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When the 19th Amendment finally passed the Senate, Marie Stuart Edwards, Peru, IN said: "... we rejoice that this has come just now to the women of America at the dawn of this wonderful reconstruction period. Women are to “sit in” at the remaking of the world. I believe women will bring to our body politic an independence of action, a clarity of thought, unhampered by precedents, and an inspired desire to vote for the best interests of human society. We are calling on all women of the state to study, to carry through their plans for educational work along civic and citizenship lines. We are urging them to put loyalty to humanity, loyalty to country and to state above all ideas of party loyalty, since these new voters have yet to participate in party councils.
“I am glad to see this amendment pass. I am anxious to see it ratified. Most of all, am I anxious to see this great new force in action.
Marie Stuart Edwards, 4 Jun 1919

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Sojourner Truth, by Joseph A Dugdale

As published by Lizzie C Bunnell,
digitally archived by Harvard University for the Schlesinger Library
Harriet Beecher Stowe has written a graphic description in the Atlantic Monthly of this wonderful preacher of righteousness.
Ten years ago while traveling and "testifyin' to de people", she came to our home.
I have written a few anecdotes respecting her.  She is now very aged and living near Battle Creek in Michigan and dependent upon the kindness of those who appreciate her great excellence and purity of life.  No one can give an adequate idea of  
This unlearned African woman, with her deep religious trustful nature burning in her soul like fire, has a magnetic power over an audience perfectly astounding.  I was present in a religious meeting where some speaker had alluded to the government of the United States, and had uttered sentiments in favor of its Constitution.  Sojourner stood erect and tall, with her white turban on her head, and in a low and subdued tone of voice began by saying:
"Children, I talks to God and God talks to me.  I goes out and talks to God in de fields and de woods." (The weavel had destroyed thousands of acres of wheat in the West that year) -
"
Dis morning I was walking out, and I got over de fence. I saw de wheat a holding up its head, looking very big.  I goes up to it and takes hold ob it.  You b'lieve it, dere was no wheat dare?  I says, 'God (speaking the name in a voice of reverence peculiar to herself), what IS de matter wid DIS wheat? and He says to me, 'Sojourner, dere is a little weasel in it.'  Now I hears talkin' about de Constitution and de rights of man.  I comes up and I takes hold of dis Constitution. It looks MIGHTY BIG, and, I feels for MY rights, but der aint any dare.  Den I says 'God what ails dis Constitution?'  He says to me "Sojourner, dare is a little weasel in it.'  The effect upon the multitude was irresistible.
On a dark, cloudy morning, while she was our guest, she was sitting, as she often was wont to do, with her cheeks upon her palms, her elbows on her knees. -
She lifted up her head as though she has just wakened from a dream, and said:
"Friend Dugdale, poor old Sojourner can't read a word.  Will you git me de Bible and read me a little of de Scripter?"
Oh yes, Sojourner, gladly, said I.
I opened to Isaiah, the 59th chapter.  She listened as though an oracle was speaking.  When I came to the word,
"None calleth for justice nor any pleadeth for truth; your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; they conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity; they hatch cockatrice's eggs and weave the spiders web; he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper", she could restrain herself no longer, and bringing her great palms together with an emphasis that I shall never forget, she exclaimed, "is dat thare? - 'it shall break out into a viper'.  Yes, God told me dat.  I never heard it read afore now I know it double!"
Of course her mind was directed by the heinous institution of American-slavery, and she regarded these terrible words of the Seer as prophetic concerning its fearful consequences.

On one occasion, in a large reform meeting, where many able and efficient public speakers were present, Sojourner sat in the midst.  One man, in defiance of propriety, was waiting the time of the meeting by distasteful and indelicate declamation.  Some, in despair of his ending, were leaving the meeting.  Others, mortified and distressed, were silently enduring, while the "flea of the Convention" continued to bore it. nothing daunted.  Just at a point where he was forced to suspend long enough to take a breath, Sojourner, who had been sitting in the back part of the house with her head bowed, and groaning in spirit, raised up her tall figure before him and, putting her eyes upon him said
"CHILD if de people has no whar to put it, what is de use? Sit down, child, SIT DOWN!"
The man dropped as if he had been shot, and not another word was heard from him.

A friend related the following anecdote to me.  In that period of the Anti-Slavery movement when mobocratic violence was often resorted to, one of its most talented and devoted advocates, after an able address, was followed by a lawyer, who appealed to the lowest sentiments - was scurrilous and abusive in the superlative degree.  Alluding to the colored race, he compared them to monkeys, baboons, and ourang-outans.  When he was about closing his inflammatory speech, Sojourner quietly drew near to the platform and whispered in the ear of the advocate of her people:
"Don't dirty YOUR hands wid dat critter. Let ME 'tend to him!'.   I had de dirty work to do - de scullion work. Now I am goin' to 'ply to dis critter" - pointing her long bony finger with withering scorn at the petty lawyer, "Now in de course of my time I has done a great deal of dirty scullion work, but of all de dirty work I ever done, dis is de scullionest and de dirtiest."
Peering into the eyes of the auditory with just such a look as SHE could give, and that no one could imitate, she continued: "Now children, don't you PITY me?" 
She had taken the citadel by storm.  The whole audience shouted applause, and the negro-haters as heartily as any.

I was present at a large religious convention.  Love in the family had been portrayed in a manner to touch the better nature of the auditory.  Just as the meeting was about to close, Sojourner stood up.  Tears coursing down her furrowed cheeks.  She said:
"We have heerd a great deal about love at home in de family,  Now, children, I was a slave, and my husband and my children was sold from me." 
The pathos with which she uttered these words made a deep impression upon the meeting.  Pausing a moment she added: "Now husband and children is all gone, what has 'come of de affection I had for dem? Dat is de question before de house!"
The people smiled amidst a baptism of tears.
Let food and raiment be given her -
There are many in the land who will be made richer by seeing that this noble woman shares their bounty; and then, when her lord shall come to talk with her, and take her into His presence chamber, and shall say, "Sojourner, lacked thou anything", she may answer, "Nothing Lord, either for body or soul."
Near Mt Pleasant, Iowa, 1863

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