Staunton Vindicator: November 17, 1865Go To Page : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
(Column 01)Summary: The paper argues that although the Democratic party lost the recent elections, their principles won. The editors assert that there is now no difference between the platforms of the two parties on such critical issues as reconstruction and the role of the military in the South. The Democrat's strong resistance proved to Republicans that they could not impose a harsh reconstruction upon the South.
Full Text of Article:Judge L. P. Thompson's Charge to the Grand Jury
Shortly after the elections in Pennsylvania and Ohio, we alluded to the fact that the Democratic party, though defeated, could nevertheless boast of the success of their principles, having compelled the Republican party to fight the late political battles almost without an issue. So strikingly was this the case that one of our Richmond contemporaries compared the platform of the two parties in one state, to show that there was no difference between these parties. This was really the case. Both parties endorsed President Johnson's policy of reconstruction--both parties endorsed and renewed their pledges to support and carry out the Monroe Doctrine,--both parties favored the subordination of the military to the civil rule, and agreed practically upon other minor points.
When we consider how widely different and still diverging, these parties have been during the past four years, and that, except in a few points, they seem now almost to harmonize in their respective platforms, we almost wonder how they could have approximated so nearly the same theories and principles. But when we recall the stand taken by these parties during the war and shortly after its cessation, and remember that the Republican party came off with flaunting banners and proud triumphant step, in the war, and were disposed and did, through some of their speakers, attempt to dictate the terms of conquest, and seemed determined to pursue a proscriptive policy, until they found that, with a platform erected on the principles emitted by their leading men, they could only meet with [unclear] at the polls, we can readily understand why there now seems so little difference between them. They then began to alter and amend, and deal in generalities and ignore, until they almost harmonized with their opponents, and in fact nothing was decided in the late elections save the defeat of the northern Democracy, though their principles triumphed.
As to the President's policy of reconstruction, as we have said, both parties stand positively committed to its cordial support, and the now triumphant party can scarcely fail to accord that actual support to which it is solemnly pledged, and if its faith is unviolated there is really "nobody hurt" by the late elections.
(Column 02)Summary: The paper prints the remarks of Judge Lucas P. Thompson delivered to the Grand Jury upon the opening of the county court. Thompson celebrates the return to civil law from martial law. He reflects upon the causes and outcome of the Civil War and urges Augusta residents not to dwell on the past but to move forward. Thompson argues that the rights of the states, secession, and slavery have been decided by the war and all should abide by the result as citizens firmly committed to the Union. The Grand Jury must respect the new laws concerning emancipation and the rights of freedmen, but argues that most of the pre-war legal code remains intact. Thompson also comments on the duty of the Grand Jury to uphold justice and punish crime.
(Names in announcement: Lucas P. Thompson)Full Text of Article:
Staunton, Va., Nov., 5th, 1865.
Grand Jury Room
Circuit Court of Augusta Co.
Hon. Lucas P. Thompson,
Judge of the Circuit Court &c.
Judge:--I am instructed by the members of the Grand Jury for Augusta County, (if not incompatible with your idea of propriety) that you furnish the News papers of the Town with a copy of the very able, and appropriate charge delivered to them on the convening of your Court.
your obedient Servant
Foreman of the Grand Jury.
Staunton, Nov., 6th, 1865
DEAR SIR: I have received your note of the 5th inst., asking me to furnish a copy of my charge to the grand jury, delivered on the first day of the term, for publication. In compliance with your request, I send the manuscript, granting you permission to give it such destination as you desire, and remain very respectfully,
Your obedient Servant,
LUCAS P. THOMPSON.
To John Newton, Esq.,
Foreman of the Grand Jury.
