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Valley of the Shadow

Franklin Repository: March 23, 1870

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The Gentleman from Africa
(Column 01)
Summary: This editorial sarcastically notes Democratic attempts to gain the favor of blacks now that the latter can vote. The author predicts that blacks will see through the mockery and vote with their true allies, the Republicans.
Full Text of Article:

Several years ago, during the session of Congress, a number of members from both the North and South were at dinner together at Willard's. Several of the Southerners, who were never unconscious of the singular fact that they were Congressmen, addressed one another repeatedly as "The gentleman from Mississippi," "The gentleman from South Carolina," &c., the form of address common to legislative halls, but a silly affectation elsewhere. Thaddeus Stevens, we think it was, becoming more and more disgusted, at last turned to a colored waiter and said, loud enough to be heard by the entire table, "Will the gentleman from Africa please hand me a glass of water." Of course this "set the table on a roar," to the infinite discomfiture of the Southern brethren. Wondrous changes have transpired since then. To-day the "gentleman from Africa" is on the floor of the Senate. In striking contrast with the fair European faces around him, his sable complexion proclaims him a child of Africa, but they call him "the gentleman from Mississippi." Ten years ago "the gentleman from Mississippi" walked forth from his place in that chamber in the person of Jefferson Davis, his soul bartered for the promised reward of treason, and his mouth stained with its utterance. He went forth to set his life and fame upon a cast. He threw from him as worthless things his honor, his truth, the sacred trust which his country had committed to him as her legislator, and went forth to let loose the dogs of war, to bear the torch and guide the steel to the homes and hearts of his countrymen; all this to perpetuate the infamy of human slavery and maintain the brutal doctrine that the test of manhood is the color of the skin, and for this he shall bear the mark of Cain until the earth shall kindly hide him in her bosom. With terrible significance "the gentleman from Mississippi" returns to his place in the person of Mr. Revels, one of the despised race, whose chains melted away in the heat which was meant to weld them more firmly.

Who would have thought our Democratic friends would support themselves as they have under this affliction. "The nigger in Congress!" they used to cry, and you would have thought something terrible would follow such a consummation. But they have all survived it; they really have.

Saulsbury looked a little pale the first few days, and used several bottles of perfumery, but he is beginning to get his color again.

Some few have not yet succeeded in bringing back their noses to the normal angle of elevation, but most of them will come straight. We are surprised to see what a degree of composure the Democracy at home have preserved. It was more excited over the burning of the town, that little misdemeanor of their Southern brethren.

The Spirit has done some coughing and sneezing over the nigger in Congress, but it has been as seriously affected before, and we have strong hopes for it this time. We congratulate it that it has borne it so well. Let it bear in mind that the negroes will soon have a vote and that it will assist wonderfully to preserve its composure. "Ay! there's the rub."

Right behind Mr. Revels as he goes to his place in the Senate, there comes the stately procession of thirty States hearing the Fifteenth Amendment to its place in the Constitution, and while he takes the oath to support that Constitution, they swear that his race shall have the rights of citizenship. And now endowed with the franchise, the negro becomes less obnoxious.

Indeed, the Democracy tips its hat and says, "The gentleman from Africa has my best wishes. We have met before, sir. I have always been your friend; won't you do me the favor to vote this ticket?" The negroes hardly see it in that light. They don't reciprocate the gushing affection of the Democracy and we see the humiliating spectacle of a once honorable and powerful party supplicating the favor of the race it has so long and cruelly abused. But Mr. Revels has made a speech. Yes, this man, but little higher than the monkey, they say, has made a speech, they would like to say Mr. Sumner wrote for him, and which would do credit to any member of the Senate under similar circumstances. Every means will no doubt be used to debauch the newly enfranchised citizens, and induce them to vote with their life-long enemies. In some cases they may be successful, but we have faith enough in their intelligence and integrity to believe that they will, almost to a man, help to keep moving this great engine of progress, the Republican party, which has raised them to their present dignity, and which promises for them, yet the full fruition of an educated and refined manhood.

