Valley Virginian: January 28, 1869Go To Page : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
The Virginia Constitution
(Column 04)Summary: A group of prominent Virginians including Alexander H.H. Stuart and John Baldwin, both of Staunton, has come together to propose a number of modifications to the state constitution. Admitting that Negro suffrage is in place, although they claim blacks are not ready for such a responsibility, the men request that concessions are made for the benefit of the white voters of Virginia, many of whom are currently denied access to the ballot box. Among the proposed modifications, it is "suggested" that universal amnesty be applied to all white voters, and the striking of several articles regarding such issues as taxation for free public education.
(Names in announcement: Alexander H. H. Stuart, John B. Baldwin)Full Text of Article:
To the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate:
On behalf of the declaration of citizens of Virginia, and in accordance with the request of your committee, we beg leave respectfully to submit, in the form of amendments to House bill 1,485 now under your consideration, such modifications of the constitution proposed by the late convention as in our opinion will, under all the circumstances, lead to its acceptance by the people of Virginia.
It is due to candor to say in this connection that those who seat us here expressed, as we believe, the real feelings and purpose of the people of Virginia when they declared, "while the conviction of the undersigned, and, as they believe, of the people of Virginia generally, remains unchanged, that the freed men of the southern States, in their present uneducated condition, are not prepared for the intelligent exercise of the elective franchise and the performance of other duties connected with public affairs, and are therefore, at this time, unsafe depositories of political power; yet, in view of the verdict of public opinion in favor of their being allowed to exercise the right of suffrage, as expressed in the recent elections, the undersigned are prepared, and they believe the majority of the people of Virginia are prepared, to surrender their opposition to its incorporation into their fundamental law as an offering on the altar of peace and in the hope that union and harmony may be restored on the basis of universal amnesty."
Taking it then, to be established as the policy of this Government to require in Virginia a constitutional recognition and enforcement of the civil and political equality of all men before the law, we have in the amendments proposed inserted all the provisions looking to that result which Congress has heretofore deemed proper, and we have left undisturbed all the provisions of the proposed constitution in any manner relating to that subject.
The first modification of the proposed constitution suggested by us is to strike from it all those features of disfranchisement and disqualification, and all those elements of bitterness and strife, political, sectional, and sectarian, which in our judgment, are wholly incompatible with good government and good feeling, and tend to perpetuate alienations and discords, which all good citizens must deprecate. The power of the State to subject any of its citizens to disabilities for offences against the United States has been seriously questioned. It seems to be conceded that for the purpose of punishment no such power exists, and that disqualification and disfranchisements are only admissible as measures of precaution and safety.
In this point of view it is worthy of consideration that since the close of the war the people of Virginia have been living without disfranchisement or disability of any kind under a government whose legislative and judicial departments and whose local organizations have been in the hands of the very classes whom it is sought by the proposed constitution to exclude from every position of trust in the State. We claim with confidence that the result has been that the supremacy of law and order has been as fully maintained, and that the functions of good government have been as well performed in Virginia as in any State in the Union.
It is believed that article three, section one, paragraph four, would disfranchise not less than ten of fifteen thousand voters in the State, including all those whom the people have been accustomed to trust in public employments.
Article three, section seven, would disqualify for every position of public trust not less than ninety-five out of every hundred of the white people of Virginia who would otherwise be eligible, and would in connection with section three of the same article extend the like disability to serve upon juries.
It is believed that there is no advocate of universal negro suffrage who will not agree that in its application to Virginia, at this time, it is a fearful experiment, requiring for its success all the wisdom and experience that can be brought to its management; and it is respectfully submitted that to exclude from participation in State or local governments at this time so large a proportion of those who, by experiences in public affairs, are fitted to deal with this great problem would be unwise and unsafe.
We earnestly declare that, in our belief it would be wholly inconsistent with domestic tranquility, public order, or the security of lives, liberty, or property, of the great body of the white population of Virginia.
The provision of article eleven relating to church property is an attempt to reverse the settled policy of Virginia, which restricts the ownership of church property in amount, and confines it strictly to the local religious congregation. The purpose is to enable "ecclesiastical bodies" outside of Virginia, in opposition to the legislation of the State and against its judicial decisions, to take the churches of Virginia from the local congregations who built them, the provision opens a controversy full of all the combined bitterness of party, and sections, and sect, over every Presbyterian and Methodist Church building in Virginia.
The next modification suggested by us is to strike from the proposed constitution, and thus leave to legislative enactment or modification, the whole of the cumbrous machinery for local organization, government, and police; which, in our judgment, is clearly unfitted to the condition of the State, and if fixed in the constitution will be a cause of embarrassment and difficulty and strife, seriously affecting the public peace and the harmony and good order of society.
