The Underwood Injunction.

April 6, 1870


Underwood deserves to be disbarred for making an unconstitutional decision that takes rights away from Virginia.


It will be seen that Mr. Chahoon has been formally notified that a motion will to-morrow be made before Chief Justice Chase, in chambers, in Washington, to dissolve the injunction recently granted by Underwood in the case of Chahoon vs. Ellyson and others. This is well. It will settle the question. All the people of Virginia will readily acquiesce in the decision of Judge Chase. He is not only a man of great ability, but a profound jurist, and one who discharges his high office conscientiously. His decision all will bow to. It is a calamity in these days of sensitiveness and perplexity, when so much of calmness and wisdom is required to bring the country out of the labyrinth of trouble and prejudice into which it was led by the war and strife which preceded it, that the Federal judiciary should not consist of entirely of men whose acts are governed by the same high motives that are displayed in the decisions of Judge Chase. We are gratified that the case is to get into his hands. If the law of Judge Underwood is to be the law of the land-if State authority is to be whittled down to so low an ebb that it may not prevail in the filling of petty offices under State Constitutions and laws-if, in short, States are nothing and the Federal Government assumes control of all their municipal affairs, it is right that it should be so settled by the highest authority, and so established by the Government as that there may be raised no more questions such as that which has vexed this community for some days past. The opinion of Judge Underwood is a mockery-a piece of stupid partisan clap-trap-a burlesque upon judicial opinions. It would be a disgrace to any report of cases, any record of judicial opinions. It is so silly as to fall beneath the grade of a curiosity. It is devoid of any feature which can save it from utter annihilation. So it can have no earthly effect upon the questions it pretends to decide. Nobody respects it in the slightest degree; and the nation will feel a relief when it learns that the solemn issues which he presumed to meddle with are to be, partially at least, reviewed by one who is worthy of considering them, and whose opinion will be respected. In the interim, before the Chief Justice disposes of the matter, there will be no disturbance. Things will progress quietly. Measures have been taken with this view which will be developed in due time. It is proper to say just here that not a step has been taken under the auspices of Judge Underwood, from the incipiency of this case to the present time, that can be pronounced proper by any good lawyer. All the processes against Ellyson have been the merest blundering. He has never intended to resist the authority of the United States, and when that authority is presented in proper manner this will be seen. The resistance of Chahoon to State authority and its consequences will turn to the advantage of the State and the Conservative party. It will give a renewed assurance of the maintenance, at least for a cycle to come, of the federative system of States and General Government. The latter is stronger than ever; but there are clearly-defined spheres of authority to the States which need not be interrupted for any purpose of centralization, and which cannot be further impaired without the destruction of the States and the establishment of an empire with a supreme ruler. The nation is not ready for this; and until It is, such instruments as Underwood must be brought to defeat and contempt. Aye, and when the empire comes it will have too much dignity to allow such snails to fill the high places of State, and besmear them with their disgusting tracery.
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Charles Simmonds




“The Underwood Injunction.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 20, 2022,