Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Thomas Jefferson Whitman to Walt Whitman, 4 May 1865

Date: May 4, 1865

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00437

Source: Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The transcription presented here is derived from Thomas Jefferson Whitman, Dear Brother Walt: The Letters of Thomas Jefferson Whitman, ed. Dennis Berthold and Kenneth M. Price (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1984), 108-109. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Tim Jackson, Vanessa Steinroetter, Kathryn Kruger, and April Lambert

Brooklyn, N. Y.,
May 4th 1865

Dear Walt,

We received your letter1 and [were] glad to get it too—We had all begun to feel a little worried about George—glad to hear that you are getting along so nicely—The Expressman did not come for your trunk yesterday as he promised so I called last night and [a]gain left the order—to-day at noon they came and got it giving a receipt for it  Enclosed I send the Key. I like to get letters from you  Matters are going about as usual with us. Mother is pretty well Mattie and the Children very well—I hope you will enjoy your cake that they put in the trunk—It looked nice when I put it in  I packed it Tuesday night and had it already Wednesday, but they did not come for it  I hope to be able to make you a visit this summer yet—How would it do to come when the review of the Army happens2—could i see it or would it be like our New York shows—how long do you suppose George will remain around Washington?3 I should like to come before he goes away—Write



1. Whitman's letter of about May 3, 1865, is not extant. [back]

2. The Grand Review of the Union armies took place in Washington, D.C., on May 23 and 24, 1865. Jeff was unable to attend, but Walt wrote him about it in a letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman (Gay Wilson Allen, The Solitary Singer: A Critical Biography of Walt Whitman [New York: Macmillan, 1955; rev. ed., New York University Press, 1967], 336–337, and Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 1:260–263). [back]

3. On February 22, 1865, George gained his freedom as part of a general prisoner exchange. He was soon granted a thirty-day furlough, which was extended, because of his poor health, until about April 24. On his return to military duty he was assigned command of a military prison in Alexandria, Virginia, where he remained until July 27, 1865 (Jerome M. Loving, ed., Civil War Letters of George Washington Whitman [Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1975], 134–136). [back]


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