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'Who Sends Thee?' Statue Unveiled

Sculpture Depicts Quakers' Calling to Petition Lincoln to Emancipate the Enslaved

September 14, 2009

A statue representing an historic event in local Quaker history was unveiled and dedicated at Wilmington College Sept. 20 in the Meriam R. Hare Quaker Heritage Center.

The College and Wilmington Yearly Meeting Heritage Fund raised money for the life-sized sculpture titled “Who Sends Thee,” which has been placed between the Quaker Heritage Center and Watson Library.

It depicts Isaac and Sarah Harvey on their way to speak to President Abraham Lincoln about the emancipation of enslaved persons in 1862.

The program included comments from WC President Dan DiBiasio; Roy Joe Stuckey, a member of the College’s Board of Trustees; Ruth Dobyns, QHC curator; Alan Cottrill, the artist/sculptor; and Judy Sargent, clerk of the Heritage Fund Committee.

Nellie Blessing Eyster (1831-1922) originally told the story behind “Who Sends Thee” in her narrative “A Day with the Quakers.”

Isaac Harvey, a Quaker farmer who held a deep concern for the condition of enslaved persons in the South, said, “One day while plowing I heard a voice, whether inside or outside of me I knew not, but I was awake. It said ‘Go thou and see the president.’ I answered, ‘Yea Lord, thy servant heareth.’

“And unhitching my plow, I went at once to the house and said to mother, ‘Wilt thou go to Washington with me to see the president?’ ‘Who sends thee?’ she asked. ‘The Lord,’ I answered.”

They returned home from their meeting at The White House with a note from Lincoln that concludes with the words, “May the Lord comfort them as they have sustained me.”

Shortly after the couple’s visit to Washington D.C., on Sept. 22, 1862, Lincoln presented the draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet.

Isaac Harvey (1809-1883) was born near Springfield Monthly Meeting on Todd’s Fork in Clinton County, Ohio. His parents, Caleb and Sarah Towel Harvey, had come to the Ohio wilderness from North Carolina in 1806 as part of the great Quaker migration from the slave-holding states of the South to the slavery-free Northwest Territory.

Dobyns said the College and Wilmington Yearly Meeting are placing the sculpture on campus to make evident the core values of the College, which are based on Quaker Testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community and equality.

“The sculpture of Isaac and Sarah Harvey on their way to speak to President Lincoln inspires us, the observers, to discern within ourselves God’s leadings,” she said.