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´╗┐Title: Half a Century
Author: Swisshelm, Jane Grey Cannon, 1815-1884
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Half a Century" ***

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       *       *       *       *       *

           "God so willed:
     Mankind is ignorant! a man am I:
     Call ignorance my sorrow, not my sin!"

           "O, still as ever friends are they
     Who, in the interest of outraged truth
     Deprecate such rough handling of a lie!"

                           ROBERT BROWNING.



It has been assumed, and is generally believed, that the Anti-slavery
struggle, which, culminated in the Emancipation Proclamation of 1862,
originated in Infidelity, and was a triumph of Skepticism over
Christianity. In no way can this error be so well corrected as by the
personal history of those who took part in that struggle; and as most of
them have passed from earth without leaving any record of the education
and motives which underlay their action, the duty they neglected becomes
doubly incumbent on the few who remain.

To supply one quota of the inside history of the great Abolition war, is
the primary object of this work; but scarcely secondary to this object
is that of recording incidents characteristic of the Peculiar
Institution overthrown in that struggle.

Another object, and one which struggles for precedence, is to give an
inside history of the hospitals during the war of the Rebellion, that
the American people may not forget the cost of that Government so often
imperiled through their indifference.

A third object, is to give an analysis of the ground which produced the
Woman's Rights agitation, and the causes which limited its influence.

A fourth is, to illustrate the force of education and the mutability of
human character, by a personal narrative of one who, in 1836, would have
broken an engagement rather than permit her name to appear in print,
even in the announcement of marriage; and who, in 1850, had as much
newspaper notoriety as any man of that time, and was singularly
indifferent to the praise or blame of the Press;--of one who, in 1837,
could not break the seal of silence set upon her lips by "Inspiration,"
even so far as to pray with a man dying of intemperance, and who yet, in
1862, addressed the Minnesota Senate in session, and as many others as
could be packed in the hall, with no more embarrassment than though
talking with a friend in a chimney corner.




I.       I FIND LIFE




















































































Those soft pink circles which fell upon my face and hands, caught in my
hair, danced around my feet, and frolicked over the billowy waves of
bright, green grass--did I know they were apple blossoms? Did I know it
was an apple tree through which I looked up to the blue sky, over which
white clouds scudded away toward the great hills? Had I slept and been
awakened by the wind to find myself in the world?

It is probable that I had for some time been familiar with that tree,
and all my surroundings, for I had been breathing two and a half years,
and had made some progress in the art of reading and sewing, saying
catechism and prayers. I knew the gray kitten which walked away; knew
that the girl who brought it back and reproved me for not holding it was
Adaline, my nurse; knew that the young lady who stood near was cousin
Sarah Alexander, and that the girl to whom she gave directions about
putting bread into a brick oven was Big Jane; that I was Little Jane,
and that the white house across the common was Squire Horner's.

There was no surprise in anything save the loveliness of blossom and
tree; of the grass beneath and the sky above; and this first indelible
imprint on my memory seems to have found this inner something I call me,
as capable of reasoning as it has ever been.

While I sat and wondered, father came, took me in his loving arms and
carried me to mother's room, where she lay in a tent-bed, with blue
foliage and blue birds outlined on the white ground of the curtains,
like the apple-boughs on the blue and white sky. The cover was turned
down, and I was permitted to kiss a baby-sister, and warned to be good,
lest Mrs. Dampster, who had brought the baby, should come and take it
away. This autocrat was pointed out, as she sat in a gray dress, white
'kerchief and cap, and no other potentate has ever inspired me with such
reverential awe.

My second memory is of a "great awakening" to a sense of sin, and of my
lost and undone condition. On a warm summer day, while walking alone on
the common which lay between home and Squire Horner's house, I was
struck motionless by the thought that I had forgotten God. It seemed
probable, considering the total depravity of my nature, that I had been
thinking bad thoughts, and these I labored to recall, that I might
repent and plead with Divine mercy for forgiveness. But alas! I could
remember nothing save the crowning crime--forgetfulness of God.

I seemed to stand outside, and see myself a mere mite, in a pink
sun-bonnet and white bib, the very chief of sinners, for the probability
was I had been thinking of that bonnet and bib. It was quite certain
that God knew my sin; and ah, the crushing horror that I could, by no
possibility conceal aught from the All-seeing Eye, while it was equally
impossible to win its approval. The Divine Law was so perfect that I
could not hope to meet its requirements--the Divine Law-giver so alert
that no sin could escape detection.

Under that cloud of doom the sunshine grew dark, and I did not dare to
move until a cheery voice called out something about my pretty bonnet,
and gave me a sense of companionship in this dreadful, dreadful world.
Rose, a large native African, had spoken to me from her place in Squire
Horner's kitchen, and I went home full of solemn resolves and sad

This is probably what evangelists would call my conversion, and it came
in my third summer. There was a fire in the grate when mother showed Dr.
Robt. Wilson, our family physician, a pair of wristbands and collar I
had stitched for father, and when they spoke of me as not being three
years old--but then I had in my mind the marks of that "great

To me, no childhood was possible under the training this indicates, yet
in giving that training, my parents were loving and gentle as they were
faithful. Believing in the danger of eternal death, they could but guard
me from it, by the only means of which they had any knowledge.

Before the completion of that momentous third year of life, I had
learned to read the New Testament readily, and was deeply grieved that
our pastor played "patty cake" with my hands, instead of hearing me
recite my catechism, and talking of original sin. During that winter I
went regularly to school, where I was kept at the head of a
spelling-class, in which were young men and women. One of these, Wilkins
McNair, used to carry me home, much amused, no doubt, by my supremacy.
His father, Col. Dunning McNair, was proprietor of the village, and had
been ridiculed for predicting that, in the course of human events, there
would be a graded, McAdamized road, all the way from Philadelphia to
Pittsburg, and that if he did not live to see it his children would. He
was a neighbor and friend of Wm. Wilkins, afterwards Judge, Secretary
of War, and Minister to Russia, and had named his son for him. When his
prediction was fulfilled and the road made, it ran through his land, and
on it he laid out the village and called it Wilkinsburg. Mr. McNair
lived south of it in a rough stone house--the manor of the
neighborhood--with half a dozen slave huts ranged before the kitchen
door, and the gateway between his grounds and the village, as seen from
the upper windows of our house, was, to me, the boundary between the
known and the unknown, the dread portal through which came Adam, the
poor old ragged slave, with whom my nurse threatened me when I did not
do as she wished. He was a wretched creature, who made and sold hickory
brooms, as he dragged his rheumatic limbs on the down grade of life,
until he found rest by freezing to death in the woods, where he had gone
for saplings.

I was born on the 6th of December, 1815, in Pittsburg, on the bank of
the Monongahela, near its confluence with the Allegheny. My father was
Thomas Cannon, and my mother Mary Scott. They were both Scotch-Irish
and descended from the Scotch Reformers. On my mother's side were
several men and women who signed the "Solemn League and Covenant," and
defended it to the loss of livings, lauds and life. Her mother, Jane
Grey, was of that family which was allied to royalty, and gave to
England her nine day's queen.

This grandmother I remember as a stately old lady, quaintly and plainly
dressed, reading a large Bible or answering questions by quotations from
its pages. She was unsuspicious as an infant, always doubtful about
"actual transgressions" of any, while believing in the total depravity
of all. Educated in Ireland as an heiress, she had not been taught to
write, lest she should marry without the consent of her elder brother
guardian. She felt that we owed her undying gratitude for bestowing her
hand and fortune on our grandfather, who was but a yoeman, even if "he
did have a good leasehold, ride a high horse, wear spurs, and have
Hamilton blood in his veins." She made us familiar with the battle of
the Boyne and the sufferings in Londonderry, in both of which her
great-grandfather had shared, but was incapable of that sectarian
rancor, which marks so many descendents of the men who met on those
fields of blood and fought for their convictions.

In April, 1816, father moved from Pittsburg out to the new village of
Wilkinsburg; took with him a large stock of goods, bought property, built
the house in which I first remember him, and planted the apple tree
which imprinted the first picture on my memory. But the crash which
followed the last war with England brought general bankruptcy; the
mortgages on Col. McNair's estate made the titles valueless, and this,
with the fall of his real estate in Pittsburg, reduced father to
poverty, from which he never recovered.



My parents were members of the Covenanter Congregation, of which Dr.
John Black was pastor for forty-five years. He was a man of power, a
profound logician, with great facility in conveying ideas. To his pulpit
ministrations I am largely indebted for whatever ability I have to
discriminate between truth and falsehood; but the church was in
Pittsburg, and our home seven miles away, so we seldom went to meeting.
The rules of the denomination forbade "occasional hearing." Father and
mother had once been "sessioned" for stopping on their way home to hear
the conclusion of a communion service in Dr. Brace's church, which was
Seceder. So our Sabbaths were usually spent in religious services at
home. These I enjoyed, as it aided my life-work of loving and thinking
about God, who seemed, to my mind, to have some special need of my
attention. Nothing was done on that day which could have been done the
day before, or could be postponed till the day after. Coffee grinding
was not thought of, and once, when we had no flour for Saturday's
baking, and the buckwheat cakes were baked the evening before and warmed
on Sabbath morning, we were all troubled about the violation of the

There was a Presbyterian "meeting-house" two miles east of Wilkinsburg,
where a large, wealthy congregation worshipped. Rev. James Graham was
pastor, and unlike other Presbyterians, they never "profaned the
sanctuary" by singing "human compositions," but confined themselves to
Rouse's version of David's Psalms, as did our own denomination. This
aided that laxness of discipline which permitted Big Jane, Adaline and
brother William to attend sometimes, under care of neighbors. Once I was
allowed to accompany them.

I was the proud possessor of a pair of red shoes, which I carried rolled
up in my 'kerchief while we walked the two miles. We stopped in the
woods; my feet were denuded of their commonplace attire and arrayed in
white hose, beautifully clocked, and those precious slices, and my poor
conscience tortured about my vanity. The girls also exchanged theirs for
morocco slippers. We concealed our walking shoes under a mossy log and
proceeded to the meeting-house.

It was built in the form of a T, of hewn logs, and the whole structure,
both inside and out, was a combination of those soft grays and browns
with which nature colors wood, and in its close setting of primeval
forest, made a harmonious picture. Atone side lay a graveyard; birds
sang in the surrounding trees, some of which reached out their giant
arms and touched the log walls. Swallows had built nests under the
eaves outside, and some on the rough projections inside, and joined
their twitter to the songs of other birds and the rich organ
accompaniment of wind and trees.

There were two sermons, and in the intermission, a church sociable, in
fact if not in name. Friends who lived twenty miles apart, met here,
exchanged greetings and news, gave notices and invitations, and obeyed
the higher law of kindness under protest of their Calvinistic
consciences. In this breathing-time we ate our lunch, went to the
nearest house and had a drink from the spring which ran through the
stone milk-house. It was a day full of sight-seeing and of solemn, grand

Of the two sermons I remember but one, and this from the text "Many are
called but few are chosen," and the comments were Calvinism of the most
rigid school. On our way home, my brother William--three years older
than I--was very silent and thoughtful for some time, then spoke of the
sermon, of which I entirely approved, but he stoutly declared that he
did not believe it; did not believe God called people to come to him
while he did not choose to have them come. It would not be fair, indeed,
he thought it would be mean.

That evening, when we were saying the shorter catechism, the question,
"What are the decrees of God?" came to me, and after repeating the
answer, I asked father to explain it--not that I needed any explanation,
but that William might be enlightened; for I was anxious about his soul,
on account of his skepticism. Enlightened he could not be, and even to
father expressed his doubts and disapprobation. We renewed the
discussion when alone, and during all his life I labored with him; but
soon found the common refuge of orthodox minds, in feeling that those
especially loved by them will be made exceptions in the general
distribution of wrath due to unbelief.

One day I went with him to hunt the cow. We came to a wood just north of
the village, where the wind roared and shook the trees so that I was
quite awe-stricken; but he held my hand and assured me there was no
danger, until he suddenly drew me back, exclaiming:

"Oh see!" as a great tree came crashing down across the path before us,
and so near that it must have fallen on us if he had not seen it and
stepped back. Even then he refused to go home without the cow, and
taking up a daddy-long-legs, he inquired of it where she was, and
started in the direction indicated, when we were arrested by the voice
of Big Jane, who had come to search for us.

On reaching home, we found a new baby-sister, Elizabeth. Soon after her
birth, in April, 1821, father moved back to Pittsburg, and lived on
Sixth street, opposite Trinity Church, on property belonging to my
maternal grandfather. There was no church there at that time, but a
thickly peopled graveyard, which adjoined that of the First Presbyterian
Church, on the corner of Sixth and Wood. These were above the level of
the street, and were protected by a worm-fence that ran along the top of
a green bank on which we played and gathered flowers.

Grandmother took me sometimes to walk in these graveyards at night, and
there talked to me about God and heaven and the angels. I was
sufficiently interested in these, but especially longed to see the
ghosts, and often went to look for them. We had a bachelor uncle who
delighted in telling us tales of the supernatural, and he peopled these
graveyards with ghosts, in which I believed as implicitly as in the
Revelations made to John on the Isle of Patmos, which were my favorite

When the congregation concluded to abandon the "Round Church," which
stood on the triangle between Liberty, Wood and Sixth streets, and began
to dig for a foundation for Trinity, where it now stands, there was
great desecration of graves. One day a thrill of excitement and stream
of talk ran through the neighborhood, about a Mrs. Cooper, whose body
had been buried three years, and was found in a wonderful state of
preservation, when the coffin was laid open by the diggers. It was left
that the friends might remove it, and that night I felt would be the
time for ghosts. So I went over alone, and while I crouched by the open
grave, peering in, a cloud passed, and the moon poured down a flood of
light, by which I could see the quiet sleeper, with folded hands, taking
her last, long rest.

It was inexpressibly grand, solemn and sad. There were no gaslights, no
paved street near, no one stirring. Earth was far away and heaven near
at hand, but no ghost came, and I went home disappointed. Afterwards I
had a still more disheartening adventure.

I had gone an errand to cousin Alexander's, on Fifth street, stayed
late, and coming home, found Wood street deserted. The moon shone
brightly, but on the graveyard side were heavy shadows, except in the
open space opposite the church. I was on the other side, and there was
the office of the Democratic paper, and over the door the motto "Our
country, right or wrong." This had long appeared to be an uncanny spot,
owing to the wickedness of this sentiment, and I was thinking of the
possibility of seeing Auld Nick guarding his property, when my attention
was attracted to a tall, white figure in the bright moonlight, outside
the graveyard fence.

I stopped an instant, in great surprise, and listened for footsteps, but
no sound accompanied the motion. It did not walk, but glided, and must
have risen out of the ground, for only a moment before there was nothing
visible. I clasped my hands in mute wonder, but my ghost was getting
away, and to make its acquaintance I must hurry. Crossing the street I
ran after and gained on it. It passed into the shadow of the engine
house, on across Sixth street, into the moonlight, then into the shadow,
before I overtook it, when lo! it was a mortal woman, barefoot, in a
dress which was probably a faded print. Most prints faded then, and this
was white, long and scant, making a very ghostly robe, while on her head
she carried a bundle tied up in a sheet. She had, of course, come out of
Virgin alley, where many laundresses lived, and had just passed out of
the shadow when I saw her. We exchanged salutations, and I went home to
lie and brood over the unreliable nature of ghosts.

I was trying to get into a proper frame of mind for saying my prayers,
but I doubt if they were said that night, as we were soon aroused by the
cries of fire. Henry Clay was being burned, in effigy, on the corner of
Sixth and Wood streets, to show somebody's disapproval of his course in
the election of John Quincy Adams. The Democratic editor, McFarland, was
tried and found guilty of the offense, and took revenge in ridiculing
his opponents. Charles Glenn, a fussy old gentleman, member of our
church, was an important witness for the prosecution, and in the long,
rhyming account published by the defendant, he was thus remembered:

     "Then in came Glenn, that man of peace,
     And swore to facts as sleek as grease;
     By all his Uncle Aleck's geese,
           McFarland burnt the tar-barrel."

It was before this time that Lafayette revisited Pittsburg, and people
went wild to do him honor. The schools paraded for his inspection, and
ours was ranged along the pavement in front of the First Presbyterian
church, the boys next the curb, the girls next the fence, all in holiday
attire, and wearing blue badges. The distinguished visitor passed up
between them, leaning on the arm of another gentleman, bowing and
smiling as he went. When he came to where I stood, he stepped aside,
laid his hand on my head, turned up my face and spoke to me.

I was too happy to know what he said, and in all the years since that
day, that hand has lain on my brow as a consecration.



In the city we went regularly to meeting, and Dr. Black seemed always to
talk to _me_, and I had no more difficulty in understanding his sermons,
than in mastering the details of the most simple duty. The first of
which I preserve the memory was about Peter, who was made to illustrate
the growth of crime. He began with boasting; then came its natural
fruit, cowardice, in following his master afar off; next falsehood, and
from this he proceeded to perjury. It did seem that a disciple of Christ
could go no further; but for falsehood and perjury there might be excuse
in the hope of reward, and Peter found a lower deep, for "he began to
curse and to swear." A profane swearer is without temptation, and serves
the devil for the pure love of the service. What more could Peter do to
prove that he knew not Jesus?

In the communion service is a ceremony called "fencing the tables,"
which consists of an appeal to the consciences of intended communicants.
Dr. Black began with the first commandment and forbade those living in
its violation to come to the table, and so proceeded through the
decalogue. When he came to the eighth, he straightened himself, placed
his hands behind him, and with thrilling emphasis said, "I debar from
this holy table of the Lord, all slave-holders and horse-thieves, and
other dishonest persons," and without another word passed to the ninth

Soon after we returned to the city, sister Mary died of consumption, and
father's health began to fail. I have preserved the spinning wheel on
which mother converted flax yarn into thread, which she sold to aid in
the support of the family, but soon the entire burden fell on her, for
father's illness developed into consumption, from which he died in
March, 1823.

In spite of all the testamentary precautions he could take, whatever of
his estate might have been available for present support, was in the
hands of lawyers, and mother was left with her children and the debts.
There were the contents of his shop and warehouse, some valuable real
estate in Pittsburg, which had passed out of his possession on a claim
of ground-rent, and a village home minus a title.

William was a mechanical genius, so mother set him to making little
chairs, which he readily sold, but he liked better to construct fire
engines, which were quite wonderful but brought no money. He had a
splendid physique, was honorable and faithful, and if mother had been
guided by natural instinct in governing him, all would have been well;
but he never met the requirements of the elders of the church, who felt
it their duty to manage our family affairs. So he was often in trouble,
and I, who gloried in him, contrived to shield him from many a storm.

At this time there was a fashionable _furor_ for lace work. Mother sent
me to learn it, and then procured me pupils, whom I taught, usually
sitting on their knee. But lace work soon gave way to painting on
velvet. This, too, I learned, and found profit in selling pictures. Ah,
what pictures I did make. I reached the culminating glory of artist
life, when Judge Braden, of Butler, gave me a new crisp five dollar bill
for a Goddess of Liberty. Indeed, he wanted me to be educated for an
artist, and was far-seeing and generous enough to have been my permanent
patron, had an artistic education, or any other education, been possible
for a Western Pennsylvania girl in that dark age--the first half of the
nineteenth century.

Mother made a discovery in the art of coloring leghorn and straw
bonnets, which brought her plenty of work, so we never lacked comforts
of life, although grandfather's executors made us pay rent for the house
we occupied.



During my childhood there were no public schools in Pennsylvania. The
State was pretty well supplied with colleges for boys, while girls were
permitted to go to subscription schools. To these we were sent part of
the time, and in one of them Joseph Caldwell, afterwards a prominent
missionary to India, was a schoolmate. But we had Dr. Black's sermons,
full of grand morals, science and history.

In lieu of colleges for girls, there were boarding-schools, and
Edgeworth was esteemed one of the best in the State. It was at
Braddock's Field, and Mrs. Olever, an English woman of high culture, was
its founder and principal. To it my cousin, Mary Alexander, was sent,
but returned homesick, and refused to go back unless I went with her. It
was arranged that I should go for a few weeks, as I was greatly in need
of country air; and, highly delighted, I was at the rendezvous at the
hour, one o'clock, with my box, ready for this excursion into the world
of polite literature. Mary was also there, and a new scholar, but Father
Olever did not come for us until four o'clock. He was a small, nervous
gentleman, and lamps were already lighted in the smoky city when we
started to drive twelve miles through spring mud, on a cloudy, cheerless
afternoon. We knew he had no confidence in his power to manage those
horses, though we also knew he would do his best to save us from harm;
but as darkness closed around us, I think we felt like babes in the
woods, and shuddered with vague fear as much as with cold and damp. When
we reached the "Bullock Pens," half a mile west of Wilkinsburg, there
were many lights and much bustle in and around the old yellow tavern,
where teamsters were attending to their weary horses. Here we turned off
to the old mud road, and came to a place of which I had no previous
knowledge--a place of outer darkness and chattering teeth.

We met no more teams, saw no more lights, but seemed to be in an utterly
uninhabited country. Then, after an hour of wearisome jolting and
plunging, we discovered that the darkness had not been total, for the
line of the horizon had been visible, but now it was swallowed up. We
knew we were in a wood, by the rush of the wind amid the dried white oak
leaves--knew that the road grew rougher at every step--that our driver
became more nervous as he applied the brake, and we went down, down.

Still the descent grew steeper. We stopped, and Father Olever felt for
the bank with his whip to be sure we were on the road. Then we heard the
sound of rushing, angry waters, mingled with the roar of the wind, and
he seemed to hesitate about going on, but we could not very well stay
there, and he once more put his horses in motion, while we held fast and
prayed silently to the great Deliverer. After stopping again and
feeling for the bank, lest we should go over the precipitous hillside,
which he knew was there, he proceeded until, with a great plunge, we
were in the angry waters, which arose to the wagon-bed, and roared and
surged all around us. The horses tried to go on, when something gave
way, and our guardian concluded further progress was impossible, and
began to hallo at the top of his voice.

For a long time there was no response; then came an answering call from
a long distance. Next a light appeared, and that, too, was far away, but
came toward us. When it reached the brink of the water, and two men with
it, we felt safe. The light-bearer held it up so that we saw him quite
well, and his peculiar appearance suited his surroundings. He was more
an overgrown boy than a man, beardless, with a long swarthy face, black
hair and keen black eyes. He wore heavy boots outside his pantaloons, a
blouse and slouch hat, spoke to his companion as one having authority,
and with a laugh said to our small gentleman:

"Is this where you are?" but gave no heed to the answer as he waded in
and threw off the check lines, saying: "I wonder you did not drown your

He next examined the wagon, paying no more attention to Father Olever's
explanations than to the water in which he seemed quite at home, and
when he had finished his inspection he said:

"They must go to the house," and handing the light to the driver he took
us up one by one and carried us to the wet bank as easily as a child
carries her doll. He gave some directions to his companion, took the
light and said to us:

"Come on," and we walked after him out into the limitless blackness,
nothing doubting. We went what seemed a long way, following this
brigand-looking stranger, without seeing any sign of life or hearing any
sound save the roar of wind and water, but on turning a fence corner, we
came in sight of a large two-story house, with a bright light streaming
out through many windows, and a wide open door. There was a large stone
barn on the other side of the road, and to this our conductor turned,
saying to us: "Go on to the house." This we did, and were met at the
open door by a middle-aged woman, shading with one hand the candle held
in the other. This threw a strong light on her face, which instantly
reminded me of an eagle. She wore a double-bordered white cap over her
black hair, and looked suspiciously at us through her small keen, black
eyes, but kindly bade us come in to a low wainscoted hall, with broad
stairway and many open doors. Through one of these and a second door we
saw a great fire of logs, and I should have liked to sit by it, but she
led us into a square wainscoted room on the opposite side, in which
blazed a coal fire almost as large as the log heap in the kitchen.

She gave us seats, and a white-haired man who sat in the corner, spoke
to us, and made me feel comfortable. Up to this time all the
surroundings had had an air of enchanted castles, brigands, ghosts,
witches. The alert woman with the eagle face, in spite of her kindness,
made me feel myself an object of doubtful character, but this old man
set me quite at ease. We were no more than well warmed when the wagon
drove to the door, and the boy-man with the lantern appeared, saying,

"Come on."

We followed him again, and he lifted us into the wagon, while the
mistress of the house stood on the large flag-stone door-step, shading
her candle-flame, and giving directions about our wraps.

"Coming events cast their shadows before," when they are between us and
the light; but that night the light must have been between them and me;
for I bade good-bye to our hostess without any premonition we should
ever again meet, or that I should sit alone, as I do to-night, over half
a century later, in that same old wainscoted room, listening to the roar
of those same angry waters and the rush of the wind wrestling with the
groaning trees, in the dense darkness of this low valley.

When we had been carefully bestowed in the wagon, our deliverer took up
his lantern, saying to Father Olever:

"Drive on."

He was obeyed, and led the way over a bridge across another noisy
stream, and along a road where there was the sound of a waterfall very
near, then up a steep, rocky way until he stopped, saying,

"I guess you can get along now."

To Father Olever's thanks he only replied by a low, contemptuous but
good-humored laugh, as he turned to retrace his steps. All comfort and
strength and hope seemed to go with him. We were abandoned to our fate,
babes in the woods again, with only God for our reliance. But after a
while we could see the horizon, and arrived at our destination several
minutes before midnight, to find the great mansion full of glancing
lights and busy, expectant life.

The large family had waited up for Father Olever's return, for he and
his wagon were the connecting link between that establishment and the
outside world. He appeared to great advantage surrounded by a bevy of
girls clamoring for letters and messages. To me the scene was
fairy-land. I had never before seen anything so grand as the great hall
with its polished stairway. We had supper in the housekeeper's room, and
I was taken up this stairway, and then up and up a corkscrew cousin
until we reached the attic, which stretched over the whole house, one
great dormitory called the "bee-hive." Here I was to sleep with Helen
Semple, a Pittsburg girl, of about my own age, a frail blonde, who quite
won my heart at our first meeting.

Next day was Sabbath, and I was greatly surprised to see pupils walk on
the lawn. This was such a desecration of the day, but I made no remark.
I was too solemnly impressed by the grandeur of being at Braddock's
Field to have hinted that anything could be wrong. But for my own share
in the violation I was painfully penitent.

This was not new, for there were a long series of years in which the
principal business of six days of every week, was repentance for the
very poor use made of the seventh, and from this dreary treadmill of sin
and sorrow, no faith ever could or did free me. I never could see
salvation in Christ apart from salvation from sin, and while the sin
remained the salvation was doubtful and the sorrow certain.

On the afternoon of that first Sabbath, a number of young lady pupils
came to the Bee-hive for a visit, and as I afterwards learned to inspect
and name the two new girls, when I was promptly and unanimously dubbed
"Wax Doll." After a time, one remarked that they must go and study their
"ancient history lesson." I caught greedily at the words, ancient
history. Ah, if I could only be permitted to study such a lesson! No
such progress or promotion seemed open to me; but the thought interfered
with my prayers, and followed me into the realm of sleep. So when that
class was called next forenoon, I was alert, and what was my surprise,
to hear those privileged girls stumbling over the story of Sampson?
Could it be possible that was ancient history? How did it come to pass
that every one did not know all about Sampson, the man who had laid his
Lead on Delilah's wicked lap, to be shorn of his strength. If there is
any thing in that account, or any lesson to be drawn from it, with which
I was not then familiar, it is something I have never learned. Indeed, I
seemed to have completed my theological education before I did my
twelfth year.

One morning, Mrs. Olever sent for me, and told me she had learned my
mother was not able to send me to school, but if I would take charge of
the lessons of the little girls, she would furnish me board and tuition.
This most generous offer quite took my breath away, and was most gladly
accepted; but it was easy work, and I wondered my own studies were so
light. I was allowed to amuse myself drawing flowers, which were quite
a surprise, and pronounced better than anything the drawing master could
do--to recite poetry, for the benefit of the larger girls, and to play
in the orchard with my pupils.

With the other girls, I became interested in hair-dressing. I had read
"The Children of the Abbey," and Amanda's romantic adventures enchanted
me; but she was quite outside my life. Now I made a nearer acquaintance
with her. She changed her residence; so had I. She had brown ringlets; I
too should have them. So one Friday night, my hair was put up in papers,
and next morning, I let loose an amazing shower of curls.

The next thing to do was to go off alone, and sit reading in a romantic
spot. Of course I did not expect to meet Lord Mortimer! Miss Fitzallen
never had any such expectations. I was simply going out to read and
admire the beauties of nature. When I had seated myself, in proper
attitude, on the gnarled root of an old tree, overhanging a lovely
ravine, I proceeded to the reading part of the play, and must of course
be too much absorbed to hear the approaching footsteps, to which I
listened with bated breath. So I did not look up when they stopped at my
side, or until a pleasant voice said:

"Why you look quite romantic, my dear."

Then I saw Miss Olever, the head teacher, familiarly called "Sissy
Jane." In that real and beautiful presence Miss Fitzallen retired to her
old place, and oh, the mortification she left behind her! I looked up, a
detected criminal, into the face of her who had brought to me this
humiliation, and took _her_ for a model. My folly did not prevent our
being sincere friends during all her earnest and beautiful life.

She passed on, and I got back to the Bee-hive, when I disposed of my
curls, and never again played heroine.



Measured by the calendar, my boarding-school life was six weeks; but
measured by its pleasant memories, it was as many years. Mother wrote
for me to come home; and in going I saw, by sunlight, the scene of our
adventure that dark night going out. It was a lovely valley, walled in
by steep, wooded hills. Two ravines joined, bringing each its
contribution of running water, and pouring it into the larger stream of
the larger valley--a veritable "meeting of the waters"--in all of
nature's work, beautiful exceedingly.

The house, which stood in the center of a large, green meadow, through
which the road ran, was built in two parts, of hewn logs, with one great
stone chimney on the outside, protected by an overshot in the roof, but
that one in which the log-heap burned that night was inside. One end had
been an Indian fort when Gen. Braddock tried to reach Fort Pitt by that
road. The other end and stone barn had been built by its present
proprietor. A log mill, the oldest in Allegheny county, stood below the
barn, and to it the French soldiers had come for meal from Fort
Duquesne. The stream crossed by the bridge was the mill-race, and the
waterfall made by the waste-gate. It was the homestead of a soldier of
the Revolution, one of Washington's lieutenants--the old man we had
seen. The woman was his second wife. They had a numerous family, and an
unpronounceable name.

At home I learned that, on account of a cough, I had been the object of
a generous conspiracy between mother and Mrs. Olever, and had been
brought home because I was worse. Our doctors said I was in the first
stage of consumption, that Elizabeth was to reach that point early in
life, and that our only hope lay in plenty of calomel. Mother had lost
her husband and four vigorous children; there had been no lack of
calomel, and now, when death again threatened, she resolved to conduct
the defense on some new plan.

She had gained legal possession of our village home, and moved to it.
Our lot was large and well supplied with choice fruit, and the place
seemed a paradise after our starved lives in the smoky city. My apple
tree still grew at the east end of the house. There was a willow tree
mother had planted, which now swept the ground with its long, graceful
branches. There were quantities of rose and lilac bushes, a walled
spring of delicious water in the cellar, and a whole world of wealth;
but the potato lot looked up in despair--a patch of yellow clay. Mother
put a twelve years' accumulation of coal ashes on it, and thus proved
them valuable both as a fertilizer and a preventive of potato-rot,
though at first her project met general opposition.

William did the heavy work and was proud of it. He was in splendid
health, for his insubordination had, from a very early age, saved him
from drugging either mental or physical. The lighter gardening became
part of my treatment for consumption. By having me each day lie on the
floor on my back without a pillow, and gentle use of dumb-bells, mother
straightened my spine and developed my chest--my clothes being carefully
adapted to its expansion. Dancing was strictly forbidden by our church,
but mother was educated in Ireland and danced beautifully. She had a
class of girls and taught us, and with plenty of fresh air, milk and
eggs, effectually disposed of hereditary consumption in her family. But
while attending to us, she must also make a living, so she bought a
stock of goods on credit, opened a store, and soon had a paying
business. In this I was her special assistant. But the work supplied to
William did not satisfy the holy men of the church, who furnished us
advice. He still made fire engines, and a brook in a meadow presented
irresistible temptation to water-wheels and machinery. One of his
tilt-hammers made a very good ghost, haunting the meadow and keeping off
trespassers. He had a foundry, where he cast miniature cannon, kettles
and curious things, and his rifle-practice was a neighborhood wonder. He
brought water from the cellar, and did other chores which Pennsylvania
rules assigned to women, and when boys ridiculed him, he flogged them,
and did it quite as effectually as he rendered them the same service
when they were rude to a girl. He was a universal favorite, even if he
did hate catechism and love cake.

So mother's conscience was worked upon until she bound him to a cabinet
maker in the city. To him, the restraint was unendurable, and he ran
away. He came after dark to bid me good-bye, left love for mother and
Elizabeth, and next morning left Pittsburg on a steamboat, going to that
Eldorado of Pittsburg boys--"down the river."

For some time letters came regularly from him, and he was happy and
prosperous. Then they ceased, and after two years of agonizing suspense,
we heard that he had died of yellow fever in New Orleans. To us, this
was dreadful, irreparable, and was wholly due to that iron-bedstead
piety which permits no natural growth, but sets down all human loves and
longings as of Satanic origin.

Soon after our removal to the village, grandfather's estate was
advertised for sheriff's sale. Mother had the proceedings stayed, the
executors dismissed, and took out letters of administration, which made
it necessary for her to spend some portion of every month in the city.
This threw the entire charge of house and store on me. As soon,
therefore, as possible, she sent me to the city to school, where I
realized my aspiration of studying ancient history and the piano, and
devoured the contents of the text-book of natural philosophy with an
avidity I had never known for a novel.

In April, 1830, I began to teach school, the only one in Wilkinsburg,
and had plenty of pupils, young men and women, boys and girls, at two
dollars and one dollar and a half a term. Taught seven hours a day, and
Saturday forenoon, which was devoted to Bible reading and catechism. I
was the first, I believe, in Allegheny Co., to teach children without
beating them. I abolished corporeal punishment entirely, and was so
successful that boys, ungovernable at home, were altogether tractable.
This life was perfectly congenial, and I followed it for nearly six
years. Mother started a Sabbath School, the only one in the village, and
this, too, we continued for years.

One of the pupils was a girl of thirteen, daughter of a well-to-do
farmer, who lived within a mile of the village. Her father had been
converted at a camp-meeting and was a devout Methodist. The first day
she attended, I asked her the question:

"How many Gods are there?"

She thought a moment, and then said, with an air of satisfaction:


I was shocked, and answered in the language of the Catechism:

"O Margaret! 'There is but one only living and true God.'"

She hung her head, then nodded it, and with the emphasis of a judge who
had weighed all the evidence, said:

"I am sure I ha' hearn tell o' more nur one of em."

A young theological student came sometimes to stay over Sabbath and
assist in the school. He led in family worship, and had quite a nice
time, until one evening he read a chapter from the song of songs which
was Solomon's, when I bethought me that he was very much afraid of
toads. I began to cultivate those bright-eyed creatures, so that it
always seemed probable I had one in my pocket or sleeve. The path of
that good young man became thorny until it diverged from mine.

I was almost fifteen, when I overheard a young lady say I was growing
pretty. I went to my mirror and spent some moments in unalloyed
happiness and triumph. Then I thought, "Pretty face, the worms will eat
you. All the prettiest girls I know are silly, but you shall never make
a fool of me. Helen's beauty ruined Troy. Cleopatra was a wretch. So if
you are pretty, _I_ will be master, remember that."



In the year 1800, the Covenanter church of this country said in her
synod: "Slavery and Christianity are incompatible," and never relaxed
her discipline which forbade fellowship with slave-holders--so I was
brought up an abolitionist. I was still a child when I went through
Wilkins' township collecting names to a petition for the abolition of
slavery in the District of Columbia. Here, in a strictly orthodox
Presbyterian community, I was everywhere met by the objections: "Niggers
have no souls," "The Jews held slaves," "Noah cursed Canaan," and these
points I argued from house to house, occasionally for three years, and
made that acquaintance which led to my being sent for in cases of
sickness and death, before I had completed my sixteenth year. In this, I
in some measure took the place long filled by mother, who was often a
substitute for doctor and preacher.

Looking back at her life, I think how little those know of Calvinists
who regard them merely as a class of autocrats, conscious of their own
election to glory, and rejoicing in the reprobation of all others; for I
have never known such humble, self-distrustful people as I have found in
that faith. Mother, whose life was full of wisdom and good works,
doubted, even to the last, her own acceptance with God. She and I
believed that "a jealous God," who can brook no rivals, had taken away
our loving husband and father; our strong and brave son and brother,
because we loved them too much, and I was brought up to think it a great
presumption to assume that such a worm of the dust as I, could be aught
to the Creator but a subject of punishment.

During the spring of 1831, mother said to me:

"Sabbath week is our communion, and I thought you might wish to join the

I was startled and without looking up, said:

"Am I old enough?"

"If you feel that the dying command of the Savior, 'do this in
remembrance of me' was addressed to you, you are old enough to obey it."

Not another word was said and the subject was never again broached
between us, but here a great conflict began. That command was given to
me, but how could I obey it without eating and drinking damnation to
myself? Was mine a saving faith, or did I, like the devils, believe and
tremble? I had been believing as long as I could remember, but did not
seem to grow in the image of God.

The conflict lasted several days. Sleep left me. The heavens were iron
and the earth brass. I turned to Erskine to learn the signs of saving
faith, but found only reason to suspect self-deception. I could not
submit to God's will--could not be willing that William should be
lost--nay, I was not willing that any one should be lost. I could not
stay in heaven, and know that any one was enduring endless torments in
some other place! I must leave and go to their relief. It was dreadful
that Abraham did not even try to go to poor Dives, or to send some one.
My whole soul flew into open revolt; then oh! the total depravity which
could question "the ways of God to man." I hated Milton. I despised his
devils; had a supreme contempt for the "Prince of the Power of the Air;"
did not remember a time when I was afraid of him. God was "my refuge and
my shield, in straits a present aid." If he took care of me, no one else
could hurt me; if he did not, no one else could; and to be accepted by
him was all there was or could be worth caring for; but how should I
find this acceptance with my heart full of rebellion?

One afternoon I became unable to think, but a white mist settled down
over hell. Even those contemptible devils were having their tongues
cooled with blessed drops of water. The fires grew dim, and it seemed as
if there was to be a rain of grace and mercy in that region of despair.
Then I preferred my petition, that God would write his name upon my
forehead, and give me that "new name" which should mark me as his; that
he would bring William into the fold, and do with me as he would. I
would be content to spend my whole life in any labor he should appoint,
without a sign of the approval of God or man, if, in the end, I and
mine should be found among those "who had washed their robes, and made
them white in the blood of the Lamb."

I fell asleep--slept hours--and when the sun was setting, woke in
perfect peace. My proposition had been accepted, and wonderful grace,
which had given what I had not dared to ask, assurance of present
acceptance. I should have all the work and privation for which I had
bargained--should be a thistle-digger in the vineyard; should be set to
tasks from which other laborers shrank, but in no trial could I ever be
alone, and should at last hear the welcome "well done."

I arose as one from a grave to a joyous resurrection; but kept all these
things in my heart. Personal experiences being altogether between God
and the soul, were not considered fit subjects for conversation, and
when I came before the session applying for church, membership, no
mention was made of them, except as a general confession of faith.

Rev. Andrew Black addressed the table at which I sat in my first
communion, and said:

"The Lord's Supper has been named the Eucharist, after the oath taken by
a Roman soldier, never to turn his back upon his leader. You, in
partaking of these emblems, do solemnly vow that you will never turn
your back upon Christ, but that you will follow him whithersoever he
goeth. Let others do as they will, you are to follow the Lamb, through
good and through evil report, to a palace or to a prison; follow him,
even if he should lead you out of the church."

This was in perfect harmony with my private agreement, and no other act
of my life has been so solemn or far-reaching in its consequences, as
that ratification of my vow, and it is one I have least cause to repent.

However, it brought a new phase to an old trouble. How should I follow
Christ? I could not do as he had done. I could not go to meeting every
Sabbath, and society every Friday; and if I did, was that following
Christ who never built a meeting-house, or conducted any service
resembling those now held? I read the life of Jonathan Edwards, and
settled back into the old Sabbath-keeping rut. Resolving to do my best,
I prayed all week, for grace to keep the next Sabbath. I rose early that
trial-morning, prayed as soon as my eyes were open, read a chapter,
looked out into the beautiful morning, thought about God and
prayed--spent so much time praying, that Elizabeth had breakfast ready
when I went down stairs. While I ate it, I held my thoughts to the work
of the day, worshiping God; but many facts and fancies forced themselves
in and disturbed my pious meditations. After breakfast, I went back to
my room to continue my labor; but mother soon came and said:

"Do you intend to let Elizabeth do all the work?"

I dropped my roll of saintship, and went and washed the dishes. Had I
been taught that he who does any honest work serves God and follows
Christ, what a world of woe would have been spared me.



Quiltings furnished the principal amusement, and at these I was in
requisition, both for my expertness with the needle, and my skill in
laying out work; but as I had no brother to come for me, I usually went
home before the evening frolic, which consisted of plays. Male and
female partners went through the common quadrille figures, keeping time
to the music of their own voices, and making a denouement every few
moments by some man kissing some woman, perhaps in a dark hall, or some
woman kissing some man, or some man kissing all the women, or _vice
versa_. Elders and preachers often looked on in pious approbation, and
the church covered these sports with the mantle of her approval, but was
ready to excommunicate any one who should dance. Promiscuous dancing was
the fiery dragon which the church went out to slay. Only its death could
save her from a fit of choler which might be fatal, unless, indeed, the
dancing were sanctified by promiscuous kissing. If men and women danced
together without kissing, they were in immediate danger of eternal
damnation; but with plenty of kissing, and rude wrestling to overcome
the delicacy of women who objected to such desecration, the church gave
her blessing to the quadrille.

My protest against these plays had given offense, and I chose to avoid
them; but one evening the host begged me to remain, saying he would see
that I was not annoyed, and would himself take me home. The frolic was
only begun, when he came and asked permission to introduce a gentleman,
saying: "If you do not treat him well, I will never forgive you."

There was no need of this caution, for he presented a man whose presence
made me feel that I was a very little girl and should have been at home.
He was over six feet tall, well formed and strongly built, with black
hair and eyes, a long face, and heavy black whiskers. He was handsomely
dressed, and his manner that of a grave and reverend seignior. A Russian
count in a New York drawing room, then, when counts were few, could not
have seemed more foreign than this man in that village parlor, less than
two miles from the place of his birth.

He was the son of the old revolutionary soldier, with the unpronouncable
name, who lived in the beautiful valley. This I knew at once, but did
not, for some time, realize that it was he who rescued us from the black
waters on that dark night, carried us to safety and light, and left us
again in darkness. This incident, so much to me, he never could
distinguish among the many times he had "helped Olever and his seminary
girls out of scrapes," and he never spoke of these adventures without
that same laugh which I noticed when Father Olever thanked him.

He had elected me as his wife some years before this evening, and had
not kept it secret; had been assured his choice was presumptuous, but
came and took possession of his prospective property with the air of a
man who understood his business. I next saw him on horseback, and this
man of giant strength in full suit of black, riding a large spirited
black horse, became my "black knight."

My sister hated him, and my mother doubted him, or rather doubted the
propriety of my receiving visits from him. His family were the leading
Methodists of the township; his father had donated land and built a
meeting-house, which took his name, and his house was the headquarters
of traveling preachers. There was a camp-meeting ground on the farm; his
mother "lived without sin," prayed aloud and shouted in meeting, while
the income and energy of the family were expended in propagating a faith
which we believed false. A marriage with him would be incongruous and
bring misery to both. These objections he overruled, by saying he was
not a member of any church, would never interfere with my rights of
conscience, would take or send me to my meeting when possible, and
expect me to go sometimes with him. He proposed going up the Allegheny
to establish saw-mills, and if I would go into the woods with him, there
should be no trouble about religion. So there seemed no valid objection,
and two years after our introduction we were married, on the 18th of
November, 1836.

Then all was changed. I offended him the day after by shedding tears
when I left home to go for a visit to his father's house, and his sister
had told him that I cried while dressing to be married. These offenses
he never forgave, and concluded that since I cared so little for him, he
would not leave his friends and go up the Allegheny with me. His
services were indispensable at home, since his brother Samuel had gone
into business for himself, and the next brother William was not
seventeen, and could not take charge of the farm and mills. His mother
was ready to take me into the family,--although the house was not large
enough to accommodate us comfortably--the old shop in the yard could be
fitted up for a school-room. I could teach and he could manage the

In this change, he but followed that impulse which led the men of
England, centuries ago, to enact, that "marriage annuls all previous
contracts between the parties," and which now leads men in all civilized
countries to preserve such statutes. It is an old adage, "All is fair in
love as in war," but I thought not of general laws, and only felt a
private grievance.

By a further change of plan, I was to get religion and preach. Wesley
made the great innovation of calling women to the pulpit, and although
it had afterwards been closed to them generally, there were still women
who did preach, while all were urged to take part in public worship. My
husband had been converted after our engagement and shortly before our
marriage, and was quite zealous. He thought me wonderfully wise, and
that I might bring souls to Christ if I only would. I quoted Paul: "Let
women keep silence in churches, and learn of their husbands at home." He
replied, "Wives, obey your husbands." He laughed at the thought of my
learning from him and said: "What shall I teach you? Will you come to
the mill and let me show you how to put a log on the carriage?"

It was a very earnest discussion, and the Bible was on both sides; but I
followed the lead of my church, which taught me to be silent. He quoted
his preachers, who were in league with him, to get me to give myself to
the Lord, help them save souls, by calling on men everywhere to repent;
but I was obstinate. I would not get religion, would not preach, would
not live in the house with his mother, and stayed with my own. His
younger brothers came regularly to me for lessons with my sister, and I
added two idiotic children bound to his sister's husband, to whose
darkened minds I found the key hidden from other teachers. His brothers
I adopted from the first, in place of the one I had lost, and they
repaid my love in kind; but books soon appeared as an entering wedge
between their souls and religion, which formed the entire mental pabulum
of the family.

I believe there was not at that time a member of the Pittsburg
Conference who was a college graduate, few who had even a good, common
school education, while two of those who preached in our meetinghouse
and were frequent guests in the family, were unable to read.

My husband's father was old and feeble, and had devised his property to
his wife, to be divided at her death between her sons. My husband, as
her agent, would come into possession of the whole, and they thought I
might object to the "prophet's chamber;" but it required no worldly
motive to stimulate these fiery zealots to save a sinner from the toils
of Calvinism. It is probable many of them would have laid down his life
for his religion, and when they got on the track of a sinner, they
pursued him as eagerly as ever an English parson did a fox, but it was
to save, not to kill. In these hot pursuits, they did not stand on
ceremony, and in my case, found a subject that would not run. My kith
and kin had died at the stake, bearing testimony against popery and
prelacy; had fought on those fields where Scotchmen charged in solid
columns, singing psalms; and though I was wax at all other points, I was
granite on "The Solemn League and Covenant." With the convictions of
others I did not interfere, but when attacked would "render
a reason." My assailants denounced theological seminaries as
"preacher-factories"--informed me that "neither Dr. Black nor any of his
congregation ever had religion," and that only by getting it could any
one be saved. My husband became proud of my defense, and the boys grew
disrespectful to their religious guides. Their mother became anxious
about their souls, so the efforts for my conversion were redoubled.

From the first the preachers disapproved of my being permitted to go to
my meeting, and especially to my husband accompanying me. He refused to
go, on the ground that he had not been invited to commune, and as I sank
in the deep waters of affliction, I did so need the pulpit teachings of
my old pastor, which seemed to lift me and set my feet upon a rock. One
day I walked the seven miles and back, when the family carriage went to
take two preachers to an appointment; three horses stood in the old
stone barn, and my husband at home with his mother. This gave great
offense as the advertisement of a grievance, and was never repeated.

During all my childhood and youth, I had been spoiled by much love, if
love can spoil. I was non-resistant by nature, and on principle,
believed in the power of good. Forbearance, generosity, helpful service,
would, should, must, win my new friends to love me.

Getting me into the house with my mother-in-law, was so important a part
of the plan of salvation, that to effect it, I was left without support
or compensation for my services as teacher, tailor, dress-maker, for my
husband's family. He visited me once or twice a week, and ignored my
mother's presence, while she felt that in this, as in any church-joining
conflict, only God could help me, and stood aloof.

To me the sun was darkened, and the moon refused her light. I knew "that
jealous God" who claimed the supreme love of his creatures, was
scourging me for making an idol and bowing down before it--for loving my
husband. I knew it was all just and clung to the Almighty arm, with the
old cry, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." To my husband I
clung with like tenacity, and could not admit that my suffering was
through any fault of his.

The summer after my marriage, mother went for a long visit to Butler,
and left us in possession of her house. My husband bought a village
property, including a wagon-maker's shop, employed a workman and sent
him to board with me. He also made some additions to a dwelling on it,
that we might go there to live, and the workmen boarded with me, while
my mother-in-law furnished provisions and came or sent a daughter to see
that I did not waste them. Her reproofs were in the form of suggestions,
and she sought to please me by saying she had "allowed James" to get
certain things for me; but he did not visit me any oftener than when
mother was at home, and when she returned in the autumn, the potatoes
were frozen in the ground, the apples on the trees, and the cow stood
starving at the stable door.

Then I learned that I had been expected to secure the fall crops on
mother's lot, and this was not unreasonable, for I had married a
Pennsylvania farmer, and their wives and sisters and daughters did such
work often, while the "men folks" pitched horseshoes to work off their
surplus vitality. Lack of strength was no reason why a woman should fail
in her duty, for when one fell at her post, there was always another to
take her place.

Up to this time mother had left me to settle my troubles, but now, she
told me I must turn and demand justice; that generosity was more than
thrown away; that I never could live with my husband and bear his
neglect and unkindness and that of his family. I must leave him, defend
myself, or die. That I should have been expected to gather apples and
dig potatoes, filled her with indignation. She advised me to stay with
her and refuse to see him, but I shuddered to think it had come to this
in one short year, and felt that all would yet be well. So I went to
live in the house he provided for me, his mother furnished my supplies,
and he came once a week to see me.

Here let me say, that in my twenty years of married life, my conflicts
were all spiritual; that there never was a time when my husband's strong
right arm would not be tempered to infantile gentleness to tend me in
illness, or when he hesitated to throw himself between me and danger.
Over streams and other places impassible to me, he carried me, but could
not understand how so frail a thing could be so obstinate.



During all my girlhood I saw no pictures, no art gallery, no studio, but
had learned to feel great contempt for my own efforts at picture-making.
A traveling artist stopped in Wilkinsburg and painted some portraits; we
visited his studio, and a new world opened to me. Up to that time
portrait painting had seemed as inaccessible as the moon--a sublimity I
no more thought of reaching than a star; but when I saw a portrait on
the easel, a palette of paints and some brushes, I was at home in a new
world, at the head of a long vista of faces which I must paint; but the
new aspiration was another secret to keep.

Bard, the wagon-maker, made me a stretcher, and with a yard of
unbleached muslin, some tacks and white lead, I made a canvas. In the
shop were white lead, lampblack, king's yellow and red lead, with oil
and turpentine. I watched Bard mix paints, and concluded I wanted brown.
Years before, I heard of brown umber, so I got umber and some brushes
and begun my husband's portrait. I hid it when he was there or I heard
any one coming, and once blistered it badly trying to dry it before the
fire, so that it was a very rough work; but it was a portrait, a daub, a
likeness, and the hand was his hand and no other. The figure was
correct, and the position in the chair, and, from the moment I began it,
I felt I had found my vocation.

What did I care for preachers and theological arguments? What matter who
sent me my bread, or whether I had any? What matter for anything, so
long as I had a canvas and some paints, with that long perspective of
faces and figures crowding up and begging to be painted. The face of
every one I knew was there, with every line and varying expression, and
in each I seemed to read the inner life in the outer form. Oh, how they
plead with me! What graceful lines and gorgeous colors floated around
me! I forgot God, and did not know it; forgot philosophy, and did not
care to remember it; but alas! I forgot to get Bard's dinner, and,
although I forgot to be hungry, I had no reason to suppose he did. He
would willingly have gone hungry, rather than give any one trouble; but
I had neglected a duty. Not only once did I do this, but again and
again, the fire went out or the bread ran over in the pans, while I
painted and dreamed.

My conscience began to trouble me. Housekeeping was "woman's sphere,"
although I had never then heard the words, for no woman had gotten out
of it, to be hounded back; but I knew my place, and scorned to leave it.
I tried to think I could paint without neglect of duty. It did not occur
to me that painting was a duty for a married woman! Had the passion
seized me before marriage, no other love could have come between me and
art; but I felt that it was too late, as my life was already devoted to
another object--housekeeping.

It was a hard struggle. I tried to compromise, but experience soon
deprived me of that hope, for to paint was to be oblivious of all other
things. In my doubt, I met one of those newspaper paragraphs with which
men are wont to pelt women into subjection: "A man does not marry an
artist, but a housekeeper." This fitted my case, and my doom was sealed.

I put away my brushes; resolutely crucified my divine gift, and while it
hung writhing on the cross, spent my best years and powers cooking
cabbage. "A servant of servants shall she be," must have been spoken of
women, not negroes.

Friends have tried to comfort me by the assurance that my life-work has
been better done by the pen, than it could have been with the pencil,
but this cannot be. I have never cared for literary fame; have avoided,
rather than sought it; have enjoyed the abuse of the press more than its
praise; have held my pen with a feeling of contempt for its feebleness,
and never could be so occupied with it as to forget a domestic duty,
while I have never visited a picture gallery, but I have bowed in deep
repentance for the betrayal of a trust.

