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Valley of the Shadow

Staunton Spectator: February 19, 1867

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The Blackest Record
(Column 01)
Summary: Even in the Long Parliament or "the most bloodthirsty epoch of a French convention," the article argues, never have "the representatives of the people" acted "with greater ignomy" than in the passage of the Reconstruction bill. Includes a critique of the bill for the government of Louisiana from the New York Times.
Origin of Article: National Intelligencer; New York Times
Editorial Comment: In speaking of the character of the bill reported by Stevens from the Committee on Reconstruction and which passed the House of Representatives, on Wednesday, the 13th inst., the National Intelligencer of the next day thus forcibly describes it:
Full Text of Article:

"The blackest record ever made by an assembly of the representatives of a free people stained yesterday the proceedings of the House of Representatives. Never, in the most tyrannous hour of the Long Parliament misrule; never, amid the utmost subservience to the royal mandate of an English King; never, in the most bloodthirsty epoch of a French convention, did the representatives of the people stamp themselves with greater ignomy. The bill which passed by a vote of 109 to 55, had some third of the people of this country over to military government. For the rule of law, it substitutes the will of an officer. For the tribunal of a judge, it furnishes a drumhead court-martial or a military commission. For the process of a court and the peaceful visit of a sheriff, it proffers the order of a petty satrap and the presence of a squad of bayonets It ignores the Chief Magistrate of the United States. It invests a General with absolute power over one-third of his countrymen. It erects subordinate dictators, armed with unbridled power, from the Potomac to the Rio Grande. Throughout this broad domain, comprising the fairest and most fertile section of the Republic, no man is to have a secure title to his property; no man's house is free from search; no man's chattel's exempt from seizure; no mans' liberty unexposed to assault; no man's life safe from peril. An army officer, a soldier, exalted above the law, may ruthlessly invade a citizen's home an drag him from the bosom of his family. Such a bill makes him a mockery of free institutions. It despites all the great safeguards of popular liberty. It tramples on the freedom of the press. It annihilates the right of free assemblage. It silences the lips of free speech. It infringes the right of the people to bear arms. It wipes out the guaranty of a grand jury presentment. It abolishes the exemption of freedom from seizure and from search. It abrogates the right of trial by a jury of one's peers in the vicinage of the commission of the alleged offence. It tramples upon the prerogative of the President, it makes war upon the Constitution, it rebels against the authority of the Supreme Court. It invades the sacred constitutional rights of the citizen. It is treason enveloped in the forms of law. It is rebellion wearing the garb of legitimate power. It is usurpation assuming the sanctity of constitutional enactment.

As bad as the Stevens' bill is, which is so well described by the Intelligencer , yet Elliott's bill for the government of Louisiana, which passed the House by a vote of 113 to 48, Is much worse. Even the New York Times , a Republican paper, thus speaks of its character and effects:

"It is proscriptive after the manner of Tennessee, and will give rise to the heart burning, the angry controversies, the bitter, bloody strife which prevail in Tennessee to this hour. It confers the franchise upon the negroes, universally, while it disfranchises nearly the entire white population. Practically, therefore, the reorganization of Louisa will be entrusted to its freedmen, they, and they alone, will have the election of legislators, and through the Convention the framing of the new Constitution; the resident whites being at their mercy in all things political. No gift of prophecy is needed to foretell the consequences of this policy. It is irritating and dangerous to the last degree,, and its effect upon the property and business interests of the State will be most disastrous.

Military Governments for the South
(Column 02)
Summary: Characterizes the Reconstruction Bill as "a plan for the subjection, forever, of the Southern States to an absolute and irresponsible military government." Includes a copy of the "remarkable and iniquitous bill."
Origin of Article: Lynchburg Virginian; Lancaster Intelligencer
Full Text of Article:

The bill offered by the joint committee on reconstruction (?) of which Thad. Stevens was chairman, establishing military governments in the Southern States, passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday last, by a vote of 109 ayes to 55 nays-within one of being a two thirds vote. In the language of the Lynchburg Virginian , "it makes General Grant a military dictator in these States, repudiates the late decision of the Supreme Court, suspends the writ of habeas corpus, and effectually deposes the President of the United States so far as the government of the Southern States is concerned. As will be seen, it contains no provision whatever for the restoration of these States to their rightful place in the Union; and does not intimate that this is a provisional arrangement, looking to the final rehabilitation of the States concerned. For all that the bill intimates to the contrary, it is a plan for the subjection, forever , of the Southern States to an absolute and irresponsible military government. How this system is to be incorporated with our form of republican government, it is difficult to apprehend. Its introduction and continuance here cannot but end in the final overthrow of the constitutional government of the United States. All candid men must admit that it is a fearful stride in the direction of absolutism , and its inevitable tendency is to a military dictatorship for the whole country."

