1865 was the beginning of the Reconstruction Era of American History. The Civil War had ended, President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated and President Andrew Johnson was trying to rebuild and unify America. Washington, DC became the converging ground where parties debated numerous issues, such as: voting rights, war crimes and building infrastructure. An unusual participant in America’s political history during this time was Walt Whitman, who would later become well known for his poetry and less for the part he played in American politics.
Whitman worked as a clerk in the Attorney General’s office from 1865-1873. The National Archives announced that it has recently discovered 3,000 documents relating to Whitman’s work in Washington, DC. The documents were found by Kenneth M. Price, a professor of English and co-director of the Walt Whitman Archives. The find illuminates not only this moment in American history, but what might have shaped the thoughts of Walt Whitman as well.