Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Thomas Jefferson Whitman to George Washington Whitman, 6 September 1868

Date: September 6, 1868

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), 131-132. 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.00450

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




St. Louis,
Sept. 6th 1868

Dear brother George

Enclosed I send you draft on New York no. 5104, for five hundred and ten dollars1—the ten you will please give to Mother as a present from Mattie

We are getting along abt the same as usual. Mat still has a bad cough—yet I hardly think it as bad as it was a few weeks ago. I should'nt wonder if she and Jessie made you a visit in the course of a month or so2  The doctor told Mat yesterday that he thought a visit east would do her cough more good than anything else—and if that is the case I am anxious that she should go. Tell Mammy not to commence to worry about it yet though for perhaps she may not be afflicted.

How are you getting along with your new house3—well I hope  Is there much building in B[rooklyn] this year—in St. Louis there are more houses going up this year than ever before—some 2500 dwelling houses are reported in process of construction.

What is the news about the water works office—I find every body there as tight as a bottle in the way of writing  I suppose they must take their cue from Mr Lane4—I wish you would drop me a line telling me what news there is—did you go to Phillipsburgh5—and if so what did you see

I see by the papers that you have had some pretty bad rain storms in Brooklyn—we have lately had two storms that has put us back on the work very much indeed—the contractors were not prepared for them and so were damaged a good deal  We have had a pretty severe storm this morning—but nothing like the others.

I understand you were down to Woods at Florence6  did you see our 36" pipe and if so what did you think of them—

Do you think you will continue to live in Atlantic street this winter—or do you think you will "move" as mother has been talking about for the last year or two—and by the way when do you expect Walt home—

How are political matters about Brooklyn—Seymour7 I suppose will be ahead just in and about New York City but will he carry the state do you think—The only thing that will save this state to Grant—if it is saved—will be the "iron clad oath"8  The rebs are, I judge, in the majority here—but they dont allow many of them to register and when they do do it they have to do some pretty tall swearing. I took the oath 'tother day—as I want to vote for Grant—all the other questions though I think I shall leave out9  Write me and tell me all the news in and about Brooklyn—Love to Mother and all—


affec Thos. J Whitman


Notes:

1. See Thomas Jefferson Whitman to George Washington Whitman, 20 August 1868[back]

2. When her doctors sugggested a change of air, Mattie went to Brooklyn with her two daughters on October 14 and lived with Louisa Van Velsor Whitman until mid-December. Jeff joined his family around November 20 (Randall H. Waldron, ed., Mattie: The Letters of Martha Mitchell Whitman [New York: New York University Press, 1977], p. 60). Despite her poor health, Mattie did little to ease the strain on her throat. Louisa Van Velsor Whitman informed Walt Whitman on November 11 that the doctor had "performed two moderate operations on her throat  but O dear if you could hear her talk  it would make me hoarse to talk a steady stream as she does when any one comes in to see her" (Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Books, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library). [back]

3. For a discussion of George's difficulties in building this three-story house for his mother and brother Edward, see Jerome M. Loving, ed., Civil War Letters of George Washington Whitman (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1975), pp. 28-29. Located at 107 N. Portland Avenue, this was Louisa Van Velsor Whitman's last home in Brooklyn. [back]

4. See Thomas Jefferson Whitman to Walt Whitman, 13 January 1863[back]

5. In New Jersey, about forty-five miles north of Camden. [back]

6. The R. D. Woods foundry at Florence, New Jersey, was a major supplier of iron pipe for the St. Louis Water Works (Proceedings of the City Council, St. Louis, June 23, 1868). [back]

7. See Thomas Jefferson Whitman to Walt Whitman, 12 July 1868. As the Democratic candidate for president, Horatio Seymour carried New York state by a bare ten thousand votes. [back]

8. The Missouri state constitution of 1865 required that all citizens take a stringent loyalty oath before they could register to vote, thus effectively disfranchising many ex-Confederates and their sympathizers. This controversial oath, one of the strictest in the nation, was repealed in 1870. Despite Jeff's fears, Grant carried Missiouri by a wide margin. [back]

9. One of these "questions" was a proposal to enfranchise black citizens. The measure, which had lost the year before in Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio, was rejected three to two. [back]


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