Young America: The Flowering of Democracy in New York City

Oxford University Press, 19 de nov. de 1998 - 300 páginas
This fascinating study examines the meteoric career of a vigorous intellectual movement rising out of the Age of Jackson. As Americans argued over their destiny in the decades preceding the Civil War, an outspoken new generation of "ultra-democratic" writers entered the fray, staking out positions on politics, literature, art, and any other territory they could annex. They called themselves Young America--and they proclaimed a "Manifest Destiny" to push back frontiers in every category of achievement. Their swagger found a natural home in New York City, already bursting at the seams and ready to take on the world. Young America's mouthpiece was the Democratic Review, a highly influential magazine funded by the Democratic Party and edited by the brash and charismatic John O'Sullivan. The Review offered a fresh voice in political journalism, and sponsored young writers like Hawthorne and Whitman early in their careers. Melville, too, was influenced by Young America, and provided a running commentary on its many excesses. Despite brilliant promise, the movement fell apart in the 1850s, leaving its original leaders troubled over the darker destiny they had ushered in. Their ambitious generation had failed to rewrite history as promised. Instead, their perpetual agitation helped set the stage for the Civil War. Young America: The Flowering of Democracy in New York City is without question the most complete examination of this captivating and original movement. It also provides the first published biography of its leader, John O'Sullivan, one of America's great rhetoricians. Edward L. Widmer enriches his unique volume by offering a new theory of Manifest Destiny as part of a broader movement of intellectual expansion in nineteenth-century America.

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History Rewritten
OSullivan and the Democratic Review
2 Democracy and Literature
Duyckinck Melville and the Mutual Admiration Society
Photo gallery
Art for the People
Field and Codification
6 Young America Redux
Forever Young
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Página 79 - And who was he? Who, but the Master Genius, for whom our country is looking anxiously into the mist of time, as destined to fulfil the great mission of creating an American literature, hewing it, as it were, out of the unwrought granite of our intellectual quarries. From him, whether moulded in the form of an epic poem, or assuming a guise altogether new, as the spirit itself may determine, we are to receive our first great original work, which shall do all that remains to be achieved for our glory...
Página 64 - Altogether, in his culture and want of culture, — in his crude, wild, and misty philosophy, and the practical experience that counteracted some of its tendencies; in his magnanimous zeal for man's welfare, and his recklessness of whatever the ages had established in man's behalf ; in his faith, and in his infidelity ; 25 in what he had, and in what he lacked, — the artist might fitly enough stand forth as the representative of many compeers in his native land.
Página 114 - God has predestinated, mankind expects, great things from our race ; and great things we feel in our souls. The rest of the nations must soon be in our rear. We are the pioneers of the world...
Página 219 - He is a great friend of humanity ; and his desire for land is not selfish, but merely an impulse to extend the area of freedom. He is very anxious to fight for the liberation of enslaved nations and colonies, provided, always, they have land, and have not anv liking for his interference.
Página 216 - There is no steady unretracing progress in this life; we do not advance through fixed gradations, and at the last one pause: — through infancy's unconscious spell, boyhood's thoughtless faith, adolescence' doubt (the common doom), then scepticism, then disbelief, resting at last in manhood's pondering repose of If. But once gone through, we trace the round again; and are infants, boys, and men, and Ifs eternally.
Página 219 - We have all heard of Young America. He is the most current youth of the age. Some think him conceited and arrogant ; but has he not reason to entertain a rather extensive opinion of himself? Is he not the inventor and owner of the present, and sole hope of the future? Men and things, everywhere, are ministering unto him. Look at his apparel, and you shall see...
Página 114 - And we Americans are the peculiar, chosen people— the Israel of our time; we bear the ark of the liberties of the world. Seventy years ago we escaped from thrall; and besides our first birthright— embracing one continent of earth— God has given to us, for a future inheritance, the broad domains of the political pagans, that shall yet come and lie down under the shade of our ark, without bloody hands being lifted. God has...
Página 43 - The expansive future is our arena, and for our history. We are entering on its untrodden space, with the truths of God in our minds, beneficent objects in our hearts, and with a clear conscience unsullied by the past. We are the nation of human progress, and who will, what can, set limits to our onward march ? Providence is with us, and no earthly power can.
Página 219 - It is difficult for us now and here to conceive how strong this slavery of the mind was, and how long it did of necessity take to break its shackles, and to get a habit of freedom of thought established.
Página 113 - ... now unblown (emblematically, the leaves, you perceive, are uncut) may possibly — by some miracle, that is — flower like the aloe, a hundred years hence — or not flower at all, which is more likely by far, for some aloes never flower. Again: (as the divines say) political republics should be the asylum for the persecuted of all nations; so, if Mardi be admitted to your shelves, your bibliographical Republic of Letters may find some contentment in the thought, that it has afforded refuge...

Sobre o autor (1998)

Edward L. Widmer has taught at Harvard University and the Rhode Island School of Design, and received fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the John Carter Brown Library, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research. He is currently a White House speechwriter and lives in Washington with his wife and son.

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