Author: Edwin P. Whipple

Edwin P. Whipple, c. 1886, Engraving by unknown artist

Born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, Edwin Percy Whipple (1819–86) was a literary critic and essayist. An avid reader at an early age, he began publishing while still in high school and released his first book, a two-volume collection titled Essays and Reviews, when he was 30. He served as a literary critic for Graham’s Magazine and for The Literary World, a weekly review of books. In addition to his written work, Whipple participated in the lyceum movement, traveling throughout the United States to give public lectures. Active in Boston’s literary scene, he was friends with such noted authors as Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, serving as a pallbearer at Hawthorne’s funeral in 1864. 

The Genius of Washington

Edwin P. Whipple

By the middle of the 19th century, Washington was heartily celebrated as a man of impeccable character and ethical excellence—“wise, good, and great,” as Jefferson had put it—but he was unfavorably compared to men of genius and intellectual excellence (such as Jefferson himself).