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Valley of the Shadow

Valley Virginian: July 7, 1870

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The Homestead Act
(Column 04)
Summary: The paper prints an act passed by the Virginia legislature exempting up to $2000 in real and personal property from seizure for debt.
The Valley Railroad
(Column 07)
Summary: This article repeats the sentiment expressed in many previous articles concerning the benefits to be had by the construction of the Valley Railroad. The most important, according to this latest piece, is the elimination of rail monopoly. If a new road is constructed, says the author, other lines will have to lower their fares for both travel and freight, thus benefiting the commuter as well as the producer. Also, in answer to those who say the road will be constructed whether or not money from the county is subscribed, the author suggests the irresponsibility of this line of thought. Any person who stands to benefit from the improvement should likewise be a contributing factor in its construction.
Full Text of Article:

At the urgent request of many friends and subscribers we republish the following:

In our last paper we endeavored to show to our readers some of the more prominent benefits that would accrue to the people of Augusta, from the large expenditures of money which must necessarily be made, in the county, during the progress of the work of construction of the Valley Railroad. We think it fair to estimate, that the amount which will be expended, in the building of the road, though our county, from the Rockingham, to the Rockbridge line, will be, about one million three hundred and sixty thousand dollars (1,360,000). We arrived at this result by estimating the distance at 34 miles, and the cost (including bridges) at $40,000 per mile. These estimates, we believe, will be found to be very nearly, if not exactly, correct.

We then attempted to show, the very great advantages to our people, which would flow form the expenditure of so large a sum of money among them.

But, great as these benefits will unquestionably, be, they are as nothing, when compared with those, which will follow the completion of the road.

The contemplation of these beneficial results would open an almost illimitable field. We do not propose to attempt a full discussion of the subject, in all its aspects. It is too extensive for a newspaper article. All that we shall attempt is, to call attention to a few of the more prominent advantages which our people will secure, by subscribing to the road and thereby ensuring its completion.

It may be said of Rail-roading as of every other branch of business, that "competition is the life of trade."

The people of Augusta are now the victims of an oppressive monopoly. The Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad affords to them, their only outlet to market. That company has the power (within certain limits) to fix its own rates of charges. It is a gigantic power, and the company uses it like a giant. Its charges are exceedingly onerous--and, when compared with the rates on northern railroads, extravagant--upon many articles they are prohibitory, and in others, they are on the verge of prohibition. People are obliged to submit to these exactions, because they cannot help themselves. Corporations are proverbially without souls,--and we might add, without hearts! They look to their own interests, exclusively. The public advantage is never thought of, except when it may be coincident with corporate interests.

We have been informed that on northern Railroads, the passenger fees, averages about two cents per mile--on the C & O R.R., it is five cents per mile, or two and a half times as much! We are not prepared to speak with certainty, as to the relation which their charges on freights, bear to the charges on northern Roads. But we presume they are from 25 to 50 per cent higher than the northern charges. We know that on such articles as corn, hay and potatoes, the charges are almost prohibitory, except when those articles are commanding very high prices in the Richmond markets.

The present charge for a passenger from Staunton to Richmond is $6.80, when according to northern rates, it would be $2.72. The difference is a tax of $1.08, which is exacted from the necessities of the passenger! Every one, therefore, who makes a trip from Staunton to Richmond and back, pays, over and above a fair charge, according to northern rates, $8.16! This is a pretty heavy tax to be exacted from every citizen, for each and every trip that he is obliged to make to the Capital of his State!

Now, what is the remedy for this oppression? Shall we remonstrate? Shall we appeal to the justice--and magnanimity--and generosity of this great corporation? Such an appeal would only provoke ridicule! We would get "our labor for our pains!"

The only remedy of our grievances, is, to create competition. If railroads look to their interests let us look to ours! Let us while it is in our power, aid in building up a rival road, to compete for passengers and freights. Competition--not a sense of right or justice--among northern railroads has brought fares and freights down, to the low figures we have mentioned, in the Northern States--and competition will bring it down here! It is the only remedy. Interest is the moving principle of Railroads. If we have two roads, each will want to command the trade and travel. They will bid against each other for patronage. As soon as the Valley road is finished, the Chesapeake road will have to reduce its charges, or the trade and travel will go to Baltimore. Richmond and Baltimore will thus be competitors for our trade. The two roads will be competitors for transportation. The Chesapeake & Ohio will reduce its charges say one dollar. The Valley road will put its charge a little lower. This will compel the Chesapeake road to make a further reduction, and thus it will go on, until charges for passengers and freights are reduced to something like the northern standard.

