If there ever was a writer who weaves vivid tales of American liberty and posterity as represented in the preamble to the Constitution, it is without a doubt, Walt Whitman. In his introduction to Leave of Grass, Whitman casta a net over the immense semantics of liberty and posterity as presented by our founding fathers:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”Preamble to the Constitution
The opening statement in Whitman’s introduction, “secures the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,” by stating that, “America does not repel the past or what it has produced under its forms or amid other politics or the idea of castes or the old religions.” This sentence acknowledges our past in direct correlation with “Posterity” and makes the claim that we should accept the lesson with calmness,” so that our future generations may learn from it.
Whitman then illustrates the colossal American as a whole and as an individual where “Here is not merely a nation but a teeming nation of nations,” who are destined to stand united in order to preserve this Posterity because, “Here is the hospitality which forever indicates heroes.”
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More lucid examples are given when Whitman writes that we “need never be bankrupt while corn grows from the ground or the orchards drop apples,” because the “United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures… but always most in the common people,” and “their deathless attachment to freedom.”
This idea of posterity conceptualizes the American as an entrepreneur, governing his own land and accounts and always willing to defend what he has rightfully ascertained or cultivated under his own nation.
A Deathless Attachment to Freedom – Walt Whitman
A more interesting study of the statement, “their deathless attachment to freedom” would leas us to question his wording of a “deathless attachment” because it is will known that Americans are always volunteering to serve their nation even during times of tumultuous battle-conflict.
So one would then think that a more appropriate word for “deathless” would be “death-ready,” yet Whitman chose, “Deathless,” which would parallel the very definition of posterity – succeeding or future generations collectively. Americans do not sign up to serve and die, we do it for love of self and country and to defend what is ours in order to provide for our kin.
Another testament to Whitman’s conferring of our posterity is our attachment to “our country’s spirit… he incarnates its geography and natural life and rivers and lakes.” Every American is proud of where they are from and recognize every path in their home town like the back of their own hand. A city dweller from Chicago has memorized their various bus routes to traverses to work, school and home, just the same as a farmer from Iowa knows where to cultivate, how to plant corn, and when to collect crop. Every American is their own and “to him the hereditary countenance descends both mother’s and father’s.
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And who else would have as much liberty as to “poke-easy from sandhills and pines,” or go sledding down “the hills of Vermont,” or go hunting in the “woods of Main,” or to be bathing in delightful daylight “over the lakes or bays or along coasts,” alongside “a Southerner soon as a Northerner?” It is the Liberty loving American that does and always will.
Walt Whitman then writes in his introduction that it is the poet who “is worthy the grand idea” of liberty and its indispensability and how it’s the poets job to “cheer up slaves and horrify despots.” But if every atom that belongs to you also belongs to me then it is up to us to learn that “liberty relies upon itself, and invites no on and promises nothing” and that, WE are “the true American Character,” and understand that liberty is in every human genome and only when the “souls of men and women are discharged from any part of the Earth – then only shall the instinct of Liberty be discharged from that part of the Earth.” This piece suggests that Liberty is an instinct and will always be with us, which coincides with the reasoning of the Founding Fathers.
Life and Posterity – Walt Whitman
So if Liberty and Posterity are ours to keep and take wherever we go, we must attain “perfect personal candor,” and “great genius and the people of these states must never be demeaned to romances. As soon as histories are properly told there is no more need of romances.” Whitman attempts to build up the American character to what we are destined to be with such freedoms; he understands that with such a free government and so many Liberties that we must see and admit, “these economies as we see the economies of food and sleep, but has higher notions of prudence than to think we give much when we give a few slight attention at the latch of the gate.” Liberty and posterity are ours forever as long as we uphold to their Prudence and Candor.
It is clear that Whitman’s introduction to Leaves of Grass is superfluously respondent to the diction charged in the preamble to the constitution when we confer it to the opening of the Preamble to the Constitution, “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union… and to secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.