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Valley of the Shadow

Valley Spirit: 11 27, 1867

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The Pardoning Power Abused
(Column 1)
Summary: One of the numerous corrupt practices that went unchecked during ex-Governor Curtin's administration was the "flagrant" abuse of the pardoning process, assert the editors. When Gov. Geary came to power he promised to put an end to his predecessor's "system of granting wholesale pardons." Yet, despite his early efforts to change the laws regulating the procedure, he "abandoned" his plans soon after taking office.
Full Text of Article:

The abuse of the pardoning power by Governor Curtin was so extensive and unprincipled as to excite great indignation in the popular mind all over the Commonwealth. At no period in the prior history of Pennsylvania, did crime prevail to such an alarming extent as did the periods of his administration. We were engaged in a gigantic war. The basest passions of men were unchained. Almost every community felt the baneful influence o this disordered condition of society. Violence was the order of the day. Theft and robbery were common, and murders not unfrequent. In our own county, the criminal calendar was unprecedentedly large. And yet, a trial of the perpetrators of these crimes seemed but a mockery. If conviction was the result, hardly had the sentence been pronounced before Executive clemency interposed and the prison doors were thrown open. Men sensed to entertain that awful dread of punishment which is frequently the chief terror of the evil-doer. They argued that, even if justice did overtake them and pass judgement upon them within her courts, there was yet a refuge to which they might fly. Influential friends would come to the rescue and a pardon would be procured. We venture the assertion that during the administration of Governor Curtin, three out of every five who were sentenced to the penitentiary from his county, were pardoned before the expiration of their terms of imprisonment. Indeed, so flagrant had the abuse of the pardoning become in his hands, that when our present Governor was inducted into office, he felt called upon to satisfy the public mind upon this subject, and to declare that this system of granting wholesale pardons would be abandoned. He adopted the most stringent regulations upon the subject. He established certain conditions which he alleged, applicants for pardon must comply with strictly before their prayers would be heard. He caused these rules to be sent to every prosecuting officer in the Commonwealth. He gave them the widest publicity by causing them to be inserted in the daily newspapers. We print them now for the purpose of showing the people, and also of reminding the Governor himself of the good intentions which he entertained in this respect at the beginning of his official term.--They are word for word, as they were issued, signed by His Excellency and transmitted by his Attorney General, on the 31st day of January, A. D. 1867:

First.--No Pardon will be granted until notice of the application therefor shall have been given by publication once a week for two consecutive weeks, in a newspaper printed in the county in which the conviction was had.

Second.--No pardon will be granted unless notice of the application shall have been given to the Judge who tried the cause, to the District Attorney or to the Attorney who prosecuted. Proof of which notice shall be furnished this Department

Third.--All applications for pardon must have with them the following papers written in a clear and distinct hand:

1. A certified copy of the whole record including docket entries, minutes of the Court, copy of indictment, pleas, and all other papers on file in the Court relating to the case.

2. A full statement of the reasons upon which the application is based, setting forth all the facts; the notes of evidence taken on the trial; letters from responsible persons in the community where the crime was committed; a recommendation from the Jurors who sat on the trial, and if any of them refuse to recommend a pardon, reasons given for such refusal; letters from the District Attorney or Counsel who tried the case; and a letter from the Judge setting forth his views upon the subject of the application.

Fourth.--Recommendations for Pardons for unexpired terms of sentence must have a copy of the whole record, as before required. Also copy of commitment; petition from prisoner setting forth reasons; and statement from Warden and inspectors of Prison.

Fifth.--No personal applications will be permitted.

Sixth.--All of the above papers, when submitted must be accompanied by a printed copy of same in pamphlet form, twelve copies of which, at least, must be sent to this Department. If the parties are too poor the Paper Book need not be printed.

Seventh.--As these rules are intended to subserve the administration of justice they will be strictly enforced, and relaxed only when good reasons shall be furnished for doing so.

