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Valley of the Shadow

Staunton Spectator: September 21, 1869

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(Column 01)
Summary: The Spectator publishes an editorial in favor of religious and sectional toleration. Blames test-oaths and disfranchisement on feelings of intolerance and urges everyone to forgo sectionalism in favor of promoting common interests across the country.
Full Text of Article:

The late war naturally called into action the worst passions of our nature. During the terrible struggle, men looked at every subject from their own peculiar stand-point, and few were willing to accord to those who differed from them, even the merit of sincerity. Men were drunk with passion, and impatient of all differences of opinion. This intolerant spirit prevailed, not only in regard to matters of political character, but extended even to questions of morals and religion. And, strange to say, that many professed disciples of the religion of peace, were more bitter towards those who professed, in the main, the same faith, but differed from them in matters of form, rather than of substance. They could tolerate those who did not profess to belong to any church much more readily, than those who agreed with them on all the fundamental doctrines of christianity, and yet differed from them on some of the forms of worship, or minor questions of faith.

The war has now ended. The cause of fearful excitement has been removed. The passions of men are beginning to subside. But still some of the old feeling of acrimony remains. The greatest of all christian virtues -- charity -- has not yet asserted its full dominion over the minds of men. But we trust that it is making rapid advances to that end.

The public sentiment of the North is becoming much more ameliorated. The recent action of the federal government, is a concession to the improved public opinion of the Northern masses. And, as Providence seems to have ordained that, in the future, the people of the United States shall live together as one people, having common interests, and a common destiny, it is manifestly proper that we should cultivate an enlarged feeling of toleration and charity. If we cannot forget, we can, at least, forgive. Having such constant occasion to invoke forbearance for our own short-comings, we ought to endeavor, at least, to practice the divine attribute of forgiveness towards others. We should remember, too, that owing to the diversity of human minds, and the opposite stand points from which men view subjects, differences of opinion are inevitable. We should remember our own frailty, and in judging of the conduct of others, we should, at least, accord to them honesty of purpose.

We trust we are on the eve of an era of better feeling, and we should do all in our power to cultivate it, and place it on a firm basis.

In view of these facts, may we not invoke, on the part of the Southern people, the exercise of a spirit of toleration on all the important questions of the day -- toleration in politics -- toleration in religion -- toleration towards the people of the North, who have been misguided by mischievous demagogues -- toleration towards the freedmen who have been cheated and deluded by selfish office-seekers.

Religion is a matter between man and his God. It is a matter which affects himself and his relation to his Creator, much more than it concerns his fellow-men. And yet, strange to say, it is upon questions of this kind, that men are most apt to intermeddle with the affairs of their neighbors, and to extend the smallest measure of toleration.

All this is wrong. Let us cultivate a feeling of Catholic charity. Let us dismiss, as far as we can, all narrow and partisan feelings in matters of religion and politics. Let us allow every man to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience. Let him attach himself to what church he pleases, and adopt such forms of worship and discipline as best suit his taste and judgment. Let him join what political party he pleases, and vote for the men and measures most acceptable to him. If we will extend this charity to others, they will soon be obliged to extend the same to us. In this way, the jars which sometimes disturb society will be prevented. Intolerance, test-oaths, and disfranchisements are contrary to the genius of this age. They are the fruits of a narrow spirit of bigotry in religion and politics. And yet how many are there, who, while they are loud in their denunciations of those things, indulge towards their fellow-men the very feelings which give birth to these enormities.

The time is at hand when the events of the last eight years should be obliterated, as far as possible, from the minds of the American people, and when, recognizing no North and no South, no East and no West, they should all unite in a common effort to advance the interests and honor and prosperity of a common country.

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Schools in Staunton
(Column 01)
Summary: A large number of students have arrived in Staunton, and the town's schools will be filled to capacity this year. The paper praised the quality of Staunton's male and female schools.
(Column 03)
Summary: John Shea and Miss Rebecca Jane Coiner, both of Augusta, were married on September 15th by the Rev. E. T. H. Trippe.
(Names in announcement: John Shea, Rebecca Jane Coiner, Rev. E. T. H. Trippe)
(Column 03)
Summary: Mrs. Lucretia Cox died in Staunton at the residence of her husband on September 14th. She was 43 years old. "The deceased was an impressive illustration of the influence of true piety, as seen in the bearing of afflictions, in the training of children, and in the happiness of home! Her bereaved family circle has the sympathies and prayers of many."
(Names in announcement: Lucretia Cox)

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