A B C D E F
G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!


Text on one page: Few Medium Many
The positions she has
occupied, whether remunerative or not--and she has filled but few paid
positions--have been pioneer ones, in which her efforts and success
have been to raise the standard of woman's work and its recognition
and remuneration. Her time, her property, and her influence have been
held sacred to benevolence of that character that will assist in true
progress. Nevertheless, she is one of the most retiring of women,
never voluntarily coming before the world except at the call of
manifest duty, and shrinking with peculiar sensitiveness from anything
verging on notoriety.

Her summers are passed at her pleasant country residence at Dansville,
New York, where she has regained in a most gratifying degree her
shattered health and war-worn strength, and her winters in Washington
in the interests and charge of the great International movement which
she represents in America.


JOSEPHINE SOPHIE GRIFFING.

_The National Freedman's Relief Association._

BY CATHARINE A. F. STEBBINS.

Josephine Sophie White was born at Hebron, Conn., December, 1816, and
was educated in her native State. She grew to young womanhood in the
pure and religious atmosphere of the New England hills, and developed
a strength of constitution and character which was the basis of her
truly beneficent life-work. Refined, sympathetic, and conscientious,
with the golden rule for her text, her career was ever marked with
deeds of kindness and charity to the oppressed of every class. Taking
an active part in both the "Anti-slavery" and "Woman's Rights"
struggles, she early learned the very alphabet of liberty. With her
the perception of its blessings and its glory was also a rich
inheritance, and the vigilance and courage to conquer and secure it
for others was not less a noble legacy. The love of liberty flowed
down to her through two streams of life. On the mother's side she was
descended from Peter Waldo[25], after whom the Waldenses were named;
and on the father's, from Peregrine White, who was born in
Massachusetts in 1620, the first child of Pilgrim parents. It is not
strange she was by temperament and constitution a reformer, and a
protestant against all despotisms, whether of mind, body, or estate.
In the agitation for human rights of one class after another, in their
historical order, she enlisted with the Abolitionists, with the Woman
Suffragists, with the Loyal League and sanitary workers, and after the
war, in relief of the Freedmen. Her interest in her own sex began
early, and continued to the last.

At the age of twenty-two she married, and about the year 1842 removed
with her family to Ohio, where her home soon became the refuge of the
fugitive slave, and the resting-place of his defenders. In 1849 she
began, with her husband, Chas. S. S. Griffing, her public labors in
connection with the "American" and the "Western Anti-Slavery
Societies," speaking at first to small audiences in school-houses, and
when prejudice and bitterness gave way, to conventions, and
mass-meetings; opposition and curiosity yielding finally to sympathy
and aid. But for years the meetings were often broken up by mobs. The
effort to uproot slavery was pronounced either absurd, treasonable, or
irreligious; that it would incite insurrection of the slaves; or if
successful, bring great responsibility upon the Abolitionists, and
disaster to the whole country.

In 1861, Mrs. Griffing, prompted by the same loyal spirit that moved
all the women of the nation, turned from the ordinary occupations of
life to see what she could do to mitigate the miseries of the war. She
united at once with "The National Woman's Loyal League," lecturing and
organizing societies in the West for the soldiers and freedmen, to
whom large quantities of clothing and other supplies were sent, and
circulating petitions to Congress for the emancipation of slaves as a
war measure.

While thus engaged, her thoughts naturally turned to the large number
of Southern slaves coming with the army into Washington, whose future
she foresaw would be beset with distress and want during the long
period of change from chattelism to the settled habits of freedom.
They were coming by the hundreds and thousands in 1863, with a vague
idea of being cared for by "the Governor," but the Government had as
yet made no provision, separate from that for the soldiers, when Mrs.
Griffing went to Washington and began her labors for them, which were
continued until her death.

