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Valley of the Shadow

Staunton Spectator: October 31, 1865

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-Page 01-

Women and Men
(Column 05)
Summary: The writer explains that "very intelligent women, we find by observation, are seldom beautiful" and suggests that men prefer beauty to intellect, pointing out that Dr. Johnson "chose a woman who had scarcely an idea above an oyster."
Full Text of Article:

Very intelligent women, we find by observation, are seldom beautiful. The formation of their features, and particularly their forehead is more or less masculine. Miss Lander was rather pretty and feminine in the face; but Miss Sedgwick, Miss Pardue, Miss Leslie, and the late Anna Mariah and Jane Porter, the contrary. One of the Misses Porter had a forehead as high as that of an intellectual man. We never knew of any very talented man who was admitted for his personal beauty. Pope was awful ugly; Dr. Johnson was no better; Mirabeau was the ugliest man in all France, and yet he was the greatest favorite with the ladies. Women more frequently prize men for their sterling qualities of the mind, than men do women. Dr. Johnson chose a woman who had scarcely an idea above an oyster. He thought her the loveliest creature in existence, if we may judge by the inscription he left on her tomb.

The United Brethren Church and Negro Equality
(Column 06)
Summary: This letter to the editor of the Religious Telescope, from a preacher of the United Brethren Church, attempts to clarify the meaning of "equality" in resolutions passed by their General Conference, published in a previous issue of the Spectator, resolutions that prompted accusations of "amalgamation." The writer explains that he has "always abhorred" the idea of "social equality," and seeks only equality before the law.
Origin of Article: Religious Telescope
Trailer: J. J. Glossbrenner

-Page 02-

The "Freedmen"
(Column 01)
Summary: Ruminates on "the fate of the poor negro" in the South, discouraging plans "to import foreign labor," advocating instead "a system of black tenantry."
Full Text of Article:

There is no problem more difficult of the solution, than the future of the "freedmen." Half a million of ignorant and helpless people, have been turned loose in Virginia, with no capital to begin business, no skill in mechanic arts, and no means of providing for themselves and families. In the first paroxysm of delight at being released from bondage, they have generally hurried to the towns and country stores, with characteristic improvidence, to spend, in tobacco and cigars and finery, their little hoardings and earnings. During the Summer and early Fall, they have been able to live without much difficulty. The hay-loft furnished a comfortable lodging, and the gardens and orchards and corn fields the means of subsistence. But cold weather is coming -- the paroxysm of joy at the release from labor has subsided, and the more thoughtful are beginning to find that freedom is not the unalloyed blessing they supposed it to be. It does not mean exemption from work, but on the contrary it involves a higher strain than ever, on their physical powers.

No observing man can have filed to notice the traces of care and anxiety on the faces of the once happy negro. We no longer hear the "loud laugh that speak the vacant mind." A moody and anxious expression marks their countenances. It is not surprising that it should be so, for a gloomy time is before them in the coming Winter.

The fate of the poor negro is a hard one. Their professed friends in the North have cut loose the ties which bound them to their masters and secured for them comfortable homes and ample provision for all their wants in sickness and in health, and having set them, as it were, adrift, they leave them to float on to destruction. We have been informed that there is a large demand for agricultural labor in the great gain-growing State of Illinois, and yet the people of that State will not allow the poor negroes to come among them. A short time ago, an enterprising man from Edgar County, went to Cairo, and engaged 150 able bodied negroes, to got to that county, to work on the farms, but the people rose in mass, and compelled him to send them back. Yet, in th face of facts like these, may northern men pretend to be in favor of negro suffrage and negro equality! If they wish to get credit it for sincerity, they must show by their own example, their readiness to recognize this equality of rights, let them commence the work at home, -- then we may, possibly, profit by their example.

The negro seems now destined to be crushed between the upper and the nether millstone. The South does not want him, and the North will not have him. What is the poor darkey to do? He must live in some way. He will not willingly starve. If he cannot get work, he must steal.

This brings before us the question: "What is the policy and duty of the South in regard to him?"

We are inclined to think that if the Legislature will pass a system of wise laws to secure the fulfillment of labor contracts, similar in its general features, to the regulations prescribed for the freedmen of Tennessee, it will be best for Southern people to employ negroes. They are among us -- they are accustomed to the cultivation of our staples -- they suit our climate -- and they delight in corn bread and bacon, the peculiar diet of Virginia. When the intoxication of freedom passes, and the pressure of want comes, they can be made to work.