The population of Virginia is very sparsely and unequally distributed over the territory of the State, and physical and geographical features of the country are such as to render wholly impracticable any arbitrary plan of sub-division for local purposes. The most we have been able to do thus far is to make the counties the units of local government, and to give to the county courts, composed of all the county justices, the control and direction of the local government and police.
In view of the introduction into our system of so large a political element so unequally distributed as the result in the complete prominence of the whole white race in one section of the State, and of the colored race in another section, we are very earnestly of opinion that any system of local government and police engrafted upon the constitution, and placed under the absolute control of limited districts, will naturally incur the distrust and excite the apprehensions of the local minority, and tend to collisions calculated to impair personal security and to endanger the public peace.
The same difficulties surround the subjects of local taxation and education, in regard to which we are satisfied that the proposed system will be found unequal and inefficient in its operation, and in its results intolerably expensive and oppressive.
The solution of these difficulties which we propose is to strike the whole system from the constitution and leave it to the Legislature, in which all localities, interests, and classes, will be fully represented, to regulate the whole subject by laws, which will be at all times open to modification and improvement, such as experience may suggest or the public interest may require.
The next modification proposed by us is to strike out the provision in article eleven relating to homestead and other exemptions. The laws of Virginia now in force provide for homestead and other exemptions, prospective in their operation. The provisions of these laws are believed to be not materially different from those in the proposed constitution, except in regard to past indebtedness, as to which we regard the proposed provision as clearly in conflict with the Constitution of the United States. The chief importance which we attach to striking out this provision grows out of the injurious effect upon the minds of the people, whose necessities already incline them to look with favor upon any suggestion of relief from pecuniary obligation.
The only remaining suggestion of modification is as to the maximum of taxation for local free school purposes, in article eight, section eight.
It will be observed that we made no objection to the school system proposed except so far as it depends on the local organization, to which we have already referred.
No objection is offered in any quarter to the establishment of a thorough system of free public schools, at least as rapidly as the proposed constitution requires; and although we have asked to strike out the mode of local taxation proposed we have suggested a modification which avoids and diminution of the amount to be raised by taxation for public free school purposes.
In suggesting the modifications referred to we by no means wish to be understood as conceding that the proposed constitution is free from what we regard as important defects in other particulars, but we do not understand it to be the purpose of Congress to interfere in such matters further than may be required by high consideration affecting the integrity of the constitution and the maintenance of justice and domestic tranquility. We have, therefore, continued our objections to provisions of the proposed constitution falling properly, as we believe, within the scope of such an interposition.
The clauses which we ask to have stricken out from the proposed constitution are different degrees of importance; but the least important, we think, will be found to involve some grave public mischief or injustice. Those included in our first suggestion could not but plunge our State in to civil anarchy and discord, and disturb the general and growing harmony of the two races of our people, if not to array them in deplorable hostility to one another. They would arrest immigration, paralyze all forms of industry, destroy our domestic peace and hope of prosperity, and render us a burden to the Union, instead of an important addition to its resources, wealth, credit, and power.
In our personal interview with the committee we called their attention to provisions of the proposed constitution, and especially in that relating to usury, as instances of the insertion into a constitution of matters particularly proper to be left to ordinary legislation. The provisions in regard to usury is one new in Virginia, and will establish a policy which, whatever may be its merits, must seriously affect all the material interests of our people.
It is respectfully submitted for the consideration of the committee whether a measure of legislation so important, and in regard to which opinion is so much divided, ought to be fixed in the constitution and so placed beyond legislative control.
As to the mode of granting relief from the mischievous provisions to which we have referred--to wit, by act of Congress, suggesting modifications as fundamental conditions precedent--we desire to say that it has been suggested as the result of an examination of the precedents found in the past legislation of Congress, and upon consultation with a number of the wisest and most experienced members of both Houses. In the preparation of the amendments proposed to the pending bill we have endeavored fairly to follow the precedents established in like cases; and we may be permitted to suggest, in conclusion, that we believe it will be found that the modifications proposed by us will in fact conform the proposed constitution to the principles and policy of the reconstruction acts.
It is, perhaps, proper to say we, and those with whom we act, though concurring, as we believe, with the people of Virginia, do not claim to be authorized to speak for them.
Respectfully, your obedient servants,
Alexander H.H. Stuart,
John B. Baldwin,
J. L. Marye, Jr.,
Washington City, January 18, 1869.
The Meeting at the Court House on Monday
(Column 01)Summary: Account of a meeting at the Court House in which A. H. H. Stuart and Gen. Echols spoke to the citizens of Augusta about the "New Movement" and attempts to change the proposed Virginia constitution.
Full Text of Article:The New Movement
Address of Hon. A. H. H. Stuart and Gen. John Echols to their Fellow Citizens of Augusta County on the New Movement. The Court House crowded to its utmost capacity.
