Valley Spirit: June 28, 1865Go To Page : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
The Negro Suffrage Question
(Column 2)Summary: Since taking office, Johnson has thus far pursued a course deemed amenable by the Spirit and most other conservatives journals. Through his efforts, national reconciliation will proceed at an accelerated pace so long as the process is not derailed by Radicals pushing for black suffrage. Blacks, the newspaper asserts, are the biggest "source of national contention and turmoil," but Johnson's decision to leave the question of black suffrage to individual states appears to offer the best method to rectify this situation.
Origin of Article: Sunday MercuryFull Text of Article:Secession is Dead
Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, has become President of the United States by the act of God. Speculation as to the character of his administration has already commenced. The predictions regarding the matter are as various as the prejudices and wishes of the different prophets. We will not presume, at this early period, to assert in advance what Mr. Johnson will or will not do nor what will be the general drift and result of his career as the national Chief Magistrate. We may, however, express an opinion as to the line of action he should mark out for himself, and the leading principles that ought to guide his official conduct. Everybody will probably admit that no citizen, not excepting even Washington or Lincoln, was ever called to the high functions of the Presidency at a mere interesting junction. The crisis may, in certain sense, be said to have been made for Mr. Johnson. Events must show whether he was made for the crisis. If he enters on his mission with a lofty purpose and firm resolution, he will have in its power to be signally useful to his country. If, on the other hand, he fails to realize the magnitude of the exigency, and falls below it in ambition and ability, he may possibly remit the nation to new scenes of discord and contention even more disastrous in their character and issues than those so recently closed, and consign his own name to imperishable disgrace. No man ever enjoyed a better opportunity to achieve an honorable immortality, yet none was ever required to be more entirely equal and true to the weighty responisbilities devolved upon him.
The grand aim of his administration should be to restore peace to the nation and to re-establish the harmonious relations of all its parts, so that they may never again be disturbed by those purely sectional differences and disputes that have so often, and at last, so fearfully convulsed the republic. And this object, if he is rightly disposed, he can readily and effectually accomplish. He has, in one word, only to resolve that he will exercise his authority in accordance with broad and righteous principles of national policy, and with the sternest impartiality towards all sections of the union, in order to prove himself the right man in the right place, at the right time, and to secure the cordial respect, confidence and support of all good and patriotic citizens.
With reference, especially to all measures that may be suggested with regard to the freed negroes in the South, he should hold the reins of power with an even and steady hand. The radical members of the Republican party are likely to make that subject the fruitful source of popular controversy hereafter, and they are already industriously preparing their plans for an exciting discussion of the proposition to give the negro, the right of suffrage, and to make him, as far as legislation can do it, socially and politically the equal of the white race. Touching this matter no section and no portion of the people of the country should have just occasion to complain of President Johnson's integrity.-The Constitution and such acts of Congress as have been passed in pursuance of it, have determined the jurisdiction of the general Government respecting the delicate qustion of conferring the elective franchise, and Mr. Johnson's whole duty will be discharged if he takes care to enforce a faithful observance of the laws and the constitution. This course would not, perhaps, satisfy extreme and fanatical men in any quarter of the Confederacy, but it is not to them that Mr. Johnson owes his election. The returns show that he is indebted for that honor to the vote of the Middle States, and his administration, therefore, should represent and reflect the conservative sentiment of the people of those States.
We may even assert that a large majority of the citizens of the late rebellious States would sustain him in the pursuit of a moderate, equitable, and genuinely concillatory policy relative to the one fatal source of our past divisions and strifes. And by that we do not mean slavery, but the inevitable and eternal negro, who seems destined, whether he be slave or free, in one condition or in another, to be made, by a certain order of demagogues, a perpetual source of national contention and turmoil. The country cannot afford to have the agitation renewed in any form, or upon any pretence whatever. The predominant feeling of the people everywhere is in favor of the speediest possible restoration of a sound, solid durable peace, and that certainly cannot be obtained as long as the old ulcers of sectional jealousy and controversy are kept open and persistently irritated.
