Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Francis P. Church to Walt Whitman, 8 August 1867

Date: August 8, 1867

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01278

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.

Editorial notes: The annotation, "Aug 8 '67," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Related item: The corresponding envelope to this letter.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Beverley Rilett, Ashley Lawson, John Schwaninger, Amanda J. Axley, Cristin Noonan, Kassie Jo Baron, and Stephanie Blalock

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of Entertaining Reading.
Published Monthly.
No. 39 PARK ROW,
New York,
Aug 8 18671

My dear Sir:

I was very much gratified to receive your fine Harvest Carol2 this morning. It seems to me to rank with the very best of your poems, and that it is sure to last.

I am sorry to say that it comes too late to be put as the second article & will need to be put in one of the later signatures. But wherever it is, it cannot be hidden.

You shall have the proof promptly.

I am
Very truly Yours
F. P. Church.

Walt Whitman

Francis Pharcellus Church (1839–1906) established the Galaxy in 1866 with his brother William Conant Church (1836–1917). Financial control of the Galaxy passed to Sheldon & Company in 1868, and the magazine was absorbed by the Atlantic Monthly in 1878. In 1897, Francis Church famously wrote, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" for the New York Sun in response to a letter the paper received from eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon. For more information on the Church brothers, see Edward F. Grier, "Walt Whitman, the Galaxy, and Democratic Vistas," American Literature, 23 (1951–1952), 332–350; Robert J. Scholnick, "The Galaxy and American Democratic Culture, 1866–1878," Journal of American Studies 16 (April 1982), 69–80; and Brook Thomas, "The Galaxy, National Literature, and Reconstruction," Nineteenth-Century Literature 75 (June 2020), 50–81.


1. This letter is addressed: Mr. Walt Whitman | Attorney General's Office | Washington D.C. It is postmarked: NEW-YORK | 8 | AUG; [CARRIER] [illegible]. [back]

2. On August 1, 1867, William Conant Church, from the office of the Galaxy, wrote to William Douglas O'Connor: "It seems to me that this glorious harvest of 1867, sown & reaped by the returned soldiers, ought to be sung in verse . . . . Walt Whitman is the man to chaunt the song. Will you not ask him to do it for The Galaxy?" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). In response, Whitman submitted "A Carol of Harvest, for 1867" to William Conant and Francis Pharcellus Church on August 7, 1867. The Church brothers regarded this poem (later titled "The Return of the Heroes") as one of Whitman's best. Whitman, in his later letter of August 11, 1867, reserved the right to publish the poem in an edition of Leaves of Grass no sooner than six months after the poem's publication in the Galaxy. Whitman acknowledged receipt of $60 as compensation for "A Carol of Harvest, for 1867" in his September 7, 1867, letter to the editors. The poem was published in the September 1867, issue of the magazine. Whitman also submitted a second poem, "Ethiopia Commenting," which was never published in the magazine. [back]


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