From the (New York, NY) Anglo-African, 10/7/1865, p. 2, c. 4
This lady delivered an interesting address on Monday evening Sept., 11th, at the Abyssinian Baptist church, before a large intelligent and appreciative audience, among which there were a large number of the “superior” race.
Miss Richards commenced by referring to the fact that she was born in Virginia; but never knew who her parents were. She was taught in her infancy that she was not a slave, but would be brought up intelligent and educated and then sent to her father-land to instruct the natives there. She sailed accordingly for Africa, in Dec. 1854, and and [sic] arrived safely in Liberia. The climate of that country, is not as dreadful as some declare it to be but unlike that of any other tropical region, and better adapted for the purposes of cultivation, and more productive than the soil in any part of the United States. Vegetables grow almost spontaneously.
The inhabitants there are much better than the colored people here. There is one tribe of the Mendingoes who never drink, lie, nor steal, and have a religion based upon those principles.
The climate not agreeing with Miss R. she returned to the United States, went as far as Baltimore and on the invitation of her foster-sister a Miss A.- she visited the former, home of her childhood.
Her health was very delicate and she was sick for a long time. She at length somewhat recovered, and went one day to get something from her trunk, when she discovered that her papers had been abstracted therefrom and upon inquiry ascertained that they had been taken out by Miss A.- “for safe-keeping.” There was a law then existing in Virginia, that if a colored person from the North came South, without the invitation of a white person and remained over three days, he or she should be sold into absolute slavery. While Miss R., was walking out one evening she was met by a patrol – a Dutchman, who inquired for her pass ; not having one he took her to the calaboose, and the next morning received five lashes. She was finally sold into slavery.
While this in servitude, she became known to the Union League in Richmond, and performed many important secret services for the union cause. She clandestinely entered in the Rebel Senate while in secret session, considering the sweeping Conscription bill which included in its provisions every male capable of carrying a gun, no matter how young, or how old. Immediately on its passage through the Senate Miss R. communicated the fact to the Union League.
She went into President Davis’s house while he was absent, seeking for washing, and while there was conducted into a private office by one of the clerks, when she opened the drawers of a cabinet and scrutinized the papers. While thus employed Jeff. came in and inquired of her what she was doing there, but considering she was colored allowed her to go in peace.
She left Richmond last fall, and went to Fredericksburgh [sic], where she aided in capturing a large amount of tobacco and two rebel officers.
She related an incident that took place while she was in Richmond, which goes to show what amount of sympathy some of the union officers have for the blacks. A colored man and his wife were returning home one evening, about 10 o’clock when a white man struck the wife in the breast, and the husband in the act of defending her, was knocked down by a member of the twenty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment – not a Yankee but an Irishman, who exclaimed at the same time, “how dare you strike a white man!” The poor colored man was arrested, tried and sentenced to death by the Provost Marshal of the city, Gen. Patrick (who by the way is the Democratic candidate for our state Treasurer.) But before executing the sentence Gen. P. ordered that a coffin be made in which the man should be placed, and stood upright with his face and hands besmeared with molasses and flour. Thus he was placed for one long day and tantalized by flies, and jeered by and spit upon by rebels and their sympathizers, until he was almost lifeless. Some friends of the poor man interposed, and made the ___ known to President Johnson, who would not allow him to be put to death. He is still in prison at Richmond. Miss R., concluded by advising our young ladies and gentlemen, not to bury their talents which was so bountiously given them, in “water-falls” and “napkins.”
“Too much attention is given to the style your dress or your bonnet, which I have learned from experience is the only condition of admission to social circles here. Young ladies and young gentlemen, turn your attention to the education and the adornment of your minds rather than your persons, which are to be the great lever of our elevation as a people.”
She was very sarcastic and at times quite humorous throughout the delivery, of her speech.