We present the following as an imperfect synopsis of the remarks of Hon. A. H. H. Stuart and Gen. John Echols. We had supposed that these gentlemen had prepared notes of the different points they intended to discuss and had hoped to obtain them, to aid us in making a fair report of the substance of their speeches--on applying to them we ascertained that they had spoken entirely extemporaneously and we are therefore compelled to rely on memory and very imperfect memoranda in reproducing the substance of their remarks on the principal topics which they discussed.
Mr. S. commenced by saying that like his friend Col. Baldwin he had been in the habit of speaking to the people of Augusta, from time to time, during the last 30 years on great political questions. Eight years ago he spoke to them from the spot where he then stood, explaining what secession meant, and admonishing them of the terrible consequences which would result from it. On that occasion he had been denounced by some of the hot headed and impetuous young men as an "alarmist" and a "submissionist" and some had gone so far as to threaten to turn him out of the hall. But now all were prepared to acknowledge that his predictions had been fulfilled to the letter.
After the surrender of Gen. Lee he had again spoken to them on the 8th of May 1865, counselling the abandonment of the contest and a prompt return to the Union. Again he had been denounced and threatened with personal violence. In a few weeks however, the passion and excitement of the hour passed away and the whole community acquiesced in the wisdom of the course which he had suggested.
An occasion had now occurred on which he deemed it his duty again to speak to his countrymen. He knew what he had to say would not be acceptable to many, but he felt that it was due to himself and the people among whom his life had been spent, and who had so often honored him with their confidence to speak to them frankly and freely in regard to the danger by which they were surrounded.
He said that [unclear] more than a month ago it seemed to him as if the ship of state was fast drifting to destruction. She was in the rapids and approaching the cataract. He listened anxiously for some voice to sound the alarm--he looked earnestly for some strong arm to save. He listened and he looked in vain. He hoped that some note of warning would come from the metropolis of the State. He hoped that the Central Executive Committee would seek to avert the impending calamity but he was doomed to disappointment. He then determined to raise his public voice to sound the alarm. He did so and invoked the prompt action of the Executive Committee. No formal response was given to his appeal, but he learned that the Committee regarded their actions as purely executive--that they had power merely to carry out the policy indicated in the [unclear] of 1867, and that they disclaimed all right to modify or change that policy notwithstanding the change of circumstances.
The danger was imminent. The time for action was short. The House of Representatives of the U. S. had passed a bill a few days before submitting the Underwood Constitution to a vote of the people. Congress was to reassemble on the 4th of January, and there was every reason to believe that within one week after that day the Senate would pass the House bill. And Mr. Stuart said he had no doubt that but for the intervention of the committee of nine the bill would ere this have been passed.
The danger, Mr. Stuart repeated, was imminent. If anything was done it must be done quickly. There was no time to call a convention--no time to consult the people. Prompt and decided action must be taken to arrest the evil and the people must be consulted afterwards. What was to be done must be done within ten days, or it would be too late.
Under these circumstances five gentlemen who [unclear] met at his office on Christmas day, talked the matter over, and concluded that the exigencies were so grave and so urgent that they would on their own responsibility invite about 50 gentlemen to meet them in Richmond on the 31st of December to confer in regard to the condition of Virginia and decide what should and could be done to save her from ruin. They according sent notes to 50 gentlemen--all men of character and position--in all parts of the State and of all shades of opinion. Mr. Hunter, Mr. Seddon, Mr. Tucker, Mr. Conrad, Mr. Janney and Mr. Flournoy--Old Democrats and Old Whigs--Secessionists and Anti-Secessionists were invited. They would have gladly invited more, but the time was so short that they could communicate only with those on or near the rail road. The object of these notes was to induce the gentlemen to come to Richmond. No invitation was sent to gentlemen residing in Richmond because it was presumed they would be in the city and make known their views.
On the 31st of December near 50 gentlemen met in Richmond and remained in council two days. The resolutions which that conference adopted have been published and need not be more particularly referred to.
The conference appointed a committee of nine to go promptly to Washington to try and defeat or modify the bill there pending before the Senate. The instructions to that committee were to do the best they could to promote the interest of Virginia.
Notice was promptly given to the committee to assemble in Washington on the 8th of January. They did so and at once went to work.
The opponents of what is called the 'New Movement' charge that the committee are in favor of universal suffrage, and recommend that it be introduced into the constitution. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is not a member of the committee who is in favor of universal suffrage; on the contrary every man of those was and is now opposed to it and would gladly get rid of it if he could.
