Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, [29 March 1872]

Date: March 29, 1872

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01546

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.

Notes for this letter were created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Editorial notes: The annotations, "1872," and "March 29," are in an unknown hand.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, Zachary King, Eric Conrad, Alex Kinnaman, and Nicole Gray

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Friday afternoon

March 29 18722

Dear boy Pete,

I have rec'd your letter, & the paper with acc't of Mr. Huntington's death3—it seems a sudden & sorrowful thing—Pete I shall continue here another week—I see you are working appears quite steady—I continue pretty well—Mother is middling—

This last two days the weather has been real pleasant—I have been out most of the time—It is now between 4 and 5—I am writing this up in my room home—am going out, & over to New York this evening—nothing special to write about—

Pete, my darling boy, I have been writing some long letters on business &c—& feel very little like writing—so I will just dry up for this occasion—here is a good buss to you dear son from your loving Father always—

Peter Doyle (1843–1907) was one of Walt Whitman's closest comrades and lovers, and their friendship spanned nearly thirty years. The two met in 1865 when the twenty-one-year-old Doyle was a conductor in the horsecar where the forty-five-year-old Whitman was a passenger. Despite his status as a veteran of the Confederate Army, Doyle's uneducated, youthful nature appealed to Whitman. Although Whitman's stroke in 1873 and subsequent move from Washington to Camden limited the time the two could spend together, their relationship rekindled in the mid-1880s after Doyle moved to Philadelphia and visited nearby Camden frequently. After Whitman's death, Doyle permitted Richard Maurice Bucke to publish the letters Whitman had sent him. For more on Doyle and his relationship with Whitman, see Martin G. Murray, "Doyle, Peter," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This letter is addressed: Peter Doyle, | Conductor, | Office Wash & Georgetown RR | Washington | D. C. It is postmarked: New York | Mar | 29 | 6 P.M. [back]

2. This note is written by Whitman in red pencil. The date is confirmed by the reference to Huntington at the beginning of the letter. [back]

3. William S. Huntington (1841–1872) died on March 26. He entered the Treasury Department in 1861, and was selected in 1863 by Jay Cooke, the financier, to be cashier of the First National Bank in Washington. [back]


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