Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Robert G. Ingersoll, 2 April [1880]

Date: April 2, 1880

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04041

Source: Library of Congress. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1964), 3:175. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Alicia Bones, Grace Thomas, Eder Jaramillo, and Kevin McMullen

431 Stevens Street
Camden New Jersey1
April 2

Thanks, dear Colonel,2 for your kind letter & for your books, which have reached me safely—many thanks—I am well as usual of late years—

Walt Whitman


1. This letter is addressed: Robert G Ingersoll | 1421 New York Avenue | Washington D C. It is postmarked: Camden | Apr | 3 | N.J. [back]

2. Robert G. Ingersoll (1833–1899), the noted lawyer and agnostic, sent on March 25, 1880, what Whitman termed a "cordial, flattering, affectionate letter" (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.).

Whitman heard Ingersoll lecture, evidently for the first time, on May 25: "talked afterward with him a few minutes" (Whitman's Commonplace Book). On May 26 the Philadelphia Press noted that "Walt Whitman . . . drank deep draughts of the orator's eloquence," and interpolated into its reprint of the text at several points, "['Amen' from Walt Whitman.]" On the following day Richard Maurice Bucke, who had accompanied the poet, denied that Whitman had showed either approval or disapproval. See also Whitman's comments on Ingersoll's religious views in his letter to Harry Stafford of January 27, 1881[back]


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