A Word on the Border Bill
(Column 02)
Summary: In this letter, an anonymous contributor denounces those who spoke against repaying border damages. The author takes issue with claims made by another writer and attempts to correct what he considers to be "lies." The long note suggests the divisive nature of this issue in state politics at the time.
Full Text of Article:

To the Editors of the Franklin Repository

You know the anxiety felt by the people of Franklin county in relation to the passage of the Border Claim bill now before the Legislature. You know--and every one here knows--that if some bill for the relief of the sufferers be not passed this session, financial ruin will speedily follow to many of our citizens. Their losses were so great and the demands upon them are now so pressing, that they cannot much longer bear up unless relief of some kind be afforded them.

Under these circumstances, is it not remarkable that there are some persons in our midst who are so heartless and so regardless of the calamities pressing upon their neighbors, as to desire to defeat the legislation asked for; and to secure their ends join our opponents from abroad in lying and misrepresentations of what has been done, and is to be done, to obtain remuneration for our people.

To show your readers, and the sufferers of the county, how these lying, back-biting knaves in their midst are acting, I have cut out of the Philadelphia Press of last Saturday, the 19th inst., the following, which I wish you to insert entire in your paper:

GREENCASTLE, March 16, 1870

I have been watching with some interest the progress of the border claims bill, how before our Legislature, as well as the efforts made by the different papers for and against. Your own effort has been severe--mistaken in some respects, and very nearly correct in others, although denied by our county papers. I refer to the charge that many of the claims have been bought up, and that the real sufferer will get but little benefit if the bill does pass. You are mistaken that these claims have been bought to any considerable amount; but that the real sufferer will get but little is true, if the bill passes in its present form. The money is to be put into the hands of gentlemen named in the bill (all lawyers) who have the power to cut down the amount of damages already allowed by commissioners appointed by the State, (and it is fair to think their awards are just and correct), but they cannot increase the amount, judging by the blanks sent me to be filled before a magistrate, appointing an attorney to collect the amount of my claim. On first reading, twenty per cent is the amount asked, but, on a second and more careful reading, I agree to pay all expenses attending the collecting of my claim in addition to the twenty per cent. It is well understood that those who refuse to be thus imposed upon get nothing, as their claims will not pass the committee, and many who have not lost one dollar get the money. That we along the border have suffered heavily, is true and that either the State or General Government should pay us is but just, but owing to the means employed at Harrisburg for the passage of the bill, and the imposition referred to above for the disbursing of the money, very many of our best citizens and heaviest losers by the war prefer to give their claims to the State rather than receive it in the way proposed.

If our claims be just, why have to pay for gentlemen staying at Harrisburg for weeks--why? And why pay for commissions to disburse this money when we have, at Harrisburg, all the officers needed? Better allow but fifty per cent. of our claims, and let the money come in a legitimate way. The people better suffer loss in dollars than, as a people, suffer in reputation. Can we ask God's blessing upon us as a people when we condescend to such means as are present resorted to for the passage of this border bill? I ask, can we? I join many in the wish that it may be defeated in its present form, and that our Legislature will then pass a bill equal and just to the real sufferers.


The pious author of this article is almost as well known to your readers as if he had added his name to his bantling. It contains at least half a dozen distinct and well known lies--lies that the writer knew to be lies when he penned them, and for the dissemination of which he cannot plead even the paltry excuse of a mistake of judgment.

The first lie is that the money is to be put into the hands of gentlemen named in the bill. Now there is no such provision in the bill, and no persons named to receive any thing that may be appropriated, whether certificates or money. On the contrary the act says the certificates shall be delivered to the claimant, or his legal representatives. Many of the claimants you will recollect have died since the losses were sustained.

There were at least five different sets of Commissioners who examined and adjudicated these border claims. The first set was appointed by Governor Curtin, without any authority of law--to ascertain the losses occasioned by Union troops. The second were appointed by the courts, under the Act of 16th April, 1862; the third under the Act of 22d April, 1863; the fourth under the Act of 15th February, 1866, and the fifth under the Act of 9th April, 1868.

