Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to John Quincy Adams Ward, 12 April [1876]

Date: April 12, 1876

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 5:303. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Location: Walt Whitman Ephemera, University of Tulsa

Whitman Archive ID: tul.00010

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Ashley Lawson, Zachary King, and Eric Conrad




431 Stevens st.
Camden N Jersey
April 12

J Q A Ward1
Dear Sir2

In a letter from John Swinton3 as he speaks of your kind desire to subscribe for some copies of my new edition, books, I send you the enclosed slips. Of course I should be happy to furnish you with any copies—


Walt Whitman


Notes:

1. Ward (1830–1910) was, according to Dictionary of American Biography, "the first native sculptor to create, without benefit of foreign training, an impressive body of good work." Ward informed Walt Whitman on April 23, 1876, that on May 1, 1876, he would order five sets of the new edition. The order was sent on June 1, 1876; Walt Whitman noted receipt of $50 from Ward on June 6, 1876 (Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]

2. Walt Whitman wrote for the first time to distinguished American sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward (1830–1910) on April 12, 1876. Ward (1830–1910) was, according to Dictionary of American Biography, "the first native sculptor to create, without benefit of foreign training, an impressive body of good work." Ward informed Walt Whitman on April 23, 1876, that on May 1, 1876, he would order five sets of the new edition of Leaves of Grass (Charles E. Feinberg Collection; Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden [1906–1996], 2:278). The order was sent on June 1, 1876 (Charles E. Feinberg Collection); Walt Whitman noted receipt of $50 from Ward on June 6, 1876 (Whitman's Commonplace Book). [back]

3. John Swinton (1829–1901), a journalist and friend of Karl Marx, became acquainted with Whitman during the Civil War. Swinton, managing editor of the New York Times, frequented Pfaff's, where he probably met Whitman. Whitman's correspondence with Swinton began on February 23, 1863. Swinton's enthusiasm for Whitman was unbounded. On September 25, 1868, Swinton wrote: "I am profoundly impressed with the great humanity, or genius, that expresses itself through you. I read this afternoon in the book. I read its first division which I never before read. I could convey no idea to you of how it affects my soul. It is more to me than all other books and poetry." On January 23, 1874, Swinton wrote what the poet termed "almost like a love letter": "It was perhaps the very day of the publication of the first edition of the 'Leaves of Grass' that I saw a copy of it at a newspaper stand in Fulton street, Brooklyn. I got it, looked into it with wonder, and felt that here was something that touched on depths of my humanity. Since then you have grown before me, grown around me, and grown into me" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Tuesday, April 10, 1888). He praised Whitman in the New York Herald on April 1, 1876 (reprinted in Richard Maurice Bucke, Walt Whitman [Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883], 36–37). Swinton was in 1874 a candidate of the Industrial Political Party for the mayoralty of New York. From 1875 to 1883, he was with the New York Sun, and for the next four years edited the weekly labor journal, John Swinton's Paper. When this publication folded, he returned to the Sun. See Robert Waters, Career and Conversations of John Swinton (Chicago: C.H. Kerr, 1902), and Meyer Berger, The History of The New York Times, 1851–1951 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1951), 250–251. See also Donald Yannella, "Swinton, John (1829–1901)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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