The Crowning Outrage

December 10, 1870


The Dispatch, and the South as whole, has a warning for everyone: watch out. The "Federal tyranny" has used its tools to take possession of the ballot boxes in the city of Richmond, and no sooner will they begin to take control in the North.


The crowning act of usurpation and wrong has been perpetrated at last. The tools of Federal tyranny have taken possession of the ballot-box in this city. Yesterday, as will be seen from the report in our local columns, a voting-place was closed in one of the wards of this city, a judge of election having been arrested whilst in the discharge of the duties of his office by one of the instruments used for such disreputable purposes by Judge Underwood's court - the deputy marshal or a commissioner, we know not which, of that miserable apology for a court. It is useless for us to attempt to characterize as it deserves this insufferable outrage upon the people of Virginia. We are powerless to prevent even so monstrous a wrong as this. We call upon the people of the North to open their eyes before it is too late to the gulf of despotism which yawns before them. They, too, have had to submit to the supervision of their elections by Federal soldiers; but the outrage was confined to the cities, and to elections for member of congress. The next step will be there, as it has already been here, the over-awing of the voters at elections for members of the General Assembly, and finally the doing away with all elections as unnecessary. When we told our northern fellow-citizens four years ago that the State had been deprived of every right, and that soon they might look to see the Federal Government controlling them as it had then undertaken to control us, our warning was laughed to scorn. But this prediction has become history. Federal bayonets stand around the ballot box in New York as they stand around the ballot-box in Richmond. So, also, will it be in reference to thus last unspeakable wrong. The ballot-box in every northern State is just as liable to be closed and the officers in charge of it just as liable to arrest, as those in Virginia. We trust that this outrage will be aired in Congress. Let senator Johnson and some one or more of our members of the House of Representatives make the halls of the Capitol resound with their eloquent denunciations of this shameful attempt to deprive the people of their liberties. If Underwood has connived at it, let him be impeached. The senate would hardly dare to justify him in such infamous conduct. Surely every decent Senator would be glad to have so good an opportunity for riddling the bench of such a character.
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Travis Terry




“The Crowning Outrage,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed February 1, 2023,