Friday, April 22, 2016

Harriet Tubman

Letter from Frederick Douglas to Harriet Tubman, the woman whose portrait will replace Jackson on the $20 bill in the near future.
Dear Harriet: I am glad to know that the story of your eventful life has been written by a kind lady, and that the same is soon to be published. You ask for what you do not need when you call upon me for a word of commendation. I need such word from you for more than you can need them from me, especially where your superior labors and devotion to the cause of the lately enslaved of our land are known as I know them. The difference between us is very marked. Most of that I have done and suffered in the service of our cause has been in public, and I have received much encouragement at every step of the way. You on the other hand have labored in a private way I have wrought in my day - you in the night. I have had the applause of the crowd and the satisfaction that comes of being approved by the multitude, while the most that you have done has been witnessed by a few trembling, scarred, and foot-sore bond-men and women, whom you have led out of the house of bondage, and whose heartfelt God bless you” has been your only reward. The midnight sky and silent stars have been witness of your devotion to freedom and your heroism. Excepting John Brown - of scared memory - I know of no one who has willingly encountered more perils and hardships to serve our enslaved people than you have. Much that you have done would seem improbably to those who do not know you as I know you. It is to me a great pleasure and a great privilege to bear testimony to your character and your works, and to say those those to whom you may come, that I regard you in every way truthful and trustworthy.
Your friend,
Frederick Douglass
Reprinted from Wall Street Journal from Sarah Hopkins Bradford’s, “Scenes in the life of Harriet Tubman”, 1869.

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