Just for Curiosity: Pre-War Newspaper Comparison

alan polk

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#81
The Yazoo Democrat, September 3, 1859.

Below: Article describing massive flow of settlers into the Territories and California. I’m not sure if descriptions are exaggerated or not. Nevertheless, I assume it largely describes settlers from the Northern states.
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alan polk

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#82
The New York Herald, October 1, 1859

Below: Discussion regarding Opposition strategy in US House of Representatives.

The Opposition Party was made up largely of former Whigs, Know Nothings and other factions. The one common denominator between them, it seems, was hatred for the Democratic Party, especially Pierce and Buchanan.

In the South, Opposition members were found largely in Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky, forming a third party in the region. In 1860, many of them would merge with the Constitutional Union Party.

Nevertheless, the Southern Opposition supported slavery but opposed secession, and, according to Wikipedia, represented the last chance for Southerners to stand up against Southern Democrats.

In 1858, 19 Opposition candidates from across the country were elected to the House of Representatives, creating a situation where neither Republicans or Democrats had a majority.

The article below describes options for the Democrats to sway them to their side and the Opposition’s strategy to gain the Presidency in 1860.

It appears that the Anti-Lecompton Democrats, listed in the chart below, represented Douglas Democrats.

At any rate, the article examines the strategies proffered by Opposition candidate Henry Winter Davis and the Richmond Whig for placing a successful candidate in the 1860 election.

The crux of the strategy is to form alliances in the House. Davis suggests uniting with Northern members who opposed Pierce and who now oppose Buchanan; to displace Seward’s sectionalism and put forth a man not offensive to either North or South. Through this strategy, they can expose the corruption of Democrats and make a run for President in 1860.

The Richmond Whig suggests that the “Southern opposition members of Congress should not hesitate a single moment about uniting with the republicans in the organization of the House.”

The above strategy is suggested precisely because it would prevent a Democratic organization in the House. By uniting and organizing with Republicans in such a manner, then the House could devote “one-half or three-fourths of the coming session to ferreting out and exposing the corruption and rascalities that have been practiced by the officials and employees of the administration.”

The editor thinks it a decent strategy, but thinks the Opposition might fritter away its resources by having to deal with Republican abstractions regarding slavery. Nevertheless, “Upon this little question the whole issue depends; and, upon the stumbling block of slavery, the republicans, with all their apparent advantages, may be swamped in Congress and in the Presidential election.”
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alan polk

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#83
The Yazoo Democrat, October 1, 1859

Below: Letter to the editors asking the Yazoo Democrat to explain the positions of the Southern Opposition. It appears to be part sarcastic and part serious.

Again, Seward seems to be the person Southerners anticipate getting the Republican nomination.

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alan polk

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#84
The Yazoo Democrat, October 1, 1859

Below: Mississippi Democratic Platform.

These resolutions state the following:

To announce the proper interpretation of the “Non-Intervention” policy as originally intended by the National Democratic platform in 1856; affirms Dred Scott and states its relation to the latter; resolves to stand united with other Southern states in demanding Congressional protection in the area of slavery, as well as announcing concert of action with those same sister states, by whatever means, to maintain its rights as co-equal members of the Union if Republicans gain the Presidency; and, finally, calls for the US to consider the acquisition of Cuba as a “commercial and political necessity.”

In regards to the correct interpretation of Non- Intervention, the resolution states it “does not, nor was it intended to, conflict with the assertion of the power of Congress” to protect slavery in the Territories.

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alan polk

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#85
New York Herald, October 2, 1859

Resolutions by the New York Democratic Party.

Below: As in Mississippi, the New York Democrats lists their party platforms.

However, the Democratic Party in New York was split, giving rise to separate wings of the party, known as the “Hards” and the “Softs.”

Although the two wings differed as to domestic policy, they were, however, united in their collective disgust of William Seward and his (as they deemed it) dangerous policy of “Irrepressible Conflict.” As a consequence, both wings of the New York Democracy thought Seward’s ideas “fatal and treasonable,” or as demagoguery and “incendiary.”