The following is the most remarkable an iniquitous bill:

"Whereas, the pretended State governments of the late so-called Confederate States of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Texas and Arkansas were set up without the authority of Congress, and without the sanction of the people; and whereas the said pretended governments afford no adequate protection for life or property, but countenance and encourage lawlessness and crime; and whereas it is necessary that peace and good order should be enforced in the said so-called States until loyal and republican State governments can be legal established; therefore,

"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That the so-called States shall be divided into military districts and made subject to the military authority of the United States, as hereinafter prescribed; and for that purpose, Virginia shall constituted the 1st district, North Carolina and South Carolina, the 2d district; Georgia, Alabama and Florida, the 3d district; Mississippi and Arkansas, the 4th district; and Louisiana and Texas, the 5th district.

"SECTION 2. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the General of the army to assign to the command of each of the said districts an officer of the regular army, not below the rank of Brigadier Genera; and to detail a sufficient military force to enable such officer to perform his duties and enforce his authority within the district to which he is assigned.

"SECTION 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of each officer assigned as aforesaid to protect all persons in their rights of person and property, to suppress insurrection, disorder and violence, and to punish, or cause to be punished, all disturbers of the public peace and criminals; and to this end he may allow civil tribunals to take jurisdiction of and to try offenders, or when in his judgment it may be necessary for the trial of offenders, he shall have power to organize military commissions or tribunals for that purpose, anything in the constitutions and laws of the so called States to the contrary notwithstanding; and all legislative or judicial proceedings or processes to prevent or contest the proceedings of said military tribunals, and all interference by said pretended State governments with the exercise of military authority under this act shall be void and of no effect.

"SECTION 4. And be it further enacted, That courts and judicial officers of the United States shall not issue writs of habeas corpus in behalf of persons in military custody unless some commissioned officer on duty in the district wherein the person is detained shall endorse upon said petition a statement certifying upon honor that he has knowledge or information as to the cause and circumstances of the alleged detention, and that he believes that same to be wrongful; and further, that he believes that the endorsed petition is preferred in good faith and in furtherance of justice , and not to hinder or delay the punishment of crime. All persons put under military arrest by virtue of this act shall be tried without unnecessary delay, and no cruel or unusual punishment shall be inflicted.

"SECTION 5. And be it further enacted, That no sentence of any military commission or tribunal hereby authorized affecting the life, or liberty of any person shall be executed until it is approved by the superior officer in command of the district, and the laws and regulations for the government of the army shall not be affected by this act, except in so far as they conflict with its provisions.

In commenting upon the outrageous character of this bill, the Lancaster (Pa.) Intelligencer says that it was "devised by the Reconstruction Committee for the purpose of completing and perpetuating a dissolution of the Union. No man possessed of ordinary judgment can read it without being shocked. It proposes to destroy at one sweep every vestige of civil government in one-half of the country, and to set up under the exclusive control of the Radicals in Congress, a military despotism, pure and simple. Ten States are to be at once blotted from existence. They are to be reduced, not to the condition of other territories but to the sad state of hostile provinces. Military satraps are to be appointed over them. The people are to have no choice in the selection of their rulers. These arbitrary governors, these minions of a military despotism are not expected to rule in accordance with any known or recognized laws. With their dictates no civil court can interfere. There are to be no laws throughout the South, except the rules of the camp and the will of a military chieftain. In order that there may be no mistake about the arbitrary features of this new form of government, the bill expressly provides that there shall be no interference by any civil authority with the military control. No court can grant the privilege of a hearing on a writ of habeas corpus without the consent of some military satrap. Every citizen is made liable to arrest, to summary trial, to conviction and execution, by an irresponsible and unconstitutional military tribunal, from which there is to be no appeal. By this infamous bill war is declared anew, and the whole of the Southern States are made a camp. Under its provisions all courts are made subordinate to drum head courts martial, and men may be seized, tried and hung in a manner sufficiently summary to satisfy the most bloodthirsty fanatic."

