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Valley of the Shadow

Staunton Spectator: June 30, 1868

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-Page 01-

The New Constitution
(Column 04)
Summary: A letter from "George Mason", predicting that, should the constitution be ratified, the property-less classes that will control Virginia will raise taxes. They will do so not only because they bear no part of the burden of taxation, but also because higher taxes will be required to support the public school system and newly created county offices.
Origin of Article: Norfolk Journal
Full Text of Article:


The representative apportionment of the new constitution not only secures for the negro perpetual ascendancy, but it arms him with a prerogative which should startle the tax payers of the State.

It confers upon the negroes the whole vast power of taxation, and the power is irreversible. The white man cannot help himself if he would. With twenty-one negro majority against him, he is as helpless against negro rapacity as the infant against the brawny giant's arm. Whatever burdens the negro chooses to put upon the white men, we are bound to submit to on pain of having our property distrained perhaps by a negro sheriff, armed, it may be, with a posse comitatus of negro militia.

Observe first, that those who are to lay the taxes on the white man's property have little or no property themselves. They can tax the property of the white people ad libitum, without feeling themselves the burdens they put on the others. They may tax the white man until he groans and writhes under the grievous infliction, and until he trembles lest the wife and the children go half fed and half clothed! -- But what of it? His negro superior and tax master is moved to no sympathy, and surveys the work of his exactions with stoic indifference, because he and his class, having little or no property to have taxes levied on, is not a common sufferer.

Now, in all good governments, the security of the tax paying property-holders against undue exactions, is the liability of those who impose the taxes to pay the like taxes themselves. When a representative cannot impose a tax upon his constituents without putting it upon himself also, his tax-paying constituents are safe, never otherwise.

But the miserable bungle of the motley ignoramuses that met in Richmond to frame a form of government for the descendants of Virginia statesmen, provides no security whatever for the tax payers. Even the pauper wandering in the streets or tenant of the alms-house, may participate in the laying of taxes on the merchants, the professional man, the holder of stocks, the business man of every sort, and the landholder. Not a solitary intellectual or property qualification is required of the imposer of taxes. He is not required even to have exhibited the common interest in the community of having paid his share of the taxes, and not having paid a dollar of taxes himself, he may, with impunity, put what taxes he pleases on others.

Let us see how the thing works in other States where negro ascendancy prevails.

The late Constitutional Convention of South Carolina was composed of forty-seven white and seventy-four colored men. The colored delegates paid an aggregate tax of $171, of whom fifty-nine paid no tax at all. Of the whites, more than one-half had no visible estate, but the carpet-bags and contents with which they commenced trade in the Palmetto State.

Now these penniless Africans and these penniless white adventurers from afar made a constitution, and of course provided a system of taxation for the once rich owners of the rice fields of South Carolina, and the like classes will prescribe the taxes for them until, by some means or other, negro rule shall be broken.

So in Virginia. Unless the people avert negro rule by voting down the constitution, they must submit to be ground down by just what taxation shall be imposed by a totally irresponsible set of negroes and squalid rogues from the North, owning not a dollar beyond the dirty and tarnished wardrobe on their hands.

White men of the Old Dominion! you had better look on this thing. You had better discover, before it is to late, what loosed the field in which is tax payers and tax policemen.

An increase of the number of renegade then, as already shown, will induce a very heavy additional expenditure, depending for the amount, altogether on the will of a penniless negro majority.

The new county officers, to use the language of the Conservative address, are a swarm. We are to have a multitude of officers never before heard of, and never needed in the past economical and quiet days of the old Virginia.

We are to have county judges, county treasurers, county superintendents of the poor, county superintendents of schools, township supervisors, commissioners of roads, overseers of the poor, and school trustees, and overseers of roads.

The number of these new county officers is no less than sixty in the smallest counties. In the aggregate, they will absolutely blast the several counties by an insupportable taxation, and as unnecessary as insupportable, except to furnish places for the cormorants whose hungered stomachs yearn anxiously for the flesh pots.

Then we are to have a free school system, incapable of successful application to a sparse population, and which will cause the property-holders to agonize under the taxation it will inflict.

Now bear in mind: first, that the whole taxes to be raised from these multiplied subjects of taxation, will be levied by those who, having no property to bear its share of the public burdens, will have no concern whatever as to the amount to be levied. And then remembering that nearly the entire taxes will be levied and raised on property alone, we shall at once see the infinite mischief and oppression that will befall the white property-holders of the State if the constitution be adopted.