The critical difference between the two wings lies within the concept of “Non-Intervention.” Specifically, the role of the Federal Government in the Territories as regards slavery.

The Hards essentially viewed that the various compromises were rightfully settled upon under the Constitution and were properly construed by the Supreme Court. As a result, the Constitution “should be rightfully maintained and promptly enforced by the executive powers of the Federal Government in every state and Territory, and that the duty will apply to the protection of persons and property in the Territories.”

Conversely, the Softs denied “the right of any party except the democracy of the nation, in convention assembled, to add to or abridge this creed of the party [Non-Intervention]. This creed, so far as regards the question of slavery in the Territories, leaves such questions as belonging to the courts to the construction of the judiciary; and Congress on that subject has no power, the democracy regarding the interference of that body to exclude the South from participating in the Territories, and the proposition for a Congressional slave code, as equally repugnant to the spirit of the constitution, and uncalled for by any consideration of public expediency.”


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alan polk

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#86
The Yazoo Democrat, October 2, 1859

Below: Reprint of article summing up Douglas’ position.

To the South, such a position was little different than that of the Republicans. In essence, though the process of denying equal treatment may be different, the Douglas position also encourages unequal treatment of one section of the country toward another. Such treatment was increasingly seen by the South as acts of hostility toward it and it alone.
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alan polk

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#88
The New York Herald, October 18, 1859.

The John Brown Raid occurred on October 17. Apparently, the news of the raid came through after the Herald’s October 17 issue had gone to press. The entire October 17 issue was devoted to reporting on the 1st Cortina War being waged in
and around Brownsville, Texas.

Below: On the next day’s issue, however, the Herald published each report regarding John Brown’s raid as the news came to them over the wire on the 17th.

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alan polk

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#89
Yazoo Democrat, November 5, 1859

Below: Mention of US v. Amy (A Slave)

Amy, a Virginia slave, was charged with the Federal offense of stealing a letter from the United States’ mails, a felony carrying 2-10 years. It appears that if found guilty the slave would be removed to Washington DC to serve sentence. The slave’s owner hired a lawyer to defend her.

Found guilty, a motion for a new trial was granted and the case was heard by the Virginia Circuit Court. Interestingly, Chief Justice Taney was on circuit court duty and heard the case wherein Dred Scott was cited extensively.

Amy’s owner made two major arguments. One, that a slave is not “a person” as contemplated under the Federal criminal statute.

And, two, that application of the statute would violate the slave owner’s
Rights under the taking clause and due process of law of the 5th Amendment to the Constitution.

Justice Taney disagreed, determining slaves are persons, and found the slave guilty as charged.

It appears Southerners nonetheless favored the ruling because of #5 and #6 below, although such reasoning is just an assumption on my part.
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alan polk

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#90
The New York Herald, October 31, 1859

Below: Religious Reaction to John Brown’s Raid.

Sermon delivered by Rev. Peters, Universalist Church in Williamsburg (I believe a neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY).

Peters believes that the strife growing out of the introduction of Christianity into the world was not occassioned by Christ, “but it was the inevitable result that grew out of the ‘Irrepressible Conflict’ between right and wrong, between justice and injustice, between the perversities and wickedness of men and of those . . . principles of humanity, of love, of justice, and of equality which Jesus taught.”

According to Reverend Peters, there was “no other evil in existence at the present time that could at all compare with that of slavery.”

However, he preached that charity should be extended to “slave owners and those who had grown up under the institution of slavery.” It was his opinion that although there were brutal slaveholders, “it should be borne in mind that that was not universal or even providential.”

John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry was only treasonable in technical terms. But so had been the actions of George Washington and the Revolution. Peters asserts, then, that “an act might be treasonable yet justifiable.” He sees Brown’s raid in this light.

