Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Arthur Boyle to Walt Whitman, 20 June 1883

Date: June 20, 1883

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04974

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.

Contributors to digital file: Marie Ernster, Amanda J. Axley, and Stephanie Blalock

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The Santa Fe1
Tertio-Millennial Anniversary Association
San Miguel Chapel, Santa Fe.

Executive Committee.
W. W. Griffin,
L. Bradford Prince,
Arthur Boyle,
Solomon Spiegelberg,
E. L. Bartlett,
Romulo Martinez.
Gen'l Manager.

Solomon Spiegelberg,
Romulo Martinez,
L. Bradford Prince,
E. L. Bartlett,
W. V. Hayt,
Arthur Boyle,
W. W. Griffin,
Adolph Seligman,
W. T. Thornton,
A. Staab,
Lehman Spiegelberg.

Office of
Santa Fe, N. M.
June 20th 1883

Walt Whitman Esq.
c/o Thos. Donaldson2 Esq. 132 N 40th St. Phil—
Dear Sir

The Board of Directors of this Association have sent to you under separate cover an invitation to attend our celebration of the 333 Anniversary of the occupation of the oldest city in the United States—viz Santa Fé—by Europeans and we trust that our carnival may be honored by your presence—Since sending you that invitation it has been suggested to me by leading citizens that such an occasion as this might be fitly commemorated in verse, and that a poem from the pen of Walt Whitman would preserve our History brighter and more famous in the minds of future ages than any other effort that could be made by genius on our behalf—Will you take time by the forelock and even at this short notice write such a poem3 as can be delivered publicly by yourself or some orator equal to the occasion—We have in our Programme three Historical days, the 18th 19th & 20th July upon which every effort will be concentrated upon making these days as attractive and as important an event in our National & local History as as possible.

This is my excuse for profering this request and I entertain the hope that you will graciously acceed to it—

I have the honor to be
your obe't servant
Arthur Boyle

Born in England, Arthur Boyle (1840–1910) was a capitalist and agent for investors in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was a talented horticulturalist, as well as the husband of Blanche Blackmore, whose family owned property in the American West. Boyle was a member of the group that planned and promoted the Tertio-Millennial Exposition that took place in Santa Fe in July 1883.


1. This letter is addressed: Hon Ths Donaldson | 132 N-40th St. | Phil | Pa | For Walt Whitman Esq. It is postmarked: SANTE FE | JUN | 20 | 1883 | N. MEX.; PHILADELPHIA, PA | JUN | 25 | 7PM | REC'D; PHILADA | B | JUN | 26 | 71M REC'D. [back]

2. Thomas Donaldson (1843–1898) was a lawyer from Philadelphia and a friend of Whitman. He introduced Whitman to Bram Stoker and later accompanied Stoker when he visited the poet; he also organized a fund-raising drive to buy Whitman a horse and carriage. He authored a biography of Whitman titled Walt Whitman, the Man (1896). For more information about Donaldson, see Steven Schroeder, "Donaldson, Thomas (1843–1898)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. Instead of sending a poem, Whitman sent a letter expounding on the influences of Spanish colonization on the American identity. A copy of the letter was also sent to the Philadelphia Press for publication; the article was run on August 5, 1883. Whitman's letter appears in November Boughs (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1888) as "The Spanish Element in Our Nationality," 50–51. [back]


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