Let our farmers consider what would be the effect of those reductions on their interests? The saving in freights, in a single year, would much more than pay their taxes. But this is not all--when the freights are brought down to a fair rate, many commodities which cannot be marketed at all, will become important articles of export. The saving on a single car load of cattle, or flour, or hay, or corn, will pay the whole additional annual tax which a farmer with a farm valued at $10,000, would have to pay! The railroad tax on such a tract of land, would be $6 per year. This is ascertained by estimating his whole annual tax (at the present rate of 30 cents on $100) at $30. The railroad tax would add to the tax, one-fifth, or 20 per cent, which gives the result $6.00, as the railroad tax.

Is any one so blind as not to see, how immensely his interests would be promoted by such a reduction of fares and freights? Can any one fail to perceive that the construction of the Valley Road, would be of incalculable advantage to the agricultural interests of the county?

But we must not overlook other great interests, which would be developed by it.

Every one knows, that our mountains on the Eastern and Western borders of the county, are filled with our ore, of the best quality, and in inexhaustible quantity. The only obstacle to the development of these mineral deposits, is, the want of convenient access to market. Give us the Valley R.R. and this difficulty will be removed. Forges and Furnaces, will, at an early day, be called in to existence, and the sterile mountain-spurs, that are now valueless, will become sources of great wealth. A large portion of the agricultural productions, will be consumed by the hands, employed in these mines, and at these iron-works.

We have heard some narrow-minded persons say "why should we subscribe to this road, when we feel satisfied the road will be made without our aid?" This is certainly a very liberal suggestion. It proceeds on the idea that we shall profit by the outlay of others, without bearing our just share of the burthen--that we shall reap where other people have sown!

We can hardly reconcile this idea with our notions of common honesty. We would almost as soon think of waiting until our neighbor had ploughed his land, and sown his seed, without our help, and then at harvest, expect to come in, and reap a share of the crop!

This idea does not exactly comport with the old fashioned notions of justice and fair dealing, that have always prevailed among the people of Augusta.

But is it true, that the road will be made without our help? We think we are by no means warranted in assuming such to be the fact. Baltimore city, the Balt. & O.R.R. Co., and all the counties along the line, have come forward with liberality, and subscribed their shares.--They have done all they are able to do.--Two millions nine hundred dollars, now hang on the subscription of Augusta. If we subscribe $300,000, we are certain to have $2,900,000 expended among us. If we refuse to subscribe, it may be, that the whole enterprise will fail. Our neighbors will be disgusted with the illiberality of Augusta, and let the matter fall to the ground. Let us then be on the sure side. Let us not hesitate to make the subscription, which is necessary to render the conditional appropriation of nearly three millions, absolute.

Some persons will say, "the R.R. will not come nearer to us, than it now does; how will it benefit us? Even if the R.R. is made, we will have to haul our produce to Staunton, to market. How then will it help us?"

Conceding the facts to be as stated, we emphatically deny the conclusion drawn from them.

Suppose the R.R. is no nearer to you than it is now; suppose you will still have to haul your produce to market at Staunton--do you not perceive that by building up Staunton and increasing the number of buyers, and by reducing the cost of transportation from Staunton to Richmond or Baltimore, that the Staunton merchants can afford to pay your farms?--The reduction in freights will result more beneficially to the farmer, than to the merchant.

If you now take your flour to Staunton to sell, the merchant looks at Richmond and Baltimore prices, and deducts from them, 1st cost of freight, say 60 cents, 2, cost of marketing--3rd his profit.

Suppose you reduce the freight one half, is it not plain that the merchant can afford to pay you a higher price than he now does, by at least the amount of the reduction in freight?

But suppose again, you build the road and cause manufactories, &., to spring up at Staunton and the town to grow so large as to consume all you can produce--is it not plain that you can require prices, very nearly equal to Richmond prices, to be paid to you for all you raise?

