“Secession Intollerance”

Posted on April 1, 2011 by

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The Staunton Spectator (March 26, 1861) reflects on a piece from the Petersburg Intelligencer:

The intolerance of the immediate Secessionists, is without precedent in Virginia history. All men must think as they think, and act as they act, or suffer the penalty of being denounced as traitors to Virginia and Virginia’s institutions. As for ourselves, we despise and defy all bluster and bravado of all the Seceders in the land, and intend that they shall exert no influence on our course one way or another. As pertinent to this object, we copy the following well-timed remarks from the last issue of the Petersburg Intelligencer:

“There are some men – and in exciting times they are not only numerous, but influential – who cannot conceive how any man can be brave, unless he is both mad and cruel – men who ignore calmness and prudence, and class all men who are not as excited as themselves as either cowards or enemies. Tests are constantly applied, which are not only significant but which are offensive. Good men – patriots – man who love their country and who are both willing and able to serve her, are ostracized for no better reason than that they choose to exercise their own opinions. Demagogues – men who have nothing to recommend them but their rashness and their altruism – men who, like some of the worst leaders of the French Revolution, manage to conceal their real cowardice under a great affection of courage and cruelty – not only claim that they are absolutely right, but that all others are absolutely wrong, and brand all men as cowards and traitors who have the sense to see their folly, and the manliness to tell them of it. A most offensive and tyrannical censorship of opinion is established and all men are required to adopt the prevalent dogmas of the day or run (?) the risk of being punished for their contumely. We regret to see that such a course of things is being rapidly foreshadowed in our own State. We belie that Virginians are generally – with but few, if any, exceptions – true to their native State, and true to their native South. To a man they are prepared to stand by and defend the soil and rights of their native State against all enemies. They may, and do differ as to the policy which Virginia ought to pursue – they may and do differ as to what would be best for Virginia – but still it is only because they love Virginia that they are striving to prevent her from adopting any course which, to their apprehension, would result in her injury. And surely no true son of Virginia should be censured for loving his State “too well”, even though he might no “love her wisely”. If a contest is really to be inaugurated between anarchy and order – if all persons are not willing to — blindly into any policy which may — to them, merely because it professes to be Southern – if because they appreciate and comprehend the greatness of the dangers which surround us, they insist on a careful examination before they commit themselves on any particular line of policy, they are to be branded as traitors, and hunted as wild beasts, Virginian may well tremble in view of the evils which are coming upon her.”

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