That the taxation will be pushed to the extremest point, is perfectly apparent. We have but to see what the negroes and their mean white comrades have already done in this regard, to know what they will do hereafter.-- They spun out the session of the convention to the extraordinary length of four months and a half, when four weeks would have been ample -- paid reporters and doorkeepers and pages and clerks extraordinary compensation -- and voted into their own pockets eight dollars per day of the hard earnings of an impoverished, almost starving people, thus recklessly squandering the sacred fund dedicated to the payment of the interest on the public debt, and the preservation of the good faith and honor of the State. "Verily by their works shall ye know them."

Property-holders of Virginia -- tax payers of Virginia! If you would not be ground to the dust by a merciless, totally selfish, irresponsible taxation, go to the polls, and to a man vote against the constitution!


Exhibition and Entertainment at Mt. Solon
(Column 06)
Summary: A letter signed "Mossy Creek" describes the closing exercises of the private school of Hattie McAlister in the patronage of J. J. Cupp. The celebration consisted of a supper, followed by a concert and tableau.
(Names in announcement: Hattie McAlister, J. J. Cupp, E. F. Busey, Ida Cupp, Mary Cupp, Mattie Cupp, Willie Cupp, Fannie Hopewell, Sallie Hopewell, Mattie Huffman, Emma Anderson, Isabella Clarke, George M. John, Ben Ami Blakemore, P. H. Clarke, Rev. Thomas Carson, John W. Hopewell)

-Page 02-

[No Title]
(Column 01)
Summary: The paper takes consolation from Mississippi voters' rejection of their proposed constitution. A majority of voters in Mississippi are African-American, and, according to the paper, the results prove that most blacks are prepared to vote with "the Southern Whites who are their best, if not, in fact, their only friends."
Wake Up
(Column 01)
Summary: The paper chides members of Virginia's "White Man's party" for complacency, and urges them to redouble efforts to ensure the defeat of the constitution. "Let us realize the fact that a member of the convention which framed this abominable constitution proclaimed that the white men of Virginia are to 'drink negro rule as high as heaven and as deep as hell.'"

-Page 03-

Ice Cream--Magnus Cease
(Column 01)
Summary: Magnus Cease has ice cream at his shop and served it for free last Wednesday, earning him the praises of the children of Staunton.
(Names in announcement: Magnus Cease)
Concert by the Blind Pupils
(Column 01)
Summary: Vast numbers attended a concert by the blind pupils of Staunton's Deaf, Dumb and Blind Institution. Prof. A. J. Turner directed the music.
(Names in announcement: A. J. Turner)
The Virginia Female Institute
(Column 01)
Summary: The Virginia Female Institute held closing exercises. The young ladies performed vocal and instrumental music including "Scena et Aria" from Freischutz. Hugh W. Sheffey addressed the graduates. Diplomas and medals for academic achievement were awarded.
(Names in announcement: Hugh W. Sheffey, Mary Dunnington, Marion Fisher, L. M. Matthews, Nannie B. Kirk, Rebecca R. Benedict, Ellen Harris, Alice F. Saunders, Margaret P. Walker, Belle Kirk, R. G. Benedict, Ella J. Chapman, Sallie P. Upshur, Sallie B. Pendleton, Janie G. Preston, William Ballard Preston, Jennie F. Johnson, M. Grace Steptoe, Nannie Archer, J. Kate Phillips, Emma J. Hamilton)
(Column 05)
Summary: Robert A. McGinty and Miss Jinnie Jones, both of Augusta, were married by the Rev. R. C. Walker on June 18th.
(Names in announcement: Robert A. McGinty, Jinnie Jones, Rev. R. C. Walker)
(Column 05)
Summary: William F. Hite and Miss Sue E. Wilson, daughter of Dr. Joseph Wilson of Churchville, were married on June 24th by the Rev. R. C. Walker.
(Column 05)
Summary: Mrs. Elizabeth Myers, wife of Rev. Hiram Myers, died at an advanced age of asthma in Waynesboro on June 17th. "The deceased had been a member of the M. E. Church for upwards of 20 years, and her Christian walk and conversation were such as would command the respect and admiration of all. She had been a sufferer for a long period of years during which time she uttered no complaint, but often spoke of her approaching death as a relief from the trials and afflictions of this life."
(Names in announcement: Elizabeth Myers, Rev. Hiram Myers)

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