If Radicals were Liberal.

June 21, 1870


If Congress was liberal it would run more efficiently by avoiding coping with non-realities, prosecuting the undeserving, and acting to improve rather than irritate its citizenry. Therefore, the Republican party should avoid such, rule honestly at the state level, and consequently drop the Pat Woods case.


Power can afford to be liberal. It is never wise when it is not. If Congress could only think so we would not see them mousing over petty slanders, giving ear to manufactured horrors, and helping the swarm of interlopers hated by the people to harass them and feed on their substance. It wouldn't have Pat Woods gravely arraigned before a committee with the view of showing the existence in this community of feelings which if they do exist, Congress should endeavor to assuage rather than aggravate. By acting upon a wise and conciliatory plan. They would win over thousands whose aversion they provoke by impolicy and persecution. We like the spirit of the "Wheeling Intelligencer, the Republican organ of West Virginia. It is liberal and practical. It tiles of persecution and relentlessness, and I of carpet-bagger strategy and sympathy. Its measures are above these things. It advises the Republican party in that State to take " open and honest ground" in reference to public questions, and among, these it names that of paying a share of the public debt of Virginia. For this we sincerely commend the course of the Intelligencer. "Open and honest, ground" would leave no room for national legislation with the view to fomenting sectional jealousies. A platform on such ground would pass the severest censure upon the inquisition under General Butler to ascertain whether or not the blow struck Porter between the eyes by Pat Woods was an expression of the general contempt of this community for members of Congress. That sort of thing could not find endorsement in any open and I honest platform. Power, indeed, may be liberal, and would commend itself by being so. Were the Republican party to-morrow morning to renounce its little meannesses of the Pat Woods order, and repudiate all its connivances at the rascalities of carpet-baggers, and abandon all its illiberalities and persecutions of the southern people-indeed, its whole system of legislating its blatant partisans into office-it would then occupy "open and honest ground." Thousands and hundreds of thousands who curse them to-day would bless them tomorrow, and the party would be on the surest possible way to the prolongation of its ascendancy." Why might not Republicans do this? . Axe we not citizens of the United States? Can they make the United States stronger and happier by irritating us by every sort of exhibition of distrust and suspicion, and every species of imputation and insult and menace? Will their people be happier for this? Does it make their own nights and days more delightful? Let them beware of folly and partisan passion, which lead to disappointment and defeat. Let them be wise in time, and try to establish peace in the nation, harmony amongst the sections, and content amongst the people; so shall their days be long in the land and the Government be strengthened in the hearts and arms of the people.
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Bryce Smith




“If Radicals were Liberal.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 17, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1725.