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Walt Whitman to William T. Stead, 6 January 1891

Y'rs rec'd—Thank you for kind help to me word & deed.1 I am totally paralyzed, f'm the old Secession wartime overstrain—only my brain volition & right arm power left. This great bulk of seventy varied millions of people, call'd America, is now having a good season of intestinal agitation. Of course sometimes the bad elements (so call'd) get momentary rule. But it is all right I am sure—and the long run will prove it (namely Democracy) right.

Walt Whitman

William Thomas Stead (1849–1912) was a well-known English journalist and editor of The Pall Mall Gazette in the 1880s. He was a proponent of what he called "government by journalism" and advocated for a strong press that would influence public opinion and affect government decision-making. His investigative reports were much discussed and often had significant social impact. He has sometimes been credited with inventing what came to be called "tabloid journalism," since he worked to make newspapers more attractive to readers, incorporating maps, illustrations, interviews, and eye-catching headlines. He died on the Titanic when it sank in 1912.


  • 1. According to Stead's letter of December 10, 1890, Whitman had sent him proof of "Old Poets" from which Stead extracted in the Christmas issue of The Review of Reviews. On February 16, 1891, Stead forwarded the February issue, in which Whitman's post card was reproduced in facsimile (3:163). The magazine printed excerpts from Whitman articles in Lippincott's in March (3:249), from The New England Magazine in June (3:570–71), and a portrait of the poet along with a review of Good-bye My Fancy in August (4:197). [back]
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