And our literature! – Oh, when will it breathe the spirit of our republican institutions? When will it be embued with the God-like aspiration of intellectual freedom – the elevating principle of equality? When will it assert its national independence, and speak the soul – the heart of the American people? Why cannot our literati comprehend the matchless sublimity of our position amongst the nations of the world – our high destiny – and cease bending the knee to foreign idolatry, false tastes, false doctrines, false principles? When will they be inspired by the magnificent scenery of our own world, imbibe the fresh enthusiasm of a new heaven and a new earth, and soar upon the expanded wings of truth and liberty? Is not nature as original – her truths as captivating – her aspects as various, as lovely, as grand – her Promethean fire as glowing in this, our Western hemisphere, as in that of the East? And above all, is not our private life as morally beautiful and good – is not our public life as politically right, as indicative of the brightest prospects of humanity, and therefore as inspiring of the highest conceptions? Why, then, do our authors aim at no higher degree of merit, than a successful imitation of English writers of celebrity?
John L. O’Sullivan, November 1839