It is well known that because of the want of authority in the first commissioners, and because of uncertainty about the proceedings of some of the other commissioners being sanctioned, quite a number of claims were again presented to the latter commissioners; and duplications of claims have thus occurred, without any intention on the part of such claimants to demand double payments. And to correct any such duplications, the various commissioners named in the present bill have been selected so that the Commonwealth shall be protected against unjust, or duplicated claims. The gentlemen named in the bill are able men of high standing in their respective counties, and there is no reason to think, or say, that they would not do exact justice to every one. It is only the sneaks among the claimants who have any thing to fear from having their claims re-examined.

The second lie of this pious FARMER is that he is asked to pay all the expenses that may be incurred in procuring relief, in addition to such amount as he may agree to give for getting his share of whatever the liberality of the Legislature may award to our people. He knew this to be a lie when he penned it. The lawyers of our county did not seek this business. After the claimants had done all they knew how and failed of success, they, of their own motion, in convention assembled in our Court House, passed a resolution requesting the Chambersburg Bar to take charge of their claims, and they have done so--asking as a remuneration for their services only what they conceive to be a fair compensation, and upon the distinct condition that if nothing is received, not one cent, for trouble or expense, is to be expected from any claimant.

The third lie is that "it is well understood that those who refuse to be thus imposed upon are to get nothing." Upon what authority our pious farmer makes this assertion, I know not. I am sure the Franklin County Commissioners never told him so. I am also sure they never told any person so, and I am sure our lying farmer does not know the Commissioners from the other counties, and only evinces the depravity and malignity of his evil heart by making the unfounded assertion.

It would be well, indeed, if this sanctimonious FARMER could thus be deprived of any claim he may profess to have. The man who would expect his neighbor to pay for getting his money; or who could rest content when he knew that his neighbor had paid for the recovery of any thing due him, ought to get nothing. His claim should be carefully scrutinized, for he would have no scruples about putting in duplicate bills, nor of charging three prices for property that he never lost. His hired men should be on their guard in their dealings with him, or they too will get cheated.

I know that there are a few such "skunks" as these in our county. I could name the most of them if I wished. They have been telling their neighbors "not to join their fellow claimants in any efforts to get redress; that if a bill is passed all must be paid, and they will get their share without its costing them anything." They don't want their claims re-examined, because they know and feel that the were corruptly made up. They would rather take "fifty per cent," and well they might, for they would be cheating the treasury even then, and receiving more than they lost.

The fourth lie--and a senseless and useless one too, so far as I can see the purpose of penning it, is that "many who have not lost a dollar" are to get the money that our pious FARMER, and his fellow sneaks, refuse to have upon the terms he states. Is not this ridiculous? After stating that "it is fair to think that the awards made (by the various commissions) are just and correct, how could this be? Our foolish farmer contradicts himself, and demonstrates his own folly.

Notwithstanding the hypocritical whinings of this sanctimonious Cain and his dolorous repinings over the improper measures he says are being used to secure the passage of a Border Claim Bill, I venture the prediction that if a Bill does pass he will be amongst the very first to apply for his share of the appropriation. No doubts about "God's blessing" resting upon the certificates or the money will restrain him from "gobbling up" all he can get, and cheating those who get it for him out of a just and fair compensation for their labor, trouble, and expenses in getting it.

But these are only a part of the many lies embraced in this communication of our pious farmer. I have not the time, nor you the space, to answer the balance. They stand out in bold, bald relief all through it, and the purpose of the writer is openly declared. Why did he not give us his name? Our people would like to know who it is in their midst that have been egging on the newspapers in Philadelphia, Lancaster and Pittsburg against their relief, and who have been writing to members of the Legislature to defeat the Border Claim Bill. Come out of your privacy, you dirty, lying slanderer. Let the people know who you are, and you will receive the well merited reward of your labors. We promise you a popularity of contempt equal only to that of Benedict Arnold or Andy Johnson, and a free pass to travel any where beyond the confines of these seven border counties. The English language will not be strong enough to convey the greetings you will receive from your suffering fellow citizens--and you will need--"God's blessing" to descend upon you and preserve your worthless head and hide from the flagelations they so richly deserve. A SUFFERER.

