For the Christian Recorder
Christian Recorder: July 19, 1862
Turner writes about the happenings in Washington with special emphasis on the Sabbath School Union and events around the Civil War.
Keywords: Sabbath School, Civil War, Contrabands, Preachers
Mr. Editor: - The weather is excessively warm here; but is something milder now than it was a few days ago. Several persons gave out on Monday by being overpowered with heat. The pastor of Israel Church (Turner) was taken very sick on Sabbath morning just as he was commencing to preach, and had to be conduced home; but his health has considerably improved.
The 4th of July was a high day among all parties here. Our people who made ice cream, mineral water, and like things, severely suffered, while tongues and lips, in every direction; were soon very freely spinning out such confabulations as were adapted to their several tastes. One of the grandest affairs, however, that marked the progress of the day was the annual celebration of the grand Sabbath-school union.
This association consists of a union of all the Sabbath-schools in the city, which meet every quarter to hear reports from several schools, and to make such arrangements as are best adapted to the better advancement of that institution. The Sabbath-school confederacy was originated by Bishop (Daniel) Payne and the lamented Rev. John F. Cook, and has been in existence 17 years; and from what I can discern, it has been productive of a vast amount of good, and the interest of every school, by it, is made one in common.
They meet in a grand anniversary every 4th of July, at which time they elect officers, hear and deliver addresses, and transact such business as is compatible with the occasion.
The anniversary this year was so largely attended that the church (the 15th Street Presbyterian) which was selected for their accommodation, proved entirely too small, and they had to adjourn to Union Bethel, which, though larger, was by far too small. The officers who most predominantly figured on the Fourth, and, indeed, who are the present officers of the Union Association, are the following gentlemen, viz. : John Thomas Johnson, President; James 1 Henry McNeal Turner Wormly, Recording Secretary; Perry Rydel, Corresponding Secretary. I would remark here that Mr. Johnson is a man of rare attainments, and it is a wonder to me why he has not long since risen to national popularity.
The speakers on the occasion consisted of
1st. Rev. James A Handy. 2nd. Rev. Brother Haymer, of the Zion. 3rd. Judge Day, of New Haven. 4th. Rev. W. Beaman, of Conn. 5th. Mr. Charles Brown, of this city.It is but due to remark that the addresses were listened to with becoming attention, and some were exceedingly eloquent, and one particularly was very ordinary.
Mr. Joseph K. Williams, who has gained considerable notoriety through the country, from being the projector of the Central American scheme, is still in Washington, perambulating the streets as if he contemplated the final achievement of his desires. However much some of us may differ from the policy urged by Mr. Williams, I think that Mr. Williams is actuated by motives pure to the race he represents, and would not knowingly exert an influence which would detrimentally culminate in our injury.
I was in the Senate the other day, and had the pleasure of listening to Senator (James Henry) Lane pleading the cause of the colored man. And, while listening to him enter into our feelings and sympathies so accurately, I could hardly credit the idea that it was a full-blooded white man speaking; and, indeed, the Senate is almost abolitionized. Yesterday two Senators hitherto known as exceedingly conservative surprised everyone by offering and advocating a bill to enlist and equip colored soldiers into the United States army, with the understanding that freedom is to be the result. The same surprise was made in the House by a representative hitherto known as conservative; and the fact is that Gen. (George B.) McClellan’s defeat before Richmond has made a great many emancipational converts. And, in this connexion, I would state that Gen. McClellan is severely spoken of in nearly every republican speech delivered in Congress as not the man. While I am opposed to Gen. McClellan, yet I hear him denounced in Congress so severely that it excites my sympathy; and Gen. (Henry) Halleck is not dealt with any more tenderly. The truth is, every victory the Southerners gain tends to loosen the chains of slavery, and every one the Northerners gain tends only to tighten them, and it will be so till the North is brought to her senses.
And God’s plan of teaching her sense is through Southern victories. I have noticed in several instances whenever the Union Army is repulsed or the safety of the Government is menaced, there is an appeal to Negro sympathy, from parties in high position, but so soon as the tide turns, so soon is he discarded. And I now hear it rumored in all quarters that it is probable that Negroes will be organized into regiments and armed for the war, and one Congressman proposed to arm him and place him in front of the battle. This is very well so far as it goes: but my impression is that they will have a hard time raising Negro regiments to place in the front of the battle or anywhere else, unless freedom, eternal freedom, is guaranteed to them, their children, and their brethren. To talk about freeing only those who fight and should happen to escape the ball, is all gammon. If our people have not got too much sense for that, they have too much instinct; at all events they will not do it.
Gen. (David) Hunter's answer to the Government in relation to arming the colored people of South Carolina, met with hearty applause in all quarters. It is regarded as the noblest piece of gallantry that has yet been set forth. I have been told by some gentlemen, who pronounce themselves rather pro-slavery, that it was the very answer this Government needed. The Senate contemplated adjourning on Wednesday next, though several are opposed to it, unless they adjourn to meet again very soon.
The contrabands who come here are dying very fast. It is supposed that some fatal disease is among then. There were some frail sisters [who] got to fighting the other day, and the police arrested them after they had blooded each other’s head and broke a few noses, and when the police started off to the work-house with them, they cried out murder several times, and our people, supposing it to be a slave-catcher, started off with rocks, sticks, and every imaginable missile; but, on discovering the truth of the matter, justified the police. Had it been a slave catcher, sad would have been his condition.
H. M. T.