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Maine History Online
MHS (Maine Historical Society)
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Longfellow: Common Man, American Poet

Abraham Lincoln's Deathbed Scene, ca. 1865

Abraham Lincoln's Deathbed Scene, ca. 1865

Item 13236 info
Maine Historical Society

To understand Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's extraordinary popularity in the 19th century -- the most popular living author then and the most widely read American poet who ever lived -- it is necessary to understand America at that time.

Longfellow was born after the Revolutionary War, but grew up hearing stories about the war. He was five years old during the War of 1812 and a schoolboy when educators were teaching what it meant to be an American.

He wrote his poetry during an era of drastic change in America.

The mid 19th century brought urban growth, immigration, and fierce market competition.