There are many well known American poets, but few have truly understood and represented early twentieth century American society like Carl Sandburg. The work of Sandburg stands synonymously with ideas like Americans as "jacks of all trades" and the somewhat resigned but triumphant pride in the country and its cities, much stemming from his life experiences. Through Carl Sandburg's free verse poems and understandable style of writing, he was an embodiment of the American people and their ideals.
Carl Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Illinois, the second child of what would later be seven. He dropped out of school at age 13 to get more money, giving him the experience of dozens of different odd jobs, including such things as Newsboy, bottle washer, potter's assistant, icehouse worker, painters apprentice, and even traveling as a hobo. The latter brought him to such places as Kansas and Colorado. He continued these jobs until in 1898 the Maine was sunk and the Spanish American war began. Sandburg freely enlisted in the Army and came quite close to combat. Once the war was over Sandburg returned to his hometown where a veteran status gave him free admission to Lombard College, where he became editor-in-chief of the school newspaper. (Van Weinen). It was there that he first began to write and develop his famous style (Carl Sandburg: Author Biography).
Although Sandburg left Lombard before he graduated, he had begun on the career that would last the rest of his life. He moved to Milwaukee, where he became a member of the Wisconsin Socialist Democratic Party, and published his first book: Restless Ecstasy, which included 22 poems and the style Sandburg would be known for. He published several more collections before he married Lillian Steichen, sister of the well-known photographer Edward Steichen, and moved to Chicago (Carl Sandburg: Author Biography).
The city of Chicago would the greatest inspiration for Sandburg's works.