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Valley of the Shadow

Valley Spirit: January 22, 1868

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Another Turn of the Radical Wheel
(Column 01)
Summary: Again attacks the Radicals in Congress, especially their plans to limit the effectiveness of the Supreme Court and the President. The paper discusses the manipulation and weakening of the Supreme Court, and even fears the latter may be legislated out of existence. The article includes a long excerpt from the New York Times expressing a similar opinion.
Full Text of Article:

The Radicals in Congress seem determined to impose severer tasks upon the forbearance of the American people than even those to which they have heretofore been subjected. The new amendments to the Reconstruction acts propose to set aside both the President and the Supreme Court, and to devolve their duties upon the General of the Army, making him at once the interpreter and the executor of the laws. This government, once believed by all intelligent Americans to be "the best devised by the wisdom of man," has, when tried in the crucible of Radicalism, been found so full of dross as not to be worth preserving. All its three branches are to be melted down into one. The Executive and the Judiciary are practically to be done away with, and Congress, with the aid of such tools as it may choose to employ, is to make, interpret and execute the laws.

In nothing has the revolutionary spirit of Radicalism displayed itself more conspicuously than in the Congressional legislation in regard to the Supreme Court. When the Radicals got possession of the Executive and Legislative branches of the Government, they found a majority on the Supreme Bench opposed to their law-defying schemes. Following the example of a tyrannical English King who created new Peers when he found his measures rejected by the House of Lords, the Radical Congress added to the number of Judges. Subsequently, when it was found that even this high-minded packing of the Court had not sufficed to make it rapidly Radical in all cases, and when, on a comparison of the ages and physical condition of the Judges, it was supposed that the first among them to die off would be conservatives, an act was passed providing for the gradual reduction of the Supreme Bench to a less number than it was composed of when the Radical Congress had solemnly decided that the public interests demanded an increase! One of the conservative Judges has since passed away, and, under the law, his seat has remained vacant. But with all this the Radicals do not feel secure. So little faith have they in the constitutionality of their acts, that they are afraid to submit them to the test which all acts of Congress have heretofore been required to stand.--They have passed a bill requiring the concurrence of two-thirds of the whole number of Judges on the Supreme bench, before any law of Congress shall be declared unconstitutional. If this shall be found ineffectual to secure their acts against condemnation by the highest judicial authority in the country, they will go a step further, and, as proposed by Congressman Williams, of this State, require a unanimous decision of the Court to nullify an act of Congress.--And if at any time a unanimous decision should be rendered against one of their pet measures,they will forthwith adopt an amendment to the Constitution abolishing the Court itself. This is what they are getting at by "regular approach." This is what they would do now if they did not apprehend that the people would be startled by it. Their calculation is that by gradually undermining the powers of the Court, they will at length, if in their opinion it be necessary, be able to abolish it altogether.

What have the people to say about all this? have they so little respect for the Government established by Washington and other patriots of the Revolution, that they are willing to see it overturned by a fragmentary Congress that does not even represent the majority of the section from which its members come? If the people of the United States really feel that reverence for their institutions which they have always professed, they will not much longer tolerate these assaults by the Radical Congress upon the Executive and Judicial branches of the Government. There is a point at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue, and in our opinion that point has been reached. There is also a point at which forbearance becomes a crime, and it does seem as if the Radicals were blindly bent on dragging the people to that point. It remains to be seen whether the people will commit the crime of forbearing to save the Constitution and Government from utter subversion.

We are glad to find that this assault of the Radical Congress upon a co-ordinate branch of the Government meets the condemnation of sober-minded Republicans.--We ask the attention of thinking members of the Republican party to the following from one of their leading journals:

From the New York Times.

The extremists are reckless, if not desperate. For twelve months past they have been engaged in tying the hands of the President and stripping him of authority conferred by the Constitution; and now they are about to attempt the same operation upon the Supreme Court, with the view of preventing an adverse decision upon the reconstruction acts.

On the part of those who share the views of Mr. Stevens, the talked-of measure will be consistent. Whatever else may be charged against them, they at least have not resorted to false pretenses to justify the Congressional policy. No constitutional scruple has been allowed to stand in their way.--They have boldly confessed that policy unconstitutional and have rested its defence upon the plea of revolutionary necessity.--The Constitution, according to their theory, is for the time subject to the higher law of the conqueror, as interpreted by a partisan majority. If essential to their plans, they would disregard every constitutional right of the Executive, and make the Supreme Court in all things subservient to their will.

If this project prevail, the higher attributes of the court will be destroyed. The principle will be, in effect, affirmed that partisan exigencies, real or supposed, constitute the supreme law; that the court, created by the Constitution in part to judge of the validity of Congressional action, shall henceforward be powerless, whatever the character of that action may be. Today the proposition is that, instead of a majority of the judges, two-thirds of the whole shall concur; to-morrow, if necessary, the concurrence of all may be required. There is no limit to the interference if it be commenced--no restriction save that which a majority of the dominant party may for the moment impose upon themselves. They proclaim that they may enact what they please, and may obviate objection on the ground of unconstitutionality by usurping power to mould the decisions of the court in any shape which to themselves may seem best. If it be unmanageable after exacting a two-thirds judgement, or a unanimous judgement, the number of judges may be increased; and thus, by one device or another, the independent jurisdiction of the court may be destroyed.

