Title: Benjamin R. Tucker to Walt Whitman, 25 May 1882
Date: May 25, 1882
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.04270
Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Eder Jaramillo, and Nicole Gray
Box 3366, Boston,
May 25, 1882.
Mr. Walt Whitman,
I am a stranger to you, but have long been an admirer of your writings. Perhaps you have heard of me as at one time editor of the "Radical Review," which published J. B. Marvin's admirable essay entitled "Walt Whitman." The action of the Massachusetts authorities and the cowardice of the Osgoods prompt me to write to you. I am ashamed of the whole business. What do you propose to do? Some steps should be at once taken for the republication of your book, from the same plates, in the same locality where it has been struck down. Is there no one that will undertake it? With able counsel to conduct the case I do not believe a jury could be found in Massachusetts to send the publisher of "Leaves of Grass" to prison. At any rate the question ought to be tested. If I had the means, I would gladly, with your permission, put your book on the market advertised as the suppressed edition, and invite the authorities to dispute my right to do so. What I will do is this, if nothing better can be done. If you will find parties to furnish the means for republication from your plates, advertising the book, and defending it in court, I will become the responsible publisher, and go to prison if necessary. In case the verdict should be against me and I should be fined, I should decline to pay the fine. It seems to me highly important that the people of America should know exactly how far they can safely indulge in the expression of their opinions. What do you say? If you desire to know anything about me before replying to so important a question, you may inquire of S. H. Morse, Quincy, Mass., the sculptor, whom you know, and who has long been one of my intimate friends. He does not know of my design in this matter, but he will tell you that I am thoroughly reliable, and no notoriety-hunter or anything of that kind.
Benj. R. Tucker.