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Valley of the Shadow

Staunton Spectator: August 09, 1870

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Grand Tournament and Fancy Ball at Stribling Springs, Wednesday, Aug. 17
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Summary: The Knights of Augusta challenged the Knights of Rockingham "to a friendly contest of skill" at the tournament at Stribling Springs. The winner will have the right to crown a queen of love and beauty.
To the People of Virginia
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Summary: Leaders of the Conservative party sent out a circular announcing the organization of an executive committee to prepare for the autumn elections. They want to rally all Conservative men in order to maintain Conservative control of the state government. Described the ills suffered by other southern states under the Radicals and urged Virginians not risk such a scenario by quibbling for offices. Called on all Conservatives for unity to keep their own party in power and resist Radical control.
Full Text of Article:

The Conservative members of the Legislature have in conference resolved that the organization of the Conservative party, maintained during the last gubernatorial canvass, be revived and perfected for action in the approaching fall elections, and to that end have constituted "The Central Executive Committee of the State of Virginia" to continue in office until superseded by a regular convention of the people. In assuming its responsible duties, the committee deems the occasion suitable for some brief reflections on the conditions and future prospects of the Conservative party.

In the chart laid down for the committee it will be seen that no new political combinations are conceived, nor is any new political policy avowed. We only resume the work of the Conservative organization as it was in 1869, and seek to perfect it. We aim to perpetuate the triumphs of that year; to consolidate the strength then acquired; to secure in the hands which then won, and now hold it, the political power of the State.

In a conjuncture like this it may be of use to review the past and draw from it, as we may, encouragement and hope for the future. The opening days of the past year were heavy indeed for our beloved State. Thick gloom covered her like the pall thrown over the dead. Turn where the eye would, "darkness was on the face of the deep." Military power was supreme. Her Government had been stricken from existence, and by the blow, as by the shock of paralysis, her very animation seemed suspended. Her sovereignty, which for centuries had bound up in auspicious union the blessings of freedom, law and order, had been suffered to pass into a new body politic -- her former slaves, allied with a set of wretched adventurers, seeking profit from their ignorance and suggested crimes. A convention, sprung from this source, and fitly representing it, had decreed the political slavery of the mass of her white population. Taxation secured in such hands would have been organized robbery, and Government itself a standing conspiracy against the public peace. Civil law, which for a time had been permitted to speak with bated breath, was now wholly silenced. -- All the officers of the State, elected or appointed by the will of the people, went out of their offices at a fixed day, and the people were thus left without law, because without officers to execute the law. Power seemed to have passed beyond recall into the new dispensation, which, defiant and secure in organized strength, stood ready to inflict on its old possessors, divided in council and almost apathetic from despair, the fate, of all most intolerable, to live in slavery to their former slaves. Anarchy or the bayonet seemed the only alternatives to the threatened iniquity.

But with the incoming of a new Administration a new policy towards the States then excluded from the Union and lying under military restraint, was shadowed forth. General Grant had already declared the opinion, that these States were entitled to be restored to civil government and to readmission into the Union.-- His special and first message to Congress held out the first sign of conciliation -- the first olive branch, over the yet unsubsided waters of civil strife. It recognized the political enfranchisement of the negro (now an accomplished fact in all the States,) but to the whites was yielded the opportunity to secure for themselves the control of the State forever -- the power to levy and expend revenues, to provide for it wholesome laws, to develop its resources, to change, if so advised, its organic law, and in all respects to shape its future; added to which would be readmission into the Union and escape from the bayonet, the carpet-bag, the League!

