Washington Correspondent
Christian Recorder: February 21, 1863 

Turner writes about the war and the happenings in Washington, DC

MR. EDITOR:-- I shall be compelled to give you the smallest correspondence this week that I have for some time, as everything is so dull in our city, and as stand-still-ness has gained such an ascendency over the general hurly-burly-ness and activity which has hitherto characterized our thoroughfares and street commotion, that our news is scarce and valueless.

Congress is in session very late every day; the Senate appears to be so exuberantly engaged with the affairs of the nation, that in many instances it is difficult to get an adjournment till late at night. The Missouri question or bill has occupied the Senate longer, I believe, than any matter during the present session.

Mr. Sumner has offered a bill in relation to colored soldiers, as a substitute for Mr. Stevens’, which provides that all free-born volunteers of color, who may enlist in the army, shall receive the same, in every respect, as white soldiers; provided the number does not transcend a hundred thousand, and all freedmen who may enlist to be allowed $7,000 per month, &c. It is presumed the bill will go through like a flash of lightning. I think it will meet with a very favorable reception.

A great many persons prefer Mr. Sumner’s bill to the other, because it does not define the colored man’s position in relation to those over whom he is to exercise jurisdiction. I hope none will become enraged at me if I express a different opinion; for I find that in too many instances our people are very little disposed to give idea for idea, word for word, and pen-work for pen-work in the discussion of their idealistic differences, but so soon as a man entertains a view dissimilar to theirs, they are ready to sneak around in every hole and corner, and vent their venom, by puffing from their leather tongues such words as these, "He ought to be hung."  You will find them unable to meet an intelligent colored man in argument, by giving reason for reason and thought for thought. Yet they believe nothing he says, nor heed a particle of his advice, but sit with their heads down, till he leaves, then to rise up and pour a flood of bitter invective upon him. Now, sir, that same class of our people will go out and meet an Irishman or a Dutchman who can neither read nor write, knows nothing of the country, knows but little more about the colored man’s condition than a horse; and he will look up and say, See here, you negroes better keep quiet, else you will catch the devil. Down goes every nerve, and they are ready to poke their trembling heads in an auger-hole. Now, it’s a pity but I come in contact with this class of people, to some extent everywhere I go. And until they take a tramp over Jordan, the uprising and successful distinction of our down-trodden race will be retarded. If Jesus Christ, our blessed and all honored Redeemer, whom we are commanded to follow, had partaken of that hateful cowardice, God would have long since shot from the rugged clouds of his most fearful ire and heaven-scathing indignation, his sin-treasured wrath, in such terrible volleys and fearful thunderbolts, that the place where the world’s ecliptic swings would long since have been blotted from among the glories of the universe, and left a wreck to sin into a state of most disgraceful annihilation.

Now for the point. The reason why I prefer Stevens’ bill to Mr. Sumner’s is, because one, I think, contemplates the colored armies being to themselves, while the other looks to an intermixture. This question, however, I have noticed in my last letter.

Mrs. Wm. Slade, one of our most distinguished ladies, and one whose circumstances in life might, if she was not a solid-hearted lady, lead to an undue state of elation, informs that there is quite a large proportion of sickness in the city. No one has a better chance of knowing than Mrs. Slade, as she is constantly among them, and her name will stand gilded in letters of immortality for her invalid sympathy and great-hearted benevolence, when the names of many, far better constituted and physically adapted, will allow their fastidious squeamishness to bury them in the lake of oblivion.

The S.S.C. Society has appointed two agents for each ward, to hunt up the colored children, ascertain their condition, whether they go to day or Sabbath schools, whether freed or born free, the amount of taxable property, &c., and report to the body at a specific time. This is a judicious move, and highly commendable. I am sorry to inform you that the convention for the erection of a hospital, has come to no decisive point. I was informed that a residentiary question had staggered its contemplated measures. But I think the indifference of the members to the call of the President, Mr. Wm. Slade, has done more harm that the question of residence, though I regard the entire residential question as foolishness, unless, they are going to build the hospital, and generally such agitators give the least.

Rev. Mr. Turner desires me to state that he has seen his name in several papers, in connexion with Mr. Joseph E. Williams, as being one of a party who contemplated opening a recruiting office in this city for the enlistment of colored soldiers, and that he had contradicted the report through the same channel from whence it emanated. He wish his friends to know, through the Recorder, (if any have seen the report) that the idea of him leaving the ministry and engaging in the recruiting business, had not yet entered his mind; but he is not opposed to the measure, and don’t know what events may evolve.

There has been a protracted meeting going on at Israel Church for the last week. Much good has been done.

I believe the Rev. J. D. Brooks, Pastor of the Zion Wesley Church, has had a protracted meeting going on at his church ever since last August- over six months. That’s pushing the gospel car, indeed.

A marriage took place on Thursday evening, 13th instant, between Mr. John Lucas and Miss Adelaide D. Wallace. The nuptial party were among our most popular residents. The young Miss appeared on the floor so very attractive, that the preacher could not look in his book while reading ceremony for viewing her.

I was walking down the Avenue a few days ago, and to my great surprise I saw several horses pulling a machine through the street, that appeared to be cutting up a dash. Such a winding and twisting I never saw before. After making some inquiries as to its business, I found it to be street-sweeping machine. The longer we live the more we see. I told you in the commencement that I would be unusually short. So I must stop, if I would keep my promise.

Just as I had closed my letter, Mr. Joseph E. Williams came into my office, and informed me that he had just been told by one of the generals, high command, that the recruiting offices for colored soldiers will be opened on and after the 4th of March, and if rumor is to be accredited, I am fearful that colored men this side of Mason and Dixon’s line will stand but a poor chance in refusing to fight, whether they desire it or not, though I presume that’s a hoax. 


Washington, Feb. 14, 1863

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