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Mannahatta Whitman to Walt Whitman, 1 March 1870

 loc_ad.00249_large.jpg Dear Uncle

Mama1 is away and we are getting along very well with out her I want to see mama and papa2 very much I thought when she went away I could never get along with out her but the time passed away and she will soon be back.3

I got the book you sent me and I am very much oblighed​ for it papa is coming home friday4

I go to school and I study Geography Spelling arithmetic  loc_ad.00251_large.jpg and, Reading when mama comes back I will have more to write

Mama wrote me that she was going to see you and if she is there tell her to stay as long as long as she can that we are geting​ along very well with out her and as this is all I have to say good by from your loving neice​

Hattie Whitman  loc_ad.00250_large.jpg  loc_ad.00252_large.jpg

Mannahatta Whitman (1860–1886) was Walt Whitman's niece. She was the first daughter born to the poet's brother, Thomas Jefferson "Jeff" Whitman (1833–1890), and Jeff's wife Martha Mitchell "Mattie" Whitman (1836–1873).


  • 1. Martha Mitchell Whitman (1836–1873), known as "Mattie," was the wife of Thomas Jefferson "Jeff" Whitman, Walt Whitman's brother. She and Jeff had two daughters, Manahatta and Jessie Louisa. In 1868, Mattie and her daughters moved to St. Louis to join Jeff, who had moved there in 1867 to assume the position of Superintendent of Water Works. Mattie suffered a throat ailment that would lead to her death in 1873. For more on Mattie, see Randall H. Waldron, "Whitman, Martha ("Mattie") Mitchell (1836–1873)," ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). See also Randall H. Waldron, ed., Mattie: The Letters of Martha Mitchell Whitman (New York: New York University Press, 1977), 1–26. [back]
  • 2. Thomas Jefferson Whitman (1833–1890), known as "Jeff," was Walt Whitman's favorite brother. As a civil engineer, Jeff eventually became Superintendent of Water Works in St. Louis and a nationally recognized name. Whitman probably had his brother in mind when he praised the marvels of civil engineering in poems like "Passage to India." Though their correspondence slowed in the middle of their lives, the brothers were brought together again by the deaths of Jeff's wife Martha (known as Mattie) in 1873 and his daughter Manahatta in 1886. Jeff's death in 1890 caused Walt to reminisce in his obituary, "how we loved each other—how many jovial good times we had!" For more on Thomas Jefferson Whitman, see Randall Waldron, "Whitman, Thomas Jefferson (1833–1890)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 3. Martha Mitchell Whitman wrote to Walt on February 27, 1870 and March 1, 1870 while she was in Brooklyn about her situation there, as well as her upcoming plans to visit and stay with Walt in Washington. [back]
  • 4. In her letter to Walt of February 27, 1870, Martha reveals that her husband Jeff would be returning to St. Louis from their trip in Brooklyn earlier than expected. [back]
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