Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to A. Bronson Alcott, 26 April 1868

Date: April 26, 1868

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01572

Source: The 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 Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 2:29. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Kenneth M. Price, Elizabeth Lorang, Zachary King, and Eric Conrad

To Mr Alcott,
April 26 '68 1

Your kind & welcome letter came to hand.2 Pardon me for not responding sooner. I esteem your friendly appreciation of "Democracy." I have just sent you "Personalism"—which is to be followed, in perhaps a couple of months or so, by another article,3 addressing itself mainly to the question of what kind of Literature we must seek, for our coming America, &c. In the three articles (to be gathered probably in book) I put forth, to germinate if they may, what I would fain hope might prove little seeds & roots.

I am still living here in Washington—employed in a post in the Attorney General's office, very pleasantly, with sufficient leisure, & almost entirely without those peculiar belongings, that make the Treasury & Interior Dep't &c. clerkships disagreeable. I am, as ever, working on Leaves of Grass—hoping to bring it yet into fitter & fuller proportions. I am well as usual. My dear mother is living & well; we speak of you. I wish you to give my best respects & love to Mr. Emerson—


1. This draft letter is endorsed, "To Mr. Alcott | April 26 '68." [back]

2. This letter is a reply to Alcott's of January 9, 1868, in which he praised Walt Whitman's "Democracy," and added: "I talked last evening with Emerson about your strong strokes at the thoughtless literature and Godless faith of this East." Alcott noted receipt of Walt Whitman's letter on April 28, 1868: "Say what men may, this man is a power in thought, and likely to make his mark on times and institutions. I shall have to try a head of him presently for my American Gallery: Emerson, Thoreau, and Walt" (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, ed. Shepard [Boston: Little, Brown, 1938], 391). On the same day Alcott wrote to Walt Whitman: "Yet think of the progress out of the twilight since your star dawned upon our hazy horizon!" Alcott was so fond of the term "personalism" that he adopted it. [back]

3. The article in question was "Orbic Literature," first solicited by Walt Whitman in his April 30, 1868 letter to William Conant Church and Francis Pharcellus Church. [back]


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