Title: Dr. Le Baron Russell to Walt Whitman, 21 September 1863
Date: September 21, 1863
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: Walt Whitman Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin
Whitman Archive ID: tex.00166
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Tim Jackson, Vanessa Steinroetter, Heidi Bean, and Elise Cook
Sept 21st 1863.
My dear sir,
I1 have been much interested in a letter from you to Mr. Redpath,2 written some weeks ago, which I have lately seen, & I am very glad to send you the inclosed check to be used for the benefit of our noble "boys" in the hospitals, at your discretion. I have seen much of the hospitals myself, & I know how much good your friendly sympathy must do them, & also that even a slight pecuniary aid is sometimes very acceptable to them in their forlorn condition.
Of the enclosed check, ten dollars of the amount is contributed by my sister, Mrs. G.W. Briggs of Salem,3 to whom I read your letter, & ten dollars by my friend Edward Atkinson.4 The balance I give to the boys with great pleasure, & I will very gladly give more hereafter, when I hear from you of the receipt of this & find that more is needed.
As your letter is not of a very late date, I do not feel certain that your address may be the same as at the time you wrote. Please inform me how this is, as I hope to be able to send you more from other friends.
I hope you will continue in your good work, as I am sure from your letter, & from what my friend, Mr. Emerson, says of his own acquaintance with you, that your visits must give great comfort to our poor suffering men.
I am, with much regard,
Very Truly Yours,
L. B. Russell
Walt Whitman Esq.Washington.
Please address Dr. L. B. Russell 34 Mt. Vernon St.Boston.
1. Dr. Le Baron Russell (1814–1819) was a Boston physician who was well acquainted with Ralph Waldo Emerson and James Redpath. Along with other philanthropically minded citizens, Russell sent Whitman money to be used in easing the suffering of the Civil War wounded languishing in the Washington, D.C., area. [back]
2. James Redpath (1833–1891) was the author of The Public Life of Capt. John Brown (Boston: Thayer and Eldridge, 1860), a correspondent for the New York Tribune during the war, the originator of the "Lyceum" lectures, and editor of the North American Review in 1886. He met Whitman in Boston in 1860 (Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of Walt Whitman, The Library of Congress, Notebook #90) and remained an enthusiastic admirer; see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 1961), 3:459–461. He concluded his first letter to Whitman on June 25, 1860: "I love you, Walt! A conquering Brigade will ere long march to the music of your barbaric yawp" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection; Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden , 3:460). See also Charles F. Horner, The Life of James Redpath (New York: Barse and Hopkins, 1926). [back]
3. Lucia Jane Russell Briggs, the wife of the pastor of the First Parish Church in Salem, Massachusetts, heard of Whitman's work in the Washington hospitals through her brother, Dr. LeBaron Russell; see Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence (New York: New York University Press, 1961–77), 1:188. In her letter of April 21, 1864, Mrs Briggs wrote: "I inclose seventy-five dollars, which I have collected among a few friends in Salem, and which I hope may be of some little service to our brave boys, who surely should not suffer while we have the power to help them. You have our warmest sympathy in your generous work, and though sad to witness so much suffering, it is indeed a privilege to be able to do something to alleviate it." See also Whitman's letter to Lucia Jane Russell Briggs dated April 26, 1864. [back]
4. Edward Atkinson had been an ardent Free-Soil advocate and eventually raised money for John Brown. By 1863, he was actively participating in the "Cotton Question" by determining how the reformed Union would keep up the necessary production of cotton in a post-slavery economy. [back]