A Convention of the members of the Conservative organization assembled in April, 1869, under these novel circumstances, greatly changed from those which attended the original delegation of its power. The notable characteristics of its action, was its total abnegation of authority to decide upon the new and momentous questions which confronted it. The Convention felt that it no longer represented the sentiment of unconditional opposition to the Constitution, for it could not be blind to the growing inclination of the popular mind to accept it in its proposed altered form. It was acknowledged that a new political departure must be taken; that the people in their original capacity must be consulted on the issues now for the first time presented. Never was there a popular appeal, with which old parties and party questions and names had so little to do. It was the uprising of a race for its own redemption. Of this movement the ruling conservatism of to-day was born. Sprung from that race, it exists by its fiat, and embodies its expressed will.

It is inseparable, perhaps, from the human disposition to overrate the evils of the present, which are sensible and felt, compared with those which are past, and of which the memory has become obscured. No revolution, however successful, ever brought with it the unmixed good, which in the ardor of hope it was expected to achieve. The triumph of Conservatism in Virginia is no exception to the general law. It has not, in some unexplained way, relieved the people from the pressure of debt, nor repaired as by miracle the desolations of war. It has not, unaided, built up our railroads and canals, nor developed the hidden wealth of the field, the forest, and the mine. Hercules, as of yore, will aid only those who put the shoulder to the wheel. But we were strangely insensible not to acknowledge such blessings as the restoration of civil law in the place of irresponsible military power; the pure and equal administration of justice by judges of our own choosing; the enactment of laws and their enforcement by a Legislature and an Executive, freely elected; in a word, the autonomy of a self-governing people. Were incentives wanting to value such advantages at their proper worth, we need only survey the condition of those unhappy States which, in their struggles with Radicalism, have been less fortunate in throwing off the incubus of that gross and truculent domination. The story of one of these is the story of all. Vice, ignorance, and corruption usurp the State. Adventurers, sordid and shameless, whom, in great part, their crimes have expelled from other communities, with the aid of an inferior race seduced and debauched by their teaching and example, exercise authority which is without a show of common interest with the Commonwealths they assume to rule. Public credit gone; public debt heaped mountain high; taxation inordinate and insupportable; profligate waste of public money; liberty, property, life, insecure; systematic libel and detraction, designed to provoke the commission of crimes, that they may be profitably punished; popular elections suppressed by fraud, chicane, or force; persistent misrepresentations at Washington of the wishes and purposes of the people, that they may be kept or brought again under military rule; such, with little variation, are the incidents which have marked their experience for five weary years! In North Carolina, as is well known, the government of the State is in Radical hands, and there the Government is this moment engaged in an effort to prolong its power, by stifling and overawing the voice of the people in a State election, which, left free, would pronounce its doom. "The State judicial power," it is proclaimed, "though in the hands of energetic, learned, and upright men, has not been able to bring criminals to justice;" and upon that false and shameless pretense whole counties are declared to be in a state of "insurrection", and are overrun by military violence -- thus confounding all the inhabitants, men, women, and children, in one indiscriminate and lawless proscription. Habeas corpus is stricken down in the teeth of the Constitution, and a ruffian Governor and corrupt Judge collude to deny its benefits to the people. We feel for these, our unhappy brethren, with all our hearts. We pray God to hold up their hands in the contest with their terrible enemy. But let us also lay the warning to heart. What better or worse would have been the condition of this Virginia people, had Conservatism failed in the great struggle in which their all was imperilled, and what fate is now in reserve for them should its efforts be relaxed?

