Whitman's vision of America in "America" is a beautiful one of a nation where everyone is born and treated equally. How was this vision belied or borne by current events of Whitman's day?
Discuss the Civil War's effect on Lincoln's poetry and the optimism borne of the Union's willingness to go to war over the issue of slavery. But do not ignore the fact that equality did not (and still does not exist) and that there are many ways in which America does not live up to the promise of its founding. Does this relate to modern American political rhetoric as well? Students can contrast reality vs. rhetoric in the issues of the day as they perceive them.
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