Young America: The Flowering of Democracy in New York City

Paperback | September 15, 2000

byEdward L. Widmer

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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 outpositions 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 seamsand 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 theircareers. 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 failedto 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 hisunique 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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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 outpositions on politics, literature, art, and any o...

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.

other books by Edward L. Widmer

The New York Times Disunion: A History of the Civil War
The New York Times Disunion: A History of the Civil War

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Format:PaperbackPublished:September 15, 2000Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195140621

ISBN - 13:9780195140620

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Table of Contents

1. The Politics of Culture: O'Sullivan and the Democratic Review2. Democracy and Literature3. Young America in Literature: Duyckink, Melville, and the Mutual Admiration Society4. Representation Without Taxation: Art for the People5. The Young American Lexicon: Field and Codification6. Young America Redux7. Epilogue: Forever Young

Editorial Reviews

"A solid and well-executed study."--Choice