- Henry wishes his fiance a Happy Christmas, a phrase whose first publication occurs in 1823 in
the Troy Sentinel A Visit from St. Nicholas
- Henry publishes his first New Year's poem in newspaper
But now the end of all this clatter
Is but a small and trifling matter;
A puny six pence or a shilling
From willing souls to souls as willing
- Henry publishes another of his many New Year's poems in newspaper
But now comes blithe Christmas, while just in his rear,
Advances our faint, jolly, laughing, New-Year,
- Washington Irving notes in his diary that he goes to visit Platt in Whitesboro. Platt is
Judge Jonas Platt, Henry's brother-in-law, as well as the mentor for Henry's son-in-law, Arthur Breese,
who lives a few doors down from the Platts.
- Henry reads the poem to sons Charles and Sidney, and little neighbor Eliza,
who grows up to marry Charles.
- Washington Irving writes of Santa Claus
- Before 1822
- A governess visiting the Livingstons takes a copy of the poem with her when she
goes to work for a Moore family "down south." On the way, she stops off in NYC, and leaves a copy of
the poem with Clement Moore. (Henry's first cousin lives close to Henry. She's married to John Moore, the brother of
Clement Moore's uncle.)
- Henry's New Year's Address is remarkably like the Christmas poem.
But hark what a clatter! the Jolly bells ringing,
The lads and lasses so jovially singing,
Tis New-Years they shout and then haul me along
In the midst of their merry-make Juvenile throng;
But I burst from their grasp: unforgetful of duty
To first pay obseisence to wisdom and Beauty,
My conscience and int'rest unite to command it,
And you, my kind PATRONS, deserve & demand it.
On your patience to trespass no longer I dare,
So bowing, I wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR.
- Christmas - Moore, who writes moralistic Christmas poems of his own, reads this poem to his children as his own, but tells
them not to let it out of the house. They do. (Moore later explains that no original version of the poem
existed with crossouts because he composed the whole 56 line poem in his head and then wrote it down perfectly.)
- Couple weeks later. Someone who got poem from child gives poem to Troy Sentinel as anonymous.
- Poem goes into almanacs, so spreads like crazy. (It was
McClure who changed Blixem's name to Blixen!)
- Henry dies
- After 1828
- Son Charles finds a published version of poem among his father's papers. (May be one
not found. May be Pough Journal publication
of early 1828.) Son Sidney finds the original
manuscript of the poem with corrections and crossouts.
- Troy Sentinel publisher edits the poem massively and
republishes it as broadsheet.
BIG CHANGES: fixes awkward rhythm of reindeer names, but leaves original Dunder and Blixem. (This is source of current
reindeer name rhythm.)
- Charles and Eliza reads the poem to their daughter as written by Henry
- Friend of Moore puts Moore's name on the poem. The friend changes Dunder to Donder, but
keeps original awkward rhythm of reindeer names. (This is source of change of
Dunder to Donder, latter to become Donner.)
- Son Sidney reads the poem to his son as written by Henry
- Moore asks Troy Sentinel publisher if he knew who wrote the poem when he published
it. Norm Tuttle says he didn't.
Includes a copy of his much changed 1830 broadsheet.
Moore uses that copy as his base, and makes a few changes in it, including picking up
his friend's Donder, and changing Blixen (who had had his name changed from Blixem, then Nixen)
to Blitzen. Publishes it in his book POEMS. So the creation of the name Blitzen is
Moore's only important change to the poem. (This is source of change of Blixem to Blitzen.)
- Sidney dies and leaves original manuscript of poem to brother Edwin, who moves to Wisconsin.
- Sarah Elizabeth Griswold's mother discovers a copy of the poem attributed to Moore.
Son Edwin loses the poem manuscript in a Wisconsin house fire.
- Sidney's family discovers poem with Moore's name on it.
- After 1860
- Family doesn't publicly proclaim Henry's authorship against Moore because Moore is
high in the seminary of the Episcopalian Church, of which his father was a Bishop, and
many of Henry's family are now ministers in the church, or married to ministers.
- Moore dies.
- Several lines of Henry's children begin to correspond and ask whether they can prove
Henry's claim (including Catharine's descendants Anne Livingston Griswold and Cornelia Griswold
Goodrich, as well as Catharine's half sisters Eliza and Helen).
Decide they can't.
- Son Sidney's son, Henry Livingston of Babylon LI, publishes Henry's claim in his own newspaper. No impact.
- Daughter Jane's grandson William Sturgis Thomas becomes interested in search, gathers
materials, convinces some people to publish in NYC papers. Seems to fall dud with no
impact. But Moore descendant gets cousin to write deposition telling story of Moore's
saying that when he, Moore, came to publish the poem in 1844 it only needed 2 small changes from the
original way he wrote it.
- William's son W. Stephen Thomas brings Vassar President MacCracken in as apologist for Henry. First Day
Cover calls Henry the author. Then it's all forgotten.
- Summer. Mary Van Deusen asks Don Foster to investigate authorship. He agrees on the
condition she do underlying research work. She agrees.
- Autumn. Stephen Livingston Thomas, the son of W. Stephen Thomas, arrives with his Thomas Collection of Henry Livingston material.
Don comes to the conclusion that Henry is the probable author, based on
comparing three people for style and literary influences - Henry Livingston,
Clement Moore, and the author of the Christmas poem. Don also discovers a letter showing
that before Moore publishes the poem, he asks the publisher of the Troy Sentinel if he
knew the author of the poem before he published it. The publisher says no. Moore then
publishes the poem among his other poems. Don calls the letter "the coast is clear letter."
- October. Don puts his conclusions into a chapter of Author Unknown, and his book
comes out to tremendous publicity (New York Times,
the Today Show, etc).
- Mary Van Deusen hears the story that the names of the reindeer were the names of the horses
in Henry's stable. She also finds an entry in the diary of Washington Irving, credited with
the "invention" of Santa Claus, showing that he knew Henry's brother-in-law, Jonas Platt
(who lived next to Henry's daughter and son-in-law), around the time of Henry writing the
poem and before the publication of "Knickerbocker's History of New York." Mary is contacted
by a Moore/Livingston descendant and they together find that Henry's neighbor and first
cousin is married to the brother of Clement Moore's uncle.
- Mary Van Deusen discovers Moore's cousin's deposition saying that when he went to publish
the poem in 1844, it only took 2 small changes from what he originally wrote. But with
that deposition was also the original letter from the Troy Sentinel publisher and a copy
of the publisher's 1830 version of the poem he first published in 1823. And on that copy are
handwritten a few small changes! Because Mary collected early versions, on Don's request to
look for influences on Moore's 1844 version, she knows that there weren't 2 small changes.
There were 21! Tuttle massively edited the 1823 version in the 1830 version. The publisher neglected
to mention that fact to Moore, who thought he had been given the original 1823 version.
Moore didn't know the difference between the 1823 and 1844 versions of "his poem" because
he didn't write it!
- December. Mary is contacted by an emeritus professor from New Zealand to work again on the attribution
issue using statistical analysis. She agrees to help supply him with data to analyze, helped by Lyn,
a retired name in computational linguistics, and husband Paul, a computer scientist/researcher with 50 years of
computer work behind him.
- December. We've put in almost a year of actual work on the attribution issues over the last two years,
and hope that the researcher's publication will occur in 2014.