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Walt Whitman to John Swinton, 14 September 1871

My dear John Swinton:1

I have rec'd your note & enclosures. I have several things to write or talk to you about—but at present I only enclose these two slips—& I wish you would see that one is offered to Evening Post, & the other to any paper you think best—perhaps either Commercial Adv[ertiser] or the Standard.2

I am well as usual.

W. W.

if pub. please send me a paper—


  • 1. Scottish-born John Swinton (1829–1901), managing editor of the New York Times, frequented Pfaff's beer cellar, where he probably met Whitman. On January 23, 1874 (Whitman said "1884"), Swinton wrote what the poet termed "almost like a love letter": "It was perhaps the very day of the publication of the first edition of the 'Leaves of Grass' that I saw a copy of it at a newspaper stand in Fulton street, Brooklyn. I got it, looked into it with wonder, and felt that here was something that touched on depths of my humanity. Since then you have grown before me, grown around me, and grown into me." He praised Whitman in the New York Herald on April 1, 1876 (reprinted in Richard Maurice Bucke, Walt Whitman [Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883], 36–37). In 1874, Swinton was a candidate of the Industrial Political Party for the mayoralty of New York. From 1875 to 1883, he was with the New York Sun, and for the next four years edited the weekly labor journal, John Swinton's Paper. When this publication folded, he returned to the Sun. See Robert Waters, Career and Conversations of John Swinton (Chicago, 1902), and Meyer Berger, The History of The New York Times, 1851–1951 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1951), 250–251. [back]
  • 2. Since the press had not reported his speech before the American Institute sympathetically (see Whitman's August 5, 1871 letter to the American Institute), Walt Whitman wanted Swinton, who was no longer editor of the New York Times, to place an "official" but anonymous reply in the newspapers named. Edwin Haviland Miller had not found the notices. However, at Yale there is a detailed answer to the newspaper attacks on this poem which Walt Whitman prepared for an unidentified newspaper. [back]
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