Commentary

Selected Criticism

Title:
Whitman, Jesse W. (grandfather) (1749–1803)
Author:
Miller, David G.
Print source:
J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), reproduced by permission.

Walt Whitman never knew his paternal grandfather Jesse W. Whitman directly, but he certainly heard of him through family stories, particularly the stories of his paternal grandmother, Hannah Brush Whitman. Jesse Whitman was the son of Nehemiah and Phoebe (Sarah White) Whitman; he inherited the family farm on Long Island from his parents. There he raised three sons, Jesse, Walter, and Treadwell, and one daughter, Sarah. The farm and homestead in West Hills amounted to nearly five hundred acres of land and became an important part of Walt Whitman's sense of home. The character of his mother undoubtedly contributed to Jesse Whitman's character. Phoebe Whitman was portrayed in family legend as a hardworking, tobacco-chewing, cursing woman who was able to oversee the farm single-handedly.

Bibliography

Reynolds, David S. Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography. New York: Knopf, 1995.


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