Where are the pictures I should have given to the world? Where my record
of the wrongs and outrages of my age; of the sorrows and joys; the
trials and triumphs, that should have been written amid autumn and
sunset glories in the eloquent faces and speaking forms which have
everywhere presented themselves, begging to be interpreted? Why have I
never put on canvas one pair of those pleading eyes, in which are
garnered the woes of centuries?

Is that Christianity which has so long said to one-half of the race,
"Thou shalt not use any gift of the Creator, if it be not approved by
thy brother; and unto man, not God, thou shalt ever turn and ask, 'What
wilt thou have me to do?'"

It was not only my art-love which must be sacrificed to my duty as a
wife, but my literary tastes must go with it. "The husband is the head
of the wife." To be head, he must be superior. An uncultivated husband
could not be the superior of a cultivated wife. I knew from the first
that his education had been limited, but thought the defect would be
easily remedied as he had good abilities, but I discovered he had no
love for books. His spiritual guides derided human learning and depended
on inspiration. My knowledge stood in the way of my salvation, and I
must be that odious thing--a superior wife--or stop my progress, for to
be and appear were the same thing. I must be the mate of the man I had
chosen; and if he would not come to my level, I must go to his. So I
gave up study, and for years did not read one page in any book save the
Bible. My religions convictions I could not change, but all other
differences should disappear.

Mother moved to the city in the spring of 1838, and my health was
rapidly failing. I had rebelled against my mother-in-law, returned her
supplies, and refused to receive anything from her. This brought on a
fearful crisis, in which my husband threatened suicide; but I was firm,
and he concluded to rent the mills and take me away. This he did. His
father lived but a few months, and died on the second anniversary of our
marriage. He lies buried in the ground he donated as "God's acre," with
only this inscription at his head: "John Swisshelm, aged 86." No sign
that he was one of the world's heroes--yet, when our revolution broke
out, his parents had but two children. The oldest enlisted and was
killed, when John caught up his rifle, took his place, and kept it until
the close of the war. He spent the winter in Valley Forge, and once, in
the darkest time, discovered Washington on his knees in a lonely
thicket, praying aloud for his country. This gave him hope, when hope
was well-nigh dead, and he followed his commander across the Jerseys,
one of the two thousand who wrote in blood, from their shoeless feet,
their protest against British rule on the soil they thus consecrated to



On the 6th of June, 1838, the white frost lay on the west side of
Pittsburg roofs as we steamed away from her wharf, bound for Louisville,
where my husband proposed going into a business already established by
his brother Samuel.

On the boat, all the way down the river, the general topic of
conversation was the contrast between the desolate slave-cursed shores
of Kentucky, and the smiling plenty of the opposite bank; but Louisville
was largely settled by Northern people, and was to prove an oasis in the
desert of slavery.

It lay at the head of the Falls of the Ohio, and the general government
had lately expended large sums in building a canal around them. Henry
Clay was in the zenith of his power, slavery held possession of the
national resources, Louisville might count on favors, and she was to be
Queen City of the West. There was an aspiring little place which fancied
itself a rival, a little boat-landing, without natural advantages,
called Cincinnati, where they killed hogs; but it was quite absurd to
think of her competing with the great metropolis at the head of the

I was quite surprised to find there were a good many houses and folks in
Cincinnati; but our boat did not stop long, and we soon reached our
Eldorado. Before we effected a landing at the crowded wharf, I fell to
wondering if a Pittsburg drayman could take a Louisville dray, its load,
its three horses and ragged driver, pile them on his dray, and with his
one horse take them to their destination--and I thought he could.

Samuel met us, and as we went in a hack to the boarding place he had
engaged. I wondered what had happened that so many men were off work in
the middle of the forenoon. Who or what could they be, those fellows in
shining black broadcloth, each with a stove-pipe hat on the side of his
head, his thumbs in the armholes of a satin vest, displaying a wonderful
glimmer of gold chain and diamond stud, balancing himself first on his
heels and then on his toes, as he rolled a cigar from one side of his
mouth to the other? How did they come to be standing around on corners
and doorsteps by the hundred, like crows on a cornfield fence?

It was some time before I learned that this was the advance guard of a
great army of woman-whippers, which stretched away back to the Atlantic,
and around the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, and that they were out on
duty as a staring brigade, whose business it was to insult every woman
who ventured on the street without a male protector, by a stare so
lascivious as could not be imagined on American free soil. I learned
that they all lived, in whole or in part, by the sale of their own
children, and the labor of the mothers extorted by the lash. I came to
know one hoary-haired veteran, whose entire support came from the
natural increase and wages of nineteen women, one of whom, a girl of
eighteen, lived with him in a fashionable boarding-house, waited on him
at table, slept in his room, and of whose yearly wages one hundred and
seventy-five dollars were credited on his board bill.

I learned that none of the shapely hands displayed on the black vests,
had ever used other implement of toil than a pistol, bowie-knife or
slave-whip; that any other tool would ruin the reputation of the owner
of the taper digits; but they did not lose caste by horsewhipping the
old mammys from whose bosoms they had drawn life in infancy.

Our boarding-house was on Walnut street, one block west of the theatre,
and looked toward the river. On the opposite side of the street stood a
two-story brick house, always closed except when a negress opened and
dusted the rooms. I never saw sadness or sorrow until I saw that face;
and it did not appear except about her work, or when she emerged from a
side gate to call in two mulatto children, who sometimes came out on the

This house belonged to a Northern "mudsill," who kept a grocery, and
owned the woman, who was the mother of five children, of whom he was the
father. The older two he had sold, one at a time, as they became
saleable or got in his way. On the sale of the first, the mother "took
on so that he was obliged to flog her almost to death before she gave
up." But he had made her understand that their children were to be sold,
at his convenience, and that he "would not have more than three little
niggers about the house at one time."

After that first lesson she had been "reasonable."

Our hostess, a Kentucky lady, used to lament the loss of two boys--"two
of the beautifulest boys!"

They were the sons of her bachelor uncle, who had had a passion for
Liza, one of his father's slaves, a tall, handsome quadroon, who
rejected his suit and was in love with Jo, a fellow slave. To punish
both, the young master had Jo tied up and lashed until he fainted, while
Liza was held so that she must witness the torture, until insensibility
came to her relief. This was done three times, when Jo was sold, and
Liza herself bound to the whipping-post, and lashed until she yielded,
and became the mother of those two beautiful boys.

"But," added her biographer, "she never smiled after Jo was sold, took
consumption and died when her youngest boy was two months old. They were
the beautifulest boys I ever laid eyes on, and uncle sot great store by
them. He couldn't bear to have them out of his sight, and always said he
would give them to me. He would have done it, I know, if he had made a
will; but he took sick sudden, raving crazy, and never got his senses
for one minute. It often took three men to hold him on the bed. He
thought he saw Jo and Liza, and died cursing and raving."

She paused to wipe away a tear, and added: "The boys were sold down
South. Maybe your way, up North, is best, after all. I never knew a
cruel master die happy. They are sure to be killed, or die dreadful!"

She had an old, rheumatic cook, Martha, who seldom left her basement
kitchen, except when she went to her Baptist meeting, but for hours and
hours she crooned heart-breaking melodies of that hope within her, of a
better and a happier world.

She had a severe attack of acute inflammation of the eyelids, which
forcibly closed her eyes, and kept them closed; then she refused to

Her wages, one hundred and seventy-five dollars a year, were paid to her
owner, a woman, and these went on; so her employer sent for her owner,
and I, as an abolitionist, was summoned to the conference, that I might
learn to pity the sorrows of mistresses, and understand the
deceitfulness of slaves.

The injured owner sat in the shaded parlor, in a blue-black satin dress,
that might almost have stood upright without assistance from the flesh
or bones inside; with the dress was combined a mass of lace and jewelry
that represented a large amount of money, and the mass as it sat there,
and as I recall it, has made costly attire odious.

This bedizzoned martyr, this costumer's advertisement, sat and fanned as
she recounted her grievances. Her entire allowance for personal
expenses, was the wages of nine women, and her husband would not give
her another dollar. They, knowing her necessities, were so
ungrateful!--nobody could think how ungrateful; but in all her sorrows,
Martha was her crowning grief. She had had two husbands, and had behaved
so badly when the first was sold. Then, every time one of her thirteen
children were disposed of, she "did take on so;" nobody could imagine
"how she took on!"

Once, the gentle mistress had been compelled to send her to the
workhouse and have her whipped by the constable; and that cost fifty
cents; but really, this martyr and her husband had grown weary of
flogging Martha. One hated so to send a servant to the public
whipping-post; it looked like cruelty--did cruelty lacerate the feelings
of refined people, and it was so ungrateful in Martha, and all the rest
of them, to torture this fine lady in this rough way.

As to Martha's ingratitude, there could be no doubt; for, to this, our
hostess testified, and called me to witness, that she had sent her a cup
of tea every day since she had complained of being sick; yes, "a cup of
tea with sugar in it," and yet the old wretch had not gone to work.

When they had finished the recital of their grievances they came down to
business. The owner would remit two week's wages; after that it was the
business of the employer to pay them, and see that they were earned. If
it were necessary now to send Martha to the whipping-post, the lady in
satin would pay the fifty cents; but for any future flogging, the lady
in lawn must be responsible to the City of Louisville.

We adjourned to the kitchen where old Martha stood before her judge,
clutching the table with her hard hands, trembling in every limb, her
eyelids swollen out like puff-balls, and offensive from neglect, her
white curls making a border to her red turban, receiving her sentence
without a word. As a sheep before her shearers she was dumb, opening not
her mouth. Those wrinkled, old lips, from which I had heard few sounds,
save those of prayer and praise, were closed by a cruelty perfectly
incomprehensible in its unconscious debasement. Our hostess was a
leading member of the Fourth St. M.E. Church, the other feminine fiend a

I promised the Lord then and there, that for life, it should be my work
to bring "deliverance to the captive, and the opening of the prison to
them that are bound," but all I could do for Martha, was to give her
such medical treatment as would restore her sight and save her from the
whipping-post, and this I did.

While I lived on that dark and bloody ground, a man was beaten to death
in an open shed, on the corner of two public streets, where the sound of
the blows, the curses of his two tormentors, and his shrieks and
unavailing prayers for mercy were continued a whole forenoon, and sent
the complaining air shuddering to the ears of thousands, not one of whom
offered any help.

A brown-haired girl, Maria, the educated, refined daughter of a Kentucky
farmer, was lashed by her brutal purchaser, once, and again and again
for chastity, where hundreds who heard the blows and shrieks knew the
cause. From that house she was taken to the work-house and scourged by
the public executioner, backed by the whole force of the United States
government. Oh! God! Can this nation ever, ever be forgiven for the
blood of her innocent children?

Passing a crowded church on a Sabbath afternoon, I stepped in, when the
preacher was descanting on the power of religion, and, in illustration,
he told of two wicked young men in that state, who were drinking and
gambling on Sunday morning, when one said:

"I can lick the religion out of any nigger."

The other would bet one hundred dollars that he had a nigger out of whom
the religion could not be licked. The bet was taken and they adjourned
to a yard. This unique nigger was summoned, and proved to be a poor old
man. His master informed him he had a bet on him, and the other party
commanded him to "curse Jesus?" on pain of being flogged until he did.
The old saint dropped on his knees before his master, and plead for
mercy, saying:

"Massa! Massa! I cannot curse Jesus! Jesus die for me! He die for you,
Massa. I no curse him; I no curse Jesus!"

The master began to repent. In babyhood he had ridden on those old bowed
shoulders, then stalwart and firm, and he proposed to draw the bet, but
the other wanted sport and would win the money. Oh! the horrible details
that that preacher gave of that day's sport, of the lashings, and
faintings, and revivals, with washes of strong brine, the prayers for
mercy, and the recurring moan!

"I no curse Jesus, Massa! I no curse Jesus; Jesus die for me, Massa; I
die for Jesus?"

As the sun went down Jesus took him, and his merciful master had sold a
worthless nigger for one hundred dollars. But, the only point which the
preacher made, was that one in favor of religion. When it could so
support a nigger, what might it not do for one of the superior race?

For months I saw every day a boy who could not have been more than ten
years old, but who seemed to be eight, and who wore an iron collar with
four projections, and a hoop or bail up over his head. This had been put
on him for the crime of running away; and was kept on to prevent a
repetition of that crime. The master, who thus secured his property, was
an Elder in the Second Presbyterian church, and led the choir.

The principal Baptist preacher owned and hired out one hundred slaves;
took them himself to the public mart, and acted as auctioneer in
disposing of their services. The time at which this was done, was in the
Christmas holidays, or rather the last day of the year, when the slaves'
annual week of respite ended.

A female member of the Fourth St. Methodist church was threatened with
discipline, for nailing her cook to the fence by the ear with a
ten-penny nail. The preacher in charge witnessed the punishment from a
back window of his residence. Hundreds of others witnessed it, called by
the shrieks of the victim; and his reverence protested, on the ground
that such scenes were calculated to injure the church.



To a white woman in Louisville, work was a dire disgrace, and one
Sabbath four of us sat suffering from thirst, with the pump across the
street, when I learned that for me to go for a pitcher of water, would
be so great a disgrace to the house as to demand my instant expulsion.

I grew tired doing nothing. My husband's business did not prosper, and I
went to a dressmaker and asked for work. She was a New England woman,
and after some shrewd questions, exclaimed:

"My dear child, go home to your mother! What does your husband mean?
Does he not know you would be insulted at every step if you work for a
living? Go home--go home to your mother!"

I was homesick, and the kindness of the voice and eyes made me cry. I
told her I could not leave my husband.

"Then let him support you, or send you home until he can! I have seen
too many like you go to destruction here. Go home."

I said that I could never go to destruction, but she interrupted me:

"You know nothing about it. You are a mere baby. They all thought as you
do. Go home to your mother!"

"But I never can go to destruction! No evil can befall me, for He that
keepeth Israel slumbers not nor sleeps."

She concluded to give me work, but said:

"I will send it by a servant. Don't you come here."

I never thrust my anti-slavery opinions on any one, but every Southerner
inquired concerning them, and I gave true answers. There were many
boarders in the house, and one evening when there were eighteen men in
the parlor, these questions brought on a warm discussion, when one said:

"You had better take care how you talk, or we will give you a coat of
tar and feathers."

I agreed to accept such gratuitous suit, and a Mississippi planter, who
seemed to realize the situation, said gently:

"Indeed, madam, it is not safe for you to talk as you do."

"When reminded of constitutional guarantees for freedom of speech, and
his enjoyment of it in my native State, he replied:

"There is no danger in Pennsylvania from freedom of speech, but if
people were allowed to talk as you do here, it would overthrow our

There were mobs in the air. The mayor closed a Sunday-school, on the
ground that in it slaves were taught to read. The teacher, a New England
woman, denied the charge, and claimed that only free children had been
taught, while slaves were orally instructed to obey their masters, as
good Presbyterians, who hoped to escape the worm that never dies. Her
defense failed, but seemed to establish the right of free colored people
to a knowledge of the alphabet, but there was no school for them, and I
thought to establish one.

Jerry Wade, the Gault House barber, was a mulatto, who had bought
himself and family, and acquired considerable real estate. In the back
of one of his houses, lived his son with a wife and little daughter. We
rented the front, and mother sent me furniture. This was highly genteel,
for it gave us the appearance of owning slaves, and Olivia, young Wade's
wife, represented herself as my slave, to bring her and her child
security. As a free negro, she labored under many disadvantages, so
begged me to claim her.

In this house I started my school, and there were no lack of pupils
whose parents were able and willing to pay for their tuition, but
ruffians stood before the house and hooted at the "nigger school."
Threatening letters were sent me, and Wade was notified that his house
would be burned or sacked, if he permitted its use for such purpose. In
one day my pupils were all withdrawn.

After this, I began to make corsets. It was a joy to fit the superb
forms of Kentucky women, and my art-love found employment in it, but my
husband did not succeed, and went down the river.

A man came to see if I could give work to his half-sister, for whose
support he could not fully provide. She was a Fitzhugh,--a first
Virginia family. Her father had died, leaving a bankrupt estate. She had
learned dressmaking, and had come with him to Louisville to find work,
but she was young and beautiful, and he dare not put her into a shop,
but thought I might protect her, so she came to live with me.

One evening an old and wealthy citizen called about work I was doing for
his wife, became interested in me, as a stranger who had seen little of
Louisville, and tendered the use of his theatre-box and carriage to the
young lady and myself. I declined, with thanks. When he had taken leave,
Miss Fitzhugh sprang to her feet, and with burning cheeks and flashing
eyes, demanded to know if I knew that that man had insulted us both. I
did not know, but she did, and would tell Edward, who should cowhide him
publicly. I told her that if Edward attempted that, he would probably
lose his life, and we would certainly be dragged into a police court.
Even if we had been insulted, it only proved that the old man thought we
were like himself--that we were told in the Psalms that wicked men
thought God was like themselves, and did approve their sin, and he did
not have them cowhided. After a moment's reflection she sat down,

"Well, you are the strangest woman I ever did see!"

We never again saw the man, and I hope the incident helped the honest
Edward in his loving task of protecting the fiery Fitzhugh.

My husband's trip down the river was a failure, and he went back home.
Remembering he had heard me say I could do so much better at
corset-making if I could buy goods at wholesale, he sold his Wilkinsburg
property and turned the proceeds into dry goods. To me this seemed very
unwise, but I tried to make the best of it, and we took a business house
on Fourth street. I cut and fitted dresses, and with a tape-line could
take a measure from which I could make a perfect fit without trying on.
I soon had more work than I could do, and took two new girls, but the
goods were dead stock. My Husband was out of employment, and tried to
assist in my business. He was out most of the day, and in the evening
wanted to retire early. I was busy all day, and could not go out alone
after dark, so came to be a prisoner.

One warm evening I was walking back and forth in front of our house,
though I knew it a great risk, when a man overtook me, cleared his
throat as if to speak, and passed on to the lamp-post, which had made
one limit of my walk. I did not shorten my path, and when I came up to
the post he again cleared his throat as if to speak, and next time
stepped out, lifted his hat, and remarked:

"A very pleasant evening, Miss."

I stopped, looked at him, and said:

"It is a very pleasant evening; had you not better walk on and enjoy

He bowed low, and answered:

"I beg your pardon, madam. I was mistaken."

"Pardon for what, sir? It _is_ a very pleasant evening; please to pass

He did, and I walked till I was tired, thinking of all the sacrifices I
had made to be my husband's housekeeper and keep myself in woman's
sphere, and here was the outcome! I was degrading him from his position
of bread-winner. If it was my duty to keep his house, it must be his to
find me a house to keep, and this life must end. I would go with him to
the poorest cabin, but he must be the head of the matrimonial firm. He
should not be my business assistant. I would not be captain with him for
lieutenant. How to extricate myself I did not see, but extricated I
would be.

We needed a servant. A Kentucky "gentleman," full six feet three, with
broad shoulders and heavy black whiskers, came to say: "I have a woman I
can let you have! A good cook, good washah and ionah, fust rate
housekeepah! I'll let you have ah for two hundred dollahs a yeah; but
I'll tell you honest, you'll have to hosswhipah youahself about twice a
week, for that wife of youahs could nevah do anything with ah."

While he talked I looked. His suit was of the finest black broadcloth,
satin vest, a pompous display of chain, seals, studs and rings, his
beaver on the back of his head, his thumbs in the arms of his vest, and
feet spread like the Collossus of Rhodes.

This new use for Pennsylvania muscle seemed to strike my husband as
infinitely amusing, for he burst out laughing, and informed the
"gentleman" that he did not follow the profession of whipping women,
and must decline his offer. But I wanted to be back on free soil, out of
an atmosphere which killed all manhood, and furnished women-whippers as
a substitute for men.


REBELLION.--Age, 24.

During the late spring and early summer, my letters from home spoke
often of mother's failing health, and in July one came from her saying
her disease had been pronounced cancer, and bidding me come to her. The
same mail brought a letter from Dr. Joseph Gazzam, telling me she was
certainly on her death-bed, and adding: "Let nothing prevent your
coming to your mother at once."

I was hurt by this call. Was I such a monster that this old family
friend thought it necessary to urge me to go to my dying mother? Stunned
and stupified with grief, I packed my trunk.

My husband came in at noon, and I handed him the letters. He read them
and expressed surprise and sorrow, and I told him to hurry to the wharf
and see when the first boat started. He thought I should not go until I
heard again. It might not be so bad. Then, after reflecting, said, why
go at all, if there was no hope? Of what use could I be? If there was
hope, he would agree to my going, but as there was none, he must object.
In fact, he did not see how I could think of leaving him with those
goods on his hands. How could I be so ready to drop all and not think of
the consequences, for what could he do with that stock of dry goods. My
mother pretended to be a Christian, but would take me away from my duty.
I, too, read the Bible, but paid little heed to its teachings. He
brought that book and read all of Paul's directions to wives, but rested
his case on Ephesians, v, 22: "Wives submit yourselves unto your own
husbands as unto the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife even as
Christ is head of the church; therefore, as the church is subject unto
Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything."

While he continued his comments, I buried my head in pillows, saying,
"Lord what wilt thou have me to do?"

Milton epitomized Paul when he made Eve say to Adam, "Be God thy law,
thou mine;" but was that the mind and will of God? Had he transferred
his claim to the obedience of half the human family? Was every husband
God to his wife? Would wives appear in the general judgment at all, or
if they did, would they hand in a schedule of marital commands?

If the passage meant anything it meant this: One might as well try to
be, and not to be, at the same time, as own allegiance to God and the
same allegiance to man. I was either God's subject or I was not. If I
was not, I owed him no obedience. Christ as head of the church was her
absolute lawgiver, and thus saith the Lord, was all she dare demand. Was
I to obey my husband in that way? If so, I had no business with the
moral law or any other law, save his commands. Christian England had
taken this view, and enacted that a wife should not be punished for any
crime committed by command, or in presence of her husband, "because,
being altogether subject to him, she had no will of her own;" but this
position was soon abandoned, and this passage stamped as spurious. Every
Christian church had so stamped it, for all encouraged wives to join
their communion with or without the consent of their husbands. Thousands
of female martyrs had sealed their testimony with their blood, opposing
the authority of their husbands, and had been honored by the church. As
for me, I must take that passage alone for my Bible, or expunge it.

Then and there I cast it from me forever, as being no part of divine
law, and thus unconsciously took the first step in breaking through a
faith in plenary inspiration.

I next turned to the book in general for guidance: "Wives, obey your
husbands;" "Children obey your parents;" "Honor thy father and thy
mother." What a labyrinth of irreconcilable contradictions! God, in
nature, spoke with no uncertain sound, "Go home to your mother," and my
choice was made while my husband talked.

I said that if he did not see about a boat I would. When he told me that
he had a legal right to detain me, and would exercise it, I assured him
the attempt would be as dangerous as useless, for I was going to

He went out, promising to engage my passage, but staid so long that I
went to the wharf, where respectable women were not seen alone, saw a
boat with a flag out for Pittsburg, engaged a berth, and so left



Mother was suffering when I reached her, as I had not dreamed of. After
a consultation, Drs. Gazzam and Fahnestock thought she could not live
more than four weeks; but Spear said she might linger three months. This
blanched the cheek of each one. Three months of such unremitting pain,
steadily on the increase, was appalling; but mother faced the prospect
without a murmur, willing to bear by God's grace what He should inflict,
and to wait His good time for deliverance. I was filled with
self-reproach, for I should have been with her months before.

In a few days my mother-in-law and one of her daughters came to see how
long I proposed to stay, why I had left James with the goods, and when I
would go and take charge of them. They had had a letter from him, and he
was in great trouble. She was gentle and grave--inquired minutely about
our nursing, but thought it expensive--dwelt at length on the folly of
spending time and money in caring for the sick when recovery was
impossible. Mother could not see them, and they were offended, for they
proposed helping to take care of her, that I might return to my duty.

Some time after the visit of my mother-in-law, her son-in-law--who was a
class-leader and a man of prominence in the community--came with solemn
aspect, took my hand, sighed, and said:

"I heard you had left James with the goods." Here he sighed again,
wagged his head, and added:

"But I couldn't believe it!" and without another word turned and walked

They chose to regard mother's illness as a personal grievance. "The way
of the transgressor is hard;" and she, having sinned against the saints,
must bear her iniquity, and thus suffer the just reward of her deeds.

I had frequent letters from my husband, and he was waiting on the wharf,
watching every boat for my appearance. I told him before leaving
Louisville, that I never would return--never again would try to live in
a slave State, and advised him to sell the goods at auction, and with
the money start a sawmill up the Allegheny river, and I would go to him.
This advice he resented. At length he grew tired waiting, and came for
me. It is neither possible nor necessary here to describe the trouble
which ensued, but I would not nor did not leave mother, and she at last
remembered the protection to which she was entitled by the city

With all mother's courage, her moans were heartbreaking. No opiate then
known could bring one half-hour of any sleep in which they ceased, and
in her waking hours the burden of her woe found vent in a low refrain:

"My Father! is it not enough?"

Our principal care was to guard her from noise. The click of a knife or
spoon on a plate or cup in the adjoining room, sent a thrill of pain to
her nerve centres. Only two friends were gentle enough to aid Elizabeth
and me in nursing her, as she murmured, constantly: "If my husband were
only here!"

She could bear no voice in reading save Gabriel Adams' and my own. I
read to her comforting passages of Scripture, and said prayers which
carried her soul up to the throne, and fell back on mine in showers of
dust and ashes. A great black atheism had fallen on me. There was no
justice on earth, no mercy in heaven.

Her house was in Pittsburg, on Sixth street, a little cottage built for
her father and mother when they were alone. It stood back in a yard, and
rough men in passing stepped lightly--children went elsewhere with their
sports--friends tapped on the gate, and we went out to answer inquiries
and receive supplies--prayers were offered for her in churches,
societies and families. The house was a shrine consecrated by suffering
and sorrow.

The third month passed, and still she lingered. For seven weeks she took
no nourishment but half a cup of milk, two parts water, per day. Then
her appetite returned and her agony increased, but still with no lament
save: "My Father! Is it not enough?"

In the sixth month, January 17th, 1840, relief came. As I knelt for her
last words, she said: "Elizabeth?"

I replied, "She is here, dear mother, what of her?"

Summoning strength she said:

"Let no one separate you!" then looked up and said, "It is enough," and
breathed no more.

As her spirit rose, it broke the cloud, and the divine presence fell
upon me. The room, the world was full of peace. She had been caught up
out of the storm; and "he who endureth unto the end shall be saved."

By her request, I and a dear friend, Martha Campbell, prepared her body
for burial, and we wrapped her in a linen winding-sheet, as the body of
Christ was buried--no flowers, no decorations; only stern, solemn Death.

On the last day of father's life he had said to her, "Mary you are
human, and must have faults, but whatever they are I never have seen

She had been his widow seventeen years, and by her desire we opened his
grave and laid her body to mingle its dust with his, who had been her
only love in the life that now is, and with whom she expected to spend
an eternity.



Mother's will left everything to trustees, for the use of Elizabeth and
myself. She had wished my husband to join her in a suit for the recovery
of father's city property, and he refused, but signed a deed with me
conveying my interest to her. This claim she also willed to her trustees
for my use. He felt himself wronged and became angry, but had one
remedy. Being the owner of my person and services, he had a right to
wages for the time spent in nursing mother, and would file his claim
against her executors.

I do not know why I should have been so utterly overwhelmed by this
proposal to execute a law passed by Christian legislators for the
government of Christian people--a law which had never been questioned by
any nation, or state, or church, and was in full force all over the
world. Why should the discovery of its existence curdle my blood, stop
my heart-beats, and send a rush of burning shame from forehead to
finger-tip? Why should I have blushed that my husband was a law-abiding
citizen of the freest country in the world? Why blame him for acting in
harmony with the canons of every Christian church--aye, of that one of
which I was a member, and proud of its history as a bulwark of civil
liberty? Was it any fault of his that "all that she (the wife) can
acquire by her labor-service or act during coverture, belongs to her
husband?" Certainly not. Yet that law made me shrink and think of
mother's warning, given so long ago. But marriage was a life-contract,
and God required me to keep it to the end, and said, "When thou passeth
through the fire I will be with thee, and the floods shall not overflow
thee." I could not bear to have a bill sent to mother's executors for my
wages, but I could compromise, and I did.

He returned to Louisville, sold the goods, went on a trading-boat, and
joined Samuel in Little Rock. While he was there Samuel died--died a
Presbyterian, and left this message for me:

"Tell sister Jane I will meet her in heaven."

This my husband transmitted to me, and was deeply grieved and much
softened by his brother's death.

Rev. Isaiah Niblock, of Butler, Pa., a distant relative and very near
friend, asked me to take charge of the Butler Seminary and become his
guest. My salary would be twenty-five dollars a month, and this was
munificent. Elizabeth went to Pittsburg to school, and I to Butler,
where my success was complete and I very happy. Among my pupils were two
daughters of my old patron, Judge Braden. One of these, little Nannie,
was full of pleasant surprises, and "brought down the house" during
examination, by reciting a country girl's account of her presentation at
court, in which occurs this stanza:

     "And there the King and I were standing
       Face and face together;
     I said, 'How is your Majesty?
       It's mighty pleasant weather!'"

By Nannie's way of giving the lines, they were so fixed on my memory as
to be often mingled with solemn reveries in after years.

Petitions were presented in the Pennsylvania Legislature for the
abolition of capital punishment. Senator Sullivan, chairman of the
committee to which they were referred, wrote to Mr. Niblock for the
scripture view. He was ill and requested me to answer, which I did, and
Mr. Sullivan drew liberally from my arguments in his report against
granting the petitions. The report was attacked, and I defended it in
several letters published in a Butler paper--anonymously--and this was
my first appearance in print, except a short letter published by George
D. Prentiss, in the Louisville _Journal_, of which I remember nothing,
save the strangeness of seeing my thoughts in print.


SWISSVALE.--AGE, 26, 27.

In April, 1842, my husband took possession of the old home in the
valley, and we went there to live. There were large possibilities in the
old house, and we soon had a pleasant residence. I had the furniture
mother left me, and a small income from her estate. The farm I named
"Swissvale," and such is the name thereof. When the Pennsylvania
railroad was built it ran through it, but not in sight of the house, and
the station was called for the homestead.

In the summer of '42 I began to write stories and rhymes, under the _nom
de plume_ of "Jennie Deans," for _The Dollar Newspaper_ and _Neal's
Saturday Gazette_, both of Philadelphia. Reece C. Fleeson published an
anti-slavery weekly in Pittsburg, _The Spirit of Liberty_, and for this
I wrote abolition articles and essays on woman's right to life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness. My productions were praised, and my
husband was provoked that I did not use my own name. If I were not
ashamed of my articles, why not sign them? He had not given up the idea
that I should preach. Indeed, he held me accountable for most of the
evils in the world, on the ground that I could overthrow them if I

Elizabeth was married in June, and went to Ohio. In the autumn, my
husband's mother and the boys came to live with us, to which I made no
objection, for "honor thy father and mother" was spoken as much to him
as to me. Maybe I had some spiritual pride in seeing that she turned
from her converted daughters, who were wealthy and lived near, to make a
home with unregenerate me. She liked my housekeeping, and "grandmother,"
as I always called her, with her white 'kerchiefs and caps, sitting by
the fireplace plying her knitting-needles, became my special pride.

My husband had converted the Louisville goods into one panther, one
deer, two bears, and a roll of "wildcat" money. It was not very good
stock with which to begin life on a farm, but the monotony was relieved
by a hooking, kicking cow, and a horse which broke wagons to splinters.

Tom, the panther, was domiciled in the corner made by the old stone
chimney and the log wall of the house, close to the path which led to
the garden. The bears were chained in the meadow behind the house and
Billy, the deer, ranged at will. Tom and the bears ate pigs and poultry
so fast that we gave up trying to raise any, while Billy's visits to the
garden did not improve the vegetables. I tried to establish some control
over Tom, as a substitute for the fear he felt for his master, who was
not always within call, and who insisted that Tom could be tamed so as
to serve the place of a watchdog. Tom had been quite obedient for Tom,
and my terror for him had abated.

I was interested in the heathen of India, and was president of a society
which met in Pittsburg. Coming home from a meeting, I was thrown out of
a buggy and so badly hurt that I was kept in bed six weeks. When I began
to go out on crutches, I started to go to the garden, and forgot Tom
until I heard him growl. He lay flat, with his nose on his paws, his
tail on the ground straight as a ramrod, save a few inches at the tip,
which wagged slowly, his eyes green and fiery, and I not three feet from
his head, and just in reach, even if his chain held; but I had seen it
break in one of those springs which he was now preparing to make. There
was no help near! He would spring for my head and shoulders. If these
were out of his way, he could not hold me by my dress which, was a thin
muslin wrapper. He was not likely to leap until something moved, and
might lie there sometime. I had heard that a panther will not jump under
the gaze of a human eye, so I looked steadily into his, while I talked
to him.

"Tom! Tom! Down sir," and so tried to recall his knowledge of me.

Fortunately my feet were a little in advance of my crutches, and while I
looked and talked, holding my body motionless, I was planting my
crutches and throwing my weight on my well foot. I heard the girl coming
out of the house and knew the time had come. With all my strength I
swung myself backward as he made the leap. His hot breath rushed into my
face, his fiery eyes glared close to mine, but his chain was too short.
Then I knew I had no mission for taming panthers. From the first I had
feared that he would kill some child, and it was impossible to prevent
them trooping to see him. After my own narrow escape I protested so
strongly against keeping him, that my husband consented to sell him to a
menagerie; but those which came were supplied with panthers, and,
although he was a splendid specimen, full nine feet long, no sale was
found for him.

That adventure supplied memory with a picture, which for long years
breathed and never was absent. If it was not before me it was in some
corner, and I knew Tom was crouched to spring on me; his fiery eyes
glared, the tip of his tail wagged, and he was waiting, only waiting for
me to move. Often when I woke at night, he was on my bed or in a corner
of the room. He was hidden in fence corners and behind bushes on the
roadside, and Mary's little lamb was never half so faithful as my
phantom panther.

My husband could not understand the fear I felt, nor realize the danger
of keeping him. He enjoyed his own mastery over him, and with a box on
the side of the head he made Tom whine and crouch like a spaniel. I have
often wondered that in all the accounts I have ever read of lights with
wild animals, no one ever planted a good fist-blow under the ear of his
four-legged antagonist, and so stretch it out stiff to await his
leisure in disposing of it.



Pennsylvania customs made it unmanly for a man or boy to aid any woman,
even mother or wife, in any hard work with which farms abounded at that
time. Dairy work, candle and sausage making were done by women, and any
innovation was met with sneers. I stubbornly refused to yield altogether
to a time-honored code, which required women to perform outdoor
drudgery, often while men sat in the house, and soon had the sympathy of
our own boys; for it was often impossible to obtain any domestic help,
though Pittsburg "charitable" people supported hundreds of women in
idleness who might have had homes and wages in farmhouses.

Much of the natural beauty of Swissvale had been destroyed by pioneer
improvements, which I sought in some degree to replace. I loved the
woods, and with my little grubbing-hoe transplanted many wild and
beautiful things. This my mother-in-law did not approve, as her love for
the beautiful was satisfied by a flower border in the garden. One day
she said:

"James, I would not have that willow in that corner. The roots will get
into the race. It is the real basket willow, and if you cut it into
stubs and stick them in the swamp, you can sell enough willow to buy all
your baskets."

I replied:

"Grandmother, you forget that is my tree; I want it to drape that bare
knoll. The roots will run below the bed of the race. The boys can get
plenty of stubs at Flemming's."

She only replied by a "humph!" and next day I discovered my tree had
been sawed into pieces and planted in the swamp. Words would not restore
it, and I wasted none; but next morning rose early, and, hatchet in
hand, went to the parent tree, climbed on a fence and cut off a limb,
which I dragged home, feeling glad that anything had brought me a walk
on such a glorious morning. I planted the main stock in that corner,
then put about a hundred twigs in the swamp for basket willow. In a few
days my second tree disappeared, and I brought another, for a tree there
was indispensable, and I hoped to make my husband see as I did, and
thought I had won his consent to willows. So I went up and down the race
and runs, putting in twigs, and thinking of the "willows by the
watercourses," and Israel's lament:

     "By Babel's streams we sat and wept
       When Zion we thought on,
     In midst thereof we hanged our harps
       The willow trees upon."

I was banished from my Zion, never permitted to hear the teachings of my
old pastor, for which my soul panted as the thirsty hart for the water
brooks, and in my Babylon I wanted willows. Some of my plantings were
permitted to remain, and Swissvale is now noted for its magnificent
willows; but that main tree was chopped up and burned. In its stead I
planted a young chestnut, where it still stands, a thing of beauty and
joy to the boys.



The plans for my conversion seemed to be aided by our coming to the
farm, as I fitted up the "prophet's chamber" to entertain my husband's
friends in his house. There were two preachers in the circuit. The
eldest, a plain, blunt man, began on his first visit to pelt me with
problems about "man-made ministers" and Calvinism. I replied by citing
the election of Abraham, Jacob, and the entire Jewish nation, and by
quoting the 8th chapter of Romans, until he seemed to despair and came
no more, for they could not accept my hospitality while I refused their
religion. The other circuit rider was young, handsome and zealous, and
was doing a great work in converting young girls. On his first visit I
thought him rude. On his second, he inquired at table:

"Is this the place where they put onions into everything?"

I replied that we used none in tea or coffee. When I joined him and my
husband in the parlor, he waved his hand around the room to point out
its decorations and said:

"Brother James tells me that this is all your work. It is quite
wonderful, and now, sister, what a pity it is that you will not turn
your attention to religion. You seem to do everything so well."

He motioned as if to lay his hand on my shoulder. I drew back and said:

"Excuse me, sir, but I am not your sister; and as for your religion you
remind me with it of Doctor Jaynes and his hair tonic."

"How so, sister?"

"Again pardon, but I am not your sister. Doctor Jaynes uses a large part
of his column to persuade us that it is good to have good hair. No one
disputes that, and he should prove that his tonic will bring good hair.
So you talk of the importance of religion. No one disputes this, and it
is your business to prove that the nostrum you peddle is religion. I say
it is not. It is a system of will worship. Religion is obedience to
God's law. You teach people that they can, and do, obey this law
perfectly, while they do not know it. Your church has no bibles in her
pews, few in her families, and these unread. Preachers and all, not one
in twenty can repeat the ten commandments. You are blind leaders of the
blind, and must all fall into the ditch, destroyed for lack of

That week he proposed to abandon the Swissvale meeting-house, and build
one in Wilkinsburg, giving as a reason the impossibility of keeping up
a congregation with me on the farm.

Next Conference sent Rev. Henderson as presiding elder, who brought in a
new era. He slept in the "prophet's chamber," admired my pretty rooms,
and said nothing about my getting religion. The circuit preacher was of
the same mind, an earnest, modest, young man, wrestling with English
grammar, who on his first visit sought my help about adverbs, while my
mother-in-law looked on in evident displeasure.

To her this was the dawn of that new day, in which the Methodist church
rivals all others in her institutions of learning. The good time of
inspiration was slipping away. What wonder that she clutched it as Jacob
did his angel? There in that house she had for long years been an oracle
to inspired men, and now to see God's Spirit displaced by Kirkham's
grammar was rank infidelity. The Wilkinsburg meeting-house was being
built, and that one which had been to her all that the temple ever was
to Solomon, would be left to the owls and bats--her Zion desolate. Those
walls, made sacred by visions of glory and shouts of triumph, would
crumble to ruin in the clinging silence. How could she but think that
the influence was evil which could bring such result?

The new building was consecrated with much ceremony. The two Hendersons
staid with, us, and on Sabbath morning consulted me as to the best way
of taking up subscriptions. Mother-in-law looked on till she could bear
it no longer, and said:

"Brother Henderson, if you mean to be in time for love feast, you must
not stay fooling there."

Both men sprang to their feet, hurried away and never returned.

General Conference at its session in Baltimore, in 1840, passed the
"Black Gag" law, which forbade colored members of the church to give
testimony in church-trials against white members, in any state where
they were forbidden to testily in courts. Four members of the Pittsburg
Conference voted for it, and when my husband returned from the
dedication, I learned that three of them had figured prominently in the
exercises, and he had refused to commune on account of their

Everything went smoothly for ten days, when my husband came to our room,
where I sat writing, threw himself on the bed and poured out such a
torrent of accusations as I had not dreamed possible, and of which I
refrain from giving any adequate description. I looked up and saw that
he was livid with rage. His words appeared the ravings of a mad man, yet
there was method in them, and no crime in the calendar with which they
did not charge me. Butter money was not accounted for, pickles and
preserves missing, things about the house were going to destruction, the
country was full of falsehoods and I had told them all. It was all a
blur of sound and fury, but in it stood out these words:

"You ruined Samuel, and now you are trying to ruin the boys and those
two fool preachers. People know it, too, and I am ashamed to show my
face for the talk."

When he seemed to have finished, I asked:

"How long since you learned my real character?"

This spurred him to new wrath, and he exclaimed:

"There now, that's the next of it. You will go and tell that I've abused
you. It's not me. I never suspected your honesty, but my mother, yes, my
poor old mother. I would not care, if you could only behave yourself
before my mother!"

I sat leaning my elbows on my table with my head in my hands, and the
words "ruined Samuel" became a refrain. I thought of the danger out of
which I had plucked him while in Louisville, of the force with which I
had grappled him with hooks of steel, as he hung on the outer edge of
that precipice of dissipation, while I clung to the Almighty Arm for
help. I thought of the tears and solemnity with which this man had given
to me the dying message of that rescued brother. Earth seemed to be
passing away, and to leave no standing room. I was teaching school in
the abandoned meeting-house. It was noon recess and I must hurry or be
late. I passed into the hall and out of the house, with the thought "I
cross his threshold now for the last time;" but I must remain near and
finish my school, when I would be present to meet those monstrous
charges before the world. My reveries did not interfere with my school
duties, and when they were over I sat in the old meeting-house or walked
its one aisle, with the quiet dead lying all around me, thinking of that
good fight which I should fight, ere I finished my course, and lay down
to rest as they did. But the sun went down, the long twilight drew on
the coming night, and I was homeless. Where should I go?

I thought of the Burkhammers, whose little son lay among the dead beside
me. I had tended him in his last illness and prepared his body for
burial. They were German tenants of Judge Wilkins and to reach their
house I must pass through the dark valley over which now lay a new pall.
There were lights in the house as I passed, and Tom rattled his chain
and gave forth one of those shrieks which pierced the air for a mile. I
was glad to know that he was not loose, and that it was only my phantom
which crouched in every available place, ready to spring. The bears
bellowed a response to his shriek, but I did not hasten. The stream, so
loud and angry on that night of my first entrance into this vale of
tears, was now low, and sang a lullaby of angelic music as I crossed it
on stepping stones. On the hillside it was almost as dark as that night
when Father Olever stopped and felt for the bank with his whip.

The Burkhammers asked no questions, and I went to sleep without giving
any account of my strange visit, but about midnight I awoke myself and
the whole family by my sobs. They gathered around my bed, and I must
tell. What I said I do not know, but the old man interrupted me with:

"Oh tamm Jim. You stay here mit us. My old woman und me, we has blenty.
We dakes care of you. Nopody never said nodding bad about you. Everypody
likes you, caus you is bleasant mit everypody."

As he talked he drew his sleeve across his eyes, while his wife and
daughter comforted me. I would board there and finish my school, then go
to Butler and take the seminary, or a place in the common school.

I saw no one as I passed my late home next morning. In school the first
exercise was bible, reading verse about with the pupils. The xxv (25)
chapter of Matthew came in order, and while reading its account of the
final judgment, I saw as by a revelation why this trouble had been sent
to me, and a great flood of light seemed thrown across my path before

Christ's little ones were sick and in prison, and I had not visited
them! Old Martha, standing before her judges, rose up to upbraid me! I
was to have followed the Lamb, and had been making butter to add to an
estate larger now than the owner could use. No wonder she thought I
stole the money. I, who had failed to rebuke man-stealing, might steal
anything. That meeting-house which I had been helping to build by
entertaining its builders and aiding them about subscriptions, it and
they were a part of a great man-thieving machine. I had been false to
every principle of justice; had been decorating parlors when I should
have been tearing down prisons! _I_, helping Black Gagites build a

     "When thou a thief didst see
       Thou join'st with him in sin."'

Thinking, reaching out for the path to that bastile which I must attack,
I went on with my school duties until my husband walked in and asked why
I had not been at home. I was worn with intense strain, and at the word
home, burst into a passion of tears. I told the pupils to take their
books, and leave, there would be no more school, and I could hear them
go around on tip-toe and whisper. Twice a pair of little arms were
thrown around me, and the sound of the retreating footsteps died away
when my husband laid his hand all trembling on my head. I threw it off
and begged him to go away, his presence would kill me. He would not go,
and I went out into the woods. He followed, and said he had never
charged me with an evil thought, much less an action, was the most
loving of husbands and the most injured in that I had thought he had
found fault with me. He might have spoken a hasty word, but was it right
to lay it up against him? I still begged him to leave--that I should
die if he did not. He went, and I crossed the fields to the house of
Thomas Dickson, thinking that from it I could get to the city by the
river road and fly any where.

Mrs. Dickson made me go to bed, as I was able to go no where else, and
here my husband's brother-in-law found me. He had come as peace-maker,
and could not think what it all meant; some angry words of James about
his mother, who would now go back to live with him. The Dicksons joined
him with entreaties. If my husband had injured me, he was very, very
sorry, was quite overwhelmed with grief for the pain he had cost me.
Then they brought down the lever of scripture and conscience: "If thy
brother offend thee seventy times seven," and I yielded.

My husband came and I went home with him that evening, expecting that my
mother-in-law was installed in her new home on the hill; but she met and
kissed me at the door, and I did not care. Nothing could add to the
shudder of going into the house, and she seemed so grieved and
frightened that my heart was touched, and I was sorry for her that we
had ever met.



It was the third morning after my return, that my head would not leave
the pillow. Dr. Carothers came and blistered me from head to feet, and
for three weeks I saw no one but my attendants and my phantom panther.
He never left me. There was one corner of the room in which he stayed
most, and sometimes there was not room for his tail to wag, and then he
moved forward where I could not see his head. This troubled me, for then
I could not hold him with my eyes. At night they were two balls of green
fire; but they had always been, only when I was well I could turn my
head away, now I could not move it. I knew most of the time it was a
shadow from my brain, but was glad to hear Tom's chain rattle and feel
sure it was not his very self.

They nursed me carefully, and I lay thinking of the "little ones sick
and in prison." Old Martha came and plead with me. I saw Liza and Maria
under the lash for the crime of chastity, and myself the accomplice of
their brutal masters. I pictured one of them a member of the M.E.
Church, appealing to that church for redress and spurned under the
"Black Gag," and I? why I had been helping men who voted for it to build
a meeting-house! What was Peter's denial compared to mine?

The case arranged itself in my mind. I had writing materials brought,
and there, with my head fast on the pillow, I wrote a hexameter rhyme
half a column long, arraigning by name those Black Gag preachers,
painting the scene, and holding them responsible. I signed my initials,
and sent it to Mr. Fleeson, with a note telling him to give my name if
it was inquired for.

Our "Spirit" did not come that week; but soon my husband came to my room
with a copy of "The Pittsburg Gazette," in which was an editorial and
letter full of pious horror and denunciation of that article, and
giving my name as the author; so that we knew Mr. Fleeson had published
the name in full. This was my first appearance in print over my own
signature, and while I was shocked, my husband was delighted, even
though he knew a libel suit was threatened. I soon went to Pittsburg,
saw William Elder and John A. Wills, the only anti-slavery lawyers in
the city. They said the article was actionable, for it had brought those
men into contempt. Elder added: "They are badly hurt, or they would not
cry out so loud."

Both tendered their gratuitous services for my defense. In a civil suit
we could prove the truth of the charge, and they could get nothing, for
my husband owned no property--everything belonged to his mother--and my
trustees could not be held for my misdeeds. Their action would doubtless
be criminal, and I would probably be imprisoned. I went home and wrote a
reply to the _Gazette_, which it refused to publish, but it appeared in
the _Spirit_. I reiterated, urged and intensified my charges against
these false priests, until they were dumb about their injuries and libel
suit, but of that original article I never could get a copy. Every one
had been sold and resold, and read to rags, before I knew it was in

I continued to write for the "Spirit," but still there did not seem to
be anything I could do for the slave. As soon as I was able to be about
the house, I fell into my old round of drudgery, but with hope and pride
shut out of it. Once my burden pressed so that I could not sleep, and
rose at early dawn, and sat looking over the meadow, seeing nothing but
a dense, white fog. I leaned back, closed my eyes and thought how like
it was to my own life. When I looked again, oh, the vision of glory
which, met my sight!

The rising sun had sent, through an opening in the woods, a shaft of
light, which centred on a hickory tree that stood alone in the meadow,
and was then in the perfection of its golden autumn glory. It dripped
with moisture, blazed and shimmered. The high lights were diamond
tipped, and between them and the deepest shadow was every tint of orange
and yellow, mingled and blended in those inimitable lines of natural
foliage. Over it, through it, and around it, rolled the white fog, in
great masses, caressing the earth and hanging from the zenith, like the
veil of the temple of the Most High. All around lay the dark woods,
framing in the vision like serried ranks encompassing a throne, to which
great clouds rolled, then lifted and scudded away, like couriers coming
for orders and hastening to obey them.

John's New Jerusalem never was so grand! No square corners and
forbidding walls. The gates were not made of several solid pearls, but
of millions of pearletts, strung on threads of love, offering no
barriers through which any soul might not pass. My Patmos had been
visited and I could dwell in it, work and wait; but I would live in it,
not lie in a tomb, and once more I took hold of life.

I organized a society at which we read, had refreshments and
danced--yea, broke church rules and practiced promiscuous dancing minus
promiscuous kissing. Of course this was wicked. I roamed the woods,
brought wild flowers and planted them, set out berry bushes, and
collected a large variety of roses and lilies.



James G. Birney was the presidential candidate of the "Liberty Party" in
1844, as he had been in '40. During the campaign I wrote under my
initials for _The Spirit of Liberty_, and exposing the weak part of an
argument soon came to be my recognized forte. For using my initials I
had two reasons--my dislike and dread of publicity and the fear of
embarrassing the Liberty Party with the sex question. Abolitionists were
men of sharp angles. Organizing them was like binding crooked sticks in
a bundle, and one of the questions which divided them was the right of
women to take any prominent part in public affairs.

In that campaign, the great Whig argument against the election of Polk
was, that it would bring on a war with Mexico for the extension of
slavery, and when the war came, Whigs and Liberty Party men vied with
each other in their cry of "Our Country, right or wrong!" and rushed
into the army over every barrier set up by their late arguments. The
nation was seized by a military madness, and in the furore, the cause of
the slave went to the wall, and _The Spirit of Liberty_ was
discontinued. Its predecessor, _The Christian Witness_, had failed under
the successive management of William Burleigh, Dr. Elder, and Rev.
Edward Smith, three giants in those days, and there seemed no hope that
any anti-slavery paper could be supported in Pittsburg, while all
anti-slavery matter was carefully excluded from both religious and
secular press. It was a dark day for the slave, and it was difficult to
see hope for a brighter. To me, it seemed that all was lost, unless some
one were especially called to speak that truth, which alone could make
the people free, but certainly I could not be the messenger.

For years there had ran through my head the words, "Open thy mouth for
the dumb, plead the cause of the poor and needy." The streams sang them,
the winds shrieked them, and now a trumpet sounded them, but the words
could not mean more than talking in private. I would not, could not,
believe they meant more, for the Bible in which I read them bid me be
silent. My husband wanted me to lecture as did Abbey Kelley, but I
thought this would surely be wrong. The church had silenced me so
effectuately, that even now all my sense of the great need of words
could not induce me to attempt it; but if I could "plead the cause"
through the press, I must write. Even this was dreadful, as I must use
my own name, for my articles would certainly be libelous. If I wrote at
all, I must throw myself headlong into the great political maelstrom,
and would of course be swallowed up like a fishing-boat in the great
Norway horror which decorated our school geographies; for no woman had
ever done such a thing, and I could never again hold up my head under
the burden of shame and disgrace which would be heaped upon me. But what
matter? I had no children to dishonor; all save one who had ever loved
me were dead, and she no longer needed me, and if the Lord wanted some
one to throw into that gulf, no one could be better spared than I.

_The Pittsburg Commercial Journal_ was the leading Whig paper of western
Pennsylvania, Robert M. Riddle, its editor and proprietor. His mother
was a member of our church, and I thought somewhere in his veins must
stir anti-slavery blood. So I wrote a letter to the _Journal_, which
appeared with an editorial disclaimer, "but the fair writer should have
a hearing." This letter was followed by another, and they continued to
appear once or twice a week during several months.

I do not remember whom I attacked first, but from first to last my
articles were as direct and personal as Nathan's reproof to David. Of
slavery in the abstract I knew nothing. There was no abstraction in
tying Martha to a whipping-post and scourging her for mourning the loss
of her children. The old Kentucky saint who bore the torture of lash and
brine all that bright Sabbath day, rather than "curse Jesus," knew
nothing of the abstraction of slavery, or the finespun theories of
politeness which covered the most revolting crimes with pretty words.
This great nation was engaged in the pusillanimous work of beating poor
little Mexico--a giant whipping a cripple. Every man who went to the
war, or induced others to go, I held as the principal in the whole list
of crimes of which slavery was the synonym. Each one seemed to stand
before me, his innermost soul laid bare, and his idiosyncrasy I was sure
to strike with sarcasm, ridicule solemn denunciations, old truths from
Bible and history and the opinions of good men. I had a reckless
abandon, for had I not thrown myself into the breach to die there, and
would I not sell my life at its full value?

