Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Robert Adams, 28 October 1890

Date: October 28, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.08185

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. . The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 5:106. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Andrew David King, Cristin Noonan, and Stephanie Blalock

Mr Adams1

Dr to W Whitman

Four books $4 each $16

Rec'd Payment

Camden New Jersey

Oct 28 1890


Have sent the books by Express to same address as this note—remit to me either by P O order or bank cheque—

Walt Whitman

Robert Adams (1816–1900) was born in Ayr, Scotland, and immigrated with his family to the United States as a small child. After working as a grocer for several years in Fall River, Massachusetts, Robert and his brother John opened a stationery shop and bookbindery. Prior to the abolition of slavery, Adams aided runaway slaves along the Underground Railroad between Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Adams's obituary includes a statement from Frederick Douglass in which he described Adams as "the first man to recognize me as a man." It also notes his friendships with John Greenleaf Whittier, William Lloyd Garrison, and other well-known abolitionists ("Deaths of Robert Adams and Ransom P. Baker,"Fall River Daily Evening News [April 3, 1900], 8). The Fall River Daily Evening News of November 1, 1890, also records that Adams visited Whitman at his home in Camden "a few days ago" and "arranged for the sale of copies of Whitman's works," adding that Adams found the poet "feeble and unable to hold a long conference" ("Personal" [November 1, 1890], 8). For more information on Adams and abolitionism, see Anti-Slavery Days in Fall River and the Operation of the Underground Railroad, written by his son, Edward Stowe Adams and published by the Fall River Historical Society in 2017.


1. Whitman had written to Robert Adams on July 27, 1890[back]


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