Staunton Spectator: October 10, 1865Go To Page : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
Letter from Hon. John B. Baldwin
(Column 5)Summary: In his letter, John B. Baldwin discusses public opinion in Virginia relative to secession, slavery, and restoration.
Origin of Article: Wheeling IntelligencerFull Text of Article:
Staunton, Sept. 14th, 1865
A. W. Campbell, Editor Intelligencer, Wheeling, W. Va.:
Dear Sir -- I have received your letter asking "information as to the real state of things in the Valley and on from there to Richmond, and as to the real feelings of the people, and how they are affected toward the Government.
You express a desire and purpose to use your "pen and press in the best interests of a right restoration," and you invite me to write you and "a full, free and frank letter, to be used in promoting the cause of Union which you trust we both have at heart.
I accept your invitation in the spirit in which it is given, and I will write you truly the results of my personal observation, and of an expensive intercourse with persons of intelligence from many parts of the State.
1. As To Secession.
Opposition to the authority of the United States is completely at an end in Virginia; and I doubt if theer can be found in the State a man, woman or child who thinks it either practicable or desirable to renew it in any form.
The supremacy of the National Constitution and law is as thoroughly felt and acknowledged in Virginia as in any part of the Union, and there is no more necessity for an armed force to maintain th authority of the Government here than there is in any Northern or Western State.
The central idea which now controls i the public opinion of Virginia is, that the Union must be regarded as a fixed and enduring fact, and that everything of value in our future that depends upon Government or Nationality is inseparably connected with the peace, prosperity and success of the United States.
This belief is universal, earnest and practical. So much so that, if we could now have a free election without restriction as to the right to vote or to be voted for, no man who does not entertain it, and intend in good faith to act upon it, could ejected to office of any kind in any part of Virginia.
The pretense that elections thus far held in Virginia have turned upon "Unionism" or "secessionism," or that those now pending are likely to be so influenced, is a mere device of office-seekers to appropriate to themselves all the merit of the one and to throw upon their competitors all the odium of the other. Among the most active in the resort to this expedient are well known secessionists who, under the "Confederacy," used it with the ends reversed.
We have, as yet, no party divisions in Virginia, and our elections necessarily turn upon the personal popularity of Candidates, all of whom profess substantially the same opinions and purposes in regard to public affairs.--Under such circumstances, it will not, I think, be deemed unnatural or improper that our people should be influenced by sympathies and preferences which have grown up in the progress of the trials and sufferings through which they have so recently passed.
2. As to Slavery.
The people of Virginia do not believe that the dealings of the government with slavery have been either just or expedient, or that the interests of either master or slaver will be promoted thereby. They look forward with painful apprehensions to the future of a community whose industrial system has been so recklessly overthrown, and of a helpless race who have had freedom thrust upon them without preparation for its duties or responsibilities, and are thus, without fault of their own, handed over to want, suffering and probable extinction.
They are satisfied, however, that the mischief is already practically done, and that any attempt to retrace the steps which have been taken would be wholly impracticable, and could only serve to increase the trouble and confusion which are now impending. You may, therefore, expect, with confidence, that, so far from seeking to obstruct measures deemed proper to complete the work of freeing the slaves, the people of Virginia will promptly do all that may be necessary on their part to carry it into full effect, and to make it, as far as practicable, beneficial to all concerned.
To establish a system of free labor by which these "Freedmen" may be saved from the poverty and misery which will naturally attend upon their want of industry and thrift, will require great good sense and much kindness and forbearance. Fortunately for them and for the cause of humanity, it is not true as has been charged, that the white people of Virginia have any feeling of hatred or ill-will toward them -- or any disposition to deprive them, by legislation or otherwise, of substantial benefits of freedom. Indeed the relations between the two races are still marked by the mutual kindness which has always attended their intercourse, and which, in view of all the disturbing influence which have been brought to bear, may be regarded as truly wonderful.
The effect of freedom upon the character and conduct of the negro is yet to be see, and will require time and experience to determine who far it will be either wise or safe to confer upon him additional rights or privileges, civil, social or political.
3. "A Right Restoration"
If I am right in what I have said, it would seem to follow that the difficulties in the war of restoring Virginia at once to all her relations with the Federal Government are, so far as her people are concerned, purely imaginary.
On this subject you may rely with entire confidence upon the truth of the following proposition:
1. That the people of Virginia are now fully prepared in good faith and upon earnest convictions of duty and interest, to take upon themselves all the obligations, and to perform all the duties which justly belong to them as citizens of the United States.
2. That our Courts of Justice and Police now organized according to the Constitution and laws of Virginia, are as fully competent to administer justice and to maintain order, and may be as confidently relied upon for that purpose by all classes and conditions of our people, as at any time in our past history.
3. That it wold be not only perfectly [unclear], but eminently wise to withdraw from Virginia all commandants of posts with them armed guards, all Provost Marshals with their military officials, and all lecturers and other agents of the Freedmen's Bureau. These instruments of martial law have become wholly unnecessary since the organization of our civil tribunals, and their continuance among our people tends to alienation and unkindness rather than conciliation and good will.
4. That if our people could be assured of their entire freedom to act, and that constitutional actions on their part would be sustained they would go on with cheerful alacrity, and in a spirit of national conservatism, to conform their State Government to the new circumstances in which they find themselves, and to restore the constitutional harmony between the State and Federal Governments.
5. That those who count as political capital any supposed preference on the part of our people among obsolete party organizations, and those who apprehend that resentments, growing out of past collisions will control our future political relations, alike fail to appreciate "the situation." They will all find that freeing the slaves has set the masters free from the necessities which once controlled their political action, and that our people are far more accessible to influence suggested by the future than by the past.