My style I caught from my crude, rural surroundings, and was familiar to
the unlearned, and I was not surprised to find the letters eagerly read.
The _Journal_ announced them the day before publication, the newsboys
cried them, and papers called attention to them, some by daring to
indorse, but more by abusing Mr. Riddle for publishing such unpatriotic
and "incendiary rant." In quoting the strong points, a venal press was
constrained to "scatter the living coals of truth." The name was held to
be a _nom de plume_, for in print it looked so unlike the common
pronunciation of that of one of the oldest families in the county that
it was not recognized. Moreover, it must be a disguise adopted by some
man. Wiseacres, said one of the county judges. No western Pennsylvania
woman had ever broken out of woman's sphere. All lived in the very
centre of that sacred enclosure, making fires by which, husbands,
brothers and sons sat reading the news; each one knowing that she had a
soul, because the preacher who made his bread and butter by saving it
had been careful to inform her of its existence as preliminary to her
knowledge of the indispensable nature of his services.

But the men whom I ridiculed and attacked knew the hand which, held the
mirror up to nature, and also knew they had a legal remedy, and that to
their fines and imprisonment I was as indifferent as to their opinions.
One of these, Hon. Gabriel Adams, had taken me by the hand at father's
funeral, led me to a stranger and introduced me as:

"The child I told you of, but eight years old, her father's nurse and

He had smoothed my hair and told me not to cry; God would bless me for
being a good child. He was a member of the session when I joined church;
his voice in prayer had soothed mother's hard journey through the dark
valley; and now, as mayor of the city, had ordered its illumination in
honor of the battle of Buena Vista, and this, too, on Saturday evening,
when the unholy glorification extended into the Sabbath. Measured by the
standards of his profession as an elder in the church, whose highest
judicatory had pronounced slavery and Christianity incompatible; no one
was more valuable than he, and of none was I so unsparing, yet as I
wrote, the letter was blistered with tears; but his oft repeated comment

"Jane is right," and he went out of his way to take my hand and say,
"You were right."

Samuel Black, a son of my pastor, dropped his place as leader of the
Pittsburg bar and rushed to the war. My comments were thought severe,
even for me, yet the first intimation I had that I had not been cast
aside as a monster, came from his sister, who sent me a message that her
father, her husband and herself, approved my criticism. Samuel returned
with a colonel's commission, and one day I was about to pass him without
recognition, where he stood on the pavement talking to two other
lawyers, when he stepped before me and held out his hand. I drew back,
and he said: "Is it possible you will not take my hand?"

I looked at it, then into his manly, handsome face, and answered:

"There is blood on it; the blood of women and children slain at their
own altars, on their own hearthstones, that you might spread the
glorious American institution of woman-whipping and baby-stealing."

"Oh," he exclaimed, "This is too bad! I swear to you I never killed a
woman or a child."

"Then you did not fight in Mexico, did not help to bombard Buena Vista."

His friends joined him, and insisted that I did the Colonel great wrong,
when he looked squarely into my face and, holding out his hand, said:

"For sake of the old church, for sake of the old man, for sake of the
old times, give me your hand."

I laid it in his, and hurried away, unable to speak, for he was the most
eloquent man in Pennsylvania. He fell at last at the head of his
regiment, while fighting in the battle of Fair Oaks, for that freedom he
had betrayed in Mexico.

When Kossuth was on his starring tour in this country, he used to create
wild enthusiasm by "Your own late glorious struggle with Mexico;" but
when he reached that climax in his Pittsburg speech a dead silence fell
upon the vast, cheering audience.

The social ostracism I had expected when I stepped into the political
arena, proved to be Bunyan lions. Instead of shame there came such a
crop of glory that I thought of pulling down my barns and building
greater, that I might have where to store my new goods. Among the press
notices copied by the _Journal_ was this:

"The _Pittsburg Commercial Journal_ has a new contributor who signs her
name 'Jane G. Swisshelm,' dips her pen in liquid gold, and sands her
paper with the down from butterflies' wings."

This troubled me, because it seemed as though I had been working for
praise; still the pretty compliment gratified me.



Paul fought with beasts at Ephesus, as a part of his training for that
"good fight" with principalities and powers and iniquity in high places,
and I think that Tom and the bears helped to prepare me for a long
conflict with the southern tiger. I had early come to think that Tom
would kill some of the children who trooped to see him, and that I
should be responsible as I alone saw the danger. This danger I sought to
avert, but how to dispose of the beautiful creature I could not
conjecture. There was usually a loaded gun in the house, but I was
almost as much afraid of it as of Tom. All our neighbors were delighted
with him and loath to have him killed. I had once tried to poison a cat
but failed, and I would not torture Tom. I wanted Dr. Palmer to give me
a dose for him, but he declined. I tried in vain to get some one to
shoot him. Then I thought of striking the great beast on the head with a
hatchet, while he had hold of some domestic animal. The plan seemed
feasible, but I kept my own council and my hatchet, and practiced with
it until I could hit a mark, and thought I could bury the sharp blade
in Tom's skull.

One day, all the men were in the meadow making hay, and I alone getting
dinner. John McKelvey came with his great dog, Watch. He went up into
the meadow, and Watch staid in the kitchen. I started to go to the
garden for parsley, and found Tom crouched to spring on a cow. He made
the leap, came short of the cow, which ran away bellowing with terror,
and Tom had but touched the ground when Watch sprang upon him. It was a
sight for an amphitheatre. The two great creatures rolled in a struggle,
which I knew must be fatal to Watch, but thought he could engage Tom's
attention until I got my hatchet. I ran back for it, took the
dinner-horn and blew a blast that would bring one man, and I did not
want a thousand. Then I ran back to the scene of conflict, horn in one
hand, hatchet in the other, and lo! no conflict was there. No Tom! no
dog! nothing but the torn and bloody ground. Horror of horrors, there
was a broken chain! Tom loose! Tom free! Now some one would be murdered.
I turned to look, and there on a log not a rod from me, he stood with
head erect and tail drooping, his white throat, jaws and broken chain
dripping with blood, and with my first thankfulness that he had not
escaped, came admiration for the splendid sight: the bold, sweeping
curves and graceful motion as he turned his head to listen. Then I
learned panthers went by sound, not scent. I blew another blast on the
horn and went toward him, for I must not lose sight of him. If he
attacked me, could I defend myself with the hatchet? When they found me
I would be horrible to look upon, and it would kill Elizabeth. Will my
peas burn? The flies will get into that pitcher of cream. If I am
killed, they will forget to put parsley in the soup. Tom changed his
weight from one fore-claw to the other, and gnashed his teeth. "Here,
the king and I are standing face and face together; King Tom, how is
your majesty, it's mighty pleasant weather."

So ran my thoughts in the intense strain of that waiting. It must be
full ten minutes before Tom's master could get to the house after that
first blast, and if he did not hear that, must be too late; but Tom kept
his place and my husband rushed by me, carrying the pitchfork with which
he had been at work, and I saw no more until Tom was in his cage. Watch
had dragged himself to his master's feet to die, and I went into the
house and finished getting dinner, more than ever afraid of Tom and more
than ever at a loss to know how to get rid of him. Yet he still lived
and rattled his chain by the garden path, but it was a year before our
next adventure.

One summer morning at sunrise I was shocked out of sleep by shrieks and
shouts and scurrying feet. I sprang out of bed and rushed into the hall
in time to see Tom dash out of it into the dining-room, mother-in-law
and the girl disappearing up stairs and the two hired men through the
barn door. My husband soon followed Tom, who had taken refuge under a
large heavy falling-leaf table, and seemed inclined to stay there. This
time his collar was broken and feeling the advantage he paid no heed to
the hand or voice of his quandom master. He would not move, but growled
defiance, and the table protected him from a blow under the ear, so his
late master became utterly nonplussed. If the cage were there, the great
beast would probably go into it, but how get it there? The wealth of
India would not have induced one of those men to come out of that barn,
or one of those women to come down those stairs.

Something must be done, and I proposed to hold Tom while my husband
brought the cage. He hesitated. I was not in good fighting trim, for my
hair which was long and heavy had fallen loose, but preparation could
avail nothing. The only hope lay in perfect coolness and a steady gaze.
I knelt and took hold of Tom by the back of the neck, talked to him and
thought that cage was long in coming. He shifted his weight and seemed
about to get up. This meant escape, and I held him hard, commanding him
to "lie down, sir." He blinked at me, seemed quite indifferent and
altogether comfortable. By and by, the man who had ceased to be master
returned without the cage, utterly demoralized; and was here without a
weapon, without a plan. I resigned my place and told him I would bring a
rope. This I intended to do, and also my hatchet.

I had but gotten half way to the front door when there was a scuffle,
the loud voice of my husband, shrieks up stairs, rattling of furniture
and crashing of glass, and when I got back to the room I saw the tip of
Tom's tail disappearing. He had gone through the window and taken the
sash with him. He ran into his cage, and that was his last taste of
liberty; but he lived a year after, chained in a corn crib. Every
evening in the gloaming he would pace back and forth, raise his kingly
head, utter his piercing shriek, then stop and hark for a response; walk
again, shriek and listen, while the bears would bellow an answer.

The bears, too, were often exciting and interesting. Once I rescued a
toddling child when running towards "big bear," and not more than two
feet from where he stood waiting with hungry eyes. At another time, they
both broke loose, on a bitter cold day when I was alone in the house. I
defended myself with fire, meeting them at every door and window with a
hickory brand. I wondered as they went round and round the house, if
they would stop in the chimney corner, and make the acquaintance of Tom;
but they took no notice of him, and after they had eaten several buckets
of porridge, they concluded there was nothing in the house they wanted,
so became good natured and went and climbed a tree.

Such schoolmasters must have imparted a flavor of savagery to my Mexican
war letters, which attracted readers as they did visitors.



After mother's death, I prosecuted to a successful issue a suit for the
recovery of the house in which I was born. It stood on Water street,
near Market, and our lawyer, Walter Lowrie, afterwards supreme judge,
was to have given us possession of the property on the 1st of July,
1845, which would add eight hundred dollars a year to the income of my
sister and myself. But on the 10th of April, the great fire swept away
the building and left a lot bearing ground rent. Property rose and we
had a good offer for the lease. Every one was willing to sell, but the
purchasers concluded that both our husbands must sign the deed. To this
no objection was made, and we met, in William Shinn's office, when my
husband refused to sign unless my share of the purchase money were paid
to him.

Mother's will was sacred to me. The money he proposed to put in
improvements on the Swissvale mills. These, in case of his death before
his mother, would go to his brothers. I had not even a dower right in
the estate, and already the proceeds of my labor and income from my
separate estate were put upon it. I refused to give him the money, and
on my way alone from the lawyer's office it occurred to me that all the
advances made by humanity had been through the pressure of injustice,
and that the screws had been turned on me that I might do something to
right the great wrong which forbade a married woman to own property. So,
instead of spending my strength quarreling with the hand, I would strike
for the heart of that great tyranny.

I borrowed books from Judge Wilkins, took legal advice from Colonel
Black, studied the laws under which I lived, and began a series of
letters in the _Journal_ on the subject of a married woman's right to
hold property. I said nothing of my own affairs and confined myself to
general principles, until a man in East Liberty furnished me an
illustration, and with it I made the cheeks of men burn with anger and

The case was that of a young German merchant who married the daughter of
a wealthy farmer. Her father gave her a handsome outfit in clothes and
furniture. She became ill soon after marriage, her sister took her place
as housekeeper and nursed her till she died, after bequeathing the
clothes and furniture to the sister; but the sorrowing husband held fast
to the property and proposed to turn it into money. The father wanted it
as souvenirs of his lost child, and tried to purchase of him, but the
husband raised the price until purchase was impossible, when he
advertised the goods for sale at vendue. The father was an old citizen,
highly respected, and so great contempt and indignation was felt, that
at the vendue no one would bid against him, so the husband's father came
forward and ran up the price of the articles. When her riding dress, hat
and whip were held up, there was a general cry of shame. The incident
came just in time for my purpose, so I turned every man's scorn against
himself, said to them:

"Gentlemen, these are your laws! Your English ancestors made them! Your
fathers brought them across the water and planted them here, where they
flourish like a green bay tree. You robbed that wife of her right to
devise her own property--that husband is simply your agent."

Lucretia Mott and Mary A. Grew, of Philadelphia, labored assiduously for
the same object, and in the session of '47 and '48, the legislature of
Pennsylvania secured to married women the right to hold property.

Soon after the passage of the bill, William A. Stokes said to me: "We
hold you responsible for that law, and I tell you now, you will live to
rue the day when you opened such a Pandora's box in your native state,
and cast such an apple of discord into every family in it."

His standing as a lawyer entitled his opinion to respect, and as he went
on to explain the impossibility of reconciling that statute with, the
general tenor of law and precedent, I was gravely apprehensive. The
public mind was not prepared for so great a change; there had been no
general demand for it; lawyers did not know what to do with it, and
judges shook their heads. Indeed, there was so much doubt and opposition
that I feared a repeal, until some months after Col. Kane came to me and

"There is a young lawyer from Steubenville named Stanton who would like
to be introduced to you."

I was in a gracious mood and consented to receive the young lawyer named
Stanton. As he came into the room and advanced toward me, immediately I
felt myself in the presence of a master mind, of a soul born to command.
When introduced he gravely took my hand, and said:

"I called to congratulate you upon the passage of your bill. It is a
change I have long desired to see."

We sat and talked on the subject some time, and my fears vanished into
thin air. If this man had taken that law into favor it would surely
stand, and as he predicted be "improved and enlarged." I have never been
so forcibly impressed by any stranger. His compactness of body and soul,
the clear outlines of face and figure, the terseness of his sentences,
and firmness yet tenderness of his voice, were most striking; and as he
passed down the long room after taking leave my thought was:

"Mr. Stanton you have started for some definite point in life, some high
goal, and you will reach it."

This was prophetic, for he walked into the War Department of this nation
at a time when it is probable no other man in it, could have done the
work there which freedom demanded in her hour of peril, for this young
man was none other than Edwin M. Stanton, the Ajax of the great



After the war, abolitionists began to gather their scattered forces and
wanted a Liberty Party organ. To meet this want, Charles P. Shiras
started the _Albatross_ in the fall of '47. He was the "Iron City Poet,"
author of "Dimes and Dollars" and "Owe no Man a Dollar." He was of an
old and influential family, had considerable private fortune, was
courted and flattered, but laid himself and gifts on the altar of
Liberty. His paper was devoted to the cause of the slave and of the free
laborer, and started with bright prospects. He and Mr. Fleeson urged me
to become a regular contributor, but Mr. Riddle objected, and the
_Journal_ had five hundred readers for every one the _Albatross_ could
hope. In the one I reached the ninety and nine unconverted, while in the
other I must talk principally to those who were rooted and grounded in
the faith. So I continued my connection with the _Journal_ until I met
James McMasters, a prominent abolitionist, who said sorrowfully: "Well,
the last number of the _Albatross_ will be issued on Thursday."

"Is it possible?"

"Possible and true! That is the end of its first quarter, and Shiras
gives it up. In fact we all do. No use trying to support an abolition
paper here."

While he spoke a thought struck me like a lightning flash, and he had
but finished speaking, when I replied:

"I have a great notion to start a paper myself."

He was surprised, but caught at the idea, and said:

"I wish you would. You can make it go if anybody can, and we'll do all
we can to help you."

I did not wait to reply, but hurried after my husband, who had passed
on, soon overtook and told him the fate of the _Albatross_. For this he
was sorry, for he always voted a straight abolition ticket. I repeated
to him what I had said to Mr. McMasters, when he said:

"Nonsense!" then reflected a little, and added, "Well, I do not know
after all but it would be a good idea. Riddle makes lots of money out of
your letters."

When we had talked about five minutes, he turned to attend to business
and I went to the _Journal_ office. I found Mr. Riddle in his sanctum,
and told him the _Albatross_ was dead; the Liberty Party without an
organ, and that I was going to start the _Pittsburg Saturday Visitor;_
the first copy must be issued Saturday week, so that abolitionists would
not have time to be discouraged, and that I wanted him to print my

He had pushed his chair back from his desk, and sat regarding me in
utter amazement while I stated the case, then said:

"What do you mean? Are you insane? What does your husband say?"

I said my husband approved, the matter was all arranged, I would use my
own estate, and if I lost it, it was nobody's affair.

He begged me to take time to think, to send my husband to him, to
consult my friends. Told me my project was ruinous, that I would lose
every dollar I put into it, and begged, entreated me to take time; but
all to no purpose, when a bright idea came to him.

"You would have to furnish a desk for yourself, you see there is but one
in this room, and there is no other place for you. You could not conduct
a paper and stay at home, but must spend a good deal of time here!"

Then I suddenly saw the appalling prospect thus politely presented. I
had never heard of any woman save Mary Kingston working in an office.
Her father, a prominent lawyer, had employed her as his clerk, when his
office was in their dwelling, and the situation was remarkable and very
painful; and here was I, looking not more than twenty, proposing to come
into the office of the handsome stranger who sat bending over his desk
that he might not see me blush for the unwomanly intent.

Mr. Riddle was esteemed one of the most elegant and polished gentlemen
in the city, with fine physique and fascinating manners. He was a man of
the world, and his prominence had caused his name to become the target
for many an evil report in the bitter personal conflicts of political
life. I looked the facts squarely in the face and thought:

"I have been publicly asserting the right of woman to earn a living as
book-keepers, clerks, sales-women, and now shall I shrink for fear of a
danger any one must meet in doing as I advised? This is my Red Sea. It
can be no more terrible than the one which confronted Israel. Duty lies
on the other side, and I am going over! 'Speak unto the children of
Israel that they go forward.' The crimson waves of scandal, the white
foam of gossip, shall part before me and heap themselves up as walls on
either hand."

So rapidly did this reflection pass through my mind, or so absorbed was
I with it, that there had been no awkward pause when I replied:

"I will get a desk, shall be sorry to be in your way, but there is
plenty of room and I can be quiet."

He seemed greatly relieved, and said cheerfully:

"Oh yes, there is plenty of room, I can have my desk moved forward and
take down the shutters, when there will be plenty of light. Heretofore
you have been Jove thundering from a cloud, but if you will come down to
dwell with mortals we must make a place for you."

Taking down the shutters meant exposing the whole interior of the room
to view, from a very public street; and after he had exhausted every
plea for time to get ready, he engaged to have the first copy of the
_Visiter_ printed on the day I had set. He objected to my way of
spelling the word, but finding I had Johnson for authority, would
arrange the heading to suit. I was in a state of exaltation all
forenoon, and when I met my husband at dinner, the reaction had set in,
and I proposed to countermand the order, when he said emphatically:

"You will do no such thing. The campaign is coming, you have said you
will start a paper, and now if you do not, I will."

The coming advent was announced, but I had no arrangements for securing
either advertisements or subscribers. Josiah King, now proprietor of the
_Pittsburg Gazette_ and James H. McClelland called at the _Journal_
office and subscribed, and with these two supporters, the _Pittsburg
Saturday Visiter_, entered life. The mechanical difficulty of getting
out the first number proved to be so great that the forms were not on
the press at 3 P.M. By five the streets were so blocked by a waiting
crowd, that vehicles went around by other ways, and it was six o'clock,
Jan. 20th, 1848, when the first copy was sold at the counter. I was in
the editorial room all afternoon, correcting proof to the last moment,
and when there was nothing more I could do, was detained by the crowd
around the doors until it was after eleven.

Editors and reporters were gathered in the sanctum, and Mr. Riddle stood
by his desk pointing out errors to some one who should have prevented
them, when I had my wraps on ready to start. Mr. Fleeson, then a clerk
on the _Journal_, stepped out, hat in hand, and bowing to the
proprietor, said:

"Mr. Riddle, it is your privilege to see Mrs. Swisshelm to her lodgings,
but as you seem to decline, I hope you will commission me."

Mr. Fleeson was a small man and Mr. Riddle had drawn himself to his full
height and stood looking down at him, saying:

"I want it distinctly understood that Mrs. Swisshelm's relations in this
office are purely those of business. If she requires anything of any man
in it, she will command him and her orders shall be obeyed. She has not
ordered my attendance, but has kept her servant here all the evening to
see her to her friend's house, and this should be sufficient notice to
any gentleman that she does not want him."

During the ten years we used the same editorial-room. Mr. Riddle was
often absent on the days I must be there, and always secured plenty of
light by setting away the shutters when I entered. He generally made it
necessary for me to go to his house and settle accounts, and never found
it convenient to offer his escort to any place unless accompanied by his

The _Visiter_ was three years old when he turned one day, examined me
critically, and exclaimed:

"Why do you wear those hideous caps? You seem to have good hair. Mrs.
Riddle says she knows you have, and she and some ladies were wondering
only yesterday, why you do make yourself such a fright."

The offending cap was a net scarf tied under the chin, and I said, "You
know I am subject to quinsy, and this cap protects my tonsils."

He turned away with a sigh, and did not suspect that my tonsils had no
such protection outside the office, where I must meet a great many
gentlemen and make it apparent that what I wanted of them was votes!
votes!! Votes for the women sold on the auction block, scourged for
chastity, robbed of their children, and that admiration was no part of
my object.

Any attempt to aid business by any feminine attraction was to my mind
revolting in the extreme, and certain to bring final defeat. In nothing
has the church of Rome shown more wisdom than in the costume of her
female missionaries. When a woman starts out in the world on a mission,
secular or religious, she should leave her feminine charms at home. Had
I made capital of my prettiness, I should have closed the doors of
public employment to women for many a year, by the very means which now
makes them weak, underpaid competitors in the great workshop of the

One day Mr. Riddle said:

"I wish you had been here yesterday. Robert Watson called. He wanted to
congratulate us on the relations we have for so long maintained. We have
never spoken of it, but you must have known the risk of coming here. He
has seen it, says he has watched you closely, and you are an exception
to all known law, or the harbinger of a new era in human progress."

Robert Watson was a retired lawyer of large wealth, who watched the
world from his study, and philosophized about its doings; and when Mr.
Riddle had given me this conclusion, the subject was never again
referred to in our years of bargaining, buying and selling, paying and



While preparing matter for the first number of the _Visiter_, I had time
to think that so far as any organization was concerned, I stood alone. I
could not work with Garrison on the ground that the Constitution was
pro-slavery, for I had abandoned that in 1832, when our church split on
it and I went with the New School, who held that it was then
anti-slavery. The Covenanters, before it was adopted, denounced it as a
"Covenant with death and an agreement with hell." I had long ago become
familiar with the arguments on that side, and I concluded they were
fallacious, and could not go back to them even for a welcome into the
abolition ranks.

The political action wing of the anti-slavery party had given formal
notice that no woman need apply for a place among them. True, there was
a large minority who dissented from this action, but there was division
enough, without my furnishing a cause for contention. So I took pains to
make it understood that I belonged to no party. I was fighting slavery
on the frontier plan of Indian warfare, where every man is
Captain-lieutenants, all the corporals and privates of his company. I
was like the Israelites in the days when there was no king, and "every
man did that which, was right in his own eyes."

It seemed good unto me to support James G. Birney, for President, and to
promulgate the principles of the platform on which he stood in the last
election. This I would do, and no man had the right or power to stop
me. My paper was a six column weekly, with a small Roman letter head, my
motto, "Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward," the
names of my candidates at the head of the editorial column and the
platform inserted as standing matter.

It was quite an insignificant looking sheet, but no sooner did the
American eagle catch sight of it, than he swooned and fell off his
perch. Democratic roosters straightened out their necks and ran
screaming with terror. Whig coons scampered up trees and barked
furiously. The world was falling and every one had "heard it, saw it,
and felt it."

It appeared that on some inauspicious morning each one of three-fourths
of the secular editors from Maine to Georgia had gone to his office
suspecting nothing, when from some corner of his exchange list there
sprang upon him such a horror as he had little thought to see.

A woman had started a political paper! A woman! Could he believe his
eyes? A woman! Instantly he sprang to his feet and clutched his
pantaloons, shouted to the assistant editor, when he, too, read and
grasped frantically at his cassimeres, called to the reporters and
pressmen and typos and devils, who all rushed in, heard the news, seized
their nether garments and joined the general chorus, "My breeches! oh,
my breeches!" Here was a woman resolved to steal their pantaloons, their
trousers, and when these were gone they might cry "Ye have taken away my
gods, and what have I more?" The imminence of the peril called for
prompt action, and with one accord they shouted, "On to the breach, in
defense of our breeches! Repel the invader or fill the trenches with our
noble dead."

"That woman shall not have _my_ pantaloons," cried the editor of the big
city daily; "nor my pantaloons" said the editor of the dignified weekly;
"nor my pantaloons," said he who issued manifestos but once a month;
"nor mine," "nor mine," "nor mine," chimed in the small fry of the
country towns.

Even the religious press could not get past the tailor shop, and
"pantaloons" was the watchword all along the line. George D. Prentiss
took up the cry, and gave the world a two-third column leader on it,
stating explicitly, "She is a man all but the pantaloons." I wrote to
him asking a copy of the article, but received no answer, when I replied
in rhyme to suit his case:

     Perhaps you have been busy
     Horsewhipping Sal or Lizzie,
     Stealing some poor man's baby,
     Selling its mother, may-be.
     You say--and you are witty--
     That I--and, tis a pity--
     Of manhood lack but dress;
     But you lack manliness,
     A body clean and new,
     A soul within it, too.
     Nature must change her plan
     Ere you can be a man.

This turned the tide of battle. One editor said, "Brother George, beware
of sister Jane." Another, "Prentiss has found his match." He made no
reply, and it was not long until I thought the pantaloon argument was
dropped forever.

There was, however, a bright side to the reception of the _Visiter_.
Horace Greeley gave it respectful recognition, so did N.P. Willis and
Gen. Morris in the _Home Journal_. Henry Peterson's _Saturday Evening
Post, Godey's Lady's Book_, Graham's and Sargeant's magazines, and the
anti-slavery papers, one and all, gave it pleasant greeting, while there
were other editors who did not, in view of this innovation, forget that
they were American gentlemen.

There were some saucy notices from "John Smith," editor of _The Great
West_, a large literary sheet published in Cincinnati. After John and I
had pelted each other with paragraphs, a private letter told me that
she, who had then won a large reputation as John Smith, was Celia, who
afterwards became my very dear friend until the end of her lovely life,
and who died the widow of another dear friend, Wm. H. Burleigh.

In the second number of the _Visiter_, James H. McClelland, as secretary
of the county convention, published its report and contributed an able
article, thus recognizing it as the much needed county organ of the
Liberty Party.



In the autumn of 1847, Dr. Robert Mitchell, of Indiana, Pa., was tried
in Pittsburg, in the United States Court, before Judge Grier, for the
crime of harboring fugitive slaves. In an old cabin ten miles from
Indiana, on one of the doctor's farms, some colored men had taken refuge
and worked as harvest hands in the neighborhood. To it came the sheriff
at midnight with a posse, and after as desperate a resistance as unarmed
men could make, two were captured. On one of these was found a note:

     "Kill a sheep and give Jerry the half.
          ROB'T MITCHELL."

The name of the man who had the note was Jerry. It was addressed to a
farmer who kept sheep for the doctor, so it was conclusive evidence of
the act charged, and the only defense possible was want of knowledge.
There was no proof that Dr. Mitchell knew Jerry to be a slave, none,
surely, that he knew him to be the property of plaintiff, who was bound
to give notice of ownership before he could be entitled to damages from

This defense Judge Grier overruled, by deciding that no notice was
required, the law presumed a guilty knowledge on the part of defendant.

Under this ruling Dr. Mitchell was fined $5,000 and the costs, which
were $5,000 additional. His homestead and a magnificent tract of pine
land lying on the northern slope of the Alleghenies, were sold by the
sheriff of Indiana county to pay the penalty of this act of Christian
charity; but the Dr. said earnestly, "I'll do it again, if they take
every dollar I have."

This ruling was alarming, for under it, it was unsafe either to sell or
give food or lodging to a stranger. The alarm was general, and even
pro-slavery men regretted that this necessary act of justice should fall
so heavily on so good and gentle a man. There was much unfavorable
comment, but all in private, for the Pittsburg press quailed before
Judge Grier, and libel laws were the weapon with which he most loved to
defend the dignity of the bench. One editor he had kept in jail three
months and ruined his business. Col. Hiram Kane was a brilliant writer,
a poet and pungent paragraphist, and had at one time criticised some of
Judge Grier's decisions, when by a libel suit the Judge had broken up
his business and kept him in jail eighteen months. Public sentiment was
on Kane's side, and he had an ovation on his release, when he became
city editor of the _Journal_.

There was disappointment that I had not criticised Judge Grier's course
in the first number of the _Visiter_, but this was part of my plan. In
the second number I stated that there had been for a long time a great
legal luminary visible in the Pennsylvania heavens, which had suddenly
disappeared. I had been searching for him for several weeks with the
best telescopes in the city, and had about given him up as a lost star,
when I bethought me of Paddy, who had heated his gun-barrel and bent it
around a tree so that he might be able to shoot around corners. Paddy's
idea was so excellent that I had adopted it and made a crooked
telescope, by which I had found that luminary almost sixty degrees below
our moral horizon. From this I proceeded to the merits of the case.

Judge Grier and Dr. Mitchell were both elders in the Presbyterian
church. The Judge administered to men the eucharist oath to follow
Christ, then usurped the law-making power of the United States to punish
them for obeying one of the plainest precepts of the Master.

The article seemed to throw him into a furious passion. He threatened to
sue Mr. Riddle for having the _Visiter_ printed and sold in his office,
and, as for me, I was to suffer all the pains and penalties which law
and public scorn could inflict. He demanded a satisfactory retraction
and apology as the least atonement he could accept for the insult. These
Mr. Riddle promised in my name, and I did not hesitate to make the
promise good.

My next article was headed "An Apology," and in it I stated the
circumstances which had called it out, and the pleasant prospect of my
being sent to Mount Airy (our county jail) in case this, my apology, was
not satisfactory. I should of course do my best to satisfy his honor,
but in case of failure, should take comfort in the fact that the Mount
would make a good observatory. From that height I should be able to use
my telescope much better than in my present valley of humiliation.
Indeed, the mere prospect had so improved my glass, that I had caught a
new view of our sunken star, and to-day, this dispenser of justice, this
gentleman with the high sense of honor, was a criminal under sentence of
death by the divine law. "He who stealeth a man and selleth him, or if
he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death."

Judge Grier had helped a gang of thieves to steal Jerry, whose ancestors
had been stolen in Africa. The original thief sold all he could
sell--the title of a thief--and as the stream cannot rise above the
fountain, Jerry's master held the same title to him that any man would
to Judge Grier's horse, provided he had stolen it. The purchaser of a
stolen horse acquired no title in him, and the purchaser of a stolen
man acquired no title in him. The man who helped another steal a horse,
was a horse thief, and the man who helped another steal a man, was a man
thief, condemned to death by divine law. Jerry, after having been once
stolen, had recovered possession of himself, and his master and other
thieves had re-stolen him! Judge Grier, with full knowledge of this
fact, had prostituted law for the benefit of the thieves.

Nothing more was heard of a libel suit. Two years after, James McMasters
was sued for harboring a fugitive; was to be tried before Grier, and
spoke to his lawyer about summoning the editor of the _Visiter_. The
attorney exclaimed:

"Oh bring her, by all means! No matter what she knows, or whether she
knows anything; bring her into court, and I'll win the case for you.
Grier is more afraid of her than of the devil."

The editor was summoned, gave testimony, and found Judge Grier a most
courteous and considerate gentleman, with no signs of fear. The case
hung on the question of notice. The Judge reversed his former decision,
and those who were apt to feed beggars, breathed more freely.

A case was tried for the remanding of a slave, and lawyer Snowden
appeared for the master. The _Visiter_ sketched the lawyer as his
client's dog, Towser; a dog of the blood-hound breed, with a brand new
brass collar, running with his nose to the ground, while his owner
clapped his hands and shouted: "Seek him, seek him Towser!"

This caught the fancy of the street boys, who called him, "Towser,
where's your collar?" "Seek him, Towser." He was the last Pittsburg
lawyer who took a case against a slave, and public sentiment had so
advanced that there never afterwards was a fugitive taken out of the



While the bench and bar were thus demanding the attention of the
_Visiter_, the pulpit was examining its morals with a microscope, and
defending the sum of all villainies as a Bible institution. The American
churches, with three exceptions, not only neglected "the weightier
matters of the law, judgment and mercy," but were the main defense of
the grossest injustice, the most revolting cruelty; and, to maintain an
appearance of sanctity, were particularly devout and searching in the
investigation of small sins.

A religions contemporary discovered that the _Visiter_ did actually
advertise "Jayne's Expectorant," and such an expectoration of pious
reprehension as this did call forth! The _Visiter_ denied that the
advertisement was immoral, and carried the war into Africa--that old
man-stealing Africa--and there took the ground that chattel slavery
never did exist among the Jews; that what we now charge upon them as
such was a system of bonded servitude; that the contract was originally
between master and servant; the consideration of the labor paid to the
servant; that in all cases of transfer, the master sold to another that
portion of the time and labor of the servant, which were still due;
that there was no hint of any man selling a free man into slavery for
the benefit of the seller; that the servants bought from "the heathen
around about," were bought from themselves, or in part at least, for
their benefit, to bring them under general law and into the church; that
nothing like American slavery was ever known in the days of Moses, or
any other day than that of this great Republic, since our slavery was
"the vilest that ever saw the sun," John Wesley being witness.

The _Visiter_ cited the purchase by Joseph of the people of Egypt, and
Leviticus xxv, xxxix: "If thy brother be waxen poor and sell himself
unto thee." The Bible had not then been changed to suit the exigencies
of slavery. In later editions, "sell himself" is converted into "be
sold," but as the passage then stood it was a sledge-hammer with which
one might beat the whole pro-slavery Bible argument into atoms, and
while the _Visiter_ used it with all the force it could command, it took
the ground that if the Bible did sanction slavery, the Bible must be
wrong, since nothing could make slavery right.



The Free Soil or Barnburner party was organized in '48, and nominated
Martin Van Buren for President. The _Visiter_ dropped its Birney flag
and raised the Van Buren standard. In supporting him the editor of the
_Visiter_ was charged with being false to the cause of the slave, and
of playing into the hands of the Whigs. All the editor had ever said
about that pro-slavery ex-President was cast into its teeth by
Democratic, Liberty Party and Garrisonian papers, which, one and all,
held that Van Buren was a cunning old fox, as pro-slavery as in those
days when, as President of the U.S. Senate, he gave his casting vote for
the bill which authorized every Southern post-master to open all the
mail which came to his office, search for and destroy any matter that he
might think dangerous to Southern institutions. In his present hostility
to slavery, he was actuated by personal hatred of Louis Cass, the
Democratic candidate, and sought to draw off enough. Democratic votes to
defeat him.

The object of the _Visiter_ in supporting Van Buren was to smash one of
the great pro-slavery parties of the nation, or gain an anti-slavery
balance of power to counteract the slavery vote for which both
contended. A few thousand reliable votes would compel one party to take
anti-slavery ground. The Van Buren movement was almost certain to defeat
the Democrats, and force the Whigs to seek our alliance. True, the Free
Soil platform did not suit Liberty Party men, who said it simply
proposed to confine slavery to its present limits, and not destroy it
where it already existed.

To all of which, and much more, the little _Visiter_ replied, that with
Van Buren's motives it had nothing to do. His present attitude was one
of hostility to the spread of slavery, and this being a long step in
advance of other parties, was a position desirable to gain and hold. To
decline aiding those who proposed to circumscribe slavery because they
did not propose its destruction, was as if a soldier should refuse to
storm an outpost on the ground that it was not the citadel.

Checking the advance of an enemy was one step toward driving him off the
field, and a rusty cannon might be worth several bright-barreled muskets
in holding him at bay. The Lord punished Israel by the hand of Jehu and
Hazael, both wicked men. Slavery was bursting her bounds, coming over on
us like the sea on Holland. One very dirty shovel might be worth a
hundred silver teaspoons in keeping back the waters, and this Free Soil
party could do more to check its advance than a hundred of the little
Liberty Party with that pure patriot, Gerrit Smith, at its head. In
doing right, take all the help you can get, even from Satan. Let him
assist to carry your burden as long as he will travel your road, and
only be careful not to turn off with him when he takes his own.

The _Visitor_ had thousands of readers scattered over every State and
Territory in the nation, in England and the Canadas. It was quoted more
perhaps than any other paper in the country, and whether for blame or
praise, its sentiments were circulated, and men of good judgment thought
it made thousands of votes for the Free Soil party.



When slavery thought to reap the fruits of the war into which she had
plunged the nation with Mexico, lo! there was a lion in her path, and
not a Bunyan lion either, for this kingly beast wore no collar, no chain
held him. The roused North had laid her great labor paw on the
California gold fields and stood showing her teeth while the serpent
with raised crest was coiled to strike, and the world waited and

Henry Clay, the synonym for compromise, was still in the United States
Senate, and, with his cat-like tread, stepped in between the
belligerents with a cunning device--a device similar to that by which
the boys disposed of the knife they found jointly--one was to own, the
other to carry and use it. So by this plan the lion was to own
California, and the snake was to occupy it as a hunting-ground; nay, not
it alone, but every State and Territory in the Union must be given up to
its slimy purposes. In other words, California was to be admitted as a
free State, upon condition of the passage of the Fugitive Slave Bill,
which authorized the slave-hunter to follow the fugitive into every
home, every spot of this broad land; to tear him from any altar, and
demand the services of every "good citizen" in his hellish work. Men by
thousands, once counted friends of freedom, bowed abjectly to this
infamous decision.

Daniel Webster, the leading Whig statesman, made a set speech in favor
of thus giving up the whole country to the dominion of the slave power.
It was another great bid for the next presidential nomination, which
must be controlled by the South. The danger was imminent, the crisis
alarming, and the excitement very great. I longed to be in Washington,
so I wrote to Horace Greeley, who answered that he would pay me five
dollars a column for letters. It was said that this was the first time a
woman had been engaged in that capacity.

I went to Washington in the early part of '50, going by canal to the
western foot of the Alleghenies, and then by rail to the foot of the
inclined plane, where our cars were wound up and let down by huge
windlasses. I was in a whirl of wonder and excitement by this, my first
acquaintance with the iron-horse, but had to stay all night in Baltimore
because the daily train for Washington had left before ours came.

I had letters to the proprietor of the Irving House, where I took board.
Had others to Col. Benton, Henry Clay, and other great men, but he who
most interested me was Dr. Gamaliel Bailey, editor of the _National
Era_. The great want of an anti-slavery paper at the capitol had been
supplied by five-dollar subscriptions to a publication fund, and Dr.
Bailey called from Cincinnati to take charge of it, and few men have
kept a charge with more care and skill. He and the _Era_ had just passed
the ordeal of a frightful mob, in which he was conciliatory, unyielding
and victorious; and he was just then gravely anxious about the great
crisis, but most of all anxious that the _Era_ should do yeoman service
to the cause which had called it into life. The _Era_ had a large
circulation, and high literary standing, but Dr. Bailey was troubled
about the difficulty or impossibility of procuring anti-slavery tales.
Mrs. Southworth was writing serials for it, and he had hoped that she, a
Southern woman with Northern principles, could weave into her stories
pictures of slavery which would call damaging attention to it, but in
this she had failed.

Anti-slavery tales, anti-slavery tales, was what the good Doctor wanted.
Temperance had its story writer in Arthur. If only abolition had a good
writer of fiction, one who could interest and educate the young. He knew
of but one pen able to write what he wanted, and alas, the finances of
the _Era_ could not command it. If only he could engage Mrs. Stowe. I
had not heard of her, and he explained that she was a daughter of Lyman
Beecher. I was surprised and exclaimed:

"A daughter of Lyman Beecher write abolition stories! Saul among the

I reminded the Doctor that President Beecher and Prof. Stowe had broken
up the theological department of Lane Seminary by suppressing the
anti-slavery agitation raised by Theodore Weld, a Kentucky student, and
threw their influence against disturbing the Congregational churches
with the new fanaticism; that Edward Beecher invented the "organic sin,"
devil, behind which churches and individuals took refuge when called
upon to "come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty." But Dr.
Bailey said he knew them personally, and that despite their public
record, they were at heart anti-slavery, and that prudence alone
dictated their course. Mrs. Stowe was a graphic story-teller, had been
in Kentucky, taken in the situation and could describe the peculiar
institution as no one else could. If he could only enlist her, the whole
family would most likely follow into the abolition ranks; but the bounty
money, alas, where could he raise it?

Where there is the will there is a way, and it was but a few months
after that conversation when Dr. Bailey forwarded one hundred dollars to
Mrs. Stowe as a retaining fee for her services in the cause of the
slave, and lo! the result, "Uncle Tom's Cabin." As it progressed he sent
her another, and then another hundred dollars. Was ever money so well

That grand old lion, Joshua R. Giddings, had also passed through the
mob, and as I went with him to be presented to President Taylor, a woman
in the crowd stepped back, drew away her skirts, and with a snarl

"A pair of abolitionists!"

The whole air of Freedom's capital thrilled and palpitated with hatred
of her and her cause. On the question of the pending Fugitive Slave
Bill, the feeling was intense and bitterly partisan, although not a
party measure. Mr. Taylor, the Whig President, had pronounced the bill
an insult to the North, and stated his determination to veto it.
Fillmore, the Vice-President, was in favor of it. So, Freedom looked to
a man owning three hundred slaves, while slavery relied on "a Northern
man with Southern principles." President Taylor was hated by the South,
was denounced as a traitor to his section, while Southern men and women
fawned upon and flattered Fillmore. Webster, the great Whig statesman of
the North, had bowed the knee to Baal, while Col. Benton, of Missouri,
was on the side of Freedom.

The third, or anti-slavery party, represented by Chase and Hale in the
Senate, was beginning to make itself felt, and must be crushed and
stamped out at all hazards--the infant must be strangled in its cradle.

While abolition was scoffed at by hypocritical priests as opening a door
to amalgamation, here, in the nation's capital, lived some of our most
prominent statesmen in open concubinage with negresses, adding to their
income by the sale of their own children, while one could neither go out
nor stay in without meeting indisputable testimony of the truth of
Thomas Jefferson's statement: "The best blood of Virginia runs in the
veins of her slaves." But the case which interested me most was a family
of eight mulattoes, bearing the image and superscription of the great
New England statesman, who paid the rent and grocery bills of their
mother as regularly as he did those of his wife.

Pigs were the scavengers, mud and garbage the rule, while men literally
wallowed in the mire of licentiousness and strong drink. In Congress
they sat and loafed with the soles of their boots turned up for the
inspection of the ladies in the galleries. Their language and gestures
as they expectorated hither and thither were often as coarse as their
positions, while they ranted about the "laws and Constitution," and
cracked their slave-whips over the heads of the dough-faces sent from
the Northern States.

Washington was a great slave mart, and her slave-pen was one of the
most infamous in the whole land. One woman, who had escaped from it, was
pursued in her flight across the long bridge, and was gaining on the
four men who followed her, when they shouted to some on the Virginia
shore, who ran and intercepted her. Seeing her way blocked, and all hope
of escape gone, with one wild cry she clasped her hands above her head,
sprang into the Potomac, and was swept into that land beyond the River
Death, where alone was hope for the American slave. Another woman with
her two children was captured on the steps of the capitol building,
whither she had fled for protection, and this, too, while the stars and
stripes floated over it.

One of President Tyler's daughters ran away with the man she loved, in
order that they might be married, but for this they must reach foreign
soil. A young lady of the White House could not marry the man of her
choice in the United States. The lovers were captured, and she was
brought to His Excellency, her father, who sold her to a slave-trader.
From that Washington slave-pen she was taken to New Orleans by a man who
expected to get twenty-five hundred dollars for her on account of her
great beauty.

My letters to the New York _Tribune_, soon attracted so much attention
that is was unpleasant for me to live in a hotel, and I became the guest
of my friend Mrs. Emma D.E.N. Southworth. It was pleasant to look into
her great, dreamy grey eyes, with their heavy lashes, at the broad
forehead and the clustering brown curls, and have her sit and look into
the fire and talk as she wrote of the strange fancies which peopled her
busy brain.

Among the legislative absurdities which early attracted my attention was
that of bringing every claim against the government before Congress. If
a man thought government owed him ten dollars, the only way was to have
the bill pass both houses. In my _Tribune_ letters, I ventilated that
thoroughly, and suggested a court, in which Brother Jonathan could
appear by attorney. Mr. Greeley seconded the suggestion warmly, and
this, I think, was the origin of the Court of Claims.

There was yet one innovation I wanted to make, although my stay in
Washington would necessarily be short. No woman had ever had a place in
the Congressional reporter's gallery. This door I wanted to open to
them, called on Vice-President Fillmore and asked him to assign me a
seat in the Senate gallery. He was much surprised and tried to dissuade
me. The place would be very unpleasant for a lady, would attract
attention, I would not like it; but he gave me the seat. I occupied it
one day, greatly to the surprise of the Senators, the reporters, and
others on the floor and in the galleries; but felt that the novelty
would soon wear off, and that women would work there and win bread
without annoyance.

But the Senate had another sensation that day, for Foot, in a speech
alluded to "the gentleman from Missouri." Benton sprang to his feet, and
started toward him, but a dozen members rushed up to hold him, and he

"Stand off, gentlemen! Unhand me! Let me reach the scoundrel!" Everyone
stamped, and ran, and shouted "Order!" The speaker pounded with his
mallet, and Foot ran down the aisle to the chair, drawing out a great
horse-pistol and cocking it, cried:

"Let him come on, gentlemen! let him come on!" while he increased the
distance between them as fast as time and space would permit. After the
hubbub had subsided, Foot explained:

"Mr. Speaker, I saw the gentleman coming, and I advanced toward the

I have never seen a well-whipped rooster run from his foe, without
thinking of Foot's advance.



Darkest of the dark omens for the slave, in that dark day, was the
defalcation of Daniel Webster. He whose eloquence had secured in name
the great Northwest to freedom, and who had so long been dreaded by the
slave-power, had laid his crown in the dust; had counseled the people of
the North to conquer their prejudices against catching slaves, and by
his vote would open every sanctuary to the bloodhound. The prestige of
his great name and the power of his great intellect were turned over to
slavery, and the friends of freedom deplored and trembled for the

There was some general knowledge through the country of the immorality
of Southern men in our national capital. Serious charges had been made
by abolitionists against Henry Clay, but Webster was supposed to be a
moral as well as an intellectual giant. Brought up in Puritan New
England, he was accredited with all the New England virtues; and when a
Southern woman said to me, in answer to my strictures on Southern men:

"Oh, you need not say anything! Look at your own Daniel Webster!" I
wondered and began to look at and inquire about him, and soon discovered
that his whole panoply of moral power was a shell--that his life was
full of rottenness. Then I knew why I had come to Washington. I gathered
the principal facts of his life at the Capitol, stated them to Dr.
Snodgrass, a prominent Washington correspondent, whose anti-slavery
paper had been suppressed in Baltimore by a mob, to Joshua R. Giddings
and Gamaliel Bailey. They assured me of the truth of what had been told
me, but advised me to keep quiet, as other people had done. I took the
whole question into careful consideration; wrote a paragraph in a letter
to the _Visiter_, stating the facts briefly, strongly; and went to read
it to my friend, Mrs. George W. Julian.

I found her and her husband together, and read the letter to them. They
sat dumb for a moment, then he exclaimed:

"You must not publish that!"

"Is it true?"

"Oh, yes! It is true! But none the less you must not publish it!"

"Can I prove it?"

"No one will dare deny it. We have all known that for years, but no one
would dare to make it public. No good can come of its publication; it
would ruin you, ruin your influence, ruin your work. You would lose
your _Tribune_ engagement, by which you are now doing so much good. We
all feel the help you are to the good cause. Do not throw away your

"Does not the cause of the slave hang on the issue in Congress?"

"I think it does."

"Is not Mr. Webster's influence all against it?"

"Yes, of course!"

"Would not that influence be very much less if the public knew just what
he is?"

"Of course it would, but you cannot afford to tell them. You have no
idea what his friends would say, what they would do. They would ruin

I thought a moment, and said:

"I will publish it, and let God take care of the consequences."

"Good!" exclaimed Mrs. Julian, clapping her hands. "I would if I were in
your place."

But when I went to post the letter, I hesitated, walked back and forth
on the street, and almost concluded to leave out that paragraph. I
shuddered lest Mr. Julian's prediction should prove true. I was
gratified by my position on the _Tribune_--the social distinction it
gave me and courtesy which had been shown me. Grave Senators went out of
their way to be polite, and even pro-slavery men treated me with
distinguished consideration. My Washington life had been eminently
agreeable, and I dreaded changing popularity for public denunciation.
But I remembered my Red Sea, and my motto--"Speak unto the children of
Israel that they go forward." The duty of destroying that pro-slavery
influence was plain. All the objections were for fear of the
consequences to me. I had said God should take care of these, and mailed
the letter, but I must leave Washington. Mr. Greeley should not
discharge me. I left the capitol the day after taking my seat in the
reporter's gallery, feeling that that door was open to other women.

The surprise with which the Webster statement was received was fully
equalled by the storm of denunciation it drew down upon me. The New York
_Tribune_ regretted and condemned. Other secular papers made dignified
protests. The religious press was shocked at my indelicacy, and fellows
of the baser sort improved their opportunity to the utmost. I have never
seen, in the history of the press, such widespread abuse of any one
person as that with which I was favored; but, by a strange fatality, the
paragraph was copied and copied. It was so short and pointed that in no
other way could its wickedness be so well depicted as by making it a
witness against itself.

I had nothing to do but keep quiet. The accusation was made. I knew
where to find the proof if it should be legally called for, and until it
was I should volunteer no evidence, and my witnesses could not be
attacked or discredited in advance. By and by people began to ask for
the contradiction of this "vile slander." It was so circumstantial as to
call for a denial. It could not be set aside as unworthy of attention.

What did it mean? Mr. Webster was a prominent candidate for President.
Would his friends permit this story to pass without a word of denial?
Mr. Julian was right; no one would dare deny the charge. He was,
however, wrong in saying it would ruin me. My motive was too apparent,
and the revelations too important, for any lasting disgrace to attach to
it. On all hands it was assured that the disclosure had had a telling
effect in disposing of a formidable power which had been arrayed against
the slave, as Mr. Webster failed to secure the nomination.

Some one started a conundrum: "Why is Daniel Webster like Sisera?
Because he was killed by a woman," and this had almost as great a run as
the original accusation.

When the National Convention met in Pittsburg, in 1852, to form the Free
Democratic party, there was an executive and popular branch held in
separate halls. I attended the executive. Very few women were present,
and I the only one near the platform. The temporary chairman left the
chair, came to me to be introduced, saying:

"I want to take the hand that killed Daniel Webster."

Henry Wilson was permanent chairman of that convention, and he came,
too, with similar address. Even Mr. Greeley continued to be my friend,
and I wrote for the _Tribune_ often after that time.



When it became certain that the Fugitive Slave Bill could pass Congress,
but could not command a two-thirds vote to carry it over the assured
veto of President Taylor, he ate a plate of strawberries, just as
President Harrison had done when he stood in the way of Southern policy,
and like his great predecessor Taylor, died opportunely, when Mr.
Fillmore became President, and signed the bill. When it was the law of
the land, there was a rush of popular sentiment in favor of obedience,
and a rush of slave-catchers to take advantage of its provisions.
Thousands of slaves were returned to bondage. Whigs and Democrats were
still bidding for the Southern vote, and now vied with each other as to
who should show most willingness to aid their Southern brethren in the
recovery of their lost property. The church also rushed to the front to
show its Christian zeal for the wrongs of those brethren, who, by the
escape of their slaves, lost the means of building churches and buying
communion services, and there was no end of homilies on the dishonesty
of helping men to regain possession of their own bodies. All manner of
charges were rung about Onesimus, and Paul became the patron saint of

Among the many devices brought to bear on the consciences of
Pittsburgers, was a sermon preached, as per announcement, by Rev.
Riddle, pastor of the Third Presbyterian church. It was received with
great favor, by his large wealthy congregation, was printed in pamphlet
form, distributed by thousands and made a profound impression, for
Pittsburg is a Presbyterian city, and a sermon by its leading pastor was
convincing. The sermon was an out and out plea for the bill and
obedience to its requirements. Did not Paul return Onesimus to his
master? Were not servants told to obey their masters? Running away was
gross disobedience, etc., etc.

Robt. M. Riddle, in a careful leader in _The Journal_, deprecated the
existence of the law, but since it did exist, counseled obedience. He
was a polished and forcible writer and his arguments had great weight.

The _Visiter_ published an article on "The Two Riddles," in which was
drawn a picture of a scantily clad woman, with bruised and bleeding
feet, clasping an infant to her bosom, panting before her pursuers up
Third street. The master called on all good citizens for help. The cry
reached the ears of the tall editor of the _Journal_ seated at his desk.
He dropped his pen, hastily donned his new brass collar and started in
hot pursuit of this wicked woman, who was feloniously appropriating the
property of her master.

The other Riddle--the Presbyterian pastor--planted himself by the lamp
post on the corner of Third and Market streets, and with spectacles on
nose and raised hands, loudly implored divine blessing on the labors of
his tall namesake. The _Visiter_ concluded by advising masters who had
slaves to catch, to apply to these gentlemen, who would attend to
business from purely pious and patriotic motives.

