Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Hampton L. Carson to Walt Whitman, 3 August 1887

Date: August 3, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01308

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: Alex Kinnaman, Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

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Constitutional Centennial Commission.
[Celebration, September 15, 16 and 17, 1887.]
907 Walnut Street.
JOHN A. KASSON, President.
AMOS R. LITTLE, Chairman Executive Committee.
FREDERICK C. BREWSTER, JR., Corresponding Secretary.
Philadelphia, August 3rd 1887.1

Walt Whitman, Esq.,
Camden, N.J.
Dear sir:—

The Constitutional Centennial Commission was organized for the purpose of providing for the proper celebration of the first Centennial anniversary of the framing and promulgation of the Constitution of the United States. The Commission is composed of Commissioners appointed by the Governors of all the States, and was formally organized at Philadelphia upon the 2nd of December, 1886. The printed matter which I forward to you under a separate cover will sufficiently inform you of the character of the programme determined upon, and I can add that every indication of a brilliant success is now assured.

In the name of the Commission I write to ask you for your kind offices in the composition of a patriotic poem commemorative of the triumph of popular institutions and a century of federal constitutional government. We are well aware that the time is short, and that we are placing ourselves under peculiar obligations to you, but we appeal with confidence to your patriotism and will highly appreciate a favorable reply. Should you be unable to read in person your poem be kind enough to advise us so that it may be read with due order in the programme by a skillful elocutionist.2

I remain

Very truly your obedient servant, etc.
Hampton L. Carson
Sec. C. C. C.

Hampton L. Carson (1852–1929) was a Pennsylvania lawyer and historian. He held numerous prominent positions throughout his career, serving as Pennsylvania's Attorney General, as professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania, and as the secretary of the Constitutional Centennial Commission.


1. The letter is addressed: Walt Whitman Esq | Camden, N. J. It is postmarked: PHILADELPHIA, PA | AUG 3 | 830 PM | 87; CAMDEN, N. [illegible] | AUG | 4 | 6AM | 1887 | REC'D. The envelope has the following printed return address: CONSTITUTIONAL CENTENNIAL | COMMISSION, | 907 WALNUT STREET, | PHILADELPHIA, PA. [back]

2. Whitman apparently declined to either participate or write a commemorative poem for the occasion. [back]


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