previous next

[264] difference with his employers, and left for home 27 May. Almost immediately after his arrival he was engaged by Judge Samuel E. Johnson to edit (and nominally to own) a new Free-Soil paper, the weekly1 Brooklyn Freeman, as the organ of those Democrats with whom Whitman, but not the party leaders behind the Eagle, had sympathized the year before. The new paper appeared 9 September, but it had the hard fortune to be burnt out, with no insurance, in a great conflagration that swept the city that very night. But the Freeman was revived in November, and, though a small and apparently a very outspoken sheet, it attained a large circulation. The nature of the political warfare in those days of personal invective may be suggested by Whitman's valedictory, published when, without explanation, he resigned the paper, 11 September, 1849, into the hands of those who would compromise, as he would not, with his political opponents:
To those who have been my friends, I take occasion to proffer the warmest thanks of a grateful heart. My enemies—and old hunkers generally—I disdain and defy the same as ever.

Of the next six years of Whitman's life comparatively little is known. He is said to have been connected with certain newspapers,2 to have run a book-store and printing establishment, and to have assisted his aging father, now suffering from paralysis, in building small houses for sale. He had here an opportunity for money-making which, to the disappointment of the family, he allowed to pass unimproved. What is more important, he was growing rapidly in his inner life, as he attended lectures, read miscellaneous magazine articles, Shakespeare, Epictetus, the Hebrew and the Hindoo bibles, and Emerson, and loafed on the shores of Coney Island, timing the new poetry he was composing to the rhythmic beat of the sea. Somewhere in this period probably belongs the mystical experience, described in the poem Song of Myself, Section 5,

1 Changed to a daily in April, 1849.

2 An article in the Springfield Republican, 28 March, 1892, states that Whitman helped to edit Levi D. Slamm's Plebeian; and a letter from Whitman's friend, T. H. Rome, the first printer of the Leaves of Grass, to Wm. E. Benjamin (September, 1898) mentions the fact that after his return from New Orleans Whitman conducted for a short time an advertising sheet called The salesman. See also Hearne's city directory for 1851 and 1852.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Coney Island (New York, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
September, 1898 AD (1)
March 28th, 1892 AD (1)
1852 AD (1)
1851 AD (1)
September 11th, 1849 AD (1)
April, 1849 AD (1)
November (1)
September 9th (1)
May 27th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: