Walt Whitman was never a man to ignore what was on his mind, and in 1856, he offered complaints that the government was not appropriately addressing the unification of the American populous (Altschuler and Blumin 225). It was Whitman?s contention that the political system during the antebellum era was deeply divided, and Whitman?s assertions, though ignored at the time, demonstrated the complexity of Whitman?s views and the challenges that he made against societal norms. Walt Whitman has been considered by many to be the first in a long line of American radicals and the earliest of the pre-Beat generation poets (Martin 4). Though Whitman was recognized as a man capable of political commentary, his radicalism was viewed as individualistic, because Whitman represented only his own views (Martin 45).
Many of Whitman?s works, including Song of Myself, assessed some common themes that he applied to his own struggle for identification and for viewing himself in comparison with social norms.
These themes included things like the nature of man?s experience and the soul, the impact of the American experience, and the contradictions that existing in the ?American way of life.? Though Whitman was actually an optimist and presented his views because of a belief that man can change normative views through political and social discourse, Whitman also offered a number of views that directly challenged the existing political structure. Whitman wrote during a period of American history clearly marked by the importance of political action within the social constructs of his day. He not only wrote political commentary for the "Democratic Review," but also participated actively in promoting change through political discourse (Baym et al 1961).
?The American 1848 was not a programme for political revolution, although it included a justification for resistance by individuals. It was instead a reaffirmation...