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    EXTENT OF HER LABORS.   Table of Contents

Truth, Sojourner
Narrative of Sojourner Truth




About 20 years ago Sojourner attended a grove-meeting at Abington, Mass., to celebrate negro emancipation in the West Indies. Many of the old line abolitionists were there,--Pillsbury, Garrison, Phillips, Stephen and Abby Foster, Henry C. Wright, Charles Lenox Rimond, and a host of others. Two fugitives from southern slavery, who were traveling over the underground railroad to Canada, stopped off a train to enjoy a day with friends before going to that "cold but happy land." They sat upon the platform with the speakers. One, a very large man, was squeezed into a coat much too small for him. The other, a diminutive man, wore a coat of such ample proportions that it hung in folds about his liliputian form. But as these garments had been given them by employees on the underground express, and were the first of the kind they had ever owned, the fit did not appear to disturb them, judging by the pleased look upon their faces. The contrast between their present condition and what might have been, had they been overtaken in their flight and dragged back into slavery, filled them with bliss. They were comparatively happy.

These coat collars were nicer than the iron collars which might now have been on their necks; and the cuffs, softer than the iron cuffs which they knew the captured fugitive was made to wear. The voice of blood-hounds baying in the distance, was superseded

by kindly human voices. Traveling toward the North Star by night, they had hidden in dark caves and underbrush during the day, avoiding the light of the sun. Now, streams of golden sunlight flowed around them. Surely, they were receiving "beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning."

One of them arose, and in a brief manner expressed his appreciation of this mighty change, and his deep gratitude to the people of Massachusetts for their kindness and generosity. At the close of his remarks, which were received with applause, Mr. Garrison said, "Sojourner Truth will now address you in her peculiar manner, and Wendell Phillips will follow." Sojourner began by improvising a song, commencing, "Hail! ye abolitionists." Her voice was both sweet and powerful, and as her notes floated away through the tree-tops, reaching the outermost circle of that vast multitude, it elicited cheer after cheer. She than made some spicy remarks, occasionally referring to her fugitive brethren on the platform beside her. At the close of her address, in which by witty sallies and pathetic appeals, she had moved the audience to laughter and tears, she looked about the assemblage and said, "I will now close, for he that cometh after me is greater than I," and took her seat. Mr. Phillips came forward holding a paper in his hand containing notes of Sojourner's speech, which he used as texts for a powerful and eloquent appeal in behalf of human freedom. Sojourner says, "I was utterly astonished to hear him say, 'Well has Sojourner said so and so'; and I said to myself, Lord, did I say that? How differently it sounded coming

from his lips! He dressed my poor, bare speech in such beautiful garments that I scarcely recognized it myself."

As Sojourner was returning to the home of Amy Post in Rochester, one evening, after having delivered a lecture in Corinthian Hall, a little policeman stepped up to her and demanded her name. She paused, struck her cane firmly upon the ground, drew herself up to her greatest hight, and in a loud, deep, voice deliberately answered " I am that I am ." The frightened policeman vanished, and she concluded her walk without further questioning.

During the war, Sojourner met one of her democratic friends, who asked her, "What business are you now following?" She quickly replied, "Years ago, when I lived in the city of New York, my occupation was scouring brass door knobs; but now I go about scouring copperheads."

At a temperance meeting in one of the towns of Kansas, Sojourner, whilst addressing the audience, was much annoyed by frequent expectorations of tobacco juice upon the flour. Pausing and contemplating the pools of liquid filth, with a look of disgust upon her face, she remarked that it had been the custom for her Methodist brethren to kneel in the house of God during prayers, and asked how they could kneel upon these floors? Said she, speaking

with emphasis, "If Jesus was here he would scourge you from this place."

Previous to the war, Sojourner held a series of meetings in northern Ohio. She sometimes made very strong points in the course of her speech, which she knew hit the apologist of slavery pretty hard. At the close of one of these meetings, a man came up to her and said, "Old woman, do you think that your talk about slavery does any good? Do you suppose people care what you say?" "Why," continued he, "I do n't care any more for your talk than I do for the bite of a flea." "Perhaps not," she responded, "but, the Lord willing, I'll keep you scratching."

Sojourner was invited to speak at a meeting in Florence, Mass. She had just returned from a fatiguing trip, and not having thought of anything in particular to say, arose and said, "Children, I have come here to-night like the rest of you to hear what I have got to say." Wendell Phillips was one of her audience. Soon after this he was invited to address a lyceum, and being unprepared for the occasion, as he thought, began by saying, "I shall have to tell you as my friend Sojourner Truth told an audience under similar circumstances, I have come here like the rest of you to hear what I have to say."


