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Valley of the Shadow

Staunton Spectator: January 30, 1866

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Petitions of "Union Men"
(Column 01)
Summary: Reports that J. W. Dewes, who served on the Freedmen's Court at the behest of the area's freedmen, has been circulating a secret petition. The editor demands that the contents of the petition be known.
(Names in announcement: J. W. Dewes)
Full Text of Article:

A special dispatch from Washington to the Public Ledger says that "petitions from some of the States recently in rebellion have been received by the President, asking on behalf of their signers, who are represented as "Union men," that they be protected against the usurpations and proscriptions of the dominant majority in those States."

We have been informed that Mr. W. H. Dewes, a man living in this place, who was chosen by the Freedmen to act as their Judge in the Freedmen's court, has been getting signers to a petition of some character, we know not exactly what. Sa it has not been made known to the public, we suppose it is not intended to be seen except by such as were willing to sign it. Are these men petitioning for "protection"? --If so, protection against whom? Have any threats been made against one? Do they desire troops to be sent here? If so, for what purpose? Are not the citizens peaceable, quiet, harmless? The petition was not shown to the citizens of the town, but taken some distance into the country. If the citizens of any particular neighborhood desire to have troops in their midst they have the right to ask for them; but we tell them that they have no right to have them quartered upon us in the town. When we desire or need them, we will ask for them ourselves. Petitions secretly circulated should be brought to light. Upon what representations were the signatures of the signers obtained? Will not one or more signers apprise us, that the public may know, and that may stand justified.

Since the departure of the soldiers from this place, there has not been half the disorder that there was before, and we understand that the head of the Freedmen's Bureau says, that he had not had half the trouble since they left that he had when they were here. The citizens do not want any soldiers here. The citizens do not want any soldiers here -- the head of the Freedmen's Bureau does not want them, and the Freedmen's Bureau themselves do not want them, and the Freedmen themselves do not want them.--The Freedmen do not relish the species of protection they granted, as it was of the kind which the vulture gives to the dove, and the wolf to the lamb.

No Freedmen have been mistreated since they left -- whilst they were here, maltreatment of them was almost of daily occurrence. There has not been a new case for trial in the Freedmen's court for a month, as has been stated by a member of the Court.

The people of the South who are sending such petitions to the President, as spoken of in the above dispatch, under the name of "Union men," are not, in truth, true Union men, but trifling characters who have gotten into some positions which they do not deserve to fill where they can exercise a "little brief authority," and desire to retain them and to do so bring reproach upon better citizens by assuming to call themselves "Union men." The great mass of the people in the South are now Union men in the true acceptation of the term. The only disunionists now, are the Radicals of the North.

Western Lunatic Asylum
(Column 03)
Summary: A summary of a recent report by the superintendent of the asylum located in Staunton.
Views of the President
(Column 04)
Summary: A summary of President Johnson's opinions on the questions of reconstruction, including his belief that the imposition of "negro suffrage" would precipitate "the dissolution of the Union."
Origin of Article: Cincinnati Gazette

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Local News--Result of Election
(Column 01)
Summary: Lists the victors in recent local elections.
(Names in announcement: James BumgardnerJr., Samuel Paul, J. Wayt Bell, C. C. Francisco, William Smith, Samuel Finley, Thomas Burke, Thomas Gamble, J. M. McCue, Chesley Kinney)
Local News--Bacon Found
(Column 01)
Summary: Attributes the theft of a quantity of bacon to local freedmen, who, the article suggests, have been corrupted by freedmen in Rockbridge County.
Local News--The Girls
(Column 01)
Summary: Encourages women to give up a fashionable hairstyle referred to as the "waterfall."
(Column 02)
Summary: Rev. P. H. Whisner and Lou. Arey were married on January 24th by Rev. William Baird.
(Names in announcement: Rev. P. H. Whisner, Lou. Arey, Rev. William Baird)
Railroad Meeting
(Column 03)
Summary: Details the proceedings of a meeting of citizens advocating the construction of a railroad through the Valley.
(Names in announcement: H. M. Bell, A. H. H. Stuart, Bolivar Christian, R. Mauzy, W. H. H. Lynn, A. M. GarberJr., H. W. Sheffey, Absalom Koyner, David Fultz, H. L. Gallaher, J. M. McCue, John Watts, T. J. Michie)
Full Text of Article:

A meeting was held, by the citizens of Augusta County, at the Court House, on Monday, (Court Day) January 22nd, of the purpose of expressing their desire that the Legislature would grant a Charter for the construction of a Railroad from Winchester to Salem, and of the completion of the Covington & Ohio Railroad.

On motion of H. M. Bell, Esq., Hon. A. H. H. Stuart, was called to the Chair, and on motion of Bolivar Christian, Esq., Messrs. R. Mauzy, W. H. H. Lynn, and A. M. Garber, Jr., were appointed Secretaries.

Mr. Stuart, on taking the Chair, explained the object of the meeting, and, in a speech marked with ability, demonstrated the deep and vast interests the citizens of this great Valley heave in the construction and completion of the proposed Railroads.

On motion of Bolivar Christian, Esq., the Chair appointed a Committee to prepare resolutions expressive of the sense of the meeting.

The Chair appointed the following gentlemen to constitute that Committee.

Bolivar Christian, H. W. Sheffey, H. M. Bell, Absalom Koyner, David Fultz, H. L. Gallaher and J. M . McCue.

Mr. Sheffey requested Mr. Fultz to address the meeting during the retirement of the Committee.

Mr. Fultz delivered a practical speech in favor of granting the charter for the construction of a Railroad up the Valley, and denounced in strong terms the narrow contracted policy which governed our Legislature in the past.

