chapter
Howe, Julia Ward
Pages 5

With Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman is regarded as one of the two most acclaimed and influential American poets of the nineteenth century during his lifetime, he was also one of the most controversial. His free-verse collection Leaves of Grass, published in 1855 and reissued in eight revised and expanded editions until his death, abandoned literary convention and broke cultural barriers in forging a distinctive national idiom of and for the American masses. Whitman was a member of the free-soil wing of the state's Democratic Party, Anden a member of the more traditional wing, which downplayed the issue of slavery. In August 1848, Whitman served as a delegate to the first convention of the Free Soil Party in Buffalo, New York. His attention to everyday experience labor, sexuality, and the simple joys of living evoked images that some believed threatened American social values but most others ultimately embraced.