The publications of these regulation gave promise of a healthy change in the mode of granting pardons. The law-abiding citizens of the Commonwealth were rejoiced. They felt that henceforth there would be something to deter men from the commission of flagrant violations of the laws. The surest preventive of crime is the certainty of punishment, not the severity of it. A rigid compliance with these published regulations would have subserved the ends of justice admirably, by teaching criminals that the pardoning power of the Executive could not be considered a loop-hole through which they might escape. But this publication was a mere blind. It was a mere bid for popular favor. Or, if ever the Governor entertained the idea of requiring conformity to these rules, he abandoned it very soon. Scarcely had they been issued before several convictions of the Governor's party friends took place for riot, and hardly had the sentence been pronounced, before the power of the Governor was interposed and the guilty parties were shielded from punishment.--Numerous pardons have been issued since, to parties in different parts of the State, without any notice whatever having been taken of these prescribed rules. And only ten or twelve days ago, in the Court of Quarter Sessions of the City of Philadelphia, a trial took place, in which one William Carson was the defendant, charged for keeping a gambling house. For many years there had not been a single conviction in that city for this offence. It seemed impossible to bring such guilty parties to punishment. The evidence in this case was clear. The District Attorney appealed eloquently to the jury to make an example of this man, so as to put the seal of judicial condemnation upon the nefarious business in which he was engaged. A verdict of guilty was the result, and the sentence of the court was promptly pronounced. Hardly an hour elapsed after the sentence, until Carson was a free man, the pardon of Governor Geary, procured in advance of the conviction, having set at nought the whole proceedings of the court. Certainly this was a case in which the regulations given above, so solemnly prescribed by the Governor, should have been rigidly enforced. Will the public excuse such a relaxation of his fixed rules? With a reputation already established for complicity in the Fort Delaware ballot box stuffing affair, the Governor can not afford to repeat these violations of his own regulations, outrage the popular sense of justice and nullify the solemn judgements of the courts, and that for the purpose of letting loose upon society the most notorious criminals. Let the laws have free course--let justice, as administered by the courts, have full sway--and let Executive clemency interpose only where clear injustice has been done, or where there are peculiar circumstances that would make clemency more an act of justice than the execution of the sentence, and for the sake of common decency as well as justice, let us have no further issuing of pardons in advance, and in anticipation of the judgement of the courts, or let us abolish courts of justice for the trial of criminal offences altogether.

Radical Inconsistency
(Column 3)
Summary: According to the editors, the Democrats' refusal to admit Tennessee's congressional delegation is based upon the same principles used by the Republicans to reject the representatives from Kentucky, who happened to be Democrats, last January. For this reason, then, the editors declare the Republicans to be hypocrites bent upon maintaining their power.

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Local and Personal--Purchased A Farm
(Column 1)
Summary: Joseph C. Clugston, of Greenvillage, purchased Dr. Dorsey's 145 acres limestone farm last week.
(Names in announcement: Dr. Dorsey, Joseph C. Clugston)
Local and Personal--Robbery
(Column 1)
Summary: Notes that an "old citizen" named Loudenachlager was knocked down and robbed in Wolffstown by two black men, an occurrence the editors say has become "all too common."
(Names in announcement: Loudenachlager)
Local and Personal--Serious Accident
(Column 1)
Summary: It is reported that David Eby suffered a serious accident last week in Fulton county while driving his four-horse team in the neighborhood of Licking Creek. Eby was a few miles from McConnellsburg when slipped from his wagon while attempting to slow the vehicle. Eby sustained severe bruising of his leg but broke no bones. He was attended to by J. G. Feimlee and brought to Mr. McDonald's hotel to recover.
(Names in announcement: David Eby, McDonald, J. G. Feimlee)
Local and Personal--Chambersburg Building Association
(Column 1)
Summary: Relates that the Chambersburg Building Association was organized and its officers elected at the Nov. 20th meeting.
(Names in announcement: George Eyster, William D. Guthrie, B. F. Nead, Calvin Gilbert, H. L. Maurer, Jacob Henninger, Dr. W. H. Boyle)
Full Text of Article:

On Wednesday evening the 20th inst. a meeting of the citizens of this borough was held in the Court House for the purpose of organizing an association to be called "The Chambersburg Building Association."--The attendance was tolerably large, but not as large as it should have been. The association was permanently organized. The following officers were elected for the year beginning the third Monday of this month: President, Geo. Eyster esq.; Vice President, Wm. D. Guthrie; Treasurer, B. F. Nead; Secretary, Calvin Gilbert; Directors, B. I. Maurer, Jacob Henniger, Wm. D. Guthrie, B. F. Nead and Dr. W. H. Boyle. The association has thus been fairly launched upon its career, which we hope and believe will be one of great usefulness. Its object is, as stated in its Constitution, "the accumulation of a fund by the savings of the members thereof, sufficient to enable every stockholder to invest his savings safely and speedily, and to purchase Real Estate, or to invest the same as it may be deemed by him most profitable." Any citizen of the State aged 21 years, who buys one or more shares of stock, and signs the Constitution and by-laws, may become a member. The number of shares of capital stock shall bot exceed 1600. The association has limited the number at present to 500. No person can take more than ten shares. Every member pays for each share 25 cents entry money, and a weakly contribution of 50 cents for each share. As soon as $250, or more shall be found in the Treasury, it shall be offered in open meeting of the members and shall be paid to such member who pays the highest premium for the same, and all premiums paid shall be for the benefit of the association. Security is required in lands or buildings and in the latter case, the insurance policy must be assigned to the association.

