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Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, [4 February 1873]

I wrote you Sunday enclosing the $20, which I suppose you rec'd all safe.

I am still anchored here in my bed—I am sitting up now on the side—Mrs. O'Connor1 has just been to see me—I was glad to see her—I am still improving, but slowly—the doctor did not come yesterday, which I suppose is a good sign—I expect him this afternoon or evening—he evidently thinks I am on the gain—Pete has just come in, & will take this to the p. o. for me—Love to you, dear mother2, & to all—



  • 1. For a time Walt Whitman lived with William D. and Ellen M. O'Connor, who, with Charles Eldridge and later John Burroughs, were to be his close associates during the early Washington years. William Douglas O'Connor (1832–1889) was the author of the pro-Whitman pamphlet "The Good Gray Poet" in 1866 (a digital version of the pamphlet is available at "The Good Gray Poet: A Vindication"). Ellen "Nelly" O'Connor, William's wife, had a close personal relationship with Whitman. In 1872 Whitman and William strongly disagreed on the Fifteenth Amendment, which Whitman opposed and O'Connor supported. Ellen defended Whitman's opinion, and in response William moved out. The correspondence between Walt Whitman and Ellen is almost as voluminous as the poet's correspondence with William. For more on Whitman's relationship with the O'Connors, see "O'Connor, William Douglas (1832–1889)." [back]
  • 2. Louisa Van Velsor Whitman (1795–1873) married Walter Whitman, Sr., in 1816; together they had nine children, of whom Walt was the second. The close relationship between Louisa and her son Walt contributed to his liberal view of gender representation and his sense of comradeship. For more information on Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, see Sherry Ceniza, "Whitman, Louisa Van Velsor (1795–1873)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
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