Walt Whitman Failures

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Weak economic situation made Whitman in 1849 to open a small store in Brooklyn that sold miscellaneous items: pens, pencils, paper, musical instruments, and books. Shortly after it was doubled as a print shop, and it was sold three years later. (Reynolds “Walt Whitman, 1812-1892 A Brief Biography” 23-24). “Bitter over the unpopularity of the free-soil cause and at loose ends professionally, Whitman began scribbling vitriolic political poems” (Reynolds Walt Whitman: Lives and Legacies 9). He contributed four poems to the New York Evening Post and the New York Tribune in 1850. “These poems celebrated revolution, expressed dismay and anger over the political compromises surrounding slavery, and revealed an increasingly radical antislavery position” …show more content…

Class divisions were growing at an alarming rate” (Reynolds “Politics and Poetry: Leaves of Grass and the Social Crisis of the I850s” 67). The collapse of the party system, one of the major events in American political history, happened in the early 1850s. Disagreements over slavery broke up the Whig Party in 1854; Whitman's Democratic Party became was in no better situation. “The party crisis aroused Whitman's wrath against the governmental authority figures he had once revered. The presidencies of Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan eroded his confidence in the executive office” (66). About the second one he wrote, "The President eats dirt and excrement for his daily meals, likes it, and tries to force it on The States. The cushions of the Presidency are nothing but filth and blood. The pavements of Congress are also bloody" (qtd. in Reynolds “Politics and Poetry: Leaves of Grass and the Social Crisis of the I850s” 80). The unwillingness of either major party to oppose slavery dissatisfied him with politics. “At the same time, he became increasingly interested in the ideas of early nineteenth century literary romantics. Whitman's political ideas became a mesh of his working-class background and literary aspirations” (Cmiel 205).Whitman, who once strongly believed in party politics and in the presidential office, deemed the three presidents prior to Lincoln as "our topmost warning and shame" (qtd. in Reynolds, “Politics and Poetry: Leaves of Grass and the Social Crisis of the I850s” 67). Whitman’s disappointment with the political figures turned him toward the mass and a kind of poetry to move the common people for change. He viewed “American society as an ocean covered with the ‘scum’ of politicians, below which lay the pure, deep waters of common humanity” (Reynolds, “Politics

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