What are the facts? The committee found a bill which had passed the H. R. pending in the Senate. That bill provided for the submission of the constitution just as it came from the hands of Underwood & Co. to the people, for ratification or rejection. While they believed that on a full and fair vote it might be voted down, they greatly feared that on such a vote as we were likely to have when carpet-baggers had the handling of the ballot boxes and the counting of the ballots, it was very doubtful (let the vote be what it might,) whether it would not be declared to be adopted. The examples of Alabama and other Southern States were not lost sight of, nor had the committee forgotten that Gov. Wise was reported to have declared that [unclear] [unclear] [unclear] to be done to ensure [unclear] of the constitution would be [line unclear] to prevent the submission of this constitution, with all its enormities to the popular vote. To this end they at once went before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and invoked its assistance. They asked that committee, in accordance with well established precedents, to prescribe, as fundamental conditions to the admission of Virginia into the Union, the striking out of a number of the obnoxious clauses of the constitution. The committee were heard courteously and patiently by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and they addressed to that Committee a communication in writing expressive of their views. The committee of nine found in the Underwood constitution many objectionable provisions--but passing over minor defects, they confined their attention to five.
1. Universal suffrage.
2. Disfranchisements and test-oaths.
3. County organization
4. Homestead provision.
5. Church clauses
To these they addressed themselves, barely referring to others.
In regard to the 1st, they found the opinion of Congress unalterably fixed. It was a canon of their political church, an article of their political creed, nay, more, it was the widest plank in the Chicago platform. On it they had won the presidential election, and it would have been quite as reasonable to ask; and there would have been just as much prospect of success in asking, the restoration of slavery, as in asking the abandonment of universal suffrage. It was in the Underwood Constitution, and it was in the Constitution of every reconstructed State of the South, and there was no natural ground to believe that a victorious party in the first flash of triumph would surrender the principle which had secured to them the victory.
The committee did not, then, seek to spend any time in the vain endeavor to induce Congress to surrender this favorite dogma. They would have as soon attempted to remove the Blue Ridge from its base, as to eradicate the idea of universal suffrage from the mind of Congress. They regarded it as a fixed fact--as an inevitable necessity. They could no more ignore its existence than an engineer could ignore the Blue Ridge as an obstacle in his path, in locating a road from Eastern Virginia to the Valley. Finding this to be the condition of things the committee recognized universal suffrage as just as firmly established as emancipation.
When the South was overcome by arms the abolition of slavery was the logical consequence of defeat, and all acquiesced it as such. When we were overwhelmed, in November, at the ballot box, negro suffrage followed, just as naturally, as the legitimate result of that overthrow, and all will have to acquiesce whether they will or no.
The committee of nine, seeing the position of affairs, at once accepted the situation and addressed themselves to the remaining four cardinal enormities in the constitution.
They said, in substance, to the committee and members of Congress, "We recognize negro suffrage as irreversibly settled--we know you will not depart from your well considered line of policy, and, therefore, while we do not agree with you, we forbear to ask any change in that feature of the constitution.
"But we do ask you to relieve us from other and oppressive provisions, which are municipal in their character, and which do not interfere with any of your Congressional policy." On these points the members of both houses lent attentive ears and gave the committee every reason to hope for success.
Mr. S. here entered into a detailed discussion of the objectionable clauses of the constitution, and showed how fatal they would be to the prosperity of the State, and how indispensable it was to have them stricken out.
He also referred to the opinions of many senators and members, and also to the views of Gen. Schofield and Gen. Grant in regard to those provisions, and the reasons why he hoped for a successful result of the mission.
Mr. Stuart spoke with great satisfaction of the interviews the committee had had with Gen. Grant, and referred to the decided opinions and broad and comprehensive views of the various subjects taken by the President elect. He referred to these interviews with pleasure, not only because Gen. Grant favored the objects of the committee, but because the clear and intelligent perception of the points involved and the charged and statesmanlike views of them which he expressed, gave to the committee an assurance that Gen. Grant would prove himself equal to the duties of the high office to which he had been elected.
Mr. Stuart referred to the opposition which had been made to the mission and action of the "nine," and to the unjust reflections which had been made on their proceedings. He adverted to the opposite sources from which criticism came. Governors Wells and Wise were pulling together in the same team, and the Richmond Enquirer and the Radical Journal were in full accord in opposing the "Movement," and George Rye, Yankee Allen and Dr. Bayne found coadjutors even in Augusta! It was an alliance of the carpet-baggers and the fire eaters from which no good could come! Gov. Wise had written five letters he understood in opposition, but he thought the history of the last 8 years proved that Gov. Wise was not a safe counselor.
