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Fred B. Vaughan to Walt Whitman, 19 March 1860

 loc_vm.00772.jpg Dear Walt,

I am sorry I could not see you previous to your departure for Boston.2—I called in at Pfaffs,3 two evenings in succession but did not find you on hand.—

I am quite anxious to hear about how matters are progressing with you.

Write to me as soon as you can make it convenient. Care of Man. Ex Co. 140 Chamber St, New York.4

Every thing remains as usual in New York. I have seen the Atlantic5 for, April,6 "good, bully for you."—

Yours as Ever, Fred.  loc_vm.00773.jpg  loc_vm.00770.jpg Fred Vaughan March '60  loc_vm.00771.jpg

Fred Vaughan was a young Irish stage driver with whom Whitman had an intense relationship during the late 1850's. For discussion of Vaughan's relationship with Whitman, see Jonathan Ned Katz, Love Stories: Sex between Men before Homosexuality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 123–132; Charley Shively, Calamus Lovers: Walt Whitman's Working-Class Camerados (San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1987), 36–50; Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price, Re-Scripting Walt Whitman: An Introduction to His Life and Work, "Chapter 4: Intimate Script and the New American Bible: "Calamus" and the Making of the 1860 Leaves of Grass."


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | Care of Thayer & Eldridge | Boston Mass. It is postmarked: New-York | Mar | 19 | 1860. The envelope includes the printed address of the Manhattan Express Company's General Office (168 Broadway, N. Y.). Vaughan worked for the company in 1860. Whitman wrote and then crossed out Vaughan's return address on the front of the envelope. [back]
  • 2. On February 10, 1860, Whitman received a letter from the Boston publishing firm of Thayer and Eldridge, offering to publish his poetry. The firm would publish Whitman's third edition of Leaves of Grass later that year. In March 1860, Whitman traveled to Boston to meet with the publishers and to oversee the printing of the edition. For more on Whitman's relationship with Thayer and Eldridge, see "Thayer, William Wilde (1829–1896) and Charles W. Eldridge (1837–1903)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 3. Pfaff's was a basement beer cellar located at 647 Broadway, where a group of American Bohemians—that included Whitman—gathered in the antebellum years. Charles Ignatius Pfaff (ca. 1819–1890) was the proprietor of this establishment, as well as other restaurants and, later, a hotel that were all referred to as "Pfaff's." For a history of Pfaff's, see Stephanie M. Blalock's open access, online edition, "GO TO PFAFF'S!": The History of a Restaurant and Lager Beer Saloon (Bethlehem, PA: Lehigh University Press, 2014), which is published online at The Vault at Pfaff's: An Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York, Edward Whitley and Rob Weidman, ed. (Lehigh University). For more on Whitman and the American bohemians, see Joanna Levin and Edward Whitley, ed., Whitman Among the Bohemians (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2014). [back]
  • 4. The Manhattan Express Company, formed in 1858 as the result of a consolidation and reorganization of businesses began by Robert F. Westcott and A. S. Dodd. The main office of the company was located at 168 Broadway, and there were several branch offices, including one on Chambers St. The company's employees collected and delivered packages in addition to transporting baggage for railroad passengers. For more information, see A. L. Stimson, History of the Express Business; including the origin of the railway system in America (New York: Barker & Godwin, Printers, 1881). [back]
  • 5. Founded in 1857 in Boston, the Atlantic Monthly, was during Vaughan and Whitman's lifetimes a prestigious literary magazine. For more on Whitman's relationship with the magazine, see Susan Belasco's "The Atlantic Monthly." [back]
  • 6. Whitman published the poem "Bardic Symbols" in the Atlantic Monthly 5 (April 1860): 445–447. The poem was revised as "Leaves of Grass. 1" in Leaves of Grass (1860) and reprinted as "Elemental Drifts," Leaves of Grass (1867). The final version, "As I Ebb'd With the Ocean of Life," was published in Leaves of Grass (1881–82). [back]
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