Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Abby H. Price, 27 March 1867

Date: March 27, 1867

Whitman Archive ID: pml.00021

Source: The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 1:321–322. 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,
March 27, 1867. 1

My dear friend,

Although your letter I see has the N. Y. post office stamp, Mar. 25, I have only just rec'd it, (2 o'clock Wednesday P.M.)—I have talked with Thomas Harlan2—he treated me very well. My impression is, there is little or no chance of getting Congress to pass, at this time, a special resolution or law putting the ruffles on the list of exempts—There is no Committee of Ways & Means yet appointed in the H[ouse] of R[epresentatives]—True, any member could offer such a Bill, & if it had powerful influence, they might suspend the rules & pass it—but there are too many, both in House & Senate, who would almost certainly object—one objection would be that ruffles are matters of extra ornament &c. &c. and ought to pay a tax, if any thing does3

Still, I will try what I can do—I will see a few of the members, forthwith—I have one in my mind, I think may be the best one I can get to offer a Bill, & if he is willing, we will try it on—Had I known it when the Committee & House were cooking the Bill, I have no doubt I could have got it put in with the ¶ including shirt-bosoms, &c.—But that's poor consolation.

There is nothing new or important with me. I am well as usual, & working the same, (not much.) Love to Helen and Emmy & all.



1. This letter's envelope bears the address, "Abby H. Price, | 279 East 55th street, | New York City." It is postmarked: "Washington | (?) | (?) | D.C." [back]

2. Undoubtedly Thomas Harland, chief clerk in the Patent Office, to whom Abby Price referred in her letter of March 25, 1867[back]

3. Walt Whitman was replying to Abby Price's letter of March 25, 1867, in which she made a tempting offer: "I write now in great haste to ask your assistance in behalf of Our Ruffle Manufacture and if you succeed in doing what we ask, or in getting it done I am authorized to offer you a 1000 dollar check as soon as it is done! think of that. Tis only a simple act of Justice that we ask either." As a dressmaker, Price feared the effect on her business of a projected tax on ruffles; see Gay Wilson Allen, The Solitary Singer (New York: Macmillan, 1955), 381. [back]


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