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Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 12 February 1867

Dearest mother,

I rec'd your letter of Wednesday last all right. I shall begin to look for Jeff,1 to-morrow—I do hope he will come.

I have just changed my quarters—I moved to-day back again to the same house Mrs. Grayson2 used to live in—it is now occupied by a Mr. & Mrs. Benedict—3I have not got my old-room but a room right over it—it is in the attic, it is true, but I think it will be pleasant, & cool in summer—& all the quieter for being in the attic—every thing is new & clean, new bedstead, mattress, &c—I can't tell till I try, but I think I shall like it—that is, as well as one is apt to like any quarters here in Washington—I will write you how I like it in my next—I want Jeff to come & stay there with me—it will be pleasant & comfortable—it is 472 M st. 2d door west of 12th—

Mother, it may be I write kind of sober sometimes, but I have been this winter, & am now, in as good health as usual, & very good spirits—So, brother Jeff, I don't feel a bit "pegged out"—only getting old—most 50, you know—

We have had another cold spell here, pretty nearly as cold as ever—There is great excitement in Congress—they have night sessions—4

I went to the hospital Sunday afternoon last—there is a friend of mine there that got shot at Cold Harbor in June 1864— & he has had the bullet in him ever since—it was in a very bad place, the lower part of the stomach, just in the waist—last Saturday he had an operation & had it extracted—it was in, the length of my little finger—it was a very critical operation indeed—but he got through with, & is going to get well, according to all appearances now—There are lots of things left by the war, yet.

I hope Jeff will not disappoint me—the prospect, as I write, is for pleasant weather—& Jeff can stop with me just as well as not—Love to George and Matty, & all.



  • 1. Thomas Jefferson "Jeff" Whitman (1833–1890), Walt's brother. [back]
  • 2. Juliet Grayson operated the boardinghouse at 468 M North, where Walt Whitman lived between late January 1865 and February 1866. Whitman reported her death in his January 15, 1867 letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman. [back]
  • 3. Newton Benedict. The 1869 Directory listed him as a clerk in the State Department and Mrs. Benedict as a clerk in the First Comptroller's office. The 1869 annual report from the Commissioner of Patents recorded that a Newton Benedict received a patent for a "sliding clamp… forming, for the wick, a slitted cap or covering" on a lamp, as well as for the construction of the press-gauge for the wick. [back]
  • 4. A reconstruction bill under discussion aroused bitter controversy. The first Reconstruction Act was passed March 2, 1867. [back]
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