She at once counseled with President Lincoln and Secretary Stanton as
to the best methods for immediate relief; proposed plans which they
approved, and received from them every aid possible in their
execution. Her first step was to open three ration-houses, where she
fed at least a thousand of the old and most destitute of the freed
people daily. She visited hundreds in the alleys and old stables, in
attics and cellars, and in almost every place where shelter could be
found, and became acquainted personally with their necessities, and
the best means of supplying them. There were 30,000 in the capital at
this time, and it would be difficult to give an idea to one not there,
of the time and labor it cost to hunt out the old barracks and get
them transformed into shelters for these outcasts. Upon the personal
order of the Secretary of War, she was allowed army blankets and wood,
which she distributed herself, going with the army wagons to see that
those suffering most were first supplied. This "temporary relief" was
necessarily continued for some time, during which Mrs. Griffing was
made the General Agent of "The National Freedman's Relief Association
of the District of Columbia." She opened a correspondence with the Aid
societies of the Northern and New England States, which resulted in
her receiving supplies of clothing and provisions, which were most
acceptable. These were carefully dispensed by herself and two
daughters, who were her assistants. Mrs. Griffing opened three
industrial schools, where the women were taught to sew;[26] a price
was set on their labors, and they were paid in ready-made garments.
The Secretary aided in the purchase of suitable cloth, and with that
sent from the North, such outfits were supplied as could be afforded.

It was soon apparent to Mrs. Griffing that the Government must provide
for the old and the infirm, and that until labor could be found, even
a majority of the strong must be included in the provision--with the
understanding, however, that they must seek employment and exert
themselves to find homes--and that educational and political interests
must be established and encouraged. The stress of the situation can
not be said ever to have relaxed during our friend's life, except as
to numbers--at any rate in the early years; but as soon as some system
grew out of the confusion, and all that could be, were supplied with
bread and shelter, she turned her attention in part to the larger
plan, and urged a bureau under Government; a department for these
freedmen's interests. This plan was favored by Messrs. Sumner, Wade,
Wilson, and a few other Senators and Members of Congress, and in
December, 1863, a bill for a Bureau of Emancipation was introduced in
the House of Representatives by Hon. Mr. Elliot, of Massachusetts. It
received no welcome; few cared to listen to the details of the
necessity, and it was only through Mrs. Griffing's brave and unwearied
efforts that the plan was accepted, and carried through in March,
1865, under the title of "The Freedman's Bureau." The writer has had
testimony to the truth of this from Senators Wade of Ohio, Howard of
Michigan, and others, as well as to the fact that a majority of the
Congressional Committee in charge of the bill, wished that Mrs.
Griffing should be made Commissioner (among whom, and most active in
support of the bill, was Senator Henry Wilson), but it was decided to
place the Bureau in the War Department, with a military man at the
head, Mrs. Griffing being appointed "Assistant Commissioner." She
really held the position but a few weeks--in name, five months--a
second military officer standing ready to take the appointment, as men
have ever done, and as they will always crowd women aside so long as
they are held political inferiors, without the citizen's charter to
sustain their claim. This officer had the title and drew the pay,
while our noble friend went on as before in her arduous and almost
superhuman labors. The Bureau adopted _her_ plan of finding homes in
the North, sending the freedmen at Government charge, and of opening
employment offices in New York City and in Providence, R. I.;
nevertheless it was necessary to supplement Government provision by
private generosity; and moreover, that Congress should provide
temporary relief for the helpless in the District. Appropriations were
made in sums of $25,000, amounting in all to nearly $200,000, for the
purchase of supplies, a very large proportion of which were
distributed by Mrs. Griffing in person from her own residence.[27]
"Shirley Dare," in writing to _The New York World_, after a little
time spent with Mrs. G., said:

"I sat an hour this morning in Mrs. Griffing's office during the
distribution of rations, and a curious scene it was. There was
not a sound creature among the crowd which filled the yard, and
which hangs about all day from nine till four, and which the
neighborhood calls 'Mrs. Griffing's signs.' It reminded me of
another crowd of impotent folk, lame, halt, and blind, which
filled the loveliest space in Jerusalem, and was a _sign_ of joy
and charity in the place. Queer, tender, wistful faces, so
earnest one forgets their grotesque character and ragged, faded
forms, cluster in the porch; such a set as one might once have
seen put up at auction as a 'refuse lot' of plantation negroes.
The men wear old army cloaks, while the women, with dresses in
every stage of decay, are so comic, one struggles between the
ludicrous and the pitiful.... The faith of this class seems to be
fastened nowhere so strongly as upon Mrs.