I did not see Mr. Riddle for two weeks after the publication of the
sketch, and then we met on the street. He had never before been angry
or vexed with me, but now he was both, and said:

"How could you do me such an injustice?"

"Why is it an injustice?"

"Oh you know it is! You know I would cut off my right hand, before I
would aid in capturing a fugitive."

"Then why do you counsel others to do it?"

"Oh you know better! and Rev. Riddle, he and his friends are distressed
about it. You do not know what you have done! I have already had three
letters from the South, asking me to aid in returning fugitives, and he,
too, has had similar applications. Oh it is too humiliating, too bad.
You must set it right!"

I agreed to do so, and the _Visiter_ explained that it had been mistaken
in saying that both or either of the two Riddles would aid in returning
fugitives. They both scorned the business, and Robt. M., would cut off
his right hand, rather than engage in it. He only meant that other
people should do what would degrade him. He was not a good citizen, and
did not intend to be. As for his Reverence, he would shirk his Christian
duties; would not pray by that lamppost, or any other lamp-post, for the
success of slave-catchers. He had turned his back upon Paul, and had
fallen from grace since preaching his famous sermon. The gentlemen had
been accredited with a patriotism and piety of which they were
incapable, and a retraction was necessary; but if any other more
patriotic politician or divine, further advanced in sanctification would
send their names to the _Visiter_, it would notify the South.

In answering Bible arguments, as to the righteousness of the Fugitive
Slave Bill, the main dependence of _the Visiter_ was Deuteronomy xxiii:
15 and 16:

"Thou shalt not deliver unto his master, the servant which is escaped
from his master unto thee.

"He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place where he shall
choose, in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best, thou shalt not
oppress him."

That old Bible, in spite of pro-slavery interpreters, proved to be the
great bulwark of human liberty.

In 1852, Slavery and Democracy formed that alliance to which we owe the
Great Rebellion. The South became solid, and Whigs had no longer any
motive for catching slaves.



The appearance of _The Visiter_ was the signal for an outbreak, for
which I was wholly unprepared, and one which proved the existence of an
eating cancer of discontent in the body politic. Under the smooth
surface of society lay a mass of moral disease, which suddenly broke out
into an eruption of complaints, from those who felt themselves oppressed
by the old Saxon and ecclesiastical laws under which one-half the people
of the republic still lived.

In the laws governing the interests peculiar to men, and those affecting
their interests in common with woman, great advance had been made during
the past six centuries, but those regarding the exclusive interests of
women, had remained in _statu quo_, since King Alfred the Great and the
knights of his Round Table fell asleep. The anti-negro slavery object of
my paper seemed to be lost sight of, both by friends and foes of human
progress, in the surprise at the innovation of a woman entering the
political arena, to argue publicly on great questions of national
policy, and while men were defending their pantaloons, they created and
spread the idea, that masculine supremacy lay in the form of their
garments, and that a woman dressed like a man would be as potent as he.

Strange as it may now seem, they succeeded in giving such efficacy to
the idea, that no less a person than Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was led
astray by it, so that she set her cool, wise head to work and invented a
costume, which she believed would emancipate woman from thraldom. Her
invention was adopted by her friend Mrs. Bloomer, editor and proprietor
of the _Lily_, a small paper then in infancy in Syracuse, N.Y., and from
her, the dress took its name--"the bloomer." Both women believed in
their dress, and staunchly advocated it as the sovereignest remedy for
all the ills that woman's flesh is heir to.

I made a suit and wore it at home parts of two days, long enough to feel
assured that it must be a failure; and so opposed it earnestly, but
nothing I could say or do could make it apparent that pantaloons were
not the real objective point, at which all discontented woman aimed. I
had once been tried on a charge of purloining pantaloons, and been
acquitted for lack of evidence; but now, here was the proof! The women
themselves, leaders of the malcontents, promulgated and pressed their
claim to bifurcated garments, and the whole tide of popular discussion
was turned into that ridiculous channel.

The _Visiter_ had a large list of subscribers in Salem, Ohio, and in the
summer of '49 a letter from a lady came to me saying, that the _Visiter_
had stirred up so much interest in women's rights that a meeting had
been held and a committee appointed to get up a woman's rights
convention, and she, as chairman of that committee, invited me to
preside. I felt on reading this as if I had had a douche bath; then, as
a lawyer might have felt who had carried a case for a corporation
through the lower court, and when expecting it up before the supreme
bench, had learned that all his clients were coming in to address the
court on the merits of the case.

By the pecks of letters I had been receiving, I had learned that there
were thousands of women with grievances, and no power to state them or
to discriminate between those which could be reached by law and those
purely personal; and that the love of privacy with which the whole sex
was accredited was a mistake, since most of my correspondents literally
agonized to get before the public. Publicity! publicity! was the
persistent demand. To meet the demand, small papers, owned and edited by
women, sprang up all over the land, and like Jonah's gourd, perished in
a night. Ruskin says to be noble is to be known, and at that period
there was a great demand on the part of women for their full allowance
of nobility; but not one in a hundred thought of merit as a means of
reaching it. No use waiting to learn to put two consecutive sentences
together in any connected form, or for an idea or the power of
expressing it. One woman was printing her productions, and why should
not all the rest do likewise? They had so long followed some leader like
a flock of sheep, that now they would rush through the first gap into

I declined the presidential honors tendered me, on the ground of
inability to fill the place; and earnestly entreated the movers to
reconsider and give up the convention, saying:

"It will open a door through which fools and fanatics will pour in, and
make the cause ridiculous."

The answer was that it was too late to recede. The convention was held,
and justified my worst fears. When I criticised it, the reply was:

"If you had come and presided, as we wished you to do, the result would
have been different. You started the movement and now refuse to lead it,
but cannot stop it."

The next summer a convention was held in Akron, Ohio, and I attended,
hoping to modify the madness, but failed utterly, by all protests I
could make, to prevent the introduction by the committee on resolutions
of this:

"_Resolved_, that the difference in sex is one of education."

A man stood behind the president to prompt her, but she could not catch
his meaning, and when confusion came, she rose and made a little speech,
in which she stated that she knew nothing of parliamentary rules, and
when consenting to preside had resolved, if there were trouble, to say
to the convention as she did to her boys at home: "Quit behaving

This brought down the house, but brought no order, and she sat down,
smiling, a perfect picture of self-complaisance.

People thought the press unmerciful in its ridicule of that convention,
but I felt in it all there was much forbearance. No words could have
done justice to the occasion. It was so much more ridiculous than
ridicule, so much more absurd than absurdity. The women on whom that
ridicule was heaped were utterly incapable of self-defense, or
unconscious of its need. The mass of nobility seekers seemed content to
get before the public by any means, and to wear its most stinging
sarcasms as they would a new dress cap.

In those days I reserved all my hard words for men, and in my notice of
the convention mildly suggested that it would have been better had Mrs.
Oliver Johnson been made president, as she had great executive ability
and a good knowledge of parliamentary rules. This suggestion was
received by the president as an insult never to be forgiven, and in the
_Visiter_ defended herself against it. I replied, and in the discussion
which followed she argued that the affairs of each family should be so
arranged that the husband and wife would be breadwinner and housekeeper
by turns, day or oven half day about. He should go to business in the
forenoon, then in the afternoon take care of baby and permit her to go
to the office, shop or warehouse from which came the family supplies.

I took the ground that baby would be apt to object, and that in our
family the rule would not work, since I could not put a log on the
mill-carriage, and the water would be running to waste all my day or
half-day as bread-winner.

About the same time, Mrs. Stanton published a series of articles in Mrs.
Bloomer's paper, the _Lily_, in which she taught that it was right for a
mother to make baby comfortable, lay him in his crib, come out, lock the
door, and leave him to develop his lungs by crying or cooing, as he
might decide, while mamma improved her mind and attended to her public
and social duties.

Against such head winds, it was hard for my poor little craft to make
progress in asserting the right of women to influence great public

For something over twenty years, after that Akron meeting, I did not see
a woman's rights convention, and in all have seen but five. Up to 1876
there had been no material improvement in them, if those I saw were a
fair specimen. Their holders have always seemed to me like a woman who
should undertake at a state fair to run a sewing machine, under pretense
of advertising it, while she had never spent an hour in learning its

However, those conventions have probably saved the republic. From the
readiness with which Pennsylvania legislators responded to the petition
of three of four women, acting without concert, in the matter of
property rights, it is probable that in a fit of generosity the men of
the United States would have enfranchised its women _en masse;_ and the
government now staggering under the ballots of ignorant, irresponsible
men, must have gone down under the additional burden of the votes which
would have been thrown upon it, by millions of ignorant, irresponsible
women. Before that time, the unanswerable argument of Judge Hurlbut had
been published, and had made a deep impression on the minds of thinking
men. Had this been followed by the earnest, thrilling appeals of Susan
B. Anthony, free from all alliance with cant and vanity, we should no
doubt have had a voting population to-day, under which no government
could exist ten years; but those conventions raised the danger signal,
and men took heed to the warning.



The period of the _Visiter_ was one of great mental activity--a period
of hobbies--and it, having assumed the reform roll, was expected to
assume all the reforms. Turkish trowsers, Fourierism, Spiritualism,
Vegetarianism, Phonetics, Pneumonics, the Eight Hour Law, Criminal
Caudling, Magdaleneism, and other devices for teaching pyramids to stand
on their apex was pressed upon the _Visiter_, and it held by the
disciples of each as "false to all its professions," when declining to
devote itself to its advocacy. There were a thousand men and women, who
knew exactly what it ought to do; but seldom two of them agreed, and
none ever thought of furnishing funds for the doing of it. Reformers
insisted that it should advocate their plan of hurrying up the
millenium, furnish the white paper and pay the printers. Pond parents
came with their young geniuses to have them baptized in type from the
_Visiter_ font. Male editors were far away folks, but the _Visiter_
would sympathize with family hopes.

Ah, the crop of Miltons, Shakespeares, and Drydens which was growing up
in this land, full forty years ago. What has ever become of them? Here
conscience gives a twinge, for that wicked _Visiter_ did advise that
parents should treat young genius as scientists do wood, which they wish
to convert into pure carbon, _i.e._, cover it up with neglect and
discouragement, and pat these down with wholesome discipline, solid
study and useful work, and so let the fire smoulder out of sight.

The policy of the _Visiter_ in regard to Woman's Rights, was to "go
easy," except in the case of those slave-women, who had no rights. For
others, gain an advance when you could. Educate girls with boys, develop
their brains, and take away legal disabilities little by little, as
experience should show was wise; but never dream of their doing the
world's hard work, either mental or physical; and Heaven defend them
from going into all the trades.

The human teeth proved that we should eat flesh, and the human form
proved that men should take the ore out of the mines, subdue the inertia
of matter and the ferocity of animals; that they should raise the grain,
build the houses, roads and heavy machinery; and that women should do
the lighter work. As this work was as important as the heavier, and as
it fell principally on wives and mothers, they in these relations should
receive equal compensation with the husband and father. By this plan,
the estate acquired by a matrimonial firm, would belong equally to both
parties, and each could devise his or her share, so that a woman would
know that her accumulations would go to her heirs, not to her successor.
Consequently, every wife would have an incentive to industry and
economy, instead of being stimulated to idleness and extravagance as by
existing laws.

Women should not weaken their cause by impracticable demands. Make no
claim which could not be won in a reasonable time. Take one step at a
time, get a good foothold in it and advance carefully. Suffrage in
municipal elections for property holders who could read, and had never
been connected with crime, was the place to strike for the ballot. Say
nothing about suffrage elsewhere until it proved successful here.

Intemperance was then under treatment by Washingtonianism. By this
philosophy it was held that each man consists of about thirty pounds of
solid matter, wet up with several buckets of water; that in youth his
mother and sweetheart, kneads, rolls, pats and keeps him in shape, until
his wife takes charge of him and makes him into large loaves or little
cakes, according to family requirements; but must not stop kneading,
rolling, patting, on pain of having him all flatten out.

The diagnosis of drunkenness was that it was a disease for which the
patient was in no way responsible, that it was created by existing
saloons, and non-existing bright hearths, smiling wives, pretty caps and
aprons. The cure was the patent nostrum of pledge-signing, a
lying-made-easy invention, which like calomel, seldom had any permanent
effect on the disease for which it was given, and never failed to
produce another and a worse. Here the cure created an epidemic of
forgery, falsehood and perjury.

Napoleon selected his generals for their large noses. Dr. Washingtonian
chose his leaders for their great vices. The honors bestowed upon his
followers were measured by their crimes, and that man who could boast
the largest accumulation was the hero of the hour. A decent, sober man
was a mean-spirited fellow; while he who had brought the grey hair of
parents in sorrow to the grave, wasted his patrimony and murdered his
wife and children, was "King o' men for a' that." The heroines were
those women who had smilingly endured every wrong, every indignity that
brutality could inflict; had endured them not alone for themselves but
for their children; and she who had caressed the father of her child
while he dashed its brains out, headed the list in saintship; for love
was the kneading trough, and obedience the rolling pin, in and with
which that precious mess called a man was to be made into an angel.

The _Visiter_ held that the law-giver of Mount Sinai knew what was in
man, and had not given any such account of him; that the commands, "Thou
shalt," and "Thou shalt not," were addressed to each individual; that
the disease of opening one's mouth and pouring whisky into it was under
the control of the mouth-opener; that drunkenness was a crime for which
the criminal should be punished by such terms of imprisonment as would
effectually protect society and prevent its confirmation. It told women
that that dough ought to be baked in the furnace of affliction; that
the coil of an anaconda was preferable to the embraces of a drunken man;
that it is a crime for a woman to become the mother of a drunkard's
child; that she who fails to protect her child from the drunken fury of
any man, even to the extent of taking his life on the spot, if possible,
is a coward and a traitor to the highest impulses of humanity.

These sentiments made a stir in temperance ranks, and there was much
defense of the dear fellows. The organization, seemed to be principally
occupied in teaching, that among men, only rumsellers are free moral
agents, and that they and the women are to bear the iniquity of us all.
One Philadelphia woman, engaged in scattering rose-leaf remedies over
the great cancer of the land, concluded that the editor of the _Visiter_
horsewhipped the unfortunate man she called husband, once a day, with
great regularity. Much sympathy was expressed for that much-abused man;
and this was amusing to those who knew he could have tied four such
tyrants in a sheaf, and carried them off like a bundle of sticks. But
people had found a monster, a giantess, with flaming black eyes, square
jaws and big fists, who lived at the top of a very high bean-pole, and
ate nothing but the uncooked flesh of men.

However, the man-eating idea came to be useful, and proved that a bad
name is better than none.

In '49, the _Visiter_ began a weekly series of "Letters to Country
Girls," which were seized upon as a new feature in journalism, were very
extensively copied, and won golden opinions from all sorts of men. In
'54 they were collected in book form, and "mine ancient enemy," George
D. Prentiss, gave them kindly notice.



When the _Visiter_ entered life, it was still doubtful which side of the
slavery question the Roman church would take. O'Connell was in the
zenith of his power and popularity, was decidedly anti-slavery, and
members of Catholic churches chose sides according to personal feeling,
as did those of other churches. It was not until 1852, that
abolitionists began to feel the alliance between Romanism and slavery;
but from that time, to be a member of the Roman church was to be a
friend of "Southern interests."

In Pittsburg there was great harmony between Catholics and Protestants,
for the Protestant-Irish, by which Western Pennsylvania was so largely
settled, were generally refugees driven from Ireland for their
connection with the Union, or Robert Emmet rebellion. Our pastor, Rev.
John Black, escaped in the night, and he and the only Catholic priest in
Pittsburg, Father McGuire, were intimate friends.

The Bishop of the diocese, R.R. O'Conner, was, I think, a priest of the
Capponsacchi order, one of those men by whose existence the Creator
renders a reason for the continuance of the race. After the days of
which I write, there was an excitement in Pittsburg about Miss Tiernan,
a beautiful, accomplished girl, who became a nun, and was said to have
mysteriously disappeared. When the Bishop resigned his office and became
a member of an austere order of monks, there were not lacking those who
charged the act to remorse for his connection with her unexplained
death; but I doubt not, that whatever that connection was, it did honor
to his manhood, however it may have affected his priesthood.

In the days of his Episcopal honors, he was a favorite with all sorts
and conditions of men, and when he published a letter condemning our
infant-system of public schools, and demanding a division of the school
fund, he produced a profound sensation. I think this letter appeared in
'49. It was the morning of one of the days of the week I spent regularly
at the office. I found Mr. Riddle waiting to ask what I proposed to do
about it. I stated, without hesitation, that I would oppose it to the
best of my ability, when he replied:

"I took it for granted that you would have consulted Mr. White
(conductor of the _Gazette_), and we feel that we cannot afford to lose
our Catholic patronage by taking issue with the Bishop, and that it will
not be necessary. You, as a pupil of Dr. Black, ought to be able to
answer Bishop O'Conner's arguments, and we will leave him to you. The
religious press will, of course, be a unit against him, and the secular
press need not fear to leave the case in your hands."

The two papers for which he spoke, were the two great Whig dailies of
the western part of the State. The other daily was the _Democratic
Post_, conducted by a Catholic, and virtually the Bishop's organ; and to
meet this attack on the very foundations of civil liberty, the
_Visitor_, a weekly, was the only representative of the secular press.

The Whig papers might have taken a different course, had it been known
at first that Bishop O'Conner's letter was only a part of a concerted
attack, and that all over the Union the Bishops had published similar
letters. But this was before the days of telegraphy, and we were weeks
learning the length and breadth of the movement.

Bishop O'Conner replied very courteously to my strictures on his letter,
and we maintained the controversy for some length of time. Having all
the right on my side, I must have been a dolt not to make it apparent;
and the friends of the Bishop must have felt that he gained nothing,
else they would not have been so angry; but he was courteous until he
dropped the subject.

My Catholic patrons gradually withdrew their advertisements and
subscriptions. Thousands of Protestants were rejoiced at what they
called my triumph, and borrowed the _Visiter_ to read my articles. Very
many bought copies, but I think I did not gain one subscriber or
advertiser by that labor in defense of a common cause. Nay, I lost
Protestant as well as Catholic support, for business men did not care to
be known to Catholic customers as a patron of a paper which had
strenuously opposed the policy of the church. That experience and a
close observation for many years have taught me that the secular papers
of the United States, with a few exceptions, are almost as much under
the control of the Pontiff as the press of Austria. Nor is it the
secular press alone which is thus controlled. There are religions
papers who throw "sops to Cerebus," as an offset to teachings demanded
by Protestant readers. These "sops" are paid for indirectly by
patronage, which would be withdrawn whenever the Bishop took alarm at an
article in that same paper.

Protestants do not carry their religion either into political or
business relations, and so there is no offset to the religious,
political and business concentration of Romanism.

There was no other outbreak between me and my Catholic neighbors until
the dedication of the Pittsburg cathedral, when my report gave serious
offense, and caused Bishop O'Conner to make a very bitter personal
attack on me. He did not know how truly the offensive features of my
report were the result of ignorance; but thought me irreverent,
blasphemous. I had never before been inside a Catholic church; never
seen a Catholic ceremonial; did not know the name of a single vestment;
was overwhelmed with astonishment, and thought my readers as ignorant as
I; so tried to give a description which would enable them to see what I
had seen, hear what I had heard.

Every bishop and priest and member of any religions brotherhood in this
country and Canada was said to be present. Some of the things they wore
looked like long night-gowns, some short ones; some like cradle quilts,
some like larger quilts. There were many kinds of patch-work and
embroidery; some of the men wore skirts and looked very funny. Quite a
number wore something on their heads which looked like three pieces of
pasteboard, the shape of a large flat-iron, and fastened together at the
right angles and points. They formed into procession and started around
the outside of the building. I thought of going "around and about"
Jerusalem, and the movement had a meaning; but they walked into a fence
corner, swung a censor, turned and walked into another corner, and then
back into the house, without compassing the building. I said there was
nothing to prevent bad spirits coming in at that side.

I copied the Bishop's angry reply, plead my ignorance and that of
Protestants in general for all that seemed irreverent, and called upon
him for explanations. What did it all mean? What was the spiritual
significance of those externals? I ignored his evident anger; had no
reason to be other than personally respectful to him, yet my second
article irritated him more than the first.

I had stated that the men in the procession were the most
villainous-looking set I had ever seen; that every head and face save
those of the Bishops of Orleans and Pittsburg, were more or less stamped
by sensuality and low cunning. In Bishop O'Conner's reply, he said I had
gone to look for handsome men. I answered that I had, and that it was
right to do so. The Church, in her works of art, had labored to
represent Christ and his apostles as perfectly-formed men--men with
spiritual faces. She had never represented any of her saints as a
wine-bibber, a gross beef-eater, or a narrow-headed, crafty, cringing
creature. These living men could not be the rightful successors of those
whose statues and pictures adorned that cathedral. Archbishop Hughes, in
his sermon on that occasion, had argued that all the forms of the
church had a holy significance. What was that significance? Moreover, in
the days of John there were seven churches. Whatever had the Church of
Rome done with the other six owned on the Isle of Patmos by him who
stood in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks?

For two months every issue of the _Visiter_ copied and replied to one of
the Bishop's articles, but never could bring him to the point of
explaining any portion of that great mystery. But the discussion marked
me as the subject of a hatred I had not deemed possible, and I have
seldom, if ever, met a Catholic so obscure that he did not recognize my
name as that of an enemy. So bitter was the feeling, that when my only
baby came great fears were felt lest she should be abducted; but this I
knew never could be done with Bishop O'Conner's consent.



When the Pittsburg National Convention, which formed the Free Democratic
party, had finished its labors, a committee waited on the _Visiter_, to
bespeak that support which had already been resolved upon, and soon
after a State Convention in Harrisburg indorsed it by formal resolution
as a party organ. It did its best to spread the principles of the party,
and its services called out commendations, as well as the higher
compliments of stalwart opposition, from the foes of those principles.
Allegheny county was overwhelmingly Whig. The _Visiter_ worked against
the party, and the cry from the Whig press became:

"Why attack our party? It is better than the Democratic. If you were
honest, you would devote yourself to its destruction, not to that of the

To this, the answer was:

"The Whig party is a gold-bearing quartz rock, and we mean to pound it
into the smallest possible pieces, in order to get out the gold. The
Democratic party is an old red sandstone, and there is plenty of sand
lying all around about."

In the summer of 1852 the editor visited the World's Fair, held in New
York, and on her return found the office machinery at a stand-still. She
had a contract with two printers, who, in making it, had given no notice
that they were the irresponsible agents of a union, and therefore had no
right to dispose of their own labor. They professed to be entirely
satisfied with their work and wages, and loath to leave them; but Mars'
Union had cracked his whip, and disobedience was ruin, if not death. For
these poor Pennsylvania self-made slaves the _Visiter_ had no pity,
although they plead for it. It advertised for women to take their
places, stating that its editor was in its composing-room. Other, if not
all other city papers, did likewise, and there was a rush of women to
the printing offices; but ninety out of a hundred had not passed that
stage of development in which women live by wheedling men. Those who
wheedled most winningly got the places, and the result in less than two
months was such a mess of scandal, as drove them, like whipped curs,
back to their kennels; but the editor of the _Visiter_ took a good look
at each of the hundred applicants, and from them selected three, who had
heads, not hat pins, on their shoulders.

Mr. Riddle was a partner in the _Visiter_, and engaged a woman. The
editor refused to give her a case, when he indignantly said:

"Women have no mercy on each other. There is that poor woman who has
been trying to make a living at her trade making vests, and is now on
the point of starvation. I have mercy on her, but you have none."

The answer was:

"A woman who cannot make a living at one good trade already learned,
will not mend matters by learning another. I do not propose to turn this
office into an eleemosynary establishment. I want the women whom the
work wants, not those who want the work. How long could that weak woman
maintain her respectability among all these men? Would it be any
kindness to put her in a place she is incapable of filling, and where
she must inflict incalculable injury on herself, and the general cause
of woman's right to labor? Do not let your generosity run away with your

My three typos came to be the main stay of the _Journal_, as well as the
only typos of the _Visiter_, for they were the nucleus of an efficient
corps of female type-setters, who held their places until Mr. Riddle's
last illness broke down his establishment.

Soon after the opening of the Pa.C.R.R., there was a bad accident, one
train running into another in a deep cut, at night; commenting on it the
_Visiter_ suggested a red light on the rear of every train. The
suggestion was accepted immediately, and this is the origin of the red
light signal.



The Republican party was organized in Pittsburg, and when it became
national through the Philadelphia convention in the summer of '56, and
nominated Fremont, it seemed that it might injure rather than aid the
party to have a woman take a prominent place in it. The
nurseling--political abolition--was out of its cradle, had grown to
man's estate, and with bearded lip had gone forth to battle, a man among
men. There were honors and emoluments to be won in the cause of the
slave, and no doubt of its final triumph.

The _Visiter_ had been sold to Mr. Riddle and united with his weekly,
thus extending its circulation, and cutting off the ruinous expense of
its publication. The _Journal_ was thoroughly Republican, and would be
ably conducted. No further need of a page devoted to freedom, when every
page was consecrated to the overthrow of slavery.

Before taking action, it was best to consult an old subscriber, Charles
Sumner, then on the Allegheny Mountains, recovering from the Brook's
assault. I took baby and went to see him.

He was domiciled in the family of Dr. Jackson, Pennsylvania State
Geologist, and seemed to be one of it. In the sitting-room were his desk
and lounge, where he wrote or lay and talked, principally with Dr.
Furness, of Philadelphia, who was with him, devoting an ever-growing
store of information to the amusement of his friend. Dr. Jackson was
full of instruction, and no man more ready than Sumner to learn. He held
that all knowledge was useful in adding to one's resources--inquired
minutely about the shoeing of the horse he rode; and over a watermelon
at dessert the doctor gave a lecture on amputation, which became a large
capital to one at least of his hearers, and was of intense interest to

The children loved him, loved to be near him, and never seemed to be in
his way. Once when a toddling wee thing crept to his side while he was
absorbed in writing, took hold of his clothes, drew herself to his feet
and laid her head against his knee, he placed a weight to hold his
paper, laid his hand on her head and went on with his work. When some
one would have removed her, he looked up and said:

"Oh, let the little one alone!"

He spoke with profound admiration of Mrs. Purviance, wife of the member
of Congress from Butler, Pa. Said he was sorry never to have met her.
Her influence in Washington society had been so ennobling that the
friends of freedom owed her a lasting debt of gratitude. She boarded
with her husband at the National where her wealth, independence and
sparkling social qualities made her a recognized leader, while all her
influence was cast upon the right side. He thought the success of the
North in the famous struggle which elected Banks Speaker of the House,
was largely due to Mrs. Purviance.

He was oppressed with anxiety about Burlingame, who had gone to Canada
to fight a duel, and there was great rejoicing, when he suddenly
appeared one evening after the sun had hidden behind the pine trees.

He and Sumner met and greeted each other with the abandon of boys. No
duel had been fought, since Brooks, the challenger, had refused to pass
through Pennsylvania to Clifton, the place of meeting, for fear of mob
violence. Even the offer of a safe conduct of troops by the governor,
failed to reassure him, and Burlingame had hurried on to set his
friend's mind at rest. After the general rejoicing, the two sat facing
each other, when Sumner leaned forward, placed a hand on each of
Burlingame's shoulders, and said:

"Tell me, Anson, you did not mean to shoot that man, did you?"

Burlingame's head dropped an instant, then raising it, he said, slowly:

"I intended to take the best aim I could." Here he drew back his right
arm, and took the position of holding a gun, "at the broadest part of
him, his breast; wait for the word, and then--fire!"

Sumner dropped back in his chair, let his hands fall on his knees and
exclaimed, sorrowfully:

"Oh, Anson! I did not believe it."

Burlingame's eyes filled with tears, and he said:

"Charles, I saw you lying bleeding and insensible on the Senate floor,
when I did not expect ever again to hear you speak; and I intended then
to kill him. I tell you, Charles, we have got to meet those fellows with
guns, some day, and the sooner we begin, the better." On being
consulted, both these champions of the right said the _Visiter_ must not
desert the cause. Sumner added solemnly:

"The slave never had more need of it; never had more need of you."

So that editor went on with her work, feeling such an opinion as almost
a divine call.

In talking with Mr. Sumner during that visit, I learned that the same
doctor attended both President Harrison and President Taylor in their
last illness, and used his professional authority to prevent their
friends seeing them until the fatal termination of their illness was
certain. Also, that it was that same doctor who was within call when
Brooks made his assault on Sumner, took charge of the case, and made an
official statement that the injury was very slight, gave it a
superficial dressing, and sought to exclude every one from the room of
his patient. Said Sumner:

"I shuddered when I recovered consciousness, and found this man beside

He dismissed him promptly, and did not hesitate to say that he believed
he would not have recovered under his treatment. When the South seceded,
this useful man left Washington and joined the Confederacy.

The campaign of 1856 was very spirited. A large mass meeting was held in
Pittsburg, and Cassius M. Clay was the orator of the occasion. He was at
the heighth of a great national popularity, and seemed as if any honor
might be open to him. He dined that evening with Robert Palmer, of
Allegheny, and a small party of friends. The house was brilliantly
lighted, and at the table, while Clay was talking, and every one in gala
day spirits, the light suddenly went out, and what a strange sensation
fell on one guest--a feeling of coming evil.

There was no re-lighting. The gas had failed, prophetic of the going out
of that brilliant career, and its slow ending in the glimmer of a single



The _Pittsburg Saturday Visiter_ began life with two subscribers, and in
the second year reached six thousand, but was always a heavy drain on my
income. My domestic duties made it impossible I could give any attention
to the business department, and I was glad, at the close of the first
year, to transfer a half interest to Mr. Riddle, who became equal
partner and co-editor. At the end of the second year he proposed to buy
my interest, unite the _Visiter_ with his weekly, and pay me a salary
for editing a page.

Had the proposal been made directly to me, I should have accepted at
once, but it was made through my brother-in-law, William Swisshelm, who
had been clerk and business manager of the _Visiter_ for eighteen
months. He advised me not to accept; said the paper was netting fifteen
hundred a year, and that if I would retain my interest he would purchase
Mr. Riddle's, get type, have all the work done in a separate
establishment, and make it a decided success.

I was afraid of this arrangement, but was anxious to keep up the paper
as a separate publication, and agreed on condition that he would assume
the entire financial responsibility, keep my interest at Mr. Riddle's
valuation, and leave me no further risk than my services. If there were
profits, we would share them; if none, I got no pay, as usual, but sunk
no money. To make the changes he desired, I loaned him money until I had
most of my small estate invested, and supposed the paper was prospering
until suddenly informed that the sheriff was about to sell it. We
transferred it to Mr. Riddle, with my services two years in advance, to
pay the debts, and I wrote for the New York _Tribune_, at five dollars a
column, to meet my personal expenses, as my income from my property was

I forget at what time the _Visiter_ was united to the weekly _Journal;_
but very soon after the presidential campaign of '52, I learned that my
late partner had endorsed several notes which were not likely to be paid
by the persons who gave them, and that one of these was already entered
as a lien against his interest in the family estate. We had had no
settlement, so I went to my lawyer, William M. Shinn, who said that the
entire interest of my debtor in his father's will was worth less than my
claim since his death, without heirs, before his mother transferred his
share to the other heirs. He advised me, if possible, to get a deed of
that share as the only security for which I could hope. I directed him
to prepare it, went immediately to the office, saw my late partner, and
told him that if he did not execute that deed, I would sue him for a
settlement before I left the city. He did, and I took it home early in
the afternoon. In March '57, I resigned my place on the _Family Journal
and Visiter_, feeling that my public work was over, and that no life
save one of absolute solitude was possible for me.

I had lived over twenty years without the legal right to be alone one
hour--to have the exclusive use of one foot of space--to receive an
unopened letter, or to preserve a line of manuscript

     "From sharp and sly inspection."

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, a Pennsylvania court
decided that a husband had a right to open and read any communication
addressed to his wife. Living as I did, under this law I had burned the
private journal kept in girlhood, and the letters received from my
brother, mother, sister and other friends, to preserve their contents
from the comments of the farm laborers and female help, who, by common
custom, must eat at our table and take part in our conversation. At the
office I had received, read and burned, without answer, letters from
some of the most prominent men and women of the era; letters which would
be valuable history to-day; have, therefore, no private papers, and
write this history, except a few public dates, entirely from memory.

Into the mists some rays of light penetrated, and by them I saw that the
marriage contract by which I was bound, was that one which I had made
and which secured my liberty of conscience and voice in choosing a home.

The fraud by which church, and state substituted that bond made for
Saxon swine-herds, who ate boar's heads, lived in unchinked houses and
wore brass collars, in the days when Alfred the Great was king, was
such as would vitiate any other contract, and must annul even that of
marriage; but, granting that it was binding, it must bind both parties,
and had been broken by the party of the other part through failure to
comply with its requirements.

Our marriage had been a mistake, productive of mutual injury; but for
one, it was not too late to repair the wrong. He, a man in the prime of
life, with unspotted reputation, living without labor, on the income of
a patrimonial estate, to which he had made large additions, could easily
find a help-mate for him; one who could pad matrimonial fetters with
those devices by which husbands are managed. My desertion would leave
him free to make a new choice, and I could more easily earn a living

The much-coveted and long-delayed birth of a living child appeared to
have barred my appeal to this last resort, but the mother's right to the
custody of her infant is one I would defend to the taking of life.

My husband would consent to no separation, and we had a struggle for my
separate, personal property or its equivalent; a struggle in which Wm. M.
Shinn was my lawyer, and Judge Mellon his, and in which I secured my
piano by replevin, Dr. John Scott being my bondsman, and learned that I
might not call a porter into the house to remove my trunk. I therefore
got my clothing, some books, china and bedding by stealth, and the
assistance of half a dozen families of neighbors.

A test suit as to my right to support was decided in 1859, and in it a
judge in my native city, charged the jury that: "If a wife have no
dress and her husband refuse to provide one, she may purchase one--a
plain dress--not silk, or lace, or any extravagance; if she have no
shoes, she may get a pair; if she be sick and he refuse to employ a
physician, she may send for one, and get the medicine he may prescribe;
and for these necessaries the husband is liable, but here his liability

The suit was about goods I had purchased by my lawyer's advice--two
black silk dresses, a thirty dollar shawl, a dozen pairs black kid
gloves, stockings, flannel, linen, half dozen yards white Brussels lace,
any one of which would have outlawed the bill, even if I had gone in an
Eden costume to make the purchase; but being clothed when I made my
appearance at the counter, the merchant could not plead that I "had no
dress," and lost his case.

In a subsequent suit carried up to the Supreme Court and decided in '68,
it was proved that my husband had forbidden our merchant to credit me on
his account, and the merchant's books presented in court showed that for
twelve years he had kept two separate accounts, one against my husband
and one against me. On his were charged clothing for himself, mother,
brothers and employes, common groceries, etc.; while on mine were
entered all my clothing, all high-priced tea, white sugar, etc., all
tableware, fine cutlery, table linen, bedding, curtains and towels; on
his were, credits for farm products; on mine, only cash; and he was
credited with butter and eggs on the same day that I was charged with
bed-ticking and towels. My personal expenses from Nov. 18, '36, the date
of our marriage, until Nov. 18, '56, twenty years, averaged less than
fifty dollars a year. All my husband's labor for all his life, and mine
for twenty years, with a large part of my separate property, had gone to
swell his mother's estate, on the proceeds of which she kept her
carriage and servants until she died, aged ninety-four, while I earned a
living for myself and his only child.

I left Pittsburg with my baby about the 20th of May, '57, and went by
boat to St. Paul. Before leaving, I went to settle with Mr. Riddle and
say goodbye, and found him much troubled. He said:

"Why is it I have known nothing of all this? I did not dream there was
anything wrong in your domestic relations, and may have been selfish and

My husband, mine no more, came upon the boat while she lay at the wharf,
held baby on his knee and wept over her; when the last bell rang, he
bade me good-bye; carried her to the gangway, held her to the last
moment, then placed her in my arms, sprang ashore and hurried up the
wharf. He would, I think, have carried her off, but that he knew she
would break his heart crying for mother before I could get to her.

He had once taken her away in a fit of anger and walked the floor with
her most of the night, seriously alarmed for her life, and could not
venture on that experiment again. He loved her most tenderly, and his
love was as tenderly returned. Since, as a duty to her, I was careful to
teach her to "honor thy father" on earth as well as in heaven.

Had he and I gone into the pine woods, as he proposed, upon marriage;
had we been married under an equitable law or had he emigrated to
Minnesota, as he proposed, before I thought of going, there would have
been no separation; but after fifteen years in his mother's house I must
run away or die, and leave my child to a step-mother. So I ran away. He
thought I would return; enlarged and improved the house, wrote and
waited for us; could make no deed without my signature; I would sign
none, and after three years he got a divorce for desertion. In '70 he
married again, and I having, voluntarily, assumed the legal guilt of
breaking my marriage contract, do cheerfully accept the legal penalty--a
life of celibacy--bringing no charge against him who was my husband,
save that he was not much better than the average man. Knew his rights,
and knowing sought to maintain them against me; while, in some respects,
he was to me incalculably more than just. Years after I left him, he
said to our neighbor, Miss Hawkins, when speaking of me:

"I believe she is the best woman God ever made, and we would have had no
trouble but for her friends."

My sister had removed with her husband to St. Cloud, Minnesota, and
through him I had secured forty acres of land on the shore of one of a
nest of lovely lakes, lying on the east side of the Mississippi, twelve
miles from St. Cloud. On this little farm I would build a cabin of
tamarac logs, with the bark on and the ends sticking out at the corners
criss-cross. My cabin would have one room and a loft, each with a floor
of broad rough boards well jointed, and a ladder to go from one to the
other. It would have an open fire-place, a rough flag hearth, and a
rustic porch, draped with hop vines and wild roses. I would have a
boat, catch fish and raise poultry. No sound of strife should ever come
into my cabin but those of waves, winds, birds and insects. Ah, what a
paradise it would be!

I had not yet learned that every human soul is a Shunamite, "a company
of two armies," and wherever there is one, there is strife.

     To live is to contend,
     And life is finished when contentions end.

At St. Paul I took a stage, and night came on when we were still twenty
miles from St. Cloud. The wolves stood and looked at the stage, and I
knew they were between me and my hermitage; but they were only prairie
wolves, and all day my cabin had been growing more and more beautiful.
The lakes, the flowers, the level prairies and distant knolls, but most
of all the oak openings were enchanting, and in one of these my cabin
would stand.

The passengers talked politics and I talked too, and one man said to me:

"Did you say you were going to St. Cloud?


"Well, I tell you, madam, them sentiments of yours won't go down there.
Gen. Lowrie don't allow no abolition in these parts and he lives in St.

I had had many surprises, but few to equal this; had heard of Gen.
Lowrie as a man of immense wealth and influence, but no one had hinted
at this view of his character. I had thought of him as the friend of my
friends; but as the other passengers were confirming this account and I
watching the wolves, there flashed across my mind the thought: "This is
a broad country; but if this be true, there is not room in it for Gen.
Lowrie and me."



It was midnight before we reached East St. Cloud, and the ferry-boat had
stopped running, so that it was a bright morning the 7th of June when I
found myself in half a dozen pairs of loving arms. In a few days we made
an excursion to the site of my cabin. It was more beautiful than I had
thought. On the opposite side of the lake lived Captain Briggs, with a
head full of sea-stories, and a New England wife. My hermitage would be
greatly improved by such neighbors only one mile distant, and as the
captain had lately killed two large bears between his house and the site
of mine, there would soon be no more bears. But I must have the loft of
my cabin large enough for several beds, as the children insisted on
spending their summers with me. Brother Harry bespoke a second room, for
he would want a place to stay all night when out hunting with his
friends, and my hermitage began to grow into a hotel.

I had commenced arrangements with workmen, when Harry said to me:

"Sis, Elizabeth and I have talked this matter over, and if you persist,
we will take out a writ of lunacy. There is not a man in this territory
who would not say on oath, that you are insane to think of going where
the bears would eat you if the Indians did not kill you. The troops are
ordered away from the forts; you'll get frontier life enough with us,
for we are going to have music with the Indians."

Next day the troops from Fort Ripley marched past, on their way to
Kansas, to put down the Free State party. Bleeding Kansas was called on
for more blood, and United States soldiers were to sacrifice the friends
of freedom on the altar of slavery. The people of Minnesota were left
without protection from savages, that the people of Kansas might be
given over to the tender mercies of men no less barbarous than the

I had run away from the irrepressible conflict, feeling that my work was
done; had fled to the great Northwest--forever consecrated to freedom by
solemn act and deed of the nation--thinking I should see no more of our
national curse, when here it confronted me as it had never done before.

My cabin perished in a night, like Jonah's gourd--perished that liberty
might be crushed in Kansas; for without a garrison at Fort Ripley, my
project was utterly insane.



Every day, from my arrival in St. Cloud, evidence had been accumulating
of the truth of that stage-whisper about Gen. Lowrie, who lived in a
semi-barbaric splendor, in an imposing house on the bank of the
Mississippi, where he kept slaves, bringing them from and returning
them to his Tennessee estate, at his convenience, and no man saying him

He owned immense tracts of land; had and disposed of all the government
contracts he pleased; traveled over Europe with his salaried physician;
said to this man "go," and he went, to that "come," and he came, and to
a third "do this," and it was done. But of all his commands "go" was
most potent; for, as president of a claim club, his orders to
pre-emptors were enforced by Judge Lynch. He never condescended to go to
Congress, but sent an agent; furnished all the Democratic votes that
could possibly be wanted in any emergency, and nobody wondered when a
good list came from a precinct in which no one lived.

Republicans on their arrival in his dominion, were converted to the
Democratic faith, fast as sinners to Christianity in a Maffitt meeting,
and those on whom the spirit fell not, kept very quiet. People had gone
there to make homes, not to fight the Southern tiger, and any attempt
against such overwhelming odds seemed madness, for Lowrie's dominion was
largely legitimate. He was one of those who are born to command--of
splendid physique and dignified bearing, superior intellect and mesmeric
fascination. His natural advantages had been increased by a liberal
education; he had been brought up among slaves, lived among Indians as
agent and interpreter, felt his own superiority, and asserted it with
the full force of honest conviction.

On all hands he was spoken of as Dictator, and there was both love and
respect mingled with the fear by which he governed. His father was a
Presbyterian minister, who taught that slavery was divine, and both
were generous and lenient masters. He was the embodiment of the slave
power. All its brute force, pious pretenses, plausibility, chivalry, all
the good and bad of the Southern character; all the weapons of the army
of despotism were concentrated in this man, the friend of my friends,
the man who stood ready to set me on the pinnacle of social distinction
by his recognition. Across the body of the prostrate slave lay the road
to wealth, and many good men had shut their eyes and stepped over.

The territorial government under Buchanan was a mere tool of slavery.
Every federal officer was a Southerner, or a Northern man with Southern
principles. Government gold flowed freely in that channel, and to the
eagles Gen. Lowrie had but to say, as to his other servants, "come," and
they flew into his exchequer.

So thoroughly was Minnesota under the feet of slavery, that in
September, '60--after we thought the State redeemed--the house of
William D. Babbitt, in Minneapolis, was surrounded from midnight until
morning by a howling mob, stoning it, firing guns and pistols,
attempting to force doors and windows, and only prevented gaining
entrance by the solidity of the building and the bravery of its defense.
It was thus besieged because its owner and occupant had dared interfere
to execute the common law in favor of freedom.

Minneapolis and its twin-city St. Anthony each had a large first-class
hotel, to which Southern people resorted in summer, bringing their
slaves, holding them often for months, and taking them back to the
South, no one daring to make objection; until one woman, Eliza Winston,
appealed to Mr. Babbitt, who took her into court, where Judge Vanderbilt
decreed her freedom, on the ground that her claimant had forfeited his
title by bringing her into a free State.

At the rendering of this decree, Rev. Knickerbocker, rector of the only
Protestant Episcopal Church in the city, arose in open court, and
charged the judge with giving an unrighteous judgment. He condemned the
law as at war with Scripture and the rights of the master, and its
enforcement as injurious to the best interests of the community. It was
the old story of Demetrius; and the people, already keenly alive to the
profit of boarding Southern families with their servants, were glad to
have a mantle of piety thrown over their love of gain. The court room
was packed, and under the eloquent appeal of the reverend gentleman, it
soon became evident the populace would make a rush, take the woman out
of the hands of the law, and deliver her to the master.

She and her friends had about lost hope, when an unlooked for diversion
called attention from them. The red head of "Bill King," afterwards
post-master of the U.S. House of Representatives, arose, like the
burning bush at the foot of Mount Horeb, and his stentorian voice poured
forth such a torrent of denunciation on priest-craft, such a flood of
solid swearing against the insolence and tyranny of ecclesiasticism,
that people were surprised into inactivity, until Mr. Babbitt got the
woman in his carriage and drove off with her.

There could no longer be a question of her legal right to her own body
and soul; but her friends knew that the law of freedom had lain too long
dormant to be enforced now without further serious opposition, and Mr.
Babbitt brought into use his old training on the underground railroad to
throw the blood-hounds off the scent, so secreted the woman in the house
of Prof. Stone, and prepared his own strong residence to bear a siege.
For that siege preparations were made by the clerical party during the
afternoon and evening, without any effort at concealment, and to brute
force the besieging party added brute cunning.

It was known that in my lecturing tours, I was often Mr. Babbitt's
guest, and might arrive at any hour. So, shortly after midnight, the
doorbell was rung, when Mr. Babbitt inquired:

"Who is there?"

"Mrs. Swisshelm.'

"It is not Mrs. Swisshelm's voice?"

"William Griffin (a colored porter) is with her."

"It is not William Griffin's voice."

Then, for the first time, there were signs of a multitude on the porch,
and with an oath the speaker replied:

"We want that slave."

"You cannot have her."

A rush was made to burst in the door, but it was of solid walnut and
would not yield, when the assailants brought fenceposts to batter it in,
and were driven back by a shot from a revolver in the hall. The mob
retired to a safer distance, and the leader--mine host of a first-class
hotel--mounted the carriage-block and harangued his followers on the
sacred duty of securing the financial prosperity of the two cities by
restoring Eliza Winston to her owners, and made this distinct
declaration of principles:

"I came to this State with five thousand dollars; have but five hundred
left, but will spend the last cent to see 'Bill' Babbitt's heart's

After which heroic utterance a fresh volley of stones and shots were
fired, and fresh rush made for doors and windows. The sidelights of the
front door had been shattered, and one burly ruffian thrust himself
halfway in, but stuck, when a defender leveled a revolver at his head,
and said to Mrs. Babbitt, who was then in command of the hall, while her
husband defended the parlor windows:

"Shall I shoot him?"

"Yes, shoot him like a dog."

But Mrs. Edward Messer, her sister, who knew Mr. Babbitt's dread of
taking life, knocked the pistol up and struck the ruffian's head with a
stick, when it was withdrawn, and again the mob fell back and resorted
to stones and sticks and oaths and howlings and gunshots, and threats of
firing the house.

Mrs. Babbitt thought that personal appeals might bring citizens to the
rescue, and in an interval of black darkness between lightning flashes,
escaped through a back cellar way, and had almost reached the shelter of
a cornfield adjoining the garden, when the lightning revealed her and
three men started in pursuit. It was two months before the birth of one
of her children, and Mr. Elliott, a neighbor who was hastening to the
rescue, saw her danger and ran to engage her pursuers. Stumbling through
the corn, he encountered one and cudgeled him, but all were separated
by the darkness. Mrs. Babbitt, however, succeeded in reaching the more
thickly settled portion of the city, and the first man she called upon
for help, replied:

"You have made your bed--lie in it!"

The sheriff came, with two or three men, and talked to the mob, which
dispersed before daylight, with open threats to "have Babbitt's heart's
blood," and for months his family lived in momentary apprehension of his
murder. For months he was hooted at in the streets of Minneapolis as
"nigger thief," and called "Eliza." No arrests were made, and he has
always felt it fortunate that Mrs. Messer prevented the shooting of the
man in the side-light, as he thinks to this day that in the state of
public sentiment, the man firing the shot would have been hanged for
murder by any Hennepin county jury, and his home razed to the ground or

Eliza Winston was sent by underground railroad to Canada, because
Minnesota, in the year of grace, 1860, could not or would not defend the
freedom of one declared free by decision of her own courts.

When such events were actual facts in '60, near the center of the State,
under a Republican administration, what was the condition of public
sentiment in the northern portion of the territory in '57, when there
was scarce a pretense of law or order, and the Southern democracy held
absolute sway? I soon understood the situation; had known for years that
the Southern threats, which Northern men laughed at as "tin kettle
thunder," were the desperate utterances of lawless men, in firm alliance
with the "Hierarchy of Rome for the overthrow of this Republic."



George Brott was proprietor of lower St. Cloud and had started a paper,
_The Advertiser_, to invite immigration. There were two practical
printers in town, both property-owners, both interested in its growth,
and when the resources of _The Advertiser_ had been consumed and they
had had union rates for work done on it, they fell back on their dignity
and did nothing. They had enlisted in the wrong army, did not belong
with this band of pioneers, making its way against savage beasts and
men. They were soldiers of a union whose interests were all opposed to
those of St. Cloud, so they were looking on, waiting to see if the great
need of a paper would not compel their neighbors to pay tribute to their

Mr. Brott asked me if I would take charge of a paper and take town lots
for a salary. I told him I was an abolitionist. He laughed, and said:

"A lady has a right to be of whatever politics she pleases," and went on
to say, that if I could recommend Minnesota to emigrants, and St. Cloud
as a town site, he cared nothing for my opinions on other points. He
thought we might unite all the town proprietors, and so raise money to
pay the printers, so I wrote to each one, asking his support to the St.
Cloud _Visiter_, as an advertising medium. All, save Gen. Lowrie, were
prompt in making favorable response; but from him I had not heard, when
there had been three issues of the paper. Mr. Brott was in the office,
and I said:

"There is one thing more. I feel that some day I will attack Gen.
Lowrie, who is your friend. He will set Shepley on me; I will make short
work of him. Then we will have a general melee, and I will clear out
that clique. Shepley is your lawyer, and I do not want to use your press
in that way without your consent."

While I spoke, his jaw dropped and he sat staring at me in literal
open-mouthed wonder, then threw back his head, laughed heartily and

"Oh, go ahead! I bake no bread in any of their ovens!"

Very soon I had a letter from Gen. Lowrie, saying:

"I myself will give the St. Cloud _Visiter_ a support second to that of
no paper in the territory, if it will support Buchanan's administration.
Otherwise I can do nothing."

I had not finished reading, when the thought came: "Now I have you." Yet
still I knew it looked like, ah, very like a man catching a whale with a
fish hook secured to his own person, when there were a hundred chances
to one that the whale had caught him. I replied that the St. Cloud
_Visiter_ would support Mr. Buchanan's administration, since it could
not live without Gen. Lowrie's assistance, and such was his ultimatum.

On the second day after that contract was made, brother Harry came, all
trembling with rage, and said:

"Lowrie is telling all over town that he has bought you, and that the
_Visiter_ is to support Buchanan!"

"It is true," was the astounding answer, when he said bad words, rushed
from the room and slammed the door. Then followed ten days, the only
ones since he became my brother when he would not call me "Sis."
Elizabeth said:

"I would have seen Lowrie and his money in the bottom of the sea, first!
What would mother say?"

The next issue of the _Visiter_ made no allusion to its change of base,
and there was plenty of time to discuss the question. Those who knew my
record refused to believe I had sold out, and took bets on it. However,
the next number contained an editorial which relieved the minds of
friends, but which created the gravest apprehension. It stated that the
_Visiter_ would, in future, support Buchanan's administration, and went
on to state the objects of that administration as being the entire
subversion of Freedom and the planting of Slavery in every State and
Territory, so that Toombs could realize his boast, and call the roll of
his slaves at the foot of Bunker Hill. It reminded its readers that John
Randolph had said in the United States Senate when speaking to Northern

"We have driven you to the wall, and will drive you there again, and
next time we will keep you there and nail you to the counter like base

Mr. Buchanan, a Northern man, had fulfilled the prediction. Henry Clay
had said that Northern workingmen were "mudsills, greasy mechanics and
small-fisted farmers." These mudsills had been talking of voting
themselves farms; but it would be much more appropriate if they would
vote themselves masters. Southern laborers were blessed with kind
masters, and Mr. Buchanan and the St. Cloud _Visiter_ were most anxious
that Northern laborers should be equally well provided for.

When the paper was read, there was a cry of "Sold! Sold! Lowrie had sold
himself instead of buying the _Visiter_." At first there was a laugh,
then a dead stillness of dread, and men looked at me as one doomed.



In Lowrie's first ebulition of wrath, he vowed vengeance, but an
intimate friend of his, who had been a Democrat in Pittsburg, begged him
to do nothing and said:

"Let her alone, for God's sake! Let her alone, or she will kill you. I
know her, and you do not. She has killed every man she ever touched. Let
her alone!"

But Lowrie knew it was too late for letting alone, and sent me a verbal
message, by one he knew I would believe, that I must stop or the
consequences would be fatal. Stopping was no part of my plan, and so I
told his messenger.

The second number of Buchanan's organ explained how it was that I became
a supporter of a policy I had so long opposed. Gen. Lowrie owned
Northern Minnesota, land and inhabitants, bought folks up as fast as
they came to it, and had bought me. He was going to support the
_Visiter_ great power and glory, if it gave satisfaction as a democratic
organ. I would work hard for the money, and it would be odd if any one
gave Mr. Buchanan a more enthusiastic support than I. Indeed, I was his
only honest supporter. All the others pretended he was going to do
something quite foreign to his purpose, while I was in his confidence.
The one sole object of his administration was the perpetuation and
spread of slavery, and this object the _Visiter_ would support with the
best arguments in its power.

