Christian Recorder: January 24, 1863
Turner writes about the happenings in Washington, DC
MR. EDITOR:--We are still surrounded by transforming aspects. The news of the federal reverses which occasionally comes muttering athwart the horizon of our prospects, and for a while beclouds the sky on which we fancies the golden letters of freedom written in matchless splendor, and arched with the bow of irreversible success, becomes, not unfrequently, a matter of serious meditation. But we must remember that the car of liberty has an enormous burden to carry to the summit of conquest, and we must not feel discouraged when the ascending grade is such as to demand an additional supply of resources. God has made humanity, and placed him upon such a basis, and delegated to him such powers and function, that his civil, moral, and religious destinies are suspended in the scope of his actions. And all great achievements must materially depend upon the outgivings of his own efforts, while he is often haggardly met by the stern rebukings of disappointments, and checked by the disagreeable luggages of adversity and internal distortions. We need never expect the triumph of civil land religious liberty, unless it is attended with severe trials and perplexities. This, it is true, is the normal condition of man, but he has been in an abnormal condition so long, that his replacement will call for no small degree of patience, accompanied with the mightiest demonstrations of effort. Let us then learn to trust God, rely upon him and the resources of our own actions, and in so doing we shall gain the day.
Mr. Thomas Cross, who was so badly injured by an assault made upon him at the festival, to which I referred some two weeks ago, has very nearly recovered.
The Senate confirmed or ratified the treaty with Liberia, a few days ago. This treaty was drawn up, some months ago, but a certain clause which it contained, guarantying to every Liberian citizen, an equal protection in all parts of the United States, as are given to the most favored nations of the earth, somewhat staggered the Senate, for they could not see how they could grant this, as long as slavery existed in the union as a local institution. But President Benson would agree to no other terms, even if no treaty at all was made; so our Senate finally complied.
This hesitating upon the part of the Senate, did not arise from a wish of non-compliance on their part, but from a fear it would be violated.
A large representation of the colored people have agreed to celebrate President Lincoln’s Proclamation, Thursday, 29th inst. They propose to have orations, speeches, singing &c.
They held a preliminary meeting in Israel Church, Thursday, 12th inst., when some white rowdies came proposing to break them up; they threw a few stones into the windows, which caused a mighty rush to the door; great droves left the church and ransacked every imaginable place, and had they been found, they never would have disturbed any one else, for the colored people would have laid them down as cool as ice.
On Wednesday evening, 14th inst., I had the pleasure of being at the installation of the officers elect, of the Washington Island Literary Association. This association which meets at E. Street Mission Church, (Rev. Mr. Tanner’s,) I referred to some time ago. It is composed of several of the most intelligent and erudite young gentlemen of that city. The variety of talent possessed by the members of the institution, are unquestionable equivalent to any literary or scientific task; if the labors assigned are not incompatible to the mental pre-eminence of the respective students. All, however, would not make orators, writers, or linguists, &c.; but some out of the aggregate mass possess functions mentally adequate to any requirement in the scope of our responsibility.
The only fault which I fear (and of this I have no evidence) the association has, is, that its literary exercises are too much confined to debates and discussions, which acquaints the mind theoretically with a vast range of general principles, but never enables it to produce any thoroughly practical results, which must necessarily be done, before its development will command any respect in a country where there is so much literary competition as this. But if there has been one toleration of an idea so misconceived by the executives of the institution, the present chairman will be apt to remedy it, as he is a man of the most acute discrimination. I will now give a synopsis of the meeting as it was disposed of.
Rev. Anthony Bowen, chaplain, sang and prayed, roll called, minutes read and approved. J. F. N. Wilkinson read an annual report of everything appertaining to the finance of the previous year, which was approved, and in the absence of the Ex-President, introduced Mr. Wm. A. Taliaferro, President elect, whose inaugural address could not have been more concise nor eloquent, had he been going to preside in the nation’s mansion. His language, manners, and gestures were so graceful; his attitude, delivery, and physiognomy so commandingly imposing, that I said to myself, woe be to you, if those talents are uselessly expended.
Mr. William H. Bruce, Vice President, was next introduced. His remarks were short and laconic; he spoke of the devolving responsibilities of his position, and pledged his allegiance to the Constitution. He is a young man against whom I have yet to hear the first fault alleged.
Mr. J. F. N. Wilkinson, Secretary, was introduced, and after some discussion between him and Mr. Castin as to his course, declined any remarks further than a tender of thanks.
Mr. J. A. Gibson, Treasurer, next made some short remarks. Mr. I. W. Lee, Librarian, made quite a lengthy address, in which he displayed considerable judgment and power; he would make a better Judge than Lawyer. Mr. G. H. Newman’s assistance towered into the sublime; his address was very grand, with the exception of some lack of grammatical terseness.
Mr. Samuel Richards, Sergeant at arms, was next introduced, who soon vacated the speaker’s stand, and took up his arms at the door, evincing a stronger fighting proclivity, than of speech-making.
Mr. W. W. Winkfield, Ex-Vice President, was introduced, and made some of the most eloquent remarks to which I thought I ever listened. He, however, showed some lack of connexion in the premises, which are natural to all young speakers; but, so soon as he cultivates oratory a little more, the man who attacks him will feel him to the core.
But I have not time to refer individually to them all in this letter. The rest of the speakers, who delivered addresses, were James Bowen, Cato Ward, Rev. Anthony Bowen, C. R. I. I. Brooks, and John T. Castin; the latter of whom would have done honor to the Court of King James. The association, upon the whole, is an honor to our people, and the young men identified with it deserve all honor. I never felt more like speaking, than I did on that occasion, though I was aware of my incompetency to the occasion, and they were equally as well aware.
Mr. Wm. T. Watkins lectured, Monday evening last, before the Israel Lyceum. The lecture displayed the character of its author, who is known only to be admired.
Rev. Elisha Weaver, General Book Steward, arrived in the city yesterday. We found him full of life, and interestingly agreeable.
Rev. A. W. Wayman passed through here this morning on his way to Alexandria, Virginia, for the purpose of delivering some of his able sermons in the Rev. B. L. Tanner’s Church.
We were informed by that old venerable lady, Sister Tanner, known to most of our ministers, that Rev. J. J. Hubert passed through here on his way to Virginia, but had returned and gone to his field of labor again.
Washington, Jan. 17, 1863