James Fenimore Cooper's historical romances of frontier and Indian life in the early American days created a unique form of American literature. He lived most of his life in Cooperstown, New York, which was founded by his father William on property that he owned. Cooper attended Yale University for three years, where he was a member of the Linian Society, but was expelled for misbehavior. Some of our greatest velists have launched their careers by what seems the least likely means -- that of the wager. In American letters there is stronger example than that to be found in the life of James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) -- who made the wager that he could write a better story than the sort of fashionable romances he and his wife were then reading together! The result was Precaution -- the vel that set Cooper upon his long and successful career. Ostensibly written by an Englishman, and containing the styling and attitudes of the English popular vels of the time, Precaution prepared the ground for Cooper's great successes to follow -- which were to be thoroughly American in their flavor.