No more significant commentary on the reconstruction legislation--no more startling illustration of the unscrupulousness which actuates the Radical leaders--can be conceived, than that which this affair affords. The cowardice as well as the bravado of guilt is stamped upon its face. It shows an utter absence of confidence in the constitutional efficacy of the measures which are applicable to the South, and an utter want of moral courage to uphold the principles that are involved. A consciousness of right usually inspires calmness and strength, and the party which realizes it seldom shrinks from the contingencies incident to political warfare. These extreme Radicals, however, seem to shut their eyes when they rush ahead. They are afraid of the ground they tread upon, and of phantoms at every turn. Now it is of the President, of the district commanders, and yet again of the Supreme Court. We suspect that they also begin to fear the people in whose name they act, and whose instinctive sense of justice revolts against the abuse of their delegated power. The idea seems to prevail in the Reconstruction and Judiciary Committees that there is no time to lose. The thing called reconstruction must be pushed through, even though it be necessary to muzzle the Supreme Court judges.

How the Court will treat the attack upon its independence remains to be seen. It is not likely to respect or to obey a law which interferes with its constitutional function, notoriously for the accomplishment of an unconstitutional purpose? What then?--Suppose the Court by a majority of its members, declares the reconstruction acts constitutionally invalid, and refuses to recognize as constitutional the law defining the conditions of a judgement? Will Congress, having failed to legislate the Court into compliance, undertake to legislate it out of existence? Will a party majority make the General-in-Chief the judge of the Judges, as well as the superior of the President?--Will they at last avow their contempt for the Constitution and their resolve to proceed regardless of its provisions? To this position their steps unquestionably tend, and the only influence that can restrain them will be fear for their own safety. Of what possible value, then, will be the policy of Congress when pushed to extremities? A party whose leaders trample on the Constitution because it impedes their operations cannot long retain the confidence of the country, and when their overthrow comes--as come it must--what will be the fate of their policy? what the upshot of their plotting and legislating and usurping? These are inquiries which concern more than themselves, for they indicate the reopening of the Southern question and the reconstructing of reconstruction, as consequences of the recklessness which marks the Radical programme.

Out of Work
(Column 02)
Summary: Laments the amount of unemployed workers in Pennsylvania and the rest of the North. Claims Radical policies have depressed not only the South but also the North because now the South cannot buy Northern products like it used to. Also takes a stab at black southerners by saying they should get out of the political arena and stay on their farms.
Full Text of Article:

Early in the winter fifty thousand working people, whose daily bread was bought by daily labor, were reported to be out of employment in the city of New York alone. Later accounts inform us that thousands of men have been thrown out of work in Pittsburg and the manufacturing towns of Western Pennsylvania. The same is true of all cities and manufacturing towns in the Northern and Western States. Meanwhile almost everything that is consumed in the families of working men keeps up in price, and house rents are actually advancing nearly everywhere. To make matters still worse, the weather has been uncommonly severe, requiring more clothing and more fuel than usual to keep the body warm. The present winter will long be remembered by poor and unemployed people who manage to survive it.

Why are hundreds of thousands of industrious mechanics and laboring men in the North now out of work? Is not our country as large as it ever was? Are not the various products of Northern industry as much needed as ever they were? Is there not, in fact, owing to the destruction and the suspension of supply caused by the war, greater scarcity of farming implements and machinery in general than for many years past, especially in the South and South-west? Why then does silence reign in so many Northern workshops, and why are thousands of Northern workmen reduced to the verge of starvation?

The South was the best customer of the North. She did very little manufacturing. Her furniture, her dry goods, her carriages, her wagons, her farming implements, her iron, her machinery of all kinds, were drawn from the industrial hives of the North.--Fertile as is her soil, she did not produce enough of wheat for her own consumption. Rapidly as cattle and hogs multiplied and fattened in her genial climate, she did not cure enough of beef and pork for her own use. Flour, bacon, and mess beef were supplied to her by the teeming West. Her capital and labor were mainly devoted to the production of cotton and sugar, and with the proceeds of these she bought the products of the North.

If, at the close of the war the Southern States had been permitted to fall back quietly into their places in the Union, and the Southern people had been permitted to resume their former avocations without being plagued to death with disfranchisement and threats of confiscation, the business of that section would have leaped forward all the more buoyantly on account of its long and constrained interruption, and the demand for the products of Northern industry would have exceeded all previous experience. This would have been particularly the case if the negroes, instead of being invited to take part in political affairs and to fool away their time on matters beyond their comprehension, had been given to understand that the liberty they had gained meant liberty to work and to enjoy the legitimate fruits of their toil.