President Johnson, as respects the question of negro suffrage, has taken the right ground already, and he should sternly and resolutely maintain it. He has declared that the issue is one which belongs exclusively to the States and with which, therfore, the Federal Congress and Executive cannot interfere. A little reflection will make this clear enough to any comprehension. The people of the several States elect the members of both branches of the State legislatures, whose members are, as we have remarked, chosen by the people in each State. While, therefore, the members of the State legislatures and of Congress are chosen by the people, the right to vote in each State, or the qualification for voters therein, has always been and still are determined by the State constitutions. On this subject Justice Story, in his commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, says: "When the Revolution brought about the separation of the colonies, and they formed themselves into independent States, a very striking diversity was observable in the original constitutions adopted by them, and a like diversity has pervaded all the constitutions of the new States which have since grown up all the revised constitutions of the old States which have received the ratification of the people. In some of the States the right of suffrage depends upon a certain length of residence and payment of taxes; in others upon mere citizenship and residence; in others, upon the possession of a freehold, or some estate of a particular value, or upon the payment of taxes, or performances of some public duty, such as service in militia or on the highways. In no two of these State Constitutions will it be found that the qualifications of the voters are settled upon the same uniform basis. So that we have the most abundant proofs that among a free and enlightened people, convened for the purpose of establishing their own forms of Government and the rights of their own voters, the question as to the due regulation of the qualifications has been decreed a matter of mere State policy and varied to meet the wants, to suit the prejudices, and to foster the interests of the majority. An absolute, indefeasible right to elect or be elected, seems never to have been asserted on one side or decided on the other, but the subject has been freely canvassed as one of a mere civil policy, to be arranged upon such a basis as the majority may deem expedient with reference to the moral, physical, and intellectual condition of the particular State."
We see, therefore, that the people in each State, who make their State Constitution, thereby determine who shall and who shall not vote at the political elections in the particular State, aod hence it follows that as the question of conferring or denying the franchise, belongs of right to each State exclusively, the national legislature or Congress, cannot lawfully confer the privilege of suffrage on any individual resident, or any class, order, or condition of people resident in a State. President Johnson fully understandi this system of our complex system of government, and will not we believe, be persuaded to stultify himself on the subject by the argument; flatter, expostulations or threats of the silly fanatics who are striving to do that by national legislation, which cannot be done except by State action, and which if done at all, would we seriously believe, result in incalculable evil to the future peace, progress and prosperity of the nation. The fathers of the republic established it as a Government of white people, and as such it should forever remain. When it becomes a government of mixed races, it will inevitably perish.-Nevertheless, if the qualified voters in each of the States of the Union wish to extend the elective franchise to the colored population, and to share its exercise with them, let them do so, of course. But let them, at the same time, do it of their own free will and by their independent action, and not have the thing thrust on them by means of usuurped power , to be executed at Washington, under the pernicious sway of fanatacism.
(Column 3)Summary: The article ridicules the idea prevalent among northerners that the spirit of secession is still alive in the South, and repudiates rumors that former rebel leaders intend to reclaim power in the upcoming state elections. "They feel that they have had their day," the Times states, "and that it is neither politic nor decorous for them to lead in the work of reconstruction."
Origin of Article: Richmond TimesEditorial Comment: "The Richmond Times of the 10th instant says:"
Full Text of Article:Sambo's Idea of Freedom
A vague apprehension still retains its hold on the Northern mind, that the "disunionists" and "secessionists" are contriving at the next State elections in the Southern States, to get possession of the reins of government. This alarm is as ludicrous as the nameless, shapeless terror which seizes upon the schoolboy when he hurries through the shadow of a dark wood. There is no cause for apprehension. The secession party is dead; its hopes, apirations and power having expired with the Confederacy.
The leaders of that party who are not excluded from the Amnesty Proclamation, are well content to engage in the most harmless and peaceful occupations. We hear of them tilling their farms, cultivating their gardens, and repairing the ravages of war, but we are yet to hear of a "leading secessionist," or "original disunionist," who is manifesting the slightest desire to return to public life. They feel that they have had their day, and that it is neither politic nor decorus for them to take the lead in the work of reconstruction. If there are any of this class who secretly cherish hopes of future promotion, they are too wise to avow them.
(Column 4)Summary: Recounts the reaction of a black teenager upon learning that he was free.
Origin of Article: Petersburg ExpressFull Text of Article:[No Title]
The Petersburg Express says that rather an amusing incident occurred in a neighboring county a few days since, during the march of a column of United States troops. The negroes collected on every farm to witness the passage of the soldiers, and in many instances greeted them with evident marks of pleasure. Sitting upon a gate post, upon one of these farms was a sharp little darkey just entering his teens, who, when told of his freedom, clapped his hands and shouted for joy. "Ise free, Ise free!" he exclaimed in exstacy to his mother, "I ain't gwine to rock de cradle no more 'case I'se free."
