Title: Walt Whitman to Thomas Jefferson Whitman, 13 April 1887
Date: April 13, 1887
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:83. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: Walt Whitman House
Whitman Archive ID: wwh.00029
Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock
April 13 12:40 P M
Am middling well—go this afternoon to New York, to deliver my lecture commemorative of "the Death of Abraham Lincoln"2 to-morrow afternoon there—Return here Friday—Love to you & Jess3—Lou4 was here lately—all well—
Thomas Jefferson Whitman (1833–1890), known as "Jeff," was Walt Whitman's favorite brother. As a civil engineer, Jeff eventually became Superintendent of Water Works in St. Louis and a nationally recognized figure. For more on Jeff, see Randall Waldron, "Whitman, Thomas Jefferson (1833–1890)."
1. This letter is addressed: Thos: J. Whitman | 2437 2d Carondelet Avenue | St Louis Missouri. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Apr 13 | 8 PM | 87; Saint Louis(?)| Apr | 15 | 7 AM | 1887 | Rec'd. [back]
2. Whitman is referring to his lecture entitled "The Death of Abraham Lincoln," which he delivered in New York City on Thursday, April 14, 1887. He first delivered this lecture in New York in 1879 and would deliver it at least eight other times over the succeeding years, delivering it for the last time on April 15, 1890. He had published a version of the lecture as "Death of Abraham Lincoln" in Specimen Days (1882–83). For more on the lecture, see Larry D. Griffin, "'Death of Abraham Lincoln,'" Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, ed. (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), 169–170. [back]
3. Jessie Louisa Whitman was the second daughter of Jeff and Martha Whitman. [back]
4. Louisa Orr Haslam Whitman (1842–1892), called "Loo" or "Lou," married Walt's brother George Whitman on April 14, 1871. Their son, Walter Orr Whitman, was born in 1875 but died the following year. A second son was stillborn. Walt lived in Camden, New Jersey, with George and Louisa from 1873 until 1884, when George and Louisa moved to a farm outside of Camden and Whitman decided to stay in the city. Louisa and Walt had a warm relationship during the poet's final decades. For more, see Karen Wolfe, " Whitman, Louisa Orr Haslam (Mrs. George) (1842–1892)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]