Skip to main content

Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 6–8 June 1868

Dearest Mother,

I rec'd your letter day before yesterday—& am sorry you are troubled with rheumatism—it must be quite bad—Do you have any one to do the rougher house-work? I hope you have. Mother, every thing is pretty much the same with me—I remain very well, go around a good deal in the open air—we have it pretty hot in the middle of the day, & dusty—but the nights are beautiful—

I know the Mr. Simonson1 you saw at the post office—he has been a sort of Deputy post master a good many years—Notwithstanding what he says, the Brooklyn p. o. has a very bad name, & a great many money letters sent there never get to their destination—but I should think by what you have said, that the carrier who brings your letters must be a good safe man—

We had the strangest procession here last Tuesday night, about 3000 darkeys, old & young, men & women—I saw them all—they turned out in honor of their victory in electing the Mayor, Mr. Bowen2—the men were all armed with clubs or pistols—besides the procession in the street, there was a string went along the sidewalk in single file with bludgeons & sticks, yelling & gesticulating like madmen—it was quite comical, yet very disgusting & alarming in some respects—They were very insolent, & altogether it was a strange sight—they looked like so many wild brutes let loose—thousands of slaves from the Southern plantations have crowded up here—many are supported by the Gov't.

Yesterday I went up to the Presidents to see the reception of the Chinese Embassy—there were eight or nine Chinese, headed by our Mr. Burlingame, who is head of them all, (O'Connor knows him quite well)—you will see the speech made to them by the President, in the papers—I think it is first rate3

I am sitting awhile in the office—we are having a spell of hot oppressive weather—It is generally thought we clerks will get our extra compensation—but I wait to see whether Congress will pass it—if they do I will make you a present, mother dear—So you like the ticket, Grant & Colfax,4 do you, mother? Well, I do, too—Chase5 is cutting up, trying to get somebody to nominate him, & doing his best to injure the Republican ticket—He is just the meanest & biggest kind of a shyster—He tried the same game at Lincoln's second nomination—Mother, I send the Chicago News, No. 76—have you rec'd the six others all safe? I have sent them all—

Monday forenoon, June 8. Nothing special to write about this morning, mother. We had a thunder-shower last night & very pleasant this morning—I was up to O'Connors as usual last evening to tea—they are all well. Well, I believe that is all—only to send you my love, mother dear—same to George—write all the domestic news, & about George's work, & the house.



  • 1. Joseph M. Simonson. [back]
  • 2. Sayles J. Bowen, a Republican, was elected mayor on June 1, 1868, by 74 votes. He was the candidate of Col. J. W. Forney and the Washington Chronicle. [back]
  • 3. The occasion for these ceremonies was the opening of trade and diplomatic relations with China. Anson Burlingame (1820–1870), U.S. Minister to China, was appointed by the Chinese government in 1868 "Envoy Extraordinary and High Minister Plenipotentiary," in which position he was to arrange treaties with the U.S. and other countries. [back]
  • 4. Ulysses S. Grant and Schuyler Colfax, Speaker of the House of Representatives, were the Republican candidates. [back]
  • 5. The New York Times of June 6, 1868, reported on "Mr. Chase and the Presidency—His Views of Party." At this time Salmon P. Chase was Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. For Whitman's relations with Chase, see Ralph Waldo Emerson's January 10, 1863 letter to Chase. [back]
  • 6. Whitman evidently began sending the Chicago Weekly News early in May, for on May 5, 1868, Louisa Van Velsor Whitman noted: "Walter i like the chicago news very much. i never saw one before. i wish whenever you have one you would send it to me." [back]
Back to top