Christian Recorder: March 7, 1863
Turner writes about the happenings in Washington DC
MR. EDITOR:--Washington is again the theatre of liberated stir—activity prevails, and every thing is operative. The streets are thronged with every species of mankind, from Indian women dressed in men’s clothes, to any other color, shape, or size you may call for. Strangers are coming in from all quarters, and flooding every hotel and restaurant that can be found.
Congress is in session night and day, and every gallery, lobby, and vestibule is unintermittingly crowded with spectators of every sex, hue, and caste. The Republican Party, in view of the secession tincture that they fear will be so largely embodied in the next Congress, is pushing bill after bill through in rapid succession. They are fortifying the administration with money, men, and means sufficient to meet whatever exigency may occur in the unfolding emergencies of the future. This they are doing notwithstanding the incessant goat-bleats of such hydra-headed, blear-eyes copper-bellies as Voorhees , and Cox and Vallandigham of Ohio, who do nothing but oppose the Administration, and sing psalms to General McClellan. It is well for them that death will hold them motionless; for if they were to torment their graves as they do Congress, they would have to vomit them up before Gabriel blows his horn. However, the old problem is, “give the devil his due,” and I must say for Vallandigham that he is a good speaker, and if he had not perverted his moral nature so as to render himself a stench in the nostrils of mankind, his name might have stood emblazoned on the pages of history to the latest generation as a man for whom God and nature had done well. But as it is, his name will go down to posterity under the curse of a traitor, and the denunciations of all civilized nations. He will be known only to be hated.
I went to Congress on Wednesday to see the Conscript Bill pass, and every conceivable strategy was resorted to in order to have inserted white male citizens, instead of simply male citizens. The copper-heads were so fearful that a negro would get a crack at a seecsh, that it appeared they would have been willing to have voted their wives and daughters into the battle, rather than allow a negro to take a part. But it was no use, the bill passed in its original form by over a two-third majority; and twelve border state members voted for it. I was glad, not so much from the fact that I considered the fighting trait the highest development in a man’s constitution, but simply because our enemies desired to deprive us of what they conceived to be an honor. It is no honor to be fighting and quarrelling—it only shows how low down in the scale of moral depravity we are. It sets forth the brutality of our natures, the minimum of our Christianity, and how far the people are from God and that which is right. Christ said, “there shall be wars, and rumors of wars,” &c, but its actualization does not result from a divine injunction. It is no predeterminate arrangement in the counsels of Heaven. The pugnacity of a man does not establish his greatness. But Christ foresaw that feuds would breed and fester, and that men’s growing virulence would lead them onto dreadful collisions, out of which they should purgatorially emerge from their own throttled and ruptured combats, with lessons experimentally learned, which should gradually advance them to a higher degree of conception of their rights and wrongs.
Colonel Dart, a very brave officer, who has fought through every battle in which the Army of the Potomac has been engaged, has been authorized by the Secretary of War to enlist colored men, (he says.) He showed me one of his muster rolls yesterday, which reads as follows:
COL. DART’S MUSTER ROLL
We, the undersigned, do volunteer our services and enlist into the service of the United States as soldiers, to be governed by the rules and regulations to govern colored soldiers, to be commanded by Col. Alfred Dart. February 23d, 1863
I also saw a recommendation given by Hon. Simon Cameron, ex-Secretary of War, to Governor Joseph E. Williams, of Central American notoriety, to Mr.Stanton, present Secretary of War, which stated that he (Cameron) had known Mr. Williams from boyhood, and that he (Williams) was a trustworthy man, and in every way fitted to commence the work of enlistment with the colored people &c, &c. I suppose that Mr. Williams has before this gone to see the Secretary of War but I don’t know with what success he has met.
Rev. W. A. Hughes, a minister of the A. M. E. Church, who could not easily be too highly panegyrized, and John Crew, Esq. of Baltimore City, are to debate a heavy question before the Israel Lyceum, on next Monday evening. Rev. Mr. Hughes, though 56 years of age, is as expert upon his feet, and as sanguine for knowledge as a man at twenty. If some of our bull heads, claiming to be young ministers, were half as anxious for information as Rev. Hughes, who is old enough to be the father of many of them, they would find something to talk about, instead of blabbing out such consummate foolishness.
And this leads me to notice an article in the Recorder, issued February 21st, under the head of "An Educated Ministry," by Rev. George T. Watkins, of Baltimore, --or I might have said, Article No. 3. I need not comment upon the merits of the article, or refer to the finished caliber of its author. Suffice it to say that it is a deep-thoughted, well-digested, and properly-timed contribution to the aspiring ministry. And though it has been published in the Recorder, I wish to extract one paragraph for republication in this correspondence.
