Culture And Industry Show New Vigor
In these years, the spirit of national self-confidence was finding expression in a great outpouring of literature. Poets Henry Wadsworth Longfellow , John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and James Russell Lowell began their careers in the 1830s. Philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson preached individualism and the nobility of man in vigorous verse and prose. Fiction writers Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe exemplified the versatility of American thinking by writing of the somber and supernatural in man's experience.
Although most of these men derived their enduring fame from their writings, many of them took an active interest in the humanitarian and political struggles of the age. Whittier was preeminently the poet laureate of the antislavery crusade. Longfellow published his Poems on Slavery in 1842. Lowell acted as editor of the Pennsylvania Freeman. William Cullen Bryant's brilliant poetic career was coupled with his distinguished editorship of the New York Evening Post from 1829 to 1878.
The trend of the times awakened a new interest in the history of the Republic and marked the beginning of historical scholarship. In the 1830s, Jared Sparks, who years before had begun the North American Review, took up the task of editing historical documents, including the writings of Washington and Franklin and the diplomatic correspondence of the Revolution. In 1834, George Bancroft published the first volume of a history of the United States, from the earliest discoveries to the adoption of the Constitution.
In day-by-day living, the welfare of the people was visibly improving. After 1825, the threshing machine began to supplant the flail and the roller; shortly after, the mower and the reaper were invented. The difficulty of maintaining a united nation in the face of rapid geographical expansion was somewhat eased by the steady extension of railways. By 1850, only 20 years after the first horse-drawn public carrier, one could travel by rail from Maine to North Carolina, from the Atlantic seaboard to Buffalo on Lake Erie, and from the western end of Lake Erie to Chicago or Cincinnati. The electric telegraph, invented in 1835 by Samuel F. B. Morse , was first used in 1844. The rotary printing press, devised by Richard Howe in 1847, revolutionized publishing processes and played a major part in giving newspapers their commanding position in American life.
Indicative of the growth of the nation from 1812 to 1852 was the rise in population from approximately 7,250,000 to more than 23 mi1ion. During this period, the land available for settlement increased to almost the size of the European continent - from 4,420,000 to 7,800,000 square kilometers. In addition to a flourishing agriculture, various industries were developing rapidly, not only on the eastern seaboard but also in the fast-growing cities of the west. The durability of the nation and the vitality of its economy and institutions were established. Still unresolved, however, were the basic conflicts rooted in sectional differences, which, within the next decade, were destined to flare into civil war.