Through Whitman's manuscript notebooks, we can also trace more closely the evolution of the name Lucifer in "The Sleepers." Lucifer, of course, is another name for Satan. According to a nineteenth-century Webster's dictionary like the one Whitman used, "Lucifer" referred to "the planet Venus, when appearing as the morning star," and it also referred in the biblical book of Isaiah to a fallen king of Babylon ("how art thou fallen from heaven, Lucifer, son of the morning"), a reference that led to the mistaken notion that Lucifer was the fallen angel from heaven, Satan. We saw earlier that "Lucifer" also referred to an early friction-match for starting fire. At one time or another, Whitman seemed to use the term to mean all of these things. As late as 1880, he was jotting in his notebook, "Other names of Venus Phosphor Vesper, (at evening) Lucifer (at morning)" (NUPM, 1084). By this time, Lucifer had settled for Whitman into a harmless name for the morning star. But earlier in his life, when he was first conceiving of Leaves of Grass, he more powerfully associated Lucifer with rebellion, defining him as the ultimate rebel, whose resistance to the all-powerful God was something Whitman admired. In a notebook written in the 1850s, around the time he was developing the Lucifer section of his poem, Whitman wrote the following lines:

Kaldee (Sabean Kaldee of Assyria.)/ Orus, the sun Serapis, a god of ensemble, I think Hercules Osiris, "to give forms." "I am he who finds nothing more divine than simple and natural things are divine.--" Pluto Satan Lucifer Typhon, (made up of all that opposes hinders, obstructs, revolts. (NUPM, 2025)

Here Whitman catalogues the names of gods from various religions, and Lucifer is juxtaposed to Satan, in a list of figures of hindrance, obstruction, and revolt. In another notebook from around the same time, Whitman adds to Lucifer a touch of the slave, a blackness and a physicality that perhaps marks the beginning of the development of the slave character he would call Lucifer in "The Sleepers." Note how Whitman again closely identifies with this Lucifer:

And this black portrait--this head, huge, frowning, sorrowful,-- is
Lucifer's portrait--the denied God's portrait,(But I do not deny him--though cast out and rebellious, he is my God as much
as any;) . . . (NUPM, 1300)

As Whitman continues to work these images into poetic lines, he writes a passage in a notebook that for the first time combines the "curse" of the other early notebooks with the Lucifer-figure Whitman has become enamored with:

I am a hell-name and a curse:
Black Lucifer was not dead;
Or if he was I am his sorrowful, terrible heir;
I am the God of revolt--deathless, sorrowful, vast; whoever oppresses me
I will either destroy him or he shall release me. (Holloway, 32)

Finally, in an important notebook known as "Poem Incarnating the Mind," kept during the year or so before Leaves of Grass was published, Whitman works out the first draft of what would become the powerful passage in "Song of Myself" about the fugitive slave and Whitman's identification with him, a passage culminating in the line, "I am the hunted slave." It is striking to note that wrapped in the very origins of this passage is Lucifer again; it is clear that the Lucifer section of "The Sleepers" and the "the hounded slave" section of "Song of Myself" had a single origin, one focused on slavery, rebellion, and identification with suffering. Lucifer was originally directly tied to the "hunted slave" and the "rebel" with his neck in a noose. Whitman cancelled the Lucifer-line, no doubt to move it and develop it as a quite different passage on slavery in "The Sleepers."

All this I swallow in my soul, and it becomes mine, and I likes it well,
I am the man; I suffered, I was there:
All the beautiful disdain and calmness of martyrs
The old woman that was chained and burnt with dry wood, and her children looking on,
The great queens that walked serenely to the block,
The hunted slave who flags in the race at last, and leans up by the fence, blowing and covered with sweat,
And the twinges that sting like needles his breast and neck
The murderous buck-shot and the bullets.
All this I not only feel and see but am.
I am the hunted slave
Damnation and despair are close upon me
I clutch the rail of the fence. *(back
My gore presently trickles thinned with ooze of my skin as I fall on the reddened grass and stones,
And the hunters haul up close with their unwilling horses,
Till taunt and oath swim away from my dim dizzy ears
What the rebel, felt gaily adjusting his neck to the rope noose,
What Lucifer [del] felt, [ins.] cursed [ins.] when [on a line above] tumbling from Heaven
What the savage, lashed to the stump, spirting yells and laughter at every foe
What rage of hell urged the lips and hands of the victors.
How fared the young captain pale and flat on his own bloody deck
The pangs of defeat sharper than the green edged wounds of his side
What choked the throat of the general when he surrendered his army (over leaf
What heightless dread falls in the click of a moment (NUPM, 110)