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Truth, Sojourner
Narrative of Sojourner Truth



"The little company of Friends in Orange held a very interesting meeting yesterday morning in Association Hall, where they were addressed by two noted

preachers, one a man, the other a woman, the former white and the latter colored. These were George Truman and Sojourner Truth. The former was the first speaker.

"At the conclusion of Mr. Truman's address there was a short interval of silent meditation, after which Sojourner Truth, the venerable preacher and missionary, rose to speak. Her tall form was slightly bent with age, and as she faced her audience, clad in the simple garb of a Quakeress, she looked like an aged sibyl pleading the cause of her people. At first her voice was somewhat husky, and a few words were scarcely intelligible at the other end of the room, but as she warmed up with her subject all signs of weakness disappeared. She said that she felt that she was called to her work, and that if we are inheritors of the kingdom of God there must be some work that is to be done by us. That was what she had been trying to do for twenty or thirty years. When she was enlightened by God's love and truth she wanted to know, 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Now I want to go to work. Well, it came to me in the antislavery cause. I knew slavery was a curse. I had been a slave and a chattel, and I went to work then. After that there seemed to be a call for me to go to work for the poor and outcast, for they are as poor as any one on God's foot-stool.' She said she had tried for years to get the government to help her and give the old destitute people, left destitute by the war, and the young growing up in wickedness, a home.

"She spoke of the misery and degradation she had seen among the colored people in the South, of the

Black Maria full of them driving up to the Washington police court, of their being thrown into jails, and of their children growing up in vice and ignorance, and said that it was a shame and an abomination, and that the people did not know these things simply because they did not see them. She had heard it said that these evils would die out in time, but they would not die out, 'they must be learned out.' God looks down on these things and sees them, and we all ought to feel that the world should be better because we are in it. She believed in being doers of the word, not hearers only, and in doing something to show we are workers in the vineyard. She lectured four years on this matter, and had got up a petition, to Congress to set aside a portion of the public lands in the West, and put buildings thereon for a home for the destitute. People would sign her petition, but they would say that the plan could not be carried out. It was not so, it can be carried out. She said she wished the women of the place would get up a meeting and give her a hearing, as she wanted to tell them things she could not tell the men. The venerable preacher then wandered from sacred to secular matters, stating her opinion that the national government needed the administration of women to become cleaner. In conclusion she spoke of the aid she had received from General O. O. Howard, and caused her grandson to read a letter written by the general favoring the object she was working for.

"Sojourner Truth will address a woman's meeting in Association Hall, on Wednesday afternoon at 3 o'clock. It is hoped that there will be a large attendance,

as she proposes to fully present the condition and needs of her race at the South to the ladies of Orange."

" Washington ,

June 3, 1874. " Gen. B. F. Butler , M. C.,
" Washington, D. C .
" My Dear Sir :--

Sojourner Truth began her labors for her people many years ago. Under the operations of our laws with reference to the indigent there is constant change. The government did lend a helping hand for a time, and many think no more should be done by the general government for the elasses rendered helpless by the war and by slavery.

"Sojourner finds many people living in comparative beggary, and many children growing up without education in either books, or industry, or honesty, whom she believes can be properly aided by the general government into better conditions. It struck me that the number of totally disabled soldiers, &c., would grow less as time goes on, and that possibly the income for your Asylum would soon render it practicable to try an experiment in the direction that Sojourner indicates. Without much thought and without consulting with any one, I have indicated by the enclosed papers what you may be able to put into some good, practical shape.

"It is hard to steer clear of very serious objections which arise against the exercise of benevolence or charity by the general government. Yet, as in cases of sudden overflow or famine, I believe the exercise

deepens this feeling of regard for our already renovated Republic.Yours truly, "(Signed,) O. O. Howard ."

The year '74 brought many vicissitudes to Sojourner. Sammie Banks, her dutiful and beloved grandson, began to decline in health soon after they reached Washington, which obliged them to leave that city and return to Battle Creek, where he lingered till Feb., 1875; when he passed away from amongst us. Sojourner also suffered from serious illness during that winter, and her life was despaired of for many long weeks. But her friends now rejoice to see her convalescing. She feels that for some special purpose her life has been spared, comparative health restored, and her mind brought back from the shadowy realm where it wandered during the days and nights when that red-lipped demon, Fever, with insatiate thirst, sucked the juices from life's fountain. She says, "My good Master kept me, for he had something for me to do."

