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About this Item

Title: [The Aurora has been roaring]

Creator: Walt Whitman [unsigned in original]

Date: April 18, 1842

Whitman Archive ID: per.00471

Source: New York Aurora 18 April 1842: [2]. Our transcription is based on a digital image of an original issue. Original issue held at the Paterson Free Public Library, Paterson, NJ. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the journalism, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: This piece is unsigned. However, Whitman was the editor of the Aurora when this editorial was written, and Herbert Bergman identified him as its author in Walt Whitman, The Journalism. Volume I: 1834–1846 (New York: Peter Lang, 1998). The Whitman Archive editors agree that the style and content of the piece are consistent with other known Whitman writings of this period.

Contributors to digital file: Kevin McMullen and Jason Stacy

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☞ The Aurora has been roaring very loudly and ably, though somewhat savagely, on behalf of the Native Americans, during the past week.1 The roar is a pleasant and sounds like an honest one. But the 'rora has a bad habit of calling people names. Oh fie!—Yesterday's Mercury.
We see the danger, let us have the remedy. Let us have a Native American party. Harsh as the word may sound, it is our only safeguard.—Yesterday's News.

One of the most ardent wishes of our soul is, to see the American people imbued with a feeling of respect for, and confidence in, themselves—a feeling that shall impel them to place their own kind, and their own merits first. Entertaining a sentiment of this sort, we cannot look round and behold timid servility to a factious gang of foreigners—or the fostering, in our own republic, of trashy and poisonous European literature—or the bending of knees to the dicta of old world critics, merely because their commands come "by authority"—or the influx among us of vapid English, Scotch, French, and German quacks—without lifting our voice, and, in our way, doing all that we can to denounce and condemn those things.

It becomes our people to have a decent and a proper pride in their government and their country. We possess the most glorious constitution, the most enviable freedom, the happiest and best educated mass of citizens, of any nation that ever existed on the face of the earth. It is well for us to exult in this. Travellers, to be sure, talk about the national vanity of the Americans—but we appeal to any observing man if, in our conduct, we do not show a lamentable want of self complacency, of reliance on our intrinsic worth, and of independence of foreign sway.

Yet with all our antipathy for every thing that may tend to assimilate our country to the kingdoms of Europe, we repudiate such doctrines as have characterised the "Native American" party. We would see no man disfranchised, because he happened to be born three thousand miles off. We go for the largest liberty—the widest extension of the immunities of the people, as well as the blessings of government. Let us receive these foreigners to our shores, and to our good offices. While it is unbecoming for us to fawn upon them and flatter their whims, it is equally unnecessary that we should draw the line of exclusiveness, and say, Stand off, I am better than thou.


1. "Native American" here refers to a nativist party of American-born Protestants whose policies were primarily aimed at curbing Catholic, primarily Irish, immigration and office-holding. The first native American party in New York appeared under the name "American Republican Party" in 1843. See Hidetaka Hirota, "'The Great Entrepot for Mendicants': Foreign Poverty and Immigration Control in New York State to 1882," in John C. Bukowczyk, ed., Immigrant Identity and the Politics of Citizenship: A Collection of Articles from the Journal of American Ethnic History (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2016), 55. [back]


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