Running to a younger sister he imparted his newly obtained intelligence saying:--"You is free-don't pick up no more chips." And spying a cat lazily stretching her limbs in the sunshine he reached the climax by screaming out: And you's free pussy, don't ketch no more rats!" Whether the delighted fellow went on addressing the fowls, the cattle, the hogs, we do not know, but the above is related as an actual occurrence. Such freedom as he would have the cat enjoy would cost her life, but freedom, in his mind, was the joy par excellence of his life.
We learn from the Old Dominion that a negro woman was sent to work a few weeks since, sweeping the sidewalks in Norfolk, under cover of a guard of her own persuasion of color, for expressing her violent detestation of the Yankees. Quite a crowd gathered in the vicinity of the Atlantic hotel to behold the anomaly. She seemed to be about as bitter in her hatred, as some of the lightered colored feminines.
(Column 5)Summary: Criticizes the general state of lawlessness out West.
Full Text of Article:
The people in some localities of the Western States are getting outrageously bloodhoundish. A few days ago a mob of citizens at Quincy, Illinois, hung a wounded guerilla, in a most atrocious manner, swinging his body to and fro, amidst the most brutal jests, such as--"Is he fat?" "He'll make good sausages," and others which were pronounced by the Herald too obscene to print. The next day a mob of several hundred gathered around the jail and attempted to get more victims, but four or five bayonets served to keep the blood-seekers at bay. At Council Bluffs, Iowa, also, a few days since, a highway robber was caught and hanged without a show of trial. Such acts, in view of the fact that persons charged with heinous crimes cannot escape punishment in any part of the country upon legal trial, are perfecly inexcusable, and betray a brutality and lawlessness quite as great and atrocious as that for which their victims are made to suffer. Who would like to name as a friend and companion a member of such a mob?
Groping in Darkness
(Column 1)Summary: As Johnson clarifies his Reconstruction policies (through his North Carolina proclamation), the fissures within the Republican Party have grown larger, pitting the Radicals against the President and his supporters. The Spirit desires to know where the Repository stands on the issue.
Full Text of Article:[No Title]
Ever since the announcement of the reconstruction policy of Andrew Johnson through his North Carolina proclamation the Republican press and politicians have been ominously silent. They are unanimous in withholding their praise, but it is only the more bold among them that have yet ventured openly to assail his patriotic efforts to restore the Southern States to their constitutional relations to the Union. But the issue is bound to come, and they might as well face the music first as last.-The radical leaders-the men who control the Republican organization-have already defiantly sounded the key note of the party in favor of negro equality and negro suffrage, whilst the lesser lights of the party are lingering in the back ground, not knowing which way to steer. This must appear evident to any one who has noticed the tone of the Repository for the last few weeks.-Its boasted independence of character has suddenly vanished into thin air like the morning cloud and the early dew, and we find it groping its way in the darkness before it, hesitating whether to advance or recede-whether to follow the lead of its radical masters, or bow down meekly at the footstool of power. We commiserate its conditon, and sincerely hope that it may have a safe and speedy deliverance from its present perplexing difficulties and that it may not become our unpleasant duty to record "another failure."
Doubtless as a relief to the embarrassment in which it finds itself, it still occasionally indulges in the stale and worn-out charges against the Democracy of "opposition to the government." so flippantly used during the war. Under the new order of things this must be now done on the principle of the "stop thief" cry. In view of the unmistakable signs of opposition in the Republican ranks to the policy of President Johnson, and the hearty endorsement of the same by the Democracy, and the following extract from its last issue is singularly refreshing:
"The rebel sympathizers among us, who co-operated with the traitors during the fierce struggle just ended, and controlled the opposition at the last election, seem to feel that their party existence depends upon their making odious, and thwarting the administration, and are busy in impeding and deranging the efforts of the government."
Will the Repository be kind enough to tell us just when and where the Democracy-or "rebel sympathizers" to use its own miserable twaddle-have been "making odious and thwarting the administration, and deranging the efforts of the government."
