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Valley of the Shadow

Staunton Spectator: March , 1870

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Excitement in Richmond--Tempest in a Teapot
(Column 01)
Summary: The editor described a recent incident where two mayors, one popularly elected and the other appointed under the enabling act, fought for control of Richmond. The appointed mayor, Chahoon, upon being told to vacate his office, occupied a police station house and refused to concede his office to mayor-elect Ellyson. In the ensuing chaos, fights broke out with casualties on both sides.
Full Text of Article:

Since Wednesday last, there has been great excitement in Richmond caused by the functus officio appointees of the military holding on to their offices in defiance of the State authorities and in violation of the laws of the State. The Radicals have fallen into the ditch, which they digged for the Conservatives. It will be remembered that, in the Convention which framed the State Constitution, the Radicals had a controlling majority, and believing that they would also have a majority in the Legislature, and be able to elect a Radical Governor, with a view of ousting from office at once the Conservative office-holders of the State, they made no provision, as had been uniformly done before on the change of Constitutions, to legalize the official acts and to retain in office, till their successors could be elected or appointed in accordance with the provisions of the new Constitution or laws passed in pursuance thereof, those who were in office at the time. It results from this omission -- supposed to have been designed with the motive indicated -- that, on the adoption of the new Constitution, all the offices were vacated, and consequently no validity could attach to the official acts of those holding the offices thus vacated. It was to remedy this evil that the Legislature passed the "Enabling Act," legalizing the official acts of the present office-holders till their successors could be elected or appointed, and authorizing the Governor, in the interim, to make appointments. The Constitutional authority to pass the enabling act is given in the 22nd section of the 5th article of the new Constitution, which is as follows: "The manner of conducting and making returns of election, of determining contested elections, and of filling vacancies in office in cases not specially provided for by this Constitution, shall be prescribed by law; and the General Assembly may declare the cases in which any office shall be deemed vacant where no provision is made for the purpose in this Constitution."

The right of a Legislature to prescribe by law the manner of filling vacancies in office in cases not specially provided for in the Constitution, is thus given in express terms. The Governor, in appointing a new Council for the city of Richmond, acted in accordance with the law, and the law is in accordance with the Constitution, as is shown by the section above.

Against this law the Radicals are rebelling, and destroying the peace of the commonwealth. It is surmised by some that it is a scheme to provoke such violence on the part of the Conservatives as may furnish a pretext to Congress to put the State again under military rule, that the Radicals may continue to hold offices in opposition to the wishes of the people.

That the Governor had a legal right to appoint a new Council we have no doubt. The policy of his doing so we do very much doubt. We have been of the opinion that it would be better to allow the present incumbents to retain their offices till they would be charged in the regular mode prescribed by the Constitution -- those to be elected by popular vote to remain in office till the time for election, as prescribed by the Constitution, shall arrive.

We have digressed from our purpose, which was, to give briefly the occurrence in Richmond.

On Wednesday night, the City Council appointed by Gov. Walker under the Enabling act, elected Henry K. Ellyson Mayor, and chose a new Chief and Captain of Police. Thursday morning about day the new Chief, Maj. John Poe, applied at the lower Station House for possession, but was refused. Later in the day Mayor Ellyson applied by letter to Mayor Chahoon for the Mayor's Office, books, &c., and was refused, Chahoon declaring that he was in the office by law, and would not yield until elected. Chahoon, who had possession of the lower Station House, proceeded to swear in special Constables to the number of one hundred and fifty, including about twenty colored. Ellyson then proceeded to swear in abut two hundred special officers, and surrounded the lower Station House, where Chahoon and his specials were, the plan being to arrest any of them who came out. Mayor Ellyson had possession of the City Hall, and all the other public buildings except the Station House, which was held by the opposite party. The old police force divided about equally between the two Mayors. -- There was a crowd of 1,000 blacks and many whites congregated about the lower Station House, which was the point of interest. Chahoon sent, through his counsel, ex-Governor Wise, a letter to Governor Walker, stating his position and asking assistance to maintain his authority.

Governor Walker in reply to Mayor Chahoon's application, said that Mayor Ellyson being legally elected under an act of the Legislature, he could not recognize any one else as Mayor; that Chahoon was incapable of holding the office under the law of Virginia, as he already held a Federal office; that no breach of the peace could occur without Chahoon's act or approval; that he should resort to peaceful judicial remedy, if he wished to test the question of right; and finally, that he should obey the laws and sustain the constitutional authorities.

Ex-Gov. Wise, R. W. Hughes and L. T. Chandler were the counsel for Mayor Chahoon, who, with about thirty men, were in the lower Station House; the besieging force having cut off gas and water, and forbid any provisions to be sent them. A crowd of colored men bought out a bake shop and commenced throwing bread up to the besieged, but they were driven off by the special police.

At dark mayor Ellyson and Chief of Police Poe, and others were arrested by the U.S. Marshall for having refused a revenue officer permission to see Chahoon in his character as United States Commissioner. They were bailed until Friday. A company of troops was brought into the city by order of General Canby.