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The Chambersburg Nursery Association
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Summary: The paper prints the glowing account of a visitor to the Chambersburg Nursery Association. The association recently purchased two nurseries with 100,000 growing trees. "Order for trees, plants, etc., are coming in from all parts of the country, and there is no reason why Chambersburg, with its improved railroad facilities, can not be as good a post for this business as Geneva or Rochester."
[No Title]
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Summary: The Franklin County Horticultural Society met on March 15th. The group dicussed gathering and storing fruit. The society is flourishing, especially now that "the election of ladies to membership in the society is exerting a favorable influence, and they now frequently grace its meetings by their presence."
[No Title]
(Column 01)
Summary: Madamoiselle Zoe's dramatic troupe performed in Repository Hall on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The paper pronounces the performance superior to any theatrical show before seen in Chambersburg.
Arrest of Chicken Thieves
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Summary: A black man named William Streets sold a lot of chickens at the Union Hotel on Friday. Mr. Huber and Mr. Feldman suspected they were dishonestly acquired, bought them, and found them to belong to George Rice. Streets was arrested when he attempted to sell another lot belonging to H. B. Davison and Rev. L. A. Gotwald. Streets "implicated two more of his race" in the plot, resulting in the arrest of Thomas Green.
(Names in announcement: William Streets, George Rice, H. B. Davison, Rev. L. A. Gotwald, Thomas Green)
[No Title]
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Summary: Rev. S. Barnes, pastor of the First M. E. Church of Chambersburg, was appointed presiding elder. Rev. E. D. Kirby has been appointed to the First Church and Rev. J. R. Donohue to the Second Church in Chambersburg. Rev. Mr. Curns, presiding elder of the district, has been removed.
(Names in announcement: Rev. S. Barnes, Rev. E. D. Kirby, Rev. J. R. Donohue, Rev. Curns)
[No Title]
(Column 02)
Summary: Mrs. Elizabeth F. Rice of Mercersburg, widow of P. A. Rice who died during the war in Libby Prison, has been granted an annuity by the state senate. Rice was Justice of the Peace in Mercersburg when he was captured during General Stuart's October, 1862, raid.
(Names in announcement: Elizabeth F. Rice, P. A. Rice)
[No Title]
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Summary: Jacob Huber and Henry Feldman have taken posession of the Union Hotel and promise to entertain their guests in style.
(Names in announcement: Jacob Huber, Henry Feldman)
[No Title]
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Summary: Peter Vink, long-time foreman of the Hollywell paper mill on the Conococheague, has moved to Adams County where he is manufacturing straw paper.
(Names in announcement: Peter Vink)
[No Title]
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Summary: M. H. Bovee of Wisconsin will address the citizens of Chambersburg on Wednesday on the abolition of capital punishment. Ladies are especially invited to attend.
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Summary: Abraham Kaufman and Kate A. Wineman of Rocky Spring were married on March 17th by the Rev. B. S. Schneck.
(Names in announcement: Abraham Kaufman, Kate A. Wineman, Rev. B. S. Schneck)
(Column 04)
Summary: David Sherman of Greenvillage and Miss Annie E. Diener of Chambersburg were married on March 17th by the Rev. L. A. Gotwald.
(Names in announcement: David Sherman, Annie E. Diener, Rev. L. A. Gotwald)
(Column 04)
Summary: J. C. Aughinbaugh of Chambersburg and Miss Annie Werner of Guilford were married on March 8th by the Rev. D. Townsend.
(Names in announcement: J. C. Aughinbaugh, Annie Werner, Rev. D. Townsend)

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