Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Alfred Pratt to Walt Whitman, 8 November 1868

Date: November 8, 1868

Whitman Archive ID: yal.00132

Source: Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Eder Jaramillo, Caterina Bernardini, Marie Ernster, Cristin Noonan, Amanda J. Axley, and Stephanie Blalock

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Nov the 8th 68,

Dear Friend Walt

It has been along time since I have heard from you so I thought that I would write you aline and let you know that I am well and enjoying good health and I hope that you may recieve the same Blessing I have writen to you thrice before but have recieved no answer. Now Walt I have not forgoten you. I look at the picture I fancy that it looks just like you every time I look at it if I wish you are here that I might shake hands with you I [&c?]

if you get this I think you will write to me

Well Walt I must tell you the news nothine so vary new. Walt on the 19th day of aug last I took A pardner for life. She proves vary kind to me so far and I trust that She will hold out.1 Walt I dont say much bout Election2 so adont think of much to write as this makes the third that I write to your one. & so good luck to you if we never see each others face again but trust to providence. I will draw to a close so good by .

Address Williamson

Wayne Co
N. Y.

Walt Whitman
Washington D.C.

Alfred E. Pratt (1847–1900) was the son of John B. Pratt (1820–1906), a cooper and laborer in the wood products industry, and Nancy Pratt (1826–1912). Alfred Pratt was a farmer and a Union soldier during the Civil War; he served as a private in the 8th Regiment, New York Cavalry and was recovering from an illness when he met Whitman at Armory Square Hospital in Washington, D. C. Whitman communicated with Pratt's parents about their son's condition. Additional information about Pratt is contained in this letter and those of June 10, 1865, August 7, 1865, August 26, 1865, September 27, 1866, January 29, 1867, July 25, 1867, September 29, 1867, October 28, 1867, July 1, 1869, January 14, 1870, and January 20, 1870.


1. Little is known about Ellen A. Phelps, of Walworth, New York, who married Alfred Pratt in 1868. [back]

2. In the presidential election of 1868, Republican candidate General Ulysses S. Grant defeated Democratic nominee Horatio Seymour with a 214–80 electoral advantage (Grant received 400,000 more popular votes); incumbent Andrew Johnson did not receive the Democratic Party's nomination after his impeachment and general unpopularity while in office. The race was marked by a close popular vote, although Grant's success as a Union general during the Civil War is widely acknowledged as significant to his presidential victory. After Pennsylvania went Republican in the elections held on October 13, 1868, the New York Times remarked editorially on the following day: "This splendid civil triumph of Gen. Grant is only surpassed by his brilliant military achievements ("The Great Victory!," The New York Times [November 4, 1868]). [back]


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