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Walt Whitman to William C. Church, 7 August 1867

My dear Mr. Church,1

In response to your letter to William O'Connor, I send herewith the piece, "A Carol of Harvest, for 1867," for the Galaxy.2 I presume it will be in time for the September number. I wish, if acceptable, you would have it set up immediately, proved, read carefully by copy, carefully corrected, & then a good proof taken & sent to me here. I would mail it back again the same day I get it, so you would receive it next day.

If practicable, I should like to have the piece commence on an odd-numbered page of the magazine—& wish it could come the second article in the Number.

The "Carol" will make about five pages more or less.

Please acknowledge the receipt of this. Direct to me, Attorney General's Office.3

Walt Whitman


  • 1. William Conant Church (1836–1917), journalist and publisher, was a correspondent for several New York newspapers until he founded the Army and Navy Journal in 1863. With his brother Francis Pharcellus (1839–1906), he established the Galaxy in 1866. Financial control of the Galaxy passed to Sheldon and Company in 1868, and it was absorbed by the Atlantic Monthly in 1878. William published a biography of his life-long friend Ulysses S. Grant in 1897, and Francis wrote for the New York Sun the unsigned piece "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." See Edward F. Grier, "Walt Whitman, the Galaxy, and Democratic Vistas," American Literature, 23 (1951–1952), 332–350; Donald N. Bigelow, William Conant Church & "The Army and Navy Journal" (New York: Columbia University Press, 1952); J. R. Pearson, Jr., "Story of a Magazine: New York's Galaxy, 1866–1878," Bulletin of the New York Public Library, 61 (1957), 217–237, 281–302. [back]
  • 2.

    On August 1, 1867, William Conant Church, from the office of the Galaxy, wrote to O'Connor: "It seems to me that this glorious harvest of 1867, sown & reaped by the returned soldiers, ought to be sung in verse.…Walt Whitman is the man to chaunt the song. Will you not ask him to do it for The Galaxy?" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). The editors, in a letter to Walt Whitman on August 8, 1867, considered "A Carol of Harvest, for 1867" (later titled "The Return of the Heroes") "to rank with the very best of your poems." For images and a transcription of "A Carol of Harvest, for 1867" as it appeared in the September 1867 edition of the Galaxy, see "A Carol of Harvest, for 1867".

  • 3. In his August 11, 1867 letter to the Galaxy, Whitman reserved the right to publish "A Carol of Harvest, for 1867" in an edition of Leaves of Grass no sooner than six months after the poem's publication in the Galaxy. Whitman acknowledged receipt of $60 as compensation for "A Carol of Harvest, for 1867" in his September 7, 1867 letter to the editors, in which he also submitted a second poem, "Ethiopia Commenting," unpublished in the magazine. [back]
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