In making the above wanton and malicious charge against the Democratic party, the Repository should at least have endeavored to keep up a show of consistency. But unfortunately for it, its inconsistency is even more striking and apparent, if possible, than its untruthfulness. In the same number of the paper in which it editorially accuses the Democracy of "threatening the administration," it publishes a letter from its Washington correspondent, whose sentiments it is presumed to endorse, containing a direct and almost violent attack on the policy of President Johnson. The following is an extract:
It is said that should the President continue in the course at present indicated, (it?) will not meet the sanction of Congress.-Should Congress not meet till next December, every Southern State will have then here a delegate knocking at the door, similar to the one of last session from Louisiana. There is no probability that Congress will admit them and we may except a repetition of the scenes of days gone by. These so called penitent rebels now here, are walking the streets as haughty and defiant as in days of old and are receiving the attention of persons holding high official positions, which will inevitably lead to something bad in the end.
The intelligent reader will perceive at a glance how beautifully the two paragraphs above quoted harmonize with each other, and he will doubtless duly appreciate the propriety of a public journal falsely denouncing its opponents for opposing the administration and in the same breath as it were, alleging acts against "persons holding high official positions, which will inevitably lead to something bad in the end." In the extract we have last quoted the Repository does not content itself with an ordinary criticism of President Johnson's policy, but it takes the most advanced radical ground and threatens revolutionary measures to "thwart the administration" and impede its efforts to restore the Southern States to the Union. It says Congress will not admit the Southern delegation to seats if the present policy of the President is persisted in. Why not? we ask. If members are elected from the Southern States in pursuance of the proclamation of the President and the laws of their respective States in force prior to the rebellion, Congress will have nothing to do but to admit them at once. The attempt to exclude them after having been fairly elected, would be an act of usurpation which would inevitably lead to very serious consequences. Congress can inquire into the fairness and legality of the election, but here its power ceases. It cannot assume to debar whole delgations from seats simply because it chooses to do so for political purposes, or any considerations other than those mentioned.
If the Repository chooses to array itself on the side of usurpation and revolution we certainly have no right to object, but we do object to its making unfounded charges against the Democratic party when its own position towards the "government" gives it so doubtful a character for "loyalty."
(Column 2)Summary: Using the theatre as an allegory, the article predicts a tragic end to the proposed tale of black suffrage.Democratic State Nomination
(Column 2)Summary: The Spirit endorses Isaac Slenker, of Union county, and James P. Barr, of Allegheny, as the Democratic nominees for Auditor General and Surveyor General respectively.
Full Text of Article:The Status of the Negro in Tennessee
The Democratic State Convention, which will meet in Harrisburg, upon the 24th of August next, is expected to put in nomination candidates for Auditor General and Surveyor General. Justice to the incumbents demands, and the interests of the Democracy of Pennsylvania, (in our judgement) require, the unanimous nomination, for the first office, of the Hon. Isaac Slenker, of Union County, and for the second, the Hon. James P. Barr, of Allegheny. These gentlemen have performed the duties of their respective and onorous offices faithfully and very satisfactorily--having carried the State triumphantly when they were candidates in 1862,--we see no valid reason why they should not be honored, accordinG to the usages of the party, with another nomination and a re-election, believing as we most firmly do, that with Messrs. Slenker and Barr, as the nominees of the great Democratic party, we shall again march to victory, and handsomely redeem the old "Keystone" commonwealth.
(Column 2)Summary: The lower branch of the Tennessee Legislature has approved a measure granting blacks limited rights. The law fails to provide them with anything remotely close to full social equality, yet, as Nashville papers report, it is the "most liberal toward the colored people that the Legislature was disposed to grant."
Full Text of Article:New Idea of Suffrage
The lower branch of the Tennessee Legislature has passed a bill, by a majority of over two-thirds, fixing the legal status of the colored people of that State. The bill is substantially the same as the one which had previously passed the Senate. It guarantees the sanctity of the matrimonial relation among them, but forbids their intermarriage among whites. All laws in force for the benefit of the married woman and children are to apply to them, provided that colored children are not to be admitted to the same schools with white children. Colored persons may be witnesses in all State Courts, for or against each other, but not in cases to which the party are white, and no contract between a white and colored person shall be binding, unless reduced to writing and witnessed by a white person. Colored persons are subject to the same penalties for crimes as whites, with the addition that rape by a negro upon a white woman is punishable by death. These are the most prominent and important features of the bill, which is said by the Nashville papers to be the most liberal toward the colored people that the Legislature was disposed to grant.