GENTLEMEN OF THE GRAND JURY--I congratulate you upon the return of peace, the reopening of the Courts of Justice, so long virtually closed by the violence of war, and upon so auspicious an occasion as that of our reassembling, to inaugurate the reign of law and order, of the civil authorities, in the stead of despotic will or martial law, so hostile to, subversive of, and so justly obnoxious to civil liberty. When I last addressed a grand jury of Augusta from this place, our country was struggling in the throes and convulsions of a gigantic civil war, the like of which, in magnitude and violence, this country has not witnessed, if any of its predecessors has, and worst of all wars, a civil, a fratricidal war; and which since then has culminated in the defeat and overthrow of our arms. Divine oracles inform us that the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but in this case victory has perched on the banners of the strong; whether because might and right were on the same side, or because a victory vouchsafed to us would have been our eventual ruin, and was therefore denied us by the all wise Disposer of human events, are questions dependant for their solution upon matters of speculation and conjecture, which it is not my province on such an occasion as this, to attempt to solve, and which I will leave to every one to solve, or attempt to solve, to his own satisfaction. This is neither the time, the place, nor the occasion for indulging in painful and gloomy retrospects and mooting the question of the causelessness or justification of the late disastrous civil war, insurrection, or rebellion, or whatever else it may be called, or of the guilt or innocence of the agents North or South who inaugurated it, and whether or not, but for the insane agency of these architects of ruin, both North and South, fanatics, extremists, abstractionists, the war may have been averted. These are questions, coram non judice, before a State tribunal. They belong to the Federal authorities, executives, legislative and judicial, to deal with in justice, mercy and charity, as to them shall seem meet and proper, and to the enlightened opinion of mankind, both North and South, and of the civilized world. Since the past, the gloomy, disastrous past, can not be recalled, let it be forgotten, or remembered only to serve as a buoy, or beacon light, to warn us against the brakers and quicksands of the future, and not at all for the purpose of crimination and recrimination between brethren, the one class accusing the other of being the authors of our calamities. Let us ignore the past, except for the lessons it do impressively reads us, for our present and future guidance, of the ineffable horrors of civil war, and of the necessity of mutual forbearance, the cultivation of fraternal feelings, abstinence from sectional prejudices, fanaticism, extreme opinions and political abstractions, to avert its recurrence.
Speaking for the present, I feel warranted, from my acquaintance with the people of Virginia and her constituted authorities, one and all, and their sentiments on the subject, in expressing the opinion, that they are without an exception, so far as I have any reason to suspect or believe, now loyal citizens of the United States, having in the most perfect good faith returned to their allegiance and resumed their former status, as true and loyal citizens of the United States and the restored government of Virginia; many, if not a majority, from preference, a life long and hereditary attachment to the Union, transmitted to us by our revolutionary ancestors, with Washington at their head, but all as the result and consequence of inevitable necessity, making it a virtue to acquiesce and submit after the issue has been decided against us by wager of battle, the arbitrament of arms, the judicium dei, the ultima ratio regant, from which there is no appeal to any earthly tribunal, to re-hear, re-judge and reverse the decision, save only the appeal to the tribunal of impartial history, whose jurisdiction and province it will be to vindicate or condemn the justice of our cause, the purity of our motives and our right and title to success, though we failed to achieve it, or the reverse.
Never since the adoption of the Federal Constitution of 1789 was the Union established on a firmer and sounder basis in Virginia than at this moment, not only because of the preference of some and the acquiescence of all in the present inevitable necessity before referred to, but because of the universal conviction, from the test it has undergone, that it is indissoluble--indestructible. Whether this discovery of the irrefragable strength and consistency of the Union will prove a blessing or a curse will depend upon circumstances--upon future developments. Having overcome and averted forever one of the dangers of our system, arising from the undue preponderance of the centrifugal tendency, anarchy in the members, or disintegration by the States shooting madly from their spheres, unless we guard with cautious circumspection and sleepless vigilance against the other equally fatal to, and destructive of, our unique and beautiful imperium in imperio, tyranny in the head, or consolidation, which is but another name for central despotism, we shall only have escaped Scylla to be wrecked by Charybdis. With the Union and the Constitution restored in their pristine purity, and the danger of Consolidation escaped, I believe the universal prayer, North and South, will be esto perpetua.
