Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: James Redpath to Walt Whitman, 30 June 1885

Date: June 30, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03285

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.

Editorial note: The annotation, "see notes July 29 1888 | Also Aug 1," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, Kyle Barton, and Nicole Gray

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Willards Hotel
June 30/85

Dear Walt Whitman:

I intended to call over & see you yesterday when I was in Philadelphia, but I was unexpectedly detained by one man and forced to go to Washington so as to reach here last night.

I will call on you on my way back to New York.

But I write now to tell you why, because my visit will be on business

I believe you have never met Mr Rice,1 proprietor of the North American Review, altho' nominaly he may have corresponded with you—that is, his office Editor may have written to you in his name, as he always does, even when Mr Rice is in Europe. It is at Mr Rice's instance that I will call on you.

He has conceived the plan of procuring a collection of papers that, united in one volume, will be a permanent memorial of Lincoln. He has set about to secure the Reminiscences of all the eminent Americans who came into personal relations with him—each man to tell his story, whether it shall be short or long.

That's what he calls his Lincoln Series. Some of these papers he may publish in the North American Review, & others in the North American Review Syndicate: a group of influential papers which he supplies & that publish simultaneously articles from famous men whom ordinarily newspapers cannot reach—nor afford to pay separately even if they did reach them. All the articles that you see marked "Copyright" in the New York Tribune or Phil. Times (Sunday editions) are supplied by Mr Rice.

Next: he intends to secure a series of papers giving the civil history of the civil war—legislation, &c.

He wants me to see you & ask you to write a paper on your experiences of the Civil War—the hospital life, & other phases that you witnessed & have not yet described.

Could you write an article giving your recollections of Lincoln and also your memories of the War? Short or long it will be gladly accepted & liberaly paid for. He will take it, whether it is a page or a hundred pages

I shall be here a week. I suppose I shall have no difficulty in finding the good grey poet in Camden.

Ever truly yours,
James Redpath.

James Redpath (1833–1891), an antislavery activist, journalist, and longtime friend of Whitman, was the author of The Public Life of Capt. John Brown (Boston: Thayer and Eldridge, 1860), a correspondent for the New York Tribune during the war, and the originator of the "Lyceum" lectures. He met Whitman in Boston in 1860, and he remained an enthusiastic admirer; see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Friday, January 4, 1889. He concluded his first letter to Whitman on June 25, 1860: "I love you, Walt! A conquering Brigade will ere long march to the music of your barbaric jawp." Redpath became managing editor of The North American Review in 1886. See also Charles F. Horner, The Life of James Redpath and the Development of the Modern Lyceum, (New York: Barse & Hopkins, 1926); John R. McKivigan, Forgotten Firebrand: James Redpath and the Making of Nineteenth-Century America, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008); and J.R. LeMaster, "Redpath, James [1833–1891]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. Charles Allen Thorndike Rice (1851–1889) was a journalist and edited and published the North American Review in New York from 1876 until his death. His Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln by Distinguished Men of His Time (1888) was published by The North American Review Publishing Company. [back]


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