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Valley of the Shadow

Valley Spirit: December 9, 1868

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The Present Session of Congress
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Summary: Comments on the opening of the 40th Congress, gives much commentary on a possible amendment which would enfranchise all blacks across the country. Says the amendment would be a clear violation of States rights, especially for states which have already voted against such measures. Also fears Radicals will keep Democratic Southerners out of Congress and retain some Southern States under military rule indefinitely.
Full Text of Article:

Last Monday the second session of the Fortieth Congress began. What a blessing it would be if every member had gone to Washington imbued with an earnest desire to legislate for the best interests of the country. Can this be expected of the men who compose this body? We fear not.--After indulging in the wildest fanaticism last winter, that fanaticism culminating in the attempted impeachment of the President, it is idle to expect that its proceedings during the coming session will be characterized by any conservatism whatever. The majority of its members are the champions of the so-called progressive ideas enunciated by Wendell Phillips and Thaddeus Stevens. Their chief aim is to enfranchise every colored man in the Union. A few desire this because of an honest belief in the capacity of the negro to assist in carrying on our government. Some regard him as fully qualified to govern. But the great body of these men hold to this doctrine, and advocate it, in order to strengthen the hands of the Radical party and insure a permanent retention of power. Take away from them the prospect of securing the negro vote, and they would become the bitter enemies of the proposition to put the ballot into the hands of the black man. Their recent experience in manipulating this class of voters in the Southern States has confirmed their views as to the element of Radical strength. They will, therefore, favor an extension of negro suffrage in the Northern States. We anticipate a lively agitation of this subject during the coming session. Emboldened by the result of the Presidential election, they will push this doctrine to the extreme. An amendment to the Constitution will be introduced into Congress and submitted to the States, by which the negro will be clothed with the right of suffrage in every State of the Union. The States through their Legislatures will be called upon to adopt the amendment. And inasmuch as the Radicals have a majority in three-fourths of the State Legislatures, the danger is that three-fourths of the States will respond affirmatively to the call. It will not surprise us in the least, if, before General Grant is inaugurated President of the United States, the right of suffrage be guaranteed to the negro in every State, by an amendment to the Constitution.

Can any one conceive of a greater outrage than this would be? Take for instance the Legislature of Pennsylvania. A majority of its members are Radicals. These men were elected without any reference to this question of negro suffrage. It was not involved in the canvass. Many of them made distinct denials of any disposition to favor this doctrine. The constituents of some privately demanded positive assurance that they would oppose any such proposition.--Many votes were cast by Conservative Republicans with fear and trembling in regard to this issue. With what horror will such people now regard the notion of these very men if they allow themselves to be governed by the of party leaders and betray the confidence reposed in them by their constituents! How can any one regard such neglect on the part of the Legislature as just to the people of this Commonwealth who have never had an opportunity to give expression to their opinions and wishes upon the question? Are we to have negro suffrage forced upon us in spite of our hostility to it? Is there to be an opportunity afforded to the people to vote upon this question? We very much fear that Congress intends to constitute itself a Directory to regulate the domestic affairs of each State.

And if this conduct would be unfair in relation to Pennsylvania, how much more unfair would it be toward a State whose people have rejected negro suffrage at the polls? Take Ohio as an instance, where the proposition to strike the word "white" out of the Constitution was defeated by fifty thousand majority. It is true the Ohio Legislature is Democratic and need not be expected to ratify the proposed amendment. But if three-fourths of the State Legislatures ratify the amendment, it will be law in Ohio as well as in the other States. As well blot out all State lines and State institutions and convert "the United States" into "the American Government" at once. if the expressed wishes of a people of a Sovereign State can be so utterly disregarded and trampled upon. The same is true of Kansas and Minnesota except that in those States the Legislatures have Radical majorities and will ratify the amendment in defiance of the will of the people. Can such things be? Eight years ago the proposition would have astounded the whole nation.--But now, alas! the people have become so accustomed to the innovations of the Federal Government that they have ceased to wonder at anything, and the great danger is that they have become willing to surrender their most sacred rights and dearest liberties to the custody of a set of fanatics, who, by their "progressive" ideas, are driving the country to ruin as rapidly as it can possibly be done.

But the legislation of the present Congress is not only to be feared in relation to negro-suffrage. The danger is that it will undertake to keep three States of the South out of the Union for an indefinite period. In his annual report, Grant says that the troops are still needed in the South. For what? If civil governments are to be restored in Virginia, Mississippi and Texas, what necessity will there be to have those States overrun with military forces? It looks very much as though they are to be yet held as conquered territories, thereby affording a rich opportunity for experimental legislation on the part of Congress.

But even in those States of the South which have been restored nominally to their rights under the constitution, the military power still rules. The peace which Grant longed and prayed for is theirs, and that peace is the silence of the laws amid the clangor of arms. An effort will be made by some of the Radical members of Congress to prevent all Democrats elected from the South, from taking their seats. Whilst the negro from Louisiana will be received with open arms, the Democratic whites will be turned back or turned out by the fanaticism which rules the hour. On such evil times have we fallen, that the men in high places have no regard for the expression of the people's will if it be in opposition to their own political theories.

