Letter from Washington: July 5, 1862

Letter from Washington 

Christian Recorder: July 5, 1862 

Turner shares with his readers some of the happenings in Washington DC. 

Keywords: Confiscation Bill (Act), Contrabands, Preachers, Stephen Allen Benson, Liberia 

Mr. Editor:--We are having beautiful weather at this time, though Washington is hardly ever very agreeable on the streets, for it is either flooded with mud or dust. A few days of rain will mire wagons down on some of the most popular streets in the city, and an equal proportion of sunshine will darken the heavens with dust, making a fellows broadcloth look like he had been rolling in the dirt, and nearly put out your eyes, unless they are well protected with a good set of glasses. 

Before this shall have reached you, I judge you will have been apprised of the Confiscation Bill, which has passed during the previous week, and must necessarily give liberty to so many rebel slaves. 

Rev. D. D. Nichols, from Boston, who recently has been on to Port Royal, as a teacher among the contrabands, has been appointed by General (James) Wadsworth, the superintendent of the contraband hall, and is making quite an improvement among them. Indeed, so entirely has he changed things there, that those who have been accustomed to frequent the contraband hall can hardly accredit it to one man’s operation. 

Rev. (Benjamin Tucker) B. T. Tanner is doing a great work at Alexandria, Va. He has raised a Sabbath school of over eighty children, in connexion (sic) with twelve excellent teachers. Several have joined the church there, and the A.M.E. Church, under the energetic labors of our beloved brother, is prospering finely. 

Rev. John Green, a local preacher of the Zion Wesley Church as they call themselves, went down to Alexandria a few weeks ago to organize a church for their connexion (so report says,) and he carried his congregation from Washington, and when he returned, his congregation returned with him. I was at his church on the island the same day, and one of the orators stated that the reason there were no more people at church (and indeed there were few) was because they had all gone to Alexandria to the consecration of a new church. I would like to organize a church in Richmond, Va., if I could, but I should dislike to take my audience from Washington, and then have them to return with me, for I fear I should do but little harm to my opposer in flesh, or to my opposer in the world. 

Deaths occur very frequent in the city at this time, and particularly among the children. I think it must be some kind of cholera, for you may see a child well and hearty this morning, and in the evening you will hear of its death: but young and old are dying very fast. But it does not diminish the zeal of the companion seekers – people court and get married like fun here. 

I see a very able article in the last RECORDER from the pen of Wm. H. Winder. I was proud to read such an able piece of composition, as well as such an embodiment of deep, weighty and profound thoughts from the pen of one of our race; it has excited some considerable curiosity among the literati of Washington. 

Another suggestion thrown out by yourself, is also waking up some inquiry among the thinking minds, which is relative to the way our bishops lay off the conferences into certain districts, and then to deny authority to go into any other district or diocese except their own, and exercise Episcopal authority; whereas, the connexion knows each and every bishop, as the Bishop of the A.M.E. Church, wherever the least vestige of said church is to be found. 

But it does appear to some of us, that if your idea is correct, that each and every bishop is the bishop of the entire connexion, wherever that connexion may exist, that it would be utterly impossible for them to delegate legally their right of any conference to any one the bishops for four full years. Some of us understand it to be not according to the Discipline, and their mode of operation is one of expediency, only, I suppose. 

President (Stephen Allen) Benson, of Liberia, is looked for in Washington before long. I trust he would not soil his distinguished reputation by visiting America at this time. Several men of note, it is reported, have written for him to come on; but many of Liberia’s best friends are hopeful that he will refuse. The condescension would be too much for one so high in position. 

                                                                                                                                     H. M.T. 

Washington, June 23d.