Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to James C. McGuire, 2 May 1872

Date: May 2, 1872

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00658

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), 2:175. 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

May 2, 1872.

My dear Mr. McGuire,1

The money you gave me for Mr. Tasistro has been handed by me to him, and has substantially helped him.2 I have been out to see him several times since I met you—he is up & about & in much better spirits—has great thoughts of getting well, & going to work to earn his living himself.

He has had a very hard time during the winter—Can never again be strong & well—but has indomitable vitality.

Walt Whitman


1. James C. McGuire (1812–1888) was a collector of Americana; see Clarence Gohdes and Rollo G. Silver, ed., Faint Clews & Indirections (Durham: Duke University Press, 1949), 75n. [back]

2. Louis Fitzgerald Tasistro (1808–1875?) came to the United States from Ireland as a young man. He edited a newspaper in New York and later had a brief career on the stage. Subsequently he was a translator for the State Department and a lecturer. He was the author of Travels in the Southern States: Random Shots and Southern Breezes (1842) and translator of Compte de Paris' History of the Civil War in America (1875). On April 26, 1872, Walt Whitman inserted in the Washington Daily Morning Chronicle an appeal for "pecuniary assistance for a man of genius," who was not named. On the following day the Chronicle noted "prompt contributions" from, among others, Samuel Ward. According to Whitman's April 26, 1872 letter to Ward, Tasistro acted as the carrier of Ward's money to Whitman.

In the Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., there are three receipts written by Whitman and signed by Tasistro. On April 26, 1872, Tasistro acknowledged $70. On April 29, 1872, he accepted an additional $25, and on May 14, 1872, $10. On August 3, 1872, in his own hand, Tasistro signed a receipt for $17. On the verso Walt Whitman noted the total of $122: "also $10 more handed by W. W. to Mr. Tasistro." On October 24, 1872, Walt Whitman wrote: "also about $25 more in different sums since." See Edwin Haviland Miller, "Walt Whitman and Louis Fitzgerald Tasistro," Walt Whitman Review, 7 (March 1961), 14–16. [back]


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