The Poet and the President: Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman

John Y. Simon, Harold Holzer and Dawn Vogel

in Lincoln Revisited

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780823227365
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240869 | DOI:
The Poet and the President: Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman

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This chapter recreates the mood of the nineteenth-century world in which Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman lived and moved; often the success of this effort is dependent upon a single detail or artifact that other scholars have found unremarkable. Its aim is to profile two great Americans, Lincoln and Whitman, and show each of them in a new light. The second goal is to show that each of these men had a profound influence on the other. To say that Lincoln influenced Whitman is to say what everybody knows. Whitman's greatest poem, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd,” is an elegy to Lincoln; and Whitman's journalism and essays are full of his memories of the president. However, to say that Whitman influenced Lincoln is to join in a heated argument that has been going on for about seventy-five years and the book takes some time to expand on it here.

Keywords: Abraham Lincoln; Walt Whitman; elegy; journalism; president; poem; poet; influence

Chapter.  4668 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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