Philadelphia, 22nd August 93
My dear Julia,
This day agreeably to invitation I dined a mile from town, under the shade of several large trees, with about an hundred carpenters and others who met to celebrate the raising of the roof of the African Church. They forced me to take the head of the table much against my inclinations. The dinner was plentiful -- the liquors were of the first quality -- and the dessert, which consisted only of melons, was very good. We were waited upon by nearly an equal number of black people. I gave them the two following toasts: "Peace on earth and good will to men," and "May African churches everywhere soon succeed to African bondage." After which we rose, and the black people (men and women) took our seats. Six of the most respectable of the white company waited upon them, while Mr. Nicholson, myself, and two others were requested to set down with them, which we did, much to the satisfaction of the poor blacks. Never did I witness such a scene of innocent -- nay more -- such virtuous and philanthropic joy. Billy Grey in attempting to express his feelings to us was checked by a flood of tears. After they had dined, they all came up to Mr. Nicholson and took him by the hand, and thanked him for his loan of money to them. One of them, an old man whom I did not know, addressed him in the following striking language: "May you live long, sir, and when you die, may you not die eternally." The company broke up and came to town about 6 o'clock in good order, few or perhaps none of them having drunken more than or four glasses of wine. To me it will be a day to be remembered with pleasure as long as I live.
In order that my other class of friends, the criminals in the jail, who overheard or witnessed the raising of the roof of the church, might sympathize a little in the joy of the day, I sent them about one o'clock a large wheelbarrow full of melons with the following note: “Dr. Rush sends herewith a few melons for the persons who are suffering in the jail for their offenses against society. He begs that while they are partaking of this agreeable fruit they will remember that that BEING who created it still cares for them, and that by this and other acts of kindness conveyed to them by his creatures, he means to lead them to repentance and happiness.”
Adieu. In consequence of my absence only two hours from town, my business increased so much as to keep me employed till after 10 o'clock. The malignant fever is stationary, and the influenza as violent as was mentioned in my letter of yesterday. The family through divine goodness continue well, and none of them now more so than yours sincerely,
P.S. Love as usual. Read this letter to your Mama. She belongs to our African Church.
August 23rd. We continue all well.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania