Notions of the Americans.
The Marquis de Lafayette suggested to Cooper that he write an account of the Lafayette tour of the United States in 1824 and 1825. Cooper couldn't refuse, but he ended up writing of a fictional journey across the country taken by a Belgian tourist who was guided by an American named Cadwallader. The first edition of Notions of the Americans was published by Henry Colburn in London in June 1828. Cooper's manuscript of Notions, written quickly and messily, is difficult to read, and nine thousand substantive variants exist between it and the Colburn edition. When the Carey edition was later released, errors present in the Colburn edition were corrected.
It is from Notions that the title of this web exhibition gets its name. In a letter to the Comte Jules de Bethizy, Cooper refers to the typical American: "He has explained that, by the prevalence of 'common sense,' he does not mean that every man in America is wise enough to discriminate between the substance and the shadow of things, but that so many are, as to have given a tone to the general deportment of the whole: a case that may very well exist in a reading and instructed nation."