The Young America Movement was an American political and cultural attitude in the mid-nineteenth century. Inspired by European reform movements of the 1830s (see Young Italy, Young Hegelians), the American group was formed as a political organization in 1845 by Edwin de Leon and George H. Evans. It advocated free trade, social reform, expansion southward into the territories, and support for republican, anti-aristocratic movements abroad. It became a faction in the Democratic Party in the 1850s. Sen. Stephen A. Douglas promoted its nationalistic program in an unsuccessful effort to compromise sectional differences.
Perhaps John L. O'Sullivan captured the general purpose of the Young America Movement in an 1837 editorial for the Democratic Review:
All history is to be re-written; political science and the whole scope of all moral truth have to be considered and illustrated in the light of the democratic principle. All old subjects of thought and all new questions arising, connected more or less directly with human existence, have to be taken up again and re-examined.
Historian Edward L. Widmer has largely placed O'Sullivan and the Democratic Review in New York City at the center of the Young America Movement. In that sense, the movement can be considered mostly urban and middle class, but with a strong emphasis on socio-political reform for all Americans, especially given the burgeoning European immigrant population (particularly Irish-Catholics) in New York in the 1840s.
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