February 21, 1868
Although Virginians realize what must be done to restore Virginia none of them participate in the necessary actions. No citizens are willing to devote their time to restoring the nation.
Virginia Interests. Everybody in Virginia ought to understand what Virginia interests are, and how they may be protected and fostered. Yet, Virginians are very peculiar. Too many of them are like some church members they will quarrel, and even fight for the Church, but do not practice its discipline nor assist it by their example. The Virginians will admit all that ought to be done for Virginia; but propose to them at once to join in an effort to do these things, and the answer is: "I-have-not-got-the-time!" Let us hope that we shall get over these things after a little, and that men will not be always so hard pressed by their overwhelming individual responsibilities that they cannot help to improve the country and make themselves rich! If we look around, we see how other States are securing prosperity and growth in political power to themselves. They open lines of communication with large producing and trading sections, and especially so direct those lines as to foster their own industry and commerce. [Virginia is very deficient in this respect. She has much to do to correct and shorten her lines to the right places.] They encourage agriculture and manufactures and commerce by liberal policies in appropriations, acts of incorporation, and taxation. All wealth comes out of the earth originally. The manufacturer enhances the value of a large part of the things thus procured by his art and labor. That State which gets the benefit of this enhancement of the value of its own productions profits in the highest degree by the products of its farms and mines. So that the most flourishing State must have her manufacturers to give her this advantage. Commerce, too, is an indispensable adjunct to the other sources of wealth to impart the most prosperous and independent condition to a community. No people ever succeeded in the most signal manner who were not stimulated to direct their energies and their policy by State pride and State devotion, with an enlarged and practical view of the general interests of the community. A people actuated wholly by narrow ideas of their individual concerns are sure to be defeated by rival interests better harmonized and more liberally sustained. We must have comprehensive views, and yielding up our personal prejudices and sectional jealousies, devote ourselves to the cause of Virginia tillage, Virginia manufactures, and Virginia commerce. This will increase our wealth, our population, the resources of the State, and spread thrift and improvement in every part of the land.
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“Virginia Interests,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed December 2, 2021, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/861.