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About this Item

Title: J. F. Cooper

Creator: Walt Whitman [unsigned in original]

Date: April 19, 1842

Whitman Archive ID: per.00475

Source: New York Aurora 19 April 1842: [2]. Our transcription is based on a digital image of an original issue. Original issue held at the Paterson Free Public Library, Paterson, NJ. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the journalism, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: This piece is unsigned. However, Whitman was the editor of the Aurora when this editorial was written, and Herbert Bergman identified him as its author in Walt Whitman, The Journalism. Volume I: 1834–1846 (New York: Peter Lang, 1998). The Whitman Archive editors agree that the style and content of the piece are consistent with other known Whitman writings of this period.

Contributors to digital file: Kevin McMullen and Jason Stacy

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This great gawky has been making a still greater ass of himself, if possible, lately, by procuring at the hands of juries certain small potato verdicts, against a poor devil of an editor, a poor devil of an author, and God only knows how many poor devils beside. For our own part, we don't see how any twelve men of sense could be led to pronounce in favor of this enormous ape.

The grounds for founding a libel prosecution on are so flimsy, so utterly destitute of any reason, that who can but be filled with amaze at the result? Cooper is damning himself utterly in the estimation of all sensible men.


1. James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1851) authored popular works of fiction that portrayed the North American continent during the colonial era, most prominently The Last of the Mohicans (1826). During the 1840s, Cooper won a series of lawsuits for libel against publishers who criticized him in the press. [back]


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