Anne Sullivan Quotes
Anne Sullivan Quotes
“How forlorn and weary I was, nobody, not even you can imagine. I remember how the conductor on the train from Chattanooka [sic] tried to comfort me. He noticed that I cried a great deal, and stopped to ask, ‘Any of your folks dead, young lady?’ His voice was so kind, I could not help telling him a little of my trouble, and he did his best to cheer me, telling me that I would find the southern people most kind and hospitable. When the train stopped at Tuscumbia, the thought flashed through my mind, ‘Here I am more than a thousand miles from any human being I ever saw before!’ But somehow I was not sorry that I had come. I felt that the future held something good for me. And the loneliness in my heart was an old acquaintance. I had been lonely all my life. My surroundings only were to be different.”
“I need not tell you, dear, that this has been a hard year; but I do not forget the many pleasant spots in it. I have lost my patience and courage many, many times; but I have found that one difficult task accomplished makes the next easier. My most persistent foe is that feeling of restlessness that takes possession of me sometimes. It overflows my soul like a tide, and there is no escape from it. It is more torturing than any physical pain I have ever endured. I pray constantly that my love for this beautiful child may grow so large and satisfying that there will be no room in my heart for uneasiness and discontent.”
“Thank Heaven, I didn’t have to follow a curriculum when I began teaching Helen. I am convinced she wouldn’t have learned language as easily as she did. It seems to me, it is made as difficult as possible in school for a child to learn anything.
Helen learned language almost as unconsciously as the normal child. Here it is made a “lesson.” The child sits in-doors, and for an hour the teacher endeavors more or less skillfully to engrave words upon his brain. As I look back, it seems as if Helen were always on the jump when I was teaching her. We were generally in the open air doing something. Words were learned as they were needed. She rarely forgot a word that was given her when the action called it forth, and she learned a phrase or even a sentence as readily as a single word when it was needed to describe the action.
Apparently, children learn language more quickly when they are free to move about among objects that interest them. They absorb words and knowledge simultaneously. In the class-room they cease to be actors in the drama, they sit and watch the teacher doing something with her mouth which does not excite their curiosity particularly. Passivity does not stimulate interest or mental energy. The child learns eagerly what, he wants to know, and indifferently what, you want him to know.
I have thought much about methods of teaching since I came here. The contrast between these children’s plodding pursuit of knowledge and Helen’s bounding joyousness makes me wonder. When I go into one of the class-rooms and see little children sitting demurely behind their small desks, while a teacher sits in front of them, holding an object in her hand for their inspection, then slowly speaking the name of the object which they vainly try to imitate, I feel somehow as if they were chained to their seats, and forced to gaze intently at a giantess who made faces at them.”
- Anne Sullivan quotes: Anne’s Letter to Sophia C. Hopkins (March 4, 1888) – American Foundation for the Blind / Anne’s letter to John Hitz – American Foundation for the Blind
- Portrait: Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2004672077/>.
Elizabeth Keckley Quotes
“I was my mother’s only child, which made her love for me all the stronger. I did not know much of my father, for he was the slave of another man, and when Mr. Burwell moved from Dinwiddie he was separated from us, and only allowed to visit my mother twice a year–during the Easter holidays and Christmas. At last Mr. Burwell determined to reward my mother, by making an arrangement with the owner of my father, by which the separation of my parents could be brought to an end. It was a bright day, indeed, for my mother when it was announced that my father was coming to live with us. The old weary look faded from her face, and she worked as if her heart was in every task.”
“When I was about seven years old I witnessed, for the first time, the sale of a human being. We were living at Prince Edward, in Virginia, and master had just purchased his hogs for the winter, for which he was unable to pay in full. To escape from his embarrassment it was necessary to sell one of the slaves. Little Joe, the son of the cook, was selected as the victim. His mother was ordered to dress him up in his Sunday clothes, and send him to the house. He came in with a bright face, was placed in the scales, and was sold, like the hogs, at so much per pound. His mother was kept in ignorance of the transaction, but her suspicions were aroused. When her son started for Petersburgh in the wagon, the truth began to dawn upon her mind, and she pleaded piteously that her boy should not be taken from her; but master quieted her by telling her that he was simply going to town with the wagon, and would be back in the morning. Morning came, but little Joe did not return to his mother. Morning after morning passed, and the mother went down to the grave without ever seeing her child again. One day she was whipped for grieving for her lost boy. Colonel Burwell never liked to see one of his slaves wear a sorrowful face, and those who offended in this particular way were always punished.”
