In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: 1848 New Orleans

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Between 1848 and 1887

Whitman Archive ID: med.00725

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts, ed. Edward F. Grier (New York: New York University Press, 1984), 1:86–87. Grier based his text on The Uncollected Poetry and Prose of Walt Whitman, ed. Emory Holloway (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1921), 2:77–78. The location of this manuscript is unknown. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the manuscripts, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: These notes about Whitman's time in New Orleans (February through May, 1848) appear to be a combination of observations made at the time of his New Orleans sojourn and later recollections. Because the manuscript has not been located it is difficult to speculate on the circumstances or date of its composition, but it seems likely that parts of it were written at different times between 1848 and the publication of Whitman's article "New Orleans in 1848: Walt Whitman Gossips of His Sojourn Here Years Ago as a Newspaper Writer: Notes of His Trip Up the Mississippi and to New York," which probably drew on these notes, in the New Orleans Daily Picayune on January 25, 1887. Edward Grier notes that "H." and "M'C" probably refer to publishers A. H. Hayes and J. E. McClure.

Contributors to digital file: Janel Cayer, Jeannette Schollaert, Kevin McMullen, Nicole Gray, Brett Barney, and Kenneth M. Price

1848 New Orleans/ March 18th. We have now been publishing "the Crescent," two weeks; and it seems to be going ahead handsomely. My situation is rather a pleasant one. I get through at evening much earlier than I had anticipated, which I like, of course, very well. There are many peculiarities in New Orleans that I shall jot down at my leisure in these pages. It seems somewhat strange that I have not heard from home. It is now over a month, and no letter yet.

(I arrived in New Orleans, on the night of Friday Feb. 25th; and left it Saturday afternoon, May 27th, '48.)

On board steamer Griffith Upper part of Lake Huron, Saturday morning, June 10th, 1848.

For a few weeks after I commenced my duties at New Orleans, matters went on very pleasantly. People seemed to treat me kindly, particularly H. and M'C. My health was most capital; I frequently thought indeed that I felt better than ever before in my life. After changing my boarding house, Jef. and I were, take it altogether, pretty comfortable. We had good beds, and though the noise was incessant, day and night, we slept well. The plan of going to dinner when we liked, and calling for what we wanted, out of a variety of dishes, was more convenient than the usual way of boarding houses.

Through some unaccountable means, however, both H. and M'C, after a while, exhibited a singular sort of coldness, toward me, and the latter an irritability toward Jef., who had, at times, much harder work than I was willing he should do.

The arrangements of the office were in this wise: I generally went about my work about 9 o'clock, overhauling the papers rec'd by mail, and "making up the news," as it is called, both with pen and scissors. A Mr. Larue (a good writer,) generally prepared the leading editorials; Mr. Reeder, (an amiable-hearted young man, but excessively intemperate) was the "city news" man; (poor Reeder is dead, since) and a young fellow named [Da Poute?], officiated as translator of Mexican and foreign n—items; factotum in general. I had been accustomed to having frequent conferences, in my former situations with the proprietors of newspapers, on the subject of management, etc. But when the coldness above alluded to broke out, H. seemed to be studiously silent upon all these matters. My own pride was touched—and I met their conduct with equal haughtiness on my part. On Wednesday May 24th I sent down a note requesting a small sum of money. M'C returned me a bill of what money I had already drawn, and stated that they could not make "advances." I answered by reminding them of certain points which appeared to have been forgotten, making me not their debtor, and told them in my reply I thought it would be better to dissolve the connection. They agreed to my plan (after some objections on the part of me); and I determined to leave on the succeeding Saturday.

Accordingly on Friday I packed up my traps, and [cut away]


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