Title: Thomas B. Freeman to Walt Whitman, 1 February 1877
Date: February 1, 1877
Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.04048
Contributors to digital file: Alicia Bones, Eder Jaramillo, Grace Thomas, Kevin McMullen, and Nicole Gray
Dear Friend Mr Whitman
I received your Book on the war1 with many many thank.2 I dont know how I can thank you for your kindness towards me. Can only say that I will allways entertain the highest regard and esteem for you. The Book is a beautiful specimen and very entertaining to our family and many [illegible] would like very much to [illegible] it with you [at?] Camden. I enjoyed my visit so much I would [illegible] to go to Camden often. Mother and Father are sorry they did not get to see you. I was born the first [year?] of the war so I dont know very much about in your book is about the first book I have read about the war.
[illegible] having quite a temperance agitation in our Neighborhood there [was?] 250 signed the Pledge but I cannot tell how long they will keep it I hope our present Goverenor will be our next President. if the Democrats get up a muss I am ready to sholder my musket I have read some [of?] your book since I got it and [illegible] it very interesting. I wrote [illegible] some time ago to Aunt Jennie [illegible] not knowing her address I first put it in care of John Johnston3 [illegible] Street I did not [illegible] number. I am very busy now I go to day school 5 days of a week at a Bookkeeping school [illegible] in one week so I havent [illegible] time to write. I am [illegible][ing?] what to say to make a [illegible] letter but I dont think I [illegible] make it. We had quite a snow storm this morning for a short time. I suppose [it is?] to cold for you to go to Johnstons [and?] I will have to close in order to [illegible] this in the mail. So goodbye. Give our respects to all the Johnstons and save a good many for yourself. Give my respects to Frank Post Please accept my sincere thanks for the present you sent me.
From your most a
Thomas B. F [illegible]
1. The "Book on the war" was probably Whitman's Memoranda During the War. Six sections of this book first appeared as newspaper pieces in 1874, and then were collected and revised for the book publication in 1875. See Robert Leigh Davis, "Memoranda During the War [1875-1876]." [back]
2. Not much information is known about Thomas B. Freeman other than that he was a young man in whom Whitman took an interest. Freeman notes that he was "born the first year of the war," which would make him roughly 16 years old at the time of his first letter to Whitman. The poet mentioned sending Freeman material on several occasions (most likely a copy of Leaves of Grass, a newspaper piece by Whitman that appeared in the Philadelphia Times, and a copy of Drum-Taps). See Walt Whitman: Daybooks and Notebooks, ed. William White (New York: New York University Press, 1978), 1:32, 36, and 56. [back]
3. John H. Johnston (1837–1919) was a New York jeweler and close friend of Whitman. Johnston was also a friend of Joaquin Miller (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden [New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1915], 2:139). Whitman visited the Johnstons for the first time early in 1877. In 1888 he observed to Horace Traubel: "I count [Johnston] as in our inner circle, among the chosen few" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Wednesday, October 3, 1888). See also Johnston's letter about Whitman, printed in Charles N. Elliot, Walt Whitman as Man, Poet and Friend (Boston: Richard G. Badger, 1915), 149–174. For more on Johnston, see Susan L. Roberson, "Johnston, John H. (1837–1919) and Alma Calder" Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]