To the Young Men of Virginia
January 16, 1868
In an open letter to the white men of Virginia racist attitudes are promoted and pushed upon these young men. Two goals of: 1. Caucasian Supremacy and 2. Development are encouraged to these young men. The young men of Virginia must align their thinking with that of the older men of Virginia so that unity may exist.
For the Dispatch. To the Young Men of Virginia. At a crisis like the present, when all hearts are full of anxiety and dread for the future, I esteem it a great privilege to address you a few words. The only apology I have to offer is that I am a Virginian. Party politics, in the old acceptation of the term, are no more. The war disposed of all minor questions, and we now have but two great ones pressing upon us. The first is the question of races, which will soon be settled by the men who fought, not only shoulder to shoulder, but breast to breast-the young men of this great Empire! All we can do is, when the proper time comes, to vote in a body for Caucasian supremacy. The other is that of Development, and with it we have everything to do. The only creative sources of wealth are agriculture, manufactures, and mining. Our labor system is broken up, and agriculture languishes. Manufactures and mining have been only commenced. Do not despond. True, many of the sons of the Old Dominion have been forced to seek occupation in other States; but it could not be avoided. This makes it the more necessary for us who remain to be up and doing. Prosperity is only a question of time. The interval may tax our endurance to the utmost, but let the remembrance of our noble old mother State, and the loved ones at home, stimulate us to more earnest effort. Listen to the philosopher: "For there is a perennial nobleness and even sacredness in work. Were he never so benighted, forgetful of his high calling, there is always hope in a man that actually and earnestly works: in idleness alone is there perpetual despair. The latest gospel in this world is, know thy work and do it. 'Know thyself': long enough has that poor self of thine tormented thee; thou wilt never get to know it, I believe! Think it not thy business, this of knowing thyself; thou art an unknowable individual. Know what thou canst work at; and work at it like a Hercules. That will be thy better plan."-Carlyle. Let us not despise the day of small things. Any man who can stand the fatigues of the march and camp, can with one horse make bread enough for seven or eight persons. This may not be congenial employment, but it will open the way for a better. Let those who can afford to study, instead of rushing into the overcrowded, learned professions, devote a few years to mining, engineering, manufactures, and the various branches of science and art embraced in the term technology. You may starve genteelly on law or medicine, but you can live comfortably, and may make money in the other pursuits. These other pursuits will require as much talent, study, and energy as the most successful man can boast of. It has passed into a proverb that "knowledge is power." But Bulwer says that "the right application of knowledge is power "-an important distinction. All this will require capital of course; but when we are once in the Union on a Caucasian platform, and the usury laws are (as in Massachusetts) practically abolished, it will be forthcoming. Does any one suppose that shrewd men will hold United States bonds at 6 and 7.30 per cent, when manufactures or mines will pay double the rate? Our communications with the Mississippi Valley, when completed, will bring to our seaboard towns an immense business, and we of the Interior must take care that the proceeds of these consignments are returned in manufactures. We must also encourage immigration from the North and from Europe. The Virginia Land and Aid Immigration Company, if conducted on the plan which has been published, and cordially supported by the people of of the State, cannot fail to add large numbers of useful men to our population. This is practical reconstruction. By these means alone can we rebuild our fallen fortunes. Suppose State lines are practically abolished and the Constitution amended. This Constitution was framed for thirteen States, with a homogeneous population of a few millions, mainly of English origin. Now, in this age of steam and lightning, our body politic is composed of a heterogeneous mass of men of all nations, many of them Jacobins and "Sans-culottes," holding the radical ideas, which from time to time have convulsed Europe. Let us not criticise too closely the means which experience has demonstrated are necessary for the preservation of our national unity, for on that unity depends our future as a people. The completion of the Pacific lines of railway will unite the two great coasts in bonds of iron. The untold wealth of the Indies will flow through our land. London may continue to the clearing house of the eastern hemisphere, but in ten years exchange will probably be in favor of New York. The sagacious statesmanship of our President and Cabinet is providing for a grand extension of commerce, and a few years of domestic peace will give us a degree of prosperity we never dreamed of before. For the present we must "learn to labor and to wait." The treaties and purchases of territory lately made prove that our great men are equal to the task before them. And if the American people will sustain them, some of us may live to see the day when the great empires of Russia and North America, the only two Powers having no conflicting interests, shall control the destinies of the world. Cosmopolite.
About this article
“To the Young Men of Virginia,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed July 21, 2018, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/782.