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A Visit From St. Nicholas
By Clement C.  Moore

To view the actual manuscript click here for page 1

To view the actual manuscript click here for page 2

To view the actual manuscript click here for page 3

            Clement Moore’s Christmas poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas;” eventually became Known throughout the world by its opening phrase, “Twas The Night Before Christmas”  Both titles are used in different versions of the classic.

On Christmas Eve 1822, Reverend Clement Moore’s wife was roasting turkeys for distribution to the poor of the local parish, a yearly tradition discovered that she was short one turkey, she asked Moore to venture into the snowy streets to obtain another. He called for his sleigh and coachman, and drove “downtown” to Jefferson Market, which is now the Bowery section of New York City, to buy the needed turkey. Moore composed the poem while riding in his sleigh; his ears obviously full of the jingle of sleigh bells. He returned with the turkey and the new Christmas poem. After dinner that evening, Moore read the new verses to his family, to the evident delight of his children. Some months afterwards, Moore’s children told a visiting friend of their father’s wonderful Christmas verses. A Miss Butler copied the poem into her album and the next December, probably unaware of Moore’s intention to keep his poem private, she sent a copy to the Troy Sentinel. It was published there anonymously on December 23, 1823, under the editor’s title “A Visit from St. Nicholas”. Moore’s authorship remained a secret until 1837,. when he allowed his name to be used when the poem was anthologized in The New York Book of Poetry. Later, it was included in Moore’s Poems (New York. 1844). a small collection of his verse which he published for distribution to Mends and family. Since then, it has been reprinted countless times, loved by children of all ages for over 100 years.

The   manuscript shown here is one of only four surviving copies of the world’s most loved poem, The original draft has never been discovered, and probably no longer exists. The three other manuscripts are at the New York Historical Society, the Huntington Library in California, and the Strong Museum of Rochester, NY.


Clement C. Moore (1779-1863),
the son of Benjamin Moore, second Protestant Episcopal Bishop of New York and President of King’s College, graduated  from Columbia University in 1798. Moore’s family owned extensive lands in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, on the Hudson, and it was Moore’s gift of some 60 acres of land in 1819, which made possible the establishment of the General Theological Seminary, where Moore himself taught Oriental languages, biblical learning and scripture interpretation from 1821 to 1850. An eminent lay theologian and scholar, Moore was the author of 4 Compendious Lexicon of the Hebrew Language, the first such work published in America and as a young man  published an anonymous criticism of Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia. Moore lived not far from the new seminary (on present-day 23rd  Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues in New York City).

Clement C. Moore

American poet - 1779-1863


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