The life of the nation was at stake; and when the land was full of sorrow, there could not be much gayety at the capital. The days passed quietly with me. I soon learned that some people had an intense desire to penetrate the inner circle of the White House. No President and his family, heretofore occupying this mansion, ever excited so much curiosity as the present incumbents. Mr. Lincoln had grown up in the wilds of the West, and evil report had said much of him and his wife. The polite world was shocked, and the tendency to exaggerate intensified curiosity. As soon as it was known that I was the modiste of Mrs. Lincoln, parties crowded around and affected friendship for me, hoping to induce me to betray the secrets of the domestic circle. One day a woman, I will not call her a lady, drove up to my rooms, gave me an order to make a dress, and insisted on partly paying me in advance. She called on me every day, and was exceedingly kind. When she came to take her dress away, she cautiously remarked:
‘Mrs. Keckley, you know Mrs. Lincoln?’
‘You are her modiste; are you not?’
‘You know her very well; do you not?’
‘I am with her every day or two.’
‘Don’t you think you would have some influence with her?’
‘I cannot say. Mrs. Lincoln, I presume, would listen to anything I should suggest, but whether she would be influenced by a suggestion of mine is another question.’
‘I am sure that you could influence her, Mrs. Keckley. Now listen; I have a proposition to make. I have a great desire to become an inmate of the White House. I have heard so much of Mr. Lincoln’s goodness that I should like to be near him; and if I can enter the White House no other way, I am willing to go as a menial. My dear Mrs. Keckley, will you not recommend me to Mrs. Lincoln as a friend of yours out of employment, and ask her to take me as a chambermaid? If you will do this you shall be well rewarded. It may be worth several thousand dollars to you in time.’
I looked at the woman in amazement. A bribe, and to betray the confidence of my employer! Turning to her with a glance of scorn, I said:
‘Madam, you are mistaken in regard to my character. Sooner than betray the trust of a friend, I would throw myself into the Potomac river. I am not so base as that. Pardon me, but there is the door, and I trust that you will never enter my room again.’”
About Elizabeth Keckley:
Elizabeth Keckley was born into enslavement in Virginia in 1818. She would eventually buy her freedom and make her way to Washington D.C., where she opened a business making dresses for women, including Mary Todd Lincoln, the United States First Lady.
Elizabeth Keckley Quotes Sources:
Quotes – “Behind the Scenes.” or “Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House.” by Elizabeth Keckley. Published by G.W. Carleton & Co, 1868.
Portrait – Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University / The Whitehouse Historical Association / Wikimedia Commons
About Elizabeth – “Elizabeth Keckley: a snapshot biography”. Historical Snapshots.
Letter from a Union Army soldier to his mother, 1865
My situation as I write is rather a pleasant one. We are sailing down the Potomac river from Washington intending to land at Chaplain Point about 60 miles from Washington on the Maryland side. We are in search of J. Wilkes Booth the Murderer of our Dear President. We mean to scout three counties in search of him If we get him I fear we will not be able to get him to Washington alive. We have been stationed in Washington since the buriel of the President. Our Quarters were at Mrs. Carpenters boarding house on Penna Avenue while our men were in Barracks beside the Capitol I tell you this is rather rich soldiering to have Hd. Qr. on Penna Avenue.
We return there when this scout is over. I think we will stay there this summer. Don’t you think we must have a popular Reg’ when they sent for us the only Reg’ from the Army of the James to attend the Funeral of the President. Secretary Stanton sent for us I believe and he has sent us on this raid he has great confidence in this Reg’ And I tell you he might well have They are Penna Colored men and you can trust them any where and for any thing they can not be bribed. Our Reg’ will be likely to stay in the service. Now is Wills chance as I wrote. While I write the Officers are singing all kinds of songs around and in high glee.
the burriel of the President was one of the most impressing sight I ever witnessed. Delligations from all the Principal Cities and every thing in the grandest order. Our Reg’ led the Procession. I commanded the second company. I suppose we marched apass one hundred thousand people passing up Penna Avenue The Presidents Body was placed under the dome of the Capitol and the day following the funeral he lay in State for the purpose of permitting all the American people who desired to see him to do so. Hundreds of thousands came and passed through to see him I never wept so much over the death of any person as his. O’ to think that great, good, and honest man to be murdered so. Mankind has lost its best friend since the crusifiction of Christ. I do think there never has been
so great andsuch greatness and such honesty combined in one man “So gentle and so KindHis life was gentle and the elements were so mixed up in him that nature might stand & say to all the world this was a man.”
