Sullen Fires Across the
Many thanks to Joel Pace for feedback on earlier drafts and my Stanford reading group, especially Mark Feldman, Naomi Greyser, and Chris Phillips, for their constructive comments.
pirated editions fueled the reading market in America. For
example, cheap editions of Macaulay's History of
England (1848) sold at highest $4 (16s.6d.) and at
lowest 50 cents (2s.) Zincke finds the accessibility of
literature to be the prime proponent of America's high
literacy. Gohdes, in American Literature in
Nineteenth-Century England points to evidence that
English booksellers might also be literary pirates,
although this practice lessened by the second half of the
2 For a
reading of Sydney Smith’s article and its periodical
context (Edinburgh Review) see chapter 3 in
Richard Gravil, Romantic Dialogues: Anglo-American
Continuities 1776-1862 (New York: St. Martin Press,
3 David S.
Shields, "British-American Belles Lettres" in The
Cambridge History of American Literature, ed. Sacvan
Bercovitch, vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1994): 309-343. Shields’s "British American society"
refers to the colonial reading community of British
Americans before the Revolution.
4 James Raven,
"The Export of Books to Colonial North America,"
Publishing History 42 (1997): 21-49.
Ellery Channing, "Remarks on National Literature." Oration
delivered before the Philadelphia Society at the University
of Philadelphia, 18 October 1823. From The Works of
William Ellery Channing, D. D. (Glasgow: Richard Green
and Co., 1885): 83-95.
6 In the same
way, Channing was horrified by the proliferation of "cent
papers" that were dangerously "adapted to the most
uncultivated minds" to exploit the imagination and purse of
the people. See "An Address on Self Culture," in The
Works of William Ellery Channing, D. D. (Glasgow:
Richard Green and Co., 1885): 243-263, 258.
published short stories as "W.W." and "Walter Whitman." See
"Death in the School-Room—A Fact," Democratic
Review 9 (August 1841): 177-181; "Wild Frank’s
Return," Democratic Review 9 (November 1841):
476-481; "Bervance; or Father and Son," Democratic
Review 9 (December 1841): 560-567; "The
Tomb-Blossoms," Democratic Review 10 (January
1842): 62-68; "The Last of the Sacred Army," Democratic
Review 10 (March 1842): 259-263; "The Child-Ghost; A
Story of the Last Loyalist," Democratic Review 10
(May 1842): 451-459; and "Angel of Tears," Democratic
Review 11 (September 1842): 282-283.
have noted, of course, the magazine’s connection with
the Young America nationalist movement in the mid-1840s.
Edward L. Widmer’s Young America (1999)
claims that the Democratic Review was a vehicle of
"Young America," a circle of New York writers promoting
literary nationalism. "Young America" founder Evert
Duyckinck did not begin to write in the Democratic
Review until a year after the magazine moved its
printing office to New York in November of 1840. "Young
America" contributors included William Gilmore Simms,
Cornelius Mathews, and William A. Jones. Moreover, while
noting the Locofoco tenor of the magazine, Widmer does not
distinguish O’Sullivan’s Locofocoism from the
goals of Young America. O’Sullivan’s and
Duyckinck’s politics, for instance, were sometimes at
odds. Duckinck seemed to have little patience for
Locofoco-type radicalism and O’Sullivan’s
magazine editorials indicate that it did not support Young
America’s petition for the International Copyright
9 See John
Louis O’Sullivan, "The Texas Question,"
Democratic Review 14 (April 1844): 423-430. Also,
Sohui Lee, "Manifest Empire: Anglo-American Rivalry and the
Shaping of U.S. Manifest Destiny." Manuscript. In
Romantic Border Crossings, eds. Jeffrey Cass and
Larry Peer. Forthcoming.
10 "Causes of
Poverty," Democratic Review 5 (May 1839): 448-466,
Hume’s writing seemed to gain more attention from
American reviewers during the 1840s. See "Smith’s
Theory of Moral Sentiments," North American Review
8 (March 1819): 371-396; "The History and Moral Relations
of Political Economy," Democratic Review 8
(October 1840): 291-311; "Hume, Voltaire, and Rousseau,"
New Englander and Yale Review 1 (April 1843):
169-184; "Life and Correspondence of David Hume," The
Living Age 10 (August 1846): 249-265.
12 For a
historian’s argument on Republican motherhood in
America see Joan R. Gunderson, To Be Useful to the
World: Women in Revolutionary America, 1740-1790 (New
York: Twayne Publishers, 1996). In addition to
Smith’s notion of moral sentiments, texts in the
Democratic Review also channeled arguments on
domesticity that connected domestic roles of women with the
development of political consciousness and national
loyalty. Poems in the Democratic Review like the
anonymously published "Psyche" suffused woman’s world
with republican duty and significance. For the poet of
"Psyche," the moral and political worth of woman’s
world is grounded in the fact that man’s
"[p]atriotism [. . .] grew" in "home’s sweet scenes."
"Psyche, a Poem," Democratic Review 2 (April
1838): 17-31, 27 and 25.
works on the politics of sympathy include Elizabeth Barnes,
States of Sympathy: Seduction and Democracy in the
American Novel (New York: Columbia University Press,
1997). In addition to Glenn Hendler’s Public
Sentiments (2001), see also Kristin Boudreau,
Sympathy in American Literature: American Sentiments
from Jefferson to the Jameses (Gainesville, Fl.:
University Press of Florida, 2002).
14 For an
extended argument about Hawthorne’s connection with
O’Sullivan’s magazine and his political
rhetoric please refer to Lee, "Hawthorne’s Politics
of Story Telling: Two ‘Province-House’ Tales
and Anglomania in the Democratic Review."
Gilmore Simms, "The Epochs and Events of American History,
as Suited to the Purposes of Art in Fiction," 53.
16 [John L.
O’Sullivan] "Wordsworth’s Sonnets on the
Punishment of Death" Democratic Review 10 (March
1842): 272-288. The abolition of capital punishment was one
of O’Sullivan’s pet political projects and the
Wordsworth article should be considered in light of the
publication of O’Sullivan’s tract on capital
punishment a month earlier. A month earlier, the
Democratic Review notified its readers: "Mr.
O’Sullivan’s ‘Report on the Abolition of
Capital Punishment’ has also attracted considerable
attention. We hope that this important subject, which is
now again before the Legislature of this and several other
States, will awaken that interest which it so well
deserves." Democratic Review 10 (February 1842),