Re: Santa & 3rd NY
- Patrick O'Kelley wrote"
<<>The family of Maj. Henry Livingston, Jr., of the 3rd NY, claim it was he
>> and not Moore who wrote The Night Before Christmas. I have looked intoSounds like a good story. What evidence is there? Fill us in.>>
>> this a number of times and belive the weight of evidence falls on their
Like Larry Maxwell, I lean toward the Livingston hypothesis, but I doubt
we'll ever know for sure. There's no definite historical evidence either
way because the poem was first published anonymously and no real
"A Visit from Saint Nicholas/Night Before Christmas" was first published
by a Troy newspaper in 1823. Livingston died five years later, never
claiming it or collecting his verse. Moore started to claim the poem in
the late 1830s and included it in a collection in 1844. As part of his
claim, he wrote out a manuscript--one which matched some of the most
recent published versions rather than the earliest.
It's clear that both Livingston and Moore wrote Christmas poetry,
Livingston more of it. Both men's families believed that their
forefather wrote this particular poem, and after hearing about the
opposing claim they put their reminiscences on paper. Unfortunately,
these sorts of documents are dubious evidence. The children and
grandchildren might well have remembered hearing other poems, then come
to believe their forefather wrote this famous one, and unconsciously or
consciously shaped their memories to support that belief.
A lot of the evidence for Livingston appears in AUTHOR UNKNOWN, by
Donald W. Foster:
One historian who disagrees is Steven Nissenbaum, author of THE BATTLE
Nissenbaum's book came out before Foster's, so his counterarguments
The Livingston family has a website arguing their case:
Most of the arguments for Livingston over Moore are literary rather than
historical. They involve comparing the two men's most common poetic
metres, favored genres, attitudes toward Christmas and children, and
little verbal tics like "all" for emphasis. The point I found most
persuasive is that Livingston often wrote verse stories in anapestic
tetrameter--the metre of "A Visit from Saint Nicholas/Night Before
Christmas." Moore rarely used that form. I occasionally write verse
myself, and I know some metres come much easier to me than others.
Here's a lesson plan for students to investigate the controversy:
And now back to our regularly scheduled century.
J. L. Bell JnoLBell@...
- Yup, Larry is correct.
There are numerous websites lobbying for the correct credit.
Bottom line is the poem was pubilished un creditied in a book of poems
by Clement Moore (all the others had his name on them). Also Moore &
Livingston were friends.
Henry Livingston Jr, was from Poughkeepsie, NY, and cousin to the more
well known Livingstons from Rhinebeck, NY.
He only served in 1775 Quebec campaign, but headed home early due to
ill health. Thankfully he kept a journal that has since been
published. It is of great use to researchers today.
His property, known as "Locust Grove," eventually was the home of
Samuel F. B. Morse, artist and inventor of Morse code.
The site and Young-Morse house is open to the public and can be found
on Route 9 about a mile or so south of the Mid-Hudson Bridge on the
right hand side.
They used to have an event every year called "Ghosts of Locust Grove"
or some such -- I forget the exactname, where varios costumed
interpreters roomed the halls of the house as differnt people who were
associated with the site over time... I played Livingston two years in
a row... The highlight being I got to read "A Visit from Saint
Nicholas" ('twas the Night Before Christmas) to all hte kids..
Livingstion is buried in a small family plot, surrounded by bushes,
directly behind the mosoleum, in the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery, which
is between my office and Locust Grove. Obviously the cememtery
occupies some of the Livingston property...
Phil Weaver, Proprietor
--- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, Larry Maxwell <Patriot1775@v...> wrote:
> The family of Maj. Henry Livingston, Jr., of the 3rd NY, claim it was
> and not Moore who wrote The Night Before Christmas. I have looked
> this a number of times and belive the weight of evidence falls on
> Have a Blessed New Year!
> Dr. Larry A. Maxwell, 4th NY