It has caused the hearts of those who sensured him so harshly to smite them I have had men to me since who had before denounced him as a corrupt man that they felt so miserable since his assassination that they could neither sleep nor eat and were satisfied that he was a pure honest and good man. He is the greatest man I think that ever lived. I sent several papers home I sent a bundle by express. I have never heard whether you received the hundred dollars or not I sent. I am well I want to know whether Will is thinking of doing what I wrote him or not.
My respects to all the family
Write soon I have no more time to write
son R E H ??? [illegible]
[Herrin?] [Harris?] [Heuse?]
- Folder 1, Nathaniel Harrison Harris Papers, #1297-z, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- The Civil War Day by Day, University of North Carolina Library
Frederick Douglass Quotes
“I was born in Tuckahoe, near Hillsborough, and about twelve miles from Easton, in Talbot county, Maryland. I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it. By far the larger part of the slaves know as little of their ages as horses know of theirs, and it is the wish of most masters within my knowledge to keep their slaves thus ignorant. I do not remember to have ever met a slave who could tell of his birthday. They seldom come nearer to it than planting-time, harvest-time, cherry-time, spring-time, or fall-time. A want of information concerning my own was a source of unhappiness to me even during childhood. The white children could tell their ages. I could not tell why I ought to be deprived of the same privilege. I was not allowed to make any inquiries of my master concerning it. He deemed all such inquiries on the part of a slave improper and impertinent, and evidence of a restless spirit. The nearest estimate I can give makes me now between twenty-seven and twenty-eight years of age. I come to this, from hearing my master say, some time during 1835, I was about seventeen years old.”
“The slaves selected to go to the Great House Farm, for the monthly allowance for themselves and their fellow-slaves, were peculiarly enthusiastic. While on their way, they would make the dense old woods, for miles around, reverberate with their wild songs, revealing at once the highest joy and the deepest sadness. They would compose and sing as they went along, consulting neither time nor tune. The thought that came up, came out–if not in the word, in the sound; –and as frequently in the one as in the other. They would sometimes sing the most pathetic sentiment in the most rapturous tone, and the most rapturous sentiment in the most pathetic tone. Into all of their songs they would manage to weave something of the Great House Farm. Especially would they do this, when leaving home. They would then sing most exultingly the following words:–
‘I am going away to the Great House Farm!
O, yea! O, yea! O!’
This they would sing, as a chorus, to words which to many would seem unmeaning jargon, but which, nevertheless, were full of meaning to themselves. I have sometimes thought that the mere hearing of those songs would do more to impress some minds with the horrible character of slavery, than the reading of whole volumes of philosophy on the subject could do.
I did not, when a slave, understand the deep meaning of those rude and apparently incoherent songs. I was myself within the circle; so that I neither saw nor heard as those without might see and hear. They told a tale of woe which was then altogether beyond my feeble comprehension; they were tones loud, long, and deep; they breathed the prayer and complaint of souls boiling over with the bitterest anguish. Every tone was a testimony against slavery, and a prayer to God for deliverance from chains. The hearing of those wild notes always depressed my spirit, and filled me with ineffable sadness. I have frequently found myself in tears while hearing them. The mere recurrence to those songs, even now, afflicts me; and while I am writing these lines, an expression of feeling has already found its way down my cheek. To those songs I trace my first glimmering conception of the dehumanizing character of slavery. I can never get rid of that conception. Those songs still follow me, to deepen my hatred of slavery, and quicken my sympathies for my brethren in bonds. If any one wishes to be impressed with the soul-killing effects of slavery, let him go to Colonel Lloyd’s plantation, and, on allowance-day, place himself in the deep pine woods, and there let him, in silence, analyze the sounds that shall pass through the chambers of his soul,–and if he is not thus impressed, it will only be because ‘there is no flesh in his obdurate heart.’
I have often been utterly astonished, since I came to the north, to find persons who could speak of the singing, among slaves, as evidence of their contentment and happiness. It is impossible to conceive of a greater mistake. Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy. The songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart; and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is relieved by its tears. At least, such is my experience. I have often sung to drown my sorrow, but seldom to express my happiness. Crying for joy, and singing for joy, were alike uncommon to me while in the jaws of slavery. The singing of a man cast away upon a desolate island might be as appropriately considered as evidence of contentment and happiness, as the singing of a slave; the songs of the one and of the other are prompted by the same emotion.”
Frederick Douglass Quotes sources:
“Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Written by Himself:” Boston, published in 1845 – Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill / National Archives and Records Administration, NAID: 558770 & Wikimedia Commons
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