I have thus stated truly and fairly the opinions and purposes of the people of Virginia, founded upon pure convictions of duty and interest, but I take it for granted that you look for something higher and better than this, and that you include in your idea of a right restoration, a revival of those feelings of kindness and good will which once existed between the people of several States and of that affectionate loyalty to the common government which in the earlier days of the Republic, so greatly distinguished our whole people.
It is due to candor to say that no such revival has yet taken place in Virginia, though I do not at all despair of seeing it brought about. Time, of itself, will do much toward relieving the bitterness of recent strife. The renewal of commercial intercourse must be followed by the re-establishment of social relations between the people of the different States, and if we can have constitutional equality fully recognized and practically enforced by laws which shall protect alike the people of all parts of our country, the people of Virginia will not be slow to give their affections to a government thus commending itself to the approval of their judgement.
Martial law, confiscation libels, and State trials will undoubtedly postpone such a result, but I hope they will all soon give way under the influence of reviving confidence and good will.
Your obedient servant,
John B. Baldwin.
Trailer: John B. BaldwinThe Confederate Archives
(Column 06)Summary: This article reports that the Archive Office of the War Department "is now at work upon the examination and classification of the five hundred boxes of archives of the late Confederate Government."
In Or Out Of The Union
(Column 01)Summary: This editorial argues that if the Southern states are in the Union then "the only restrictions which can be rightfully imposed upon the liberties of the people are those embraced in the Constitution." But the editor also suggests that these rights will "never be accorded to us if we do not claim them."
Full Text of Article:Negro Suffrage Defeated in Connecticut
The State of Virginia is either in or out of the Union. If Virginia is in the Union, she is entitled to all the rights which the Constitution of the United States guarantees to the several States comprising the Union. If she is out of the Union, she is entitled to perfect freedom and independence, and has the right to adopt such rules of Government as may suit herself. If she is not a member of the Union , she is not entitled to elect any one to represent her in the Congress of the United States.
The administration of Mr. Lincoln made war upon the people of the States which passed ordinances of secession, because it denied the right of secession, and considered all ordinances of secession as mere nullities -- that, in spite of such ordinances, the States claiming to secede were still in the Union, and under obligations to obey the laws of the United States. If the administration had recognized the seceding States as being out of the Union, it would have acknowledged, by such recognition, that it had no right to make war upon the citizens of those States. The war upon the South has no justification save upon the theory that the States claiming to secede were, all the time, States in the Union.
If this theory be correct, (and it has been so decided by the stern arbitrament to which the question was submitted) then the Southern States were, during the war, and still are, in the Union, and, consequently, entitled to all the rights guaranteed by the Constitution to the several States of the Union.
This being so, it becomes the duty of every citizen to claim the right guaranteed to them by the Constitution. The only restrictions which can be rightfully imposed upon the liberties of the people are those embraced in the Constitution of the U. S., and the laws passed in pursuance thereof, not in violation thereof. But some say, we are a conquered people, we are governed by might, we are helpless, we are in the power of those who have no regard for the Constitution, that it is folly to talk about our Constitutional rights, that we should meekly acquiesce in whatever the dominant party should do, however, violative of our Constitution rights. We do not concur with those entertaining such sentiments. We believe that we should contend in a proper spirit -- the spirit of people "who know their rights, and knowing dare maintain" -- for all the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution, and we have faith that they will be obtained, if the proper course be pursued. They never will be accorded to us, if we do not claim them. A people willing to surrender their birthright do not deserve to enjoy it.
(Column 02)Summary: Reports on the defeat of a "negro suffrage" amendment in Connecticut and argues that it is "absurd" to deny suffrage to "the few colored freemen of Connecticut" and "grant suffrage to the millions of negroes in the South who have just emerged from bondage."
(Column 01)Summary: A call for "men of property" to "furnish the means" to restore the local fire company to its condition before the war.Inspector of Spirits
(Column 01)Summary: Reports that Harvey Risk has been appointed Inspector of Spirits, and has become a citizen of Staunton.Col. John B. Baldwin
(Names in announcement: Harvey Risk)
(Column 02)Summary: This letter defends Col. Baldwin's eligibility for the House of Delegates, pointing out his pardon granted by President Johnson.Suffering Soldiers' Families
(Names in announcement: Col. John Baldwin, H. Bell, F. Young, Jas. Crawford, J. BumgardnerJr., William Balthis, C. Cochran, J. Hanger, R. Guy, J. Trotter, G. Cochran, Benjamin Crawford, Johnathon Hardy, S. WoodwardSr., T. Fuqua, J. Bowyer, G. Price, G. Imboden, T. Berkeley)
(Column 02)Summary: This letter is an appeal for "clothing or provisions" for a disabled veteran, Creed Smith, who lives near Staunton.
(Names in announcement: Jonathan Scherer, Creed Smith)Trailer: "K."[No Title]
(Column 02)Summary: This letter encourages voters to "vote as they think right, and for the men they wish to see elected" and ignore those who raise questions about candidates' ability to take the test oath.
Trailer: A Word to the WiseMarried
(Column 03)Summary: On September 21 the Rev. George Shuey joined John Baylor and Rebecca Bosserman in marriage.Died
(Names in announcement: Rev. George Shuey, John Baylor, Rebecca Bosserman)
(Column 03)Summary: Mary Hope died on the morning of October 9 and is survived by her husband, R. J. Hope.
(Names in announcement: Mary Hope, R. J. Hope)