Autographs of Distinguished Persons ,






In Sojourner's correspondence are found names of such weight and power that it seemed fitting to have them engraven for her "Book of Life." Here are names that are indelibly stamped upon the pages of their country's history, and inseparably connected with it--names which will reverberate adown the centuries, and the echoes be caught by the generations in the coming time--"immortal names that were not born to die," but which are synonyms of all that is most exalted in human life and character--names of men and women, the luster of whose lives shed a light on humanity's page, pure and sparkling as the shimmer of a white wing flashing through the yellow sunlight--names of those who manifested their love to God by tender compassion for the lowliest of his children.

The name of one who was dragged through the streets of a populous city with a halter about his neck, will be remembered when that city which permitted the outrage, would be forgotten but for the immortality attained through his sublime heroism. Boston with its moving atoms will fade away, but the waves of progress received an impetus from the breath of this true devotee of freedom which will help to cleanse and purify the streams of life till they are engulfed in the ocean of eternity.

The name of one is written who only "awaited the opportunity to enfranchise millions."


I read the name of one who traveled many winters among the hills of New England, braving its snow drifts and piercing winds, to preach the gospel of freedom to those whose hearts were harder than the granite rocks over which he toiled, and chillier than the snows and breath of winter. Abandoning a situation of honor and profit, he consecrated his giant intellect, and the best years of his life, to a cause that brought neither honor nor profit, despised by mammon worshipers and all who seek the applause of such. Beyond the turmoil of the present hour, when its noise and uproar have died away, the refined and polished future will render his verdict. He can afford to wait. The present never knows its saviors; retrospection clears the vision.

The influence of another, who labors with deep earnestness in the Master's vineyard, confined to no locality, knowing neither North nor South, but imparting his loving spirit to all races and conditions of society, will be felt upon the tide of civilization whilst its waves break upon the shores of time.

Here is the name of a noble woman who has gone up Calvary bearing the cross, and gained the mount of ascension with bleeding feet; who has labored for the rights of her race and for the rights of her sex, braving the scorn and obloquy of conservatism. Bold iconoclast! endure a little longer. "The hour for your ideas has not yet struck."


One, languishing twelve years in prison, found compensation for his sufferings in the words of the divine Master, "Sick and in prison ye ministered unto me."

One of these, a world-renowned orator, said, "The age of reading men has come. The age of thinking men has come. The age of the masses has come."

One of Sojourner's friends, by her genius in the delineation of character, opened the world's eyes to perceive that irresponsible power vested in a Legree was a dangerous thing, and that Uncle Toms and Topsies were human beings after all.

Another inscribes this formula in Sojourner's "Book of Life": "Equality of rights is the first of rights."

A woman whose of four-score years are so replete with good words and deeds that the name falls like a benediction upon the listening ear, has taught her sex that old age need not be desolate, but may be fragrant as a garden of roses. White hairs, like a saint's aureole, encircle her brow. We involuntarily bow our hearts in worship when the honored name of Lucretia Mott is pronounced.

Another is the name of Lydia Maria Child, the key note of whose useful life and brilliant intellect has ever been attuned to freedom's cause.

One crossed and recrossed the Atlantic, to blend his efforts with the little band of reformers which

eventually slew the giant, Slavery, with a pebble of truth, and demolished his castle, the corner stone of which was lies, and its superstructure the bleeding hearts of crushed humanity. Landing upon our shores he was pursued by the hooting mob, as if the Plutonian regions had been emptied at his heels.

G. S., meaning "Great Soul," gave farms to poor blacks and whites, carrying out Sojourner's idea of encouraging industry, and making wild lands a source of revenue to the government. In Congress he said, "Truth lives and reigns forever. In proportion as we obey the truth, are we able to discern the truth." If all that is wrong within us was made right, not only would our darkness give place to a cloudless light, but like the angel of the Apocalypse we should "stand in the sun."

Another could bear the torture of the branding iron rather than be false to his convictions of duty.

Josephine S. Griffing labored for years to ameliorate the condition of the black race, and in her system were sown, by overwork, the seeds of consumption which bore speedy fruit.

Another in the sacred desk ever insisted that humanity was of all things under heaven to most sacred. A marble bust of this good man adorns the city of Syracuse, and a friend writing of it says, "It is eminently fitting that one of the purest of the once

proscribed abolitionists should now be thus publicly honored."

Another, who holds a high position under the government, is Sojourner's friend, and unites his efforts with hers to promote the welfare of the race which has been so mercilessly tossed about by our Ship of State. He encourages her to persevere in her efforts to obtain a grant of land for the freedmen, and lends his influence to the cause.

And last but not least are those royal souls who sheltered and comforted the flying fugitive, who fed and clothed him, who warmed him by the sacred fires of their own domestic hearth-stones. The money they have so freely given to the poor and needy, is out at an interest whose profits are beyond the power of arithmetic to calculate. Their names are engraven upon human hearts as with a pen of fire; and to them will the beatitude apply, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

    EXTENT OF HER LABORS.   Table of Contents