[Buddha-l] Walt Whitman

Richard P. Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Tue May 3 18:51:40 MDT 2005

On Tue, 2005-05-03 at 16:46 -0600, Jim Peavler wrote:

> 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.

I got this information from a program broadcast on KNME last night at
9:00pm. The name of the program was U.S.-Mexican War 1846-1848. It was a
re-run of an earlier broadcast. Aside from the shocking quotations from
a young Walt Whitman (he was something like 24 or 25 at the time of that
war), it was an excellent program. One of my ancestors, Zachary Taylor,
came out looking a lot worse than Whitman. There were also some
wonderful quotes from a young U.S. Grant, whose literary finesse even
then was most impressive.

> 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. 

I'd be willing to conjecture that the 24-year-old Whitman said things
about Mexicans without ever having met or seen one. He may also have
been in favor of wars, never having seen one of those either. I'd guess
seeing a war up close eventually soured him on the enterprise of being
aggressive. And being the big-hearted man he was, he probably had had a
chance to meet a Mexican or two by the time 1883 rolled around and
realized what a warm and big-hearted people they are. Moreover, by 1883
Santa Fe was American territory, and New Mexicans were no longer the
enemy. A place needed to be found for them in the American mosaic. I'd
guess that things changed between 1846 and 1883 in the mind of old Walt.

Richard Hayes
Department of Philosophy
University of New Mexico

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