I/Eye: On Photography

Happy New Year 2012

Posted in Uncategorized by Sheila Newbery on January 1, 2012
'American couples dancing the foreign polka' (detail)

'American couples dancing the foreign polka' (detail)

Above: “American couples danced the foreign polka with gusto in 1848, to show their sympathy with the revolutionaries in Europe.” From The American Past by Roger Butterfield (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1947), p. 124.

To the 17 million Americans of the 1840’s politics was by no means all-important. Only a small number took seriously the elections and the debates in Congress. Nor did they worry about such things as wars. “The world has become stale and insipid,” cried a respectable New York newspaper in 1845, “the ships ought to be all captured, and the cities battered down, and the world burned up, so that we can start again. There would be fun in that.”


They were bursting with energy and self-esteem, these Americans of the forties, and they felt that their future was bright despite anything the politicians might—or might not—do. (Butterfield, pp. 124–125).

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