Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to James Redpath, [12 August 1885]

Date: August 12, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03288

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 annotation, "Sent James Redpath | Aug. 12, '1885.," is in the hand of Walt Whitman. The annotation, "see notes July 29, '88 | also Aug 1," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Kyle Barton, and Nicole Gray

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All right my dear J R1—$60 for the Booth article will do, in full2—(I reserve the right of printing it in future collections of my writings—this is indispensable.) I have been & am lingering under the miserable inertia following my sunstroke—otherwise should have sent you one or two articles—have them on the stocks—

Am very slowly gaining the tally of my previous strength—had none to spare before—

Thank you, dear friend, for your services & affectionate good will.

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. This draft letter is on the back of an envelope from The North American Review postmarked NEW YORK | AUG 11 | 730 PM and CAMDEN, N.J. | AUG | 12 | 7 A.M. | 1885 | REC'D, which presumably contained the letter from James Redpath to Whitman of August 11, 1885[back]

2. On June 30 Redpath, at this time managing editor of The North American Review, asked Whitman to send to C. Allen Thorndike Rice, the proprietor of the magazine, his reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln and also requested an article on "hospital life" during the Civil War for Rice's newspaper syndicate, which printed popular articles in the Sunday editions of such papers as the New York Tribune and the Philadelphia Press. Rice wrote on July 14 to Whitman soliciting contributions for the syndicate. Apparently Whitman accepted both proposals in his (lost) letter which Redpath received before he wrote on July 16. On August 11 Redpath informed Whitman that he was enclosing "a check for sixty dollars, which is payment for the article according to your own estimate of three thousand words, at the rate of twenty dollars a thousand, which is the very highest rate they [the syndicate] pay." "Booth and 'The Bowery'" appeared in the New York Tribune on August 16. Redpath paid $50 for "Slang in America" on October 20, which appeared in The North American Review in November, 1885. [back]


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