Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: James R. Osgood & Company to Walt Whitman, 4 March 1882

Date: March 4, 1882

Whitman Archive ID: loc.05596

Source: The Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1842–1937, 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, "☞What District Attorney is it?," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Vince Moran, Eder Jaramillo, Nicole Gray, and Stefan Schöberlein

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Mch. 4. 1882

Walt Whitman Esq
Dear Sir

We enclose a letter from the District Attorney dated Mch. 1st, and received by us yesterday, March 3d. Please read and return it, keeping copy of it if you so desire.

We are not at present informed what portions of the book are objected to. We are, however, naturally reluctant to be identified with any legal proceedings in a matter of this nature. We are given to understand that if certain parts of the book should be withdrawn its further circulation would not be objected to. Will you advise us whether you would consent to the withdrawal of the present edition and the substitution of an edition lacking the obnoxious features?

Yours truly,
James R. Osgood & Co.


Commonwealth of Massachusetts2
District Attorney's Office
24 Court House
Mch 1st 1882

Messrs Jas R. Osgood and Company,

Our attention has been officially directed to a certain book entitled "Leaves of Grass. Walt Whitman" published by you.

We are of the opinion that this book is such a book as brings it within the provisions of the Public Statutes respecting obscene literature and suggest the propriety of withdrawing the same from circulation and suppressing the editions thereof.

Otherwise the complaints which are proposed to be made will have to be entertained—

I am
Yours truly
Oliver Stevens
Dist. Atty.


1. Whitman renumbered these pages in blue pencil. [back]

2. This letter is pasted to a backing sheet. On the back of the backing sheet is a small slip of paper on which the following is written in an unknown hand: "O.M. Hanscom | Police Inspector | City Hall." [back]


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