Remember that preface we quoted in our "In a Nutshell" for this poem? It's the preface to the first edition of Leaves of Grass, published in 1855. By our count, the word "America" appears nineteen times in that preface. Talk about obsessed! Although, we guess we're not ones to talk. We counted, after all.
Walt Whitman was related to Thomas Jefferson. In fact, Thomas Jefferson was one of his brothers. Okay, so we're not talking about the same Thomas Jefferson who wrote the Declaration of Independence. But, while Walt's brother "Jeff" didn't become the president of the United States, he did go on to become Superintendent of Water Works in St. Louis, which we think is still pretty impressive. (Source.)
If anyone ever tells you that education begins and ends in the classroom, you tell them that the greatest American poet finished his formal education at the age of eleven. He educated himself with voracious reading in books at his local library, through visits to museums and through the talks and debates he'd start up with most anyone he met. Of course, this isn't for everyone. So stay in school, Shmoopers. We mean it! (Source.)