Maj. John B. Watts then proceeded to address the meeting, and suspended his remarks when the Committee, through their Chairman, announced the readiness to report,

The Committee submitted the following preamble and resolutions:

The people of Augusta, in sympathy with the people of the whole Valley, so long the highway of contending armies, and regarding it as vital to our interest, in order to rebuild our ruined homes and restore our desolated lands, (1st) to introduce foreign capital, of want of which we are utterly crippled; (2nd) to induce immigration with the means to purchase our surplus lands and the labor to develop our yet untested resources, and (3d) in order to do this to construct railroads to connect us with the teeming traffic of the West and North; to introduce from the plaster deposits of the Southwest fertilizer so necessary to restore the waste of our limestone lands; and Eastward to give our products the cheapest and speediest access to the markets of our seaboard cities:

But while thus inviting capital from abroad we so appreciate the exhaustless value of the resources of our Valley as to hold it but right to require of this capital, as a recompense, such terms and conditions of its investment here as will prevent any invidious discrimination against Virginia interests, but will leave our local traffic and travel free to go wherever interest or affection may invite:

And remembering that thirty years ago, when foreign capital tempted the Valley with the magnificent proffer of railways throughout all her limits to the Ohio and Tennessee lines, not only without any taxation, but with actually a perpetual bonus to the State Treasury for the privilege, the people of the Valley, in a spirit of patriotism, postponed their private interest to an appeal from Eastern Virginia to await for facilities to "better markets in Virginia." We have waited in vain until a generation has passed away, and many of our most enterprising citizens in despair have sought more favored lands -- but now that the Virginia treasury and taxpayers are so helplessly unable to provide us the facilities so indispensable to our resuscitation -- we ask, in simple justice, to be permitted to look elsewhere for that aid so needed to drive the genius of despair from the ashes of our desolated homes. Therefore.

Resolved. 1. That the construction of a railroad under a continuous charter, or by the extension and connection of existing improvements, throughout the Valley of Virginia from Winchester to Salem is of vital importance to the people of the Valley.

2. That the development of the resources of this bounteous Valley is to that extent the development of the resources of Virginia, and we repudiate the policy which opposes all improvements that do not point to some particular section regardless of the interests of other sections, as a policy which prostrates the energies of the people, dwarfs the resources and in the end retards the development of the whole Commonwealth.

3. That the completion of the Covington and Ohio Railroad to the Ohio River, is a work of incalculable and indispensable importance to the interests of the whole Commonwealth.

4. That we claim the right to demand the privilege of having these great improvements promptly undertaken, and completed as they may now be, without cost or charge to the public treasury, and that our Representatives in the General Assembly are hereby requested to use every exertion to secure the construction of these improvements.

Mr. Fultz offered the following substitute for the report of the Committee:

It is only by contrasting our condition after with what it was before the war, that we can fully realize the extent of our losses. Then our farms were well stocked and in a fine state of cultivation; and with a well organized system of labor we were blessed with abundant harvests; now they are dilapidated, the enclosures, and, in many instances, the buildings are destroyed; and with a deranged system of labor which promises but little, if any , surplus products.--Then we had a sound convertible currency; now what little remains is about to be swept from us by the policy of the stay law. Then lighter taxation never rested upon a free people; now its accumulated weight, National and State, threatens to crush us to the dust. Then, in short, we were prosperous and happy; now the ravages of a most desolating war are scattered all around us.

But amidst the gloom that hangs over us we cannot afford to despair. There is hidden mercy, behind every dark cloud. Let us then return to first principles, and rigidly practicing industry and economy, our energies will revive and we will find ourselves again on our feet in the road to prosperity and happiness.

In the opinion of this meeting, there is now no scheme that wisdom can devise which will more certainly and expeditiously relieve us from our embarassed and crippled condition, that the construction of a railroad from Winchester through the Valley to intersect the Tennessee Railroad. Therein.

Resolved, 1. That the making of said road is of vital importance to the people of the Valley, and we most earnestly invite the people of other counties to unite with us, in a most urgent but respectful appeal to the Legislature, now in session, to grant a charter to construct the same.

2. That the right of the people of the Valley to choose their markets, is just as incontestible as their right to raise surplus products; and this right should not be sacrificed to the interest of any particular market or locality.

3. That it is the duty of the Government to provide its citizens with every facility to market, and when a people are forced to trade with any particularly market against their natural interests, it is a tax upon then to the extent of the difference in favor of other markets, is unjust and oppressive, and should not be tolerated.

4. That as ardently and as sincerely as we desire the return of our brothers from the West, and that we may be again united, and Old Virginia once more as she was, yet, if a narrow, contracted policy on the part of the Legislature shall again defeat our claims, it will be our duty, as an oppressed people, to earnestly appeal to our fellow-citizens of the Valley to unite with us in an application for annexation to West Virginia, where we know our rights will be respected.

This substitute elicited a discussion, Mr. Fultz favoring the substitute, and Messrs. Christian Sheffey and Bell opposing it.

Whereupon the Committee accepted the 2nd and 3rd of Mr. Fultz's resolutions as a part of their report, and Mr. Fultz withdrew the remainder of his substitute.

The vote was then taken upon the report of the committee, as so amended, and it was unanimously adopted.

On motion of T. J. Michie, Esq., it was requested that the proceedings of this meeting be published in the Valley and Richmond papers.

On motion, the meeting adjourned.

A. H. H. Stuart, Chairman.

R. Mauzy

W. H. H. Lynn

A. M. Garber, Jr.


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