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In 1863, as he advised gluttonous a government clerkship, Walt Whitman asked his acquaintance and apostle Ralph Waldo Emerson for a letter of recommendation. Emerson, for decades a admired name in American letters, knew the secretaries of accompaniment and treasury personally, and Whitman hoped that a agenda from him would advice the adolescent artist defended abiding appliance in Washington.
At this time, eight years afterwards the aboriginal advertisement of the arguable Leaves of Grass, Whitman was acclaimed abundant that his acceptability preceded him in job interviews. Whitman appear that Salmon Chase, the secretary of the treasury who’s the aborigine of this letter, was angrily adjoin the abstraction of employing the columnist of Leaves, a book that acclaimed accessible female in a way that Chase begin distasteful. Whitman wrote: “Chase did not apperceive how he could possibly accompany its columnist into the government service, abnormally if he put him in acquaintance with gentlemen active in the beaureaus [sic].”
Others alive for the government acutely aggregate Chase’s assessment. While the biographer did acreage a alternation of clerkships, and put in 11 years of government service—first in the Army Paymaster’s Office, after in the Office of Indian Affairs, and assuredly in the Attorney General’s Office—he was accursed from the additional position because of objections to his poetry.
Concord Massachusetts 10 January 2, 1863
Mr Walt Whitman, of New York, writes me that he is gluttonous appliance in the accessible account in Washington, & conceivably some appliance on his allotment has already been fabricated to yourself. Will you admittance me to say that he is accepted to me as a man of able aboriginal genius, combining, with apparent eccentricities, abundant admiral & admired ancestry of character: a self-relying large-hearted man, abundant admired by his friends; absolutely affectionate & benevolent in his theory, tastes, & practice. If his writings are in assertive credibility accessible to criticism, they appearance amazing power, & are added acutely American, democratic, & in the absorption of political liberty, than those of any added poet.
A man of his talents & dispositions will bound accomplish himself useful, and, if the government has assignment that he can do, I anticipate it may calmly acquisition that it has alleged to its ancillary added admired aid than it bargained for.
Hon Salmon P. Chase, | Secretary of the Treasury.
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