Richmond Enquirer editorial on the Harper's Ferry

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The Harper's Ferry Invasion as Party Capital  (1857) 
by Richmond Enquirer
published 25 October 1859

The tone of the conservative press of the North evinces a determination to make the moral of the Harper's Ferry invasion an effective weapon to rally all men not fanatics against that party whose leaders have been implicated directly with this midnight murder of Virginia citizens, and the destruction of Government property. This is certainly legitimate -- and we do most sincerely hope that the horror with which the whole country is justly filled, may be the means of opening the eyes of all men to the certain result of the triumph of an "irrepressible conflict" leader, or of any man, by an alliance with the Black Republican Ossawattomites of the North. This great wrong and outrage has been perpetrated by men from the North. It is but just and proper that a disclaimer should be made by the Northern press; but the voice of the press is not enough, the voice of the people at the North, through the polls, is necessary to restore confidence and to dispel the belief that the Northern people have aided and abetted this treasonable invasion of a Southern State.

If the success of a party is of more importance than the restoration of good feeling and attachment to the Union, let that fact go forth from the polls of New York at her approaching election. Upon her soil, the treason, if not planned, was perfected; the money of her citizens gave vitality to the plot; the voice of her people should speak words of encouragement to the outraged sovereignty of a sister State. The vile clamor of party, the struggle of Republicanism for power, has given an impetus to the abolition zeal of old Brown and his comrades, that impelled them forward in their mad career of treason and bloodshed. The leader of the Republican forces gave utterance to the treasonable declaration of an "irrepressible conflict," and if the people of New York really repudiate the dogma that has vitalized pillage, robbery and murder, and raised up a body of men to initiate the "irrepressible conflict," let them send from the polls greetings of overthrow that shall, if possible, restore confidence, and cement the broken fragments of attachment for the Union. The triumph of the Black Republicans in the State of New York will be encouragement to future Ossawatomites, to again attempt the plunder and invasion of Virginia; the defeat of this "irrepressible conflict" party will speak thunder tones of encouragement and hope to the people of the Southern States; such a defeat will tend to allay that excitement which now slumbers under inexpressible indignation, and which a spark may light into a conflagration destructive to the Union.

The voice of the Southern people has not been heard, and may never be heard. The shallow waters murmer, but the deep are dumb; and such is the state of public feeling at this moment from the Potomac to the Gulf. Let not the people of the North mistake this silence for indifference. There exists a horror and indignation which neither press nor public meetings can express, a feeling that has weakened the foundations of the Union, and which may at any moment rase the superstructure. Will not the people of New York, from the polls, speak some word of encouragement, and, if possible, re-instate the Union sentiments disturbed by their own people?

The Harper's Ferry invasion has advanced the cause of Disunion, more than any other event that has happened since the formation of the Government; it has rallied to that standard men who formerly looked upon it with horror; it has revived, with ten fold strength the desire of a Southern Confederacy. The, heretofore, most determined friends of the Union may now be heard saying, "if under the form of a Confederacy, our peace is disturbed, our State invaded, its peaceful citizens cruelly murdered, and all the horrors of servile war forced upon us, by those who should be our warmest friends; if the form of a Confederacy is observed, but its spirit violated, and the people of the North sustain the outrage, then let disunion come."

The people of New York have the opportunity, at the approaching election, not only of rebuking Mr. Seward, the great leader of the Ossawattomite Republicans, but of showing the people of the South, that the sympathy of the great State of New York is with Virginia and not with the traitor that must meet the just punishment of his treason.

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.