Virginia and the Fate of the Invaders
Charleston, South Carolina, Mercury [Democratic]
(14 November 1859)
We have been both surprised and indignant to see a portion of the press of
Virginia weak enough to entertain a question as to the fate of BROWN, COOK, and
company, on trial for the treason, and insurrection attempted at Harper's
The fact of these guardians of the public weal of the Commonwealth of
Virginia gravely considering whether it would not be well to pardon or commute
the sentences of these cold-blooded miscreants; and whether such a
conciliatory course would not have a soothing effect on the mass of northern
abolitionists, and prevent their making a great apotheosis of the martyrs --
erecting shrines for pledging the rising generation to eternal hostility
against the South; and whether the democratic party would not be
benefitted by clemency -- strikes us as a lamentable indication of
timid tampering with the defence of southern institutions; a want of earnest
purpose to rise to the requirement of the times.
The howling of abolition sympathisers to stay the hand of
justice in such a cause!
A question of policy to avoid giving occasion for their wailings and
denunciations for the doom of their unfortunate confreres, pioneering the way
to universal emancipation at the South!
A matter for consideration as to the effects upon parties!
We have made no fuss about this Harper's Ferry business.
We regard it as a small affair, except as a sign of the times and of the
temper and intentions of the northern majority.
But something is due to the occasion.
Something is due in vindication of the violated sovereignty of the soil
Something is due in retribution to the southern blood shed upon its native
Something in the way of example for the security of southern hearths.
And we tell these gentlemen that if Virginia or her Executive fail to met
out the swift and complete justice of the law in any single instance in this
bloody business, a deep and general condemnation from the South will
It is an upon her intelligence and fidelity to southern
institutions, that we, at least, will neither countenance nor
We take the liberty of rebuking those of her sons who
trifle with a grave subject, and seem disposed to enter into nice
calculations on low grounds, whether at all, and with what
indulgencies, the wolves and blood-hounds of Harper's Ferry
notoriety shall expiate murders their crimes.
Nor can we at all sympathize with the Executive praises of the courage and
integrity of the treacherous and desperate hyena who led the murderous
There is neither policy nor dignity in those utterances of exaggerated and
Nor have we a higher opinion of the benevolent correspondence published
as between the she-tigers of abolitionism and the amiable governor of the
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