Washington Correspondence: January 31, 1863

Washington Correspondence


Christian Recorder: January 31, 1863

Turner writes about the happenings in Washington, DC

Mr. Editor: Since the hard rains have commenced in our city it has transformed its streets into mud and slop of the most disagreeable kind. Some of the most popular streets look as though a person might swim up and down them much more easily than walk them.

Congress for several days has been considering the financial state of the Government, the national expenditures are so large, and such a vast quantity of soldiers and other officers have gone for months without receiving their pay, that it is a desire on the part of several congressmen to remedy the evil.

A bill providing for the equipment of 150,000 colored soldiers, was introduced in the house a few days ago, but was laid over for future consideration: I judge it will come up in a few days, when the policy of the government in that relation will be defined. The various speculations concerning negro regiments, and negro fighting capacity are too numerous to detail. I was informed yesterday, however, that five cavalry regiments were contemplated to be raised, and experimented upon with the Indians, and if they prayed a success, then lead them against the rebels : others wish to dismiss them, and let them return to hewing wood and drawing water. I am very doubtful whether the negro could display his bravery as well against his co-sufferer, as he could against his enemy. Poor Indian thy suffering and torture could not be portrayed in letters of blood: thou hast been my fellow in miserableness, and would have been a slave of thy ferocious nature but not made thee dreaded. And thou hast cherished no special hatred against my race: thy scalping knife and tomahawk were not shaped nor moulded to injure us, and when thou hast used it against my people, it was because thou didst misunderstand the relation they held to thy inveterate foes. Like us though has been scattered and peeled, and you are fast marching down the road to extinction, and soon, I fear, will no longer be numbered among the races of the earth. Therefore, O Indian, how could I slay thee: how could I cut thy throat, or put the dagger to thy heart! I think this would make up some of the feelings of the colored regiments when led on the battlefield against the Indians.

But turn their faces South and let the Star Spangled Banner flaunt in the breeze, lettered in semi circular form. LIBERTY TO ALL MEN AND RIGHT OF FRANCHISE, and if they cannot read it, have it read for them, and I will guaranty without any of their Indian experimentalities, that the negro will engrave his bravery so deep in the rock of history, that the most corroding elements of time will never efface it: let me front my enemy and then demand my courage. I could not fight Weaver as I could Bennett, for Weaver is my co-laborerer, but Bennett is my seven headed and ten horned anti-laborer. Let those who have been crushing our vitals out meet us in battle array, and we will not ask for a Bunker Hill, nor listen to the story of Yorktown: instead the military glory of Camden shall be eclipsed, and the star of Cambridge shall set forever. Admiral Foote may deny us the lineage of Hannibal, or dispute the color of Scipio, but some Tom, Dick, or Harry, will be shot forth from the crater of emergency that shall gild the path, and laurel the crown of negro sagacity and bravery.

The ladies of Israel church, consisting of Mrs. Frances Hughes, President: Fanny Lee, Casandra Dent, Hannah Patent, Catherine Hutchinson, Mary Thomas, Rebecca Moore, Anna Tunion, Marsalene Woodlane, as table holders, and their assistants, too numerous too mention, gave a splendid fair in the basement of said church during the Christmas holidays, and made $500. I do not recollect what each table took in, but as far as I can remember, it ranged as follows:

Thos, Cephas, at the door……………..$127
Eliza A. Turner…………….$75
Cassandra Dent…………..$66
Fanny Lee…………………53
Hannah Patent…………46
This is all I recollect at present, but all did remarkably well, and several ladies who assisted the regular table holders deserve as much credit as those who held tables; for it would be very difficult to tell, in many instances, to whom the most honor is due, for both table-holders and assistants worked manually. This enables the trustees to pay nearly $1500 on the improvements of said church, in the space of seven months, exclusive of the church’s contingent expenses and steward’s demands, &c., leaving only $100 on the improvements. The pastor of said church, however, is trying to get them under another obligation, by making some additional improvements which he much desires to see before he leaves them, for he believes them, for he believes that with an engineer at their head, they can and will do anything tending to the good of the church.

Benjamin Newton, an old venerable class leader for many years in said church, is supposed near death’s door. He has been sick for several months, and does not appear to be recovering.

Andrew B. Finney lost one of his daughters this evening: she died with the small pox. I judge her about sixteen, and she was an amiable young lady.

Rev. H. M. Turner lectured in Alexandria on Friday evening 23d inst. The audience was large and intelligent, and from all appearances were pleased, as they kept up such a time at laughing and smiling, though the lecturer did not come up to my desires.

The colored people are contemplating a grand demonstration on Thursday next. I hope the report from it will be glorious: let the world see that we are not lost to all sense of appreciation, having our tongues cut loose, that we can speak, and that we will speak, let the consequence be what it may. I find that there are a great many of our people, though freedom has been proclaimed in the district, who are yet afraid to speak above a whisper. That old servile fear still twirls itself around the heart strings, and fills with terror the entire soul at a white man’s frown. Just let him say stop, and every fibre is palsied, and this will be the case until they all die. True, some possessing a higher degree of bravery may be killed or most horribly mutilated for their intrepidity, but should this be the case, the white man’s foot-kissing party will be to blame for it. As long as negroes will be negroes (as we are called) we may be Negroes. But when we unanimously strike for our God-given rights, the power that fetters us will give way. If we had had one half of the Indian spunk, today slavery would have been among the things of the past.

                                                                                                                                               H.M.T.
Washington, Jan.24th, 1863