Saturday, October 1, 2011

Young America to the Rescue!

Young America to the Rescue!: In an 1837 editorial for the Democratic Review, John L. O'Sullivan (pictured above) wrote that "all history is to be rewritten." This statement came to define the mission of the Young America Movement. Modeled after certain intellectual groups in Europe (Young Italy, Young Hegelians, etc.), Young America advocated political reforms for all Americans. And as a group of young Democrats living in New York City during the mid-nineteenth century, the movement was mostly urban and middle class. In particular, O'Sullivan was perhaps best known as the man who coined the phrase "Manifest Destiny" to depict America's westward expansion in the 1840s. According to historian Edward Widmer, the movement specifically sought to promote cultural change within the confines of Jacksonian democracy. By using visual arts, Young America hinged on the works of American artists like Asher B. Durand, Thomas Cole, and William Sidney Mount. These artists specialized in natural landscape paintings, which hinted at America's innocence and youthfulness. In fact, many of Young America's landscape painters belonged to a concurrent art movement known as the Hudson River School.

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