At the same time that journalists and editors were celebrating the vibrant new urban culture emerging in the United States at the point of mid-century, several commentators were criticizing the slavish dependence of American architects on classical or medieval styles. Those promoting an indigenous American architecture found an ardent advocate in the Boston-born sculptor Horatio Greenough with his new “functionalist” theory. However, the most fervent celebrant of the “triumph of the real” during the 1850s was a writer hardly known today: Charles Godfrey Leland who became the spirited editor of Philadelphia's struggling Graham's Monthly late in 1856. Leland brought a fresh conviction that America had reached a transitional stage in its cultural history. Leland discovered in Walt Whitman the epitome of the vigorous new cultural outlook he advocated. By rooting romantic idealism in an affection for everyday realities, Whitman became the most potent catalyst for change in 19th-century American culture with genteel conservatism and domestic sentimentalism.
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