Walt Whitman and his friend Peter Doyle, Washington, D.C., 1865. Photo: Library of Congress

"This is the City and I Am One of the Citizens": Walt Whitman in Washington

November 5, 2013
On Tuesday, November 5, 2013, Martin G. Murray presented an Overbeck History Lecture describing poet Walt Whitman's immersion in the life of his adopted city, Washington, DC, during the Civil War and the following decade.

Whitman arrived in the nation's capital in 1863 in search of his brother, who had been wounded in the war, and became a regular visitor at the makeshift hospitals that were tending to thousands of Union casualties. He stayed on to serve as a federal clerk and formed strong friendships with several of the city's leading figures, including the naturalist John Burroughs, while also writing some of his most notable poetry based on his experiences in the city.

Martin Murray served as an economist at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and also has written and lectured widely on Whitman for both academic and nonacademic audiences. He has been published in The Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, The Yale University Library Gazette, Washington History Magazine, The Walt Whitman Encyclopedia, and Blackwell's Companion to Walt Whitman, as well as on The Classroom Electric and Walt Whitman Archive websites.

Murray has discovered several pieces of Whitman's uncollected prose journalism, provided biographical information on soldiers appearing in Whitman's Memoranda During the War, and written a biography of the poet's companion Peter Doyle. He also served on the coordinating committee for the conference "Melville and Whitman in Washington: The Civil War Years and After" sponsored by the Melville Society and hosted by George Washington University.

Past Lectures