This was vitriol dressing on a raw wound, and the suppression of the
_Visiter_ was expected by Judge Lynch. Brave men held their breath to
see me beard the lion in his den, not knowing my armor as I did.

Then came an announcement with a great flourish of trumpets of a lecture
on "Woman," by the Hon. Shepley, the great legal light and democratic
orator of Minnesota. The lecture was delivered in due time to a densely
packed house, and was as insulting as possible. The lecture divided
women into four classes--coquettes, flirts, totally depraved, and
strong-minded. He painted each class and found some redeeming trait in
all save the last.

The speaker might as well have named me as the object of his attack, and
his charges thus publicly made were not to be misunderstood. At every
point there were rounds and shouts of applause by clacquers, and brother
Harry once rose in a towering rage, but I dragged him down and begged
him to keep quiet.

In my review of the lecture, I praised it, commended its eloquence and
points, but suggested that the learned gentleman had not included all
women in his classification. For instance, he had left out the frontier
belle who sat up all night playing cards with gentlemen; could beat any
man at a game of poker, and laugh loud enough to be heard above the
roaring of a river. In this I struck at gambling as a social amusement,
which was then rapidly coming into fashion in our little city, and which
to me was new and alarming.

Mr. Shepley pretended to think that the picture resembled his wife, and
this idea was seized upon as drowning men catch at straws. Behind this
they sought to conceal the whole significance of the quarrel. Gen.
Lowrie cared not for my attacks on himself. Oh, no, indeed! He was
suddenly seized by a fit of chivalry, and would defend to the death, a
lady whom he had never seen.

An effort was made to dispose of me by mob, as a means of clearing the
moral atmosphere of the city. It was being discussed in a grocery while
"Tom" Alden lay on the counter. He rose, brought down his big fist, and
with a preface of oaths, said:

"Now, boys, I tell you what it is. We're Democrats. This is a fight
between her and Lowrie, and we're going to see fair play. If she licks
him, let him take it. No woman is going to be mobbed in this city! So

Gen. Lowrie hid an uncle who lived with him, a very eccentric,
single-minded man, who was greatly distressed about the affair, and who
became a messenger bent on making peace. He begged me to desist for
Lowrie's sake, that I might not drive him to cover himself with shame,
and bring lasting regret. He insisted that I knew nothing of the dangers
which environed me; I would be secretly murdered, with personal
indignities; would be tied to a log and set afloat on the Mississippi.
I had no wish to court danger--shrank from the thought of brute force;
but if I let this man escape, his power, now tottering, would be
re-established; slavery triumphant in the great Northwest; Minnesota
confirmed a democratic strong-hold, sending delegates of dough-faces to
Congress to aid in the great conspiracy against the nation's life. So I
told the messenger that I would continue to support Buchanan's
administration, that I would pile my support upon it until it broke down
under the weight and sunk into everlasting infamy.

The night after I had sent this, as my final answer to the offer of
leniency, the _Visiter_ was visited by three men in the "wee sma' hours,
anent the twal," the press broken, some of the type thrown into the
river, some scattered on the road, and this note left on the table:

"If you ever again attempt to publish a paper in St. Cloud, you yourself
will be as summarily dealt with as your office has been.----VIGILANCE."

The morning brought intense excitement and the hush of a great fear. Men
walked down to the bank of the great Mississippi, looked at the little
wrecked office standing amid the old primeval forest, as if it were a
great battle-ground, and the poor little type were the bodies of the
valiant dead. They only spoke in whispers, and stood as if in
expectation of some great event, until Judge Gregory arrived, and said,

"Gentlemen, this is an outrage which must be resented. The freedom of
the press must be established if we do not want our city to become the
center of a gang of rowdies who will drive all decent people away and
cut off immigration. I move that we call a public meeting at the Stearns
House this evening, to express the sentiments of the people at St.

This motion was carried unanimously, but very quietly, and I said:

"Gentlemen, I will attend that meeting and give a history of this



At length the time had come when I could no longer skulk behind a
printing press. That bulwark had been torn down, and now I must
literally open my mouth for the dumb, or be one of those dogs spoken of
in Scripture who would not bark. The resolve to speak at that meeting
had come in an instant as a command not to be questioned, and I began to
prepare. James McKelvey, a lawyer, and nephew of my husband, drew my
will and I executed it, settled my business and wrote a statement of the
_Visiter_ trouble that it might live if I ceased to do so, then went to
bed, sent for Miles Brown to come to my room, and saw him alone.

He was a Pennsylvanian, who had the reputation of being a dead shot, and
had a pair of fine revolvers. He pledged himself solemnly to go with me
and keep near me, and shoot me square through the brain, if there was no
other way of preventing me falling alive into the hands of the mob. My
mind was then at ease, and I slept until my mail was brought. In it was
a letter from William M. Shinn, saying that without his knowledge, my
husband had succeeded in having my one-third interest in the Swissvale
estate sold at sheriff's sale, and had become the purchaser. Mr. Shinn
added his opinion that the sale was fraudulent, and proposed entering
suit to have it set aside; but I could attend to no suit and lost all
hope of saving anything from my separate estate. Surely the hand of the
Lord lay heavily upon me that day, but I never doubted that it was His
hand. The Good Shepherd would lead me and feed me and I should know no

When it was time to go to the meeting, I was dressed by other hands than
my own. I knew Harry and my brother-in-law, Henry Swisshelm, had
organized for defense, and asked no questions, but went with them.
Elizabeth carried her camphor bottle as coolly as if mobs and public
meetings were things of every day life, while Mrs. Hyke, a New England
woman, held my arm, saying:

"We'll have a nice time in the river together, for I am going in with
you. They can't separate us."

As we approached the Stearns House, the crowd thickened and pressed upon
us. Harry stopped and said:

"Gentlemen, stand back, if you please!"

The guard closed around me, every man with his hand on his revolver.
There were oaths and growls, but the mob gave way, and made no further
opposition to our entrance.

The meeting was called to order by Thomas Stearns, the owner of the
house and for whom the county had been named, who with his brave wife
had made every possible arrangement for the meeting. The large parlors
were packed with women, and every other foot of space downstairs and
even up, were filled with men, while around the house was a crowd. It
was a wonder where all the people could have come from. A rostrum had
been erected at the end of the parlor next the hall, but I had no sooner
taken it than there was an ominous murmur outside, and it was discovered
that my head made a tempting target for a shot through the front door,
so the rostrum was moved out of range.

There was not much excitement until I named Gen. Lowrie and two other
men as the persons who had destroyed the _Visiter_ office. Then there
was a perfect howl of oaths and cat-calls. Gen. Lowrie was on the ground
himself, loading his forces outside. A rush was made, stones hurled
against the house, pistols fired, and every woman sprang to her feet,
but it was to hear and see, not shriek. Harry held the doorway into the
hall; Henry that into the dining room. Brown had joined Harry, and I
said in a low, concentrated voice:


He turned and pressed up to the rostrum.

"Don't fail me! Don't leave me! Remember!"

"I remember! Don't be afraid! I'll do it! But I'm going to do some other
shooting first."

"Save two bullets for me!" I plead, "and shoot so that I can see you."

"I will, I will," but all the time he was looking to the door; Mrs. Hyke
was clinging to me sobbing:

"We'll go together; no one can part us." The mob were pressed back and
comparative quiet restored, and when I finished the reading of my
address I began to extemporize. What I said seemed to be the right words
at the right time. A hushed attention fell upon the audience, inside and
out. Then there was applause inside, which called forth howls from the
outside, and when I stepped from the platform, I was overwhelmed with
congratulations, and more astonished than any one, to learn that I could
speak in public.

T.H. Barrett, a young civil engineer, was chairman of the committee on
resolutions, and brought in a set which thrilled the audience. They were
a most indignant denunciation of the destruction of the office, an
enthusiastic endorsement of the course of the _Visiter_, and a
determination to re-establish it, under the sole control of its editor.
They were passed singly by acclamation until the last, when I protested
that they should take time to think--should consider if it were not
better to get another editor. There could be no peace with me in the
editorial chair, for I was an abolitionist and would light slavery and
woman-whippers to the death, and after it. There was a universal
response of "Good! Good! give it to 'em, and we'll stand by you."

This was the beginning of the final triumph of free speech, but the end
was yet in the dim distance, and this I knew then as well as afterwards.
T.H. Barrett, who carried that meeting, is the man who fought the last
battle of the Rebellion at the head of his negro troops away down in
Texas, ten days after Lee's surrender, and before that news had reached
him, Brown was charged with cowardice, in having kept back among the
women, and I had to explain on his account.



The day after the Stearns House meeting, I was thought to be dying. All
that medical skill and loving hands could do was done to draw me from
the dark valley into which I seemed to have passed; while those men who
had planted themselves and their rifles between me and death by
violence, came on tip-toe to know if I yet lived. When I was able to be
out it was not thought safe for me to do so--not even to cross the
street and sit on the high green bank which overlooked the river. Harry
was constantly armed and on guard, and a pistol shot from his house,
night or day, would have brought a score of armed men in a very short

A printing company had been formed to re-establish the _Visiter_. In it
were forty good men and true, and they sent an agent to Chicago to buy
press and type. The St. Cloud _Visiter_ was to begin a new life as the
mouthpiece of the Republican party, and I was no longer a scout,
conducting a war on the only rational plan of Indian warfare. I begged
my friends to stand abide and leave Lowrie and me to settle the trouble,
saying to them:

"I cannot fight behind ramparts of friends. I must take the risks
myself, must have an open field. Protect me from brute force and give me
moral aid, but stand aside."

But they were full of enthusiasm, and would bear the brunt of battle.
There were open threats of the destruction of the new press, and it was
no time to quit the field. Of the first number of the resurrected
_Visiter_, the St. Cloud Printing Co. was publisher, and I sole editor.
I prepared the contents very carefully, that they might not give
unnecessary offense, dropped the role of supporting Buchanan, and tried
to make a strong Republican paper of the abolition type, and in the
leader gave a history of the destruction of my office.

The paper gave great satisfaction to the publishers, who had not thought
I could be so calm; but Lowrie threatened a libel suit for my history of
that outrage, and I said to the printing company:

"You must get out of my way or I will withdraw."

At once they gave me a bill of sale for the press and material, and of
the second number I was sole editor and proprietor, but it was too late.
The libel suit was brought, damages laid at $10,000, and every lawyer in
that upper country retained for the prosecution.

This was in the spring of '58. The two years previous the country had
been devastated by grasshoppers, and no green thing had escaped. There
was no old grain, the mass of people had been speculating in town lots,
and such had been the demand for city charters, that a wag moved in
legislature to reserve one-tenth of the land of Minnesota for
agricultural purposes. The territorial had just been exchanged for a
state government, which was not yet in working order. The capital of
every man in the printing company was buried in corner lots, or lots
which were not on a corner. The wolves and bears cared nothing for
surveyor's stakes, and held possession of most of the cities, howling
defiance at the march of civilization. The troops were still in Kansas
establishing slavery, and we lived in a constant state of alarm. The men
were organized for defense against Indians, and must do picket duty. All
the money was in the hands of the enemy. Citizens had everything to buy
and nothing to buy it with. Provisions were brought up from St. Paul by
wagon, except when a boat could come from St. Anthony. Those men of the
company who were especially marked, were men of families, and it is hard
to starve children for the freedom of the press. The nearest court was
St. Anthony. Any defense of that suit must be ruinous to those men, and
I advised them to compromise.

A committee was appointed to meet six lawyers, and were in despair when
they learned the ultimatum of the great Dictator. With the terms
demanded, they had no inclination to comply, but sent J. Fowler to me
with the contract they were required to sign.

This bound the company in a bond of $10,000 actual payment, that the
_St. Cloud Visiter_ should publish in its columns a card from Mr.
Shepley, of which a copy was appended, and which stated that the
destruction of the office was not for any political cause, but was
solely on account of an attack made by its editor on the reputation of a
lady. Also, that said _Visiter_ should never again discuss or refer to
the destruction of its office.

Fowler burned with indignation, and was much surprised when I returned
the paper, saying that I would comply with these demands. He protested
that I should not--that they had set out to defend the freedom of the

"Which you cannot do," I remarked. "You sign that paper just as you
would hand your money to a robber who held a pistol to your head and
demanded it. There is a point at which the bravest must yield, where
resistance is madness, and you have reached this point. The press is
mine, leave its freedom to me. Defend me from brute force and do your
duty to your families."

He returned to the consultation room, where every one was surprised at
my compliance. They had all given me credit for more pluck, but since I
surrendered, the case was lost. The contract was signed, the bond
executed, and everything made tight and fast as law could make it. The
friends of free press were indignant, but bided their time. Stephen
Miller, a nephew of my mother-in-law, and afterwards governor of
Minnesota, was on a visit to Harrisburg during all this trouble, and
when he returned, he flew into a towering rage over what he termed the
cowardly backdown of the printing company, and published a card in the
St. Paul papers, washing his hands of it.

But to the victors belong the spoils and glory, and now they made much
of them. Ladies got out their silks, their jewels and their laces. There
were sounds of revelry by night, where fair women and gallant men drew
around the social board, on which sparkled the wine-cup and glimmered
the yellow gold, to be taken up by the winner. Champagne was drunk in
honor of the famous victory, hands were shaken over it, stray sheep
were brought back into the true Democratic fold, and late opinions about
presses and types were forgotten.

Though, among all the rejoicings, the Bar had the best of it. For once
its members had not been like the blades of a pair of scissors; had not
even seemed to cut each other, while only cutting that which came
between. For once its members were a band of brothers, concentrated into
one sharp, keen dagger, with which they had stabbed Freedom to the
heart. That triumphant Bar stroked its bearded chin, and parted its
silky mustache; hem'd its wisest hem; haw'd its most impressive haw.

"If Gen. Lowrie had ah, but ah, taken legal advice ah, in the first
instance ah, all would have been well ah!"

They were the generals who had won this famous victory, and wore their
laurels with a jaunty air, while a learned and distinguished divine from
the center of the State, in a sermon, congratulated the Lord on having
succeeded in "restoring peace to this community, lately torn by
dissensions,"--and all was quiet on the Mississippi.

On its bank sat poor little I, looking out on its solemn march to the
sea, thinking of Minnesota; sending a wail upon its bosom to meet and
mingle with that borne by the Missouri from Kansas; thinking of a
sad-faced slave, who landed with her babe in her arms here, just in
front of my unfinished loft, performed the labor of a slave in this free
Northern land, and embarked from this same landing to go to a Tennessee
auction block, nobody saying to the master, "Why do ye this?" Against
the power which thus trampled constitutional guarantees, congressional
enactments and State rights in the dust, I seemed to stand alone, with
my hands tied--stood in a body weighing just one hundred pounds, and
kept in it by the most assiduous care. I was learning to set type, and
as I picked the bits of lead from the labeled boxes, there ran the old
tune of St. Thomas, carrying through my brain these words:

     "Yea, though I walk in death's dark vale,
     Yet will I fear none ill."

Why did the heathen rage and kings vex themselves? God, even our God,
should dash them together like potsherds. What an uneven fight it
was--God and I against that little clique--against a world!

I rented the office to the boys, who at once gave me notice that I was
no longer wanted in it. They issued a half-sheet _Visiter_, with "the
Devil" as editor and proprietor. His salutatory informed his readers,
that he was in full possession and was going to have a good time; had
taught the _Visiter_ to lie, and was going to tunnel the Mississippi.
Those were bright boys, and they had a jolly week. Mr. Shepley's card
appeared, as per agreement, and thus far the terms of release for the
printing company complied with, and the contract with the _Dictator_
filled. But what next? Had I actually given up the publication? Of
course I had. Its finances were desperate, and what else could I do?
What motive could I have for attempting to go on with it? Oh, what a
famous victory. The next publication day passed and no _Visiter_. There
was a dress parade of triumphant troops, and that most famous victory
was bearing fruit.

Next day the _St. Cloud Democrat_ made its appearance, and I was sole
editor and proprietor. Into the first editorial column I copied
verbatim, with a prominent heading, the article from the _Visiter_ on
which the libel suit was founded, and gave notice that I alone was
pecuniarily responsible for all the injury that could possibly be done
to the characters of all the men who might feel themselves aggrieved
thereby. Of the late _Visiter_ I had an obituary; gave a short sketch of
its stormy life; how it was insulted, overborne, enslaved; that it could
not live a slave, and died in its new chains.

It seems strange that those lawyers should have been so stupid, or
should have accredited me with such amazing stupidity when they drew up
that bond; but so it was, and the tables were completely turned. To sue
me for libel was folly, for in St. Paul or St. Anthony I should have had
the gratuitous services of the best legal talent in the state, and they
and their case would have been ground into very small and dirty dust. No
famous victory was ever before turned into a more total rout by a more
simple ambush, and by it I won the clear field necessary to the
continuance of my work.

I still had protection from physical violence, but had no fear of legal
molestation, and after the next fall election, border ruffianism fell
into such disrepute in St. Cloud that loaded guns seemed no longer
necessary to sustain the freedom of the press.



When _The St. Cloud Democrat_ began its career as the organ of the
Republican party in Northern Minnesota, the central and southern
portions of the State were fairly supplied with republican papers, the
conductors all being more or less skillful in the art of plowing and
sowing the political field; but with no very bright prospect of
harvesting a victory. Under the Lowrie dictatorship of the North, it is
difficult to see how the success of a Republican could have been made
possible, any more than giving the electoral vote of Southern Republican
States to the Republican candidate in 1880.

To overthrow that dictatorship was the work I had volunteered to do, and
in doing it, my plan was to "plow deep," subsoil to the beam. Preachers
held men accountable to God for their Sunday services, but it was my aim
to urge the divine claim to obedience, all the rest of the week. I held
that election day was of all others, the Lord's day. He instituted the
first republic. All the training which Moses gave the Jews was to fit
them for self-government, and at his death the choice of their rulers
was left with them and they were commanded to

     "Choose men, fearing God and hating covetousness,
     and set them to rule over you."

For no creed, no form of worship, no act of his life, is a man more
directly responsible to God, than for casting his vote or the
non-fulfillment of that duty. When the nominations were made for the
second State election in 1859, Gen. Lowrie had lost ground so fast that
he needed the indorsement of his party. This was given in his nomination
for Lieut. Governor. The Republicans nominated Ignatius Donnelly, a
fiery young orator, who took the stump, and was not deterred by any
super-refinement from making the most of his opponent's reputation as
the stealthy destroyer of a printing office, because he had made a bad
bargain in buying its editor. He and the party which had made his
methods its own by nominating him, were held up to the most unmerciful
ridicule. The canvass seemed to turn on the indorsement or repudiation
of border-ruffianism, press-breaking, woman-mobbing. My _personnel_ had
then become familiar to the people of the State, and the large man who
instituted a mob to suppress a woman of my size, and then failed, was
not a suitable leader for American men, even if they were Democrats.

The death-knell of Democratic rule in Minnesota was rung in that
election. The whole Republican State ticket was elected, with Gov.
Ramsey at its head, and he was the first Governor to tender troops to
President Lincoln for the suppression of the Rebellion. The result was
gratifying, although our own county, Stearns, was overwhelmingly
Democratic, and must remain so, since the great mass of the people were

However, the election of the State ticket was largely due to the
personal popularity of Gov. Ramsey, and this could not be depended upon
for a lasting arrangement, so I spent the winter following lecturing
through the State, sowing seed for the coming presidential campaign. I
never spoke in public during an election excitement, never advocated on
the platform the claims of any particular man, but urged general

Stephen Miller was our St. Cloud delegate to the Chicago Convention
which nominated Mr. Lincoln, led the canvass in the State, as the most
efficient speaker and was chairman of the Electoral College. His
prominent position in the Border Ruffian war added largely to his
popularity in the State, and once more that little printing office under
the grand old trees was plunged into politics; this time into an
election on which hung the destinies of the nation. How that election
was carried on in other States I know not, but in Minnesota the banner
of Republicanism and human freedom was borne aloft over a well fought
field. There was not much surface work. Men struggled for the Right
against the old despotism of Might, and planted their cause on
foundations more enduring than Minnesota granite itself.

Yet, even then, the opposition of the Garrisonians was most persistent.
There was a large anti-slavery element among the original settlers of
Minnesota, but it was mostly of the Garrisonian or non-voting type, and
had lain dormant under pro-slavery rule. To utilize this element at the
polls was my special desire. The ground occupied by them was the one I
had abandoned, _i.e._, the ground made by the Covenanters when the
Constitution first appeared. They pronounced it "a covenant with death
and an agreement with hell," and would not vote or hold office under it;
would not take an oath to support it. So firmly had Garrison planted
himself on the old Covenanter platform, that it is doubtful whether he
labored harder for the overthrow of slavery or political anti-slavery;
whether he more fiercely denounced slave-holders or men who voted
against slave-holding. Once after a "flaming" denunciation of political
abolitionists, some one said to him:

"Mr. Garrison, I am surprised at the ground you take! Do you not think
James G. Birney and Gerrit Smith are anti-slavery?"

He hesitated, and replied:

"They have anti-slavery tendencies, I admit."

Now, James G. Birney, when a young man, fell heir to the third of an
Alabama estate, and arranged with the other heirs to take the slaves as
his portion. He took them all into a free State, emancipated them, and
left himself without a dollar, but went to work and became the leader of
political abolitionists, while Gerrit Smith devoted his splendid talents
and immense wealth to the cause of the slave. When their mode of action
was so reprehensible to Mr. Garrison, we may judge the strength of his
opposition to that plan of action which resulted in the overthrow of
slavery. His non-resistance covered ballots as well as bullets, and
slavery, the creation of brute force and ballots, must not be attacked
by any weapon, save moral suasion. So it was, that Garrisonianism, off
the line of the underground railroad, was a rather harmless foe to
slavery, and was often used by it to prevent the casting of votes which
would endanger its power.

From the action of the slave power, it must by that time have been
apparent to all, that adverse votes was what it most dreaded; but
old-side Covenanters, Quakers, and Garrisonians could not cast these
without soiling their hands by touching that bad Constitution. But that
moral _dilettanteism_, which thinks first of its own hands, was not
confined to non-voting abolitionists; for the "thorough goers" of the
old Liberty Party, could not come down from their perch on platforms
which embraced all the moralities, to work on one which only said to
slavery "not another foot of territory."

Both these parties attacked me. The one argued that I, of necessity,
endorsed slavery every where by recognizing the Constitution; the other
that I must favor its existence where it then was, by working with the
Republican party, which was only pledged to prevent its extension. To
me, these positions seemed utterly untenable, their arguments
preposterous, and I did my best to make this appear. I claimed the
Constitution as anti-slavery, and taught the duty of overthrowing
slavery by and through it, but no argument which I used did half the
service of an illustration which came to me:

I had a little garden in which the weeds did grow, and little Bobbie
Miller had a little broken hoe. When I went into my garden to cut the
weeds away, I took up Bobbie's little hoe to help me in the fray. If
that little hoe were wanting, I'd take a spoon or fork, or any other
implement, but always keep at work. If any one would send me a broader,
sharper hoe, I'd use it on those ugly weeds and cut more with one blow;
but till I got a better hoe, I'd work away with Bobbie's. I'd ride one
steady-going nag, and not a dozen hobbies; help any man or boy, or
fiend to do what needed doing, and only stop when work came up which
done would call for ruing.

This conceit struck popular fancy as plain argument could not have done,
and the Republican party came to be called "Robbie Miller's Hoe "--an
imperfect means of reaching a great end, and one that any one might use
without becoming responsible for its imperfections.

During the heat of that Lincoln campaign, Galusha A. Grow, then Speaker
of the U.S. House of Representatives, came to St. Cloud to speak, and
found me ill with quinsy; but I went to the meeting. It was held in
Wilson's Hall, which was on the second floor of a frame building, and
was so packed that before he began fears were felt lest the floors
should give way. But the speaker told the audience that the floor would
"hold still" if they did; and any one who felt uneasy had better leave
now. No one left, and for two hours and a half he held that packed
assembly in close and silent attention. He was very popular on the
frontier on account of his homestead bill, yet the hall was surrounded
all the time he spoke by a howling Democratic mob, who hurled stones
against the house, fired guns, shouted and yelled, trying to drown his
voice. To make it more interesting and try to draw out the audience,
they made a huge bonfire and burned me in effigy as--

"The mother of the Republican party."

The result of that campaign is known, for in it Minnesota was made so
thoroughly Republican that the party must needs split, in order to got
rid of its supremacy.



The _St. Cloud Democrat_ found in orthodoxy a foe almost as powerful and
persistent as slavery itself. In a local controversy about dancing, I
recommended that amusement as the only substitute for lascivious plays,
and this was eagerly seized upon by those who saw nothing wrong in
wholesale concubinage of the South. A fierce attack was made on _The
Democrat_ by a zealous Baptist minister; to which I replied, when it was
announced and proclaimed that on a certain Sabbath, at 10 A.M., this
minister would answer _The Democrat_. At the appointed hour the house
overflowed, and people crowded around the doors and windows, while Gen.
Lowrie occupied a prominent seat in the audience.

It surely was an odd sight to see that preacher mount the stand,
carrying an open copy of _The Democrat_, lay it down beside the Bible,
and read verse about from the two documents. The sermon was as odd as
the text. It disposed of me by the summary mode of denunciation, but
also disposed of David, Solomon and Miriam at the same time. When I gave
the discourse a careful Scriptural criticism, I carried the community,
and was strengthened by the controversy. But another, more serious and
general dispute was at hand.

When Theodore Parker died, the orthodox press from Maine to Georgia,
handed him over to Satan to be tormented; and then my reputation for
heresy reached its flood-tide.

Rev. John Renwick, one of our Covenanter martyrs, was my ideal of a
Christian, and when he lay in the Edinburg prison under sentence of
death, his weeping friends begged him to conform and save his life. They
said to him:

"Dinna ye think that we, who ha' conformit may be saved?"

"Aye, aye. God forbid that I should limit his grace."

"An' dinna ye think, ye too could be saved and conform?"

"Oh, aye aye. The blood of Christ cleanseth fra all sin."

"Weel, what mair do ye want, than the salvation o' yer saul?"

"Mair, mickle mair! I want to honor my Master, and bear witness to the

To satisfy this want, he died a felon's death. The central idea of that
old hero-making Westminster theology was, that man's chief end is to
glorify God first, and enjoy him forever when that is done. In all the
religious training of my youth, I had never heard the term "seek
salvation." We were to seek the privilege of serving God; yet I was
willing to be dead-headed into heaven, with the rest of the

A Protestant Episcopal convention had pointedly refused to advise
members of that church to respect the marriage relation among their
slaves, and so had dimmed the Elizabethian glory of a church which once
stood for freedom so nobly that the winds and waves became her allies,
and crowned her with victory. The General Assembly had laid the honor of
its martyrs in the dust by endorsing human slavery; and I must be false
to every conviction if I did not protest against calling that
Christianity which held out crowns of glory to man-thieves and their
abettors, and everlasting torments to those who had spent their lives
glorifying God and bearing witness to the truth. My defense of Parker
and unwillingness to have all Unitarians sent to the other side of the
Great Gulf, won for me a prominent place among those whom the churches
pronounced "Infidels."

But there came a time when "Providence" seemed to be on the side of the

Rev. J. Calhoun was a highly-cultured gentleman, a Presbyterian
clergyman, and one of those urbane men who add force and dignity to any
opinion. His wife was Gen. Lowrie's only sister. He preached
gratuitously in St. Cloud, and Border Ruffianism and Slavery gained
respectability through their connection, when he and his wife made that
fatal plunge off the bridge in St. Cloud--a plunge which sent a thrill
of horror through the land. I accompanied my sympathetic, respectful
obituary notice, with the statement that the costly cutter wrecked, and
the valuable horse instantly killed, were both purchased with money
obtained by the sale of a woman and her child, who had been held as
slaves in Minnesota, in defiance of her law, and been taken by this
popular divine to a Tennessee auction block.

The accident was entirely owing to the unprecedented and unaccountable
behavior of that horse, and people shuddered with a new horror on being
reminded of the price which had been paid for him--bodies and souls of
two citizens and the honor of that free State.



The culture which the pale faces introduced into that land of the
Dakotas was sometimes curious. The first sermon I heard there was
preached in Rockville--a town-site on the Sauk, twelve miles from its
confluence with the Mississippi--in a store-room of which the roof was
not yet shingled. The only table in the town served as a pulpit; the red
blankets from one wagon were converted into cushions for the front pews,
which consisted of rough boards laid on trussles. There was only one
hymn book, and after reading the hymn, the preacher tendered the book to
any one who would lead the singing, but no one volunteered. My scruples
about psalms seemed to vanish, so I went forward, took the book, lined
out the hymn, and started a tune, which was readily taken up and sung by
all present. We were well satisfied with what the day brought us, as we
rode home past those wonderful granite rocks which spring up out of the
prairie, looking like old hay-ricks in a meadow.

There were people in our frontier town who would have graced any
society, and with the elasticity of true culture adapted themselves to
all circumstances. At my residence, which adjoined the _Democrat_
office, I held fortnightly receptions, at which dancing was the
amusement, and coffee and sandwiches the refreshments. At one of these,
I had the honor to entertain Gov. Ramsey, Lieut.-Gov. Donnelly, State
Treas. Shaeffer, and a large delegation from St. Paul; but not having
plates for seventy people, I substituted squares of white printing
paper. When Gov. Ramsey received his, he turned it over, and said:

"What am I to do with this?"

"That is the ticket you are to vote," was the answer.

In our social life there was often a weird mingling of civilization and
barbarism. Upon one occasion, a concert was given, in which the audience
were in full dress, and all evening in the principal streets of St.
Cloud a lot of Chippewas played foot-ball with the heads of some Sioux,
with whom they had been at war that day.

In those days, brains and culture were found in shanties. The leaders of
progress did not shrink from association with the rude forces of savages
and mother nature.

St. Cloud was the advance post of that march of civilization by which
the Northern Pacific railroad has since sought to reach the
Sascatchewan, a territory yet to be made into five wheat-growing States
as large as Illinois. All the Hudson Bay goods from Europe passed our
doors, in wagons or on sleds, under the care of the Burbanks, the great
mail carriers and express men of Minnesota, and once they brought a
young lady who had come by express from Glasgow, Scotland, and been
placed under the charge of their agent at New York, and whom they handed
over to the officer she had come to marry on the shores of Hudson Bay.
But their teams usually came east with little freight, as the furs sent
to Europe came down in carts, not one of which had so much iron as a
nail in them, and which came in long, creaking trains, drawn by oxen or
Indian ponies.

In each train there was generally one gorgeous equipage--a cart painted
blue, with a canvas cover, drawn by one large white ox in raw-hide
harness. In this coach of state rode the lady of the train--who was
generally a half-breed--on her way to do her shopping in St. Paul. Once
the lady was a full-blooded Indian, and had her baby with her, neatly
dressed and strapped to a board. A bandage across the forehead held the
head in place, and every portion of the body was as secure as board and
bandages could make them, except the arms from the elbow down, but no
danger of the little fellow sucking his thumb. His lady mamma did not
have to hold him, for he was stood up in a corner like a cane or
umbrella, and seemed quite comfortable as well as content. She had
traveled seven weeks, had come seventeen hundred miles to purchase some
dresses and trinkets, and would no doubt be a profitable customer to St.
Paul merchants, for the lady of the train was a person of wealth and
authority, always the wife of the commander-in-chief, and her sentence
of death might have been fatal to any man in it.

In these trains were always found Indians filling positions as useful
laborers, for the English government never gave premiums for idleness
and vagabondism among Indians, by feeding and clothing them without
effort on their own part. Their dexterity in turning griddle cakes, by
shaking the pan and giving it a jerk which sent the cake up into the air
and brought it down square into the pan other side up, would have made
Biddy's head whirl to see. The "Gov. Ramsey" was the first steamboat
which ran above the falls of St. Anthony, and in the spring of '59 she
was steamed and hawsered up the Sauk Rapids, and ran two hundred miles,
until the falls of Pokegamy offered insurmountable barriers to further
progress. It was thought impossible to get her down again, there was no
business for her, and she lay useless until, the next winter, Anson
Northup took out her machinery and drew it across on sleds to the Red
River of the North, where it was built into the first steamboat which
ever ran on that river.

Before starting on his expedition, Mr. Northup came to the _Democrat_
office to leave an advertisement and ask me to appeal to the public for
aid in provisions and feed to be furnished along the route. He was in a
Buffalo suit, from his ears to his feet, and looked like a bale of furs.
On his head he wore a fox skin cap with the nose lying on the two paws
of the animal just between his eyes, the tail hanging down between his
shoulders. He was a brave, strong man, and carried out his project,
which to most people was wild.

Nothing seemed more important than the cultivation of health for the
people, and to this I gave much earnest attention, often expressed in
the form of badinage. There were so many young housekeepers that there
was much need of teachers. I tried to get the New England women to stop
feeding their families on dough--especially hot soda dough--and to
substitute well-baked bread as a steady article of diet. In trying to
wean them from cake, I told of a time when chaos reigned on earth, long
before the days of the mastodons, but even then, New England women were
up making cake, and would certainly be found at that business when the
last trump sounded. But they bore with my "crotchets" very patiently,
and even seemed to enjoy them.



The printer's case used to be one of the highways to editorial and
congressional honors; but the little fellows of the craft invented a
machine which goes over it like a "header" over a wheat-field and leaves
a dead level of stalks, all minus the heads, so that no tall fellows are
left to shame them by passing on from the "stick" to the tripod or
speaker's mallet. Their great Union rolling-pin flattens them all out
like pie-crust, and tramps are not overshadowed by the superiority of
industrious men. But the leveling process makes impassable mountains and
gorges in other walks of life--makes it necessary that a publisher with
one hundred readers must pay as much for type-setting as he with a
hundred thousand. The salary of editors and contributors may vary from
nothing to ten thousand a year; but through all mutations of this life,
the printer's wages must remain in _statu quo_. So the Union kills small
papers, prevents competition in the newspaper business, builds up
monster establishments, and keeps typos at the case forever and a day.

I knew when the _Visiter_ started that it could not live and pay for
type-setting the same price as paid by the New York _Tribune_, and the
day the office became mine, I stated that fact to the printers, who took
their hats and left. In '52, I had spent some part of every day for two
weeks in a composing room, and with the knowledge then acquired, I, in
'58 started the business of practical printer. I took a proof of my
first stick, and lo, it read from right to left. I distributed that, but
had to mark the stick that I might remember.

The first day I took two boys as apprentices. First, Wesley Miller, who
had spent two months in a Harrisburg office, and knew something of the
art, but did not like anything about it except working the press.
Second, my nephew, William B. Mitchell, who was thirteen, knew nothing
of types, but was a model of patient industry.

Our magnanimous printers hung around hotels, laughing at the absurdity
of this amateur office. We might set type, but when it came to making
and locking up a form, ha, ha, wouldn't there be sport? That handsome
new type would all be a mess of pi, then somebody would be obliged to
come to their terms or St. Cloud would be without a paper. It was their
great opportunity to display their interest in the general welfare, and
they embraced it to the full; but of the little I had learned in that
short apprenticeship six years ago, I retained a clear conception of the
principles of justification by works. I brought these to bear on those
forms, made them up, locked them, and sent for Stephen Miller to carry
them to the press, when each one lifted like a paving stone; but alas,
alas, the columns read from right to left. I unlocked them, put the
matter back in the galleys, made them up new, and we had the paper off
on time.

From that time until the first of January, '63, I carried on the
business of practical printer, issued a paper every week, did a large
amount of job work, was city and county printer for half a dozen
counties, did all the legal advertising, published the tax lists, and
issued extras during the Indian massacres.



When, after Mr. Lincoln's election, the South made the North understand
that her threats of disunion meant something more than "tin kettle
thunder," there was little spirit of compromise among the Republicans
and Douglas Democrats of Minnesota, who generally looked with impatience
on the abject servility with which Northern men in Congress begged their
Southern masters not to leave them, with no slaves to catch, no peculiar
institution to guard.

I was in favor of not only permitting the Southern States to leave the
Union, but of driving them out of it as we would drive tramps out of a
drawing room. _Put_ them out! and open every avenue for the escape of
their slaves. But from that spirit of conciliation with which the North
first met, secession, the change was sudden. The fire on Sumter lit an
actual flame of freedom, and the people were ready then to wipe slavery
from the whole face of the land. When Gen. Fremont issued his famous
order confiscating the slaves of rebels in arms, I was in receipt of a
large exchange list, and have never seen such unanimity on any subject.
I think there were but two papers which offered an objection; but this
land was not worthy to do a generous deed. So, President Lincoln
rescinded that order, and the great rushing stream of popular enthusiasm
was dammed, turned back to flow into the dismal swamp of constitutional
quibbles and statutory inventions. There it lay, and bred reptiles and
miasmas to sting and poison the guilty inhabitants of this great land;
and never since have we been permitted to reach an enthusiasm in favor
of any great principle; for history has no record of a great act so
thoroughly divested of all greatness by the meanness of the motive, as
is our "Act of Emancipation."

Long after the war was in progress, the old habit of yielding precedence
to the South manifested itself so strongly as to sour and disgust the
staunchest Republicans. The only two important military appointments
given by Mr. Lincoln's administration to St. Cloud were given to two
Southern Democrats, officeholders under Buchanan and supporters of
Breckinridge, the Southern candidate for President in '60. In the autumn
of '61, I asked a farmer to take out and post bills for a meeting to
send delegates to the county convention. He had been an active worker in
the campaign of '60, had never sought an office, and I was surprised
when he declined so small a service, but his explanation was this:

"If the Democrats win the election, the Democrats will get the offices.
If the Republicans win the election, the Democrats will get the offices,
and I don't see but we may as well let them win the election."

When I explained that the more false others were to a party or
principle, the more need there was for him to be true, he took the bills
and managed the meeting; but running a Republican ticket under a
Republican administration was not so easy as running the same ticket
under Buchanan. Then men had hope and enthusiasm, but this was killed by
a victory through which the enemy was made to triumph.

As Gov. Ramsey was the first to tender troops to President Lincoln for
the suppression of the Rebellion, so the men of Minnesota were among the
first to organize and drill. Stephen Miller raised a company in St.
Cloud, with it joined the first regiment at Ft. Snelling, and was
appointed Lieut. Col.

We went to Ft. Snelling to see our first regiment embark. It was a grand
sight to see the men in red shirts and white Havelocks march down that
rocky, winding way, going to their Southern graves, for very few of them
ever returned.

More troops were called for, and two companies formed in St. Cloud.
While they waited under marching orders, they and the citizens were
aroused at two o'clock one morning by the cry from the east side of the
river of, "Indians, Indians." A boat was sent over and brought a
white-lipped messenger, with the news of the Sioux massacre at Ft.



My first public speech was the revelation of a talent hidden in a
napkin, and I set about putting it to usury. I wrote a lecture--"Women
and Politics"--as a reason for my anomalous position and a justification
of those men who had endorsed my right to be a political leader, and
gave sketches of women in sacred and profane history who had been so
endorsed by brave and wise men.

The lecture gave an account of the wrongs heaped upon women by slavery,
as a reason why women were then called upon for special activity, and I
never failed to "bring down the house" by describing the scene in which
the tall Kentuckian proposed to the tall Pennsylvanian that he should
horsewhip an old woman one hundred and two times, to compel her to earn
two hundred dollars with which his mightiness might purchase Havana
cigars, gold chains, etc., or to elicit signs of shame by relating the
fact of the United States government proposing to withdraw diplomatic
relations with Austria for whipping Hungarian women for political
offenses, while woman-whipping was the principal industry of our
American chivalry.

I stated that men had sought to divide this world into two
fields--religion and politics. In the first, they were content that
their mothers and wives should dwell with them, but in the second, no
kid slipper was ever to be set. Horace Mann had warned women to stand
back, saying: "Politics is a stygian pool." I insisted that politics
had reached this condition through the permit given to Satan to turn all
the waste water of his mills into that pool; that this grant must be
rescinded and the pool drained at all hazards. Indeed the emergency was
such that even women might handle shovels.

Chicago had once been in a swamp, but the City Fathers had lifted it six
feet. Politicians must "raise the grade," must lift their politics the
height of a man, and make them a habitation for men, not reptiles. At
this an audience would burst into uproarous applause.

As for the grand division, no surveyor could find the line; for no line
was possible between religion and politics. The attempt to divide them
is an assumption that there is some part of the universe in which the
Lord is not law-giver. The Fathers of the Republic had explored and
found a country they thought was outside the Divine jurisdiction, and
called it Politics. Because old world government had bowed to popes and
prelates, they would ignore Deity, and say to Omnipotence what Canute
did to the sea: "Thus far shalt thou go but no further, and here shall
thy proud waves be stayed." But God laughed them to scorn, and would
certainly dash them to pieces. The government which they had set up like
the golden image of Nebuchadnezzer, and demanded that all should bow
before it, this same government was bound to sustain men in scourging
women for chastity. Every man who voted a democratic ticket voted to put
down as insurrection any attempt to stand between the cradle and its

I never spoke of the St. Cloud trouble--there was too much else to talk
about. I was seldom interrupted by anything but applause; but in
Stillwater I was hissed for denouncing Buchanan's administration. I
waited a moment, then lowered my voice, and said I had raised a good
many goslings, and thought I had left them all in Pennsylvania, but
found some had followed me, and was sorry to have no corn for them.
There was no further interruption.

I was at that time the guest of a son of my Pittsburg friend, Judge
McMillan, who led the singing in our church, and with whom I expect to
sing "St. Thomas" in heaven. My host of that evening afterwards became
U.S. Senator from Minnesota.

A considerable portion of three winters I traveled in Minnesota and
lectured, one day riding thirty miles in an open cutter when the mercury
was frozen and the wind blew almost a gale. Have crossed houseless
prairies between midnight and morning, with only a stage driver, and I
never encountered a neglect or a rudeness: but found gentlemen in red
flannel shirts and their trowsers stuffed into the tops of their boots,
who had no knowledge of grammar, and who would, I think, have sold their
lives dearly in my defense.

Late in '60 or early in '61, I lectured in Mantorville, and was the
guest of Mr. Bancroft, editor of the _Express_, when he handed me a copy
of the New York _Tribune_, pointed to an item, and turned away. It was a
four line announcement that he who had been my husband had obtained a
divorce on the ground of desertion. I laid down the paper, looked at my
hands, and thought:

"Once more you are mine. True, the proceeds of your twenty years of
brick-making are back there in Egypt with your lost patrimony, but we
are over the Red Sea, out in the free desert; no pursuit is possible,
and if bread fails, God will send manna."

While I sat, Mrs. Bancroft came to me, caressed me, and said:

"Old things have passed away, and all things have become new."



In my first lecturing winter I spoke in the Hall of Representatives, St.
Paul, to a large audience, and succeeded past all my hopes. I spoke
there again in the winter of '61 and '62, on the anti-slavery question,
and in a public hall on "Woman's Legal Disabilities." Both were very
successful, and I was invited to give the latter lecture before the
Senate, which I did. The hall was packed and the lecture received with
profound attention, interrupted by hearty applause.

The Senate was in session, and Gen. Lowrie occupied his seat as a
member. It was a great fall for him to tumble from his dictatorship to
so small an honor. He sat and looked at me like one in a dream, and I
could not but see that he was breaking. I hoped he would come up with
others when they began to crowd around me, but he did not.

I had come to be the looked-at of all lookers; the talked-of of all
talkers; was the guest of Geo. A. Nurse, the U.S. Attorney, dined with
the Governor, and was praised by the press. I was dubbed the "Fanny
Kemble of America," and reminded critics of the then greatest Shylock of
the stage. A judge from Ohio said there was "not a man in the State who
could have presented that case (Woman's Legal Disabilities) so well."
Indeed, I was almost as popular as if I were about to be hanged!

A responsible Eastern lecture-agent offered me one hundred dollars each
for three lectures, one in Milwaukee, one in Chicago and one in
Cleveland. I wanted to accept, but was overruled by friends, who thought
me too feeble to travel alone, and that I would make more by employing
an agent. They selected a pious gentleman, whose name I have forgotten,
and we left St. Paul at four o'clock one winter morning, in a prairie
schooner on bob-sleds, to ride to La Crosse.

One of the passengers was a pompous Southerner, who kept boasting of the
"buck niggers" he had sold and the "niggers" he had caught, and his
delight in that sort of work. His talk was aimed at me, but he did not
address me, and for hours I took no notice; then, after an unusual
explosion, I said quietly:

"Can you remember, sir, just exactly how many niggers you have killed
and eaten in your day?"

He looked out on the river and seemed to begin a calculation, but must
have found the lists of his exploits too long for utterance, for he had
spoken not another word when we reached La Crosse, where we took cars
for Madison, Wisconsin.

We reached that beautiful city of lakes in time to meet news of the Ft.
Donelson fatal victory; that victory made so much worse than a hundred
defeats by the return to their masters of the slaves who remained in
the fort and claimed the protection of our flag--the victory which
converted the great loyal army of the North into a gang of
slave-catchers. Alas, my native land! All hope for the preservation of
the government died out in my heart. What could a just God want with
such a people? What could he do but destroy them?

That victory was celebrated in Madison with appropriate ceremonies. Men
got drunk and cursed "niggers and abolitionists," sat up all night in
noisy orgies drinking health and success to him who was the synonym of
American glory.

The excitement and sudden revulsion against abolitionists with the total
incompetence of my agent, caused a financial failure of my lecture, but
I made pleasant friendships with Gov. Harvey, Prof. Carr and their

I started along the route we had come, and everywhere, in cars, hotels,
men were hurrahing for Grant and cursing "niggers and abolitionists."

The hero had healed the breach between the loving brothers of the North
and South, who were to rush into each others arms across the prostrate
form of Liberty. Thank God for the madness of the South; for that
sublime universal government which maketh "the wrath of man to praise
him." Even in that hour of triumph for despotism, I did not doubt but
Freedom would march on until no slave contaminated the earth; but before
that march this degraded government must share the fate of that other
Babylon, which once dealt "in slaves and souls of men."

My first small town lecture was another financial failure, and in the
hall I paid and dismissed that highly respectable incubus--my agent.

That night I slept in a hotel, and going to a bed which had not been
properly ventilated, wondered if it could be my duty to breast that
storm of popular frenzy. Could I at any time be required to drink tea
out of a coarse delf cup and sleep in such a bed? Luxuries I wanted
none; but a china cup, silver spoon and soft blankets were necessaries
of life. As I lay, uncertain always whether I slept, I seemed to sit on
a projecting rock on the side of a precipice draped with poisonous
vines. There was no spot on which I could place my feet, while out of
holes, snakes hissed at me, and on ledges panthers glared at me with
their green fiery eyes, and the tips of their tails wagging. Far below
lay a lovely green valley, walled on both sides by these haunted
precipitous banks, but stretching up and down until lost in vista. I
knew that to the right was north--the direction of home; and to the
left, south--the way out into the great unknown. If I could only reach
that lovely valley and the clear stream which ran through it; but this
was a vain longing, until there appeared in it a young man in a grey
suit and soft broad-brimmed black felt hat. He came up the precipice
toward me, and a way made itself before him, until he held up his hand,
and said:

"Come down!"

I saw his face, and knew it was Christ. After seeing that face, all the
conceptions of all the artists are an offense. Moreover, the Christ of
to-day, in the person of his follower, has often come to me in the garb
of a working man, but never in priestly robes. He led me down the
precipice without a word, pointed northward and said:

"Walk in the valley and you will be safe." He was gone, and I became
conscious that I had been seeking popularity, money, and these were not
for me; I must go home, but first I would try to repair the loss
incurred by that agent. I lectured in a small town, a nucleus of a Seven
Day Baptist settlement, and was the guest of the proprietor, who had
built a great many concrete walls. Coming out into a heavy wind, I took
acute inflammation of the lungs. My hostess gave me every attention; but
I must go home for my symptoms were alarming, so took the train the next
morning, with my chest in wet compresses, a viol of aconite in my
pocket, and was better when by rail and schooner I reached the house of
the good Samaritan, Judge Wilson, of Winona.

Here I was made whole, lectured in Winona and other towns, and got back
to St. Paul with more money than when I left. I started for home one
morning in a schooner. At one the next morning our craft settled down
and refused to go farther. The snow was three feet deep; it had been
raining steadily for twelve hours, and when the men got out to pry out
the runners, they went down, down, far over their knees. The driver and
express agent were booted for such occasions, but the two Germans were
not. Myself, "these four and no more," were down in the book of fate for
a struggle with inertia. It was muscle and mind against matter. To the
muscle I contributed nothing, but might add something to the common
stock of mind. The agent, and driver concluded that he should take a
horse and go to the nearest house, two miles back, to get shovels to dig
us out. I asked if there were fresh horses and men at the house.


"How far is it to St. Cloud?"

"Six miles."

"Are there fresh horses and men there?"

"Oh, plenty."

"If you dig us out here, how long will it be before we go in again?"
This they did not know.

"Then had not the driver better go to St. Cloud with both horses? The
horse left here would be ruined standing in that slush."

"But, madam," said the agent, "if we do that we will have to leave you
here all night."

"Well," I said, "I do not see how you are going to get rid of me."

So the driver started with the two horses on that dreadful journey; had
I known how dreadful, I should have tried to keep him till morning. As
he left, I made the Germans draw off their boots and pour out the water,
rub their chilled feet and roll them up in a buffalo robe. The agent lay
on his box, I cuddled in a corner, and we all went to sleep to the music
of the patter of the soft rain on our canvas cover. At sunrise we were
waked by a little army of men and horses and another schooner, into
which we passed by bridge. We reached St. Cloud in time for breakfast,
and were greeted by the news that General Lowrie had been sent home
insane. He was confined in his own house, and his much envied young
wife, with her two babies, had become an object of pity.



Before going to Minnesota, I had the common Cooper idea of the dignity
and glory of the noble red man of the forest; and was especially
impressed by his unexampled faithfulness to those pale-faces who had
ever been so fortunate as to eat salt with him. In planning my
hermitage, I had pictured the most amicable relations with those
unsophisticated children of nature, who should never want for salt while
there was a spoonful in my barrel. I should win them to friendships as I
had done railroad laborers, by caring for their sick children, and
aiding their wives. Indeed, I think the Indians formed a large part of
the attractions of my cabin by the lakes; and it required considerable
time and experience to bring me to any true knowledge of the situation,
which was, and is, this:

Between the Indian and white settler, rages the world-old, world-wide
war of hereditary land-ownership against those who beg their brother man
for leave to live and toil. William Penn disclaimed the right of
conquest as a land title, while he himself held an English estate based
on that title, and while every acre of land on the globe was held by it.
He could not recognize that title in English hands, but did in the hands
of Indians, and while pretending to purchase of them a conquest title,
perpetrated one of the greatest swindles on record since that by which
Jacob won the birthright of his starving brother.

This Penn swindle has been so carefully cloaked that it has become the
basis of our whole Indian policy, the legitimate parent of a system
never equalled on earth for crime committed with the best intentions. It
intends to be especially just, by holding that the Creator made North
America for the exclusive use of savages, and that civilization can only
exist here by sufferance of the proprietors. This sufferance it tries to
purchase by engaging to support these proprietors in absolute idleness,
from the proceeds of the toil they license, even as kings and other
landed aristocrats are supported by the labor of their subjects and

As the successors of the tent-maker of Tarsus have for thirteen
centuries been found on the side of aristocrats in every contest with
plebians, so the piety of the East, controlled by men who live without
labor, was and is on the side of the royal red man, who has a most royal
contempt for plows, hoes and all other degrading implements.

The same community of interests which arrayed the mass of the clergy on
the side of Southern slaveholders, arrayed that same clergy on the side
of the Western slave holder, and against the men who seek, with plows
and hoes, to get a living out of the ground. Under this arrangement we
have the spectacle of a Christian people arrayed in open hostility to
those who plant Christian churches, schools and libraries on the lair of
the wolf; and in alliance with the savage who coolly unjoints the feet
and hands of little children, puts them in his hunting pouch as evidence
of his valor, and leaves the victim to die at leisure; of those who
thrust Christian babies into ovens, and deliberately roast them to
death; of those who bind infants, two by two, by one wrist, and throw
them across a fence to die; of those who collect little children in
groups and lock them up in a room, to wail out their little lives; of
those who commit outrages on innocent men and women who the pen must
forever refuse to record. The apology with which piety converts the
crimes of its pets into virtues, is that its own agents have failed to
carry out its own contract with its own friends.

The men and women who take their lives in their hands to lead the
westward march of civilization, are held as foes by the main body of the
army, who conspire with the enemy, and hand them over as scapegoats
whose tortures and death are to appease divine wrath for the crimes
which this same main body say it has itself committed against Indians.

No one pretends that Western settlers have injured Indians, but Eastern
philanthropists, through the government they control, have, according to
their own showing, been guilty of no end of frauds; and as they do not,
and cannot, stop the stealing, they pay their debts to the noble red man
by licensing him to outrage women, torture infants and burn homes. When
gold is scarce in the East, they substitute scalps and furnish Indians
with scalping-knives by the thousand, that they may collect their dues
at their own convenience.

This may seem to-day a bitter partisan accusation, but it must be the
calm verdict of history when this comes to be written by impartial pens.

Under the pretense that America belonged, in fee simple, and by special
divine right, to that particular hoard of savages, who, by killing off
some other hoard of savages, were in possession when Columbus first saw
the Great West, the Eastern States, which had already secured their land
by conquest, have become more implacable foes to civilization than the
savages themselves.

