Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Elisa Seaman Leggett, 8 June 1886

Date: June 8, 1886

Whitman Archive ID: mnh.00002

Source: Charles W. Farnham Collection, Minnesota Historical Society. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Ted Genoways (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2004), 7:83. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, Kyle Barton, and Nicole Gray

328 Mickle Street1
Camden New Jersey
June 8 '86—Noon—

Thank you for the "Defence" of the Early Friends Volume which has reach'd me safely.2 Also the kind letter—am always glad to hear from you & ab't Percy.3 My health is nearly as usual—Slowly declining—

Walt Whitman

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. This letter is addressed: Mrs: E. S. Leggett | 169 East Elizabeth St: | Detroit Mich:. It is postmarked: Camden N.J. | Jun 8 | 1 30 PM | 1886; Philadelphia, PA | Transit | June 8 | 8 PM | 1886. [back]

2. Leggett sent Elias Hicks's A Defence of the Christian Doctrines of the Society of Friends; being a reply to the charge of denying the three that bear record in heaven, the divinity and atonement of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and the authenticity and divine authority of the Holy Scriptures, recently revived against the early Quakers (Philadelphia, 1825). Her accompanying letter to Whitman is apparently lost. [back]

3. Percy Ives, grandson of Elisa Leggett, was an aspiring artist who made several pencil sketches of Whitman on December 21, 1881. They resulted in the oil painting now in the Feinberg Collection (Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). On August 11, 1885, Whitman wrote to Percy in answer to a letter now lost. See Charles E. Feinberg, "Percy Ives, Detroit and Walt Whitman," Detroit Historical Society Bulletin 16 (February 1960), 5–8. [back]


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