Commentary

Selected Criticism

Title:
New York Evening Post
Author:
Widmer, Ted
Print source:
J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), reproduced by permission.

The New York Evening Post was founded in 1801 at the behest of Alexander Hamilton. Its first editor was William Coleman, who served until 1829, when the reins were passed to William Cullen Bryant, who led the Post until his death in 1878. Bryant espoused almost everything Hamilton opposed: free trade, the rights of man, and the party of Andrew Jackson. But Bryant's literary abilities raised the Post above a partisan sheet, and it commanded respect throughout the nineteenth century for its editorial excellence. The paper promoted many reforms, and took a courageous early stand against the extension of slavery (unusual for a Democratic paper).

Whitman always esteemed the Post, led as it was by the pre-eminent poet of his day, and a Democrat to boot. On 29 July 1841, the paper favorably noted his remarks at a political event. On 29 March 1842, he returned the favor in the New York Aurora, assessing the Post as nearly the best paper in New York, but warning that "the reputation of a refined poet, and the course that must be pursued in order to make a readable paper, clash with each other" (112).

Despite this remark, Whitman contributed to the Post when convenient. Parke Godwin recalled later, "[U]pon our regular local staff we had at one time or another Walt Whitman, who did reporting for us, and, if I remember rightly, wrote a number of letters from Washington at the beginning of the war" (One Hundredth Anniversary 36). On 2 March 1850, he published his important early poem, "Song for Certain Congressmen" (later called "Dough-Face Song"). In 1851, Whitman wrote at least five articles for the Post: "Something About Art and Brooklyn Artists" (1 February), "A Letter from Brooklyn" (21 March), and three pieces headed "Letter from Paumanok" (27 June, 28 June, 14 August). In later life, too, after his fame spread, the Post published his poems on occasion.

Bibliography

Nevins, Allan. The Evening Post: A Century of Journalism. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1922.

The New York Evening Post One Hundredth Anniversary. New York: Evening Post Publishing, 1902.

Whitman, Walt. Walt Whitman of the New York Aurora. Ed. Joseph Jay Rubin and Charles H. Brown. State College, Pa.: Bald Eagle, 1950.


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