Gentlemen, although the ravages of four years war have entailed upon us, in the sudden and compulsory emancipation of our slaves, the sacking, spoliation and desolation of our homes and firesides, the waste and devastation of our fields and forests, the destruction and deportation of our goods, and the utter [unclear] of our [unclear] our fiscal agencies, private and public, the most universal and widespread ruin that has ever befallen any people, a ruin almost unprecedented in history, yet it would be unmanly to despair of the Republic. Let us rather take consolation that, whether right or wrong in inaugurating the bloody contest, we have so borne ourselves as to save our honor and challenge the admiration of the world, not excepting our late conquerors but now fellow citizens and brethren, and let us firmly resolve strenuously to endeavor to repair the errors and calamitous consequences of the past by grappling with and wisely improving the present, and with Lion heart and Eagle eye looking the future in the face, undismayed by the storms that howl along the sky. Divested of Slavery and the slave code, and of paramount State Sovereignty, and the right of secession, deduced from and based upon it (whether properly or improperly, well or ill done, for the better or for the worse, it is useless to enquire, as it is a res adjudicata.) all which have been erased and stricken from our constitutions and codes, first by the sword and soon will be by the pen; we have the same charters and monuments of freedom, State and Federal, we ever had, which, properly interpreted and honestly and faithfully administered, guarantee us life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness, the same Federal Constitution, the same State Constitution of 1850; and the code of 1860, with a few slight and immaterial amendments, save that of the abolition of slavery, made by the Constitution and laws of the restored government of Virginia, called the Wheeling and Alexandria Constitution and Government.
With the exception, therefore, of the change made in the civil status of the slave, who, henceforth, is entitled to occupy the position of the free negro and mulatto, and must, henceforth, be treated, both civilly and criminally as such, your jurisdiction of enquiry and presentment remains the same as before the war. By reference to the code under the head of slaves, free negroes and mulattoes you will see that divers offences, as well by bond as free, based upon that relation, such as the unlawful assembly of slaves, trading with them by the whites, the extending to them of undue privileges or liberties by the master, owner or overseer, stealing of them, the mode of trial awarded to them for felonies, various offences committed by them to which different trials &c., punishments are assigned, to those awarded to the white man and free negro for the same offence, are virtually repealed or rendered inoperative, by their emancipation, indeed some of them are expressly repealed by the Legislature of the restored government at Wheeling and Alexandria.
When we consider that sudden, compulsory and uncompensated emancipation, however inconvenient and unjust to us, was not brought along by the slaves themselves, but was thrust upon them, as passive recipients of the boon, without their asking, by the interposition of others--an interposition, if not invited, justified or excused by our own conduct in inaugurating the war, was at least palliated, and when we remember their loyalty, fidelity, and exemplary obedience during a bloody struggle of four years in our and their midst, in their behoof, it seems to me we owe them a debt of gratitude to be repaid to them in kindness, generosity and humanity to the utmost extent of our ability and its compatibility with our peace and safety. For myself I feel no resentment against them on account of their emancipation, (and I believe I but echo the general, if nor universal, sentiment of Virginia,) a boon, whether imaginary or real, which then tendered it is not in human nature to reject, but to rather reconcile myself, now that the irrevocable deed is done, to the situation, by the consentory hypothesis, that it was the work of an all-wise, inscrutable and mysterious providence; of that God who can make the wrath of man to praise him and restrains the remainder of wrath; and to whom it may have seemed good to make the rashness and morbid sensitiveness of the peculiar and super-serviceable friends of slavery, the means and the instrumentalities of its destruction; seeing that we went to war for the merest abstraction, the right to carry slavery into the territories, we had not and never might acquire, and we have lost slavery in the States, where but for the war it might have remained indefinitely or until gradually abolished. May we not hope that its abolition, in the manner in which it has been effected, was designed by providence and will prove a future blessing in the disguise of a present evil, the timely removal or eradication of a political and social evil before, by the multitude of slaves, it should become irremovable or ineradicable, without the destruction of one or other, or of both races. But be the design of providence in its permission or accomplishment what it may, whether of mercy to the slave and chastisement to the master, or of eventual or unexpected mercy to both; whatever the motive of the human agents employed to accomplish it, of one thing there is no doubt, the deed is done and it is irrevocable. Therefore interest, duty and necessity all concur in counselling on our part calm submission and cheerful acquiescence in the fiat that has made our former slaves freemen. We must discharge our duties to them not only in a spirit of justice and humanity, but of liberality and generosity, and leave to the future the solution of the problem, (involved in so much perplexity,) of their future destiny and of our own, so far as it may be dependant on or effected by theirs.
