February 6, 1861
Serenade to Messrs. Sweeney and Pendleton.—A large number of our citizens wishing to show their admiration of the gallant canvass made by Messrs Sweeney and Pendleton throughout the late exciting election, and their appreciation of the position they occupied as Union men and Virginians, serenaded them at their residences last evening. Mr. Pendleton was first called upon, and after several patriotic airs had been performed by the band, Mr. P. made his appearance in response to repeated calls and was greeted with hearty cheers. He briefly alluded to the excited period through which we had just passed, returning his thanks for the compliment tendered him in the serenade, and owing to illness in his family, accepted an invitation which had been given him by the party to accompany them to the residence of Mr. Sweeney where he would make his remarks at greater length.
The immense crowd for its numbers had been greatly increased by constant additions, then repaired to the residence of Mr. Sweeney, who came out in the midst of tumultuous cheering.
We regret that want of time prevents our giving the remarks of these gentlemen to day.—They breathed a spirit of true devotion to the Union and an earnest desire for the rights and prosperity of Virginia. We wish that every citizen of our State could have heard them. We have copious notes of the addresses and will publish them in our next issue. We need hardly add that on this occasion Messrs. Pendleton and Sweeney sustained their well known reputation for hospitality by throwing open their houses to their friends.
Speech of Mr. Sweeney.
The crowd being collected in the yard and street fronting his residence and Mr. Sweeney being loudly called for came forward and said: He thanked his friends for the kindness they manifested in thus calling upon him. He had been familiar with every contest since the election of General Jackson, but never had he seen one in which there had been more feeling, more bitterness and more unfairness than had been exhibited against him and his friend Mr. Pendleton, in the recent election. Every combination, every association imaginable had been formed and gentlemen had descended to acts of vituperation and slander which he would not stop to notice upon this occasion. He had heard even of one man who had been mean enough to exhibit the Palmetto flag on a ticket as his flag and had paraded it at the polls. For his own part he had but one flag, the ‘stars and stripes’ and he wanted no other while our rights could be maintained under it. He would not detain the audience in the cold to refer to these contemptible slanders. (Here some one in the audience cried out to others ‘don’t trample on the shrubbery.’) Mr. S. said ‘never mind the shrubbery—tramp it as much as you please, it will grow again. I should be more than gratified if the destruction of all my shrubbery was the worst consequence of yesterday’s election.’ (Prolonged applause.) He had been announced as a Union candidate and such he was, but he had refused to pledge himself for the Union under all circumstances and hence the combinations which defeated him. He was yet a firm friend of the Union and would cling to it as long as it protected the rights and the honor of all sections, but he had said and he repeated it that when it failed to do that, he would maintain at all hazards the rights and the honor of the people of Virginia, the State of his adoption. (Tumultous cheering.) He had been approached and asked to pledge himself to many things and especially never to sign an ordinance of secession. He had refused to make such pledges; he had refused to be an automaton, and had told these gentlemen that if they desired a puppet to represent them who was to have no head and free agency of his own, he was not the man to represent them. (Cheers.) He had refused to cater to the Black Republican vote, he had gone father and told them that if elected he did not want to be elected by their vote. He feared that the alternative was fast becoming one of compromise or war. The Black Republicans could save the Union and they would not. He had no regrets for his defeat, as he had been defeated because he would not sacrifice principle and his personal independence. (Enthusiastic applause.) He concluded by thanking his friends again for their kindness and support and inviting them into his house.
When Mr. Sweeney concluded, Mr. Pendleton was called for. He assured the audience that he was more than grateful for the spectacle they presented upon this occasion. He was gratified, not so much for himself, as for the principles which he had upheld during the late canvass. Grateful did he feel for the assurance, that despite the disastrous results of the day before, there was yet here a Virginia party who would never bow their heads to the Baal of Black Republicanism. (Loud cheering.) Defeated they were undismayed, overpowered they were not conquered, and they were assembled not to condole over defeat, not to give vent to despair, not even to be cast down and depressed, but rather to re-testify their devotion to the equal rights of Virginia and to rekindle the fires of patriotism, even from the very embers of defeat. (Cheers.) Proudly did he feel at this moment for himself, and more proudly for his cause. He had entered the lists against heavy odds, with party feelings arrayed against him because a standard bearer of the States Rights Democracy last fall, and he well knew when he entered this canvass that he headed a forlorn hope, but he had labored in the canvass for principle and was willing to make all sacrifices in person. (Great applause.) He would rather be the standard bearer in such a cause, with such principles, such devotion to the rights of Virginia and such determination to maintain those rights even in defeat, than to have been five hundred times successful under the auspices and with the colors of the victors. (Mr. P. was here interrupted by prolonged applause.) Such a victory had no charms for him, such a defeat no terrors. He would rather be the humblest of the follows of the cause of Virginia in the late contest, than the most oily and smooth-faced demagogue and political charlatan that ever proved traitor to his party and fattened on the anticipations of being a “dweller in the tents of the wicked,” and feasting on the wages of political pollution. (Great applause.) Proud was he of defeat. It had been accomplished by the most unheard of combinations. Black Republicans lay down with Bell and Everett’s, office holders and office seekers, the inns [sic] and the outs, Bank Presidents and Bank Cashiers, men honest and men otherwise, men young and men old, all who could be influenced by appeals and slanders of every kind, from every source. “Black spirits and white, blue spirits and gray,” all united in “concord sweet” to swell the mighty host enlisted under the drill major of Black Republicanism. For himself he had asked no quarter of that party and he had given none. He had declined their votes and he had not received them[.] (Cheers.) Were he young enough to take a Hannibal’s oath it would be on the altar of Virginia that he would swear eternal enmity to the precepts, principles and practices of the Black Republican party.—They were the disunionists, for they had broken the “tables of the covenant.” Both the candidates elect were elected, he believed by that vote and could not have been elected without it. For his own part he would rather be defeated by than elected with that vote. If the victors were satisfied with such a victory, he was. He had no regrets to express and no repentance could come to him. He had sought no alliance with the enemies of the Constitution and infinitely preferred defeat to such a victory. He had the satisfaction of having done his duty to himself, to his friends and to his State in the late canvass, and having done that, he could assure them[.]
For himself he asked no prouder position than that of having been, with his friend who preceded him upon this occasion, the standard bearer of Virginia and Virginians in the first battle with fanaticism upon her own soil. Trusting and knowing that his auditors were and would remain true to Virginia in this her day of trial, he could assure them alike of his sympathy and cordial co-operation in future.
At the conclusion of Mr. Pendleton’s remarks C. W. Russell, Esq., was loudly called for, who responded briefly and happily. On behalf of the people he thanked Messrs Pendleton and Sweeney for their gallant conduct of the canvass and explained the peculiar personal disadvantages, from party position, which were encountered by the former. Alluding to the latter gentleman he said that he became a candidate with a certain prospect of success which he had sacrificed rather than abandon the Constitution and the rights of Virginia by giving the pledges exacted by the Black Republicans. He declared that those who oppose Black Republicanism are the only true friends and guardians of the Union.
The remarks of all the gentlemen were most warmly and enthusiastically received, especially all hits at the Republican party, which were frequent.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: February 1861