According to Peters, the Kansas trouble is what brought about the raid on Harpers Ferry. Southerners thought their position on slavery strong. But, “Thousands of themselves did not realize their condition. They were weak and embecile, and the reason that a handful of men could put the whole South into commotion was very plain, and existed in all the governments of the world where slavery had been sustained as an institution of the government.”

Such governments, like the South, “are anxious to prevent all discussion of slavery in their midst, and to check the efforts of those who sympathized with the poor and the oppressed. The recent insurrection gave the clearest proof of that assertion.”

Reverend Peters observes that the institution of slavery in the South is “like a house with the cellar converted into a powder magazine, whose occupant was constantly fearful that a spark might get down on the powder.”

In essence, the Reverend encourages the North to approach the issue with the South in a reasonable manner. Otherwise a hasty action would be comparable to rushing into that cellar, applying the match and blowing up them and ourselves in the process.

Patience in slowly removing the powder first, for “the sake of the slaves, for the sake of their masters, for the sake of justice, of the country, of the purity of its institutions,” is suggested.
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alan polk

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#91
The New York Herald, October 31, 1859.

Below: Soon after John Brown’s raid, several articles, both North and South, began making reference to Black Republicans as “Black and Brown Republicans, or just “Brown Republicans.”

Though some articles might use it as a sort of pejorative, this one seems to use it with pride, wherein a “Brown” Republican is seen as one of action, like John Brown, as opposed to one of mere speech (Black), like William Seward.
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lelliott19

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#92
Alan thank you for providing summaries of these interesting period articles. I have to admit I am not reading entire articles, just reading your summaries and "skimming" the contents. But I find the pre-war newspaper articles very interesting and appreciate you bringing them here.
 

alan polk

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#93
The Yazoo Democrat, November 5, 1859.

Below: In this article copied from the Vicksburg Whig, it seems Vicksburg is in direct competition with Memphis to see which rail line will first make connection “with the Southern Pacific Railroad.” A dream destined for both to be crushed in a few short years by war.

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alan polk

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#96
The Yazoo Democrat, December 3, 1859.

Below: Inaugural Address of Governor Pettus

In several parts.

The first part of the speech involves education, the veto power, pardoning powers and internal improvements.

In regards to education in Mississippi, there was no such thing as public education - at least in terms that we would understand today. A clause in the State Constitution, which Pettus quotes, declares “that schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged in this state.” There were no positive laws requiring attendance. As a result, education was, in practical terms, reserved for the elite who could afford private academies locally, out of state, or abroad. Otherwise, education for those unable to pay for school was conducted in the home.

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alan polk

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#97
The Yazoo Democrat, December 3, 1859.

Pettus Inaugural Continued:

The rest of Pettus’ speech deals directly with the growing tensions between North and South. As he asserts, it is “the most important subject ever presented for consideration to the people of Mississippi. The difference in opinion between the Northern and Southern States on the subject of African slavery grew rapidly to an angry controversy, then to political conflict, and recently, has assumed the form of physical conflict in one of the Southern States [John Brown’s Raid in VA].”

Pettus declares that Brown’s raid marks “the beginning of the end of the conflict.”

Fugitive Slaves.

Not only has the anti-slavery party taken control of nearly every state legislature in the free states, Pettus argues, but “churches, societies and individuals” in the North are inciting folks to violently resist the return of fugitive slaves. In this, the states of the North are assisting.

All these actions, according to Pettus, are openly committed in violation of the constitutional rights of Southern citizens.

“The Federal Government, to which we formerly looked for the protection of our rights beyond the limits of our own State, seem either unwilling or unable to guard the rights or redress the wrongs of slave holders.”
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alan polk

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#98
The Yazoo Democrat, December 3, 1859

Pettus Speech Continued-

In the Governor’s mind, the violations of the fugitive slave laws by state actors and by private societies of the North are levied against Southern citizens in violation of their Constitutional Rights. This is being done under the nose of the Federal Government.