Your jurisdiction of enquiry and presentment is co-extensive with the penal code, subject however to the change or modification in it under the title of slaves, free negroes and mulattoes, made in it as before mentioned, by the emancipation of the slaves, embracing all offences, from the highest to the lowest, from the most atrocious to the most venial, except such petty trespasses, (as to which inconsiderable specific fines or penalties are attached,) as are exclusively cognizable before a justice of the peace.
Without your accusation proffered in the form of a presentment or indictment, no one can be arraigned, tried and punished for a high crime or misdemeanor. It depends upon you therefore, in part, whether the penal laws shall be faithfully and energetically executed, or remain a dead letter upon the statute book, for want of an impartial accuser; the laws themselves, so far as trial and punishment is concerned, having no self executing power. There is no greater evil in any government than the inexecution of its laws, and the more especially of its penal laws, and that evil is greatest in a popular government such as ours. To prevent or remedy such an evil was a grand jury devised by our ancestors and engrafted in our system as a vital part, in the machinery adopted for the administration of penal justice. You are styled by the law the grand inquest of the body of your country, taken indiscriminately from all parts of it, presumed to know what is passing in your county, and from the qualifications of estate, residence and citizenship required, and the disqualifications of office, calling or pursuit [unclear] to be lovers of peace and social order, having both the will and ability to perform your duties in the spirit of your oath, and not swerved from it by any sympathy with or fellowship in violations of the law. Acting under mandates of the law and the solemn obligations of a religious oath, in the execution of your office you are exempt from the odium that attaches to the common informer, or the ascription of sinister motives, often made against the voluntary prosecutor or a stated officer of the law as ex-officio accuser.
For high crimes and misdemeanors of a deep dye or great atrocity it is rarely necessary for a grand jury to initiate the prosecution; in such cases there is generally an injured party or his friends to complain and originate proceedings in advance of your assembling, or the voice of public indignation calls forth a prosecutor and you are only called on to find or ignore and indictment. But it is in the minor offences--certain misdemeanors declared by statute, forbidden because of their tendency to disturb the public peace, order and economy, and to debauch public morals, as to which there is no injured party to complain or prosecute, and which, without you interposition, would remain unpresented and unpublished, that your incipient action is not only indispensably necessary, but may prove benign and merciful in its effects and consequences not only to the public, but upon offenders themselves, by visiting the minor offences with timely chastisement, to prevent juvenile or venial offenders from becoming criminals of a deep dye. How much more humane and merciful thus to deal with such offences than to wait until the petty offender proceeds, step by step, from vice to misdemeanor, and from misdemeanor to high crimes and then consign him to the gibbet or the penitentiary.
Doubtless prompted by such considerations as these, the Legislature has made it the duty of the courts to bring to your notice and give you specially in charge certain laws or acts of the General Assembly declaring certain misdemeanors, which, from their civil tendencies, effects and consequences upon the public peace and economy, social order, public morals and the general welfare, are forbidden and which, from their importance, it was deemed advisable to make the subject of a special charge. They are the anti-dueling law, the law against incestuous marriages, the law against malicious trespasses, the laws concerning the surveyors of the highways, the laws for the regulation of ordinaries and the suppression of tippling houses, the laws against unlawful gaming, the law against betting on elections and voting in elections by a voter knowing he has no right to vote, or, having the right, voting twice or oftener in the same election, the provisions of the revenue laws requiring the pronouncement of a license as a prerequisite, or condition precedent, to the exercise or carrying on of certain trades, occupations or businesses or the practice of certain professions, and making it penal and indictable to do so without such license, and in the case of the sale of liquors, to sell them without the certificate of the County Court as to the character of the person and fitness of the place for such sale in addition to the license, and the laws concerning slaves, free negroes and mulattoes modified and so far as they have not been repealed or rendered inoperative by emancipation.