(Column 3)Summary: Criticizes a proposal to link political rights with economic status. Additionally, the article assails the notion that the federal government should expand its powers.
Origin of Article: New York ExpressFull Text of Article:
The negro suffrage agitation is agitating the suffrage question otherwise. The idea that our own women and children cannot vote, when half barbarized Southern Africans can be created, right off, as voters, to vote them down, shocks all rational sense of consistency--but this is not all, and the loosest retrograde ideas of suffrage prevail. After France had liberalized the suffrage, and while England is enlarging it, a grave and seriously earnest proposition is put forth in a morning paper--doubtless from some large, silly holders of the national debt--that men shall have just so many votes as they hold $600 dollars of the debt. This would give some of our Banks 1,000 votes; other great corporations more, and many individuals 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 votes or more.
It is very hard work in the United States, amid all the excitements that are kept up, especially after a "fast day," literally now a fast day in the jockey sense--and amid so much clerical slang whanging upon these numberous days to stop any sort of retrogradation. Some would consolidate this into a government stronger than the Russian or French monarchy. Others would drive us to the Federal Government to prescribe what we shall eat, drink, or wear. If the principle of democracy, and of self-government can sustain itself against all the desperate struggles, it will be far luckier for us in this country than it has been in any other.
Local and Personal--Counterfeit Currency
(Column 1)Summary: Reports that counterfeit money has surfaced in enormous quantities.Local and Personal--Seriously If Not Mortally Shot
(Column 1)Summary: Noah Myers shot his brother-in-law, Ulton T. Moore, in an unprovoked attack on June 23rd. The assault, which occurred at Millstone Point, mortally wounded Moore. He leaves a wife and seven or eight children. Authorities have yet to catch the attacker; it is suspected that he is hiding in the surrounding woods. A $100 reward has been offered for his capture.
(Names in announcement: Ulton T. Moore, Noah Myers)Origin of Article: Hagerstown MailLocal and Personal--Deserved Promotion
(Column 1)Summary: John Nimmons was promoted to Major of the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry on April 1st, for his conduct during the battle of Petersburg. Nimmons joined the Union army as a private soon after the outbreak of the rebellion; his rank rose steadily higher over the course of the war.Local and Personal--Discharged
(Names in announcement: John S. Nimmon)
(Column 2)Summary: Thirty-five soldiers from Company "H" of the 16th Regiment Pennsylvania Cavalry were recently discharged. Captain W. H. Suttenberger raised the company from Franklin county recruits. Following Suttenberger's retirement, Major Snyder took over the company's command.Local and Personal--The General Election
(Names in announcement: Major A. J. Snyder, Captain W. H. Suttenberger)
(Column 2)Summary: Relates that voters will select the county Auditor General and Surveyor General in the upcoming general election.Local and Personal--Mowing
(Column 2)Summary: Contains a brief story about Daniel Finefrock, a 70 year old man who has continued to maintain himself despite his years.Local and Personal--Horses Stolen
(Names in announcement: Daniel Finefrock)
(Column 2)Summary: Thieves stole two fine horses from Samuel Reel on June 24th. The thieves are believed to have headed in the direction of Hagerstown.
(Names in announcement: Samuel Reel)Origin of Article: Hagerstown MailLocal and Personal--Gone To Europe
(Column 2)Summary: Rev. Dr. P. Schaff, of the Mercersburg Theological Seminary, sailed from New York bound for Europe on June 10th. It is expected that he will spend several months overseas.Local and Personal--The Day Fixed
(Names in announcement: Rev. Dr. P. Schaff)
(Column 2)Summary: Notes that a date has been set for the execution of Lindsey Forney and Abraham Koon, who were convicted of murdering Edward Gladfelter. The pair will be hanged in Hagerstown on July 7th.Brief Items
(Names in announcement: Lindsey Forney, Abraham Koon, Edward Gladfelter)
(Column 3)Summary: The 2nd regiment of the U. S. colored cavalry mutinied on board a steamer at Portsmouth, Virginia, last Tuesday evening. The following morning the black troops went ashore and reportedly caused a riot before white soldiers intervened to re-establish order.Brief Items
(Column 3)Summary: The article, taken from the New York Herald, claims that Chief Justice Chase and Senator Sumner are traveling through the South, delivering incendiary speeches in an attempt to incite blacks to riot. The article demands the arrest of the two men.
Origin of Article: New York Herald