A graduate of the University of New York Medical School, Dr. Daniel Bennett St. John Roosa worked at Broadway Hospital in New York City, the same hospital Walt Whitman occasionally visited to comfort the sick and wounded among his working-class friends during the 1850s and early 1860s. Roosa recalls that "[n]o one could see him [Whitman] sitting by the bedside of a suffering stage driver without soon learning that he had a sincere and profound sympathy for this order of men" (Roosa 30).
Born on Long Island and raised in Brooklyn, Walt Whitman spent his childhood and early adulthood amid the sights and sounds of New York City and its environs. As a young man Whitman worked as a journeyman printer for several New York newspapers, before ultimately becoming a journalist and editor in his own right. Before committing himself to poetry, Whitman also worked intermittently as a schoolteacher, a carpenter, and a writer of sensational prose fiction.