Add 5000 to the population of Staunton--(which would very probably be the case if the Valley Railroad is made), and, who can fail to see what a market it would afford for the products of our farmers?

Old Augusta now has a proud name,--a name won by her wisdom in council--her valor on the battlefield--her patriotism in every emergency--her enlarged and liberal policy on every matter affecting the public welfare. Let us not, now, by a miserable, sordid, contracted--illiberal--unjust course to her sister counties tarnish her fair escutcheon! Let us do as we have hitherto done. Let us act with wisdom, and fairness, having a just regard to our own interests, but never losing sight of our obligations to others. Let us scorn the meanness of shirking our duty. Let us bear our share of the burthen if we propose to enjoy our share of the benefits of this great work.

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Freedom of Opinion
(Column 01)
Summary: The author of this article applauds the nature of American institutions that allow the propagation of all political creeds, systems of faith, and other "various whims." As long as liberty endures, he says, these things will not be suppressed. However, he also suggests that there are limits to these rights. Some of the various "isms" are no more than "pernicious and mischievous principles," and should be viewed with caution.
Full Text of Article:

From our earliest recollection it has been the glory and boast of our American institutions that they admitted of no restraint upon the opinions, religious or political, of its citizens. The human mind, under the protecting care of our constitution and laws, is left free to rove over the boundless field of speculation and indulge in rich profusion its exuberant fancies. Every political creed, every system of faith and every vagary of romance, in obedience to the various whims that govern our moral nature, may be maintained with perfect impunity. These are some of the grand characteristics that distinguish us from every other civilized power, and as long as our personal liberty endures, the utmost of our abilities will be exerted to maintain the principle upon which they are based.

Whilst the sanctuary of the conscience and the right of private judgment cannot be invaded, yet there are certain limits to their exercise which every one ought scrupulously to observe. In casting the mind's eye for a moment over the condition of society in this country at the present time, it will readily be observed that a large portion of our people are perfectly at sea as to what they shall or shall not believe in regard to the many new creeds and systems which, like mushrooms, are springing up all around them, and each of which has its adherents and devoted advocates. The existence of an admitted right does not always justify its unlimited exercise, and hence to all reflecting minds, in this enlightened age, the licentious indulgence of this boasted liberty is becoming truly appalling. We have no objection to the advocate of monarchy, agrarianism, socialism, or negroism propagating their pernicious and mischievous principles and dogmas, but at the same time we do earnestly and persistently object to the devotees of these dangerous isms basking in the sunshine of popular favor.

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[No Title]
(Column 01)
Summary: The paper reports that New Hope, Augusta County, has a population of 161 and has not recorded a death within the last 12 months. Mr. William Yarbro is the oldest inhabitant.
[No Title]
(Column 01)
Summary: Dr. Hamilton will deliver the annual address before the Augusta Academy of Medicine at the Baptist Church.
(Names in announcement: Dr. Hamilton)
[No Title]
(Column 01)
Summary: The paper praises the recent lectures delivered in the Baptist Church by Rev. Dr. Sampson, but reports that bad weather prevented large attendance. The proceeds went to benefit the church.
(Names in announcement: Rev. Dr. Sampson)
(Column 02)
Summary: Harvey Risk and Mrs. D. A. Hughes, formerly of Mobile, Alabama, were married in Staunton at the Wesleyan Institute on June 30th by the Rev. William A. Harris.
(Names in announcement: Harvey Risk, Mrs. D. A. Hughes, Rev. William A. Harris)
(Column 02)
Summary: James E. Ross, son of W. O. and S. A. Ross, died in Mt. Sidney on July 1st. He was 8 months old.
(Names in announcement: James E. Ross, W. O. Ross, S. A. Ross)
(Column 02)
Summary: Miss Melvina Whitlock died near Mt. Sidney on June 29th.
(Names in announcement: Melvina Whitlock)
(Column 02)
Summary: George Patterson died on South River on July 2nd of consumption.
(Names in announcement: George Patterson)
(Column 02)
Summary: John Areon died near Salem Church on June 29th.
(Names in announcement: John Areon)

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