The Quaker would form no alliance with Southern slave-holders. He
recoiled from the sale of women and children in South Carolina, but
covered with his gray mantle of charity the slave trade in Minnesota.
When a settler refused to exchange his wife or daughter with an Indian
for a pony, and that Indian massacred the whole family to repair his
wrongs, his Quaker lawyer justified the act on the score of extreme
provocation, and won triumphal acquittal from the jury of the world.

When the Sioux, after the Bull Run disaster, arose as the allies of the
South, and butchered one thousand men, women and children in Minnesota,
the Quakers and other good people flew to arms in their defense, and
carried public sentiment in their favor. The agents of the Eastern
people had delayed the payment of annuity three weeks, and then insulted
Mr. Lo by tendering him one-half his money in government bonds, and for
this great wrong the peaceable Quaker, the humanitarian Unitarian, the
orthodox Congregationalist and Presbyterian, the enthusiastic Methodist
and staid Baptist, felt it but right Mr. Lo should have his revenge.

Most Eastern Christians are opposed to polygamy in Utah, and Fourierism
in France, but in Minnesota among Indians these institutions are sacred.
They demanded that England should by law prohibit widow-burning and
other heathen customs in India, but nothing so rude as statutes must
interfere with the royal privileges of these Western landlords. If by
gentle means Mr. Lo can be persuaded to stop taking all the wives he can
get, extorting their labor by the cudgel, and selling them and their
children at will, all well and good! Millions are expended on the
persuading business, and prayer poured out like the rains in Noah's
flood, without any perceptible effect; but still they keep on paying and
praying, and carefully abstain from all means at all likely to
accomplish the desired result. All the property of every tribe must be
held in common, so that there can possibly be no incentive to industry
and economy; but if the Indian refuse to be civilized on that plan, he
must go on taking scalps and being excused, until extermination solve
the problem.

Long before I saw an Indian on his native soil, the U.S. Government had
spent millions in carrying out this Penn policy. For long years, Indians
had sat like crows, watching the white farmers and artisans sent to
teach them industry, and had grunted their honest contempt. They watched
the potato planting, that they might pick out the seed for present use.
They pulled down fences, and turned their ponies into the growing crops,
used the rails for fire wood, burned mills and houses built for them,
rolled barrels of flour up steep acclivities, started them down and
shouted to see them leap and the flour spurt through the staves; knocked
the heads out of other barrels, and let the ponies eat the flour; poured
bags of corn on the ground when they wanted the bag, and in every way
showed their contempt for the government, whose policy they believed to
be the result of cowardice. Thousands of dollars' worth of agricultural
machinery lay "rotting in the sun" while the noble red aristocrat played
poker in the shade; his original contempt for labor intensified by his
power to extract a living from laborers, through their fear of his
scalping knife.

Hole-in-the-day, the Chippewa chief, had been educated by Baptist
missionaries, and was a good English scholar, but would not condescend
to speak to the government except through an interpreter. For him six
hundred acres of land had been fenced, and a large frame cottage built
and painted white. In this he lived with six wives, and a United States
salary of two thousand a year and his traveling expenses. He dressed
like a white man, dined with State officers in St. Paul, went to church
with a lady on his arm, sat in a front pew, and was a highly
distinguished gentleman of the scalping school.



The Indians had been ugly from the first outbreak of the Rebellion, and
Commissioner Dole, with Senator Wilkinson, had come out to pacify them.
The party passed through St. Cloud, and had camped several miles west,
when in the night there came up one of those sudden storms peculiar to
this land. Their tents were whisked away like autumn leaves, and they
left clinging to such productions of mother nature as were at hand,
well rooted in her bosom, to avoid a witches' dance in the air. But it
grew worse when the rain had covered the level ground six inches deep in
water, and they must keep their heads above the surface.

They returned to St. Cloud in the morning in sorry plight, and the delay
was one of the injuries to the poor Indians, and counted as sufficient
justification for the subsequent massacre. The delay, however, saved
their lives. The messenger who aroused the people of St. Cloud in the
small hours was traveling post after this Dole commission, for whose
safety there was much anxiety, but none for St. Cloud, since the Indians
would not attack us while there were two companies of soldiers in town.
True, they were unarmed, but surely arms would be sent and their
marching orders rescinded. The outbreak was mysterious. It was of course
in the interests of the South, and meant to prevent the troops leaving
the State; but why had not the tribes struck together?

The answer was that after the massacre had been arranged in council, two
Sioux visited a white family in which they had often been entertained,
were drunk, and could not resist the impulse to butcher their
entertainers. This precipitated the attack, for so soon as the news
reached the tribe, they went to work to execute their bloody purpose.

Johnson, a converted Chippewa, hurried to inform us that his tribe with
Hole-in-the-day in council had resolved to join the Sioux and were to
have made St. Cloud their base of operations, but the Sioux had broken
out before the arms and ammunition came, and these they were hourly
expecting. On the same day a formal message came from Hole-in-the-day
that Commissioner Dole must come to the reservation to confer with his
young braves, who would await his arrival ten days, after which time
their great chief declined to be responsible for them.

A runner arrived from Ft. Abercrombie, who had escaped by crawling
through the grass, and reported the Fort besieged by a thousand savages,
and quite unprepared for defense. There were several St. Cloud people in
the Fort, and so far from expecting aid from it it must be relieved. The
garrison at Ft. Ripley had not a man to spare for outside defense.
People began to pour into St. Cloud with tales of horror to freeze the
blood, and the worst reports were more than confirmed. The victorious
Sioux had undisputed possession of the whole country west, southwest and
northwest of us, up to within twelve miles of the city, and had left few
people to tell tales. Our troops spent their time teaching women and
children the use of firearms, and hoping for arms and orders to go to
the relief of Abercrombie. There was no telegraph, and the last mail
left no alternative but to start for Fort Snelling, with such short time
to get there that every available man and horse must go to hurry them
forward. They left in the afternoon, and that was a dreadful night. Many
of the more timid women had gone east, but of those that remained some
paced the streets, wringing their hands and sobbing out their fear and
despair and sorrow for the husbands and brothers and sons taken from
them at such a crisis.

When the troops left, we thought there were no more men in St. Cloud,
but next morning found a dozen, counting the boys, who were organized to
go out west to the rescue of settlers, and still there were some guards
and pickets, and some who did nothing but find fault with everything any
one else did.

Men and women spoke with stiffened lips and blanched faces. Families in
the outskirts gathered to more central places, and there were forty-two
women and children in my house the night after the troops left, and for
every night for weeks. We kept large kettles of boiling water as one
means of defense. I always had the watchword, and often at midnight I
would go out to see that the pickets were on duty, and report to the
women that all was well. Brother Harry was appointed General of State
troops, succeeding Gen. Lowrie, and arms were sent to him for
distribution, while women kept muskets by them and practiced daily. The
office of my democratic contemporary was closed, and he fled to New
England, while his assistant went with my only male assistant to rescue
settlers. I had two young ladies in the office, one a graduate of a New
York high school, and through all the excitement they kept at work as
coolly as at any other time. We got out the paper regularly, and
published many extras.

The history of the horrors and heroisms which reached us during the six
weeks in which Ft. Abercrombie held out until relief came, would make a
volume, and cannot he written here. The unimaginable tortures and
indecencies inflicted on brave men and good women, are something for
which the Christian supporters and excusers of the Sioux must yet
account at the bar where sentimental sympathy with criminals is itself
a crime; and where the wail of tortured infants will not be hushed by
reckoning of bad beef and a deficiency in beans.

While the Sioux sat in council to determine that butchery, some
objected, on the ground that such crimes would be punished, but Little
Crow, leader of the war party, quieted their fears by saying:

"White man no like Indian! Indian catch white man, roast him, kill him!
White man catch Indian, feed him, give him blankets," and on this
assurance they acted.

One thing was clearly proven by that outbreak, viz.: that services to,
and friendship for, Indians, are the best means of incurring their
revenge. Those families who had been on most intimate terms with them,
were those who were massacred first and with the greatest atrocities.
The more frequently they had eaten salt with a pale-face, the more
insatiable was their desire for vengeance. The missionaries were
generally spared, as the source through which they expected pardon and
supplies. The Indian was much too cunning to kill the goose that laid
the golden egg. The tribe do not object to the conversion of
individuals. Saying prayers does not interfere with their ideas of their
own importance. Preachers do not labor with their hands, and Indians can
join the clerical order or get religion, without losing caste, for labor
to them is pollution.

Two wagon loads of arms and ammunition _en route_ for Hole-in-the-day,
were intercepted during the massacre, and for want of them he was
induced to keep quiet. For being such a good Indian, he had a triumphal
trip to Washington at government expense, got ten thousand dollars, and
a seventh wife.



Soon after the people had returned to such homes as were left them, I
received a letter from General Lowrie, who was then in an insane asylum
in Cincinnati. I caught his humor and answered as carefully as if he had
been a sick brother, gave an extract in the _Democrat_, accompanied by a
notice, and sent him a copy; after which he wrote frequently, and I
tried earnestly to soothe him. In one of his letters was this passage:

"Your quarrel and mine was all wrong. There was no one in that upper
country capable of understanding you but me, no one capable of
understanding me, but you. We should have been friends, and would have
been, if we had not each had a self which we were all too anxious to

After the Sioux had finished their work of horror, Minnesota men, aided
by volunteers from Iowa and Wisconsin, pursued and captured the
murderers of one thousand men, women and children; tried them, found
them guilty, and proposed to hang them just as if they had been white
murderers. But when the general government interfered and took the
prisoners out of the hands of the State authorities, and when it became
evident that Eastern people endorsed the massacre and condemned the
victims as sinners who deserved their fate, one of the State officers
proposed that I should go East, try to counteract the vicious public
sentiment, and aid our Congressional delegation in their effort to
induce the Administration either to hang the Sioux murderers, or hold
them as hostages during the war.

To me this was a providential call, for I had been planning to make a
home in the East, that our daughter, then old enough to live without me,
might spend a portion of her time with her father.

With letters from all our State officers, I left my Minnesota home at
four o'clock A.M., January 2nd, '63, leaving the _Democrat_ in charge of
my first apprentice, William B. Mitchell.

In Washington, the Minnesota delegation secured the use of Dr.
Sutherland's church, and a packed audience for my lecture on Indians. It
was enthusiastically applauded, and for a time I did hope for some
security for women and children on the frontier; but the Secretary of
the Interior assured me it was not worth while to see the President, for
"Mr. Lincoln will hang nobody!" and our Minnesota delegation agreed with
him. Indeed, there was such a _furor_ of pious pity for the poor injured
Sioux, such admiration for their long suffering patience under wrong,
and final heroic resistance, that I might about as well have tried to
row myself from the head of Goat Island up the rapids of Niagara, as
stem that current. The ring which makes money by caudling Indians, had
the ear of both President and people, and the Bureau had a paying
contract in proving Little Crow's sagacity. The Sioux never were so well
supplied with blankets and butcher-knives, as when they received their
reward for that massacre; never had so many prayers said and hymns sung
over them, and their steamboat ride down the Minnesota and Mississippi
and up the Missouri, to a point within two days' walk of the scene of
their exploits, furnished them an excursion of about two thousand miles,
and left them well prepared for future operations. They appreciated
their good fortune, have been a terror to United States troops and
Western settlers ever since, and have enjoyed their triumph to the full.

One morning Senator Wilkinson and I went to see the President, and in
the vestibule of the White House met two gentlemen whom he introduced as
Sec. Stanton and Gen. Fremont. The first said he needed no introduction,
and I said I had asked Senator Wilkinson to see him on my account. He

"Do not ask any one to see me! If you want anything from me, come
yourself. No one can have more influence."

Gen. Fremont inquired where I was staying, and said he would call on me.
This frightened me, and I felt like running away. But they were so kind
and cordial that our short chat is a pleasant memory; but Mr. Wilkinson
and I failed to see Mr. Lincoln. Next day Sec. Stanton gave me an
appointment in the Quarter Master General's office, but there was no
place for me to go to work.

Gen. Fremont called at the houses of two friends where I was visiting,
but both times I was absent. In 1850 I had also missed the calls of his
wife and sister, and so I seemed destined never to meet the people I
admired above all others.

My friends wished me to attend a Presidential reception; but it was
useless to see Mr. Lincoln on the business which brought me to
Washington, and I did not care to see him on any other. He had proved an
obstructionist instead of an abolitionist, and I felt no respect for
him; while his wife was every where spoken of as a Southern woman with
Southern sympathies--a conspirator against the Union. I wanted nothing
to do with the occupants of the White House, but was told I could go and
see the spectacle without being presented. So I went in my broadcloth
traveling dress, and lest there should be trouble about my early
leave-taking, would not trust my cloak to the servants, but walked
through the hall with it over my arm. I watched the President and Mrs.
Lincoln receive. His sad, earnest, honest face was irresistible in its
plea for confidence, and Mrs. Lincoln's manner was so simple and
motherly, so unlike that of all Southern women I had seen, that I
doubted the tales I had heard. Her head was not that of a conspirator.
She would be incapable of a successful deceit, and whatever her purposes
were, they must be known to all who knew her.

Mr. Lincoln stood going through one of those, dreadful ordeals of
hand-shaking, working like a man pumping for life on a sinking vessel,
and I was filled with indignation for the selfish people who made this
useless drain on his nervous force. I wanted to stand between him and
them, and say, "stand back, and let him live and do his work." But I
could not resist going to him with the rest of the crowd, and when he
took my hand I said:

"May the Lord have mercy on you, poor man, for the people have none."
He laughed heartily, and the men around him, joined in his merriment.
When I came to Mrs. Lincoln, she did not catch the name at first, and
asked to hear it again, then repeated it, and a sudden glow of pleasure
lit her face, as she held out her hand and said how very glad she was to
see me. I objected to giving her my hand because my black glove would
soil her white one; but she said:

"Then I shall preserve the glove to remember a great pleasure, for I
have long wished to see you."

My escort was more surprised than I by her unusual cordiality, and said

"It was no polite affectation. I cannot understand it from her."

I understood at once that I had met one with whom I was in sympathy. No
politeness could have summoned that sudden flash of pleasure. Her manner
was too simple and natural to have any art in it; and why should she
have pretended a friendship she did not feel? Abolitionists were at a
discount. They had gone like the front ranks of the French cavalry at
Waterloo, into the sunken way, to make a bridge, over which moderate men
were rushing to honors and emoluments. Gideon's army had done its work,
and given place to the camp followers, who gathered up the spoils of
victory. None wore so poor that they need do them reverence, and I
recognized Mrs. Lincoln as a loyal, liberty-loving woman, more staunch
even than her husband in opposition to the Rebellion and its cause, and
as my very dear friend for life.



I had not thought, even after deciding to remain in Washington, of doing
any hospital work--knew nothing about it; and in strength was more like
a patient than a nurse; but while I waited for a summons to go to the
duties of my clerkship, I met some ladies interested in hospitals.

One of these, Mrs. Thayer, had an ambulance at her command, and took me
for a day's visiting among the forts, on a day when it was known that
our armies in Virginia were engaged with the enemy. The roads were
almost impassable, and as a skillful driver and two good horses used
their best efforts to take us from place to place, I felt like a thief;
that ambulance ought to be at the front, and us with it, or on our knees
pleading for the men whose breasts were a living wall between us and
danger, between Liberty and her deadly foes.

The men in the forts had no special need of us, and sometimes their
thanks for the tracts we brought them, gave an impulse to strike them
square in the face, but Mrs. Thayer was happy in her work, and thought
me uncivil to her friends.

We reached the last fort on our round before I saw anything interesting;
and here a sorrowful woman drew me aside to tell me of the two weeks she
had spent with her husband, now in the last stage of camp-fever, and of
her fruitless efforts to get sufficient straw for his bed, while the
bones were cutting through the skin as he lay on the slats of his cot.
She wrung her hands in a strange, suppressed agony, and exclaimed "Oh!
If they had only let me take him home when I came first; but say nothing
here, or they will not let me stay."

I verified her statement of her husband's condition, so that I could
speak from observation without compromising her, and spoke to the
surgeon, who politely regretted the scarcity of straw, and hoped to get
some soon.

I returned to the sufferer, who was from New Hampshire, and a very
intelligent man; and after talking with him and his wife, concluded to
look up the commander of that fort, and put some powder and a lighted
match into his ear; but first consulted Mrs. Thayer, who begged me to
take no notice, else she would no longer be permitted to visit the fort.
She had introduced me to two fashionably dressed ladies, officers'
wifes, resident there; and when I must say or do nothing about this man,
lest I should destroy Mrs. Thayer's opportunity for doing good, I
concluded we had discovered a new variety of savage, and came away
thinking I could do something in the city.

Next morning I stated the case to Miss Dix, who was neither shocked nor
surprised. I had never before seen her, but her tall, angular person,
very red face, and totally unsympathetic manner, chilled me. The best
ambulance in the service was exclusively devoted to her use, and I
thought she would surely go or send a bed to that man before noon; but
she proposed to do nothing of the kind, had engagements for the day,
which seemed to me of small import compared to that of placing that man
on a comfortable bed; but she could do nothing that day, by reason of
these engagements, and nothing next day, it being Sunday, on which day
she attended to no business. We spoke of the great battle then in
progress, and I tendered my services, could take no regular appointment,
would want no pay, could not work long; but might be of use in an
emergency! Emergencies were things of which she had no conception.
Everything in her world moved by rule, and her arrangements were
complete. She had sent eight nurses to the front, and more could only be
in the way.

I inquired about hospital supplies, and she grew almost enthusiastic in
explaining the uselessness, nay, absurdity, of sending any. Government
furnished everything that could possibly be wanted. The Sanitary and
Christian Commissioners were all a mistake; Soldiers' Aid Societies a
delusion and a snare. She was burdened with stores sent to her for which
there was no use; and she hoped I would use my influence to stop the
business of sending supplies.

From her I went direct to the Sanitary Commission, and found a large
house full of salaried clerks and porters, and boxes, and bails,
although this was not their storehouse.

Here again I stated the case of the man without a bed, and found
listeners neither surprised nor shocked. Every one seemed quite familiar
with trifles of that nature, and by and by, I, too, would look upon them
with, indifference.

I do not remember whether it was Saturday engagements, or Sunday
sanctity, or lack of jurisdiction, which barred the Commission from
interference; but think they must wait until the fort surgeon sent a

I inquired here about hospital stores, and found there was great demand
for everything, especially money. They declined my services in every
capacity save that of inducing the public to hurry forward funds and
supplies. I told them of Miss Dix's opinion on that subject, and they
agreed that it was quite useless to send anything to her, since she used
nothing she received, and would not permit any one else to use stores.

Late in the next week Mrs. Thayer came, in great tribulation, to know
how I ever could have done so foolish and useless a thing as report that
case to Miss Dix! Oh dear! Oh dear! It was so unwise!

Miss Dix had gone to the fort on Monday, taken the surgeon to task about
that bed, gave me as her authority, and for me Mrs. Thayer was
responsible, and would be excluded from that fort on account of my
indiscretion. There was another standing quarrel between the directress
of nurses and the surgeons. The bitterness engendered would all be
visited upon the patients, and it was so deplorable to think I had been
so imprudent.

Her distress was so real, and she was so real in her desire to do good,
that I felt myself quite a culprit, especially as the man got no bed,
and died on his slats.

I was so lectured and warned about the sin of this, my first offense, in
telling that which "folk wad secret keep" in hospital management, that I
was afraid to go to another, lest I should get some one into trouble;
so stayed at home while the Washington hospitals were being filled with
wounded from the battle of Chancellorville. I think it was the afternoon
of the second Sabbath that I went with Mrs. Kelsey to visit Campbell, to
get material for a letter, and tendered my services, but their
arrangements were complete. Passing through the wards it did indeed seem
as if nothing was wanting.

As a matter of form, I asked James Bride, of Wisconsin, if there was
anything I could do for him, was surprised to see him hesitate, and
astounded to have him answer:

"Well, nothing particular, unless"--he stopped and picked at the
coverlid--"unless you could get us something to quench thirst."

"Something to quench thirst? Why, I have been told you have everything
you can possibly require!"

"Well, they are very good to us, and do all they can; but it gets very
hot in here in the afternoons, we cannot go out into the shade, and get
so thirsty. Drinking so much water makes us sick, and if we had
something a little sour!"

"But, would they let me bring you anything?"

"O yes! I see ladies bring things every day."

"Then I shall be glad to bring you something tomorrow."



That morning I wrote to the New York _Tribune,_ relating the incident of
the man asking for cooling drinks, and saying that if people furnished
the material, I would devote my time to distributing their gifts. Next
morning I got two dozen lemons, pressed the juice into a jar, put in
sugar, took a glass and spoon and, so soon as visitors were admitted,
began giving lemonade to those men who seemed to have most need. Going
to the water tank for every glass of water made it slow work, but I
improved my walks by talking to the men, hearing their wants and adding
to their stock of hope and cheerfulness, and was glad to see that the
nurses did not seem to object to my presence, even though Campbell was
the one only hospital in the city from which female nurses were
rigorously excluded.

So noted had it become for the masculine pride of its management, that I
had been warned not to stay past the length of an ordinary visit, lest I
should be roughly told to go away; and my surprise was equal to my
pleasure, when a man came and said:

"Would it not be easier for you if you had a pitcher?"

I said it would, but that I lived too far away to bring one.

"Oh! I will bring you a pitcher! Why did you not ask for one?"

"I did not want to trouble you, for they told me you did not like to
have women here." He laughed, and said: "I guess we'll all be glad
enough to have you! Not many of your sort. First thing they all do is to
begin to make trouble, and it always takes two men to wait on one of

He brought the pitcher, and I felt that I was getting on in the world.
Still I was very humble and careful to win the favor of "the King's
Chamberlain"--those potencies, the nurses, who might report me to that
Royal woman-hater, Dr. Baxter, surgeon in charge, whose name was a
terror to women who intruded themselves into military hospitals.

As I passed, with my pitcher, I saw one man delerious, and
expectorating, profusely, a matter green as grass could be--knew this
was hospital gangrene, and remembered all Dr. Palmer had told me years
before, of his experience in Paris hospitals, and the antidotes to that
and scurvey poison. Indeed, the results of many conversations with
first-class physicians, and of some reading on the subject of camp
diseases, came to me; and I knew just what was wanted here, but saw no
sign that the want was likely to be supplied. For this man it was too
late, but I could not see that anything was being done to prevent the
spread of this fearful scourge.

Passing from that ward into the one adjoining, I came suddenly upon two
nurses dressing a thigh stump, while the patient filled the air with
half-suppressed shrieks and groans. I had never before seen a stump, but
remembered Dr. Jackson's lecture over the watermellon at desert, on
amputation, for the benefit of Charles Sumner; and electricity never
brought light quicker than there came to me the memory of all he had
said about the proper arrangement of the muscles over the end of the
bone; and added to this, came a perfect knowledge of the relations of
those mangled muscles to the general form of the body. I saw that the
nurse who held the stump tortured the man by disregarding natural law,
and setting down pitcher and glass on the floor, I stepped up, knelt,
slipped my hands under the remains of that strong thigh, and said to the
man who held it:

"Now, slip out your hands! easy! easy! there!" The instant it rested on
my hands the groans ceased, and I said:

"Is that better?"

"Oh, my God! yes!"

"Well, then, I will always hold it when it is dressed!"

"But you will not be here!"

"I will come!"

"That would be too much trouble!"

"I have nothing else to do, and will think it no trouble!"

The nurse, who did the dressing, was very gentle, and there was no more
pain; but I saw that the other leg was amputated below the knee, and
this was a double reason why he should be tenderly cared for. So I took
the nurse aside, and asked when the wounds were to be dressed again. He
said in the morning, and promised to wait until I came to help. Next
morning I was so much afraid of being late that I would not wait for the
street cars to begin running, but walked. The guard objected to
admitting me, as it was not time for visitors, but I explained and he
let me pass. I must not go through the wards at that hour, so went
around and came in by the door near which he lay. What was my surprise
to find that not only were his wounds dressed, but that all his clothing
and bed had been changed, and everything about him made as white and
neat and square as if he were a corpse, which he more resembled than a
living man. Oh, what a tribute of agony he had paid to the demon of
appearance! We all pay heavy taxes to other people's eyes; but on none
is the levy quite so onerous as on the patients of a model hospital! I
saw that he breathed and slept, and knew his time was short; but sought
the head nurse, and asked why he had not waited for me; he hesitated,
stammered, blushed and said:

"Why, the fact is, sister, he has another wound that it would not be
pleasant for you to see."

"Do you mean that that man has a groin wound in addition to all else?"

"Yes, sister! yes! and I thought--"

"No matter what you thought, you have tortured him to save your
mock-modesty and mine. You could have dressed that other wound, covered
him, and let me hold the stump. You saw what relief it gave him
yesterday. How could you--how dare you torture him?"

"Well, sister, I have been in hospitals with sisters a great deal, and
they never help to dress wounds. I thought you would not get leave to
come. Would not like to."

"I am not a sister, I am a mother; and that man had suffered enough. Oh,
how dared you? how dared you to do such a thing?" I wrung my hands, and
he trembled like a leaf, and said.

"It was wrong, but I did not know. I never saw a sister before--"

"I tell you I am no sister, and I cannot think whatever your sisters are
good for."

He promised to let me help him whenever it would save pain, and I
returned to the dying man. The sun shone and birds sang. He stirred,
opened his eyes, smiled to see me, and said.

"It is a lovely morning, and I will soon be gone."

I said, "Yes; the winter of your life is past; for you the reign of
sorrow is over and gone; the spring time appears on the earth, and the
time for the singing of birds has come; your immortal summer is close at
hand; Christ, who loveth us, and has suffered for us, has prepared
mansions of rest, for those who love him, and you are going soon."

"Oh, yes; I know he will take me home, and provide for my wife and
children when I am gone."

"Then all is well with you!" He told me his name and residence, in
Pittsburg, and I remembered that his parents lived our near neighbors
when I was a child. So, more than ever, I regretted that I could not
have made his passage through the dark valley one of less pain; but it
was a comfort to his wife to know I had been with him.

When he slept again, I got a slightly wounded man to sit by him and keep
away the flies, while I went to distribute some delicacies brought to
him by visitors, and which he would never need.

At the door of Ward Three, a large man stood, and seemed to be an
officer. I asked him if there were any patients in that ward who would
need wine penado. He looked down at me, pleasantly, and said:

"I think it very likely, madam, for it is a very bad ward."

It was indeed a very bad ward, for a settled gloom lay upon the faces of
the occupants, who suffered because the ward-master and entire set of
nurses had recently been discharged, and new, incompetent men appointed
in their places.

As I passed down, turning from right to left, to give to such men as
needed it the mild stimulant I had brought, I saw how sad and hopeless
they were; only one man seemed inclined to talk, and he sat near the
centre of the ward, while some one dressed his shoulder from which the
arm had been carried away by a cannon ball. A group of men stood around
him, talking of that strange amputation, and he was full of chat and

They called him Charlie; but my attention was quickly drawn to a young
man, on a cot, close by, who was suffering torture from the awkwardness
of a nurse who was dressing a large, flesh-wound on the outside of his
right thigh.

I set my bowl on the floor, caught the nurse's wrist, lifted his hand
away, and said:

"Oh, stop! you are hurting that man! Let me do that!"

He replied, pleasantly,

"I'll be very glad to, for I'm a green hand!"

I took his place; saw the wounded flesh creep at the touch of cold
water, and said: "Cold water hurts you!"

"Yes ma'am; a little!"

"Then we must have some warm!" But nurse said there was none.

"No warm water?" I exclaimed, as I drew back and looked at him, in blank

"No, ma'am! there's no warm water!"

"How many wounded men have you in this hospital?"

"Well, about seven hundred, I believe."

"About seven hundred wounded men, and no warm water! So none of them get
anything to eat!"

"Oh, yes! they get plenty to eat."

"And how do you cook without warm water?"

"Why, there's plenty of hot water in the kitchen, but we're not allowed
to go there, and we have none in the wards."

"Where is the kitchen?"

He directed me. I covered the wound--told the patient to wait and I
would get warm water. In the kitchen a dozen cooks stopped to stare at
me, but one gave me what I came for, and on returning to the ward I said
to Charlie:

"Now you can have some warm water, if you want it."

"But I do not want it! I like cold water best!"

"Then it is best for you, but it is not best for this man!"

I had never before seen any such wound as the one I was dressing, but I
could think of but one way--clean it thoroughly, put on clean lint and
rags and bandages, without hurting the patient, and this was very easy
to do; but while I did this, I wanted to do something more, viz.: dispel
the gloom which hung over that ward. I knew that sick folks should have
their minds occupied by pleasant thoughts, and never addressed an
audience with more care than I talked to that one man, in appearance,
while really talking to all those who lay before me and some to whom my
back was turned.

I could modulate my voice so as to be heard at quite a distance, and yet
cause no jar to very sensitive nerves close at hand; and when I told my
patient that I proposed to punish him now, while he was in my power, all
heard and wondered; then every one was stimulated to learn that it was
to keep him humble, because, having received such a wound in the charge
on Marie's Hill, he would be so proud by and by that common folks would
be afraid to speak to him. I should be quite thrown into the shade by
his laurels, and should probably take my revenge in advance by sticking
pins in him now, when he could not help himself.

This idea proved to be quite amusing, and before I had secured that
bandage, the men seemed to have forgotten their wounds, except as a
source of future pride, and were firing jokes at each other as rapidly
as they had done bullets at the enemy. When, therefore, I proposed
sticking pins into any one else who desired such punishment, there was
quite a demand for my services, and with my basin of tepid water I
started to wet the hard, dry dressings, and leave them to soften before
being removed. Before night I discovered that lint is an instrument of
incalculable torture, and should never be used, as either blood or pus
quickly converts some portion of it into splints, as irritating as a
pine shaving.



About nine o'clock I returned to the man I had come to help, and found
that he still slept. I hoped he might rouse and have some further
message for his wife, before death had finished his work, and so
remained with him, although I was much needed in the "very bad ward."

I had sat by him but a few moments when I noticed a green shade on his
face. It darkened, and his breathing grew labored--then ceased. I think
it was not more than twenty minutes from the time I observed the green
tinge until he was gone. I called the nurse, who brought the large man I
had seen at the door of the bad ward, and now I knew he was a surgeon,
knew also, by the sudden shadow on his face when he saw the corpse, that
he was alarmed; and when he had given minute directions for the removal
of the bed and its contents, the washing of the floor and sprinkling
with chloride of lime, I went close to his side, and said in a low

"Doctor, is not this hospital gangrene?"

He looked down at me, seemed to take my measure, and answered:

"I am very sorry to say, madam, that it is."

"Then you want lemons!"

"We would be glad to have them!" "Glad to have them?" I repeated, in
profound astonishment, "why, you _must_ have them!"

He seemed surprised at my earnestness, and set about explaining:

"We sent to the Sanitary Commission last week, and got half a box."

"Sanitary Commission, and half a box of lemons? How many wounded have

"Seven hundred and fifty."

"Seven hundred and fifty wounded men! Hospital gangrene, and half a box
of lemons!"

"Well, that was all we could get; Government provides none; but our
Chaplain is from Boston--his wife has written to friends there and
expects a box next week!"

"To Boston for a box of lemons!"

I went to the head nurse whom I had scolded in the morning, who now gave
me writing materials, and I wrote a short note to the _New York

"Hospital gangrene has broken out in Washington, and we want lemons!
_lemons!_ LEMONS! ~LEMONS!~ No man or woman in health, has a right to a
glass of lemonade until these men have all they need; send us lemons!"

I signed my name and mailed it immediately, and it appeared next
morning. That day Schuyler Colfax sent a box to my lodgings, and five
dollars in a note, bidding me send to him if more were wanting; but that
day lemons began to pour into Washington, and soon, I think, into every
hospital in the land. Gov. Andrews sent two hundred boxes to the Surgeon
General. I received so many, that at one time there were twenty ladies,
several of them with ambulances, distributing those which came to my
address, and if there was any more hospital gangrene that season I
neither saw nor heard of it.

The officers in Campbell knew of the letter, and were glad of the
supplies it brought, but some time passed before they identified the
writer as the little sister in the bad ward, who had won the reputation
of being the "best wound-dresser in Washington."



Rules required me to leave Campbell at five o'clock, but the sun was
going down, and I lay on a cot, in the bad ward, feeling that going
home, or anywhere else, was impossible, when that large doctor came,
felt my pulse, laid his hand on my brow, and said:

"You must not work so hard or we will lose you! I have been hunting for
you to ask if you would like to remain with us?"

"Like to remain with you? Well, you will have to send a file of soldiers
with fixed bayonets to drive me away."

He laughed quite heartily, and said:

"We do not want you to go away. I am executive officer; Surgeon Kelley
and Dr. Baxter, surgeon in charge, has commissioned me to say that if
you wish to stay, he will have a room prepared for you. He hunted for
you to say so in person, but is gone; now I await your decision. Shall I
order you a room?"

"Surgeon Baxter! Why--what does he know about me?"

"Oh, Surgeon Baxter, two medical inspectors, and the surgeon of this
ward were present this morning when you came in and took possession."

His black eyes twinkled, and he shook with laughter when I sat up,
clasped my hands, and said:

"Oh, dear? Were they the men who were standing around Charlie? Why I
had not dreamed of them being surgeons!"

"Did you not know by their shoulders traps?"

"Shoulderstraps? Do surgeons have shoulderstraps? I thought only
officers wore them!"

"Well, surgeons are officers, and you can know by my shoulderstraps that
I am a surgeon."

"Oh, I do not mind you; but Dr. Baxter! How I did behave before him!
What must he have thought? And he does not allow women to come here!"

"Well. You passed inspection; and as you propose to stay with us, I will
have a room prepared for you."

He then went on to state that the reason Doctor Baxter would not have
female nurses, was that he would not submit to Miss Dix's interference,
did not like the women she chose, and army regulations did not permit
him to employ any other.

"But," he continued, "no one can object to his entertaining a guest, and
as his guest you can employ your time as you wish."

Ah! what a glorious boon it was, this privilege of work, and my little
barrack-room, just twice the width of my iron cot. I would not have
exchanged for any suite in Windsor palace.



Nothing was more needed in the bad ward, than an antidote for
homesickness, and, to furnish this, I used my talking talent to the
utmost, but no subject was so interesting as myself. I was the mystery
of the hour. Charlie was commissioned to make discoveries, and the
second day came, with a long face, and said:

"Do you know what they say about you?"

"No indeed! and suspect I should never guess."

"Well, they say you're an old maid!"

I stopped work, rose from my knees, confronted him and exclaimed, with
an injured air:

"An old maid! Why Charlie! is it possible you let them talk in that
manner about me, after the nice pickles I gave you?"

The pickles had made him sick, and now there was a general laugh at his
expense, but he stuck to his purpose and said:

"Well, ain't you on old maid?"

"An old maid, Charlie? Did any one ever see such a saucy boy?"

"Oh, but tell us, good earnest, ain't you an old maid?"

"Well then, good earnest, Charlie, I expect I shall be one, if I live to
be old enough."

"Live to be old enough! How old do you call yourself?"

I set down my basin, counted on my fingers, thought it over and

"Well, if I live two months and five days longer, I shall be sixteen."

Then there was a shout at Charlie's expense, and I resumed my work,
grave as an owl. That furnished amusement until it grew stale, when
Charlie came to ask me my name, and I told him it was Mrs. Snooks.

"Mrs. Snooks?" repeated a dozen men, who looked sadly disappointed, and
Charlie most of all, as I added:

"Yes; Mrs. Timothy Snooks, of Snooksville, Minnesota."

This was worse and worse. It was evident no one liked the name, but all,
save one, were too polite to say so, and he roared out:

"I don't believe a word of it!"

I sat at some distance with my back to him, dressing a wound; and,
without turning, said,

"Why? What is the matter with you?"

"I don't believe that such a looking woman as you are ever married a
fellow by the name of Snooks:"

"That is because you are not acquainted with the Snooks' family: brother
Peter's wife is a much better looking woman than I am!"

"Good lookin'!" he sneered; "call yourself good lookin', do you?"

"Well, I think you intimated as much, did he not boys?"

They all said he had, and the laugh was turned on him; but he exclaimed

"I don't care! I'm not goin' to call you Snooks!"

"And what do you propose to call me?"

"I'll call you Mary."

"But Mary is not my name."

"I don't care! It's the name of all the nice girls I know!"

"Very good! I too shall probably be a nice girl if I live to grow up,
but just now it seems as if I should die in infancy--am too good to

"You're the greatest torment ever any man saw."

The last pin was in that bandage; I arose, turned, and the thought
flashed through my brain, "a tiger." His eyes literally blazed, and I
went to him, looking straight into them, just as I had done into Tom's
more than once. A minnie rifle ball had passed through his right ankle,
and when I saw him first the flesh around the wound was purple and the
entire limb swollen almost to bursting. The ward master told me he had
been given up three days before, and was only waiting his turn to be
carried to the dead house. Next morning the surgeon confirmed the
account, said he had been on the amputation table and sent away in hope
the foot might be saved, adding:

"I think we were influenced by the splendor of the man's form. It seemed
sacrilege to mangle such a leg then, before we knew it was too late."

I thought the inflammation might be removed. He said if that were done
they could amputate and save him, and the conversation ended in the
surgeon giving the man to me to experiment on my theory. This seemed to
be generally known, and the case was watched with great interest. No one
interfered with my treatment of him, and nurses designated him to me as
"your man."

He was a cross between a Hercules and Apollo--grey-eyed, brown-haired,
the finest specimen of physical manhood I have ever seen, and now his
frail hold on life was endangered by the rage into which I had
unwittingly thrown him. So I sat bathing and soothing him, looking ever
and anon steadily into his eyes, and said:

"You had better call me mother."

"Mother!" he snarled, "You my mother!"

"Why not?"

"Why, you're not old enough!"

"I am twice as old as you are!

"No, you 're not; and another thing, you're not big enough!" He raised
his head, surveyed me leisurely and contemptuously, his dark silky
moustache went up against his handsome nose as he sank back and said

"Why, you-'re-not-much-bigger-'an-a-bean!"

"Still, I am large enough to take care of you and send you back to your
regiment if you are reasonable: but no one can do anything for you if
you fly into a rage in this way!"

"Yes! and you know that, and you put me in a rage going after them other
fellows. You know I've got the best right to you. I claimed you soon as
you come in the door, and called you afore you got half down the ward.
You said you'd take care of me and now you don't do it. The surgeon give
me to you too. You know I can't live if you don't save me, and you don't
care if I die!"

I was penitent and conciliatory, and promised to be good, when he said

"Yes! and I'll call you Mary!"

"Very well, Mary is a good name--it was my mother's, and I shall no
doubt come to like it."

"I guess it is a good name! It was my mother's name too, and any woman
might be glad to be called Mary. But I never did see a woman 'at had any

He soon growled himself to sleep, and from that time I called him "Ursa
Major;" but he only slept about half an hour, when a nurse in great
fright summoned me. They had lifted him and he had fainted.

I helped to put him back into bed, and bathed him until consciousness
returned, when he grasped my wrist with a vice-like hold and groaned.

"Oh God! Oh mother! Is this death?"

I heard no more of Miss Mary, or nice girls; but God and mother and
death were often on his lips.

To the great surprise of every one I quelled the inflammation and fever,
banished the swelling, and got him into good condition, when the foot
was amputated and shown to me. The ankle joint was ground into small
pieces, and these were mingled with bits of leather and woolen sock. No
wonder the inflammation had been frightful; but it was some time after
that before I knew the foot might have been saved by making a sufficient
opening from the outside, withdrawing the loose irritating matter, and
keeping an opening through which nature could have disposed of her
waste. I do not know if surgery have yet discovered this plain,
common-sense rule, but tens of thousands of men have died, and tens of
thousands of others have lost limbs because it was not known and acted
upon. All those men who died of gun-shot flesh wounds were victims to
surgical stupidity.

I nursed the cross man until he went about on crutches, and his faith in
me was equal in perfection to his form, for he always held that I could
"stop this pain" if I would, and rated me soundly if I was "off in ward
Ten" when he wanted me. One day he scolded worse than usual, and soon
after an Irishman said, in an aside:

"Schure mum, an' ye mustn't be afther blamin' de rist av us fur that
fellow's impidence. Schure, an' there's some av us that 'ud kick him out
av the ward, if we could, for the way he talks to ye afther all that you
have done for 'im an' fur all av us."

"Why! why! How can you feel so? What difference is it to me how he
talks? It does him good to scold, and what is the use of a man having a
mother if he cannot scold her when he is in pain? I wish you would all
scold me! It would do you ever so much good. You quite break my heart
with your patience. Do, please be as cross as bears, all of you,
whenever you feel like it, and I will get you well in half the time."

"Schure mum, an' nobody iver saw the likes of ye!"

A man was brought from a field hospital, and laid in our ward, and one
evening his stump was giving him great pain, when the cross man advised
him to send for me, and exclaimed:

"There's mother, now; send for her."

"Oh!" groaned the sufferer, "what can she do?"

"I don't know what she can do; an' she don't know what she can do; but
just you send for her! She'll come, and go to fussin' an' hummin' about
just like an old bumble-bee, an' furst thing you know you won't know
nothin', for the pain'll be gone an' you'll be asleep."



The second or third day of my hospital work, Mrs. Gaylord, the
Chaplain's wife, came and inquired to what order I belonged, saying that
the officers of the hospital were anxious to know. I laughed, and told
her I belonged exclusively to myself, and did not know of any order
which would care to own me. Then she very politely inquired my name, and
I told her it was Mrs. Jeremiah Snooks, when she went away, apparently
doubting my statement. I had been in Campbell almost a week, when Dr.
Kelly came and said:

"Madam, I have been commissioned by the officers of this hospital to
ascertain your name. None of us know how to address you, and it is very
awkward either in speaking to you, or of you, not to be able to name

"Doctor, will not Mrs. Snooks do for a name, for all the time I shall be

"No, madam, it will not do."

I was very unwilling to give my name, which was prominently before the
public, on account of my Indian lecture and _Tribune_ letters, but I
seemed to have at least a month's work to do in Campbell. Hospital
stores were pouring in to my city address, and being sent to me at a
rate which created much wonder, and the men who had given me their
confidence had a right to know who I was.

So I gave my name, and must repeat it before the Doctor could realize
the astounding fact; even then he took off his cap and said:

"It is not possible you are _the_ Mrs. ----, the lady who lectured in
Doctor Sunderland's church!"

So I was proclaimed, with a great flourish of trumpets. For two hours my
patients seemed afraid of me, and it did seem too bad to merge that
giantess of the bean-pole and the press and the tall woman of the
platform both in poor little insignificant me! It was like blotting out
the big bear and the middle-sized bear from the old bear story, and
leaving only the one poor little bear to growl over his pot of porridge.

In Ward Five was one man who had been laid on his left side, and never
could be moved while he lived. His right arm suffered for lack of
support, and when I knelt to give him nourishment from a spoon, and pray
with him that the deliverer would soon come, he always laid that arm
over my shoulders. The first time I knelt there after I was known, he

"Ah, you are such a great lady, and do not mind a poor soldier laying
his arm over you!"

"Christ, the great Captain of our Salvation," I replied, "gathers you in
his arms and pillows your head upon his bosom. Am I greater than he?
Your good right arm has fought for liberty, and it is an honor to
support it, when you are no longer able."

But nothing else I could ever say to him, was so much comfort as the old
cry of the sufferer by the wayside, "Jesus, thou son of David, have
mercy on me."

Over and over again we said that prayer in concert, while he waited in
agony for the only relief possible--that of death; and from our last
interview I returned to the bad ward, so sad that I felt the shadow of
my face fall upon every man in it. I could not drive away death's gloom;
but I could work and talk, and both work and talk were needed.

I sat down between two young Irishmen, both with wounded heads, and
began to bathe them, and comfort them, and said:

"If you are not better in the morning, I shall amputate both those
heads; they shall not plague you in this manner another day."

Maybe my sad face made this funny, for their sense of the ridiculous was
so touched that they clasped their sore heads and shrieked with
laughter. Every man in the ward caught the infection, and I was called
upon for explanations of the art of amputating heads, and inquiries as
to Surgeon Baxter's capacity of performing the operation.

This grotesque idea proved a fruitful subject of conversation, and aided
in leading sufferers away from useless sorrow, toward hope and health;
and bad as the ward was we lost but two men in it.



In that sad ward one superior, intelligent young man, who was thought to
be doing well, suddenly burst an artery, and ropes were put up to warn
visitors and others not to come in, and we who were in, moved with bated
breath lest some motion should start the life-current. While his last
hope was on a stillness which forbade him to move a finger, two lady
visitors came to the door, were forbidden to enter, but seeing me
inside, must follow the sheep instinct of the sex, and go where any
other woman had gone. So, with pert words, they forced their way in,
made a general flutter, and, oh horror! one of them caught her hoops on
the iron cot of the dying man. He was only saved from a severe jerk by
the prompt intervention of the special nurse. They were led out as
quietly as possible, but the man had received a slight jerk and a
serious shock. The hemorrhage would probably have returned if they had
not come in, but it did return, and the young, strong life ebbed
steadily away in a crimson current which spread over the floor.

From that day until the end of my hospital work, one fact forced itself
upon my attention, and this is, that with all the patriotism of the
American women, during that war, and all their gush of sympathy for the
soldier, a vast majority were much more willing to "kiss him for his
mother" than render him any solid service, and that not one in a hundred
of the women who succeeded in getting into hospitals would dress so as
not to be an object of terror to men whose life depended on quiet.

Women were capable of any heroism save wearing a dress suitable for
hospital work. The very, very few who laid aside their hoops, those
instruments of dread and torture, generally donned bloomers, and gave
offense by airs of independence.

Good women would come long distances to see dying husbands, brothers and
sons, and fill the wards with alarm by their hoops. When any one was
hurt by them they were very sorry, but never gave up the cause of
offense, while their desire to look well, and the finery and fixings
they donned to improve their appearance, was a very broad and painful
burlesque. Women were seldom permitted to stay in a hospital over night,
even with a dying friend, and the inhabitants were generally glad when
they started for home.

It was the dress nuisance which caused nuns to have the preference in so
many cases; but I could not see or hear that they ever did anything but
make converts to the church and take care of clothing and jellies.

One thing is certain, _i.e._, that women never can do efficient and
general service in hospitals until their dress is prescribed by laws
inexorable as those of the Medes and Persians. Then, that dress should
be entirely destitute of steel, starch, whale-bone, flounces, and
ornaments of all descriptions; should rest on the shoulders, have a
skirt from the waist to the ankle, and a waist which leaves room for
breathing. I never could have done my hospital work but for the dress
which led most people to mistake me for a nun.



In the wilderness of work I must choose, and began to select men who had
been given up by the surgeons, and whom I thought might be saved by
special care. Surgeon Kelly soon entered into my plan, and made his ward
my headquarters. To it my special patients were brought, until there was
no more room for them. That intuitive perception of the natural position
of muscles, and the importance of keeping them in it, which came to me
on first seeing a wound dressed, gave me such control over pain that I
used to go through the wards between midnight and morning and put
amputation cases to sleep at the rate of one in fifteen minutes.

In these morning walks I saw that the nurses were on duty and had
substantial refreshments, saw those changes for the worse, sure to come,
if they came at all, in those chill hours. Seeing them soon was
important to meeting them successfully, and I succeeded in breaking up
many a chill before it did serious damage, which must have proved fatal
if left until the morning visit of the Surgeon. Also, in those walks I
chose special cases; have more than once sat down by a man and
calculated in this way:

"You may have twenty, forty years of useful life, if I can save you; I
shall certainly die one year sooner for the labor I expend on you, but
there will be a large gain in the average of life and usefulness; and
when you risked all of your life for the country as much mine as yours,
it is but just that I should give a small part of mine to save you."

Every man lived whom I elected to life, and Dr. Kelly, who knew more
than any one else about my plans, and on whom I most counted for aid,
has said that I saved enough to the government in bounty money, by
returning men to duty who would otherwise have died, to warrant it in
supporting me the balance of my life; but his statements could not
always be relied upon, for he insisted that I never slept, had not been
asleep during the seven weeks spent in Campbell, was a witch and would
float like a cork, if thrown from the Long Bridge into the Potomac.

In selecting a man in desperate case to be saved, I always took his
temperament and previous life into consideration. A man of pure life and
sanguine temperament was hard to kill. Give him the excuse of good
nursing and he would live through injuries which must be fatal to a
bilious, suspicious man, or one who had been guilty of any excess. A
tobacco chewer or smoker died on small provocation. A drunkard or
debauchee was killed by a scratch.

There were two ward surgeons who disapproved of the innovation of a
woman in Campbell, and especially of one held amenable to no rules. They
were both in favor of heroic treatment, which I did not care to witness,
and I spent little time in their wards. One of them kept a man, with two
bricks tied to his foot and hanging over the foot of the bed, until he
died, after ten days of a sleepless agony such as could not well have
been excelled in an Inquisition; while his wife tried to comfort him
under a torture she begged in vain to have remitted. The night after
she started home with his body, I was passing through the ward, when I
came upon a young Philadelphia Zouave in a perfect paroxysm of anguish.
Three nurses stood around him, and to my inquiry "What _is_ the matter?"
replied by dumb show that coming death was the matter, and that soon all
would be over; while in words they told me he had not slept for
forty-eight hours.

I had one place a chair for me, sat down, and with my long, thin hands
grasped the thigh stump, which was making all the trouble, drew and
pressed the muscle into a natural, easy position, cooed and talked and
comforted the sufferer, as I should have done a sick baby, and in ten
minutes he was asleep.

Then I whispered the nurses to bring cotton and oakum, and little
cushions; made them put the cotton and oakum, in small tufts, to my
index fingers; and while I crooned my directions in a sing-song lullaby
air, I worked in this support, gradually and imperceptibly withdrawing
my hands, until I could substitute the little cushions for the force by
which they held the muscle in proper position. This done, my boy-soldier
slept as sweetly as ever he had done in his crib.

Next morning a nurse came running for me to hurry to him. He had slept
six hours, waked, had his breakfast, and had his wound dressed, and now
the pain was back bad as ever. I went, fixed the mangled muscle with
reference to his change of position, made a half-mould to hold it there,
and before I had finished he began an eight-hour sleep. Ten days after
he was sent home to his mother, and I saw or heard of him no more.



The other ward in which I was not welcome, adjoined that one in which my
room was situated, and to reach it I must go out of doors or pass
through one-half the length of that ward. In these passages I had an
opportunity for studying Piemia and its ordinary treatment, and could
give the men lemonade when they wanted it.

In this ward lay a young German with a wounded ankle. He had a broad,
square forehead, skin white as wax, large blue eyes and yellow hair,
inclined to curl. His whole appearance indicated high culture, and an
organization peculiarly sensitive to pleasure or pain; but no one seemed
to understand that he suffered more than others from a like cause.

Surgeon and nurses scoffed at his moans, and thought it babyish, for a
muscular man over six feet to show so many signs of pain. I think that
from some cause, the surgeon felt vindictive toward him, and that his
subordinates took their cue from him. When I went to give him lemonade,
he would clutch my hand or dress, look up in my face, and plead:

"Oh, mutter! mutter!"

But if I sat down to soothe and comfort him, a nurse always came to
remind me of the surgeon's orders, and I used to go around on the
outside, that he might not see and call me. When he was in the
amputation room I heard his shrieks and groans, and carried a glass of
wine to the door for him.

He heard my voice, and called "Mutter! mutter!"

I pushed past the orderly, ran to him, and his pleading eyes seemed to
devour me as he fastened his gaze on my face. I cannot think to this day
why be should have been nude for the amputation of a foot; but he was,
and some one threw a towel across his loins as I approached.

Dr. Baxter said:

"No sympathy! no sympathy!"

So I stood by him, placed a hand on each side of his corrugated brow,
steadied my voice and said:

"Be a man and a soldier!"

He had asked me for bread; I gave him a stone, and no wonder he dashed
it back in my face. With a fierce cry he said:

"I hev been a man and a sojer long enough!"

Ah! verily had he, and much too long. Days before that he should have
been "a boy again;" aye, a baby, a very infant--should have been soothed
and softened and comforted with all the tenderness of mother-love; but
even now, in this cruel extremity, every sign of sympathy was denied
him. Some one put a hand gently but firmly on each of my shoulders,
turned my back to him, took me out of the room, and I hurried away,
while the air shuddered with his shrieks and groans. After he had been
brought back to his place in the ward I could often hear him as I passed
to and from my room, and even while I occupied it.

Once he saw me through the open door, and called, "Mutter! mutter!"

I went, knelt by him, took his hands, which were stretched appealingly
to me, and spoke comforting words, while his blue eyes seemed ready to
start from their sockets, as he clung to my hands with the old familiar

"Oh, Mutter! Mutter!"

He was strapped down to his iron cot, about as closely as he had been to
the amputation table, and the cot fastened to the floor. I had not been
five minutes at his side when his special nurse hurried up and warned me
to leave, saying:

"It's surgeon's orders. He's not going to have any babyin'!"

I drew my hands from the frantic grasp, took away that last hold on
human sympathy, and hurried oat, while his cry of "Oh, mutter! mutter!"
rung in my ears as I turned and looked on his pure high brow for the
last time.

Next morning I heard he had lock-jaw, and that the surgeon was to leave.

The night after that victim of some frightful, fiendish experiment had
been carried to the dead-house, I was passing through the ward, when
attracted by sounds of convulsive weeping, and I found a young man in an
agony of grief, in one of those sobbing fits sure to come to the
bravest. He was in a high fever, and while I bathed his face and hands,
I asked the cause of his outbreak, and he sobbed:

"Oh, the pain in my wound! This is the third night I have not slept, and
my God! I can bear it no longer!"