In this light, according to Pettus, the Southern individual becomes defenseless against these violations, which ultimately include the theft of their property, without due process or without any power with which to remedy their injury.

Here, it appears that Pettus proposes a solution through direct conflict. If the Federal Government cannot guarantee protection of a citizen’s right under the Constitution, then the Southern States should “make the cause of the citizen, the cause of the State, and enforce his constitutional rights by retaliating on the citizens of those States that have passed laws to defeat the rendition of fugitive slaves.”

Principles and Goal of Abolition:

The goal of the anti-slavery party is to wage war on the institution of slavery. At the state level, they have been emboldened in this endeavor. As a result, they are “gathering their forces to take under their control the powers of the Federal Government to pervert it from the plain purpose of its creation into an engine for the destruction of the interests of the South.”

The creed and principle of the anti-slavery party “is that the African race is by nature, and ought to be by law the social and political equal of the white race, and to this abolition Baal [master/lord] the rights of individuals and the rights of the States are to be sacrificed, and the South compelled to tolerate if she cannot be persuaded to approve.” Pettus declares that the South will have to unite together to check this growing threat.


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alan polk

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#99
The Yazoo Herald, December 3, 1859

Pettus Speech Continued-

Pettus goes on to warn his listeners of what will happen to the South if the Republicans gain control of the Federal Government: “Two thousand millions of productive capital is at once taken from her, lands become of little or no value, commerce is destroyed, her credit gone, the South will lie prostrate; impoverished and powerless at the feet of a Black Republican Government - men educated to hate the white race. Add to this the probable enforcement here of the same policy in relation to the social equality of the races which has disgraced the statue (sic) book of Massachusetts.”

Further, he observes that Northern men of wise council have long been replaced by those who “pander to fanaticism which elevated them to power.” Pettus suspects that those who had expected or hoped for a return to a sense of justice must surely be disappointed.

Whether he is invoking a political observation of the present, or whether he is noting an aspect of human nature which he thinks is timeless, I’m not certain, but Pettus goes on to declare that, “A mere sense of justice does not control the actions of a majority of States or people.” Following this line of thought, he then ponders upon New England’s political and religious history, asserting that he cannot recall “anything in the history of the Puritan fathers or their descendants which should lead reasonable men to hope to find in them an exception to the general rule.”
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alan polk

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The Yazoo Democrat, December 3, 1859.

Pettus Speech Continued-

Governor Pettus’ inaugural address continues with a theme which deals less with issues confined solely to Mississippi as an individual State, but to it’s role instead as among a united South caught in conflict with a sectional party at the North.

Governor Pettus states that the Republicans can not be trusted to safe guard Southern Rights. “The idea of binding them by oath to uphold the Constitutional guarantees for slave property, is puerile; and the expectation that the institution of slavery will be saved from destruction by the barriers of the Constitution where the Black Republican party control the affairs of the Federal Government, is as vain as the prayer of the heathen to his wooden God.”

Turning his attention to William Seward, who is considered at this time to be the one who will likely receive the Republican nomination in 1860, Pettus encourages Mississippians to join a united South in order “to meet him in arguments or in arms.” Pettus also insists that upon the Republican sectional banner is inscribed “Equality of Races,” and that this should be met by a national banner instead which declares, “Superiority and Supremacy of the White Man.”

Governor Pettus believes that this “will rally a million of free white men in the North, and the cry of ‘save this glorious Union’ will be raised even in the Black Republican camp; and throughout the Northern States, the motive power of self-interest, combined with justice and patriotism, will be awakened to renewed energy and activity; and before these, when thoroughly aroused, the league of ambition and fanaticism must go down.”

As part of all this, Pettus suggests that a South united together could show the North that if they choose to follow abolition leaders, the probable result will be the loss of “an unrestricted commercial intercourse with the Southern States, and self-preservation will compel them to retract their steps and do justice to the South.”
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