|PART SECOND. -- "BOOK OF LIFE."|
|VISITS PRESIDENT GRANT--LETTER OP INTRODUCTION -- FROM GEN. HOWARD.|
March 17, 1870
Gen. U.S. Grant
" President U.S .--
Sojourner Truth, quite an aged and distinguished colored woman, earnestly working for years for her people, desires to see the president. She will pray for him surely; but more heartily if she sees him."Yours respectfully, O.O. Howard."
Sojourner says: "I went in company with several ladies and gentlemen to see the president. While waiting in the ante-room with other visitors, a gentleman called, to whom I was introduced. During a short conversation with him, he said, 'I recollect having seen you at Arlington Heights. How old do you call yourself now?' I had felt very much annoyed by people's calling to me in the street and asking that question. I mentioned it to Dr. Howland, and he advised me to charge five dollars for answering that question; so I said to the gentleman, A friend told me to ask five dollars for telling my age. He smiled pleasantly, and invited me to call upon him at the city hall. After he left, my friends told me that that gentleman was Mayor Bowen, one of the best men in the city. Presently, a man came in, a free-and-easy sort of fellow, and asked to see the president. We were now ushered into the presence room. A very elegant lady and gentleman shook hands with the president, and after, a few pleasant words were passed, took their leave.
"Then the 'hail fellow' stepped up and offered his hand, saying, 'This is President Grant, is it? You ain't as old as I thought you was. I've seen your picter, and your picter looks older than you do.' The president smilingly said, 'I am not so very old.' 'Wall, how old do you call yourself, anyhow?' The president replied that he was 49 years of age. 'Ain't you no older than that?' said the fellow. 'No, sir,' patiently answered the president. 'You look older than that,' said he, and waited to see if the president had anything more to say, but, finding that the interview was ended, turned to go, saying, 'Good-by.' 'Good-by, sir,' said the president, and the fellow walked off.
"I felt very much mortified because I had asked Mayor Bowen five dollars for inquiring of me how old I was, when I saw how kindly and politely the president treated that clownish fellow. I will here add that I subsequently called upon the mayor and apologized for my rudeness to him. He said he ought to be the one to ask an apology, for it was improper to ask a lady her age. He invited me to spend a day with his family, which invitation I accepted and was cordially entertained by his lovely wife and interesting family. It was now our turn to be presented to the president. He shook my hand, and said he was pleased to see me. After a little pleasant conversation, I expressed my gratification that the colored people had gained the right of suffrage. This he cordially indorsed. I now showed him my 'Book of Life,' which contains the autographs of Lincoln and other distinguished persons. He took the book and
"We now left, carrying with us a pleasant impression of the president, and the memory of a delightful hour spent in the White House."
" Washington, April 14, 1867 . " My Dear Sojourner :--
"I am so thronged with work, and applications for colored people, from all parts, that I cannot finish any day's work. I always go to bed tired, leaving much work undone. As to sending you people, it is impossible to promise anything. We have been trying to get some people to go the last week, but all who go incline to go to Providence, Battle Creek, or some place where already several have gone.
"One thing now you may do--send the names and residences of those who have applied to you for help, and we will make one desperate effort. We send our men to Brockport this coming week. The Bureau requires that the names of employers be sent; so if you send on the names, I will do the best I can. You need not promise any till you see whether they can be obtained. I wish much we could send a hundred men, they stand idle everywhere and will not go in any considerable numbers till after the first of June, when they will vote. With love and best wishes,"Your friend, Josephine S. Griffing ."
" Oct . 16, 1874. " Mrs. F.W. Titus :--
"Can you inform me who wrote out (or otherwise compiled) and edited the narrative of Sojourner Truth's life? I shall be much obliged to you if you can give me this information; it is desired for the library of a public institution. If you can tell me where Sojourner Truth is now, and as to her health and circumstances, I shall be glad and further obliged to you."Respectfully,
" Leicester, Mass ."