Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to John Flood, Jr., 22 November 1868

Date: November 22, 1868

Whitman Archive ID: med.00403

Source: The location of the original manuscript is unknown. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 2:69–70. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Kenneth M. Price, Elizabeth Lorang, Zachary King, and Eric Conrad

Attorney General's Office,
Washington, D. C.,
Nov. 22, 1868. 1

Dear Jack Flood,2

I received your welcome letter, and was happy to know that you had not forgotten me—for I have thought of you many times since. I returned here from New York about four weeks ago, and have been and now am working in this office as usual—am well and hearty, and don't hurt myself with hard work. Our hours are from 9 till 3.

You speak of coming here and paying me a visit. Dear boy, I hope you will come truly, for it would be a great comfort to me if we could be together again. I don't know whether it would be very pleasant to you here, Jack, for this is a stupid place compared to New York—but we would have each other's society, and that would be first rate.

There's not much excitement in Washington—at least none that I take any interest in. Politics and politicians carry the day here—but I meddle with them very little. In a couple of weeks more, Congress will meet, and then the city will be quite lively.

I am out a good deal in the open air, as I have plenty of leisure time. It is fine scenery around Washington—plenty of hills, and a noble river. I take a ride on the cars out to Georgetown west, or Navy Yard east, once in a while of a pleasant afternoon, or Sunday—but I tell you I miss New York. We had a long spell of splendid weather. But now it is colder, with some snow a couple of days since. Jack, you must write often as you can—anything from my loving boy will be welcome—you needn't be particular about the writing—you might write in the car with pencil, when you have any time. I will write to you too. I will now close for this time. Dear Jack, I send you my love.

Walt Whitman.


1. Transcript. [back]

2. Jack Flood was a streetcar conductor in New York, known, according to an unidentified notation on his letter to Walt Whitman, as "Broadway Jack." According to date entries in an address book (Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of Walt Whitman, The Library of Congress, Notebook #109), Walt Whitman saw Flood on September 30, 1868, and October 5, 1868, and rode with him on his Second Avenue car; Flood had been a conductor for ten years. After Walt Whitman's return to Washington, there was a brief correspondence, consisting of four extant letters from Walt Whitman (dated December 12, 1868, February 23, 1871, and March 8, 1871?) and one from the young man. Flood, somewhat better educated than some of Walt Whitman's other conductor friends, wrote on January 11, 1869: "Sir, It is with great pleasure that I sit down with pen in hand to address a few lines to you." He informed Walt Whitman that he had lost his position on New Year's Eve and that he was now seeking another job: "I shall still continue to correspond and can never forget your kind friendship towards me.…Your True and Ever intimate friend." According to the first listing of his name in the New York Directory, in 1872–1873, he was at that time either in the milk business or a milkman. [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.