Skip to main content

Thomas Jefferson Whitman to George Washington Whitman, 8 September 1868

Dear George,

I mailed you yesterday draft on Jay Cooke & Co. for $5101—which I presume has come to hand

How soon will your house be done—Do you intend Mother shall move there and live for awhile?2—[these] are the two questions that are in my mind just now—

Mattie has a bad cough and I have had several first class physicians to see her and they all unite in saying that a trip east for a few months would cure her3—I have been very unfortunate in the selection of a house—and unfortunately have a lease of two years on it under very stringent papers too—It occurred to me that if Mother was not going to move I would try and get a furnished room in your neighborhood and send Mat and Jess on and if your new house was in the neighborhood of completion and you proposed to move in it I thought perhaps you could hire Mat a room in that.

The house is damp and I cannot seem to bettr it. I have spent abt $125 on it trying to fix it. I'm in a pretty tight place and will have to "wiggle" out of it—I am looking just now for some sort of a boarding school to send Hat for a few months till I can see how the matter is going to turn out—. The doctors all unite in declaring that Mat has no disease of the lungs4—it is all in the bronchial tubes of the throat—of course it is going to be hard for us to break up just now—but I do not think it worth while to risk everything in trying to "stick" it out in a bad bargain—

Give my love to Mother—tell her Mat has a letter written to her5 that I will mail in the morning—and write me in regard to questions asked

affectionately Jeff


  • 1. See Thomas Jefferson Whitman to George Washington Whitman, 6 September 1868; for Jay Cooke, see Thomas Jefferson Whitman to George Washington Whitman, 20 August 1868. [back]
  • 2. George did not finish the house on Portland Avenue until May 1869, at which time Louisa Van Velsor Whitman did move into it (Jerome M. Loving, ed., Civil War Letters of George Washington Whitman [Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1975], p. 29). [back]
  • 3. See Thomas Jefferson Whitman to George Washington Whitman, 6 September 1868. [back]
  • 4. Six weeks later, after consulting with Dr. A. D. Wilson, Walt Whitman wrote Jeff a detailed report of Mattie's health which indicated that the disease had reached one of the lungs. Nonetheless, Walt Whitman remarked, the doctor "thinks there is no imminent danger at all—thinks that the physician in St. Louis who advised a change from there here, couldn't have had any knowledge of Brooklyn climate...nevertheless thinks that the journey & a temporary change will be very salutary" (Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1978], 2:68). [back]
  • 5. See Randall H. Waldron, ed., Mattie: The Letters of Martha Mitchell Whitman [New York: New York University Press, 1977], pp. 58-60. [back]
Back to top