A letter from John Turner of St. Louis authorizing William Lloyd Garrison to raise funds for migrants en route to Kansas, April 2, 1879.
This letter from St. Louis pastor and black community leader John Turner allowed Boston abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to raise money to support the Exodusters arriving in St. Louis. Turner and his colleagues likely sent standardized letters like this one to community leaders across the country. When they asked for donations to help Exodusters in St. Louis, bearers of the letter, like William Lloyd Garrison, would have proof that they were acting on behalf of the St. Louis community to collect money.
Reverend John Turner was the Chairman of the Committee of Twenty-Five, a group of St. Louis black community leaders who came together in March 1879 to strategize about how to meet the needs of the Exodusters. By March, approximately 2,500 Exodusters had already arrived in St. Louis and thousands more continued to arrive over the coming months. Most were greeted by members of the St. Louis black community on their arrival, and at least two-thirds of Exoduster arrivals were housed and fed at St. Louis’s black churches until their travel to Kansas could be arranged. The St. Louis black community received little financial support from white St. Louisans, so they reached out to black communities and former abolitionists across the country to raise the funds necessary to provide food, shelter, clothing, and transportation for the Exodusters.