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Truth, Sojourner
Narrative of Sojourner Truth



The habit of smoking was contracted by Sojourner in early youth. Not many years since, whilst traveling in Iowa, a gentleman asked her if she believed the Bible, to which she readily assented. Her friend said, "The Bible tells us that 'no unclean thing can enter the kingdom of Heaven.' Now what can be more filthy than the breath of a smoker?" "Yes, child," she answered, "but when I goes to Heaven I spects to leave my breff behind me." But as time passed on she became convinced that the habit was wrong. She had not courage to chide people for using spirituous liquors while indulging in the use of tobacco, herself. Accordingly she discontinued the habit. She was told it would affect her health. She said, "I'll quit if I die." She did quit and lived!

"Rochester, Jan.11, 1869. " Dear Friend Sojourner :--

"The announcement in the Anti-slavery Standard of thy having laid aside the pipe, is receiving considerable attention. I received

a letter from Dr. Trask, of Fitchburg, Mass., who rejoices greatly over thy grand and triumphant effort, and says, 'It ought to be proclaimed far and near to strengthen others to cast aside the abomination.'

"Also a letter has just come to me from our old and highly esteemed friend, Jonathan Walker, the original of 'The Branded Hand.' Thou wilt probably remember him. He was captain of a small vessel running from New York to the Gulf States. He secreted several slaves and brought them to the free States, was taken and imprisoned, and the letters S S branded on his right hand, signifying slave stealer; but in our vernacular we should interpret it slave savior. This vessel with its entire cargo was confiscated, and he lay in a filthy jail in Florida for several months." Amy Post ."

"Muskegon, Mich.,

Jan. 1, 1869. " My Dear Aged and Venerated Friend :--

"Your earnest and effectual devotion, for so long a time, to the cause of human redemption, has, from my first knowledge of your missionary services to the present time, impressed me (as well as many others) with the warmest fraternal regard for your welfare and usefulness. When I saw it announced by Amy Post, in the Anti-slavery Standard , that you had abandoned the pipe at your advanced age, I could from no other conclusion than that you had done it under the influence of the keenest moral and religious sensibilities.

'I have known ministers and many professors of

religion, as well as other good people, who tried hard and long to abandon the use of tobacco, yet made a failure, and confessed that they could not conquer the habit. I distinctly remember, also, the tedious and desperate struggle I had to emancipate myself from twenty years' slavery to the foul weed. Considering the effect its long use has upon the nervous system, I could hardly suppose you could have achieved so great a victory at your age without a break-down; nor do I look upon so heroic an act as much short of a miracle. May the example of such self-sacrifice in you, indeed stimulate and encourage (as Amy says) 'others to do likewise,' is the earnest desire of your"Sincere friend,
"Jonathan Walker."
"P. S. I am not sure, but I think I met you twenty-five years ago at Bronsonville, North Hanston, Mass., soon after my return from imprisonment in Florida. J. W."

The heroic deeds of Jonathan Walker have rendered his name immortal; and our prince of song has paid them a just and noble tribute in the exquisite poem entitled, "The Branded Hand," from which the following is an extract:--

"Why, that brand is highest honor! than its traces never yet
On old armorial hatchments was a prouder blazon set;
And thy unborn generations, as they tread our rocky strand,
Shall tell with pride the story of their father's branded hand!

"Then lift that manly right hand, bold ploughman of the wave!
Its branded palm shall prophesy, 'Salvation to the Slave.'
Hold up its fire-wrought language, that whose reads may feel
His heart swell strong within him, his sinews change to steel.

"Hold it up before our sunshine, up against our northern air.
Ho! men of Massachusetts, for the love of God, look there!
Take it henceforth for your standard--like the Bruce's heart of yore,
In the dark strife closing round ye, let that hand be seen before!

"And the tyrants of the slave-land shall tremble at that sign,
When it points its finger southward along the Puritan line:
Woe to the State-gorged leeches, and the church's locust band,
When they look from slavery's ramparts on the coming of that hand."