Mr. Stuart referred to the fact that a writer under the signature of "Augusta," had sought to hold him up to ridicule, if not scorn, by impeaching his consistency in going now in opposition to his address as President of the Convention of December, 1868. Mr. Stuart denied the truth of the charge. He held now to every opinion expressed by him then. He was now, as then, opposed to allowing the power of the State to pass into the hands of an alien and inferior race. He was now as then for making this a white man's government. He had not changed in his purpose--he had only changed in regard to the means of accomplishing that purpose, and that change had been rendered necessary by the altered condition of the country.
In 1867 he thought, as others thought, that the constitution could be beaten. But with the light now before him, he thought it extremely doubtful. Then he thought the best way of securing the ascendancy of the white race was by disfranchising the black. That was now found to be impossible, and the only way of securing white ascendancy was by enfranchising the whites so as to countervail the black vote.
But Mr. S. said if the charge of inconsistency had been true, he did not hesitate to say that he would abandon the most cherished prejudices and opinions, if it were necessary to save the country from ruin. In his judgement, the man who would from any selfish regard to his own interests, or any obstinate pride of opinion, adhere to any given line of policy, to the detriment of the public welfare, had little of the true spirit of patriotism in his heart.
Mr. S. said he was at a loss to account for the violent opposition which had been made to the [unclear] of the nine. The constitution was to be submitted in some form or other, and the only question was shall it be submitted with all its defects embodied in it, or shall it be submitted with four of the worst of them stricken out? The committee of nine were for the latter, while the opponents were for the former. It would be for the people to decide between them. For his part, if he could not get all he wanted, he would get as much as he could. And until this opportunity had sprung up he really thought that when the nine got four of the five worst enormities of the constitution stricken out, they would be entitled to thanks for what they had done, instead of reproaches--because they could not get more.
It was a singular fact too, that while the opponents criticize the propositions of the nine, they offer no substitute--present no better plan. Let them offer a better plan, and the nine will thank them and adopt it. Until they do this, they ought to hold their peace!
But the objectors say the nine have done nothing! True! Why then complain? Why not wait until something is done and then judge of it according to its merits? Anything the committee may accomplish is to be submitted to the people. The committee claim no power to bind anybody. The convention which is to meet on the 17th of March, was called by the committee for the very purpose of considering the report of the committee and of taking such action as may be necessary.
But say the opponents you have no assurance of success. True again. But why not wait until a fair experiment has been made. The seed must be sown before the harvest can be reaped. And time must be allowed for the seed to sprout and grow and bear fruit. So time must be allowed for the seed which the Committee have sowed to germinate and ripen for the harvest.
Mr. Stuart said that let the mission of the nine result as it may in other respects it has at least done good in dispelling many erroneous ideas from the minds of Congress in smothering asperities, imparting correct information and mollifying the temper of Congress in regard to the South. He had himself received the most gratifying assurance on this point from distinguished Senators.
It had also had the effect of enlisting many of the ablest papers of the North and West--such as the N. Y. Tribune and Times, the Boston Advertiser, Chicago Tribune and other influential journals in the interests of conciliation and harmony and peace.
He believed one of the greatest obstacles to the success of the mission was the opposition from home stimulated by carpet-baggers and their associates. The carpet-baggers proclaimed that if the nine succeeded, they would have to surrender the ghost. Their vocation will be gone.
In conclusion Mr. S. said that from all he could see and learn in Washington, he had reason to believe that Gen. Grant would be the President of the nation, and not of a party, and that he would give the country a wise and patriotic administration to which we could all accord a hearty support.
