Whitman’s Long Foreground: The Rise of New York's Seaport

Sailors

Herman Melville
the very fact of their being sailors, argues a certain recklessness and sensualism of character, ignorance, and depravity... The sins for which the cities of the plain were overthrown still linger in some of these wooden-walled Gomorrahs of the deep.
— Herman Melville, Redburn & White-Jacket
Seaport Spokesbard

Lovers

David Colbreth Broderick (colorized)
Here comes one among the well beloved stonecutters... and sees the solid and beautiful forms of the future where there are how no solid forms.
— Walt Whitman, 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass

among the characteristics of this man of brawn and stature was a feminine sensibility
— Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of California, vol 22, 505
Among Well-beloved Stonecutters

Quakers

Elias Hicks
He gave us passions... in order that we might seek after those things which we need, and which we had a right to experience and know... under the influence of brotherly love, [moralists] would be willing to say... “mind thy own business... Do not mind me; I am not to be thy teacher”
— Elias Hicks, “Let Brotherly Love Continue” (1824)
Friends of the New York Seaport

About

Walt Whitman illustration by Mitchell Santine Gould

You may possess “the origin of all poems” by exploring the “long foreground” — prior to the Civil War — to Leaves Of Grass: the sailors, lovers, and Quakers who built New York City into the nation's mightiest seaport... and who established the “Spirit of Tolerance” expressed in Walt Whitman's poetry.

The Origin of All Poems