June 22, 1869
Northerners are using methods of initimidation to convince blacks to vote for Wells. It is "a slavery of the mind and the conscience, which is worse than that of the body."
Intimidation. We cannot say what forms of Intimidation of voters are alluded to in the order from headquarters which denounces them and threatens them with punishment. If they are of the kind that may be called violent, if an examination be instituted into the Radical Leagues It will he found that there is quite enough of that description to employ the time of the constituted authorities for a great while. The resolves of those bodies are such that in this city and in many sections of the State colored voters are afraid to go to the polls to vote against those who are the nominees approved by them. In '67, in the elections for the Convention, several riots occurred, and those who dared to differ from the Leagues were fearfully warned of the danger they incurred by doing so. There never has been organized in this country so intolerant, so violent and tyrannical an order as these Leagues, established by the white adventurers who came to this State for official plunder, and who hoped to secure it by estranging the negroes from the white people and banding them together in this manner. Never was there an organization held together by oaths and the terrors of revenge which was more deserving of official investigation and interdiction. On the other hand, the only expedient to influence negro votes charged upon the whites is the refusal to employ negroes who shall vote to disqualify and disfranchise them. Most assuredly this is the right of every man, and we cannot see upon what ground it can be denied him. You may shut his mouth up, but you cannot prevent him from choosing his laborers, his mechanics, and his clerks. It has been the practice, for long, long years, of the northern manufacturers to deny employment to those who voted against them, and the Government turns out from employment those who are opposed to the politics of the Administration. It is but a day or two since that all who would not acknowledge negro equality with the whites were turned out of a Government establishment in Washington. What objection, then, can be urged to the alleged determination of the whites to employ those only who are willing to extend to the whites at least the rights accorded to negroes? To acknowledge white equality? It is the most natural thing in the world that the white men of Virginia should be indisposed to employ persons who are advocating and mean to vote for their disqualification from all participation in the Government. Could a movement so to disqualify come in a more abhorrent shape than that of the illiterate negro voting to deny the whites the rights already secured to him ? What would the world think of the Virginian who would not only regard this calmly, but would join the negroes in their attempt to ostracize him and his people? Yet we have to say this : that the instances of addressing such an argument to the negro--natural and reasonable as it is--are rare. It is not very practicable in some parts of Virginia, and there is amongst Virginians a decided disinclination to attempt to influence the judgment of other people by appeals to their interest. But it would be uncandid not to say that in the war of races established in this State by white adventurers there is a growing disposition amongst the native whites to diminish the intercourse of a business nature with the negro, who, if he is able to do so, will place them under permanent disfranchisement and degradation. This is to be lamented--the cause is to be deplored; but the consequence is natural, and it is plain that if the hostility between the races continues, they cannot live in the game sphere,and Virginia must be all white or all black.Now, it rests with the negroes to say whether this shall be so or not. It is for them to say whether the Leagues shall triumph over them, and whether, through those Leagues, they shall he continued in a state of slavery to the adventurers--a slavery of the mind and the conscience, which is worse than that of the body. The true interests of white and black in this Stale are entirely harmonious. The white man cannot well do without the colored man--at least at this time--nor can the black man do without the whites, who own the land and give him employment, and who will be the better able to give steady employment and good wages if they are freed from disabilities and the Government has the advantage of their intelligence and experience in the administration of public affairs. Working in this way for their mutual benefit and the general welfare, both races will attain the highest success practicable under present relations. But, should the war continue, there can be no harmony between them, no good feeling, no successful industry, no general thrift. Instead, there must be bad feeling and opposing plans and schemes; and the question, Shall I admit into my gates and my employment one who is endeavoring to ruin ntc and blast all my prospects? will be one that every man will address to himself. Now, we for one do not believe that the colored people are so blind as not to see all this; and whatever he may do at the approaching election, the negro will thereafter break off from the Leagues and follow the dictates of interest, which, happily, in the case of his relations with the white man, are in the line of reason and justice. The whites do not propose to deny them anything. They acknowledge the rights secured to them by the national laws--laws which can only be modified or repealed by the nation. They demand, however, for themselves the "rights of citizens ; and if the negroes deny this just demand they cannot reasonably expect the friendship or support of the whites.
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“Intimidation,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed September 28, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1393.