Gen. Echols said that he had been connected with and favorable to the "Movement" since its inception. He desired to look at and understand the condition of our State as it in reality existed. It had been hard to realize the great change in our whole social system, wrought by the extinction of slavery, yet a conviction of this had been forced upon us at Appomattox Court House, and everyone, of every grade of political opinion, had long since yielded his assent to a state of freedom from slavery, without in anywise feeling that any principle had been abandoned. So to his mind it was clear that it had been just as emphatically decided, by the result of the late Presidential election, that in the Southern States at least the negroes should have the right of suffrage and all other political privileges. The question as to the political rights of the negro was, in his opinion, settled, and the only open question for our consideration is, can we obtain equal political rights for the white people. It will do us no good to say that we deplore the enfranchisement of so large a number of ignorant and uneducated people as the late slaves of Virginia. Our wishes and opinions on this subject will not be regarded. But then there is a large and influential part of the Republican party who express a willingness, negro suffrage being secured, to grant to the white people of the State the right also to vote and hold office. Will it be the part of wisdom for us to say that we will continue a fruitless war upon the proposition of negro suffrage, and that if we are compelled to take that, we will make no effort to avoid the other terrible evils with which we are threatened, in the Underwood Constitution. The efforts of the committee of "Nine" have been directed earnestly, faithfully, and most ably, to the rescue of our old State from as many of the perils with which she is threatened, as it is possible to avoid. For one he honored them for their services in this regard, and he had no doubt that hereafter a very great majority of the people of Virginia would thank them--in his opinion there was something to be more dreaded than negro suffrage, and that was "Carpet Bag" domination, and yet this last was inevitable should the Underwood Constitution, without amendment, be forced upon us. With the amendments proposed by the committee, Virginia would be ruled by residents of the State, and not by "Carpet Baggers," who really have no residence or interest here. He wished that every man in the State could have witnessed the scene enacted before the "Reconstruction" Committee of Congress last week, when Wells, the acting Governor, earnestly remonstrated against the adoption of the suggestions of the "Nine," and besought that the Underwood Constitution, unadulterated, might be put to the vote of the people, in order that it might be fixed upon them beyond a peradventure, assenting that it would not be possible to carry the Constitution if amended as proposed, because a large part of the Radical party of the State would then vote against it, and that all the Conservatives who followed the lead of the "Richmond Examiner & Enquirer," would also vote against it, thus leaving the advocates of the Amendments in a hopeless minority. Gen. Echols called upon his young friends, who are opposing this movement, to reflect upon this division of parties, and to ask themselves, Why this position of Wells? He wished, too, that every man in the Commonwealth could have heard the able, eloquent and impressive reply of our distinguished county man, Col. Baldwin, to the party appeal of Governor Wells, and his noble defence of the people of his native State from the charges of the Governor. He would also bear testimony borne to the good faith and integrity of the people of Virginia by Mr. Franklin Stearns, who, always a consistent Union man and Republican, is also as deeply interested in the prosperity of the State as any man in it, and who will not allow his allegiance to party to interfere with his devotion to the true interests of Virginia. Gen. Echols concluded by saying, that for one who was willing, in good faith, to give in his acceptance to the propositions of the committee of "Nine," and he appealed to all, of every class, to look well at the "situation," to discard all prejudice and passion, and to decide, as sensible and practical men, what is best for themselves and their State.
Want of space prevents our giving even a condensed report of Col. Baldwin's remarks, though we hope to be able to do so in our next issue. Another meeting will be held at the February court.
(Column 04)Summary: The author of this article responds to severe criticisms against Stuart, Baldwin, and other Virginians who propose to accept Negro suffrage as part the overall movement to regain peace and prosperity, and universal amnesty in Virginia. The Virginian admits that the "cup is bitter" and the "idea is hateful." Nevertheless, the paper supports men held in such high esteem as Stuart and Baldwin and promotes the greater benefit to white Virginia.
Full Text of Article:Charles King
We have received the following communication from a gentleman living in Maryland which shows with what interest the movement is looked upon by others outside of Virginia, and we commend it to the careful consideration of our readers.
Easton, Md., Jan. 18th, 1869
Editor Valley Virginian: -- The Warrenton Sentinel visits the action of the Hon. A.H.H. Stuart, Col. Baldwin and their compeers with some very severe strictures. It charges them with assuming to speak for the people of Virginia without authority, solely with a view to open to themselves access to office, and sorest charge of all, with dragging the honor of Virginia in the mire.
These are heavy animadversions upon gentlemen whom Virginians have been taught to love and honor as Cavaliers "without fear and without reproach." And who will believe them? Men do not become villains all at once. We know it is said the descent into hell is rapid; but who will believe that these gentlemen are engaged in the movement so much reprobated by the Sentinel, sons of Virginia, true sons will turn upon the loved, their venerated mother in the hour of her dire distress and rend her? No! we would cry in thunder tones, they are not vipers to sting the breasts that warmed them. They are peerless gentlemen, wise statesmen, true sons of the Mother of States and of Statesmen.
But while defending them we shall carefully abstain from harsh utterances against our brother. We would not array Virginian against Virginian in acrid controversy or passionate denunciation. We write more in sorrow than in anger. But none the less firmly do we tell our contemporary that the gentlemen so violently assailed are actuated by no such motives as he ascribes to them. Their motives are pure and disinterested, their object a vitally important one to the highest interests of Virginia, their measures sagacious and practicable, the result, whether in accordance with their hopes, or with the hopes of those who oppose their action, can only redown to their honor and the good of the people of their State. Their efforts, if crowned with success, will effect great good--if defeated in their main object they will at least have convinced the people of the North that Virginia is not stubbornly bent on having her own way, but is willing to adapt herself to circumstances and to do the best she may, "And he that does the best that circumstance allows Does well, acts nobly angels could no more."
When the editor of the Sentinel expresses his disgust at the idea of going to the polls with a negro he should reflect that that has been the hard fate of every Southern State and that we cannot hope to escape. The idea is hateful; but though as good, we are no better than our sister States who have all had to pass under the yoke. The cup is bitter but we must follow it; if we will not take it ourselves, it will be forced upon us as medicine is given to reluctant children. The question presented is shall we take the poison "straight," or shall we take it with an antidote in the other hand that will render the poison innocuous. The latter is the policy of Messrs. Stuart, Baldwin and their colleagues representing every quarter of the State.
