[Home] [Book] [Expand] [Collapse] [Help]

Clear Search Expand Search


    SOJOURNER TRUTH.   Table of Contents     SOJOURNER TRUTH, THE LIBYAN SIBYL.

Truth, Sojourner
Narrative of Sojourner Truth

- PART SECOND. -- "BOOK OF LIFE."
- "NAMES OF DONORS.

"NAMES OF DONORS.

"Mrs. Edmundson, Dublin, Ireland.

Mrs. Anne Allen, " "

Richard D. Webb, " "

Sarah R. May, Leicester, Mass.

Samuel May, Jr., " "

Mrs. Goss, New York.

W.H. Burleigh, " "

George W. Bungay, " "

Oliver Johnson, " "

Theodore Tilton," "

raster
146

'Freedman's Relief Society,' Worcester, Mass.

Miss Ladd,

Mrs. Miller,

Mr. and Mrs. Twam,

Dr. Church and wife,

Mrs. John Hull,

Mrs. Maria Brown and Stillman,

Miss Laura Stebbins,

Mrs. Charles Hastings,

Mrs. Griffing,

Mrs. Samson and Mrs. Eliot,

Mrs. John Hamilton."


"To the Editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard:

"This extraordinary woman still lives. When the letter of Phebe M. Stickney came to us at our home on the prairies in Iowa, suggesting pecuniary comfort for the blessed old saint in the sunset of her remarkable and useful life, I never remember to have regretted more that I had so little at command to bestow. The Standard however, reports the names of a number of friends who were ready and willing to minister to her necessities. I hope others will do likewise. Few, if any, in the land are more worthy. Hers has been a life of pre-eminent devotion to the sacred cause of liberty and purity.

"The graphic sketch of her by the author of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' has doubtless been read with interest by thousands. No pen, however, can give an adequate idea of Sojourner Truth. This unlearned African woman, with her deep religious and trustful nature burning in her soul like fire, has a magnetic power

raster
147
over an audience perfectly astounding. I was once present in a religious meeting where some speaker had alluded to the government of the United States, and had uttered sentiments in favor of its Constitution. Sojourner stood, erect and tall, with her white turban on her head, and in a low and subdued tone of voice began by saying: 'Children, I talks to God and God talks to me. I goes out and talks to God in de fields and de woods. [The weevil had destroyed thousands of acres of wheat in the West that year.] Dis morning I was walking out, and I got over de fence. I saw de wheat a holding up its head, looking very big. I goes up and takes holt ob it. You b'lieve it, dere was no wheat dare? I says, God [speaking the name in a voice of reverence peculiar to herself], what is de matter wid dis wheat? and he says to me, "Sojourner, dere is a little weasel in it." Now I hears talkin' about de Constitution and de rights of man. I comes up and I takes hold of dis Constitution. It looks mighty big , and I feels for my rights but dersint any dare. Den I says, God, what Constitution? He says to me, "Sojourner, dere is a little weasel in it."' The effect upon the multitude was irresistible.

"On a dark, cloudy morning, while she was our great, she was sitting, as she often was wont to do, with her cheeks upon her palms, her elbows on her knees; she lifted up her head as though she had just wakened from a dream, and said, 'Friend Dugdale, or old Sojourner can't read a word, will you git me de Bible and read me a little of de Scripter?' Oh, yes, Sojourner, gladly, said I. I opened to Isaiah,

raster
148
the 59th chapter. She listened as though an oracle was speaking. When I came to the words, None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth; your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity; they hatch cockatrice's eggs, and weave the spider's web; he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper, she could restrain herself no longer, and, bringing her great palms together with an emphasis that I shall never forget, she exclaimed, ' Is dat thare ? "It shall break out into a viper." Yes, God told me dat . I never heard it read afore, now I know it double! ' Of course her mind was directed to the heinous institution of American slavery, and she regarded these terrible words of the seer as prophetic concerning its fearful consequences.

"On one occasion, in a large reform meeting, where many able and efficient public speakers were present, Sojourner sat in the midst. One man, in defiance of was wasting the time of the meeting by distasteful and indelicate declamation. Some, in despair of his ending, were leaving the meeting. Others, mortified and distressed, were silently enduring, while the 'flea of the Convention,' continued to bore it, nothing daunted. Just at a point where he was forced to suspend long enough to take in a long breath, Sojourner, who had been sitting in the back part of the house with her head bowed, and groaning in spirit, raised up her tall figure before him, and, putting her eyes upon him, said, ' Child , if de people has no whar to put it, what is de use? Sit down,

raster
149
child, sit down! ' The man dropped as if he had been shot, and not another word was heard from him.

"A friend related the following anecdote to me: In that period of the anti-slavery movement when mobocratic violence was often resorted to, one of its most talented and devoted advocates, after an able address, was followed by a lawyer, who appealed to the lowest sentiments--was scurrilous and abusive in the superlative degree. Alluding to the colored race, he compared them to monkeys, baboons, and ourangoutangs. When he was about closing his inflammatory speech, Sojourner quietly drew near to the platform and whispered in the ear of the advocate of her people, 'Do n't dirty your hands wid dat critter let me 'tend to him!' The speaker knew it was safe to trust her. 'Children, 'said she, straightening herself to her full hight, 'I am one of dem monkey tribes. I was born a slave. I had de dirty work to do--de scullion work. Now I am going to 'ply to dis critter'--pointing her long, bony finger with withering scorn at the petty lawyer. 'Now in de course of my time I has done a great deal of dirty scullion work, but of all de dirty work I ever done, dis is de scullionist and de dirtiest.' Peering into the eyes of the auditory with just such a look as she could give, and that no one could imitate, she continued: 'Now, children, do n't you pity me?' She had taken the citadel by storm. The whole audience shouted applause, and the negro-haters as heartily as any.

"I was present at a large religious convention. Love in the family had been portrayed in a manner to touch the better nature of the auditory. Just as

raster
150
the meeting was about to close, Sojourner stood up. Tears were coursing down her furrowed cheeks. She said: 'We has heerd a great deal about love at home in de family. Now, children, I was a slave, and my husband and my children was sold from me.' The pathos with which she uttered these words made a deep impression upon the meeting. Pausing a moment, she added: 'Now, husband and children is all gone, and what has' come of de affection I had for dem? Dat is de question before de house! ' The people smiled amidst a baptism of tears.

"Let food and raiment be given her. There are mar in the land who will be made richer by seeing that this noble woman shares their bounty; and then, when her Lord shall come to talk with her, and take her into his presence chamber, and shall say, 'Sojourner, lacked thou anything?' she may answer, 'Nothing, Lord, either for body or soul.'"J.A.D."
" Near Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, 1863 ."

In April, 1863, a lengthy account of Sojourner's life was published in the Atlantic Monthly , entitled, "Sojourner Truth, the Libyan Sibyl," written by Mrs. H.B. Stowe. This graphic sketch not only gave Sojourner greater notoriety, but added fresh laurel to Mrs. Stowe's increasing fame as an authoress. The description of her person and the portrayal of her char-acter are so vivid that it finds a fitting place in her Book of Life, and is here fully given.

raster
151

    SOJOURNER TRUTH.   Table of Contents     SOJOURNER TRUTH, THE LIBYAN SIBYL.