Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Kenneth Crawford to Walt Whitman, 16 September 1891

Date: September 16, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01215

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. . Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Kara Wentworth, Ian Faith, Andrew David King, and Stephanie Blalock

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Westchester Co.
Sept. 16. 1891.

To Walt Whitman.
Camden N.J.
My dear Sir.

I read of your age and sickness and your belief that you are not much accepted by your generation; but also of the comfort which personal letters of appreciation and thanks have been to you. So I will put by every reason that has hitherto hindered me from sending a frank message of love and thanks to you, in the thought that my message can do no harm, and if it is a small drop of comfort, it may add to others, and so amount to something. I blush to read that the tenderest and gratefulest breath of thy heart has gone over the sea-gales to England. I mean I am glad for them to have had ever so tender a breath of thy heart, but I am very sad to think we compatriots should not have risen to meet the very tenderest.

I know a day will come soon when the "big American magazines" will vie to reprint and make head pieces of Walt Whitman's verse. And this is why I know. I was nourished and formed by every thing most American, for I am (so to speak) one of the children of the war. That overwhelming outburst of spirit was the first thing to stamp my nature. My first coherent memory is of the Brooklyn 14th Regiment recruiting on Fort Green in 1861. (I then very proud of a dear Uncle—Commissary of the Regt., who afterward, down at the "front," had once the honor to entertain Walt Whitman in his tent.) And as sure as it was the very spirit of democracy that was mother's milk to me, so sure am I that therefore I love Walt Whitman—and as whatever is most American and democratic must in time lead the rest here—and be served by the big magazines as well as the little, therefore I know Walt Whitman's great heart will still wake the echos from end to end of the country—

May God forever bless him,
Kenneth Crawford.

We have not yet been able to fully identify this correspondent. One possibility is that the writer is Kenneth R. Crawford (ca. 1855–1936), a New York artist. His artwork was exhibited by the National Academy of Design, the Society of Artists, and the American Art Association, and was described as being of "a very choice variety, painted with much feeling and a nice freedom of touch" (The New York Times [March 25 1885], 14).


1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | 328 Mickle St | Camden | N. J. It is postmarked: MOU [illegible] [illegible]NON | SEP | 16 | 7 PM | 1891 | N.Y.; CAMDEN, N.J. | SEP 17 | 6 AM | 91 | REC'D; NY | 9-16-91 | [illegible] [back]


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