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- Affairs in Washington: September 27, 1862
Affairs in Washington
Christian Recorder: September 27, 1862
Turner writes about the war, the need to have both a weekly and monthly publication, preaching, and an update of the committee that met President Lincoln. He also finds time to acknowledge Mrs. James Lynch as a "splendid writer."
Keywords: Repository, Preaching, Women
MR. EDITOR:-- We are in the midst of an anxious suspense still for the nation’s safety. Fierce and terrible have been the battle fought almost at the door of the Capitol for the last two weeks. Days and nights pass away leisurely even to the most unconcerned, but to those who are to any extent interested in the war affairs, and are hungering for the evening and morning papers, hours appear to creep slower than days formerly.
The streets of Washington, which were thronged with straggling soldiers two weeks ago, now presents quite a different state of things. Those wandering soldiers have been taken up and properly assigned to a more useful sphere of action, though every public rendezvous is still beleaguered with more captains, lieutenants, and other coat-strapped gentlemen than I have ever seen before. However, it is a very insignificant thing that is of no use at all, and the only use their appearance upon the streets is, that it has a tendency to keep down excitement, for the great mass of the people are led to suppose, that as long as the soldiers are so easy and unconcerned, there is but little danger to be feared. And strange to say too; but there is the greatest difference in the world between the last soldiers called for by the President and the first. The first or former soldiers who came to the defence of their country, seemed to have had nothing at heart but their great and glorious mission, and every other consideration appeared to be a matter of contempt, or regarded as undeserving attention; they passed to and fro among the people and treated every one respectfully; such were the manners and becoming courtesy of every northern soldier that the colored people delighted to render every assistance in their power; they would take them to their houses and give them the best to eat the market could afford, and divide the last penny they had to make them comfortable, and it was almost unnatural to hear a harsh word spoken by any of them to a colored person. But these last recruits which are coming into the field are all the time cursing and abusing the infernal negro, as some say, nigger. In many instances you may see a regiment of soldiers passing along the street, and knowing them to be fresh troops, you may (as it is natural) stop to take a look at them, and instead of them thinking about the orders of their commanders, or Jeff Davis and his army, with whom they must soon contend, they are gazing about to see if they can find a nigger to spit their venom at. And I believe it is to kill off just such rebels as these that this war is being waged for, one in rebellion to their country, and the other in rebellion to humanity, for that man refused to respect an individual because his skin is black, when God himself made him black, is as big a rebel as ever the devil or any of his subalterns were, if James Gordon Bennett is one, he not excepted.
We had the pleasure of visiting Baltimore last Sabbath, and found every thing very agreeable in our churches. Sabbath morning we heard the Rev. S. L. Hammond preach one of his heart-searching sermons from the text, “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” Rev. Hammond preached in this pathetic style, he drew largely upon the Scriptures to prove his points, and so blended the various attributes of the Almighty as to show a line of goodness all through them. His words flowed free and easy, and fell impressively upon his audience. At night we visited Bethel church, and heard Rev. (Alexander Walker) A. W. Wayman, who preached from the simple phrase, Eternity. I here had my attention particularly called to notice, that though the Rev. A. W. Wayman had spent so many years in Baltimore, and to all probability, had preached a thousand sermons in Bethel Church, he nevertheless, held the entire audience, 2000 of white and colored, utterly spellbound; every one seemed to be intent upon the theme of his discourse, and in his glowing profusion of ideas. He invited all nature, the dancing stars, the rolling surges of the ocean, the flying cloud of heaven, the shining sun, the silver queen of the night, the snow-capped mountains, the blooming forest, the soaring eagle, the crystallized rooks of a thousand eyes, the cherubim, the seraphim, the tall archangels, and the intelligences that populated every planet, every cluster, every sphere, and every constellation in all God’s dominions to define the length of eternity, and all proved abortive. He then attempted to measure it by the drops of the ocean, the sand upon the earth, the leaves of the forests, the atomical particles, until he, as it were, drifted away into the untold, unmeasured, and inconceivable eyelets of eternity itself, but yet there were no bounds, it was endless, endless, endless.
We also had the pleasure of seeing the Rev. Mrs. James Lynch, who is not only a beautiful lady, but one whose physiognomical features bespeak the highest degree of intellectuality. She is also modest, sedate, and very reserved, a choice thinker, and a splendid writer, and in every respect the equal of her husband, and will in time make one of our first literary contributors, which is an inestimable excellence in a preacher’s wife.
I also visited the office of the Repository, and find that our people, like as in nearly everything else, are growing weary in well doing. When the Repository first began to be published monthly, there was a considerable amount of zeal manifested in its behalf, but like the old bell cow, it has now become common, and hence the people are becoming careless. The secret of it is, I do not believe that the ministers manifest any interest in it, with some few exceptions, for I am certain if its claims were held up before the thousand that compose our congregations, Sabbathly, that we could dispose of at least 5000 per month, and here we can barely get rid of one thousand. I heard Bishop (William Paul) Quinn say in New York, that the ministers of the A.M.E. Church preached Sabbathly to over 75,000 human beings, and out of that vast number, we can hardly sell one thousand Repositories, and it puzzles almost the whole connection to understand how (Elisha) Weaver does to keep the Recorder alive, but the ones that are the most puzzled are those who do the least for it. If 75000 persons, professors and non-professors, who are supposed to compose our congregations through the entire connection, cannot keep up one weekly paper and one monthly periodical, (the Repository) we ought to go down South and work for old Jeff.
No one can find any fault with either the Repository or the Recorder; their literature is of the best style, indeed, history, art, science, divinity, or politics, or anything else heart could wish, are found in their pages as affluently as in any other in this country. No excuse under God’s heaven, but indifference, or an indisposition to work for our own benefit. God of mercy wake up the people to a knowledge of their stupidity and to a sense of their danger, for I really believe that it is dangerous to trifle with the means that God has put in our hands to elevate unborn generations, for a man that will oppose literature is no more than any other sinner if he has the means of exerting its blessed power either upon himself or other persons. And the man that will neglect it commits a sin second only to neglecting his prayers.
I was informed that there was a meeting held in the 15th street Presbyterian church on last Monday evening, to consider the propriety of calling a pastor, and that the Rev. Mr. Gibbs of Philadelphia, was one among the proposed. I trust they may succeed in getting some good man to lead them, as there are many young intelligent persons connected with that branch of Zion who need a spiritual adviser.
Professor A. M. Green is in the city, and contemplates delivering some of his telling lectures in Washington before leaving.
The committee who waited upon the President, and to whom he delivered his Central American address, have not yet taken any action. I hear they are preparing a reply, which they contemplate submitting to the people, and if approved of, then submitting it to the President. I hope they will make it speak in power, for if we do not speak now, at a time when the chief magistrate is bound to hear us, I very much doubt another opportunity being offered. May God teach them what to say.
Washington, Sept. 19th, 1862.