October 2, 1866
The newspapers engages in a debate about whether or not the south should repudiate their war debts. The editorial eventually comes to the conclusion that the South should not be forced to repudiate their war debts.
Repudiation. Louisa county, Va., September 24. I noticed in your paper of the I8th instant a quotation from a letter written by a member of the Legislature, in which he seems to be very despondent, fearing that the Legislature, at its next meeting, will either extend the present stay law or pass a law of general repudiation. The sum and substance of all he said on the subject was that we had lost all we had save our honor, and he feared that that too was about to be offered on the altar of Mammon; that poverty with honor could be endured, but poverty without honor would be insufferable. Still he is passionately in favor of a man paying his debts, and violently opposed to repudiation. Does he mean that a man must sacrifice his honor in the diseharge of his debts, that being all left after his misfortunes; or does he mean that our debts are to be held up over our heads all our lives as a millstone of degradation; or are they to be made a penal attribute by which to appease the wanton thirst of the heartless Shylock who, during the war, acted in concert with our enemies to hasten our common ruin, and as soon as that was consummated, was among the first to vote for the abolition of slavery, in that way I think releasing all his debtors, from the fact that the negro was generally the security for most of the debts, and now he is resorting to the courts in order to procure judgments by which he can place his infamous heels upon the neck of the widow and orphan, and hold them thus in oppression until he can have his talons sufficiently polished to render sure their destruction. I fully concur in the sentiments of John Tyler, Jr., Esq. I don't think Virginians ought to be extirpated through debt, nor the resources of our dear old Commonwealth farther sacrificed through the moneyed combinations of foreign element. I think there ought to be a homestead secured for every head of a family, and allow them to go on in the peaceful pursuits of life, after their perilous troubles and deplorable disasters. Should the Legislature allow the liquidation of all debts to be forced by law, then will you be able to see in some sections of our country vast distances entirely uninhabited, from the fact that in some of the counties a few men would own all the land. The few citizens that might be able to remain would be merely hewers of wood and drawers of water for the Shylock--their worst enemy. What does our friend mean by the altar of Mammon? It must be the evils of war, with the acts of the moneyed speculator as its concomitant, for he says everything we had save our honor had been sacrificed upon that altar. Then, surely we have made abundant offerings to satisfy the demoniacal appetite of Mammon; and I think now it ought to be the policy of our Legislature to preserve our honor and the little property left us as tokens of the love and as monuments of the respect that our dear old mother State has for her wounded and bleeding children. If the honor of our old State depends upon the ability of her citizens to pay their debts, then she is already dishonored beyond redemption, for I am satisfied that one-third of them would not be able to pay ten cents in the dollar in consequence of the very low prices of property and great amount of interest that accrued daring the war from an indisposition on the part of the people to receive Confederate money as iterest. As for my own opinion, I think the time will soon arrive when these difficulties will mature and come to their final solution, and then if dishonor is to be attached to our old State at all, it will be because she has turned the cold shoulder of disregard to the wants of her own children, and has proffered her time honored breast to the sucklings of another clime. Josephus.
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“Repudiation.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 24, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/348.