The New Year-Richmond

January 2, 1871


This New Year's charge was to the citizens of Richmond, reflecting on the hard struggles the city has faced in recent years. The Dispatch wants to challenge the people to persevere and think optimistically about 1871. Richmond is a beautiful city, and citizens must invest their themselves, their families, their time, and their money into the city after so much struggle. Government officials can lead Richmond back to prosperity in building up the city's infrastructure and building more railroads that will connect Richmond with major cities across the nation.


The New Year-Richmond. To-day is the first. business day of the New Year. We have bidden adieu to the old, left it behind, and taken our departure upon the new way of the year to come. Let us consider the situation, see what may be done to improve it, and endeavor, as far as we can, to free ourselves from every feeling of depression from events of the past-recollecting only what is agreeable, and dismissing from our minds as well as we mav all that is disagreeable to memory, and proceed upon our way with cheerful hearts and buoyant hopes. We have had a series of misfortunes in the last fifteen years that were enough to have prostrated to the earth beyond the hope of recovery a people of fair endowments in the virtues of courage and fortitude. When we see how our citizens have borne these great calamities, and how they have struggled and triumphed over them, ours should be amongst the most assured and confident of communities. The world has been amazed at the succession of terrific events which have fallen upon us, until it has become common to call Richmond "the beautiful but devoted city." The world has been prompt, however, to award to the people the honors due them for their faith in misfortune-their constancy in the hour of calamity. If such virtues are displayed by them in such exigencies, what may they not achieve under favor of good fortune, good seasons, relief from calamity, and aided by the artificial and natural advantages they enjoy? No adversity, however terrible, has yet caused this people to quail or to despair. They have never lost confidence in a just Providence, or in their own spirit and physical energy. All their calamities are ascribable to natural causes. They are not intimidated by superstition; but, triply armed in an enlightened faith in supernal justice and their own manhood, they are ready still to stand up resolutely against casualty and disaster, and prove both their courage and piety by trusting to the beneficence of Providence and the faithful performance of their duties. Adversity is alike the nurse of virtue and the mother of independence. Never were a people better schooled for the practice of the nobler virtues, and especially for that of self-reliance. Reasonably, we may trust that their education in these virtues being complete, they may now be spared further teaching in the way of misfortune, and that the noble qualities with which calamity has endowed them may now be employed in the grand work of recuperation; the increase of the wealth and power of the State and city; the improvement of industry and art; the expansion of commerce, and the development and employment of the natural resources of the land. With all her sad disasters, what do we see in this city?-topographically one of the most beautiful in the land. Her bright river joyously winding along her shores and playing with the graceful islets which deck her bosom. Beautiful as laughing waters and gay shores and islands can make her, that noble river possesses a power and a multiplicity of benefits which entitle her, in a practical sense, almost to idolization by this community. Supplying us with the best water for daily use, it gives us a motive power which is destined to move hundreds of mills. It bears to our city the wealth of a rich and extensive region, and it constitutes part oi a depressed route of easy grades for rail and canal, running two hundred and fifty miles westward towards the storehouse of production of the richest region on the face of the earth. Along that valley there arc conduits located (one of which is near completion) that promise to this city a trade richer than that of the Indies. So that this fair city presents to the world the charms of beauty and the solid advantages of manufacturing power and of commerce that are rarely equalled. These characteristics should strongly fortify the energy and hope of our people, and the near approach of the connection between them and the people of the Mississippi Valley by the most rapid known mode of conveyance should inspire them with an energy and hope they have never yet known. We need sot go into the particulars relative to the railroad revolutions we have so frequently referred to. The movements in this direction prove to us the importance of the interior and foreign commerce of Virginia, and foreshadow the activity and thrift that will soon animate the country and enlarge and populate this city. If we turn to politics we are encouraged. Our Government is rescued from faithless and mercenary adventurers, and we have every reason to be assured that the true people of Virginia will retain the direction of their own public affairs to the exclusion of ignorance, depravity, and faithlessness. The people of Richmond, then, schooled to fortitude and self-reliance-cheered by the combination of favorable events and natural blessings-assured by the bright promises of the early fruition of some of the grandest enterprises for their advantage, may look upon the new year with a buoyancy of spirit and of hope not surpassed by that which animates the breasts of the people of any city, None have a brighter future-none more cheering prospects. With these things to animate us, let us wipe away the tear at the recollection of the sad events of the past, and gladly welcome the new year.
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Megan Wiora




“The New Year-Richmond,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed July 4, 2022,