Your first duty upon your retirement will be to pass upon such indictments as may be sent up to you, and return into Court and report your action thereupon, after which you will again withdraw and enter upon your remaining duties of enquiry and presentment, which, as I have before said, are co-extensive with the penal code, and you will especially enquire into violations of the laws specially brought to your attention. You must not consider your whole duty discharged; or confined to, or limited by remaining passively in your jury room, hearing and acting upon the complaints of the common informer, the voluntary prosecutor, or witnesses sent before you by the court, or the Attorney for the Commonwealth. If an offence or violation of the law be known to two of your body, you must present upon the oaths already taken as grand jurors, if to but one, he must be sent down and sworn as a witness; if to none of your body, but there be probable cause to suspect the commission of an offence in your county, then you must cast about and diligently enquire among yourselves for a witness who can inform you and have him summoned. It requires at least 16 to constitute a grand jury and 12 to concur in making a presentment, or finding or ignoring an indictment. You must write at the foot of your presentments upon what authority made, whether upon the information of two of your body, or of one sent down and sworn as a witness, upon the evidence of a voluntary prosecutor, or a witness sent before you by the Court, or the Attorney for the Commonwealth. Retire gentlemen, taking with you to your jury room the code of 1860, sessions acts since, and discharge your important duties in the spirit of your oath.
(Column 01)Summary: The paper reports that a horse belonging to George Miller, who resides near Middlebrook, was killed when it leaped over the wall near Ker, Stevensons and Co.'s Commission House after being frightened by a train. The incident demonstrates the necessity for the construction of a parapet wall which the railroad company should undertake. "A few cases of scared and leaping horses, like the present, will cost them much more than the building of the wall. Besides this, it is a dangerous place and should be made secure for man as well as beast, and at once."Local Items
(Names in announcement: George Miller)
(Column 01)Summary: The paper announces that Col. G. H. Smith has been appointed agent of the National Express Company in Staunton. Smith had commanded the 62nd Virginia Infantry and "was a gallant officer." The paper is certain that he will "carry with him into his new position that energy of character on which he was distinguished in the military services."Local Items
(Names in announcement: Col. G. H. Smith)
(Column 01)Summary: The paper announces that the condition of Staunton's streets "is being greatly improved by the McAdamizing process going on. There should be no cessation in the good work until all our streets are in good order."Local Items
(Column 01)Summary: The paper rejoices at the pardon of John Willis McCue, the son of Maj. John Howard McCue, who had been sentenced to the penitentiary for life by the Military Court.Local Items
(Names in announcement: John Willis McCue, Maj. John Howard McCue)
(Column 01)Summary: The paper announces that Judge Lucas P. Thompson has set aside the verdict of the jury sending John W. Kuhn to the penitentiary for two years for obtaining goods under false pretences. Thompson held that there was insufficient evidence against Kuhn.Local Items
(Names in announcement: Lucas P. Thompson, John W. Kuhn)
(Column 01)Summary: The paper announces that Mr. D. D. Durborow of Waynesboro has been appointed United States Inspector of Tobacco, Snuff and Cigars for the 2nd Collection District of Virginia.Local Items
(Names in announcement: D. D. Durborow)
(Column 01)Summary: The paper announces that Augustus Fisher, convicted of horse stealing, has been granted a new trial.Married
(Names in announcement: Augustus Fisher)
(Column 02)Summary: Mr. David B. Gabbert and Miss Sarah M. Mines, both of Augusta, were married on the 12th of October at Summerdenn, Augusta Co., by the Rev. J. D. Shirey.Married
(Names in announcement: David B. Gabbert, Sarah M. Mines, Rev. J. D. Shirey)
(Column 02)Summary: Mr. David A. Greavie and Mrs. M. A. Swartzel, both of Augusta County, were married on October 19th near Arbor Hill.Married
(Names in announcement: David A. Greavie, M. A. Swartzel)
(Column 02)Summary: Mr. Ezra T. Christ and Miss Sarah M. Dell were married on October 26th at the residence of the bride's father near Middlebrook.Died
(Names in announcement: Ezra T. Christ, Sarah M. Dell)
(Column 02)Summary: George D. Peaco, son of George and Margaret Peaco, died near Bethlehem Church, Augusta Co., after a "short but painful illness." The deceased was one year old. "Little George has gone to that dear Savior who has said, 'Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for such is the kingdom of Heaven.'"
(Names in announcement: George D. Peaco, George Peaco, Margaret Peaco)
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