The United States Magazine and Democratic Review
The United States Magazine and Democratic Review was a periodical published from 1837 to 1859 by John L. O'Sullivan. Its motto, "The best government is that which governs least", was famously paraphrased by Henry David Thoreau in "Resistance to Civil Government", better known as Civil Disobedience, and is often erroneously attributed to Thomas Jefferson.
In 1837, O'Sullivan co-founded and served as editor for The United States Magazine and Democratic Review (generally called the Democratic Review). It was a highly regarded journal meant to champion Jacksonian Democracy, a movement which had usually been disparaged in the more conservative North American Review. The magazine featured political essays, many of them penned by O'Sullivan himself, extolling the virtues of Jacksonian democracy and criticizing what Democrats regarded as the aristocratic pretensions of their opponents. The journal supported Martin Van Buren in the 1840 presidential election (who lost) and James K. Polk in the 1844 election (who won).
As a leading organizer for the Democratic Party, Van Buren paid close attention to party communication media such as newspapers and magazines. They received subsidies in the form of government printing contracts. At an intellectual level, his administration was strongly supported by The United States Magazine and Democratic Review. Its editorials and articles provided the arguments that partisan needed to discuss Democratic Party positions on the Mexican War, slavery, states' rights, and Indian removal.
The Democratic Review was also (perhaps even primarily) a literary magazine, promoting the development of American literature. Some of its regular contributors were Nathaniel Hawthorne and John Greenleaf Whittier, with occasional contributions by William Cullen Bryant and James Fenimore Cooper. The Review also published some of the early work of Walt Whitman, James Russell Lowell, and Henry David Thoreau. Hawthorne and O'Sullivan became close friends, and Hawthorne had more pieces published in O'Sullivan's magazine than in any other periodical. The Democratic Review was always in financial difficulties since it accepted no advertising and relied on subscriptions and donations to survive. O'Sullivan relinquished his editorial duties for a short time to practice law but continued to write for the magazine.
- Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989, Bartleby.com, accessed 20 January 2013
- "That government is best which governs least (Spurious Quotation) | Thomas Jefferson's Monticello".
- Robert J, Scholnick, "Extermination and Democracy: O'Sullivan, the Democratic Review, and Empire, 1837—1840." American Periodicals (2005) 15#2: 123-141.online
- Widmer, Edward L. Young America: The Flowering of Democracy in New York City. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999: 66. ISBN 0-19-514062-1.
- "29. Manifest Destiny". American History. USHistory.org.
- The United States Magazine and Democratic Review at Cornell University Library, "Making of America", Volumes 1–38 and 40–43 (1837–1859)
- Works by or about The United States Magazine and Democratic Review at Internet Archive
- "The Democratic Principle", an article by John L. O'Sullivan from the Democratic Review.