Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: John W. Chambers to Walt Whitman, 11 September 1871

Date: September 11, 1871

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02856

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 note: The annotation, "John W. Chambers," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, John Schwaninger, Caterina Bernardini, Marie Ernster, Cristin Noonan, Paige Wilkinson, Amanda J. Axley, and Stephanie Blalock

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Office of the Secretary of the Board of Managers,
40th Annual Exhibition
American Institute.
New York,
Sept. 11th 1871.

Walt. Whitman, Esq.

At a meeting of the Board of Managers of the Amer. Inst.1 Natl. Exhibition held this evening the following resolution was unanimously adopted:

Resolved, That the Board of Managers of the American Institute respectfully tender their earnest thanks to Walt. Whitman for the magnificent original Poem with which he favored them at the opening of their National Industrial Exhibition in New York Sept 7th 1871.2

Respectfully yours,
John W. Chambers

John W. Chambers, who by 1850 was serving as secretary to the board of directors of the American Institute, also served as a sometimes chairman, clerk, and librarian during his tenure on the board. As late as 1892, he still maintained secretarial duties.


1. Charles E. Burd, along with George Payton and James B. Young, was on the Board of Managers of the 40th Annual Exhibition of the American Institute being held on September 7, 1871. [back]

2. The Committee of the American Institute had written to Walt Whitman on August 1, 1871, "to solicit of you the honor of a poem on the occasion of its opening, September 7, 1871—with the privilege of furnishing proofs of the same to the Metropolitan Press for publication with the other proceedings. . . . We shall be most happy, of course, to pay traveling expenses & entertain you hospitably, and pay $100 in addition" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, "Thursday, June 14, 1888," 326). Whitman accepted their invitation on August 5, 1871, and read what he called his "American Institute Poem" (in his September 17,1871, letter to the Roberts Brothers) before the American Institute on September 7, 1871. The poem was published as "After All, Not to Create Only," in 1871 and was retitled "Song of the Exposition" for its publication in Two Rivulets (1876). [back]


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