The Vindicator addresses the Spectator’s “doing harm” piece

Posted on February 15, 2011 by


From the Republican Vindicator, February 15, 1861, in response to the piece I mentioned, =>here:

The Spectator

The Spectator, seeking an excuse to compliment its editor in the last issue of that paper, says it “understood that some of the extremists in this and the adjoining counties say that the Staunton Spectator is doing more harm than any paper in the State.” The editor then proceeds to pay himself a high complement for his very efficient efforts in the recent canvass, and to associate himself with some of the ablest papers in the State, assuming that they have taken alike positions with himself.

We have no objections to this little piece of egotism on the part of our neighbor. It is one of those self-congratulatory twits, which, while they do no one else harm, are calculated to tickle one’s self under the fifth rib. But we cannot permit the other misapprehensions contained in his article to pass uncorrected. Some wag evidently perpetrated a hoax on our credulous neighbor when he was made to understand that his positions during the canvass just closed were anything more than misrepresentations of the popular sentiment of this section of the country. For although the “Staunton Spectator” was no doubt gratified by the election of Col. Baldwin and Mr. Stuart, yet no line of policy that either of them indicated as pertinent to be adopted by the Convention now in session was either discussed or endorsed by that paper. No more did it discuss or endorse the positions either of Col. Baylor, Gen. Harman, or Capt. Imboden. The cry was with it, unconditional Union, without giving any reason, and an occasional convert and unfair and unjust (to be no harsher) attempt to insinuate into the popular belief that there was a “disunion” party in the county. The editor well knows that there is no such party here, nor were there disunion candidates running. All assumed nearly precisely the same positions, and agreed entirely as to the end that should be attained–the preservation of the Union–and only differed as to immaterial points of policy to accomplish that result. To this extent did the “Staunton Spectator” do harm, and no further, for we venture the assertion that there are not one hundred men in the county who endorse its extreme submission views–its continued and persistent inveighing against the South, and its mute silence as to the aggression, treason and crimes of the North.

Again is the apprehension of the editor at fault, when he flatters himself with the belief that any observant reader would be guilty of the inconsistency of identifying his position and arguments with those of the Alexandria Gazette, Richmond Whig, Charlottesville Review, &c. But a few weeks ago we took occasion to compliment the Gazette upon its warnings to the New York Tribune, that the North must yield to the just demands of the South–must give us guarantees of future peace and the observance of our rights, or the South would be a unit. When did the “Staunton Spectator” ever take such high Virginia ground? We have before us now the following striking and loyal sentiment from the Richmond Whig: “We know we express Virginia sentiment, when we say that unless the North recede the South will secede. We do not mean that the Southern States will withdraw, go out, and leave their rights behind; but they will, upon separation, carry with them all their rights.” The Whig also tells the North plainly that Virginia intends to demand every right that is guaranteed under the Constitution, and it will be a fatal delusion if the North thinks she will be satisfied with anything less. When did the “Staunton Spectator” do this? The Charlottesville Review, not with the same nervousness, but with equal ability, has warned the North not to be deluded with the belief that Virginia would in any contingency permit an abridgment of one single right she had, or tolerate a settlement of our present difficulties without the most ample security for the future. When did the “Staunton Spectator” do this? Echo answers, when?

Then, we ask in all candor, whether there is a justification found in reason for the designation as “extremists” by the “Spectator,” of those who may differ from that paper? Is it extreme to pride in the glory and honor of a just Union, founded upon the equal rights of all its parts, and observing those relations of equity and right which the [word illegible] of the compact guarantee? Is it extreme to stand upon the Constitution, and gazing at the stars that glitter in the flaunting ensign of our country’s glory, claim that no sister hand shall mar the beauty and brightness of the one that represents our own Virginia? Is it extreme to say to the surging waves of fanatical hate at the North which would madly submerge our own homes and hearts in universal ruin, “thus far shalt thou go and no farther?” Is it extreme to say, when our equality has been demanded and indignantly denied us, to the State of our nativity, where rest the bones of our fathers for generations past, and where cluster and cling the endearing affections of the heart, as did Ruth to Naomi: “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” If this be extreme, then we are “extremists!” If this be extreme, then are those who are for demanding the rights of Virginia to the “uttermost farthing,” “extremists.” If this be extreme, then are Cols. Baylor and Baldwin, of Augusta, Messrs. Lewis, Coffman and Gray, of Rockingham, Messrs. Dorman and Moore, of Rockbridge, Col. Hull, of Highland, and all who were elected as genuine conservative Union men, as well as many who were defeated, including Gen. Harman and Capt. Imboden.

*As ever, thanks goes to the Valley of the Shadow Project for putting these pieces online long ahead of the 150th…