Many of our people are anxious to import foreign labor to take the place of the negro in the cultivation of our farms. It would be well if the people of Virginia would consider this matter maturely before they act. There are difficulties attending such a radical innovation. Among these are: 1st. The inconveniences of communication arising out of a want of knowledge of language of the foreigner. 2nd Their want of acquaintance with our habits, climate, and peculiar systems of culture. 3rd. The difference in diet. the foreigner will not corn bread and fat bacon. They will require the kind of food they have been accustomed to. These and many other points of disagreement may and probably will lead to dissatisfaction and difficulty.

Better employ the industrious negroes who know our ways, and will eat corn bread and fat middling. Large proprietors will probably find it to their interest to lease parcels of their lands to the better class of negroes, on what may be termed improving leases. Why may we not have a system of black peasantry? In every neighborhood we know industrious, well behaved negroes. Why not rent them, say fifty or seventy-five acres with a cabin, to be cultivated on shares. We believe it may be done with profit to the landlord and benefit to the negro. The owner will, of course, prescribe the rotation of crops and the system of culture. Under such a system the lands might be cleared and improved. The stimulus of interest would be brought to bear to encourage the negro to effort. His little crops and his pigs and poultry, would enable him to support his family, and as his children grow up, he may, with their aid extend his operation. Humanity and enlightened self-interest ought to prompt our farmers to make experiment of this kind. We are persuaded it would answer well. At first, the proprietor would have to break up the land, or furnish the means of breaking it up, but in a few years the negro could get horses and plows of his own, accumulate manure, and improve his homestead.

We pray our people, therefore, not to take counsel from their prejudices, but to consider this suggestion calmly and carefully. The great objection to the system of leasing is, that with white men if you get a good tenant you can not keep him. He has aspirations for the ownership of a home of his own, and as soon as he can collect a little property he is off for the west of buys a spot of his own. With the negro it would be different. He has strong local attachment, and not much enterprise. He will not be at liberty to got to the West. He will be content, when he is doing well, to remain where he is.

Who will set the example? Who desires to be a public benefactor?

Constitutional Amendment
(Column 02)
Summary: Reports the "virtually unanimous" vote in favor of amending the Alexandria Constitution's provision which prevented "any one to 'vote or hold office' who held office under the Confederate or Virginia Government during the war."
Southern Representatives in Congress
(Column 03)
Summary: Speculation about the Clerk of the House's ability and likelihood of denying the Southern representatives their seats. The writer remains optimistic that "Conservative Republicans will unite with the so-called Democratic element in sustaining the President's policy of Reconstruction."
(Column 04)
Summary: On October 24 the Rev. W. Stringer joined Jonathon Hopewell, of Augusta, and Frances Vines in marriage at the M. E. Church in Fairfield. The printers express their thanks for a piece of the wedding cake.
(Names in announcement: Rev. W. Stringer, Jonathon Hopewell, Francis Vines)

-Page 03-

(Column 01)
Summary: Contests the Charlottesville Chronicle's labeling of Staunton as a "fussy little town that makes a great hullabahoo every time a new gutter is put up" by pointing toward the many improvements at the office of the Spectator.
Local--Land Buyers
(Column 01)
Summary: Reports on heightened interest in purchasing lands in the "Valley of Virginia." The Valley is noted for its "fertility, salubrity, and scenery" as well as being "comparatively free from the objection of having large numbers of free negroes in its limits."
Local--Freedmen's School
(Column 01)
Summary: Reports, and mocks, the creation of a Freedmen's school in Staunton.
Full Text of Article:

The "Freedmen's Bureau" are about establishing a Free School, in Staunton, for "teaching young (darkey) ideas how to shoot." Female teachers from the North have arrived, and rooms were fitted up in the fury rooms of the Court House for the School. The County Court, however, having protested against such use and occupation of the building, where the public archives are deposited, and public business transacted, it is understood that the commanding general has ordered that other rooms be procured for these interesting Schools.

Local--County Roads
(Column 02)
Summary: Reports that "the public roads of the County are in worse order than ever before" because of the impossibility of keeping them in order during the war, but efforts are under way to improve the condition of the roads.