She has no means of support. The ulcer upon her limb, from which she has so severely suffered, is partially healed. She says the "Lord has put new flesh on to old bones," which is proof to her mind that he requires more work of her. She hopes to go to Washington again and get her petition before Congress. Anna Dickinson says, "I hope every one will buy the pictures I gave her, and do all they can to help the woman, poor and old, who in her prime and strength helped so many." Another earnest woman asks the people to buy her book, and by so doing make her independent

in her last days. No faithful servant of the divine Master should be accounted a burden while on earth, for the earth is the Lord's and the products are doubtless designed to sustain the creatures he has placed upon it. Especially should those who have borne the burden and heat of the day of life trustfully receive every comfort.

A friend not long ago offered to write her life. She told him she was "not ready to be writ up yet, for she had lots to accomplish first." She is now ready to be written up to this date, hoping thereby to complete the great enterprise she has undertaken. Born far back in the eighteenth century, and working for nearly a hundred years for the good of humanity, we see her ready to enter the last quarter of the nineteenth century with eye of faith undimmed and strength of spirit unabated. She has sought to promote every reform that has been agitated during this century. Most of those who were associated with her have gone from "works to rewards." But few survive to witness the flowering of those free institutions which they labored so industriously to plant.

Sojourner yet lingers on the verge of time, presenting to the world the extraordinary spectacle of a woman who, by native force, arose from the dregs of social life, like a phenix from its ashes, to become the defender of her race; and she has for years struggled faithfully to extricate it from the doom of perpetual slavery, to which it seemed to have been committed by the despotism of a great nation, the gigantic atrociousness of whose laws surpassed any other in the annals of the ages. Her parallel exists not in history.

She stands by the closing century like a twin sister. Born and reared by its side, what it knows she knows, what it has seen, she has seen. Her memory is a vast storehouse of knowledge, the shelves of which contain a history of the revolutions, progressions, and culmination of the great ideas which have been a part of her life purpose. She continues to keep guard over the rights of her race, to the interests of which she has so long been devoted. True to the character of sibyl, which genius has awarded her, she, while working in the present, points to the future for the fulfillment of her longings and her hopes.

Cosmopolitan in her nature, she calls the world her home, and says she could never apply to a town for aid, but would sooner appeal to the whole United States, for the welfare of which she has labored and which is more her home than any single locality of town or State. She loves her country with truest love. After the emancipation of her people, when passing the capitol buildings, she would often pause to contemplate the ensigns of liberty displayed upon them, which then admitted a new interpretation. She devoutly thanked her God that the flag proudly floating over the dome at last afforded protection to such as she, and that the stars and stripes no longer symbolized the "scars and stripes" upon the negro's back. Instinctively her soul claimed kinship with the emblematic eagle, whose glittering eye seemed to pierce the clouds, and the span of whose wings was ample to hover over four million freemen, upon whose limbs the clanking chain would drag no more. And when her free black hands were raised to heaven, invoking

blessings upon her country, it was a fairer sight to see and a surer guarantee of its permanence and glory than was the imposing spectacle of that beauteous "queen of the East," upon whose snowy, perfect hands the golden chains of slavery shone, as she entered the gates of the eternal city, leading the triumphant procession of a Csar.

The nineteenth century towers above all preceding ones. Numberless inventions and improvements are embraced within its circle. Mechanics, agriculture, commerce, science, and arts, the world of matter and the world of mind, have budded and blossomed, so to speak, as never before. The contemplation of its achievements is at once sublime and overwhelming, and not alone for what it has done, but for what it prophecies of the coming time. The century is a sibyl, too. Upon the foundation it has laid, a superstructure may arise more symmetrical than prophet has yet dared foretell. "It builded better than it knew," can truly be averred of it. But the century has nearly run its course. Already are the "fateful Spinners" coiling the strands with which to ring its funeral knell. Its plumed hearse and sable mourners loom up like ghosts in the dim horizon of the near future. The grave-digger, sharpening spade and pick, prepares to do his part. Representatives from many nations and races hasten to join the pageant, to pay the last honors in the "City of Brotherly Love," where the obsequies are to be celebrated.

Let us accept the name as a happy omen, foreshadowing the time when brotherly love shall so abound that the relation of each to all will be so plain that

"he who runs may read." The century's history is nearly written up, and Sojourner's lacks but another chapter in which she hopes to chronicle the accomplishment of her heart's desire. May her longevity transcend the century with which she has so long kept pace.

She has ever listened to the still, small voice within her soul, and followed where it led. She has clothed the naked, and fed the hungry; been bound with those in bondage, and remembered her less fortunate brother when released from chains herself. She has upheld the right and true, denouncing wrong in high places as well as low. Her barque has been carried far out to sea, and now it nears the port. May she encounter no more storms upon her homeward course, but, wafted by soft, sweet winds through placid waters, peacefully enter the harbor of the "King Eternal." And when she glides from ship to shore, may she hear the welcome, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."