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Young America: The Flowering of Democracy in New York Cityby Widmer, Edward L.
Publisher: Combined Publishing
Retail Price: $19.95
Issue: Summer 2001
With a New York journal called the Democratic Review as their voice, a rising generation of post-Jacksonian political and literary figures sought to celebrate the democratic possibility of their young country. Traveling in the same social circles as Melville, Emerson, Whittier, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, and others, the Review's editors spawned the "Young American" movement. By 1845 it "was a force to be reckoned with, a refreshing blast of fresh air in a stultified world of dull Anglophilia," Edward L. Widmer writes. But it did not endure; a turn toward Manifest Destiny idealism brought "the metamorphosis of an innocent youth movement into a call for more territory, unleashing tensions over slavery and exposing democracy to ridicule."