In reviewing our situation, as it was and as it is, simple justice requires us to acknowledge our obligation to the Executive and Legislature of our choice, for the capacity, integrity, and zeal, with which they have discharged their arduous and responsible duties. Rarely have public representatives been placed in situations so novel and difficult. Theirs was not the common, easy route through ways made smooth before them by precedent and routine, but rather the rough course of the woodman, who, axe in hand, blazes his way through the trackless, unbroken forest. Society itself had been disrupted; political institutions subverted; and every want and interest of the community called for the exercise of wise and careful statesmanship. In the ordeal through which the State passed again into the Union (involving the attempted exaction of the test-oath from the Legislature,) in resisting the re-assertion of military authority in the organization of government, under the enabling act -- in prudent and sagacious recommendations to the Legislature, and sound views of State policy; in the just and constitutional construction of the novel power of the veto; the humane yet firm and considerate exercise of the power of pardon, as in the general administration of office, the Executive has fully met the expectations and redeemed the confidence of those who placed him in power. In the composition of the Legislature, the prevailing political disqualifications so narrowed the sphere of selection, that there was necessarily many members who were young or untried in the forms and functions of legislation. But they quickly mastered the difficulties of their situation. Zeal, energy, and conscientiousness marked their deliberations; in which some, before unknown in public life, shone with ability such as promises high distinction and usefulness in the future councils of the State. To say that in dealing with subjects so deeply involving conflicting interests and passions, they have done everything that is pleasing, and nothing that dissatisfies, is simply to affirm and impossibility -- what never occurred in the proceeding of any such council in the world. But let all that has been done, and the difficulties of doing it, be fairly and candidly estimated, and then let those who know they could have done better cast the stone of censure. Upon the Legislature of 1852 was devolved the legislation made necessary by the adoption of a new Constitution for the State. It sat from the 12th of January to the 7th of June following, and then took a recess to the 22d of November following. When it reassembled it was congratulated by the Executive upon returning to its labors "refreshed by a few months of recreation, and after a full and fair interchange of opinion with its constituents," it sat thenceforward until the 11th of April following, being about six months for its first session and five months for its second. The present Legislature, under circumstances far more difficult, began its working session on the 7th of February, and took its recess on the 11th of July. Of these five months several weeks were necessarily consumed in the election of judges. In the short remaining time, there was crowded an amount of important legislation which justly wins for it the merits of being a working body.

Charged with the duty of promoting the efficiency of our organization, we warn you earnestly that what we have achieved by such arduous labor must be maintained by equally enduring and persistent effort; and the common but fatal delusion must be avoided of underrating the vigor and resources of a beaten adversary; for the Radical party was beaten, not conquered last year. We have "scotched the snake, not killed it." Figures show (in round numbers) that of the 101,000 votes cast for Wells for Governor, 97,000 were colored vote, solidly cast, leaving about 5,000 whites as the "Republican party," so-called; for the poor negroes were the "inpaid capital" with which they boasted they would begin the canvass, and with which they hoped to disfranchise and despoil the white population of the State. And the calculation is still the same. The scheme will be quietly pursued in every county, town, and township, to organize this vote, and cast it in compact mass in the elections. But inroads upon the Conservative majority of 18,000 are expected to be made in several ways: interested conversions will be counted on; fallings off from the relaxation effort following on success; the revival of distinctive party names and party prejudices; and most potent influence of all distractions and rivalries arising from competitions for office! These last have ever been the bane of successful parties. Last year principle united, and no selfish interests divided the Conservatives. Now, numerous offices are to be bestowed, and doubtless the competition for them among an impoverished people will be excited and keen. The conference recommends that suitable nominations be made for all these offices -- county clerks, attorneys, sheriffs, treasurers, tax-collectors, superintendents of the poor. These are most important offices, and to fill them properly is of the highest public and private concern. There are other offices of higher authority and more imposing names, but these come closer to man's business and bosoms, and affect more nearly the happiness and comfort of individual life. Let these nominations be made, in all cases, by the organized, accredited action of the party in each locality; and when made, let them receive the unreserved and active support of all. In no case should more than one Conservative candidate for an office be allowed. By the opposite course, divisions will lead to defeat, or by making the adversary the arbitor of our dissensions, will lead to the obliteration of party lines and the ultimate destruction of Conservatism itself. How humbling the spectacle of a people, fresh from successful defence of their altars and firesides, who should spend in ignoble contests among themselves the energy necessary for the defeat of the common enemy.

