a society he himself finds impossible to live in, which leads to the destruction of his hunting grounds and forces him to move further west, where he is once again followed by "civilized society".
* NobleSavage: Chingachgook in four novels, Uncas and Hard-heart in one each. Natty Bumppo has also on occasion been labeled one by readers and publishers.
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: As Cooper explained in a letter, Hard-heart (''The Prairie'') is based on the real-life Pawnee chief Petalasharo, an acquaintance of his.
* NonIndicativeName: At least to white Western tastes Chingachgook ("[[ReptilesAreAbhorrent The Great Snake]]") and Hard-heart, the Pawnee chief from ''The Prairie'', qualify.
* PistolWhipping: Natty has a habit of using his rifle as a club once he's fired. TruthInTelevision given that these things were pretty dang heavy and took a long time to reload.
* {{Prequel}}: ''The Last of the Mohicans'' to ''The Pioneers'', ''The Deerslayer'' to the other four Leatherstocking Tales.
* PrintLongRunners: Since 1823.
* [[PropheticNames Prophetic Name]]: David Gamut is a Puritan psalmodist. His first name is that of the Biblical king to whom most Psalms are credited, his last name is a musical term (a complete scale).
* ProtagonistCenteredMorality: The way different tribes and nations are portrayed to a large extent depends on whether they belong to the protagonists or antagonists of the novel in question. For instance, the Mohican Uncas is a protagonist of ''The Last of the Mohicans'' and portrayed very positively, while his namesake Uncas, the Mohegan chief in ''The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish'', is a more sinister character. Cooper however does not paint the antagonists entirely without sympathetic qualities. And at one point in ''Last of the Mohicans'' the narration even chides Hawkeye for being unfair in his judgement regarding Hurons due to his prejudice against them when he denounces one for refusing to meekly let himself be killed.
* ProudWarriorRaceGuy
* PublicDomainCharacter: Tamenund in ''The Last of the Mohicans'' is based on the historic Lenni-Lenape chief Tamenend (died ca. 1701), who became a mythical figure as Tammany, the "Patron Saint of America". By now, Natty Bumppo, Chingachgook and others have become part of the public domain themselves.
* PurpleProse: Cooper wrote during the age of Romanticism, and his style often reflects that.
* ScarilyCompetentTracker: all of them.
* ScrewTheMoneyIHaveRules: Harvey Birch in ''The Spy'' refuses the money GeorgeWashington offers to reward him for his patriotic services: "not a dollar of your gold will touch; poor America has need for it all!" This is based on a real-life case related as an anecdote by Cooper's friend John Jay.
* SevenYearsWar: ''The Last of the Mohicans'' shows one of the campaigns of its North American incarnation, the French and Indian War. Cooper's pirate novel ''The Red Rover'' is set in 1759.
* SoMuchForStealth: To quote MarkTwain:
-->Cooper wore out barrels of moccasins in working that trick. Another [[{{Trope}} stage-property]] that he pulled out of his box pretty frequently was his broken twig. He prized his broken twig above all the rest of his effects, and worked it the hardest. It is a restful chapter in any book of his when somebody doesn't step on a dry twig and alarm all the reds and whites for two hundred yards around. Every time a person is in peril, and absolute silence is worth four dollars a minute, he is sure to step on a dry twig. There may be a hundred other handier things to step on, but that wouldn't satisfy Cooper. Cooper requires him to turn out and find a dry twig; and if he can't do it, go and borrow one.
* SpoonyBard: As a character type, not as a sub-optimized RPG class: David Gamut in ''Last of the Mohicans''.
* SweetPollyOliver: Roderick in ''The Red Rover''.
* SympatheticPOV: In ''The Last of the Mohicans'' this occurs despite the overall ProtagonistCenteredMorality. The passages which focus on Magua and the other Hurons make their motives more understandable and show that they have their own tragedies to bear, some of which have nothing to do with the novel's protagonists.
* TakeAThirdOption: In the 1850 preface to ''The Last of the Mohicans'' Cooper admitted that he had made up the name Horican for the lake on which Fort William Henry is situated. Disliking the names given by the Europeans (French: ''Lac du Saint-Sacrement'', British: ''Lake George'') and finding the Indian one a bit of a mouthful (Iroquois: ''Andia-ta-roc-te''), he renamed it after a tribe that once lived nearby.
* TogetherInDeath: [[spoiler: Cora and Uncas]] in ''The Last of the Mohicans''. The Delaware women at the funeral even chant about how they will enjoy life together in the Happy Hunting Grounds. [[spoiler: Conanchet and Narra-wattah (Ruth Heathcote)]] in ''The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish''.
* TragicVillain: Magua.
* VillainHasAPoint: Magua is the main villain of ''The Last of the Mohicans'', but he is on point in his [[ReasonYouSuckSpeech oration to the Huron elders]] where he expounds on the sufferings of black slaves and the [[TakeThatAudience the insatiable greed for land of the whites]].
* TheWisePrince: Uncas of the Mohican tribe.
* WoodenShipsAndIronMen: Cooper's sea novels, beginning with ''The Pilot'' and ''The Red Rover''.
* YouAreACreditToYourRace: Sort of. Played horribly, horribly straight.
** Or rather, "I Am a Credit to My Race" -- Hawkeye constantly talks about how he, "a man without a cross" of American Indian blood, can nonetheless fight effectively among them. The American Indians mostly ignore the subject...
* YourDaysAreNumbered: The Mohicans.