Samuel Hollyer (1826–1919), after daguerreotype by Gabriel Harrison
Engraving, c. 1854–55
Published in Leaves of Grass, 1st edition, 1855
The poet Walt Whitman thought of his lifelong work Leaves of Grass as an extension of himself. He wanted people to read it “as if meeting a man” and offered this image on its title page: a plain workingman, relaxed if a bit arrogant, hat cocked at a rakish angle, ready for anything. Whitman invited his readers to value experience over education and advised each to take a journey on the “open road”: here was an American method for self-discovery and cool. Whitman remains the guiding light of American bohemia, from the Beats to Bob Dylan to the potential of every road trip.