Title: Walt Whitman to Charles W. Post, 8 February 1880
Date: February 8, 1880
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Alice Lotvin Birney, "Whitman to C. W. Post: A Lost Letter Located," Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, 11 (Summer 1993), 30–31. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: Hillwood Museum, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: hlm.00001
Contributors to digital file: Alicia Bones, Grace Thomas, Nima Najafi Kianfar, and Nicole Gray
I thought to-day I would send you a little picture3 to show you I had not forgotten you or those meetings in St Louis—I have been back here about a month, & am tolerably well—How are you getting along? Let me know if you get the picture all right
1. This letter bears the following address: Charles W Post | Care of B D Buford & Co: | Kansas City | Missouri. It is postmarked: Feb. 8, '80. [back]
2. Six years after his first stroke, at the age of 61, Whitman apparently met the 25-year-old C.W. Post on the return leg of the poet's autumn, 1879, western trip. At the time he met Whitman, Charles William Post (1854–1914) was a married traveling salesman from Springfield, Illinois. He sold agricultural implements for the B. D. Buford Company. Destined to become one of America's first multimillionaires, this pioneer manufacturer, market researcher, and advertising innovator went on to invent and sell the country's first commercial coffee substitute—the early health drink, Postum—and to develop the first dry-pack cereals. He is often credited as the originator of the prepared food industry (Alice Lotvin Birney, "Whitman to C. W. Post: A Lost Letter Located," Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 11 [Summer 1993], 30–31). Whitman had stopped in St. Louis only briefly while going west, but on returning from Denver, he "went on to St. Louis where I remain'd nearly three months with my brother T.J.W. (Thomas Jefferson Whitman), and my dear nieces" (Specimen Days, ed. Floyd Stovall [New York: New York University Press, 1963], 96). [back]
3. Retained with this letter is the signed and dated ("1880") photograph of Whitman, which is actually an 1878 image by Napoleon Sarony (Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 4 (Fall/Winter 1986–87), 20, 51). [back]