On Friday morning, Mayor Ellyson and Chahoon had an interview with Gen. Canby. The Chahoon party still held the lower Station house, with the exception of three or four who yielded to hunger and came out -- having had nothing to eat since Wednesday night. In the afternoon, General Canby interfered with the municipal troubles by sending a guard of soldiers and raising the siege at the Tower Station House, and giving free egress and ingress to all having business there. This action he says had no reference to the question of the Mayoralty, but was taken purely as a precaution against any acts of disorder or violence. This act was applauded by the friends of Chahoon, and was protested against by Ellyson as unwarrantable interference, with the civil law of the State. When the military took possession of the station house Mayor Ellyson's police left, and being attended by the crowd of colored men charged the station; about fifty shots were fired and two or three colored men wounded.

Daniel Henderson, colored, was shot and killed by a special policeman, for resisting the officers while clearing the streets around the Lower Station House.

At night, the newly appointed City Council met and passed an ordinance abolishing the station houses in the hands of Chahoon's police, authorizing Mayor Ellyson to call out the Fire Brigade as police, pledging the city to pay all the special police sworn in by Ellyson, and authorizing the City Court to be held in the City Hall, and pledging Mayor Ellyson the support of the Council in his efforts to maintain the peace of the city against the lawless men conspiring against it.

The casualties of the day were one man killed and three wounded.

Both Mayors are acting and holding courts -- and Richmond is thus suffering from a dual government, which, in this case, is worse than no government at all.

Chahoon has his headquarters in the Lower Station House, where the military guard in Ellyson's headquarters are at the City Hall. Ellyson's police patrol the city.

P.S. -- We expected to give in this issue the occurrences of Saturday attending the contest of the contending parties in Richmond, but in consequence of an accident on the Railroad the cars did not arrive till we had gone to press, and we were thus prevented from receiving the news of Saturday in time. The mail which was delayed by this accident contained another letter from our Richmond correspondent which we regret did not arrive in time to be used.

The Republican Conference
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Summary: Reported on the Republican conference for the re-organization of their party. Claimed that the Conservative party was the only party fit to take control of the State and ensure unanimous consent among Virginians.
Full Text of Article:

In last week's issue, we noticed the fact that a meeting of Republicans was held in Richmond to re-organize their party in this State. -- In speaking of that meeting, the Dispatch says:

"The recent demonstration in this city, produced by a galvanic battery brought from Washington, was out of time and out of order. Its main efficacy was to galvanize Porter into the semblance of life without benefitting the health or improving the strength of anybody else concerned."

It was a movement, says that journal, "to abolish the triumphant party and divide the State between two other parties -- neither of which the people at this time have any idea of joining.

The effort will fail. The State is not ready to embroil itself in national parties. It has to take care of its physical interests now, and to use all its influence to suppress political disturbance and prevent the division of the State upon a line of color and race. It is essential to our prosperity that there should be no such division. It would alienate labor from capital, and cause fresh disturbance in domestic industry to the serious injury of the State.

The Conservative party is calm and collected, and will yet hold the reins for some time. -- That party alone can preserve order and repress sectional discord. It alone can expedite the recovery of the prosperity of the State. -- The Government that it will organize will command respect and confidence at home and abroad, and secure their good effects to the people of Virginia. No party that can at this time take its place can do this. Therefore it is a matter of vital importance that the Conservative party should stand firm and hold the State under its control. The people know it, and are determined, with extraordinary unanimity, that this shall be done.

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[No Title]
(Column 01)
Summary: Peter Independence Kurtz, "the Happy Man of Staunton," will perform his great romance, "Courtship and Disappointment."
(Names in announcement: Peter Independence Kurtz)
[No Title]
(Column 01)
Summary: J. Pinckney Killian, son of the Rev. J. Killian of South River, and Pleasant H. Clark, son of Dr. James Clark of Mt. Solon, both recently graduated from the Medical Department of the University of New York.
(Names in announcement: J. Pinckney Killian, Rev. J. Killian, Pleasant H. Clark, Dr. James Clark)
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Summary: James Carter and Miss Bettie Taylor, both of Staunton, were married on March 9th by the Rev. Mr. Williams.
(Names in announcement: James Carter, Bettie Taylor, Rev. Williams)
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Summary: Henry C. Hill and Miss Rebecca V. Crosby were married near Staunton on March 13th by the Rev. J. J. Engle.
(Names in announcement: Henry C. Hill, Rebecca V. Crosby, Rev. J. J. Engle)
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Summary: James W. Baldwin and Miss Martha A. Garber, daughter of A. J. Garber, were married in Trinity Church, Staunton, on March 15th by the Rev. J. A. Latane.
(Names in announcement: James W. Baldwin, Martha A. Garber, A. J. Garber, Rev. J. A. Latane)
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Summary: Miss Martha Hyden died suddenly near Mint Spring on March 5th. She was 61 years old.
(Names in announcement: Martha Hyden)
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Summary: Marshal Ward died at Elizabeth Furnace on March 10th. He was 22 years old. He was orphaned at a young age and lived a difficult life, yet still displayed the highest character.
(Names in announcement: Marshal Ward)

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