Compromise Generation

The Compromise Generation (Artist, born 1767–1791) grew up (recalled Henry Clay) “rocked in the cradle of the Revolution” as they watched brave adults struggle and triumph. Compliantly coming of age, they offered a new erudition, expertise, and romantic sensibility to their heroic elders’ “Age of Improvement.” As young adults, they became what historian Matthew Crenson calls “the administrative founding fathers”—and soldiered a “Second War for Independence” whose glory could never compare with the first. In midlife, they mentored populist movements, fretted over slavery and Indian removal, and presided over Great Compromises that reflected their irresolution. As elders, they feared that their “post-heroic” mission had failed and that the United States might not outlive them. (AMERICAN: Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Washington Irving, Dolley Madison, Tecumseh; FOREIGN: Napoleon Bonaparte, Ludwig van Beethoven)

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