In his 1955 landmark study, The American Adam: Innocence, Tragedy, and Tradition in the Nineteenth-century, R. W. B. Lewis defines the American Adam as “the hero of the new adventure” – namely:

[An] individual emancipated from history, happily bereft of ancestry, untouched and undefiled by the usual inheritances of family and race; an individual standing alone, self-reliant and self-propelling, ready to confront whatever awaited him with the aid of his own unique and inherent resources.

(Lewis 5)