Elections held in accordance with all the forms of law are treated as nullities unless they subserve the purposes of the Radical party. The election of Grant has put deliverance from all these evils beyond the reach of the American people for four years to come. That result furnishes the Radicals all the encouragement they desire to proceed with their "progressive" ideas. They claim that the people have endorsed their action thus far, and that this is an assurance that they are willing to trust them further, and are desirous that they should go ahead in the way in which they have begun. We are prepared, therefore, for all sorts of wild, Radical propositions. It would not surprise us much to see a bill introduced into Congress to abolish the Constitution of the United States. It is practically superseded at any rate, and it might as well be put out of the road altogether.

Secretary McCulloch's Report
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Summary: The paper reports the contents of Secretary of the Treasury McCulloch's report in which he calls for an end to paper money as legal tender, discusses the lack of internal revenue, and remarks upon rising public debt. The Spirit's editors criticize the government on the last two points.
School Houses for Night Meetings
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Summary: The Spirit criticizes a resolution passed by the Chambersburg Teachers Institute discouraging the practice of allowing night meetings to take place in school houses.
Co-operation &c. Continued
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Summary: Editorial from an anonymous workingman extolling the advantages of a cooperative system in place of merchants. Explains how his own experiences with cooperatives have proved successful, decreasing the prices workers have to pay for goods. Urges all workers and even storekeepers to give it a try.
Full Text of Article:

CHAMBERSBURG, PA., Nov. 28, 1868.

Messrs. Editors:--In my last communication, I spoke of co-operation among the laboring classes, as one of the great needs, if not the greatest, of the present time. I think that there can scarcely be two opinions among the thinking portion of the community on this point. Surely there are none to be found foolish enough to prefer giving 18 cents per pound for Sugar, when they can buy it for 16 cents per pound. Surely there are none blinded enough to their own dearest interests to prefer giving 25 cents per pound for Cheese, when that same Cheese can be bought at wholesale for 14 or 16 cents per pound. We must bear in mind that it is not the government alone that taxes us. Storekeepers tax us also. And not alone the Storekeepers, but the man who rents him the store comes in for his share of these profits. If store rents are high, the storekeeper must necessarily saddle the burden upon the backs of his customers, or else he himself must suffer. So he wisely charges the consumer an extra dime, and "saves his own bacon." We do not blame the storekeeper for looking out for number one--it is his interest to do so but it is not the interest of the consumer to allow himself to be fooled in this way. We therefore say that Co-operation would meliorate the condition of those who have to toil for their daily bread. It has benefited already tens of thousands in the Old World, and it will yet benefit as great a number here.

We were speaking of large profits. Let us examine the subject further; for it needs probing. Some years ago we, (the writer of this, and his family) happened to live in a Town where large profits were the order of the day. It was not unlike Chambersburg in this respect. The people grumbled a good deal about the high prices of almost everything they had to buy, but they saw no remedy but to pay the storekeeper whatever he thought fit to charge. However there is an old saying, "that every dog has its day," and the saying proved true in this instance,--at least so far as the storekeeper's dog was concerned.

A number of workingmen, myself among the number, resolved to see how co-operation would work. We thought it advisable not to rent a storehouse at the start, but to try the experiment on a small scale; so that if it should prove unprofitable after a short trial, we could then back out without much loss. We commenced by subscribing (cash down) for about 20 pounds of Coffee. We sent the order to New York. The goods came in due season, and everyone was satisfied with his investment. We saved from 50 to 75 cents per pound on our Tea. Flushed with victory, we sent again, with an augmented list of subscribers. I think we sent orders for Tea and Coffee exclusively, three times, before we branched out into Sugar, Molasses, Currants, Raisins, Rice, Soap, Lard, Butter, Kerosene Oil, Flour, &c., &c. We now hired a storehouse to transact our business in. So long as we dealt in Tea and Coffee only, these articles came to my house for distribution, but now that our business was getting so large, we must needs have a store room. Our Storekeeping was conducted on one of the most economical plans. Those who transacted the business of the association charged nothing for their labor. The principal part of that labor for the first three months fell to my own lot. After we had got fairly under way, to use a nautical phrase, the labor was shared pretty evenly among the various members of the association. We adopted a constitution, with rules and by laws, so that we could conduct our business systematically, and in order. The officers consisted of President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer, and their time of service was three months. As I said before, all labor was performed by these gentlemen without any renumeration save and except that derived by having cheaper and better goods. Besides, it was a labor of love. Indeed it proved something more than a labor of love by bringing together people in all the various stages of ignorance--it proved a school of instruction also. Like other institutions, we gave it a name. We called it the "Working Men's Union and Provident Society." It was a distributive society properly speaking, for there was nothing sold to those who were not members of the association. Our goods came about once or twice a week, and we met about two evenings per week to distribute such goods as had been ordered and paid for at a previous meeting.

We had Molasses by the Hogshead, or Puncheon. Sugar by the Hogshead, or Barrel. Lard and Oil by the barrel. Dried Hams Ditto--In fact our association became so large as to become rather unwieldy on account of our setting apart only one or two evenings per week for the distribution of goods.

