Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Eliza Seaman Leggett to Walt Whitman, 19 July 1880

Date: July 19, 1880

Whitman Archive ID: man.00038

Source: Charles Sixsmith Collection at the John Rylands Library, University of Manchester. 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.

Contributors to digital file: Alicia Meyer, Eder Jaramillo, Courtney Rebecca Lawton, Nicole Gray, Stefan Schöberlein, Elizabeth Lorang, and Amanda J. Axley

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July 19th 1880
169 East Elisabeth St

Mr W Whitman
Dear Friend—

I was ever so sorry today to see by the Paper you sent me, that you were ill I hope this will find you ever so much better—Cant you let me know that you are I dont want you to go home without visiting Detroit, I would like to have you make your visit a little late, I will tell you why—My husband and a son in law are making a trip around the Lakes to Chicago and back—and my son in law Lewis T Ives—with his son1 are at Pittsfield Mass they are both Artists, Father and son—the latter just sixteen years of age—but of great promise—I know that my son Lewis would be so glad to meet you. You will remember that he was the one who rescued your Leaves of Grass for me, and brought it from England Did you get the story of the Book?

If you do not feel well enough to answer my questions—wont some friend do it for me—and please let me be assured of a visit from you before you return

I am very truly
Yours obliged
Eliza S Leggett.

Eliza Seaman Leggett (1815–1900) was a suffragist and abolitionist who later founded the Detroit Women's Club. She married Augustus Wright Leggett (1836–1855), and the couple's home was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Leggett, who was also the grandmother of the artist Percy Ives, corresponded sporadically with Whitman from 1880 until his death. A number of her letters to him are reprinted in Thomas Donaldson's Walt Whitman: The Man (New York: Francis P. Harper, 1896), 239–48. For more information on Leggett, see Joann P. Krieg, "Walt Whitman's Long Island Friend: Eliza Seaman Leggett," Long Island Historical Journal 9 (Spring 1997), 223–33.


1. Lewis T. and Percy Ives were father and son, both artists. In a notation late in 1880 Whitman referred to Percy, "age 16, a student, intends to be an artist . . . Academy of Fine Arts" (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). On December 21, 1881, Percy made several pencil sketches of Whitman, and in his letter to his grandmother, Elisa S. Leggett, on December 25, he drew a sketch for her of the picture which was "in a promising condition" (Detroit Public Library). His oil painting of Whitman is now in the Feinberg Collection. [back]


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