During the time period that Walter Whitman lived, there were many controversial things happening to the American people as a whole. One of the most strenuous upon society at the time was the Civil War. The Civil War created many problems in the lives of most Americans during this time period. This war also prompted, and inspired Walt to create many of his historical works of art. The war was raging in both the north and the south during Whitman’s golden era of his writing. In the North, the economy was blooming, and growing, and industry was getting better and better each day. While in the South, the price, and the labor of the war was taking its effect upon society. The economy was getting worse, and worse as time went on. The problems in the South grew more troublesome to the inhabitants as the battles in the South became more frequent.
One poem written by Whitman, O Captain, My Captain was written in retrospect to the death of one of our nation’s greatest leaders, Abraham Lincoln (Whitman, 2). This act of violence was just an outcome of the war. A young man by the name of John Wilkes Booth killed one of the greatest presidents in the history of the United States after the war just as something to revolt about due to the loss by the South. It’s hard to imagine how someone could do something like this to such a great man, especially after all he had done to help, and encourage the rights, and goodness for the people of America. This event gave Whitman the idea, and moved him in such a way that he wanted to show the pain that he himself felt inside. This poem was a poem for how the entire country felt at the same time.
Another great breakthrough at this time was the development of the new national pastime, baseball. Baseball originated during the 1880’s, and was derived from the British sport of cricket. It was said that the founder of baseball was a man by the name of Abner Doubleday. He started the game in Cooperstown New York. Now, this is not a fact that he was the man that really created the sport, but no one really knows for sure who it was, so he was given credit. There have been so many things that have occurred due to the invention of the sport of baseball. Thanks to it, it gave people something to do during the weekends, and something enjoyable to do as a family. If not for the growth in the popularity of the sport of baseball, we wouldn’t have done so much to increase the popularity for football or basketball.
During Whitman’s time of great writing, and his most popular days, the industrial workers were booming in the North. And him being from the North, and the city of Pittsburgh, he also used this to shine in his writings, such as in I Hear America Singing (Whitman, 3). For some reason, Whitman enjoyed many of the strong workers that did the manual labor for the steel mills, and many other strenuous jobs.
This time in American history was nowhere near the homosexual revolution, so by saying this, Walt was ahead of his time. Him being gay and all made him even more of activist, and more outspoken to the public.
After the war had occurred, the South began its reconstruction. Now this may sound to you as a good word, but it really was not. It brought many more problems to the people of the South.
It brought in people called carpet baggers, and scalowags who would buy the property of many of the large plantations, and then he would raise the tax price so high on it, that it would make it almost impossible to live there anymore. It ruinded the lives of many of the Southerners. At the same time, there were many black people that were trying to make it in the world, now that they were free and all. They had the right to find a job, but now the problem was that no one would hire them. They were all free, but they had nothing to do with their freeness. So, many of them moved to the North to find work in the large factories, while others stayed behind, and tended to the cotton fields that needed work still.