WHITMAN, Walt. Autograph letter signed ("Walt Whitman") to an unidentified correspondent (named "Byron," in the text), Washington, D.C., 26 August 1865. 4 pages, 4to, lined stationery with printed heading "Attorney General's Office, Washington," minor tear along central horizontal fold.
WHITMAN IN WASHINGTON D.C. Whitman offers a remarkably vivid description of the capital in the immediate wake of the end of the Civil War. In June he had received a termination notice, but "I am still here, and as far as appears at present am likely to remain employed here, through the fall...There is a great stream of Southerners comes in here day after day, to get pardoned--all the rich, and...high officers of the rebel army cannot do anything...until they have special pardons...so they all send or come up here in squads, old & young, men & women--they come to this office to get them--sometimes the rooms are filled with a curious gathering--I talk to them frequently, listen to their stories...almost everything of that sort, (& especially all odd characters) are interesting to me. Some 4 or 5000 pardons have been passed through here--but the President has not signed more than 200--the rest are all blank yet--Andy Johnson seems disposed to be in no hurry about it--What I learn & know about him...I think he is a good man. And on his living arrangements: "I have changed my back room to the front room, & have my meals sent up by the landlady...both room & board, ($32.50 a month)..." Inquiring about Byron's life, Whitman wishes "it was so we could see each other, & be together once in a while..." Published in Correspondence, ed. Miller, v VI 266-267 (no.165). Provenance: The Estelle Doheny Collection (sale, Christie's New York, 17 & 18 October 1988, lot 1654).