"A New Movement Needed"

December 15, 1870


In response to an article in the Petersburg Index, the Daily Dispatch wants everyone to know that they have no fears about the future of the Conservative party in Richmond. Not only that, but it is believed by many Conservatives that theirs will be the party that carries the city of Richmond for years to come.


Under this caption the Petersburg Index has an editorial in which, after deploring the apathy existing among the Conservatives of Virginia, it calls upon the Central Committee to convoke a State Convention. The Index demands a "positive platform," forgetting that even in the days of Moses those who fought the devil and his works stood upon a negative platform, as witness the ten commandments. We quote a paragraph or two: "We still deem it unnecessary and unwise at this time to make any formal alliance with the northern opposition for many reasons, one of which - that tis course has not yet been announced by authority - is sufficient. But there is necessity, if we would consolidate and make necessity the anti-Republican influences of Virginia, for a clear decided avowal of principle and purpose on the part of that organization which claims to represent the intelligence, experience, and integrity of Commonwealth, "Republicanism should be arraigned boldly for all its crimes against humanity and freedom, and the most determined and uncompromising opposition to its every shape and guise should be proclaimed. That would be a sufficient definition of the place we must occupy in Federal politics when the time for action shall arrive. "And as to domestic affairs the party line should be sharply drawn. Every issue should be clearly defined, and the idea of aggressive warfare upon Radicalism, and its potent ally, ignorance, be so distinctly conveyed as to leave no doubt upon the minds of either our friends or our enemies. Already the absence of such avowals has operated disastrously to us in contributing to a sense of distrust among all classes of our population, and in depriving the orators and writers of the Conservative party of the mans of repelling charges brought by its opponents. And it is always so; a negative position corrects no antagonisms, and weakens all attachments."It will be better, for numberless considerations, to adopt a liberal but bold platform, and put before the world the Conservative plan for the government of Virginia. "Thus shall we best silence calumny, and thus only can we wake the people from a sleep of indifference which, if prolonged, must be fatal to every social, moral, and political interest of the State we love." We have no fears to the future of the Conservative party in Virginia. It will for years to come carry the State at every election, under whatever name it shall fight. The apathy or indifference attributed to our people is only a seeming, not a reality. If, however, it exists, it cannot be overcome by a convention. And as we are to heave no State elections before November of next year, the people will scarcely be able to perceive the necessity for a State convention at any early day.The assembling of a State Convention would afford to the discontented a fine opportunity to air their eloquence in speeches in favor of uniting with the national Democratic party and calling ourselves "Democrats." The result would be, we fear, a pretty stiff quarrel between the mule-headed Conservatives who do not agree upon this point. And as to a "positive platform," we do not know whether the Conservatives of Virginia are in favor of or opposed to a protective tariff, or expansion or contraction of the currency, or indeed any one of the measure that divide the parties in the North. But we do know that they are opposed to Radicalism as it appears here in Virgina. A negative platform, therefore, suits such a people; and it strikes us that to declare "the most determined and uncompromising opposition to every shape and guise" of "Republicanism" would after all be nothing but a negative platform, though we agree that this would be a "sufficient definition" of our place.
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Travis Terry




“"A New Movement Needed",” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed November 28, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1897.