Chapter 6 The Civil War (1861

Chapter 6
The Civil War (1861-1865) and
the Gilded Age (1878-1789)
from An Outline of American Literature
by Peter B. High
Walt Whitman(18191892)
Leaves of Grass
wanted “to define America, her athletic democracy.”
his poems contain lists of “sights and objects” any
19th century American could recognize
his two favorite words are “sing” and “absorb”
He “absorbs” the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of
the world around him, and then “sings” them out in
remained an incomplete “work in progress,” the book
grew and changed as he and America grew and
Walt Whitman
First edition
Leaves of Grass – describes Whitman’s non-systematic
way of studying the world (p.70)
“Song of Myself”
he introduces himself as “Walt Whitman, a Cosmos”
the “real self” includes everything in the universe
Transcendentalist idea of “self,” “Nothing, not God,
is greater than the self is”
an expansion of Emerson’s idea of the “Over-Soul”
Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
Contributions – freed American poets
from the old English tradition (p.73)
“the time had come to reflect all themes
and things, old and new, in the lights
thrown on them by the advent of America
and democracy.” – from A Backward
Glance o’er Travel’d Roads
Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
the first one to explore the possibilities of free
lines are not organized into stanza, look more
like ordinary sentences, rarely uses rhyme or
message was more important than form
wrote in plain style so ordinary people could
read his poetry
Civil War Poems, “O Captain! My Captain!”
“When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852)
a masterpiece of Abolitionist
propaganda (p.74)
helped expand the campaign in the
North against Southern slavery
which led to the Civil War
Lincoln made “Gettysburg Address
of 1863” and gave this address on
the field where the great battles of
the Civil War had been fought
Harriet Beecher Stowe
The Beecher family were known
as staunch abolitionists, and the
movement heralded Harriet
Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle
Tom's Cabin. Both her father,
Reverend Lyman Beecher, and
her brother, Reverend Henry
Ward Beecher, preached fiery
anti-slavery sermons from their
Uncle Tom's Cabin
On June 5, 1851, Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life
Among the Lowly began to appear in serial
form in the Washington National Era, an
abolitionist weekly. Harriet Beecher Stowe's
anti-slavery story was published in forty
installments over the next ten months. For her
story Mrs. Stowe was paid $300.
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Although the weekly had a limited circulation, its
audience increased as reader after reader passed their
copy along to another. In March 1852, a Boston publisher
decided to issue Uncle Tom's Cabin as a book and it
became an instant best seller. Three hundred thousand
copies were sold the first year, and about 2,000,000
copies were sold worldwide by 1857. For one three
month period Stowe reportedly received $10,000 in
royalties. Across the nation people discussed the novel
and hotly debated the most pressing socio-political issue
dramatized in its narrative, slavery.
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Because Uncle Tom's Cabin so polarized the
abolitionist and anti-abolitionist debate,
some claim it to be one of the causes of the
Civil War. Indeed, when President Lincoln
received its author, Harriet Beecher Stowe,
at the White House in 1862, legend has it he
exclaimed, "So this is the little lady who
made this big war?"
Poster publicizing
production of "Uncle
Tom's Cabin" at the
Wilmington, Ohio
Opera House on
Monday, September
27 (year unknown).
Harmount's Uncle
Tom's Cabin
Company was a
theatrical road show
company which
operated from 19031929, and was based
in Williamsport, Ohio
Main Characters in Uncle Tom’s Cabin
(Theatrical Posters)
George Peck's
Grand Revival of
Stetson's Uncle
Tom's Cabin
Booked by Klaw &
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Amherst, Massachusetts, Calvinist childhood (p.77)
early in life she rejected her family’s old-fashioned
religion and made the search for faith
her guide is Ralph Waldo Emerson
think of “faith” as a temporary “prop” for the soul
“we can cling to nothing”
images and themes taken from Emerson’s essay
poems in the early 1860s, pain and limitation became new
themes and her way to express the terrible suffering of the
Civil War
Other Writers
Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1990) – p.77
“A White Heron” (1886), The Country of the
Pointed Firs (1896)
George Washington Cable (1844-1925)
Specialized in the life of the Creoles (French
whites living in the New Orleans region)
Joel Chandler Harris (1849-1908)
he was a white southerner, and popularized
Negro folklore
Uncle Remus tales
Bret Harte (1836-1902)
moved to California during the ”Gold Rush” days of
the 1850s (p.78)
The Luck of Roaring Camp (1868), Outcasts of
Poker Flat (1869)
Provided the model for all the “Westerners”
William Dean Howells remarked that American
West could be described “without the sense of any
older civilization outside of it.” Because of this
freedom, the writer of the West were able to create
the first “all-American” literature
Mark Twain
from 1857-61 Twain worked as a river pilot,
Life on the Mississippi (1883) based on this
romantic memories (p.80)
became nationally famous for his short story
The Celebrated Jumping Frog
stories about how ordinary people trick experts,
how the weak succeed in “hoxing” the strong
filled with a typical Western humor story
called a “hoax”
Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Twain in 1867 went to Europe and the Holy
Land, Innocents Abroad (1869)
showed his hatred of the European aristocracy
critical of American tourists in Europe
A Tramp Abroad
Roughing It (1872) about his travels in the
Far West
Mark Twain
The Gilded Age (1870) co-written with
Charles Warner,
described the new
morality/immorality of postCivil War America
created a picture of the entire
nation not just one region
the real theme is America’s loss
of its old idealism
young people are morally
destroyed by the dream of
becoming rich
Writer and humorist, Mark Twain,
wrote the novel The Gilded Age
ridiculing Washington D.C. and many
of the leading figures of the day
The Gilded Age
By 1870, not only the role of women was being challenged.
Industrialists, corporations, utilities, bankers, and brokers were
increasingly viewed as an enemy by the working class, whose
wages had stagnated while men who were already millionaires
got richer. Failed land deals, speculation, and corruption were
prevalent. Many workers went from being independent
tradesmen to being wage laborers concentrated in large factories.
Millions of immigrants swelled the population of U.S. cities and
began to compete for jobs. Labor unions were born to represent
these angry and beleaguered workers.
Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner captured some of this
turmoil in a book on which they collaborated, The Gilded Age, a
tale of corruption and failed land deals and a loss of innocence.
The book's title was often used to describe this period.
Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), a story
about bad boys (p.81)
A popular theme in American Lit.
two young heroes, Tom and Huck Finn, are bad
Tom is very romantic; his view of life comes from
books about knights in the Middle Ages
Huck is a real outsider who never sees the world in
the romantic way
Tom Sawyer
Mark Twain (1835-1910)
gives his young hero, Huck, an adult problem (p.83)
a great novel of American democracy
shows the basic goodness and wisdom of ordinary
“the school of many late Western writers”
Sherwood Anderson used it as a model for his
Winesburg, Ohio (1919)
Ernest Hemingway claimed, “All modern American
literature comes from Huckleberry Finn.”
Huckleberry Finn
Huck and Jim
When we first see him, Nigger Jim, for all his freedom,
comes off as little more than a "blackface" clown, the
common racial stereotype of that long-ago America.
He is as one-dimensional as Friday. But the secret of
Huckleberry Finn is that young Huck lives with and
learns from Jim and gradually discovers what
Humanity is about, as Huck growls, "All right, then,
I'll go to hell" and decides to "steal him [Jim] out of
Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Twin’s later novels seemed less hopeful about
democracy and pessimistic about the goodness
of human nature
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889)
The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg (1900)
The $30,000 Request (1904)
The Mysterious Stranger (1916)
shows the conflict between the ideals of
Americans and their desire for money

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