Every possible precaution is taken to insure safety to the members for the monies which they invest. The chief thing necessary to make this association a paying institution is the exercise of great caution as to the security, taken for the money given out. It will be a great convenience to men who purpose building. They here have the opportunity of borrowing money and paying for it in small weekly installments until the whole amount is liquidated, instead of being pressed by some creditor who needs his money and enforces payment by regular process of law. On Monday night, the first payment on the shares was made we are informed that there is every reason to believe that all the shares will soon be taken.

Local and Personal--Anniversary
(Column 2)
Summary: Notes that the second anniversary of the McMurray Lodge No. 119, of the I. O. G. T., will be held on Wednesday evening.
Local and Personal--Still Another
(Column 2)
Summary: Informs readers that Seth Wilber Payne, who is on "a grand trip" from New York to San Francisco, left Shippensburg on Nov. 25th for Loudon. Apparently, Payne intends on documenting his trek in a book to be published in the near future.
Local and Personal--Centenary Meeting In Upper Path Valley
(Column 2)
Summary: Reports that the centenary celebration of the Presbyterian Congregation of Upper Path Valley, held on Nov. 19 and 20, was well attended.
(Names in announcement: Rev. W. A. West, Rev. J. Smith Gordon, Rev. Isaac Hays, Rev. W. C. Kuhn)
Local and Personal--The Peak Family
(Column 3)
Summary: Announces that the Peak Family, a "widely known Company of Swiss Bell Ringers," will perform in Repository Hall on Dec. 6 and 7.
Local and Personal--Wolf Caught
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Summary: After catching a young female wolf in his trap, Abraham Rosenberry was in the "act of dispatching her with an axe" when he was attacked by a pack of fifteen wolves, and was forced to make a hasty retreat. According to reports, there are eighteen wolves roaming the woods nearby.
(Names in announcement: Abraham Rosenberry, John Weaver, Andrew Fricker, Jacob Horn, John Horn)
Local and Personal--Real Estate Sales
(Column 3)
Summary: Lists recent real estate sales. Last Tuesday, William Gelwicks sold his house and lot on Second St. to B. A. Cormany for $1,600; on Nov. 21st, William Gillan's executors sold two of his farms at public auction; John Karper purchased the 177 acres plot for $58 an acres and Henry Stouffer bought the adjoining 183 acres plot for $37.75 an acres; Diana Lewis sold her property on North Main St. for $252; David Brandt sold the Antrim Hotel to Jacob L. Detrich; Jacob Deardorff purchased Dr. H. R. Fetterhoff's property on West Baltimore St. in Greencastle for $2,700; Robert Campbell acquired at public auction a 73 acres slate farm from Matthew Coulter's estate for $45 and acres.
(Names in announcement: William Gelwicks, B. A. Cormany, Henry Stouffer, John Karper, Diana Lewis, David Brandt, Jacob L. Detrich, Dr. H. R. Fetterhoff, Jacob Deardorff, Matthew Coulter, Robert Campbell)
Local and Personal--Sad Casuality
(Column 3)
Summary: The author of the article laments the passing of Augustus Youst, the twenty-year old son of William Youst, who died from injuries he suffered while unharnessing a horse on Nov. 15th. Youst served during the Civil War, enlisting first with Pa. Cavalry in Company D, 21st, Reg't, for six months and later in Company E of the same regiment for two years befoe being honorably discharged at the end of the rebellion.
(Names in announcement: William Youst, Augustus Youst)
(Column 5)
Summary: On Oct. 30th, Frederick Mish and Priscilla Nave were married by Rev. D. Sheffer.
(Names in announcement: Frederick Mish, Priscilla Nave, Rev. D. Sheffer)
(Column 5)
Summary: On Nov. 18th, Joseph J. Shaffer, of Frederick Co., Maryland, and Mary J. Prim were married by Rev. S. H. C. Smith.
(Names in announcement: Joseph J. Shaffer, Mary J. Prim, Rev. S. H. C. Smith)
(Column 5)
Summary: On Nov. 20th, John S. Nimmon and Sarah A. Flickinger were married by Rev. William A. West, who was assisted by Rev. I. N. Hays.
(Names in announcement: John S. Nimmon, Sarah A. Flickinger, Rev. William A. West)
(Column 5)
Summary: On Nov. 21st, Jonas B. Zimmerman, of Cumberland Co., and Anna Hege were married by Rev. B. S. Schneck.
(Names in announcement: Jonas B. Zimmerman, Anna Hege, Rev. B. S. Schneck)
(Column 5)
Summary: On Nov. 9th, James W. Holliday, 70, died at Dry Run.
(Names in announcement: James W. Holliday)
(Column 5)
Summary: On Nov. 22nd, Susannah, consort of Capt. John Coble, died in St. Thomas. Susannah was 70 years old.
(Names in announcement: Susannah Coble, Capt. John Coble)

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