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | 75 | | 76 | | 77 | | 78 | | 79 | | 80 | | 81 | | 82 | | 83 | | 84 | | 85 | | 86 | | 87 | | 88 | | 89 | | 90 | | 91 | | 92 | | 93 | | 94 | | 95 | | 96 | | 97 | | 98 | | 99 | | 100 | | 101 | | 102 | | 103 | | 104 | | 105 | | 106 | | 107 | | 108 | | 109 | | 110 | | 111 | | 112 | | 113 | | 114 | | 115 | | 116 | | 117 | | 118 | | 119 | | 120 | | 121 | | 122 | | 123 | | 124 | | 125 | | 126 | | 127 | | 128 | | 129 | | 130 | | 131 | | 132 | | 133 | | 134 | | 135 | | 136 | | 137 | | 138 | | 139 | | 140 | | 141 | | 142 | | 143 | | 144 | | 145 | | 146 | | 147 | | 148 | | 149 | | 150 | | 151 | | 152 | | 153 | | 154 | | 155 | | 156 | | 157 | | 158 | | 159 | | 160 | | 161 | | 162 | | 163 | | 164 | | 165 | | 166 | | 167 | | 168 | | 169 | | 170 | | 171 | | 172 | | 173 | | 174 | | 175 | | 176 | | 177 | | 178 | | 179 | | 180 | | 181 | | 182 | | 183 | | 184 | | 185 | | 186 | | 187 | | 188 | | 189 | | 190 | | 191 | | 192 | | 193 | | 194 | | 195 | | 196 | | 197 | | 198 | | 199 | | 200 | | 201 | | 202 | | 203 | | 204 | | 205 | | 206 | | 207 | | 208 | | 209 | | 210 | | 211 | | 212 | | 213 | | 214 | | 215 | | 216 | | 217 | | 218 | | 219 | | 220 | | 221 | | 222 | | 223 | | 224 | | 225 | | 226 | | 227 | | 228 | | 229 | | 230 | | 231 | | 232 | | 233 | | 234 | | 235 | | 236 | | 237 | | 238 | | 239 | | 240 | | 241 | | 242 | | 243 | | 244 | | 245 | | 246 | | 247 | | 248 | | 249 | | 250 | | 251 | | 252 | | 253 | | 254 | | 255 | | 256 | | 257 | | 258 | | 259 | | 260 | | 261 | | 262 | | 263 | | 264 | | 265 | | 266 | | 267 | | 268 | | 269 | | 270 | | 271 | | 272 | | 273 | | 274 | | 275 | | 276 | | 277 | | 278 | | 279 | | 280 | | 281 | | 282 | | 283 | | 284 | | 285 | | 286 | | 287 | | 288 | | 289 | | 290 | | 291 | | 292 | | 293 | | 294 | | 295 | | 296 | | 297 | | 298 | | 299 | | 300 | | 301 | | 302 | | 303 | | 304 | | 305 | | 306 | | 307 | | 308 | | 309 | | 310 | | 311 | | 312 | | 313 | | 314 | | 315 | | 316 | | 317 | | 318 | | 319 | | 320 | | 321 | | 322 | | 323 | | 324 | | 325 | | 326 | | 327 | | 328 | | 329 | | 330 | | 331 | | 332 | | 333 | | 334 | | 335 | | 336 | | 337 | | 338 | | 339 | | 340 | | 341 | | 342 | | 343 | | 344 | | 345 | | 346 | | 347 | | 348 | | 349 | | 350 | | 351 | | 352 | | 353 | | 354 | | 355 | | 356 | | 357 | | 358 | | 359 | | 360 | | Next |

N O P Q R S T
U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.