Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Thomas Jefferson Whitman to Walt Whitman, 8 January 1864

Date: January 8, 1864

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Thomas Jefferson Whitman, Dear Brother Walt: The Letters of Thomas Jefferson Whitman, ed. Dennis Berthold and Kenneth M. Price (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1984), 92. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Location: Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00431

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Bev Rilett, Kathryn Kruger, and April Lambert




Brooklyn,
Jan 8th 1864

Dear Walt,

The enclosed $5 is from Mr James P. Kirkwood1 and is the money spoken of in my letter from Copake.2 The other $1 is from John D. Martin.3

I mailed you some 3 or 4 Unions4 to-day directed to the care of major Hapgood5 as usual

At home everything is going along abt as usual, all abt the same.

A few days ago there came to the house for you the proof sheets of a small book which the author (no name given) wants you to read and give an opinion on  the Circular you find within. The stuff itself is disgusting, the whole of it going to prove that the nigger is better than the white which the fool says over and over again6—do you want it sent on to you.


affectionately Jeff.


Notes:

1. See Thomas Jefferson Whitman to Walt Whitman, April 16, 1860[back]

2. See Thomas Jefferson Whitman to Walt Whitman, December 28, 1863[back]

3. See Thomas Jefferson Whitman to Walt Whitman, February 10, 1863[back]

4. Copies of the Brooklyn Daily Union[back]

5. Major Lyman S. Hapgood, the paymaster of the army volunteers, employed Walt Whitman as a copyist from December 1862 to January 1865. Charles W. Eldridge, co–publisher of the 1860 Leaves of Grass and later a clerk in Hapgood's office, helped the poet gain this employment. Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 1:11 and 162, n. 83). [back]

6. No record indicates the poet read this book, but he probably would not have been sympathetic with its thesis. Whitman also rejected arguments for white superiority; he marked an article on "The Slavonians and Eastern Europe," North British Review, American edition, 11 (August 1849), 283, which argued that there are "three varieties of human beings" and that "up to the present moment, the destinies of the species appear to have been carried forward almost exclusively by its Caucasian variety." The poet responded in the margin: "? yes of late centuries, but how about those 5, or 10, or twenty thousand years ago?" (Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Books, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library). [back]


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