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Richard J. Hinton to Walt Whitman, 26 September 1888

 loc.02319.001.jpg My Dear Walt Whitman:

May I hope that you are better than the papers say? I keep you ever in mind as I saw you last at the Westminister2 nearly two years since.

Mrs Hinton desires me to send her warmest regards. Can you write me word or two in reply.

Always with loving Friendship yours Richard J. Hinton

Your last published poem on Old Age3 is simply superb

 loc.02319.002.jpg Hinton

Richard Josiah Hinton (1830–1901) was born in London and came to the U.S. in 1851. He trained as a printer, and, like the radical abolitionist writer and publisher James Redpath, went to Kansas and joined John Brown. In fact, but for an accident he would have been with Brown at Harper's Ferry. A man mistaken for Hinton was hanged. Together with Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Hinton also planned the jailbreak of John Brown's accomplices Albert Hazlett and Aaron Stevens in Charlestown for the "Jayhawkers," a band of abolitionists who assisted slaves through the Underground Railroad that included Silas S. Soule. With James Redpath he was the author of Hand-book to Kansas Territory and the Rocky Mountains' Gold Region (New York: J. H. Colton, 1859). Later he wrote Rebel Invasion of Missouri and Kansas (Chicago: Church & Goodman, 1865) and John Brown and His Men (New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894). Apparently Hinton had suggested that Thayer & Eldridge print Leaves of Grass (see The New Voice, 16 [4 February 1899], 2). Hinton served in the Union Army from 1861 to 1865, and saw Whitman while lying wounded in a hospital, a scene which he described in the Cincinnati Commercial on August 26, 1871. After the war Hinton wrote for many newspapers. He defended William O'Connor's The Good Gray Poet in the Milwaukee Sentinel on February 9, 1866 (2). Hinton's article in the Rochester Evening Express on March 7, 1866, "Farms and Fortunes in England and America," included a lengthy discussion of Whitman, with quotations from O'Connor and John Burroughs. Obviously pleased, Whitman sent it to friends, including William Michael Rossetti, who acknowledged it on April 12, 1868 (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Saturday, August 11, 1888). See also Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Friday, September 28, 1888; William Sloane Kennedy, The Fight of a Book for the World (West Yarmouth, Massachusetts: The Stonecroft Press, 1926), 19, 67, 110–111, 242; and the Boston Transcript, 21 December 1901.


  • 1. Whitman drew a line through this letter. [back]
  • 2. Whitman and his companion William Duckett stayed at the Westminster Hotel when the poet gave his Lincoln lecture in New York's Madison Square Theatre on April 14, 1887. Hinton attended a reception for Whitman held at the hotel. [back]
  • 3. Hinton is referring to Whitman's poem "Old Age's Lambent Peaks," which was published in the Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine in September 1888. [back]
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