Christian Recorder: March 14, 1863
Turner writes on the happenings in Washington, DC
Mr. Editor: Grand are the presentiments of transpiring events. While the laws of gravitation, attraction, and cohesion never change; and many other natural relations are fixed principles, which are subjected to no kind of mutableness, move on in that regulated harmony and undying symmetry in which they were originally strong, and standing, moving, or whirling in the confines of an eternal invariableness. Man is reeling, tottering and inclining hither and thither, in the multiplicity of his ideas, changeableness of his thoughts, and the instability of his principles. To-day, in the enthusiasm of his nature, he is exclaiming in almost deafening acclamations. “Hosanna to the Prince of David: blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” But to-morrow the same individuals are crying out in the frenzied fractiousness of a wrath –intoxicated soul, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” or, vice versa, the crueigerously denounced creature of to-day is to-morrow lauded and heralded to the skies. Thus revolution succeeds revolution, but inconstancy marks its progress. Heaven of heavens! How faltering is man!....How wavering his mind! All that I have said in the above is allusive to the rising and falling of Copperheads, Semi-Republicans and Secession sympathizers, whom one victory, defeat or retreat will so affect; or a little rise in gold, discount on paper money, capture of a gunboat, removal of a General, foreign mediation, the coloring of some “petit maitre’s” or coxcomb’s speech, &e., all of which keeps, from all human appearances, seven-tenths of this great nation in an endless state of fluctuation.
But we must leave that subject. Congress has adjourned and left the acts of its unparalleled session on record for reference to unborn generations, and, to meet the emergencies of the present time; for several days before they adjourned, they sat in session all night. Monday night I remained in the Senate during the night, watching their maneuvers. The Senate had under consideration a bill to indemnify the President for the suspension of the writ of “Habeas Corpus.” All the Democrats were favorable to it, except five – the leader of whom was Powell, of Kentucky. And such wire-working and laughable schemes to defeat it, I never saw nor thought could be strategized in the American Senate.
Senator Powell, however, attempted, after he could not effect an adjournment, to talk the night away – and the Republicans thought they would satisfy him, and when he got through they would pass the bill; and while he was speaking, sometimes, every man would be asleep, except the chairman and the speaker, or else they would all leave and go into the eating saloon, and thus while away the time; and so soon as they would leave, the Democrats would move an adjournment. The little boys who had been posted by the Republicans would immediately start in all directions seeking them up; and here they (Republicans) would be seen rushing in at every door, and vote down the motion of adjournment. And while Powell would still be speaking to an empty house, the Republicans would be in the adjoining rooms eating, sleeping, smoking, &e., and thus they went on, till daybreak next morning. Powell spoke until he became satisfied; when one of the Senators inquired, if he would allow him to ask him (Powell) a question, he dropped back in his seat and said, in a much exhausted tone, “Yes, forty of them.”
I thought it was the grandest piece of foolishness I ever saw in my life, when he knew the Senate would pass that bill, to be standing there, gabbling all night for nothing under heaven.
Tuesday night I spent in the House of Representatives, and had the extreme pleasure of finding Mr. Colfax in the chair, who is pronounced to be the greatest chairman in the United States, and I can endorse the report; for I don’t believe there is a man on earth who can preside with more efficiency than he, however great the confusion, or upside down the house may be, in two minutes he can restore order and keep it so; for about one hour, I think, he passed a bill about every three minutes.
The grand debate between Rev. William A. Hughes, of Washington, and Mr. Edward T. Crew, of Baltimore, came off before the Israel Lyceum on Monday evening, the 24 instant. The disputants were more than ordinarily eloquent. Mr. Crew handles the English language with great precision indeed. This naturally might be expected, as he was for many years the student of the late venerable Rev. William Watkins. Mr. Hughes exhibited an acquaintance with science, art and history, which so astonished the people of Washington, who have for many years been listening to his preaching, that they could hardly realize him as the same man. Both of the disputants were frequently interrupted by loud shouts of applause. Rev. Mr. Hughes though, by the unanimous decisions of the Judges, took the premium. The house was crowded to the overflowing, and, upon the whole, it was a literary treat.
A missionary meeting was held in Asbury church, (Methodist Episcopal) on Sabbath evening, 1st inst. The meeting was addressed by Rev. L.P. Phelps, Rev. Mr. Cook, and Rev. Dr. Ryland, all white…. I am informed by one of the members of that church that there is an eruptive state of things among the old-siders, as they are called, in relation to white preachers. It appears that they are, both here and in Baltimore, devising some scheme of secession from the M.E. Church, or else have them recognize colored preachers as representatives in their Conferences. This is a great move, if they can muster up courage enough to carry it into effect. I do not desire to speak disparagingly of my “old-side” brethren; but I doubt very much whether that cowardice has died out sufficiently to enable them to strike boldly and fearlessly for their rights.
Another missionary meeting was held in Israel church on Thursday evening, the 5th inst. The basement was densely crowded. The pastor stated that he expected Revs. Brown and Wayman from Baltimore, as he had written to them, but, likely, other engagements had withstood them; and that he was equally disappointed that none of the city pastors were present. But as we had such a large audience, he moved that the Rev. Charles Hicks should take the chair. Carried. By motion of David Dickson, Edward T. Crew was elected Secretary, and, after some farther arrangements by the Chairman, he rose and stated the object of the meeting, and then introduced Rev. H. M. Turner, who spoke for about fifteen minutes, after which he introduced, as speaker, Rev. McGill Pearce, Rev. William A. Hughes, and Rev. David Smith. This brought us to ten and a half o’clock, which the Chairman called for a collection, and the people came forward and showed their willingness for the cause by giving, with a few subscribers, forty-one dollars, after which, by motion of Rev. McGill Pearce, the house resolved itself into a missionary society, to be properly organized at the next meeting. By motion of Rev. H. M. Turner, every person in the church was recognized as member for that night. Eleven o’clock having arrived by motion, the house adjourned, to meet that night four weeks. Benediction by Rev. Charles Hicks.
I received an anonymous letter yesterday evening, which contained these words:
REMARKS MADE BY REV. JOSEPH CLINTON IN THE ZION WESLEY PULPIT.
“The reason why Stonewall Jackson was so successful in battle, was, because he is a man of God. Previous to battle, he always went to the Throne of Grace, and, while his men were never fighting, he was praying.”
I am not acquainted with the Rev. Mr. Clinton, and do not know his political or theological views; but, if Mr. Clinton did say those words, he may not be as far wrong as some might presume. If the rebels out pray us, they may not fight us, as little as many may think of it; for I doubt very much, if the sin of the North was counterpoised with the sin of the South, but what our bulk would be the heaviest. The prevailing principles of both are so contemptible, that I do not desire to think of them.
Mr. Thomas H.C. Hinton has been, by the Secretary of War, appointed a recruiting sergeant.
Governor J.E. Williams gets his commission today, to what office, I do not know.
Professor Solomon G. Brown is still lying very sick.
Benjamin Newton, whom we had all given up to die, is fast recovering.
In my last letter you made me say that I was informed by Benjamin T. Tanner relative to the withdrawal of the Presbyterian delegation from the Convention. I said Benjamin T. Tannum, not Tanner.
Washington, D.C., March 7, 1863