As it is, the South is too poor to buy the things we make to sell. Her white people are given no rest, and her negroes, fed by the Freedmen's Bureau at the expense of the public treasury, have been taught to believe that henceforth their mission is to govern the country and be maintained by it.--Hence it is that our workshops are silent. Hence it is that several hundred thousand Northern mechanics and laboring men are this day out of work, and many of them out of bread.

Few States feel this cutting down of trade with the South more sensibly than Pennsylvania. The Eastern half of our State sent its products out of the port of Philadelphia to the various Southern cities on the Atlantic coast, whence they were distributed to the interior, to the amount of millions every month. The Western half sent its products from Pittsburgh and neighboring places down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, also to the amount of millions per month. These products of the industry of Pennsylvania were bought by the Southern planters--the late slave owners--the very class against whom Radical vengeance is specially directed. In crushing the planters, the Radical Congress has crushed our best customers and cut off our trade, and condemned thousands of our most industrious citizens to idleness and want. Let every man who feels an interest in the prosperity of the North bear in mind that the stagnation in business from which every branch of industry is suffering is the result of Radical misrule.

[No Title]
(Column 02)
Summary: The paper reports that Mr. Williams, the Radical candidate for Supreme Court Judge, declined to vote for himself. "We suppose the poor fellow read Mrs. Swisshelm's account of him in the Repository and was so supremely disgusted with himself that he hadn't the heart to vote in his own favor."
(Names in announcement: Mr. Williams)
Stanton in the War Office
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Summary: The paper reports that Stanton snuck back into the War Department to re-occupy his old office. The editors denounce General Grant for aiding him.
Surveyor General
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Summary: The Spirit endorses John M. Cooper, of their newspaper, as candidate for Surveyor General.
(Names in announcement: John M. Cooper)
The Unconstitutionality of the Reconstruction Acts Admitted
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Summary: The Spirit reprints an article asserting that even some Radical Republicans admit the unconstitutionality of the reconstruction acts.
Origin of Article: Springfield Republican

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Church Dedication
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Summary: Orrstown is dedicating a new Lutheran Church.
The Burning of Chambersburg
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Summary: The Spirit announces that Major H. R. Hershberger of Chambersburg is painting a panorama depicting the burning of the town during the war. He is planning to exhibit it widely in Franklin and surrounding counties.
(Names in announcement: Maj. H. R. Hershberger)
Burglars About
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Summary: Thieves recently broke into the offices of Hazlett and Kohler.
(Names in announcement: Hazlett, Kohler)
Sudden Death
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Summary: John Berryhill died suddenly at age 85 in the Chambersburg residence of his son-in-law, Col. D. O. Gehr.
(Names in announcement: John Berryhill, Col. D. O. Gehr)
Court Proceedings
(Column 01)
Summary: Court proceedings began on Monday, and, according to the Spirit, the "usual number of Negroes could be seen congregated in and about the Court House." The following cases were tried: Commonwealth vs Mary Pentz, Surety of the Peace Sophia Riddle, Prosecutrix--the case was dropped, costs divided between both parties. Stenger and Sharpe prosecuted, Kimmell defended. William Stoner went on trial for the shooting of David Montgomery in Wolffstown, Stenger and Duncan prosecuting, Sharpe and Brewer defending.
(Names in announcement: Mary Pentz, Sophia Riddle, Stenger, Sharpe, Kimmell, William Stoner, David Montgomery, Duncan, Brewer)
(Column 02)
Summary: The following were re-appointed to the board of the First National Bank of Greencastle: J. C. McLanahan, Jacob Shook, George W. Zeigler, John Rowe, John Ruthrauff, A. B. Wingerd, John Wilhelm, S. A. Bradley, Jason B. Crowell, Benjamin Snively, and Jesse Craig.
(Names in announcement: J. C. McLanahan, Jacob Shook, George W. Zeigler, John Rowe, John Ruthrauff, A. B. Wingerd, John Wilhelm, S. A. Bradley, Jason B. Crowell, Benjamin Snively, Jesse Craig)
Origin of Article: Echo
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Summary: John M. Gilmore of Chambersburg and Miss Ellie Applegit of Bridgeton, NJ, were married in NJ by the Rev. Beadle.
(Names in announcement: John M. Gilmore, Ellie Applegit)
(Column 03)
Summary: John Mackey and Miss Clementine Basore, both of Fannettsburg were married on January 8th by the Rev. J. Smith Gordon.
(Names in announcement: John Mackey, Clementine Basore, Rev. J. Smith Gordon)
(Column 03)
Summary: William H. Mackey and Mrs. Maggie E. Keblin, both of Dry Run, were married on January 8th by the Rev. William A. West.
(Names in announcement: William H. Mackey, Maggie E. Keblin, Rev. William A. West)
(Column 03)
Summary: John F. Johnston and Maggie M. Besore, daughter of Henry Besore of Waynesboro, were married by the Rev. W. E. Krebs.
(Names in announcement: John F. Johnston, Maggie M. Besore, Henry Besore, Rev. W. E. Krebs)
(Column 03)
Summary: Catherine Angle, wife of William Angle, died on January 7th at Welsh Run. She was 67 years old.
(Names in announcement: Catherine Angle, William Angle)