Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Orville Hickman Browning, 7 April 1868

Date: April 7, 1868

Whitman Archive ID: ucl.00002

Source: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California Los Angeles. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 2:25. 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,
April 7, 1868.

Hon. O. H. Browning,1
Attorney General, ad interim

In obedience to your request, I have carefully examined the papers, presented by Hon. Mr. Cavanaugh,2 making grave charges against Judge Lyman E. Munson, Associate Justice, U.S. Courts of Montana Territory—& have prepared the following abridgement & abstract of said papers.3

Very respectfully,
Walt Whitman, of A. G. office.


1. Orville Hickman Browning (1806–1881) completed the unexpired term of Stephen A. Douglas after his death in 1861. Defeated for re-election in 1862, he established a law firm in Washington, and later actively supported President Johnson, who appointed him Secretary of the Interior in 1866. Browning was appointed acting Attorney General on March 12, 1868. At the conclusion of Johnson's administration, he returned to private law practice. [back]

2. James Michael Cavanaugh (1823–1879) was a member from Montana of the House of Representatives from 1865 to 1871. [back]

3. With this letter is a twenty-page document in which Walt Whitman summarized the affidavits alleging malpractice and the Judge's defense of his conduct. Although the case was apparently never brought to trial, Munson resigned on October 31, 1868. For an account of the affair and a digest of Walt Whitman's report, see Dixon Wecter, "Walt Whitman as Civil Servant," PMLA, 58.4 (December 1943), 1094–1109. [back]


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