Title: Walt Whitman to Robert G. Ingersoll, 2 April 
Date: April 2, 1880
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1964), 3:175. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: Library of Congress
Whitman Archive ID: loc.04041
Contributors to digital file: Alicia Bones, Grace Thomas, Eder Jaramillo, and Kevin McMullen
431 Stevens Street
Camden New Jersey1
Thanks, dear Colonel,2 for your kind letter & for your books, which have reached me safely—many thanks—I am well as usual of late years—
1. This letter bears the address: Robert G Ingersoll | 1421 New York Avenue | Washington D C. It is postmarked: Camden | Apr | 3 | N.J. [back]
Robert G. Ingersoll (1833–1899), the noted lawyer and agnostic, sent on
March 25 what Whitman termed a "cordial,
flattering, affectionate letter" (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E.
Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library
of Congress, Washington, D.C.).
Whitman heard Ingersoll lecture, evidently for the first time, on May 25: "talked afterward with him a few minutes" (Whitman's Commonplace Book). On May 26 the Philadelphia Press noted that "Walt Whitman . . . drank deep draughts of the orator's eloquence," and interpolated into its reprint of the text at several points, "['Amen' from Walt Whitman.]" On the following day Richard Maurice Bucke, who had accompanied the poet, denied that Whitman had showed either approval or disapproval. See also Whitman's comments on Ingersoll's religious views in his letter to Harry Stafford of January 27, 1881. [back]