Written 150 years ago, Democratic Vistas was Walt Whitman's vision of America, its meaning and its significance on the global stage. As the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution form the basis of the government and legal foundation of the USA, with Democratic Vistas Whitman attempted to erect a spiritual outlook upon their foundation and as such could use a dusting off and a fresh look. 21st century Americans stand to gain a fresh appreciation of their country's meaning and potential. Start in reading right now, below...
DEMOCRATIC VISTAS by Walt Whitman 1867-68; revised 1891
As the greatest lessons of Nature through the universe are perhaps the lessons of variety and freedom, the same present the greatest lessons also in New World politics and progress. If a man were ask'd, for instance, the distinctive points contrasting modern European and American political and other life with the old Asiatic cultus, as lingering-bequeath'd yet in China and Turkey, he might find the amount of them in John Stuart Mill's profound essay on Liberty in the future, where he demands two main constituents, or sub-strata, for a truly grand nationality—1st, a large variety of character— and 2d, full play for human nature to expand itself in numberless and even conflicting directions—(seems to be for general humanity much like the influences that make up, in their limitless field, that perennial health-action of the air we call the weather—an infinite number of currents and forces, and contributions, and temperatures, and cross purposes, whose ceaseless play of counterpart upon counterpart brings constant restoration and vitality.) With this thought—and not for itself alone, but all it necessitates, and draws after it—let me begin my speculations.
Continue reading Democratic Vistas with a downloadable PDF of the complete text, which may be found HERE.
The complete works of Walt Whitman may be found HERE.
Whitman around the time of the composition of Democratic Vistas. Photograph by Matthew Brady.
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