Skip to main content

Walt Whitman to William C. Church or Francis P. Church, 11 August 1867

Mr. Church,1  
  Dear Sir:

I have not, as yet, received any proof of the Carol of Harvest.2

I neglected to mention, in my former note, that I reserve the right of incorporating & printing the Carol, in future, in the copyrighted collection of Leaves of Grass. I shall not avail myself of this right, however, within six months following Sept. 1, 1867, without permission of the publishers of the Galaxy.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 William Douglas 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." The poem appeared in the September 1867 issue of the Galaxy. 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".

    Whitman acknowledged receipt of $60 as compensation for "A Carol of Harvest, for 1867" in his September 7, 1867 letter to the Galaxy, in which he also submitted a second poem, "Ethiopia Commenting," unpublished by the magazine.

  • 3. On August 13, 1867, the editors replied that they had no objection to Walt Whitman's using the poem in a book. [back]
Back to top