It is further recommended by the conference that suitable nominations be made for representatives of the State in Congress. These cannot be made, with accurate reference to territory, until by redistricting the State, the gross inequalities of the present arrangement shall be redressed. But attention will naturally be directed to such men as will worthily represent the State. Virginia owed her former weight in the councils of the country to the disinterested patriotism and exalted character, no less than the political ability, which distinguished her representatives. By no other means, can any share of that influence be regained. With such aid, the favorable regard of Congress may be asked to the relief of the South by a more just and equitable distribution of the national currency; the relief of the great staple, tobacco, from ruinous specific taxation and those galling and oppressing restrictions which depress and deter the fair dealer, while they tempt the unfair to fraudulent evasion; money appropriations for the internal improvements of the State, bringing them in connection with the great trans-continental lines of communication, and an equal share in all the benefits of general legislation for the Union.

Thus have we discharged the representative duty of recommending for Virginia a State policy free from outside influence or intervention, the prime condition of which is the conservation of the power of the State in conservative hands, and between which and social anarchy and misrule we discern no alternative; a policy of peaceful restoration, and development of the internal resources of the State, as the best security for her present well-being and future weight and influence; a policy in which the States of the South have been instructed by common interests, suffering, and danger; which, at a juncture ominous of political change, guards and provides for the present, but reserves the power of decision in the future formation and movements of national parties.













RICHMOND, August 4, 1870.

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[No Title]
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Summary: The Board of Education appointed Maj. Jed Hotchkiss Superintendent of Augusta Schools.
(Names in announcement: Maj. Jed Hotchkiss)
[No Title]
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Summary: Dr. Downey will open an English and classical school for boys in his home.
(Names in announcement: Dr. Downey)
[No Title]
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Summary: The paper called attention to Deerfield School in Augusta County, run by Prof. S. A. Harris and Miss Virginia Lawrence.
(Names in announcement: Prof. S. A. Harris, Miss Virginia Lawrence)
Valley Railroad Elections
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Summary: Announced the defeat of the Valley Railroad subscription and printed the results of the vote.
Full Text of Article:

The election which occurred in this county, on Saturday last, on the question of subscribing $300,000 to the stock of the Valley R. R. Company was defeated, as the required three-fifths majority was not obtained. The defeat of the subscription is due chiefly, as was apprehended, to the fact that the Shenandoah Valley R. R. Company succeeded in making the impression in the Eastern portion of the county that their road will be constructed through that portion of the county without cost.

We regret, on many accounts, the defeat of the subscription, but do not despair yet of having the Valley R. R. built.

We have faith that some means will be adopted which will ensure the construction of this road. It is too important an improvement to fail of being constructed. The following is the vote:

PRECINCTS. FOR SUB. AG'ST SUB. Staunton No. 1, 304 16 Staunton No. 2, 305 48

Beverly Manor Township.

Sandy Hollow, 129 27 Peaco's Mill 19 25 Bolivar, 97 14 Folly Mills, 25 32 Hebron, 109 8

River Heads Township.

Middlebrook, 101 89 New Port, 43 11 Midway, 44 5 Greenville, 159 63

The Pastures Township.

Churchville, 54 64 Buffalo Gap, 79 6 Craigsville, 29 32 Deerfield, 24 8 Lebanon W. Sulphur 1 12

South River Township.

Barterbrook, 9 41 Sherando, 54 32 Waynesboro, 89 231 Fisherville, 23 76

Middle River Township.

Mt. Sidney, 91 132 Mt. Meridian, 3 96 New Hope, 25 203 Red Mills, 0 47 Verona, 39 13

North River Township.

Parnassus 11 89 Spring Hill, 53 81 Mt. Solon, 42 140 Centreville, 16 56 Sangersville, 6 57 Total 1983 1760

The total vote being 3,743, it required 2,246 votes to be cast in the affir----mative to carry this subscription; and as there were but 1,983 affirmative votes cast, the subscription failed to be carried by 263 votes.

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