“He must possess, as a basic qualification, the ability to ‘search the Scriptures,’to give attendance to reading. In order to fulfill this apostolic injunction, a man must certainly know how to read, and read too, understandingly. I believe that God calls no man to expound the Scriptures who cannot read them. He may be moved by the Holy Ghost to prepare himself for the work, but not to perform it. Too many mistake the call to prepare for the call to preach. The time has come to speak plainly and boldly on the subject. I repeat what I have already remarked, that a man should be able to read the Scriptures correctly and understandingly, or he is no more than a ministerial caricature, and his so called reading a ridiculous comedy. He may say many very excellent things while in the pulpit, so can a parrot. The one is as much called to instruct as the other.”
This does not embody the half nor the quarter of what is of invaluable worth in the article of Rev. Mr. Watkins, but it may be inexpedient to intrude further.
Your very accomplished Brooklyn correspondent, who is, by the way no ordinary writer, is receiving great applause in this city from the religious and benevolent part of our people. From the bold and intrepid manner that he attacks the useless expenditures of money and means in New York, to demonstrate, when there are so many contrabands in our city, dying at the rate of ten and fifteen per day, with the small-pox and other diseases, from the bare facts that their wants and necessities are unprovided for. Would to God that some of those eloquent gentlemen whose speeches, as reported in the Anglo-African tower sky high, would lend a few of their glowing orations to the cause of suffering humanity.
And this leads me to refer you to an article in the Repository, written by that very gifted gentleman, Rev. James A. Handy. I hope all the colored people in the United States will purchase the Repository just to read that article. Anyone, by addressing Rev. J. M. Brown, 61 Henrietta St., Baltimore, and remitting with their letter the sum of ten cents, can have it sent to them. The article is headed, "The Way to Prepare for the Crisis." It presents starvation at one door, and certain duties at the other, and one who is in the least concerned about the welfare of his race, might imagine the writer inspired for the exigencies of the times when he was penning the article.
Prof., S. G. Brown is increasing in popularity so rapidly, that he cannot comply with near all the applications he has for lectures. He lectured last Monday evening before the Dumas Association, and has now before him application from four different quarters. I am sorry to inform you, however, that he is now lying quite ill. I hope he may soon recover.
I have been repeatedly informed, (did not hear it myself), that the Rev. Caleb Woodyard, an ex-minister of the A.M.E. Church, but now a Baptist divine, in a sermon preached at the First Baptist Church in this city, (which, by the way, is a very popular congregation, and has for its pastor the Rev. M. Leonard, who is now on a visit to Liberia,) stated that he never had been at home until he came among them: that he, like John the Baptist, was born a Baptist, and had never been satisfied in his life. He believed every one must go under the water, or be lost, and spoke very bitterly against ministers trotting about with a tumbler of water to sprinkle on infants &c. I cannot believe that Mr. Woodyard went as far as he is represented to have gone. I have no fault to find with the Baptists on his account, but am exceedingly glad that his eyes were opened before he went to judgment.
Mrs. Ann Henson, the wife of Thomas Henson, died last Sabbath morning, at 7 o’clock. Her remains were placed in Israel Church, where the funeral obsequies were conducted by the Pastor, on Tuesday, at 3 o’clock P.M. Mrs. Henson was taken sick some six or seven months ago, void of that vital piety which she felt she so much needed. But through constant prayer, and a determinate reliance on God, she obtained that pearl of great price which afterwards made her one of the happiest beings I ever had the pleasure of beholding. She had lain so long as to be almost reduced to a skeleton, yet whenever the subject of religion was broached she could speak in the most clamorous manner. Her voice would often arrest the attention of persons passing in the streets, in her shouts and hallelujahs to God.
I saw a gentleman (colored) from New Orleans today, who says that our churches are open. Rev. Brother Doughty is presiding over the church so long under the pastoral charge of Rev. John M. Brown and Dr. Revels. Revs. Miles, Vance, and Campbell are all well, and still claim to be African Methodists; and though the grass had grown up around our church doors, (they were shut up in 1858) it now exhibited a very different aspect. The colored people were holding great union meetings and were really ruling the city. I presume that some of our Conferences will send a minister down there as soon as they meet. The present ministers there are non-itinerant by virtue of their long inactivity. That is my decision. I don’t know how Bishop Payne would accept it.
Washington, D.C., Feb. 28th, 1863.