It was a flesh-wound in the thigh, such an one as usually proved fatal,
and while I set him to talking I began patching scraps of observation
into a theory. He was from Pennsylvania, and bitterly charged his State
with having done nothing for her wounded, and when I asked why he had
not sent for me, he said:

"Oh, I thought you were from Massachusetts, like all the rest of them;
and if my own State would do nothing for me, I would not beg. People
come here every day looking for Massachusetts soldiers. Since I have
been frantic here, ladies have come and stood and looked at me, and said
'Poor fellow!' as if I had been a dog. I was as well raised as any of
them, even if I am a common soldier."

I thought his recovery very doubtful, and talked to draw his thoughts to
the better land. To his charges against his native land, I said: "I am a
Pennsylvanian; and more than that, the Governor of Pennsylvania sent me
to you; bade me come to-night, that you might know he had not forgotten

"He did? Why, how did he know anything about it?"

"He just knows all about it, and has been caring for you all this time.
I do not mean Andy Curtin. He is nothing but a subaltern; but the dear
Lord, our Father in Heaven, who never forgets us, though he often
afflicts us. He sent me to you now, that you might know he loves you. It
was he who made me love you and care to help you. All the love and care
that come to you are a part of his love."

"He wept afresh but less bitterly, and said:

"Oh you will think I am a baby!"

"Well! That is just what you ought to be. Your past life is sufficient
certificate of manhood; and now has come your time to be a baby, while
I am mother. You have been lying here like an engine, under a high
pressure of steam, and the safety-value fastened down with a billet of
wood, until there has been almost an explosion. Now just take away that
stick of wood--your manhood and pride, and let out all the groans and
tears you have pent in your heart. Cry all you can! This is your time
for crying!"

When I had talked him into a mood to let me feel if his feet were warm,
I found that wounded limb dreadfully swollen, cold almost as death,
stretched out as he lay on his back, and a cushion right under the heel.
Had there been no wound the position must have been unendurable. Without
letting him know, I drew that cushion up until it filled the hollow
between the heel and calf of the leg, and supported the strained muscle,
tucked a handful of oakum under the knee, moved the toes, brushed and
rubbed the foot, until circulation started, sponged it, rolled it in
flannel, of which I had a supply in my basket, washed the well foot, and
put a warm woolen sock on it, arranged the cover so that it would not
rest on the toes of the sore leg; told him to get the new surgeon next
morning to make a large opening on the lower side of his thigh, where
the bullet had gone out--to ask him to cut lengthwise of the muscle; get
out everything he could, that ought not to be in there; keep that
opening open with a roll of bandage, so that old Mother Nature should
have a trap-door through which she could throw her chips out of that
work-shop in his thigh; to be sure and not hint to the surgeon that I
had said anything about it, and not fail to have it done.

I left him asleep, and the next day he told me the surgeon had taken a
quart of pus and several pieces of woolen cloth out of his wound, and
his recovery was rapid.



In making molds and rests for mangled limbs, I had large demands for
little cushions, and without economy could not get enough. When one just
fitted a place I wanted to keep it, and to do this, must have it aired,
perhaps washed. To avoid lint dressings, I hunted pieces of soft, table
linen, gave to patients pieces to suit, and as the supply was short they
would get nurses and surgeons to leave their pieces of linen, after
dressing their wounds until I should take charge, and have them cleansed
for next time. To do all this, I must use the grass-plats and railings
for airing and drying cushions and rags. These plats and railings were
for ornament, and there was soon a protest against putting them to "such
vile uses." I had gone into the hospital with the stupid notion that its
primary object was the care and comfort of the sick and wounded. It was
long after that I learned that a vast majority of all benevolent
institutions are gotten up to gratify the asthetic tastes of the public;
exhibit the wealth and generosity of the founders, and furnish places
for officers. The beneficiaries of the institutions are simply an
apology for their existence, and having furnished that apology, the less
said about them the better.

The surgeons of Campbell did really want its patients to be happy and
get well; but it was a model institution, with a reputation to sustain;
was part of a system under general laws, which might not be broken with
impunity. There was no law against a man dying for want of sleep from
pain caused by misplaced muscle; but the statutes against litter were
inexorable as those of the Medes and Persians. The Campbell surgeons
winked at my litter, until one regular inspection day, when my cushions
and rags, clean and unclean, those marked John Smith, and those labeled
Tom Brown, were all huddled up and stuffed _en masse_ into the pantry

I used to wonder if the Creator had invented a new variety of idiot, and
made a lot in order to supply the army with medical inspectors, or, if
by some cunning military device, the Surgeon-General had been able to
select all those conglomerations of official dignity and asinine
stupidity, from the open donkey-market of the world. Inspecting a
hospital was just like investigating an Indian fraud. The man whose work
was to be inspected or investigated, met the inspector or investigator
at the door, showed him all he wished him to see and examine witnesses
wholly in his power--when the inspected and inspector, the investigated
and investigator exchanged compliments, and the public were gratified to
learn that all was in a most gratifying condition of perfect order.

One day we had a particularly searching inspection, and next day nurse
told me of some four new cases which had been brought in a week before,
one of whom the inspectors said was past hope. I found his feet and
legs with, a crust on them like the shell of a snail; had a piece of
rubber cloth laid under them, and with tepid water, a good crash towel,
and plenty of rubbing, got down to the skin, which I rubbed well with
lard. Then with fresh towels and water at hand, I drew away the sheet in
which the patient had rolled his head, and while I washed his head and
arms and breast, I talked, and he tried to answer; but it was some time
before he could steady his tongue and lips so as to articulate, and when
he did, his first words were:

"Are you the woman that's been a-washin' my feet?"

"That is exactly what I have been doing, and much need they had of it.
Do you not think you are a pretty fellow to have me come all the way
from Minnesota to wash your feet?"

It was with much effort he could fix his dazed eyes on my face, and he
made several pitiful attempts before he succeeded in saying:

"I think ye'r the best woman that ever I saw!"

"Ah, that is because you never saw much, away out there in Venango
county, Pennsylvania, where you live. There are thousands of better
women than I, running around hunting work, in this part of the country."

"Is there?"

"Yes, indeed; and nothing for them to do!"

"I never saw none uv 'em!"

"That is because you have had your head rolled up in that sheet. Just
keep your head uncovered, so you can breathe this nice, fresh air; open
your eyes every little while, and you will see a whole row of those
women, all hunting work!"

He seemed quite interested, and when I had done washing and given
directions to a nurse to cleanse the balance of his person, I asked if
there was anything more I could do for him, when he stammered:

"Not unless you could get me a cup of tea--a cup of good green tea,
'thout any milk or sugar in it. If you do, I'll pay you for it."

"Pay me for it, will you? and how much will you give me--three cents?"

"Oh, I'll give you twenty-five cents."

"Twenty-five cents for a cup of good green tea, without any milk or
sugar in it!"

I called the ward to witness the bargain, said I should grow rich at
that rate, and hurried off for the tea.

I had a little silver tray and tea-set, with two china cups. Mrs.
Gangewer, of the Ohio Aid Society, had sent me a tin tea-kettle and
spirit-lamp; folks at a distance had sent plenty of the best tea; and
that little tea-tray had become a prominent feature of Campbell long
before this poor fellow specified his want. I made the tray unusually
attractive that day, and fed him his tea from a spoon, while he admired
the tiny pot, out of which, with the aid of the kettle, I could furnish
twenty cups of good tea. When I had served all in that ward who wanted
tea, the first one took a second cup, and while taking it his skin grew
moist, and I knew he was saved from that death of misplaced matter
vulgarly called "dirt," to which well-paid medical inspectors had
consigned him, while giving their invaluable scientific attention to
floor-scrubbing and bed-making, to whitewashing and laundry-work.

I doubt if there were a Medical Inspector in the army who was not a
first rate judge of the art of folding and ironing a sheet or
pillow-slip; of the particular tuck which brought out the outlines of
the corners of a mattress, as seen through a counterpane; and of the art
and mystery of cleaning a floor. It did seem as if they had all reached
office through their great proficiency as cabin-boys.

Next day I went to that ward with my tea-tray; and after learning that
that man had been washed once more, asked him if he wanted another cup
of tea.

"I'd like to have one," he stammered; "but I didn't pay you for the last
one, and I can't find my wallet!"

I saw the debt troubled him, and took this as one more evidence that
somewhere there were people who sold hospital stores to sick soldiers.
So I took pains to explain that he owed me nothing; that the tea was
his--ladies had sent it to me to give to him--and all the pay they
wanted was for him to get well, and go home to his mother.

The idea that some one was thinking for him seemed to do him almost as
much good as the tea.

I left Campbell next day, but on my first visit found him convalescing,
and on the second visit he ran down the ward holding his sides and
laughing, and I saw or heard of him no more.



About ten days after I went to Campbell, I was called at midnight to a
death-bed. It was a case of flesh-wound in the thigh, and the whole limb
was swollen almost to bursting, so cold as to startle by the touch, and
almost as transparent as glass. I knew this was piemia and that for it
medical science had no cure; but I wanted to warm that cold limb, to
call circulation back to that inert mass. The first thought was warm,
wet compresses, hot bricks, hot flannel; but the kitchen was locked, and
it was little I could do without fire, except to receive and write down
his dying messages to parents, and the girl who was waiting to be his

When the surgeon's morning hour came he still lived; and at my
suggestion the warm compresses were applied. He said, "they feel so
good," and was quite comforted by them, but died about ten o'clock. I
was greatly grieved to think he had suffered from cold the last night of
life, but how avoid any number of similar occurrences? There was no
artificial heat in any of the wards. A basin of warm water was only to
be obtained by special favor of the cooks; but they had been very
courteous. The third day of my appearance among them, one looked up over
the edge of the tub over which he bent, washing potatoes, and said, as I
stood waiting for hot water,

"Do you know what you look like going around here among us fellows?"

"No! but nothing dreadful I hope."

"You just look like an angel, and that's what we all think; we're ever
so much better since you came."

The memory of this speech gave me courage to go and lay my trouble
before the cooks, who gathered to hear me tell the story of that death,
the messages left for the friends who should see him no more, and of my
sorrow that I could not drive away the cold on that last, sad night.

They all wiped their eyes on their aprons; head cook went to a cupboard,
brought a key and handed it to me, saying:

"There, mother, is a key of this kitchen; come in here whenever you
please. We will always find room on the ranges for your bricks, and I'll
have something nice in the cupboard every night for you and the nurses."

This proved to be the key to the situation, and after I received that
bit of metal from cook, there was not one death from piemia in any ward
where I was free to work, although I have had as many, I think, as sixty
men struck with the premonitary chill, in one night. I concluded that
"piemia" was French for neglect, and that the antidote was warmth,
nourishing food, stimulants, friction, fresh air and cheerfulness, and
did not hesitate to say that if death wanted to get a man out of my
hands, he must send some other agent than piemia. I do not believe in
the medical theory concerning it; do not believe pus ever gets into the
veins, or that there is any poison about it, except that of ignorance
and indifference on the part of doctors and nurses.



I had searched for Minnesota men in Campbell, found none, and had been
there a week, when Mrs. Kelsey told me there was one in ward ten,
credited to a Wisconsin regiment; and from him I learned that he was a
friend and neighbor of my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft, of
Mantorville, and my conscience reproached me for not sooner finding him;
but the second day Mrs. Gaylord came, as a messenger from the surgeons,
to tell me I need not spend time and strength on him, as he could not be

His was a thigh wound. They had thought to amputate, but found the bone
shattered from joint to joint--had, with a chain saw, cut it off above
the knee, and picked out the bone in pieces. There was a splinter
attached to the upper joint, but that was all the bone left in the
thigh, and the injury was one from which recovery was impossible. His
father, a doctor, was visiting him, and knew he must die.

I went to the patient, who said:

"Dr. True, the ward surgeon has just been here, and tells me I must

I sat by him fitting the measure I had been taking for two days to this
new aspect of the case, and talking of death, and the preparation for
it, until I thought I understood the case, when I said:

"Be ready for death, as every one of any sense should always be; but I
do not intend to let you die."

"I guess you cannot help it! All the surgeons and father agree that
there is no hope for me."

"But they are all liable to be mistaken, and none of them have taken
into the account your courage and recuperative force; your good life and
good conscience; your muscle, like a pine log; your pure breath; your
clear skin and good blood. I do not care what they say, you will live; I
will not let you die!"

I found Dr. Baxter, and said:

"I want you to save Corporal Kendall!"

"Corporal Kendall! who is he?"

"The man out of whose thigh you took the bone last week."

His face grew sad, but he said:

"Oh, we mean to save them all if we can."

"Doctor, that is no answer. I am interested in this man, know his
friends and want to understand his case. If I can keep his stomach in
good working order and well supplied with blood-making food, keep away
chills and keep down pain, so that he can sleep, will he not get well?"

He laughed and replied:

"Well, I really never heard of a man dying under such circumstances."

"I can do that, doctor."

"If you can you will save him, of course, and we will give him to you."

"But, doctor, you must do all the surgery. I must not give him pain;
cannot see that wound."

"Oh, certainly, we will do everything in our power; but he is yours, for
we have no hope of saving him."

"Another thing, doctor; you will have him brought to Ward Four."

He gave the order at once, adding: "Put him to the right of Howard"--a
young Philadelphian with a thigh stump, who was likely to die of
hemorrhage, and whose jerking nerves I could soothe and quiet better
than any one else.

By this arrangement the man minus a thigh bone was placed in the center
of my field of labor, and under the care of Dr. Kelly; but full ten days
after this arrangement was made, he came with a rueful face and said:

"We have consulted the Surgeon-General, Medical Inspector, and a dozen
other surgeons outside the hospital, and they all agree that there is no
hope for Kendall. The surgeons here have commissioned me to tell you,
for we think you ought to know. We all appreciate what you are doing,
and think you will save all your other men if you live, but you cannot
stand this strain long. You do not know it; but there is a limit to your
powers of endurance, and you are breaking. You certainly will die if you
keep on as you have been going, and it is not worth your while to kill
yourself for Kendall, for you cannot save him."

"What is the reason he cannot be saved?"

"Well, there are several reasons. First, I performed the operation, and
did not do it as thoroughly as I wished. He was coming out from under
the influence of the chloroform, and they hurried me. The case was
hopeless, and no use to give him pain, so there are several pieces of
bone which I failed to find. These are driven into the flesh, and nature
in trying to get rid of them will get up such excessive suppuration that
he must die of exhaustion. Then there is the thigh without a bone, and
there is nothing in the books to warrant a hope that it could heal in
that condition. We could not, in any case, hope for the formation of a
new bone. There are re-sections of two inches, but this is the longest
new formation of which we know anything, and in this case there can be
no hope, because the periosteum is destroyed."

"Periosteum, doctor. What is that, again?"

"It is the bone-feeder; the strong membrane which incloses the bone, and
through which it is made. In this case it is absolutely destroyed,
removed, torn to shreds--gone. So there are several reasons why he
cannot be saved."

"Doctor Kelly, do you intend to let him lie there and die?"

"Oh no! oh no! I will do all in my power for him. I am paid for that; it
is my duty; but it is not your duty to sacrifice your own life in a vain
effort to save another."

"Doctor Kelly, he _shall_ not die; I will not let him. I know nothing
about your books and bones; but he can live with one bone wanting, and I
tell you he shall not die, and I will not die either."

It was a week or more after this conversation I found my patient, one
morning, with blue lips and a pinched nose, and said to him:

"What is this?"

"Well, I had a chill last night."

"A chill and did not send for me?"

"You were here until after midnight, and must have some rest."

"Corporal Kendall, how _dare_ you talk to me in that manner? You
promised to send for me if there were any change for the worse; and
after this I cannot trust you. Now I must stay here. Do you think I am
going to lose my investment in you? Do you suppose I would work over you
as I have been doing, and then drop you for fear of a little more work?"

As I passed to the kitchen I found that blue lips and pinched noses had
suddenly come into fashion; that there were more of them than I had time
to count; but did not, for a moment, dream of letting a man get into the
graveyard by that gate.

The merry, young Irishman who had volunteered as my orderly, had a
period of active service; and no more willing pair of hands and feet
ever were interposed between men and death. Hot bricks, hot blankets,
bottles of hot water, hot whisky punch and green tea were the order of
the forenoon, and of a good many hours of night and day after it; for
that victory was won by a long struggle. For ten nights I never lay down
in my room; but slept, all I did sleep, lying on a cot about the center
of Ward Four, and two cots from the man minus a bone. I could drop
asleep in an instant, and sleep during ordinary movements; but a change
in a voice brought me to my post in a moment. I could command anything
in the dispensary or store-rooms at any hour of the day or night, and
carried many a man through the crisis of a night attack, when if he had
been left until discovered in the morning, there would have been little
hope for him; and when a surgeon could have done nothing without a key
to the kitchen which none of them had.

I kept no secrets from any of them: told each one just what I had done
in his ward; thankfully received his approval and directions, asked
about things I did not understand, and was careful that my nursing was
in harmony with his surgery.

During that trial-time there was one night that death seemed to be
gaining the victory in Corporal Kendall's case. Pain defied my utmost
efforts and held the citadel. Sleep fled; the circulation grew sluggish,
and both he and I knew that the result hung on the hour. It was two
o'clock A.M., and from midnight I had been trying to bring rest. The
injured limb was suspended in a zinc trough. I had raised, lowered it by
imperceptible motions; cut bandage where it seemed to bind, tucked in
bits of cotton or oakum, kept the toes in motion, irritated the surface
wherever I could get the point of a finger in through the bandages; kept
up the heat of the body, and the hope of the soul; and sat down to hold
his hands and try mesmeric passes and sounds, when he turned his head on
the pillow, and said:

"Even if I should get well, I'll never be fit for infantry service

"No, you never will."

"I might walk with that machine you talk of; but never could march and
carry a knapsack! But I have been thinking. I am a pretty good
engineer. You know Secretary Stanton? You might get me transferred to
the Navy, and I could run an engine on a gunboat."

"That is it, exactly! You will get over this! I will have you
transferred to a gunboat, and next time you will go into the Rebellion
prow foremost. You ought to be at work, in time to help take

I continued to talk, in a sing-song croone, to stroke his
head, and hold his hand, until he slept, which was but a few moments
after settling that transfer, and the last time I saw him, which was in
'79, he got over the ground and up and down stairs, as fast as most
people, his new bone being quite as good as any of the old ones, except
being a little short and decidedly crooked, although the crook did not
effect its usefulness or general appearance.



James Bride, who drew me to Campbell, by asking for "something to quench
thirst," was one of the thousands who died of flesh-wounds, for want of
surgical trap doors, through which nature might throw out her chips. His
wound was in the hip, and no opening ever was made to the center of the
injury, except that made by the bullet which had gone in and staid

His mother came three days before he died, and being minus hoops and
finery, the ward surgeon was anxious she should remain with her son, and
we arranged that she should sleep in my room. There was just space
between the cot and wall for the breadth of a mattress, and when the
door was shut, that space was long enough, for me to lie between the
door and the stand. I have never entertained a guest more cheerfully, or
one by whose presence I felt more honored; yet the traveling costume was
a short calico dress, strong leather shoes and blue woolen stockings,
visible below the dress, a gingham sunbonnet and double-bordered cap
tied under her chin.

Several richly dressed ladies came from Eastern cities to see dying
relatives, but to none of them were the surgeons so thoroughly
respectful, as to this plain, strong, clean, high-souled country-woman,
who staid with her son, and was hailed with joy by all the men in his
ward, to every one of whom she was sympathetic and helpful.

Her case was hard. She and her husband, who was old and feeble, had just
three sons, two strong and vigorous, one a cripple. Their two vigorous
sons enlisted together, and fell in the charge on Marie's Hill, within
ten feet and ten minutes of each other. William was buried on the
battle-field, and she had come to see James die in hospital.

When all was over and her boy was carried to the dead house, they
brought her to me, and I have never heard such pathetic, eloquent
expressions of grief as those she poured forth in that little, rough,

"Oh, William! William!" she sobbed, "You are lying, to-night, in your
bloody grave, and your mother will never know where it is! and you,
James! you were my first-born, but I cannot go to you now, where you lie
in the darkness among the dead! Oh, but it is a sad story I must carry
to your old father, to bring his gray hairs in sorrow to the grave. Who
can we lean upon, in our old age? Who will take care of Johnny when we
are gone? Oh, it is a hard, hard lot."

She wrung her hands, bowed over her knees, in a paroxysm of tears, then
raised herself, threw back her head, and exclaimed. "But oh! boys dear,
wouldn't I rather you were where you are this night, than that you had
thrown down your guns and run!"



Looking down the long vista of memory, to the many faces turned to me
from beds of pain, I find few to which I can attach a name, and one I
seem never to have looked upon but once. It is a long, sallow face,
surmounted by bushy, yellow hair; it has a clear, oval outline, and
straight nose, brown eyes and a down of young manhood on the wasted,
trembling lips; I knew it then, as the face of a fever patient, but not
one to whom I had rendered any special service, and felt surprised when
the trembling lips said, in a pitiful, pleading way.

"We boys has been a talkin' about you!"

"Have you, my dear--and what have you boys been saying about me?"

"We've jist been a sayin' that good many ladies has been kind to us, but
none uv 'em ever loved us but you!"

"Well, my dear, I do not know how it is with the other ladies, but I am
sure I do love you very, very dearly! You do not know half how much I
love you."

"Oh, yes, we do! yes, we do! we know 'at you don't take care uv us
'cause it's your juty! you jist do it 'cause you love to!"

"That is it exactly--just because I love to, and because I want you to
get well and go to your mothers."

"Yes! but the boys says you don't care about 'em when they get well."

"They do not need to have me care for them when they are well."

"Oh, yes, they do! yes, they do! an' if that's the way you're a goin' to
serve me, I'll stay sick a long time."

When hospital stores came to me so fast that there was great trouble in
getting them wisely distributed, Campbell lent me an ambulance to go
around, see where they were needed, and supply as many as I could. I had
a letter from an old Pittsburg neighbor, asking me to see his brother in
Douglas Hospital, and went in an ambulance well supplied with jellies
and fruit.

Douglas Hospital was an institution of which the city was proud. It had
much finer buildings than any other in the city, occupied the finest
residence block in the city, and had a wide reputation for grandeur and
beauty and superb management. I found the halls and rooms quite as
elegant as I had any reason to expect, but was surprised to find that
elegance undisturbed by the presence of sick or wounded men. In one back
room a wounded officer looked lonely, and they said there were other
rooms used for sick soldiers, but all I saw were parlors, reception
rooms, offices and sleeping apartments for surgeons, and the Lady
Abbess, with her attendant Sisters of Mercy or Charity.

After we had strolled through several sumptuous apartments, we were
taken out into the adjoining square, where there were large barracks as
white as lime and brushes could make them, and making a pretty picture
among the trees. Inside, the walls were white as on the outside, and the
pictures already up, as well as those just being put up, were bright as
bright could be. Indeed. I do not know how pictures could have been
greener or bluer or yellower or redder, and when the show-off man called
my attention to them, as calculated to make the place cheerful; I
recognized their merit, but suggested that some paper blinds might be
desirable to keep the sun from shining into the faces of the men who lay
on the cots.

The roof or walls did not seem well calculated to keep out wind or rain,
but paper blinds would ward off sunshine. From the condition of the
floor, it was evident that the demon of the scrubbing brush, which has
possession of all model institutions, had full sway in Douglas barracks.
Pine boards could not well have been made whiter. No laundry man need
have feared to own to the doing up of the bed linen and counterpanes,
and science had not discovered any mode of making a bed look more like a
packing box, than those in that model hospital.

What an impertinence a sick or wounded man was, in one of those nice,
square beds. He was almost certain to muss and toss it, and this must
have been a crowning calamity.

After the showman had shown all he cared to have me see. I sat talking
with the man I had come to visit, and he said, in a whisper:

"Are there lice in all the hospitals?"

"Lice? Why, certainly not." "Well, there are plenty of them here, and
they tell us they cannot be helped--that they have them in all the
hospitals. Look here!"

He turned down the nice counterpane, and there, in the blanket, the
disgusting creatures swarmed. I was shocked, and half rose, in the
impulse to make an outcry, but he warned me not to let any one know he
had told me, or it would be bad for him. I asked why he did not tell the

"He knows all about them, and says they cannot be helped."

"You have Sisters of Charity here; tell them."

"Oh, they never do anything in the ward but walk around and talk nice,
and pray with men who are going to die. They must know about them."

I walked around alone, and the show-man did not seem to like it, but I
talked with the men in the cots, put my hand under the cover, found feet
encrusted with the exudations of fever, until they were hard and dry as
a bit of kindling wood; hair full of dust from the battle-field, and not
one man who had been washed since being carried away from it; while
there were vermin in every bed.

The ward-master objected to my leaving a jar of jelly with my friend. It
would spoil the good order of the ward, and all delicacies were to be
given into the care of the Sisters. I found one of them who was quite
willing to take charge of anything I wished to leave, but was powerless
in the matter of vermin. It was the ward master's business to attend to
that. It was the business of the Sisters to look after the clothing when
it came from the laundry, put it in order, and give it out when wanted.

My failure to get a bed for the man in the fort by applying to those in
authority, made me feel that it would be useless to try that plan about
the vermin; and, in my perplexity, I turned to my old friend and
confidant, the public. To reach it, I wrote to the _New York Tribune_,
giving a very mild statement of the case.

Two days after Surgeon Baxter came, with a copy of that letter, and told
me he had been ordered to discharge me on account of it. I spoke of the
men who must die if I left, and he was sorry but had no option. Then he
bethought him that maybe I might get the Surgeon-General to permit me to
remain, at least until the cases of my special patients were settled;
otherwise I must leave the hospital that day. He was sorry I had dated
the letter from Campbell, had it not been for this, he could use his
influence to sustain me; but professional etiquette forbade him to
harbor or countenance one who spoke unfavorably of a brother-surgeon. In
other words, by living in a hospital I became one of a ring, bound to
keep hospital secrets, and use only words of commendation in speaking or
writing of anything I saw.

I took a street car and proceeded to the office of the
Surgeon-General--saw the man who held the lives of my patients in his
hands, ate the only piece of humble pie that over crossed my lips, by
apologizing for telling the truth, and got permission to go back to the
men who looked to me for life.

I have felt that I made a great mistake--felt that if I had then and
there made war to the knife, and the knife to the hilt, against the
whole system of fraud and cruelty embodied in the hospital service, I
should have saved many more lives in the end. Even while I talked to the
head of that nest of corruption, and listened to his inane platitudes
about my duty as an inmate of a hospital to report abuses to him, and
"the regular way of proceeding," I did want to hurl the gauntlet of an
irregular defiance into his plausible face, but the pleading eyes in
Campbell held me; I could not let those men die, and die they must if I
must leave them.

Nobody denied the truth of my statements about Douglas Hospital, and I
never learned that any one objected to the facts or their continuance.
It was only their exposure which gave offense.

This letter made me an object of dread. Folks never knew what I might
see or say next; and there soon arose another trouble about my living in
Campbell; for Miss Dix objected, claimed that it was an infringement on
her authority. Then again, there were others who could not see why there
should be but one female nurse in Campbell. Dr. Baxter, by admitting me,
had abandoned his ground, acknowledged that men alone could not manage a
first-class hospital; and having discovered his mistake, was bound to
rectify it by admitting a corps of lady nurses. He was bombarded by Miss
Dix's official power, pestered by the persistant appeals of volunteers;
sneered and scoffed at and worried, until he fell back on his old
position, and promptly dismissed me so soon as my patients were out of
danger. He was always courteous to me as a visiter, and has my lasting
gratitude and respect for breaking his rules and bearing the persecution
he did, that I might do the work I did, and could not have done without
his effective and generous co-operation.

The proportion of thigh stumps saved, was the test of a hospital's
success; and the summer I was in Campbell, we saved nineteen out of
twenty; next summer Chaplain Gaylord told me they lost nineteen in
twenty, and added: "Piemia has literally swept our wards."



When released from the hospital, I had neither money nor clothes, and
this is all the account I can render to the generous people who sent me
hospital stores. I could not answer their letters. Some of them I never
read. I could only give up my life to distributing their bounty, and
knew that neither their money nor my own had remained in my hands when
it was necessary for me to borrow two dollars to get a dress. My cloth
traveling suit was no longer fit for use, and my platform suit too good.
These were all I had brought to Washington; but the best men never
refused me audience because I wore a shaker bonnet, a black lawn skirt
and gray linen sack. Some thought I dressed in that way to be odd, but
it was all I could afford.

The Quarter-Master-General had canceled my appointment, because I had
not reported for duty, but Secretary Stanton reinstated me, and I went
to work on the largest salary I had ever received--fifty dollars a
month. After some time it was raised to sixty, and I was more than
independent; but my health was so broken that half a dozen doctors
commanded me to lie on my back for a month, and I spent every moment I
could in that position.

I had grown hysterical, and twice while at work in the office, broke out
into passionate weeping, while thinking of something in my hospital
experience, something I had borne, when it occurred, without a tear, or
even without feeling a desire to weep.

In September I had twenty days' leave of absence to go to St. Cloud,
settle my business and bring my household gods. There were still no
railroads in Minnesota, and I was six days going, must have six to
return, and one to visit friends at Pittsburg, yet in the time left,
sold _The Democrat_, closed my home, and met Gen. Lowrie for the first
and last time.

He called and we spent an hour talking, principally of the war, which he
thought would result in two separate governments. His reason seemed to
be entirely restored; but his prestige, power, wealth and health were
gone. I tried to avoid all personal matters, as well as reference to our
quarrel, but he broke into the conversation to say:

"I am the only person who ever understood you. People now think you go
into hospitals from a sense of duty; from benevolence, like those good
people who expect to get to heaven by doing disagreeable things on
earth; but I know you go because you must; go for your own pleasure; you
do not care for heaven or anything else, but yourself." He stopped,
looked down, traced the pattern of the carpet with the point of his
cane, then raised his head and continued: "You take care of the sick and
wounded, go into all those dreadful places just as I used to drink
brandy--for sake of the exhilaration it brings you."

We shook hands on parting, and from our inmost hearts, I am sure, wished
each other well. I was more than ever impressed by the genuine greatness
of the man, who had been degraded by the use of irresponsible power.

We reached Washington in good time, and I soon realized the great
advantage of rest. Six hours of office work came so near nothing to do,
that had I been in usual health I should probably have raised some
disturbance from sheer idleness; but I learned by and by that the close
attention demanded to avoid mistakes, could not well have been continued

Several ladies continued distributing hospital stores for me all that
fall and winter, and next spring I still had some to send out. When able
I went myself, and in Carver found a man who had been wounded in a
cavalry charge, said to have been as desperate as that of "the Light
Brigade;" and who refused to take anything from me, because he had "seen
enough of these people who go around hospitals pretending to take care
of wounded soldiers."

I convinced him it was his duty to take the jelly in order to prevent my
stealing it. Also, that it was for my interest to save his life, that I
might not have to pay my share of the cost of burying him and getting a
man in his place. Nay, that it was my duty to get him back into the
saddle as fast as possible, that my government need not pay him for
lying abed. He liked this view of the case, and not only took what I
offered him, but next time I went asked for Jefferson-tie shoes to
support his foot, and when I brought them said he would be ready for
duty in a week.

In Judiciary Square, a surgeon asked me to give a jar of currant jelly
to a man in Ward Six, who was fatally wounded.

I found the man, those in the neighboring cots and the nurse, all very
sad, talked to him a few moments, and said:

"You think you are going to die!"

"That is what they all say I must do!"

"Well, I say you are not going to do anything of the kind!"

"Oh! I guess I am!"

"Not unless you have made up your mind to it, and are quite determined.
Those hip wounds kill a great many men, because folks do not know how to
manage them, and because the men are easy to kill; but it takes a good
deal to kill a young man with a good conscience, who has never drank
liquor or used tobacco; who has muscle like yours, a red beard and blue
gray eyes."

I summoned both his day and night nurse, told all three together of the
surgical trap-door that old Mother Nature wanted made and kept open,
clear up to the center of that wound. The surgeon would always make one
if the patient wanted it. I told them about the warmth and nourishment
and care needed, and left him and them full of hope and resolution.

Next time I was in Judiciary, a young man on crutches accosted me,

"Were not you in Ward Six, about six weeks ago?"


"Do you remember a man there, that every one said was going to die, and
you said he wouldn't?"


"Well, I'm the fellow."

I looked at him inquiringly, and said:

"Well, did you die?"

He burst into uproarious laughter, and replied:

"No, but I'm blamed if I wouldn't, if you hadn't come along."

I passed on, left him leaning against the wall finishing his laugh, and
saw or heard of him no more.

It was but a few days after he passed out of my knowledge that news came
of the death of Gen. Lowrie. It was the old story, "the great man down,"
for he died in poverty and neglect, but with his better self in the
ascendent. His body lies in an unmarked grave, in that land where once
his word was law.

Pondering on his death, I thought of that country boy going to his
father's house, with the life restored by one he knew not, even by name,
and the going home of that mature man, who thought he knew my inmost
soul, and with whose political death I was charged. Only the wisdom of
eternity can determine which, if either, I served or injured. To the
one, life may lack blessing, to the other, death be all gain.



I sat down stairs, for the first time after a two weeks' illness, when
Georgie Willets, of Jersey City, came in, saying:

"Here is a pass for you and one for me, to go to Fredericksburg! A boat
leaves in two hours, and we must hurry!"

For several days the air had shuddered with accounts of the terrible
suffering of our men, wounded in the battle of the Wilderness; and a
pall of uncertainty and gloom hung over the city.

I made a tuck in a queen's-cloth dress, donned it, selected a light
satchel, put into one side a bottle of whiskey and one of sherry, half a
pound of green tea, two rolls of bandage and as much old table-linen as
packed them close; put some clothing for myself in the other side, and a
cake of black castile soap, for cleansing wounds; took a pair of good
scissors, with one sharp point, and a small rubber syringe, as surgical
instruments; put these in my pocket, with strings attaching them to my
belt; got on my Shaker bonnet, and with a large blanket shawl and tin
cup, was on board with Georgie, an hour before the boat left.

It had brought a load of wounded from Belle Plain; some were still on
board, and suffering intensely from thirst, and hard, dry dressings. It
was a hot day, and we both went to work giving drinks of water, wetting
wounds, and bathing hot heads and hands. As Georgie passed the foot of
the cabin stairs, Miss Dix was coming down, and called to her, saying:

"What are you doing here?"

She made no reply, but passed on to her work, when the irate lady turned
to where I was drawing water from a cooler, and asked, in a tone of high

"Who is that young girl?"

"Miss Georgie Willets, of Jersey City," I replied.

"And where is she going?"

"To Fredericksburg."

"By whose authority?" she demanded.

"By authority of the Surgeon-General," I replied.

"The Surgeon-General has no authority to send a young girl down there

"She is not going alone."

"Who is going with her?" she asked, tartly.

"I am."

"Who are you?"

I told her, and she ceased to be insulting long enough to expostulate on
the great impropriety of the proceeding, as well as to explain the total
lack of any need of help in Fredericksburg. She had just returned from
that city, where she had arranged everything in the most satisfactory
manner. Hospitals had been established, with surgeons and nurses. There
was therefore not the slightest occasion for our going further; but she
was about to organize relief for the men while waiting at the Washington
wharf to be taken to hospitals. Here I might be useful, and here she
would be glad to have me work; but as for that handsome young girl, she
wondered at me for bringing her into such a place.

Georgie was not merely handsome. She was grand, queenly; and I told Miss
Dix that I differed with her about the kind of women who should go into
such places. We wanted young, vigorous women--women whose self-respect
and social position would command the respect of those to whom they
ministered. She grew angry again, and said:

"She shall not go to Fredericksburg; I will have her arrested!"

I was kneeling beside a man whose wounds I was bathing; for I had not
suspended my work to talk with her, who stood, straight as a telegraph
pole, holding a bottle which she ever and anon applied to her nose; but
when she reached this climax, I raised my head, looked into her face,
and said:

"I shall not be sorry Miss Dix, if you do; for then I shall apply to my
friends, Mrs. Abraham Lincoln and Secretary Stanton, and have your
authority tested."

I went on with my work; she growled something and left the boat, but did
not disturb us further.

Going down the river I grew worse, and thought I might be obliged to
return with the boat, and stay at home; but consulted a surgeon on his
way to the front, who talked with another, and said:

"There is no immediate danger in your case. It is only secondary
hemorrhage; and with care you may go on, but must not attempt to do
anything. You can, however, be of incalculable service, simply by being
in Fredericksburg; can sit down and see that people do their duty. What
our wounded need most, is people who have an interest in their
welfare--friends. You can do a great deal toward supplying this want,
this great need; but be careful and do not try to work."

After some time this surgeon brought, and introduced Col. Chamberlain,
of Maine, evidently an invalid, and a man of the purely intellectual
type. Two other surgeons were with him, and all three endeavored to
persuade him to return to Washington, as his lack of health made it very
dangerous, if not quite useless, for him to go to the front. I thought
the surgeons right; and told him I feared he was throwing away his life,
in an effort to do the impossible.

He explained that he was in command of a brigade of eight regiments;
that in them were hundreds of his neighbors and pupils, for he had
resigned a professorship in a college to enlist. Said he knew his own
constitution better than any one else could know it; knew he would be
stronger when he reached his post, and that the danger would be in any
attempt to keep out of danger--the danger which his men must face.
Turning to me he said:

"If you had eight children down there, you would go to them, if you

We arranged that if he should be wounded so as to suffer a thigh
amputation, he should let me know, that I might nurse him through.

At Belle Plaine, Georgie went to look for transportation, and I to the
Sanitary Commission boat, where I was introduced to Mrs. Gen. Barlow and
Miss Hancock, both busy furnishing hot coffee to those being embarked
for Washington. Mrs. Barlow was a tall, superbly formed woman, very
handsome, and full of health and spirits. She looked down on me
compassionately, and said:

"Oh, you poor little thing! What ever brought you here? We have sick
folks enough now! Do sit down until I get you a cup of tea!"

While I drank the tea, she stood looking at me, and said meditatively:

"Oh, you queer little thing," and hurried off to her work.

Soon a Colonel with a badly wounded head came on board, leaned against,
a post and groaned. I found a basin of water and a towel, and began
bathing his head, wetting those torturing dressings and making him
comparatively comfortable, when she stopped in her hurried walk, looked
on an instant, and exclaimed:

"Oh, you nice little thing! Now I see what you are good for! I could not
do that; but you will take care of their wounds and I will feed them!
That will be grand!"

Soon Georgie came to say there was no transportation to be had, but she
had found a Campbell surgeon in charge of a hospital tent, and he wanted
me; said he was worn out, and had plenty of work for both of us. The
doctor had a large tent, filled with wounded lying on loose hay. His
patients seemed to want for nothing, but he must needs give so much time
to receiving and forwarding those pouring in from the front, that he
needed us. He had a little tent put up for us, and that was the only
night I have ever slept in a tent.

Next morning while we were attending to a Colonel, and Lieutenant
Colonel, both of the same regiment, and both badly wounded and just
brought in, one said to the other: "My God, if our men in Fredericksburg
could have a little of this care!" "Why?" said I, "I have heard that
everything possible was being done for them?"

"Everything possible!" exclaimed one, and both together began the most
terrible recital of the neglect and abuse of the wounded in that
horrible place--men dying of thirst, and women spitting in their faces,
kicking and spurning them. We set down our basins; Georgie started in
one direction and I in another, to find transportation.

The surgeon in command of the station stood superintending the loading
of oats while he looked at my pass, and said he could not possibly send
us, adding: "Fredericksburg is no place for a lady. It is impossible to
describe the condition of things there."

"But, Doctor, I am not a lady! I am a hospital nurse. The place where
men are suffering must be the place for me. I do not look strong, but
you cannot think how much I can do.

"But, Madam, you forget that our army is cut off from its base of
supplies, and must be furnished with subsistence, and that we have not
half the transportations we need."

"Doctor, you are sending bags of oats in ambulances! I do not weigh much
more than one, and will be worth six when you get me there."

He promised to send me that afternoon, but I doubted him; went to the
Christian Commission tent, found a man who knew me by reputation, and
told him they had better send me to Fredericksburg, or put me under
arrest, for I was in a mood to be dangerous. He feigned fright, caught
up his hat, and said:

"We'll get you out of this in the shortest possible space of time."

An hour after I was on the way, and Georgie a few moments in advance. I
had seen bad roads in northern and western Pennsylvania, but this was my
first ride over no road. We met a steady stream of such wounded as were
able to walk, but comparatively few were brought in ambulances.

It was raining when we reached Fredericksburg, at four o'clock on
Sabbath, and I went to the surgeon in command, reported, and asked him
to send me to the worst place--the place where there was most need.

"Then I had better send you to the Old Theater, for I can get no one to
stay there."

He gave me my appointment, and I went to a Corps Surgeon, who signed it,
and advised me not to go to the theater--I could do nothing, as the
place was in such dreadful condition, while I could be useful in many
other places.



This building was on Princess Ann street. The basement floor was level
with the sidewalk, but the ground sloped upward at the back; so that the
yard was higher than the floor. Across the front was a vestibule, with
two flights of stairs leading up to the auditorium; behind the vestibule
a large, low room, with two rows of pillars supporting the upper floor;
and behind this three small rooms, and a square hall with a side
entrance. The fence was down between the theater and Catholic church,
next door. I stopped in the church to see Georgie, who was already at
work there, came and left by the back door, and entered the theater by
the side hall.

The mud was running in from the yard. Opposite the door, in a small
room, was a pile of knapsacks and blankets; and on them lay two men
smoking. To get into the large room, I must step out of the hall mud
over one man, and be careful not to step on another. I think it was six
rows of men that lay close on the floor, with just room to pass between
the feet of each row; they so close in the rows that in most places I
must slide one foot before the other to get to their heads.

The floor was very muddy and strewn with _debris_, principally of
crackers. There was one hundred and eighty-two men in the building, all
desperately wounded. They had been there a week. There were two leather
water-buckets, two tin basins, and about every third man had saved his
tin-cup or canteen; but no other vessel of any sort, size or description
on the premises--no sink or cess-pool or drain. The nurses were not to
be found; the men were growing reckless and despairing, but seemed to
catch hope as I began to thread my way among them and talk. No other
memory of life is more sacred than that of the candor with which they
took me into their confidence, as if I had been of their own sex, yet
ever sought to avoid wounding the delicacy they ascribed to mine.

I found some of the nurses--cowards who had run away from battle, and
now ran from duty--galvanized them into activity, invented substitutes
for things that were wanting--making good use of an old knapsack and
pocket-knife--and had tears of gratitude for pay.

One man lay near the front door, in a scant flannel shirt and cotton
drawers, his left thigh cut off in the middle and the stump supported on
the only pillow in the house. It was six by ten inches, stuffed with
straw. His head was supported by two bits of board and a pair of very
muddy boots. He called me, clutched my dress, and plead:

"Mother, can't you get me a blanket, I'm so cold; I could live if I
could get any care!"

I went to the room where the men lay smoking on the blankets; but one of
them wearing a surgeon's shoulderstraps, and speaking in a German
accent, claimed them as his private property, and positively refused to
yield one. The other man was his orderly, and words were useless--they
kept their blankets.

Going into a room behind that, I found a man slightly wounded sitting on
the floor, supporting another who had been shot across the face, and was
totally blind. He called, and when I came and talked with them, said:

"Won't you stay with us?"

"Stay with you?" I replied, "Well, I rather think I will, indeed; I came
to stay, and am one of the folks it is hard to drive away!"

"Oh! thank God; everybody leaves us; they come and promise, and then go
off, but I know you will stay; you will do something for us!"

It was so pitiful, that for an instant my courage failed, and I said:

"I will certainly stay with you; but fear it is little I can do for

"Oh, you can speak to us; you do not know how good your voice sounds. I
have not seen a woman in three months; what is your name?"

"My name is mother."

"Mother; oh my God! I have not seen my mother for two years. Let me feel
your hand?"

I took between both of mine his hand, covered with mud and blood and
smoke of battle, and told him I was not only going to stay with them,
but was going to send him back to his regiment, with a lot more who were
lying around here doing nothing, when there was so much fighting to be
done; I had come on purpose to make them well, and they might make up
their minds to it. My own courage had revived, and I must revive theirs;
I could surely keep them alive until help should come. By softening the
torturing bandages on his face, I made him more comfortable; and in an
adjoining room found another man with a thigh stump, who had been served
by field-surgeons, as the thieves served the man going from Jerusalem to
Jericho: i.e., "stripped him, left him naked and half dead." Those men
surely did not go into battle without clothes; and why they should have
been sent out of the surgeon's hands without enough of even
underclothing to cover them, is the question I have never yet had
answered. Common decency led to his being placed in the back room alone,
but I shall never blush for going to him and doing the little I could
for his comfort.

After I returned to the large room, I took notice about clothing, and
found that most of the men had on their ordinary uniform; some had two
blankets, more had one; but full one-third were without any. There was
no shadow or pretense of a bed or pillow, not even a handful of straw or
hay! There was no broom, no hoe, or shovel, or spade to sweep or scrape
the floor; and the horrors were falling upon me when the man of the
blankets came, and said:

"Mattam, iv you are goin' to do any ding for tese men, you petter git
dem someding to eat."

"Something to eat?"

"Yaas! mine Cot, someding to eat! De government petter leave dem to tie
on de pattle field, nur do pring tem here to starve."

I looked at him in much surprise, and said:

"Who are you?"

"Vy, I am de surgeon. Tey send me here; put mine Cot, I cannot do
notting. Tere ish notting to do mit!"

I called out: "Men, what have you had to eat?"

"Hard tack, and something they call coffee," was the response.

"Have you had no meat?"

"Meat? We have forgotten what it tastes like!"

In one corner, near the front door, was a little counter and desk, with
a stationary bench in front. To this desk the surgeon gave me a key. I
found writing material, and sent a note of four lines to the Corps
Surgeon. Half an hour after, an irate little man stormed in and stamped
around among those prostrate men, flourishing a scrap of paper and
calling for the writer. His air was that of the champion who wanted to
see "the man who struck Billy Patterson," and his fierceness quite
alarmed me, lest he should step on some of the men. So I hurried to him,
and was no little surprised to find that the offending missive was my
note. I told him I had written it, and could have had no thought of
"reporting" him, since I knew nothing about him.

After considerable talk I learned that he had charge of the meat, and
that none had been issued to that place, because no "requisition" had
been sent. I had never written a requisition, but found blanks in that
desk, filled one, signed it and gave it to the meat man, who engaged
that the beef should be there next morning.

It grew dark, and we had two tallow candles lighted! May none of my
readers ever see such darkness made visible--such rows of haggard faces
looking at them from out such cavernous gloom! I talked hopefully,
worked and walked, while mentally exclaiming:

"Oh, God! What shall I do?"

About nine o'clock Dr. Porter, Division Surgeon, came with Georgie, to
take us to our quarters. These were but half a block away, on the same
side of the street, but on the opposite side, and corner of the next
cross-street, in a nice two-story brick house, with a small yard in
front. An old lady answered his summons, but refused to admit us: when
he insisted and I interposed, saying the lady was afraid of soldiers,
but would admit us. We would bid him good night, and soon our lodgings
would be all right.

She was relieved, took us in, cooked our rations for herself and us,
gave us a comfortable bed, and was uniformly kind all the time we
staid, and seemed sorry to have us leave.

I spoke the first night to Dr. Porter about blankets and straw, or hay
for beds, but was assured that none were to be had. Supplies could not
reach them since being cut off from their base, and the Provost Marshal,
Gen. Patrick, would not permit anything to be taken out of the houses,
though many of them were unoccupied, and well supplied with bedding and
other necessaries. I thought we ought to get two blankets for those two
naked men, if the Government should pay their weight in gold for them;
and suggested that the surgeons take what was necessary for the comfort
of the men, and give vouchers to the owners. I knew such claims would be
honored; would see that they should be; but he said the matter had been
settled by the Provost, and nothing more could be done.

It seems to me now that I must have been benumbed, or I could have done
something to provide covering for those men. I did think of giving one
of them my shawl, but I must have died without it. I remembered my
Douglas Hospital letter, and knew that Gen. Patrick could order me out
of Fredericksburg, and leave these men to rot in the old theater.
Already their wounds were infested by worms, which gnawed and tormented
them; some of those wounds were turning black, many were green; the
vitality of the men was sinking for want of food and warmth. I could not
forsake them to look after reform; would not fail to do what I could, in
an effort to do what I could not or might not accomplish.

In the morning I saw that the men had something they called coffee, and
found canned milk for it, which was nourishment; but a new difficulty
arose. The men who brought the coffee would distribute it to those who
had cups or canteens, and the others would get none. I had some trouble
to induce them to leave their cans, until, with the two tin cups I could
borrow, I could give about one-third the whole number the coffee they
could not otherwise have.

Our cooking was done in the churchyard, with that of the church
patients. A shed had been put up; but our cooking was an "uncovenanted
mercy," and when our beef came there was a question as to how it could
be cooked--how that additional work could be done.

I wrote to the Provost-Marshal, stating our trouble, and the extremity
of one hundred and eighty-two men. Asked that we might take a cook-stove
out of a vacant house near; promised to take good care of it and have it
returned; and he wrote, for answer:

"I am not a thief! If you want a stove send to the Sanitary Commission!"

He must have known that the Commission was as pressed as the Government
to conform its arrangements to the movements of an army cut off from its
base of supplies, and that it had no stoves, so the plain English of his
answer was:

"Let your wounded die of hunger, in welcome! I am here to guard the
property of the citizens of Fredericksburg!"

I had already written to the Commission for blankets and a broom, but
there were none to be had. It soon however sent a man, who cut branches
off trees, and with them swept the floors.



On Monday morning I sent for Dr. Porter, and stated the trouble about
nurses shirking. He had them all summoned in the front end of the large
room, and in presence of the patients, said to them:

"You see this lady? Well, you are to report to her for duty; and if she
has any fault to find with you she will report you to the

I have never seen a set of men look more thoroughly subdued. There were
eleven of them, and they all gave me the military salute. The doctor
went off, and I set them to work. One middle-aged Irishman had had some
experience as a nurse; could dress wounds--slowly, but very well--was
faithful and kind; and him I made head-nurse up stairs, where there were
fifty-four patients, and gave him three assistants, for whom he was to
be responsible. After Patrick's note, I calculated my resources, and got
ready for a close siege. As I sat on that little stationary bench,
making an inventory, I heard shrieks, groans and curses, at the far end
of the room; ran to the place, and got there in time to see the surgeon
of the blankets tearing the dry dressings off a thigh stump! Coming up
behind him, I caught him by both ears, and had my hands full, ordered
him to stop, and said:

"You had better go back to your room and smoke."

Again I sent for Surgeon Porter, and in less than two hours that little
wretch, with his orderly, packed up his blankets and I saw him or them
no more. I had never dressed a thigh stump, but must dress a good many
now; I rolled that one in a wet cloth, and covered it carefully, to let
the man get time to rest, while I got rid of his horrid tormentor. When
there was so much to be done, I would do the most needful thing first,
and this was ridding the wounds of worms and gangrene, supporting the
strength of the men by proper food, and keeping the air as pure as
possible. I got our beef into the way of being boiled, and would have
some good substantial broth made around it. I went on a foraging
expedition--found a coal-scuttle which would do for a slop-pail, and
confiscated it, got two bits of board, by which it could be converted
into a stool, and so bring the great rest of a change of position to
such men as could sit up; had a little drain made with a bit of board
for a shovel, and so kept the mud from running in at the side door;
melted the tops off some tin cans, and made them into drinking cups; had
two of my men confiscate a large tub from a brewery, set it in the
vestibule to wash rags for outside covers to wounds, to keep off chill,
and had others bring bricks and rubbish mortar from a ruin across the
street, to make substitutes for pillows.

I dressed wounds! dressed wounds, and made thorough work of it. In the
church was a dispensary where I could get any washes or medicines I
wished, and I do not think I left a worm. Some of them were over half an
inch long, with black heads and many feet, but most were maggots. They
were often deeply seated, but my syringe would drive them out, and twice
a day I followed them up. The black and green places grew smaller and
better colored with every dressing. The men grew stronger with plenty of
beef and broth and canned milk. I put citric acid and sugar in their
apple sauce as a substitute for lemons. I forget how many thigh stumps I
had, but I think as many as twelve. One of them was very short and in a
very bad condition. One morning when I was kneeling and dressing it, the
man burst into tears, and said:

"You do not seem to mind this, but I know you would not do it for
anything but the love of God, and none but He can ever reward you; but if
I live to see my wife and children, it will be through what you have
done for me, and I will teach them to bless your name!"

He quite took me by surprise, for I seemed to have forgotten any other
life than that I was then living; and dressing the most frightful wounds
was as natural as eating. I felt no disgust, no shrinking, and mere
conventional delicacy is withdrawn when the Angel of Death breathes upon

The man we stepped over at the back door, proved to be a student from
the Pennsylvania Agricultural College, shot through the alimentary
canal, near the base of the spine. For him there was no hope, but I did
what I could to make him less uncomfortable, and once he said:

"This is strange work for a lady."

"You forget," I said, "that I am surgeon in charge, that you and I were
made of the same kind of clay, in much the same fashion, and will soon
turn into just the same kind of dust." How my heart was wrung for him,
with his refined face, dying for a country which sent its bayonets to
stand between him and the armful of straw, with which I might have
raised him above that muddy floor. He had no knapsack to serve as a
pillow, no blanket, no cup, and his position across the doorway was cold
and uncomfortable; but even after I had made a better place for him, he
objected to leaving two companions, who lay next to him, and I could not
find room for all three together, even on that dirty floor. He himself
always dressed the wound where the bullet entered, and was most grateful
for the means of doing so. I cared for that one through which Death's
messenger made its exit, and although he knew its condition, he did not
know the certainty of a fatal result, and resented any intimation that
he should not recover.