-Page 04-

Women's Heroism
(Column 02)
Summary: Praises the heroism of "the noble women of the South" for the difficulties they endured during the war.
Full Text of Article:

MR. EDITOR:--What is more touching beautiful, and sublime than the heroism and courage of woman? How many striking illustrations of this have been recorded during our late war; and many, many more have been performed amidst the bustle and confusion of stirring events, and have been passed by unnoticed, save by a few interested persons. The fame and heroism of the Grecian woman have been immortalized by the poets' verse; how, when their land was invaded by hosts as countless as the "leaves in Vallambrosa's Vale," they gave their hair for bowstrings and their girdles for sword-belts and while their heart-strings were cracking sent their lovers from their arms to fight and perish for their country." The bravery and heroism of the woman of all ages have been recorded by the impartial historian; but I candidly think, that heroism of that pure, unselfish and self sacrificing class, such as has been exhibited by our noble women of the south, in our recent struggle for independence, is unsurpassed, aye, even unparalleled in the History of either Ancient or Modern times? How much they have suffered anguish and privations endured, no pen can describe, much less such a feeble one as mine.

While we toiled and bled and suffered, the fair daughters of the South, reared and nurtured in the lap of luxury, and whom we "permitted not the winds of summer to visit too roughly," with their fairy hands, wrought our uniforms, (and at the same time, cast a golden woof around our hearts,) cooled the parched and burning tongue of the sick as they law in crowded hospitals, far from home and friends; wept o'er the curse of "only a soldier" as it was borne to the common soldiers' resting place; and when the poor fellow returned from the field of slaughter on crutches, bleeding and black with the smoke of battle, it was then that their spirits rose within them, and they shone forth from their highest and purest attitudes. Whether with the sick, wounded and dying in hospitals, strewing flowers along the stony and rugged paths of the weary soldier, or mounted behind an officer and piloting him on the advance or retreat, they have exhibited that heroism and devotion to their country, which I am afraid we "lords of Creation" cannot boast. And no we frequently bear young men who fought valiantly, exclaim, "I have no inducement to remain here; I have nothing here to live for." Selfish, narrow hearted creatures! They have never taken one calm, comprehensive view of the situation of their country, which now more than ever needs their assistance. And then to talk of turning their backs upon this beautiful land, and deserting it in the midst of its trials, and affliction. They can see no brightening day in our future; the clouds of adversity have hidden the sun of prosperity from their view, and they have forgotten that those clouds have a silver lining. We have returned from the field of slaughter, which has drunk the best blood of our sunny South.

This soil has been hallowed, and consecrated by the blood of our fathers, and brothers which was poured freely in what they believed to be a just cause; and now are we not the most sacredly bound by all the times of consanguinity, and respect, and veneration for the fallen braves, to live and labor in this devoted land? Most indubitably we are. We also have these hills, rock-ribbed [unclear], and ancient as the sun; these vales stretching in pensive quietness between; these venerable woods; rivers that move in majesty, and the complaining brooks that make the meadows green," all o'er shadowed by these towering mountains, whose bald peaks rear their heads above the clouds. Truly this is a beautiful land, though filled with desolation. The impress of the hand of the destroyer is upon it. For four years it was scourged with fire and sword, and has been turned into a vast charnal-house. And now who is to raise it out of the dust to its former magnificence and glory? Is it not our duty? We, who by the all-wise providence of God, have been permitted to see the end of the struggle? Aye, most emphatically it is, I say.

The spirits of Jackson, Johnston, Polk, Stuart, Rhodes, Ashby, Pegram and other gallant dead, "Who being dead yet speaketh," call upon us not to desert our land. And we will not. We will go to work, and and by the assistance, and counsel of those fair creatures, who watched, and prayed for our success and safe return, those "Modern Maccarias," will fulfil a higher destiny than we anticipated, and by a life-long devotion to them, will endeavor to repay them for their privations which they endured for us. In conclusion, I would say to them, "We could not love you, dears, so much, loved we not honor more."


BLEAK HOUSE, Oct. 12, 1865.

Trailer: Mohegan
[No Title]
(Column 02)
Summary: "R." calls on all residents of the county to declare that "the widows and orphans of those who have laid down their lives for me and mine shall not suffer" and begin efforts to ameliorate their condition.
Trailer: R.