Patching and Tinkering

January 18, 1868


Frustration with Congress is expressed. Any plans or actions Congress has taken are not helpful and progress within the nation is stunted. With the return of power to white authority, order and systemized labor will follow.


Patching and Tinkering. The National Congress is engaged in the work of Sisyphus: a fruitless work: a work that costs a great deal of time and money, and ever results in calling the laborers back to the beginning to ply their weary arms to the wearisome task that is never ended. Congressmen are inflicting upon the country measures designed merely for partisan objects, which are impairing national prosperity and national credit by visiting upon half the surface of the republic prostration, starvation, anarchy. Yet they do not approach the seat of the national disease, the source of all our woes. They propose no remedy-no palliative, even-for the real malady of the nation; which is wasting its means, exhausting its strength, and hurrying it to ruin and death with a "galloping consumption."The tariff-the currency-the Federal revenue-cotton. What is best to be done with all these topics to quiet apprehension, allay panic, diminish embarrassment, elevate public credit, give occupation to idle workmen, and restore the harmony of the nation? And proposition after proposition, debate day by day, throw no light upon their darkness, afford no relief to the public distress and apprehension. An excess of manufactures-what is to be done with them? Necessaries of life are high, owing to the demand for export, and people without work (at the North) have no money to buy. What's to be done? Sumner wants to reduce the price of grain -how? Sprague wants to take off the cotton tax and encourage its cultivation how? The majority would give relief by ending the process of curtailing the paper circulation of the nation; while very many would increase the paper medium. And what effect will either expedient have? Can anything Congress may do on these subjects remedy or even mitigate the great national disease-that "abomination of desolation" which the Devil himself, through the evil passions that prevail at Washington, has established in the South? Restore the Union-restore the white man to authority-order will ensue; a systematized labor will be established; southern production will increase; plenty and superabundance will substitute want and starvation; southern staples will swell the foreign commerce of the country; and a southern demand increase the sale of northern manufactures. The currency, which now is in excess at the North, will diffuse itself at the South, and even a larger aggregate of circulation may find profitable employment without impairing national credit. Peace and harmony must be consequences of such a revolution as this. But with negro conventions assailing with brutal ferocity the very foundations of society; negro lecturers and orators inflaming the minds of negroes with wrongs they never suffered, with rights they are now not fit to enjoy, and with immunities and social equalities which only lead to anarchy and death, who should wonder that there is no order, no successful industry, no confidence, no peace? A great nation stands upon the brink of destruction while her corrupt and besotted rulers plot and scheme to hold on to their places, and fill their pockets by plundering the hard earnings of a complaining and unhappy people! Grievances of such magnitude must have their redress or punishment in retribution of equal grade. And even now there may be some vengeance in preparation," red with uncommon wrath," which will make these evil-doers wish that they never had been born.
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Mallory Haskins




“Patching and Tinkering,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed December 5, 2022,