Walt Whitman’s Guide to a Thriving Democracy

America had a mind shaped by its Founders, but the country needed the poet to discover its spirit

Photo: Terry Moore/Stocktrek Images/Getty Images

By Mark Edmundson

Walt Whitman, who was born 200 years ago this year, is almost certainly the greatest American poet. In many ways, he is also the most enigmatic. Before 1855, the year that Whitman…

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