Storekeepers about this time became dark visaged. Their ready money custom had fled. They depended on their "Book Custom" almost entirely. Book Customers looked grave and sad when they discovered that they were hopelessly wedded to high prices. Some of them made desperate efforts to balance their accounts in order to join the Workingmen's Union.

Storekeepers will sometimes tell you, and truly, that they "do not make much money by their business." We do not wonder. They are not economical enough. They have too many Clerks and Hangers on around them for the small amount of business they transact, to leave any marginal profits for themselves. Besides, they are getting altogether too numerous. Storekeeping more than keeps pace with the growth of the population. It steals a march upon the population in every new Settlement, because, as the Storekeeper supposes, it furnishes an easy life; besides being far more profitable than dirty toil. We do not wonder at them seeking to escape the burden that long hours of labor impose; but we do wonder as we said before, that workingmen should be so blind to their own interests as to pay them such outrageous prices for their goods; when, by co-operation, they can purchase all they require at whole-sale prices, and save from 20 to 25 per cent on their investments. But Grocers do not stand alone in this matter. Dry Goods men, Butchers, Bakers, &c. &c., are no less guilty. Each one tries to live and save money by his business, no matter how little besides. If one price will not pay, another must. He has no conscientious scruples about his charges. He does not keep store on religious principles. He is guided in his dealings with the world, by lower considerations than a love of right. He says to himself, "I must have a living anyhow, no matter what stands in the way. I should much prefer doing what is right, but it is such a hard road to travel." In view of these facts, what course should the hard workingmen take? Should they continue to throw away one fifth, or one fourth of their hard earnings in order to keep a large "Storekeeping Aristocracy, and then cry out excessive Government Tacation is ruining us;" or should they try the co-operative principle? A great deal more might be said on a subject that ought to engage more of the attention of laboring men, but space will not allow.

Pardon me, Messrs. Editors, for saying that I quite overlooked in my list of Business occupations that ought to be conducted on the co-operative plan--the Printing and Publishing Business. But perhaps that is too much to expect yet. I fear that your occupation is too high up the ladder for us workingmen to reach. Let us therefore try our green hands on something nearer ground.

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Medical Society
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Summary: The physicians of Franklin County will hold a meeting for the purposes of establishing a medical society.
Washington Hotel
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Summary: John Lantz of Quincy is leasing the Washington Hotel from Mr. Rupert.
(Names in announcement: John Lantz, Rupert)
Died at the Asylum
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Summary: Jacob Jarret died at the Harrisburg Lunatic Asylum. The Franklin County resident had displayed severe signs of mental illness and was sent to the asylum. His symptoms did not improve before death. He had been a member of the Columbus Lodge of Odd Fellows.
(Names in announcement: Jacob Jarret)
Lecture Before the Young Men's Christian Association
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Summary: The Rev. H. H. Williams will give the first lecture in a series hosted by the Chambersburg Y.M.C.A. He will speak about "Trifles: their littleness and their greatness." Admission is free since the young men of the association wish to reach as wide an audience as possible.
(Names in announcement: Rev. H. H. Williams)
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Summary: Christian Serits of Maryland and Miss Mary Lehman, daughter of John Lehman of Green Township, were married on November 26th by the Rev. Dr. Schneck.
(Names in announcement: Christian Serits, Mary Lehman, John Lehman, Rev. Dr. Schneck)
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Summary: Abraham S. Lehman and Miss Amelia Stouffer, daughter of Christian Stouffer, were married near Stoufferstown on December 3rd by the Rev. Dr. Schneck.
(Names in announcement: Abraham S. Lehman, Amelia Stouffer, Christian Stouffer, Rev. Dr. Schneck)
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Summary: John Singer and Miss Susan C. Young, both of Antrim, were married on November 24th by the Rev. W. F. Eyster.
(Names in announcement: John Singer, Susan C. Young, Rev. W. F. Eyster)
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Summary: Samuel Hockensmith of Mount Hope and Miss Emma Miller of Shady Grove were married on November 24th by the Rev. W. S. Eyster.
(Names in announcement: Samuel Hockensmith, Emma Miller, Rev. W. S. Eyster)
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Summary: Samuel Stouffer died in Chambersburg on November 27th. He was 63 years old.
(Names in announcement: Samuel Stouffer)
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Summary: Mary Belle Pugh, infant daughter of John and Mary E. Pugh, died in Chambersburg on November 30th.
(Names in announcement: Mary Belle Pugh, John Pugh, Mary E. Pugh)
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Summary: John Snausst died at the residence of Henry Greenawalt near Chambersburg on November 17th.
(Names in announcement: John Snausst)
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Summary: Stuart M'Gowan died at his home in Fayetteville on November 30th. He was 19 years old.
(Names in announcement: Stuart M'Gowan)
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Summary: Charles Byers died near Greencatle on December 1st. He was 76 years old.
(Names in announcement: Charles Byers)

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Description of Page: Advertisements and agricultural advice appear on this page.