Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 24 August 1868

Date: August 24, 1868

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00652

Source: The Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 2:39–40. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Kenneth M. Price, Elizabeth Lorang, Zachary King, and Eric Conrad

Attorney General's Office,
Monday forenoon
August 24, 1868

Dearest mother,

I send you some envelopes—they are already stamped—I send you one with Mat's address, & one to Han, so you will have them ready when you want to write. I rec'd your letter of last Wednesday—I hope it will work so that you can have apartments in George's new house, if possible—it must be any thing but agreeable there in Atlantic street, on some accounts, but there is always something—I have not been satisfied with my boarding place1—so several weeks ago, I tried another place & room for a couple of days & nights on trial, without giving up my old room—Well, I was glad enough to go back to my old place & stay there—I was glad enough I hadn't given it up—there are some things I don't like, but there are others very good indeed—it is situated in the healthiest, sweetest part of Washington—two of our boarders, clerks, have left—they have lost their places, one in the War, and the other in the State Department—

It is overcast here to-day, but warm—I enjoy it—go around in the open air a great deal, & take things moderate—want to see you, dear mother, very much indeed, but don't think I shall leave till latter part of September—I do hope you are feeling quite well, & not working too hard—

You say you think I like Washington so much2—Well I am satisfied here, but not particularly attached to the place—only I think it is better for me as things are, & better all round—if it could only be so that I could come home for a little while, & frequently, I should want nothing more—but one mustn't expect to have every thing to suit perfectly—

I am feeling well as usual—Now that the awful long hot spell is over, I can hardly believe I have stood it so well—& you, too, mother dear, seem to have got along a great deal better than I would have expected—Things are dull enough in Washington, but it suits me just as well—Mr. Evarts3 has gone home—he has a farm at Windsor, Vermont—his family lives there—he has a large family of children—Ashton4 is running the office—Love to Georgy & all—Good bye, dear mother.


The 50cts is for Ed.


1. Whitman lived at 472 M Street. By September 7, 1868, Walt Whitman was one of only two boarders remaining in the house. [back]

2. On August 19, 1868, Louisa Van Velsor Whitman had written: "i dont beleive you ever would be contented any where else. i dont wonder at it for i think you have more true friends there than any other place (i mean those not related to you of course)." [back]

3. William Maxwell Evarts (1818–1901) was chief counsel for Andrew Johnson during the impeachment trial of 1868. As a reward for his services, Johnson appointed Evarts Attorney General later in the year; Evarts was Secretary of State from 1877 to 1881 and U.S. Senator from New York from 1885 to 1891. [back]

4. J. Hubley Ashton, the assistant Attorney General, actively interested himself in Walt Whitman's affairs, and obtained a position for the poet in his office after the Harlan fracas. [back]


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