[Buddha-l] Walt Whitman

Jim Peavler jpeavler at mindspring.com
Tue May 3 16:46:59 MDT 2005

On May 3, 2005, at 11:33 AM, Richard P. Hayes wrote:
> During the ugly Mexican-American war, he
> had some pretty unpleasant things to say about Mexicans and was pretty
> convinced that the Americans were doing the world a favor by taking as
> much land away from them as possible.

I am sorry. I cannot find anything anywhere in Whitman's writings where 
he does anything even suggestive of what you are saying so I will have 
to ask for a reference to some work where it appears.

In 1883 the city of Santa Fe New Mexico spent nearly the entire summer 
celebrating the 333 year of the settlement of the Spanish in that city 
(similar, I suppose to Albuquerue's celebration this year). Whitman was 
invited as a special guest, and was asked to write a poem that he would 
come to Santa Fe to read. He was unable to go, but he wrote them a 
letter that was reportedly read to great effect and cheers. It is 
something of a paean to ethnicity. I will not bore the readership with 
the whole thing, but must quote a few lines:

"We Americans have yet to really learn our own antecedents, and sort 
them, to unify them. They will be found ampler than has been supposed, 
and in widely different sources. Thus far, impress'd by New England 
writers and schoolmasters, we tacitly abandon ourselves to the notion 
that our Unites States have been fashion'd from the British Isles only, 
and essentially form a second England only -- which is a very great 
mistake.. .

"The seething materialistic and business vortices of the United States, 
in their present devouring relations, controlling and belittling 
everything else, are, in my opinion, but a vast and indispensable stage 
in the world's development, and are certainly to be follow'd by 
something entirely different. Character, literature, a society worthy 
of the name, are yet to be establish'd, through a nationality of 
noblest spiritual, heroic and democratic attributes -- not one of which 
at present definitely exists -- entirely different from the past, 
though unerringly founded on it, and to justify it.

"To that composite American identity of the future, Spanish character 
will supply some of the most needed parts. No stock shows a grander 
historic retrospect -- grander in religiousness and loyalty, or for 
patriotism, courage, decorum, gravity and honor. (It is time to dismiss 
utterly the illusion-compound half raw-head-and-bloody-bones and half 
Mysteries-of-Udolpho, inherited from the English writers of the past 
200 years. It is time to realize -- for it is certainly true -- that 
there will not be found any more cruelty, tyranny, superstition, &ct., 
in the resume of past Spanish history than in the corresponding resume 
of Anglo-Norman history. Nay, I think there will net be found so much.)

"Then another point, relating to American ethnology, past and to come, 
I will here touch upon at a venture. As to our aboriginal or Indian 
population -- the Aztec in the South, and many a tribe in the North and 
West -- I  know it seems to be agreed that they must gradually dwindle 
as time rolls on, and in a few generations more leave only a 
reminiscence, a blank. But I am not at all clear about that. As 
America, from its many far-back sources and current supplies, develops, 
adapts, entwines, faithfully identifies its own, -- are we to see it 
cheerfully accepting and using all the contributions of foreign lands 
from the whole outside globe, and then rejecting the only ones 
distinctively its own, the autochthonic ones?

"As to the Spanish stock of our Southwest, it is certain to me that we 
do not begin to appreciate the splendor and sterling value of its race 
element. Who knows but that element, like the course of some 
subterranean river, dipping invisibly for a hundred or two  years, is 
now to emerge in broadest flow and permanent action."

and so on.

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