Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 7 September 1868

Date: September 7, 1868

Whitman Archive ID: tex.00188

Source: The Walt Whitman Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 2:42–43. 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, Ashley Lawson, Elizabeth Lorang, Zachary King, and Eric Conrad

Attorney General's Office,
Monday forenoon
Sept. 7, 1868.

Dearest Mother—

Your letter came Saturday, with the acc't of the accident & sudden death of little Andrew—poor little child—I believe I have never seen him—it was sad enough—but the poor young one is out of this world of sin & trouble—& I don't know as we have any cause to mourn for him—

Mother, my leave of absence will commence early next week, but I will send you word two or three days before-hand, when I shall come on. I have a good long leave, & want to rest myself as much as possible, & have a change of scene, & a quiet time, & no literary or other work to bother me—only just have a good quiet moderate time, for somehow I feel as if I wanted to throw off everything like work or thought, for a while—& be with my old mammy at least a good part of the time—

Mr. Evarts1 is still away—O'Connor was to move to-day, but it is showery, & he has postponed it till Wednesday—I was up there last evening, & had tea & spent the evening.

I wrote to Han Saturday last,2 & enclosed your letter in mine—I am still at Mrs. Benedict's3 472 M st.—find it about as good as I could probably get anywhere—most of the boarders have left—I and another young man are the only ones left—they were in the Departments, & were discharged—Many have been discharged within the last two months, & many more the end of this month are expected to be. It makes great misery among some, especially with families—O'Connor & Burroughs still retain their places—

Well, Mother, the summer is pretty well over—they say the folks are coming home from the country, &c—I am glad I didn't take my leave 1st of August, as I expected to, at one time—but was disappointed—When you get this I wish you to write one more letter—but no more till you see me—I think it is going to be a fine day—I am feeling well—

Well, I have a long job of copying to do for Ashton,4 so I will wind up my letter, & set about it—I shall write once more before I come—Good bye for this time, dear Mother.



1. William Maxwell Evarts (1818–1901) was chief counsel for Andrew Johnson during the impeachment trial of 1868. As a reward for his services, Johnson appointed Evarts Attorney General later in the year; Evarts was Secretary of State from 1877 to 1881 and U.S. Senator from New York from 1885 to 1891. [back]

2. This letter is not known. [back]

3. Walt Whitman had been living with the Benedicts since February 1867, as per his February 12, 1867 letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, but he expressed a passing interest in leaving the boarding house in a letter of August 24, 1868[back]

4. J. Hubley Ashton, the assistant Attorney General, actively interested himself in Walt Whitman's affairs, and obtained a position for the poet in his office after the Harlan fracas. [back]


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