Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to John M. Binckley, 24 March 1868

Date: March 24, 1868

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01577

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), 2:24–25. 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

March 24, '681

My dear Mr. Binckley,2

In reference to the brief conversation between us a few days since, allow me in candor to say, that I should decidedly prefer to retain my present post as Record Clerk, the duties of which I feel that I can fulfil properly—& that I would therefore, as far as my personal choice is concerned, wish to be not thought of in view of the pardon clerkship.3

Only in case of urgent wish on your or Mr. Browning's part, would I deem it my duty to waive the preference mentioned, & obey your commands.


1. This draft letter is endorsed, "March 24 | '68 | Note to Mr. Binckley."

The numerous changes made in this draft indicate that Whitman struggled to phrase his refusal tactfully. [back]

2. John M. Binckley, a Washington lawyer, was associated with the National Intelligencer, was in the Attorney General's office for several years, and in 1869 was Solicitor of Internal Revenue. See also Walt Whitman's August 31, 1867 letter to Binckley. [back]

3. Binckley replied on the same day: "Your wishes admit of easy compliance, since Mr Browning has resolved to make a vacancy of the post of pardon clerk." See Binckley's March 24, 1868 letter to Whitman. [back]


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