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

Clear Search Expand Search


    REPUBLICAN MEETING--SOJOURNER TRUTH.   Table of Contents     SOJOURNER TRUTH.

Truth, Sojourner
Narrative of Sojourner Truth

- PART SECOND. -- "BOOK OF LIFE."
- FROM DETROIT PAPERS . -- "SOJOURNER TRUTH.

FROM DETROIT PAPERS .
"SOJOURNER TRUTH.

" A veteran worker--her 'mission'--the colored paupers about Washington and what to do with them .

"For several days past, Sojourner Truth--the 'Libyan Sibyl,' as Mrs. Stowe has aptly termed her--has been the guest of Mrs. Nanette B. Gardner, on Howard Street, where many friends, and strangers as well, have called to see and converse with this veteran worker in the cause of her own race. Already past fourscore years and ten, she yet maintains a constitution and mind unimpaired, and has an amount of vigor that betokens a 'green old age' indeed. Those who have before heard her lectures, will doubtless remember well the strong, and yet well-modulated voice, and the characteristic expressions in which she delivers her addresses, as well as the pith and point of her spicy sentences.

"To all calling upon her, she asks the question, 'Do n't you want to write your name in de Book of Life?' to which query, the counter one in relation to the same 'Book of Life,' is generally put, and Sojourner is usually gratified by the chirography of

raster
233
her visitor, in some manner, according to the pleasure of the writer. The book in question contains scores on scores of names, of different individuals throughout the country, including many persons of note, senators, authors, politicians, etc. Foremost in the list is Lucretia Mott's, who signs herself a 'co-laborer in the cause of our race.' Also that of Senator Revel, of Mississippi, of Senators Morrill, Pomeroy, Henry Wilson, of Massachusetts, Patterson, of New Hampshire, and numerous others.

"Among the first and most treasured is that of the late President Lincoln, who has inscribed in his hurried style, 'For Aunty Sojourner Truth. A. Lincoln, October 29, 1864.' From President Grant, who, she declares, 'was in a most drefful hurry to put down his name,' on being asked to write in the 'Book of Life;' written in his hurried manner, are the lines, 'Sojourner Truth. U.S. Grant, March 31, 1870.' There are letters from Gerritt Smith, Wm. Lloyd Garrison, et id genus omne , and also a few lines each from Vice President Colfax, Theodore Tilton, Mrs. Elizabeth Tilton, and many others. Sojourner has 'views' as well as others, and does not hesitate to promulgate them. She is in most respects radical, and believes in the temperance movement, woman suffrage, and has no faith whatever in the 'New Departure' movement, as announced of late in the main plank in the Democratic platform. The constant and repeated inquiry made by visitors, as to her age, she considers as somewhat trying, as it is what she has done and is to do, that she considers of the most importance. In connection with this, she mentions that when in

raster
234
Brooklyn last spring Theodore Tilton called upon her, and in the course of conversation proposed that he should write her life, a proposition which did not meet her views, and which she did not accordingly accept, but replied in effect that she expected to live a long time yet, and was going to accomplish 'lots' before she died, and did n't wan't to be 'written up' at present.

"Sojourner calls Battle Creek her home, but as she is constantly on the move, she visits that place but seldom. Her great object, she says, in visiting this city and others, is to 'stir up' the people and interest them in her long-desired object of procuring a home for the aged and infirm--particularly colored people--who are now in and around Washington, and wholly dependent upon the government for support.

"Sojourner is to remain a short time only in Detroit, going from here westward on the same mission which induced her to come here. In the course of her travels she intends visiting Kansas, in order to prospect the land."

"About a year ago, Sojourner commenced her lectures in behalf of this object, in Providence, since which time she has lectured in many towns and cities throughout the country. Concerning this, she says that not much encouragement is given her, except the constant adjuration to talk to the people, and 'stir 'em up,' and adds, 'why don't you stir 'em up? as tho' an old body like myself could do all the stirring.'

"In relation to the subject, she states that there are hundreds of colored people in the city of Washington, who, from being cared for, and clothed, and fed by the

raster
235
government, have become apathetic and indifferent, and all they care for is to lead the hum-drum, hand-to-mouth existence that calls for no action on their part. Hundreds of children are brought up in a shiftless manner, and, believing that the government will provide for them, they help swell the constantly increasing number of paupers. Without friends or homes, they are sent to some of the numerous asylums in Washington which are provided for them, and thus manage to exist, but have no thought or care as to how they are to do hereafter. When urged to go North, away from Washington, the invariable reply, at least of nearly all of the able bodied men in particular is, 'What of' I go way? gubernment feed me, gib me close, I's doin' well enuff,' and so say they all, or at least a great part of them.

"That a new order of things may be established, Sojourner proposes to excite such an interest as shall not fail in the end to accomplish her purpose.

"As showing what a large number are fed at government expense during the winter, at least when there is little or no work, she states that last season there were from 600 to 700 loaves of bread given daily in each ward, to the colored people, who had in many cases only this to depend upon for sustenance. The following extract from a letter written by Mrs. C. A. F. Stebbins, to the editor of the National Standard , shows the condition of things then existing, and which is no better at the commencement of each winter, and, as Sojourner claims, is even growing worse:--

raster
236
"To the Editor of the National Standard:--

"'There could be no wider possible gulf between Dives and Lazarus, in the day when the impoverished and despised craved the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table, than here this very day in the court center of the republic, where women are starving for bread, while after all the regular nourishing meals of the day, evening tables are heaped high with luxuries from every clime, and hundreds are invited to share, but they are the hundreds who have plenty upon their own boards at home....

"'I am thankful, dear Standard , that I do not believe the Dives of Washington city will ever go to the burning gulf as did Dives in the parable; or that they will ever lack for a kind and tender hand to administer the cup of cold water in the future world; but I cannot say, in the turning and constant revolutions of the wheel, that I believe all will be so fortunate in this, for experience in the valley of humility saves, no doubt, some bitter regret, and necessitates reflections on wasted opportunities which may lead to the realization that all are brothers, and human wants are ever the same.'

"Sojourner proposes to solicit government aid, in the way of having some portion of the as yet unoccupied lands of the West donated for the purpose as set forth in the petition first mentioned, and there to have suitable buildings erected, and schools established where the now dependent thousands of colored people may go, and not only attain an independence for themselves, but become educated and respectable citizens, instead of the 'trash'--as she denominates

raster
237
the humbling idlers in Washington--which their dependence on government aid and bounty renders them.

"Sojourner intends remaining in Detroit several days longer, during which time, if a hall or suitable place can be provided, she will give a lecture on the subject described, and will doubtless attract even more than on the occasion of her last appearance in Detroit, in '68."--Detroit Post .


    REPUBLICAN MEETING--SOJOURNER TRUTH.   Table of Contents     SOJOURNER TRUTH.