A Word of Counsel to Conservatives

May 5, 1868


Conservatives are willing to fight against the new Constitution of Virginia at the Conservative Convention to save the great state of Virginia.


A Word of Counsel to Conservatives. To the Editors of the Dispatch: Dear Sirs,-The time is near at hand for the meeting of the Conservative Convention which is to assemble in Richmond to organize a ticket for State officers and to adopt measures to make an effort to save Virginia from the control of as vile and unprincipled a set of men as the light of day ever shone upon, and to defeat the adoption of a most monstrous and loathsome production called a Constitution for the Government of Virginia. It is to be hoped this Convention will be really what the word conservative imports, and not a meeting to patch up the fortunes of broken-down politicians and political hucksters. This is a subject of great anxiety with the people, whose aim is to earn an honest livelihood by the fruits of their industry. The defeat of the Constitution is the main question, which may be accomplished by the united action of our white population, to secure which it will be necessary to keep aloof from all old political agitators and prominent leaders in days of yore. The people want none of these extreme men from any quarter; they have either committed unpardonable blunders and are unsafe on one hand, or arc full of bitterness and proscription on the other, and when weighed against the welfare of our State and people, should be scattered as chaff before the wind. To insure a united effort on the part of the white people of Virginia, great care should be taken to select candidates from among the moderate men of all parties who have not been prominent nor made themselves offensive at any former time to any portion of our citizens. A Virginia party of white men is the only party that the people will exert themselves now to build up, and any movement for the advancement of any other party, however covert it may be, will lead us to defeat and utter ruin. Let us, therefore, take the wisest, most discreet, moderate and, conservative old Democrats, Whigs, Secession and Union men, to bear the white man's flag in the coming contest; but beware of those who may have to encounter the animosities and bitter feelings of other days; indeed, it is immodest in such men to push themselves forward, or allow others to do it, whilst they may both gracefully and profitably advocate the claims of others. By the adoption of such a policy we may defeat the Constitution and elect our State ticket. It is not possible for us to elect many good men who can take the test-oath, but the proscription of such persons as are truly patriotic may injure, and cannot advance, our interest. By the selection of our most moderate, wise, and virtuous men we may strengthen our cause at the North, which is the only hope of our disenthralment from so wretched a condition. I want no office, if I could get one; but desire to see our government restored to peace and tranquillity, and our State to prosperity, which cannot be attained under the rule of extreme men. While there is a powerful party rising up from among the people of the North willing, and, if wise and prudent councils prevail, perhaps able, to restore us to the Union on terms of equality, the people of Virginia have quite enough to do in building up their own fortunes, without engaging in the futile task of trying to resuscitate dead political leaders, of whom the great conservative element of the country has had enough. It is needless for us to engage in the labor of resurrecting fallen politicians and dead issues. We need live men to deal with living issues. For these things I am willing to work ; and under wise counsel I believe the whole conservative element of the country, both north and south, can be brought into harmonious and active cooperation, which would lead us triumphantly to victory; while, under the guidance of ajitators, we must sink to still deeper ruin. These, Messrs. Editors, are the opinions of one who loves Virginia. Tidewater.
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Joshua Hurlburt




“A Word of Counsel to Conservatives,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed June 1, 2023, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1026.