When the Sentinel quotes the memorable dispatch of Francis I after the battle of Pavla, "all is lost save honor" he invites us to follow the example of that hero. And if we recur to the history of that event we shall find little to support his argument. Francis I by the result of that battle was forced to treat with his conquerors, and was, ready to accept terms quite as humiliating as any that we propose to accept. He did not say "no, I will not voluntary give up anything, you have conquered me and may take what you will; treat with you I will not." But he at once like a wise Monarch proceeded to get the best terms he could, and, in consequence, was, in a few years, as hard as were those terms, as powerful as he had ever been.
As to Messrs. Stuart, Baldwin, and the rest arrogating to themselves authority, they do not possess, we have to say, they do not claim to have any authority. They tell Congress if you will do so and so, it is our opinion the people of Virginia will assent to it. We may be mistaken; we are not authorized, as you know, to commit them to any prescribed cause of action, but it is our decided opinion that such is not the feeling of the people.
In conclusion we would ask, how it will advance the cause of the Sentinel, or how it will advance the peace and welfare of the people of the State of Virginia to hurl such fierce philippics or cast such fool assersions upon a body of gentlemen so high in the esteem of the wise and good as those engaged in the "Virginia Movement," whose sublime work is the preservation of the shattered alters of the household Gods of mourning Virginia.
(Column 05)Summary: Continuing the attack on King's recent letter to Congress, the author further points out that the carpetbagger was using the pulpit to convince blacks in Rockbridge county not to work for their former masters. King uses such inflammatory language against former Confederates that even "native scalawags" line up against him.
Full Text of Article:What We Really Want
A Lexington correspondent of the Richmond Dispatch, gives a few more truths concerning this would be advisor of Congress. "Charles King, D.D.," on Virginia Reconstruction.
Your issue of yesterday contains an extract from a "Remonstrance" of "Charles King D.D., a resident of Staunton," addressed to the United States Senate, against the removal of the disabilities of "Virginia rebels." You very justly surmise that he is either "a negro or a carpetbagger." He is a Radical Methodist preacher, sent down here to steal church property, support "Union Leagues," and act as Radical emissary generally. Last year he was in Rockbridge county, and used to preach (?) to a handful of negroes with a brace of pistols on the pulpit--a la "Parson" Brownlow--to defend himself from pretended danger from the "secesh." He was accustomed to tell his negro brethren that they "must not work too hard for their secesh employers--that they could not enjoy their religion if they did." His conduct was so infamous that even native "scalawags" repudiated him. Fit remonstrator!
(Column 05)Summary: The author of this piece agrees with a recent article in the Lynchburg Republican. It calls for, in lieu of interest solely in politics, an increased interest in the manufacturing potential of Virginia. This effort will advance the state back to its former status among states and increase its material wealth.
Full Text of Article:
We entirely agree with the Lynchburg Republican, when it says:
"We cannot bring ourselves to the conclusion that "politics" is or ought to be the all absorbing topic of interest. Let those who make officers, and who live by office attend particularly to it. What will restore, and how shall Virginia be restored to her former prosperity? How shall she be advanced to a higher position than ever before? seem to us to be the most important questions which can be asked now. We want ballots, but we want green backs also, and many a man with the ballot in his hand, is without a dollar in his pocket. We are devoted to the work, as has Virginia, and her material prosperity at heart. We want to see the fields green again with wheat and corn; we want to see millions of pounds of tobacco manufactured in Virginia again; we want to see factories on the banks of Virginia rivers; we want to see railroads built to the mines of coal. And iron, lead and gypsum; and then we want to see iron foundries, smelting mills and plaster mills and all kinds of manufactories, at work."
(Column 01)Summary: The Rev. Cornelius Tyree is preaching to full congregations at the Baptist Church in Staunton. The meetings will continue throughout the week.[No Title]
(Names in announcement: Rev. Cornelius Tyree)
(Column 02)Summary: Mr. W. H. Wilson, "a well known and respected citizen" of Staunton, died at his residence after a brief illness. The Masons, Firemen, and Temperance Societies, all of which he was a member, attended the funeral. A large number of citizens were also present.County Court
(Names in announcement: W. H. Wilson)
(Column 02)Summary: County Court met on Monday. Jesse and James Seely were tried on charges of horse stealing. Jesse was sent to Wardell's retreat for four years and James for three. Julian Montez, charged with stealing the horse of Mr. O'Rorke was sent to jail for 12 months. All were repeat offenders.[No Title]
(Names in announcement: Jesse Seely, James Seely, Julian Montez, O'Rorke)
(Column 02)Summary: The article describes the Sibert Iron and Steel Company of Augusta County. It had a capital stock of half a million dollars. "Mr. Sibert deserves a great deal of credit for the energy and perseverance in securing so large an amount of capital to be used and invested in his own county, where he strikes his first blow for revolutionizing the railroad interest of Virginia."
