Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Harriet Tubman Didn't Like Abraham Lincoln

Harriet Tubman in 1870
During an interview with a writer named Rose Belle Holt in 1886, Harriet Tubman stated that she did not like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and only learned to appreciate him after her friend Sojourner Truth told her Lincoln was not the enemy but a friend to African-Americans.

The statement came after Holt asked Tubman if she ever visited Lincoln at the White House: “No, I'm sorry now, but I didn't like Lincoln in them days. I used to go see Missus Lincoln, but I never wanted to see him. You see we colored people didn't understand then [that] he was our friend. All we knew was that the first colored troops sent south from Massachusetts only got seven dollars a month, while the white regiment got fifteen. We didn't like that. But now I know all about it and I is sorry I didn't go see Master Lincoln.”

Tubman said she eventually changed her mind after Sojourner Truth told her Lincoln was “our friend” and had gone to the White House in October of 1864 to thank Lincoln for signing the Emancipation Proclamation. Sojourner Truth told her that Lincoln appreciated the visit but felt he only did what any president would have done in his shoes.

For the rest of her life, Tubman regretted not meeting Lincoln and thanking him for ending slavery. One of her close friends, Helen Tatlock, said during an interview with Earl Conrad in the 1939: “I remember very clearly Harriet saying, and repeating, very often, that she did now know Lincoln. It was a deep sorrow and regret of her later years. She never recovered from that in any way.”

"Visits with Lincoln: Abolitionists Meet the President at the White House”; Barbara White; 2011

 "Harriet Tubman: The Life and the Life Stories”; Jean McMahon Humez; 2003

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