An Outrage
(Column 01)
Summary: Reports that last week near Fayetteville, North Carolina "a negro attempted to commit an outrage on the person of Miss Massey," the daughter of a Confederate officer. A suspect was arrested "and while being conducted to the jail by the Sheriff was surrounded by a mob and shot dead." The article also claims that "no one knows by whom the fatal shot was fired."

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Local News
(Column 01)
Summary: The Fair held by the ladies of the Lutheran Church last week is reported to have been a success, grossing about $200.
Local News--Building Association
(Column 01)
Summary: The local Building Association was organized with the election of officers on Monday night.
(Names in announcement: J. B. Evans, Jno. K. Woods, Heber Ker, J. H. Waters, H. H. Peck, A. M. Bruce, E. M. Cushing, B. T. Bagby, W. J. Nelson, P. B. Hoge, N. P. Catlett, Saml. A. Hoshour)
Full Text of Article:

The building Association of this place has been organized with the most promising prospects that it will be eminently a success. On Monday night the 11th inst., the Association was organized by the election of the following efficient officers:--J. B. Evans, President; Jno. K. Woods, Treasurer; Herber Ker, Secretary; Messrs J. H. Waters, H. H. Peck, A. M. Bruce, E. M. Cushing, B. T. Bagby, and w. J. Nelson, Directors and Messrs P. B. Hoge, N. P. Catlett and Saml. A. Hoshour, Trustees.

Local News--Concert at the Presbyterian Church
(Column 02)
Summary: An account of last Friday's concert at the Presbyterian Church, reported to be a "great success."
(Names in announcement: G. H. Whitten, Prof. Ettinger, Dr. Brown)
Full Text of Article:

The sacred concert at the Presbyterian Church on Friday night last, was well attended, not withstanding the inclemency of the weather. It was given, we understand, ostensibly for the purpose of displaying one of Henry Esben's organs, just put up for the use of the choir of the church, and raising money sufficient to defray the heavy expenses incurred for its transportation from New York to Staunton. The power of the instrument was amply displayed by Mr. G. H. Whitten, under whose superintendence it was erected. It is of a medium size, and rather soft in its tone than otherwise; containing fourteen stops, viz: Open Diapson, Stopped Diapson, (treble and bass,) Principal, Duciana, Gemhorn, Gambra, Twelfth, Fifteenth, Flute, and Bourdon. Besides these there are a coupling Pedal, two composition Pedals, one swell and a bellows alarm. There are two octaves of pedal keys. After Mr. Whitten, had displayed the compass of the instrument, Prof. Ettinger, the organist of the church, took his seat, and the miscellaneous concert of sacred music commenced. Mr. Whitten, we understand, will remain with us for some time, being engaged to repair the organs of the Lunatic Asylum, the Deaf and Dumb and Blind Institution and the Episcopal church.

The concert was well sustained by the choir and their friends of Richmond and the Staunton Musical Association. Criticism falls to the ground when amateurs are the objects-we shall, therefore, pass by the faults, which were few.-The chorusses, though sung with much spirit, were weak, yet, we have heard the same compositions sung with far less ability in cities where they can obtain singers by the hundreds. The fine bass of Dr. Brown and the effective soprano of his daughter were conspicuous throughout the evening-the latter particularly excelled in the beautiful quartette of "Lay not up treasures," her warblings running tastefully through the harmony of the alto, tenor and bass. The quartette and chorus of "House of our God" was also admirably performed. The concert, on the whole, was a great success, and we of the mountain city have cause to be proud of the musical talent that is gradually developing itself among us. There is a general wish expressed that it may be repeated, as the inclemency of the weather prevented many from attending who would otherwise have been glad to hear such sweet music.

P. S.-Since the above was written, we are pleased to learn that, in accordance with the general wish of the community, the choir have consented to repeat the concert on Thursday night next.

Local News
(Column 02)
Summary: John B. Watts was commissioned as Vice-President of the local district of the Friends of Temperance on December 19.
(Names in announcement: John B. Watts)
(Column 05)
Summary: Madison L. Argenbright, formerly of Augusta, and Mary E. Wilson were married on January 27 in Missouri.
(Names in announcement: Madison L. Argenbright, Mary E. Wilson)
(Column 05)
Summary: Mary Whitesel and William Harris were married near Barterbrook on February 14 by Rev. W. R. Stringer.
(Names in announcement: Rev. W. R. Stringer, Wm. H. Harris, Mary E. Whitesel)
(Column 05)
Summary: Evaline Davis died on February 8 after intense sufferings. She was 38 years old.
(Names in announcement: Evaline Davis, James F. Davis)
Trailer: B.

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