Origin of Article: Richmond DispatchTribute of Respect
(Column 02)Summary: The Augusta Fire Company passes a tribute of sympathy and respect upon the death of their comrade, William H. Wilson.Marriages
(Names in announcement: William H. Wilson, John A. Bickle, John Donovan, John B. Scherer, B. F. Fifer)
(Column 03)Summary: James Henry Desper and Miss Ann Eliza Talley, both of Augusta, were married in Washington, D. C., on January 15th by the Rev. E. H. Gray.Deaths
(Names in announcement: James Henry Desper, Ann Eliza Talley, Rev. E. H. Gray)
(Column 03)Summary: Mrs. Mary Hill Silling, wife of the late William Silling, died near Sherando at the residence of her son in law, James Padgett.Subscription to the Valley Railroad
(Names in announcement: Mary Hill Silling, William Silling, James Padgett)
(Column 03)Summary: Excerpts from a letter by "Farmer" calling attention to the cheaper rates for shipping flour that the Valley Railroad would bring.The Valley Railroad
(Column 04)Summary: This letter from "Lexington" warns all those in Staunton that failing to subscribe to the Valley Railroad will have negative long-term consequences. The author makes it exceedingly clear that there are several other alternatives available for the completion of the road, and a link with Staunton is not necessary. Therefore, Stauntonians must act now or be left behind.
Full Text of Article:
Dear Virginian:-- The hesitancy that seems to exist in Augusta to subscribe to the Valley Railroad is very unaccountable to our people. We cannot suppose that the people of your county can fail to appreciate the advantages that must flow to them from a road passing through the entire length of the county; thus doubling the market facilities of the people and giving them the advantage of competing buyers for their produce. Now can we imagine that the great county of Augusta is really fearful about amassing the terrible responsibility of paying $18,000 interest yearly for a few years, when Rockbridge, with not half the taxable property of Augusta, has agreed to pay $24,000.--We are, therefore, in the dark as to the reasons that influence our Augusta friends. But that they have reasons is plain, and this fact is inducing us to consider the other plans proposed for giving us a Railroad connection with the rest of the State. We prefer a road to Staunton, but if Augusta votes a "No" of course this settles the question as to that route. But as far as we are concerned it does nothing more.--We are determined with an earnestness and unanimity I have never seen exceeded to have a Railroad. If Augusta will not unite with us, we will only have to join our fortunes with some other of our neighbors. Several plans are now being extensively canvassed by our people. One is to make a road to Goshen which will be entirely within our own limits and will put us in connection with the Chesapeake & Ohio road by the shortest route. We will be thus going to meet the V. road when it is pushed on from Harrisonburg via Jenning's Gap to tap the C. & O. road at a point making the most direct course to the Ohio. This last must be the route of the Valley road, if it has to be made without the assistance of Augusta, for this route will most advantageously put the Manassas road into connection with the C. & O. Road, and at the present will give Rockbridge the least amount of road to build. Another proposed plan is to connect with Lynchburg, which will really give us a more natural and easier outlet to our Eastern Virginia markets, than the proposed Valley routes, and will connect there by the Orange road with the Baltimore route. We are assured of strong influences and assistance if we will join in pushing this road; for the road from here to Lynchburg is a very important link in the straight line from Richmond to Covington. A third plan before us, and one argued with the prospect of immediate success, is to connect with the Virginia and Tennessee road at Bonsacks or Salem. We have $200,000 already subscribed by Botetourt, and Roanoke will probably give $150,000 more. General Mahone is known to be ready and anxious to help us. A branch from the road to Lexington will secure him the trade of these counties even if a connection should afterward be made with Staunton, for there will then be a break of gauge there. The distance from here to Bonsacks is but little greater than to Staunton, and in this section we already have $200,000 out of the $350,000 asked for outside of our own county.
You will thus see the various plans our people have under consideration. They have set out to get themselves a railroad and are casting about for the best means of securing it. If Augusta, with an intelligent regard for her own interests, and that kindly co-operation which should exist between neighbors and friends will join hands with us, then Staunton and Lexington will soon be united by rail, but if she refuse from mistaken views as to her interests, or from any unworthy Micawber like expectations of getting the road "anyhow," then we shall regret, on the account of old ties and associations, her unwise and illiberal course, and will accept some one of the other propositions made to us.