N. R. Johnston to William Still, September 1, 1855

    Source citation
    William Still, The Underground Rail Road (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1872), 585-586.
    Author (from)
    Johnston, N. R.
    Date Certainty
    Michael Blake
    Transcription date

    The following text is presented here in complete form, as true to the original written document as possible. Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    TOPSHAM, VT., September 1st, 1855.

    WM. STILL, my DEAR FRIEND: - I have the heart, but not the time, to write you a long letter. It is Saturday evening, and I am preparing to preach to-morrow afternoon from Heb. xiii.:3, "Remember them that are in bonds as bound with them." This will be my second sermon from this text. Sabbath before last I preached from it, arguing and illustrating the proposition, deduced from it, that "the great work to which we are now called is the abolition of Slavery, or the emancipation of the slave," showing our duty as philanthropists. To-morrow I intend to point out our duty as citizens. Some to whom I minister, I know, will call it a political speech; but I have long since determined to speak for the dumb what is in my heart and in my Bible, let men hear or forbear. I am accountable to the God of the oppressed, not to man. If I have his favor, why need I regard man's disfavor. Many besides the members of my own church come out regularly to hear me. Some of them are pro-slavery politicians. The consequence is, I preach much on the subject of Slavery. And while I have a tongue to speak, and lips to pray, they shall never be sealed or silent so long as millions of dumb have so few to speak for them.

    But poor Passmore Williamson is in bonds. Let us also remember him, as bound with him. He has many sympathizers. I am glad you did not share the same fate. For some reasons I am sorry you have fallen into the hands of thieves. For some others I am glad. It will make you more devoted to your good work. Persecution always brightens the Christian, and gives more zeal to the true philanthropist. I hope you will come off victorious. I pray for you and your co-laborers and co-sufferers.

    My good brother, I am greatly indebted to you for your continued kindness. The Lord reward you.

    I have a scholarship in an Ohio College, Geneva Hall, which will entitle me - any one I may send - to six years tuition. It is an Anti-slavery institution, and wholly under Anti-slavery control and influence. They want colored students to prepare them for the great field of labor open to men of talent and piety of that class. When I last saw you I purposed talking to you about this matter, but was disappointed very much in not getting to take tea with you, as I partly promised. Have you a son ready for college? or for the grammar school? Do you know any promising young man who would accept my scholarship? Or would your brother's son, Peter or Levin, like to have the benefit of it? If so, you are at liberty to promise it to any one whom you think I would be willing to educate. Write me at your earliest convenience, about this matter.

    I presume the Standard will contain full accounts of the Norristown meeting, the Williamson case, and your own and those connected. If it does not, I will thank you to write me fully.

    What causes the delay of that book, the History of Peter Still's Family, etc.? I long to see it. The Lord bless you in your labors for the slave.

    Yours, etc., N. R. JOHNSTON.

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