This was America in the decades leading up to the Civil War. A period we can no longer remember – but one that had a decisive effect on the future of America.
We can no longer remember it, because it was so complicated. And because it illustrated so well the social incompetence of America – an incompetence it shared with every other nation of the period – and which continues to this day.
I continue to read Walt Whitman’s America – that describes this period very well. And its effect on his Leaves of Grass – that Americans are still fond of, although few have read it.
America was transitioning from an Agricultural economy to an Industrial economy – and doing a poor job of it.
This transition was still happening a century later – and Americans were still unaware of it.