The second morning of my work in the old theater, Miss Hancock came to
see how I got along. She was thoroughly practical, and a most efficient
laborer in the hospital field, and soon thought of something to better
the condition of the man minus clothes, who lay quite near my desk and
the front door, and caught my dress whenever he could, to plead for a
blanket. She could get no blanket; but was stationed in the Methodist
Church, where there was a surgeon in charge, and everything running in
regular order. In a tent adjoining, this man could be laid out of the
draught and chill of that basement, and she would do her best to get
some clothing for him. She sent two men with a stretcher, who took him
to the church tent, where I fear he was not much better provided for
than in the place he left.

After some days, Mrs. Gen. Barlow came to see the men who all belonged
to her husband's division, and were rejoiced to see her; and to express
a general fear for my life. I was to die of overwork and want of sleep,
"and then," she exclaimed, "what will become of these men? No one but
you ever could or would have done anything for them. Do you know there
were three surgeons detailed for duty here, before you came, and none of
them would stay? Now if you die, they will. Do take some rest!"

I listened and looked at her flushed face, while she talked, and said:

"Mrs. Barlow, I am not going to die--am in no danger whatever, and will
hold out until help comes. This cannot last; Government will come to the
rescue, and my men will be here when it comes. After all is over, I will
fall to pieces like an old stage coach when the king-bolt drops out;
will lie around as lumber for a while, then some one will put me
together again, and I will be good as new. It is you who are killing
yourself. You must change your arrangements or you will take typhoid
fever, and after such a strain, recovery will be hopeless. I take
nobody's disease--am too repellant; but you will catch contagion very
readily. Keep away from fever cases and rest; you are in imminent
peril." She hurried away, laughing at the idea of one in her perfect
health being injured by hard work; but my heart was full of evil omen. I
had talked with Mrs. Senator Pomeroy, on her way from her last visit to
the Contraband camp, where she gave her life in labor for the friendless
and poor, and she had looked very much as Mrs. Barlow did that day.

Soon after this, I was made glad by the sight of my friend, Mrs. Judge
Ingersol. People say her daughter, Mrs. Gov. Chamberlain, is a beauty,
but she is not old enough ever to have been as beautiful as her mother,
that day, in her plain widow's dress, walking among the wounded, with
her calm face so full of strength and gentleness.

She and Mrs. Barlow had hatched a rebellion. In the city was a barn
containing straw, for want of which our men were dying. It was guarded
by one of Gen. Barlow's men. Mrs. Barlow took two others, went with
them, placed herself in front of the guard, told them to break open the
barn and carry out the straw, and him to fire, if he thought it is duty;
but he must reach them through her. The man's orders were to guard the
barn; with the straw out of it he had nothing to do. The men moved side
and side, going in and out, and she kept in range to cover them until
the last armful had been removed. It was taken away and was to be
distributed; but there was still so little compared to the need, that
there must be consultation about the manner of using it. Mrs. Ingersol
thought it should be made into small pillows, and volunteered to
undertake that work; as the Commission could furnish muslin, I thought
this best. She found a loft, and engaged several Fredericksburg women
to work for pay. They worked one day, but did not return on the second.
There were a good many Union women there by this time, who should have
helped, but few could confine themselves to obscure work in a loft, when
there was so much excitement on the streets. There was no authority to
hold any one to steady employment; and so about two-thirds the helpers
who reached Fredericksburg, spent a large part of their time in an
aimless wandering and wondering, and finding so much to be done, could
do nothing.

So, most of the time Mrs. Ingersol was in her loft alone, except the
orderlies who stuffed her slips, sewed up the ends and carried them off
to the places she designated; but she had nimble fingers, and
sleight-of-hand, and turned out a surprising number of small straw

As my allowance came, the question was what to do with them. They were
too precious for use. What should I do with those scraps of white on
that field of grime? Our gaunt horror became grotesque, in view of such
unwonted luxuries. What! A whole dozen or two little straw pillows among
one hundred and sixty men! Who should elect the aristocrats to be
cradled in such luxury amid that world of want?

When my aristocrat was elected, how should his luxury be applied? Would
I put it under his head or mangled limb? I think I never realized our
destitution until those little pillows came to remind me that sometimes
wounded men had beds! Oh, God! would relief never come? Like the Scotch
girl in the besieged fortress of India, I felt like laying my ear to the
ground, to harken for the sound of the bagpipes, the tramp of the
Campbells coming. It did seem that, without surgical aid or comforts of
any kind, my men must soon be all past hope; but a surgeon came, and I
hailed him with joy, thinking him the advance guard of the army of
relief. Half an hour after his appearance I missed him, and saw him no
more; and this was the fourth which left those men, after being
regularly detailed to duty among them--left them to die or live, as they

Soon after this we had an official visit from one of those laundry
critics, called "Medical Inspectors." As there were no sheets or
counterpanes to look after, he turned his attention to a heap of dry
rubbish in the vestibule, which gave the place an untidy appearance, as
seen from the street. To remove this eyesore he had one of my nurses
hunt up a wheel-barrow, and two shovels--shovels were accessible by this
time--and ordered him and another to wheel that rubbish out into the
street. The wheel-barrow coming in the door called my attention, when I
learned that we were going to be made respectable. I sent the
wheel-barrow home, gave the shovels to two men to dig a sink hole back
in the yard, and forbade any disturbance of the dry, harmless rubbish in
the vestibule. I would not have my men choked with dust by its removal,
and set about getting up false appearances. No medical inspector should
white that sepulchre until he cleared the dead men's bones out of it. He
had not looked at a wound; did not know if the men had had any dinner. A
man did not need a medical diploma to clear up after stage carpenters.
If the Government wanted that kind of work done, it had better send a
man and cart with its donkey.



In Washington, I had done nothing for any wounded officer, except a
captain who was brought to our ward when all the others were taken away,
and in Fredericksburg I began on that principle. I found twenty in the
Old Theater, and had them removed to private houses, to make room for
the men, and that they might be better cared for. Officers could be
quartered in private houses, and have beds, most of those taken out of
the theater were put into houses between it and our quarters, so that I
could see them on my way to and from meals. Among them was the blind
man, who still craved to hear me speak and feel my hand, and I kept his
face in a wet compress until a surgeon was dressing it and found the
inflammation so gone that he drew the lid of one back, and the man cried
out in delight: "I can see! I can see! now let me see mother." I stood
in his range of vision, until the surgeon closed the lids, when he said:
"Now, mother, I shall always remember just how you look."

I found in my visit to those men that some orderlies needed some one to
keep them in order, and that a helpless man is not always sure his
servant will serve him. Often the orderlies themselves were powerless,
and those men would have suffered if I had not cared for them. More than
once some of them said: "I wish, mother, we were back with you in the
Old Theater?"

There was a captain whose stump I must fix every night before he could
sleep, and when his wife came I tried to teach her, but she was so much
afraid of hurting him she could do nothing. I learned in time that
officers quartered in private houses, even with the greater comforts
they had, often suffered more than the men in all their privations. Mrs.
Barlow came for me to see one given up to die, and I found him in a
large handsome room, on the first floor of an elegant residence,
absolutely hopeless, but for years have not been able to recall the
trouble in his case.

It must have been easy to set right, for he began at once to recover,
and I felt that people had been very stupid, and that there was an
unreasonable amount of wonder and gratitude over whatever it was I did.
It was often so easy to save a life, where there were the means of
living, that a little courage or common sense seemed like a miraculous
gift to people whose mental powers had been turned in other directions.

But I found another side to looking after officers in private quarters.
One evening after dark, Georgia called to tell me of a dreadful case of
suffering which a surgeon wished her to see. He was there to accompany
her, but she declined going without me, and I went along, walking close
behind them, as the pavement was narrow. He did not seem to notice that
I was there, was troubled with the weight of his diploma and
shoulderstraps, and talked very patronizingly to the lady at his side,
until she turned, and said to me:

"Do you hear that?"

"Oh, yes," I replied, "and feel very grateful to the young man for his
permission to do the work he is paid for doing, but if he had reserved
his patronage until some one had asked for it, it would have had more

"Your friend is sarcastic," was his reply to her; and I said no more
until we reached the case of great distress, which was on the second
floor of a vacant house, and proved to be a colonel in uniform, seated
in an easy chair, smoking, while his orderly sat in another chair, oil
the other side of the room.

Georgie stood looking from one man to the other in speechless surprise;
but I spoke to the man in the chair, saying:

"How is it, sir, that you, an officer, in need of nothing, have
trespassed upon our time and strength, when you know that men are dying
by hundreds for want of care?"

He began to apologize and explain, but I said to Georgie:

"Come, Miss Willets, we are not needed here."

As we passed from the room, the surgeon took his cap to accompany us,
when I stopped, made a gesture, and said:

"Young man! stay where you are! Your friend must be too ill to do
without you. I will see the young lady to her quarters. The vidette is
on the corner, and we do not need you!"

We came away filled with wonder, but we did not for some time realize
the danger. We came to know that Miss Dix's caution was not altogether
unwise; that women had been led into traps of this kind, when it would
have been well for them had they died there, and when duty to themselves
and the public required them to get one or more doctors ready for
dissection. After that lesson, however, I did not fear to leave Georgie,
who remained with the army, doing grand work, until Richmond fell, but
laying the foundation of that consumption, of which she died.

Of all the lives which the Rebellion cost us, none was more pure, more
noble, than that of this beautiful, refined, strong, gentle girl.



The Sanitary Commission soon got a supply of clothing, and sent two men
to wash and dress my patients. These, with the one sweeping floors with
branches, were an incalculable help and comfort; but these two did their
work and passed on to other places. One of the men they had dressed grew
weak, and I was at a loss to account for his symptoms, until by close
questioning, I drew from him the answer,

"It is my other wound!"

These words sounded like a death-knell, but I insisted on seeing the
other wound, and found four bullet holes under his new clothes. From the
one wound, for which I had been caring, he might easily recover; but
with four more so distributed that he must lie on one, and no surgeon to
make trap doors, no bed--there was no hope. He was so bright, so good,
so intelligent, so courageous, it was hard to give him up. Ah, if I had
him in Campbell, with Dr. Kelly to use the knife! How my heart clung to

He lay near the center of the room, with his head close to a column; and
one night as I knelt giving him drink, and arranging his knapsack and
brick pillow, making the most of his two blankets, and thinking of his
mother at home, I was suddenly impressed by the beauty and grandeur of
his face;--his broad, white brow shaded by bushy, chestnut hair, half
curling; the delicate oval of his cheeks; the large, expressive grey
eyes; the straight nose and firm chin and lips!--he could not have been
more than twenty-two, almost six feet high, with a frame full of vigor.
How many such men were there in this land? How many could we afford to
sacrifice in order to preserve a country for the use of cowards and
traitors, and other inferior types of the race?

The feeble light of my candle threw this picture into strong relief
against the surrounding gloom, and it was harder than ever to give him
up, but this must be done; and I wanted to extract from that bitter cup
one drop of sweetness for his mother; so I said to him:

"Now, George, do you think you can sleep?" He said he could, and I

"Will you pray before you sleep?" He said he would.

"Do you always pray before going to sleep?" He nodded, and I continued:

"Let us pray together, to-night, just the little prayer your mother
taught you first."

He clasped his hands, and together we repeated "Now I lay me down to
sleep," to the end; when I said:

"Do you mean that, George? Do you mean to ask God to keep your soul, for
Christ's sake, while you are here; and, for His sake, to take it to
Himself when you go hence, whenever that may be?"

The tears were running over his cheeks, and he said, solemnly:

"I do."

"Then it is all well with you, and you can rest in Him who giveth his
beloved sleep."

There was no time for long prayers, and I must go to another sufferer.

A kind, strong man, from the Michigan Aid Society, came and worked two
days among my men, and said:

"If I only had them in a tent, on the ground; but this floor is

Up stairs were some wounds I must dress, while a corpse lay close beside
one of the men, so that I must kneel touching it, while I worked. It lay
twelve hours before I could get it taken to its shallow, coffinless
grave; and while I knelt there, the man whose wound I was dressing,

"Never mind; we'll make you up a good purse for this!"

He had no sooner spoken than a murmur of contemptuous disapproval came
from the other men, and one said:

"A purse for her! She's got more money than all of us, I bet!"

Another called out: "No, we won't! Won't do anything of the kind!
We're your boys; ain't we, mother? You're not working for money!"

"Why," persisted the generous man, "we made up a purse of eighty dollars
for a woman t' other time I was hurt, and she hadn't done half as much
for us!"

"Eighty dollars!" called out the man who thought me rich; "eighty
dollars for her! why I tell you she could give every one of us eighty
dollars, and would not miss it!"

Another said:

"She isn't one of the sort that are 'round after purses!"

Why any of them should have thought me rich I cannot imagine except for
the respect with which officers treated me. To veil the iron hand I held
over my nurses, I made a jest of my authority, pinned a bit of bandage
on my shoulder, and played commander-in-chief. Officers and guards would
salute when we passed, as an innocent joke, but the men came to regard
me as a person of rank.

Citizens of Fredericksburg, who at first insulted me on the street, as
they did other Yankee nurses, heard that I was a person of great
influence, and began to solicit my good offices on behalf of friends
arrested by order of Secretary Stanton, and held as hostages, for our
sixty wounded who were made prisoners while trying to pass through the
city, before we took possession.

So I was decked in plumes of fictitious greatness, and might have played
princess in disguise if I had had time; but I had only two deaths in the
old theater--this man up stairs, and the man without clothes, who lay
alone in that back room, and after the amputation of his thigh, had no
covering until government gave him one of Virginia clay.



One day at noon, the air thrilled with martial music and the earth shook
under the tramp of men as seven thousand splendid troops marched up
Princess Ann street on their way to reinforce our army, whose rear was
about eight miles from us. They were in superb order, and the forts
around Washington had been stripped of their garrisons, and most of
their guns, to furnish them; but the generalship which cut our army off
from its base of supplies, and blundered into the battle of the
Wilderness, like a blind horse into a briar patch, without shelling or
burning the dry chapperal in which our dead and wounded were consumed
together, after the battle, had made no arrangements for the safe
arrival of its reinforcements. So they were ambushed soon after passing
through Fredericksburg; and that night, before ten o'clock, all the
places I had succeeded in making vacant were filled with the wounded
from this reinforcement. How many of them were brought to Fredericksburg
I do not know; but it must have been a good many, when some were sent to
my den of horrors.

One evening, after dark, I went to the dispensary, and found a surgeon
just in from the front for supplies. While they were being put up, he
told us of the horrible carnage at Spottsylvania that day, when the
troops had been hurled, again and again, against impregnable
fortifications, under a rain of rifle balls, which cut down a solid
white oak tree, eighteen inches in diameter.

The battle had ceased for the night, and it was not known whether it
would be renewed in the morning.

"But if it is," said the speaker, "it will be the bloodiest day of the
war, and we must be whipped, routed. The Rebels are behind breastworks
which cannot be carried. Any man but Grant would have known that this
morning, but he is to fight it out on this line, and it is generally
thought he will try it again in the morning. If he does, it will be a
worse rout than Bull Run."

No one was present but the surgeon in charge of the church, the
dispensary clerk, and myself; so he was no alarmist, for when he had
done speaking, he took his package, mounted his horse and left. People
had said, through the day, that the roar of guns was heard in the higher
portions of the city, but no news of the battle seemed to have reached
it during all the next day.

I spent it in preparing for the worst, warned Georgie and tightened the
reins on my nurses. I had had no reason to complain of any, and felt
that I should hold them to duty, even through a rout. It also seemed
well to know where our wounded were located, in that part of the city,
so that if an attempt were made to remove them, in a hurry, there might
not be any overlooked.

At half-past eleven that night I had heard nothing from the front, and
went to sleep, with heavy forebodings. At two o'clock I was aroused by
the sounds of a moving multitude, rose and looked out to see, under the
starlight, a black stream pouring down the side street, on the corner of
which our quarters were situated, and turning down Princess Ann, toward
the river landing. To me, it was the nation going to her doom, passing
through the little period of starlight, on into the darkness and the

In Louisville, I had learned to believe that the Eternal verities
demanded the destruction of our Government. True, the South had beaten
the North in her bloody struggle for the privilege of holding her slaves
while she flogged them; but I could see, in this, no reason why that
North should be chosen as Freedom's standard-bearer! Our ignoble
Emancipation Proclamation had furnished no rock of moral principle on
which to plant her feet while she struggled in that bloody surf. God was
blotting out our name from among the nations, that he might plant here a
government worthy of such a country.

I calculated there was a rear guard that would hold the enemy back until
morning, and did not wake Georgie, who needed sleep; but I must be with
my men, who would be alarmed by the unusual sounds; must see that those
nurses did not run away.

To get to my post, I must cross that stream, and as I stood waiting on
the bank, could see that it was not composed of men in martial array. It
met exactly all my previous conceptions of a disorderly flight. There
were men in and out of uniform, men rolled in blankets, men on
horseback and men on foot, cannon, caisons, baggage wagons, beef cattle,
ambulances and nondescripts, all mixed and mingled, filling the street
from wall to wall; no one speaking a word, and all intent on getting
forward as fast as possible. So thickly were they packed that I waited
in vain, as much as twenty minutes, for some opening through which I
might work my way to the other side, and at last called the vidette, who
came and helped me over.

Reaching the theater, I found many of the men awake and listening; went
among them and whispered, as I did something for each, that there was
some movement on the street I did not understand, but should probably
know about in the morning. During the suspense of those dark hours, and
all the next day I was constantly reminded of the Bible metaphor of "a
nail fastened in a sure place." The absolute confidence which those men
reposed in me, the comfort and strength I could give them, were so out
of proportion to my strength that it was a study. I was a very small
nail, but so securely fastened in the source of all strength, that they
could hold by me and hope, even when there seemed nothing to hope for.
As for me, all the armies of the world, and the world itself might melt
or blow away, but I should be safe with God, and know that for every
creature He was working out some noble destiny. All the pain, and
sorrow, and defeat, were rough places--briars in an upward path to
something we should all rejoice to see.

All day that dark stream surged around that corner, and I took heart
that the flight was not disorderly, since I heard of none coming by any
other street. All day the work went on as usual at the old theater, and
I made short excursions to other places. Up that street in one end of an
engine house, up a narrow, winding stair, I found a room full of men
deserted, and in most pitiable condition. They were all supposed to be
fever cases, but one young man had an ankle wound, in which inflammation
had appeared. I hurried to the surgeons, stationed in the far end of the
building, and reported the case. They sent immediately for the man, and
I knew in two hours that the amputation had been successful, and barely
in time.

As I went on that errand, I met two Christian Commission men walking
leisurely, admiring the light of the rising sun on the old buildings,
and told them of the urgent demand for help, and chicken broth or beef
broth and water up in that room. They were polite, and promised to go as
soon as possible to the relief of that distress; but when I returned and
up to the last knowledge I had of the case, they had not been there.

I secured a can of cooked turkey, the only one I ever saw, and a pitcher
of hot water, and with these made a substitute for chicken broth; gave
them all drinks of water, bathed their faces, found one of their absent
nurses, made him promise to stay, and went back to the main building to
have some one see that he kept his word.

Here was a large floor almost covered with wounded, and among them a
woman stumbled about weeping, wailing, boo-hooing and wringing her
hands; I caught her wrist, and said:

"What _is_ the matter?" "Oh! oh! oh! Boo-hoo! boo-hoo! the poor fellow
is goin' to die an' wants me to write to his mother."

"Well, write to her and keep quiet! you need not kill all the rest of
them because he is going to die."

"Oh! boo-hoo! some people has no feelin's; but I have got feelin's!"

I led her to the surgeon in charge, who sent her and her "feelin's" to
her quarters, and told her not to come back.

She was the only one of the Dix' nurses I saw in Fredericksburg, and her
large, flat, flabby face was almost hideous with its lack of eye-brows
and lashes; but this hideousness must have been her recommendation, as
she could not have been more than twenty years old.

From the engine house I went to the Methodist church. Miss Hancock had
been detailed to the General Hospital, just being established, and I
found a house full of men in a sad condition. Nine o'clock, on a hot
morning, and no wounds dressed; bandages dry and hard, men thirsty and
feverish, nurses out watching that stream pouring through the city, and
patients helpless and despondent.

I got a basin of water and a clean rag, never cared for sponges, and
went from one to another, dripping water in behind those bandages to
ease the torment of lint splints, brought drinks and talked to call
their attention from the indefinite dread which filled the air, and got
up considerable interest in--I do not remember what--but something which
set them to talking.

Some wounds I dressed, and while engaged on one, a man called from the
other side of the house to know what the fun was all about, when the
man whose wound I was attending placed a hand on each of his sides,
screamed with laughter, and replied:

"Oh, Jim! do get her to dress your wound, for I swear, she'd make a dead
man laugh!"

I found some of the nurses; a surgeon came in who would, I thought,
attend to them, and I went back to my post to find every man on duty.

It was near sundown when we heard that this backward movement was a
"change of base;" but to me it seemed more like looking for a base, as
there had been none to change. The stream thickened toward nightfall,
and continued until two o'clock next morning; so that our army was
twenty-four hours passing through Fredericksburg; and in that time I do
not think a man strayed off on to any other street! All poured down that
side street, turned that corner, and went on down Princess Ann.



The next evening, after hearing of the battle of Spottsylvania, and
while waiting to know if it had been renewed, I sat after sundown on the
door-step of our quarters, when an orderly hurried up and inquired for
the Christian Commission. A lieutenant was dying, and wanted to see a
preacher. I directed the messenger, but doubted if he would find a
preacher, as I had seen nothing of any save a Catholic priest, with whom
I had formed an alliance; and I went to stay with the dying man, who was

I found him nervous and tired, with nothing to hinder his return to his
regiment inside of a month. He had been converted, was a member of the
Methodist church, and seemed an humble Christian man. I told him he was
getting well, had seen too much company, and must go to sleep, which he
proceeded to do in a very short time after being assured that that
motion was in order.

He had slept perhaps five minutes when the messenger returned, followed
by six preachers! I made a sign that he slept and should not be
disturbed, but they gathered around the bed with so much noise they
waked him.

There seemed to be a struggle for precedence among his visitors, but one
gained the victory. They all wanted to shake hands with the man in the
bed, but his left arm was off, and I objected; whereupon the head
spokesman groaned a good solid groan, to which the others groaned a
response. He stood at the foot of the bed, spread his chest, and

"Well, brother, how is your soul in this solemn hour?"

The answer was such as a good Christian might make; and I told the
gentleman that the lieutenant had been unnecessarily alarmed; that he
had seen too much company, was weary and excited, needed rest, and was
rapidly recovering; that he ought to go to sleep; but they all knelt
around the bed, and the first prayed a good, long, loud prayer; talked
about "the lake that burneth," and other pleasant things, while I held
the patient's hand, and felt his nerves jerk.

I thought it would soon be over; but no sooner had this one finished
than the next fell to, and gave us a prayer with more of those sobs made
by hard inhalation than his predecessor, and a good deal more
brimstone. No sooner had he relieved his mind than a third threw back
his head to begin, and I spoke, quietly as possible; begged they would
let the lieutenant sleep; told them that down in the old theater was a
man in a back room, alone and dying. I had tried to get some one to sit
with him and pray with him, and hoped one or two of them would go to him
at once, as every moment might make it too late. A man was also dying in
the engine-house, who ought to have some Christian friend with him as he
crossed the dark valley.

They listened impatiently; then the man whose turn it was to ventilate
his eloquence, pushed his sleeves up to the elbows, rubbed his hands as
if about to lift some heavy weight, and exclaimed:

"Yes, sister! Yes. We'll attend to them; but, first, let us get through
with this case!"

Then he went to work and ladled out groans, sobs and blue blazes. The
other three followed suit, and when they had all had a good time on
their knees, each one gave a short oration, and when they got through I
reminded them again of the two dying men; but like the undutiful son,
they said, "I go! and went not!"

It was two of the six whom I met next morning, and asked to go to the
relief of those poor patients, who promised and went not.



I do not know how long I was in charge of the old theater, but remember
talking to some one of having been there ten days, and things looking as
usual. It was after the change of base, that one afternoon I got eight
hopeful cases sent to the General Hospital, where they would have beds.
That night about ten o'clock the vidette halted a man, who explained
that he was surgeon in charge of that institution, and when he got leave
to go on, I caught him by the lapel of his coat, and said:

"If you are Surgeon--what is the reason that the eight men I sent you
this afternoon had had no supper at nine o'clock?"

He promised to attend to them before he slept, and on that we parted.
Soon after this, Dr. Childs, of Philadelphia, and a regular army
surgeon, came to the old theater, hung their coats and official dignity,
if they had any, on the wall--never said a word about the rubbish in the
hall, but fastened up their sleeves and went to work. When they came, I
felt as if I could not take another step, went to my room and lay down,
thinking of Raphael's useless angels leaning their baby arms on a cloud.
My angels wore beards, and had their sleeves turned up like farm
laborers, as they lifted men out of the depths of despair into the light
and warmth of human help and human sympathy.

In sending the men away, they sent the amputation cases and George to
the church, and sent for me to go to them there.

Georgie had gone to the General Hospital, and there was no surgeon in
charge at the church when I went to it. So, once more, I set about doing
that which was right in my own eyes. I could have a bale of hay, whipped
out my needle and thread, and for several bad cases who had two blankets
converted one into a bed tick, had it filled with hay, and a man placed
on it; but three were sadly in need of beds, and had no blankets; and to
them I alloted the balance of my precious bale, had it placed under them
loose, and rejoiced in their joy over so great a luxury. My theater men
had been laid in a row close to the wall, next to the late scene of
their suffering; and about midnight of the first night there, a nurse
asked me to go to a man who was dying. I found him in front of the
altar. The doors and front panels of the pews had been fastened V shape
to the floor, and he lay with one arm over this, and his head hanging
forward. He had been shot through the chest, was breathing loud and in
gasps, worn out for want of support, and to lay him down was to put out
his lamp of life instantly. What he needed was a high-backed chair, but
General Patrick's sense of duty to the citizens of Fredericksburg left
no hope of such a support. As the only substitute in my reach, I sat on
the edge of the pew door and its panel, drew his arm across my knee,
raised his head to my shoulder, and held it there by laying mine against
it. In this way I could talk in a low monotone to him, and the hopes to
which the soul turns when about to leave the tenement of clay. He gasped
acquiescence in these hopes, and his words led several men near to draw
their sleeves across their eyes; but they all knew he was dying, and a
little sympathy and sadness would not injure them.

He reached toward the floor, and, the man next handed up a daguerreotype
case, which he tried to open. I took and opened it; found the picture of
a young, handsome woman, and held it and a candle, so that he could see
it. His tears fell on it, as he looked, and he gasped,

"I shall never be where that has been."

I said:

"Is it your wife?" and he replied,

"No! but she would have been."

I always tried to avoid bringing sadness to the living on account of
death; but it must have been hard for men to sleep in sound of his
labored breathing; and to soften it I began singing "Shining Shore." He
took it up at once, in a whisper tone, keeping time, as if used to
singing. Soon one, then another and another joined, until all over the
church these prostrate men were singing that soft, sad melody. On the
altar burned a row of candles before a life-sized picture of the Virgin
and Child. The cocks crew the turn of the night outside, and when we had
sung the hymn through, some of the men began again, and we had sung it a
second time when I heard George call me. I knew that he, too, was dying,
and would probably not hear the next crowing of the cock. I must go to
him! how could I leave this head unsupported? Oh, death where is thy
sting? I think it was with me that night; but I went to George, and when
the sun arose it looked upon two corpses, the remains of two who had
gone from my arms in one night, full of hope in the great Hereafter.



Next morning a new surgeon took charge, and ordered that hay to be
removed. The men clung to their beds and sent for me; I plead a respite,
in hopes of getting muslin to make ticks; but was soon detected in the
act of taking a bowl of broth to one of my patients. This the surgeon
forbade on the ground that it was not regular meal time. I said the man
was asleep at meal time. This he would not permit, men must be fed at
regular hours, or not at all, and the new authority informed me that

"More wounded soldiers had been killed by women stuffing them than by
anything else."

He had just come from Massachusetts, and this was his first day among
the wounded. I set my bowl down before the altar, found a surgeon who
ranked him, and stated the case, when the higher authority said:

"Give every man an ox, every day, if he will take it in beef tea."

"But, Doctor, there is nothing in beef tea. I give broth."

"Very good, give them whatever you please and whenever you please--we
can trust you."

The new surgeon was promptly dismissed, and when next I saw him he was
on his way back to Massachusetts.

That night a nurse came for me to go to the theater which had been
vacated, and once more almost filled with men who lay in total darkness,
without having any provision made for them. I got them lights, nurses
and food, but could not go back for another siege in that
building--could not leave my present post, but the city was being
evacuated. Both theater and church were emptied, and I went to the
tobacco warehouse, where Mrs. Ingersol was perplexed about a man with a
large bullet in his brain. When I had seen him and assured her that
another ounce of lead in a skull of that kind was of no consequence, she
redoubled her care, and I have no doubt he is living yet. But there was
one man in whom I felt a deep interest and for whom I saw little hope.
He had a chest wound, and had seemed to be doing well when there was a
hemorrhage, and he lay white and still almost as death. He must not
attempt to speak, and I was a godsend to him, for I knew what he needed
without being told, and gave him the best care I could. He was of a
Western State, and his name Dutton, and when I left him I thought he
must die in being moved, as he must be soon; but I must go with a
boat-load of wounded.

This boat was a mere transport, and its precious freight was laid on the
decks as close as they could well be packed, the cabin floor being given
up to the wounded officers. There were several surgeons on board who may
have been attending to the men, but cannot remember seeing any but one
engaged in any work of that kind. There were also seven lady nurses, all
I think volunteers, all handsomely if not elegantly dressed. Of course
they could do nothing there, and I cannot see how they could have done
anything among the wounded in any place where there were no bedsteads
to protect the men from their hoops. They had probably been engaged in
preparing food, taking charge of, and distributing supplies and other
important work, for personal attendance on the men was but a part of the
work to be done.

Surgeons could do little without soiling their uniforms, but my dress
had long been past soiling or spoiling; my old kid slippers without
heels, could be slid, with the feet in them, quite under a man, and as I
stepped sideways across them, they took care that my soft dress did not
catch on their buttons. When I sat on one heel to bathe a hot face, give
a drink or dress a wound, some man took hold of me with his well hand
and steadied me, while another held my basin. I had half of an old
knapsack to put under a wound, keep the floor dry and catch the worms
when I drove them out--and no twenty early birds ever captured so many
in the same length of time. I became so eager in the pursuit that I kept
it up by candle-light, until late midnight, when I started to go to my

Entering the cabin, I came upon a social party, the like of which I
trust no one else will ever see. On the sofas sat those seven lady
nurses, each with the arm of an officer around her waist, in full view
of the wounded men on the floor, some of whom must go from that low bed,
to one still lower--even down under the daisies.

I stopped, uttered some exclamation, then stood in speechless surprise.
Three surgeons released the ladies they were holding, came forward and
inquired if there was anything wanted. I might have replied that men and
women were wanted, but think I said nothing. When I reached my room I
found in the berth a woman who raised up and said:

"The stewardess told me this was your room; will you let me stay with

She was another Georgie--young, calm, strong, refined, was Miss Gray of
Columbia Hospital, and staid with me through a long hard trial, in which
she proved that her price was above rubies.

Next morning I found on one of the guards, young Johnson, the son of an
old Wilkinsburg schoolmate. Hoped I had so checked the decay and final
destroyers which had already taken hold of him, that he might live.
Wrote to his people, and saw him at noon transferred with the other
patients, the surgeons and stylish lady nurses, to a large hospital
boat; when Miss Gray and I returned in the transport to Fredericksburg.



I cannot remember if our boat lay at the Fredericksburg wharf one day or
two; but she might start any moment, and those who went ashore took the
risk of being left, as this was the last boat. The evacuation was almost
complete, and we waited the result of expeditions to gather up our
wounded from field hospitals at the front. We were liable to attack at
any moment, and were protected by a gunboat which lay close along side.

There was plenty to do on board, but in doing it I must see the piles of
stores on the wharf brought there too late to be of service to our
wounded, and now to be abandoned to the Rebels. There were certainly one
hundred bales of hay, which would have more than replaced all that was
withheld by United States bayonets from our own men in their extremity.
I soon learned after entering Fredericksburg, that our Commissaries were
issuing stores without stint to the citizens; went and saw them carry
off loads of everything there was to give; and when those one hundred
and eighty-two Union soldiers were literally starving in the old
Theater, Union soldiers were dealing out delicacies to Rebels, while
others guarded the meanest article of their property, and kept it from
our men, even when it was necessary to save life.

I consulted several old Sanitary Commission men, who told me it was
always so when Grant was at the front; that he was then in absolute
command; that Patrick, the Provost Marshal, was his friend, and would be
sustained; and that we must be quiet or we would be ordered out of

Gen. Grant may have been loyal to the Union cause, but it has always
seemed to me that in fighting its battles, he was moved by the pure love
of fighting, and took that side which could furnish him the most means
to gratify his passion for war. His Generalship was certainly of a kind
that would soon have proved fatal to our cause in the war of the
Revolution, and only succeeded in the war of the Rebellion, because the
resources at his command were limitless, as compared with those of the
enemy. It was late in the afternoon when our boat shoved off, and as we
steamed away we saw the citizens rush down and take possession of the
stores left on the wharf. During the evening and night we were fired
into several times from the shores, but these attacks were returned from
the gun-boat, which kept our assailants at such distance that their
shots were harmless. We must have no lights that night, and the fires
were put out or concealed, that they might not make us a target. So I
slept, as there was nothing to be done, but in the morning was out early
in search of worms, and was having good success, when two richly,
fashionably dressed ladies came to tell me there was to be nothing to
eat, save for those who took board at the captain's table. They had gone
to the kitchen to make a cup of tea for a wounded officer, and were
ignominiously driven off by the cook. What was to be done? We might be
ten days getting to Washington.

I went in search of a surgeon in charge, and found one in bed, sick;
waited at his door until he joined me, when together we saw the captain
of the boat. There were two new cook-stoves on board, but to put one up
would be to forfeit the insurance. There were plenty of commissary
stores. The surgeon went with me, ordered the commissary to give me
anything I wanted, and went back to bed. Our stores consisted of
crackers, coffee, dried-apples, essence of beef, and salt pork in
abundance, a little loaf bread, and about half a pound of citric acid.
Of these only the crackers and bread could be eaten without being
cooked. There were four hundred and fifty wounded men--all bad cases,
all exhausted from privation. How many of them would live to reach
Washington on a diet of crackers and water? I went to the cook, a large,
sensible colored woman, and stated the case as well as I could. After
hearing it she said:

"I see how it is; but you see all these officers and ladies are agoin to
board with the captain, an' I'll have a sight o' cooking to do. I can't
have none of those fine ladies comin' a botherin' around me, carryin'
off my things or upsettin' 'em. But I'll tell you what I'll do; I'll
hurry up my work and clare off my things; then you can have the kitchen,
you an' that young lady that's with you; but them women, with their
hoops an' their flounces, must stay out o' here!"

It was hard to see how two of them would get into that small domain, a
kitchen about ten feet square, half filled by a cook-stove, shelves, and
the steep, narrow, open stairs which led to the upper deck; but what a
kingdom that little kitchen was to me! All the utensils leaked, but cook
helped me draw rags through the holes in the three largest which I was
to have, and which covered the top of the stove. There were plenty of
new wooden buckets and tin dippers on board as freight, some contraband
women, and an active little man, who had once been a cook's assistant.
He and the women were glad to work for food. He was to help me in the
kitchen. They worked outside, and must not get in the way of the crew.
They washed dried apples and put them to soak in buckets, pounded
crackers in bags and put the crumbs into buckets, making each one a
third full and covering them with cold water. I put a large piece of
salt pork into my largest boiler, added water and beef essence enough to
almost fill the boiler, seasoned it, and as soon as it reached boiling
point had it ladled into the buckets with the cracker-crumbs, and sent
for distribution. The second boiler was kept busy cooking dried apples,
into which I put citric acid and sugar, for gangrene prevailed among the
wounds. In the third boiler I made coffee; I kept it a-soak, and as soon
as it boiled I put it strong into buckets, one-third full of cold water.
I kept vessels in the oven and on the small spaces on top of the stove.
My little man fired up like a fire-king, another man laid plenty of wood
at hand; and I think that was the only cook-stove that was ever "run" to
its full capacity for a week. By so running it, I could give every man a
pint of warm soup and one of warm coffee every twenty-four hours. To do
this, everything must "come to time."

When one piece of pork was cooked, it was cut into small pieces and
distributed, and another put into the boiler. During our cooking times I
usually sat on the stairs, where I could direct and be out of the way;
and to improve the time, often had a plate and cup from which I ate and
drank. Cook always saved me something nice, and I made tea for myself. I
was running my body as I did the cook stove, making it do quadruple
duty, and did not spare the fuel in either case. Around each foot, below
the instep, I had a broad, firm bandage, one above each ankle and one
below each knee. If soldiers on the march had adopted this precaution,
they would have escaped the swollen limbs so often distressing. I also
had each knee covered by several layers of red flannel, to protect them
while I knelt on damp places. Soon after going into Campbell, I
discovered that muscles around the bone will do double service if held
firmly in place, and so was enabled in all my hospital work, to do what
seemed miraculous to the most experienced surgeons.

I rested every moment I could, never stood when I might sit, made no
useless motions, spent no strength in sorrow, had no sentiment, was
simply the engineer of a machine--my own body; could fall asleep soon as
I lay down, and wake any moment with my senses all alert, outlived my
prejudice about china cups, and drank tea from brown earthen mugs used
for soup, and never washed save in cold water; often ate from a tin
plate with my left hand, while my right held a stump to prevent that
jerking of the nerves which is so agonizing to the patient, many a time
eating from the same tin plate with my patient, and making merry over
it; and think I must have outstanding engagements to dance cotillions
with one hundred one-legged men.

One day while I sat eating and watching, that just enough cans of beef
were put into each boiler of broth, and no time wasted by letting it
stand after reaching boiling point, a surgeon asked to see me at the
kitchen door. He informed me that up on the forecastle, some men had had
soup twice while those in some other place had had none. He evidently
wished to be lenient, but felt that I had been guilty of great neglect.
I heard his grievance, and said:

"Doctor, how many of you surgeons are on this boat?"

After some consideration he answered:


"Four surgeons!" I repeated, "beside the surgeon in charge, who is sick!
We have four hundred and fifty wounded men! I draw all the rations,
find a way to cook them, have them cooked and put into the buckets,
ready for distribution. Do you not think that you four could organize a
force to see that they are honestly distributed--or do you expect me to
be in the kitchen, up in the forecastle, and at the stern on the boiler
deck, at one and the same time? Doctor, could you not take turns in
amusing those ladies? Could they not spare two of you for duty?"

I heard no more complaints, but left Miss Grey more in charge of the
kitchen, and did enough medical inspecting to know that I had been
unjust. Some of the surgeons had been on duty, and the men were not so
much neglected as I had feared. As for the Ladies, I do not know how
many there were of them, but they were of good social position--quite as
good as the average of those whose main object in life is to look as
much better than their neighbors as circumstances will admit. There was
on board one of those folks for whose existence Christianity is
responsible, and which sensible Hindoos reduce to their original
elements, viz.: a widow who gets a living by being pious, and is
respectable through sheer force of cheap finery; one who estimates
herself by her surroundings, and whose every word and look and motion is
an apology for her existence. She was a Dix, or paid nurse. The ladies
snubbed her; we had no room for her hoops; and she spent her time in odd
corners, taking care of them and her hair, and turning up her eyes, like
a duck in a thunder-storm, under the impression that it looked
devotional. If I had killed all the folks I have felt like killing, she
would have gone from that boat to her final rest.

One night about eleven o'clock a strange surgeon, who had just come
aboard with twenty wounded, came to the kitchen door, and handed in a
requisition for tea and custard and chicken for his men. The man told
him he could have nothing but cracker-broth or coffee. He was very
indignant, and proceeded to get up a scene; but the man said, firmly:

"Can't help it, Surgeon! That's the orders!"

"Orders! Whose orders?"

I got down from my porch on the stairs, came forward and said:

"It is my orders, sir, and I am sorry, but this is really all we can do
for you. If your men have tin cups, each one can have a cup of warm
soup--it will not be very hot--or a cup of warm coffee. Those who get
soup will get no coffee, and those who get coffee can have no soup. You
can get tin cups from the commissary, and should have them ready, so
that the food will not cool."

While I made this statement he stood regarding me with ineffable
disdain, and when I was through inquired:

"Who are you?"

"I am the cook!"

"The cook!" he repeated, contemptuously. "I will report your insolence
when we reach Washington!"

"That may be your duty; but I will send up the coffee and soup, and do
you get the tin cups."

He stamped off in dudgeon, and others who heard him were highly
indignant; but I was greatly pleased to find a surgeon who would get
angry and raise a disturbance on behalf of his patients. I never knew
his name, but if this should meet his eye I trust he will accept my
thanks for his faithfulness to his charge.

On the lower deck, behind the boilers, lay twenty wounded prisoners, who
at first looked sulky; but as I was stepping over and among them, one
caught my dress, looked up pleadingly, and said:

"Mother, can't you get me some soft bread? I can't eat this hard-tack."

He was young, scarce more than a boy; had large, dark eyes, a good
head--tokens of gentle nurture--and alas! a thigh stump. He told me he
was of a Mississippi regiment, and his name Willie Gibbs. I bathed his
hot face, and said I would see about the bread; then went to another
part of the deck, where our men were very closely packed, and stated the
case to them. There was very little soft bread--it was theirs by right;
what should I do? I think they all spoke at once, and all said the same

"Oh, mother! give the Johnnies the soft bread! we can eat hard-tack!"

I think I was impartial, but there was a temptation to give Willie Gibbs
a little more than his share of attention. His face was so sad, and
there was so little hope that he would ever again see those who loved
him, that I think I did more for him than for any other one on board.
His companions came to call me "mother," and I hope felt their captivity
softened by my care; and often rebel hands supported me while I crouched
at work.

When we approached Washington, I proposed rewarding the cook for the
incalculable service she had rendered, but she replied:

"No, ma'am, I will not take anything from you 'cept that apron! When we
get to Washington, you will not want it any more, an' I'll keep it all
my life to remember you, and leave it to my children! Lord! there isn't
another lady in the world could 'a done what you've done; an' I know
you're a lady! Them women with the fine clothes is trying to pass for
ladies, but, Lord! I know no lady 'u'd dress up that way in a place like
this, an' men know it, too--just look at you, an' how you do make them
fellers in shoulderstraps stand 'round!"

Her observation showed her Southern culture, for whatever supremacy the
North may have over the South, Southern ladies are far in advance of
those of the North in the art of dress. A Southern lady seldom commits
an incongruity, or fails to dress according to age, weather, and the
occasion. I do not think any one of any social standing would have gone
among wounded men, with the idea of rendering any assistance, tricked
out in finery, as hundreds, if not thousands, of respectable Northern
women did.

The apron which I gave to my friend the cook, was brown gingham, had
seen hard service, and cost, originally, ten cents, and half an hour's
hand-sewing; but if it aids her to remember me as pleasantly as I do
her, it is part of a bond of genuine friendship.



After two days in bed at home, I was so much better, that when Mrs.
Ingersol came with a plan for organizing a society to furnish the army
with female nurses, I went to see Mrs. Lincoln about it. She was willing
to cooperate, and I went to Secretary Stanton, who heard me, and

"You must know that Mrs. Barlow and Mrs. Ingersol and you are not fair
representatives of your sex," and went on to explain the embarrassment
of the Surgeon-General from the thousands of women pressing their
services upon the Government, and the various political influences
brought to bear on behalf of applicants, and of the well grounded
opposition of surgeons to the presence of women in hospitals, on account
of their general unfitness. Gen. Scott, as a personal friend of Miss
Dix, had appointed her to the place she held, and it was so convenient
and respectful to refer people to her, that the War Department would not
interfere with the arrangement. In other words, she was a break-water
against which feminine sympathies could dash and splash without
submerging the hospital service.

After what I had seen among the women who had succeeded in getting in, I
had not much to say. A society might prescribe a dress, but might be no
more successful than Miss Dix in making selections of those who should
wear it.

I asked the Secretary how it came that no better provision had been
made for our wounded after the battle of the Wilderness, and tears
sprang to his eyes as he replied:

"We did not know where they were. We had made every arrangement at the
points designated by Gen. Grant, but he changed his plans and did not
notify us. The whole army was cut off from its base of supplies and must
be sustained. As soon as we knew the emergency, we did everything in our
power; but all our preparations were lost. Everything had to be done
over again. You cannot regret the suffering more than I, but it was
impossible for me to prevent it."

I never saw him so earnest, so sorrowful, so deeply moved.

That effort seemed to be the straw which broke the camel's back, and I
was so ill as to demand medical attendance. For this I sent to Campbell.
Dr. Kelly came, but his forte was surgery, and my case was left with Dr.
True, who had had longer practice in medicine. They both decided that I
had been inoculated with gangrene while dressing wounds, and for some
weeks I continued to sink. I began to think my illness fatal, and asked
the doctor, who said:

"I have been thinking I ought to tell you that if you have any unsettled
business you should attend to it."

I had a feeling of being generally distributed over the bed, of being a
mass of pulp without any central force, but I had had a letter that day
from my daughter, who was with her father and grandmother in Swissvale,
and wanted to come to me, and the thought came: "Does God mean to make
my child an orphan, that others may receive their children by my
death?" Then I had a strange sensation of a muster, a gathering of
scattered life-force, and when it all came together it made a protest; I
signed to the doctor, who put his ear to my lips, and I said:

"Doctor True, I shall live to be an hundred and twenty years old!"

He took up the lamp, threw the light on my face, and peered anxiously
into it, and I looked straight into his eyes, and said:

"I will!"

He laughed and set down the lamp, saying:

"Then you must get over this!"

"You must get me over it. Bring Dr. Kelly!"

Next morning, I had them carry me into a larger room, where the morning
sun shone on me, and ten days after, started for Pennsylvania, where I
spent three weeks with my old Swissvale neighbors, Col. Hawkins and Wm.
S. Haven.

When I returned to Washington, I found an official document, a
recommendation from the Quarter-Master General, of my dismissal for
absence without leave. It was addressed to Secretary Stanton, who had
written on the outside:

"Respectfully referred to Mrs. Swisshelm, by Edwin M. Stanton."

I went back to work, and learned that Mrs. Gen. Barlow had died of
typhoid fever, in Washington. No man died more directly for the
Government. Thousands who fell on the battle-field, exhibited less
courage and devotion to that service, and did less to secure its
success. I know not where her body lies, but wherever it does, no
decoration-day should pass in which her memory is not crowned with

She died at a time when my life was despaired of, and when Mrs. Ingersol
wrote to a Maine paper of my illness, adding:

"I hope the Lord will not take her away, until He has made another like

She told me afterwards that just then she held the world at a grudge;
but it must have been relieved of my presence long ere this, if I had
not found in homoepathy relief from pain, which for eight months made
life a burden, and for which the best old-school physicians proposed no



To show the capabilities of some of the women who thought they had a
mission for saving the country by acting as hospital nurses, I give the
history of one.

While I lay ill, a friend came and told of a most excellent woman who
had come from afar, and tendered her services to the Government, who had
exerted much influence and spent much effort to get into a hospital as
nurse, but had failed.

Hearing of my illness, her desire to be useful led her to tender her
services, so that if she could not nurse wounded soldiers she could
nurse one who had. The generous offer was accepted, and I was left an
afternoon in her care.

I wanted a cup of tea. She went to the kitchen to make it, and one hour
after came up with a cup of tea, only this and nothing more, save a
saucer. To taste the tea. I must have a spoon, and to get one she must
go along a hall, down a long flight of stairs, through another hall and
the kitchen, to the pantry. When she had made the trip the tea was so
much too strong that a spoonful would have made a cup. She went down
again for hot water, and after she had got to the kitchen remembered
that she had thrown it out, thinking it would not be wanted. The fire
had gone out, and she came up to inquire if she should make a new one,
and if so, where she should find kindling? She had spent almost two
hours running to and fro, was all in perspiration and a fluster, had
done me a great deal of harm and nobody any good, had wasted all the
kindlings for the evening fire, enough tea to have served a large family
for a meal, and fairly illustrated a large part of the hospital service
rendered by women oppressed with the nursing mission.

My sense of relief was inexpressible when Mrs. George B. Lincoln
returned from her visit to the White House, sent my tea-maker away and
took charge of me once more.



Some months after leaving Fredericksburg, I was walking on Pennsylvania
avenue, when the setting sun shone in my face, and a man in uniform
stopped me, saying:

"Excuse me! you do not know me, but I know you!"

I turned, looked at him carefully, and said:

"I do not know you!"

"Oh, no! but the last time you saw me, you cut off my beard with your
scissors and fed me with a teaspoon. When you left me you did not think
you would ever see me again."

"Oh!" I exclaimed joyfully, "you are Dutton."

He laughed, and replied, "That's me. I have just got a furlough and am
going home."

He was very pale and thin, but I was so glad to see him and shake hands,
and wish him safely home with his friends.

During the great review after the war, I had a seat near the President's
stand. There was a jam, and a man behind me called my attention to a
captain, at a short distance, who had something to say to me, and passed
along the words:

"You took care of me on the boat coming from Fredericksburg."

Looking across, I could see him quite well, but even when his hat was
off could not recognize him; and this is all I have ever heard from or
of the men with whose lives mine was so knit during that terrible time.

I fear that not many survived, and doubt if a dozen of them ever knew me
by any other name than that of "Mother."



When Early appeared before Washington, we all knew there was nothing to
prevent his coming in and taking possession. The forts were stripped.
There were no soldiers either in or around the city. The original
inhabitants were ready to welcome him with open arms. The departments
were closed, that the clerks might go out in military array, to oppose;
but of course few soldiers were sitting at desks at that stage of the
war. The news at the Quartermaster's office one morning was that the
foreign ministers had been notified, and that the city would be shelled
that afternoon. We lived on the north side of the city; and when I went
home, thousands of people were on the streets, listening to the sound of
guns at Fort Reno.

So far as I knew, there was a universal expectation that the city would
be occupied by rebel troops that night. As this was in harmony with the
general tenor of my anticipations for a quarter of a century, I readily
shared in the popular opinion, and for once was with the majority.

Among the groups who stood in the streets were many contrabands, and
their faces were pitiful to see. One scantily-clad woman, holding a
ragged infant, and with two frightened, ragged children clinging to her
skirts, stood literally quaking. Her black face had turned gray with
terror, and she came to me and asked:

"Oh! Missus! does ye tink dey will get in?"

Suddenly my eyes were opened, like those of the prophet's servant when
he saw the horses and chariots of fire, and I replied:

"No! never! They will come no nearer than they now are! You can go home
and rest in peace, for you are just as safe from them as if you were in

She was greatly comforted; but a gentleman said, as she moved away:

"I wish I could share your opinion; but what is to hinder their coming

"God is to hinder! He has appointed us to rescue these people. They are
collected here in thousands, and the prayers of centuries are to be
answered now!"

I myself went home feeling all the confidence I spoke, and wondering I
could have been so stupid as to doubt. Our Government and people were
very imperfect, but had developed a sublime patriotism--made an almost
miraculous growth in good. Ten righteous men would have saved Sodom. We
had ten thousand; and I must think there are few histories of
supernatural interference in the affairs of the Jews more difficult to
account for, on merely natural grounds, than the preservation of
Washington in that crisis.


December 6th, 1865, the fiftieth anniversary of my birth, found me in
Washington, at work in the Quarter-Master's office, on a salary of sixty
dollars a month, without any provision for support in old age; and so
great a sufferer as never to have a night of rest unbroken by severe
pain, but with my interest in a country rescued from the odium of
Southern slavery, and a faint light breaking of the day which is yet to
abolish that of the West.

In the summer of '66, Dr. King, of Pittsburg, came to know what I would
take for my interest in ten acres of the Swissvale estate, which he had
purchased. My deed had presented a barrier to the sale of a portion of
it, and he was in trouble:

I consulted Secretary Stanton, who said:

"Your title to that property is good against the world!"

It had become valuable and the idea of its ownership was alarming! I had
made up my mind to poverty, had been discharged from the
Quarter-Master's office by special order of President Johnson, "for
speaking disrespectfully of the President of the United
States!"--_Washington Star_--was the first person dismissed by Mr.
Johnson; was without visible means of support, could not suddenly adjust
my thought to anything so foreign to all my plans as coming into
possession of a valuable estate, and said:

"Oh, Secretary Stanton, how shall I ever undertake such a stewardship at
my time of life?" He looked sternly at me, and replied:

"Mrs. Swisshelm, don't be a fool! take care of yourself! It is time you
would begin. The property is yours now. You are morally responsible for
it, and can surely make some better use of it than giving it away to
rich men around Pittsburg. Go at once and attend to your interests."

This was our last interview. I instituted the suit he advised, and he
would have plead my cause before the Supreme Court, but when it came up
he was holding possession of the War Department to defeat President
Johnson's policy of making the South triumphant. However, the decree of
the court was in my favor, and through it I have been able to rescue the
old log block house from the tooth of decay, and to sit in it and recall
those passages of life with which it is so intimately connected.


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