May 31, 1861
Toryism in Kanawha
We have received a circular signed L. Ruffner, John D. Lewis, Spicer Patrick, John Slack, W. L. Hindman, James Atkinson, Wm. Fisher, Sr., and James Hindman, dated 16th of May, 1861, and addressed to the voters of Kanawha county.
This document is striking evidence of the fatuity of its authors. It consigns them to an everlasting disgrace among all men who hold their rights and their honor above their interests and their personal comfort.
It urges upon the people of Kanawha to vote against the Ordinance of Secession, because its authors regard the doctrine of secession as a political heresy, destructive of the Union and the Constitution. It does not seem to have occurred to these Kanawha Tories, that their master and friend, Abraham Lincoln, has already subverted the Constitution, and that the Union had been utterly and forever disrupted. This circular advises the good people of Kanawha to vote against the Ordinance because its authors say that its adoption will involve Virginia in war, and that the people of Kanawha will have to take part in it. They advise a neutrality, professing that Lincoln will not force them to take sides against the South. They want peace at the sacrifice of their rights and honor. They have no sympathy with Virginia or the South. They have no love of State pride or State sovereignty. They regard Lincoln as the Lord’s anointed, and, while they do not approve his policy, they yet call upon the people to sustain him. We have no words to characterize the time-serving character of this pitiful appeal for the Union. It is nothing to them that the homes of their brethren in Virginia, and the South, are assailed by a banded horde of licentious soldiery. It is nothing to them that we are fighting for all that makes life dear to man—for home, for wives and children, for right and liberty. No, these Kanawha Tories are only anxious to pacify the wrath of the tyrant, and to crawl ignobly at his feet.
Poor, miserable wretches, in the face of all the world they proclaim their infamy and sue for peace at the expense of honor. A more craven, abject and servile specimen of Toryism never aroused the indignation of a patriotic people.
This man Patrick was, and we believe is, a member of the Virginia Convention. Will he have the brazen impudence to meet Virginia gentlemen again in convention, and to obtrude his craven counsels upon the unwilling ears of a proud and chivalrous people?
We understand that George W. Summers, the other delegate from Kanawha, opposed the ordinance of secession before his people, and exerted all his influence against it.
Summers has resigned his seat in the Convention, and consequently Virginia gentlemen will be spared the degradation of sitting in council with him.
This precious document was abject Toryism before the 23d of May. Now, if its sentiments are persisted in, it will be palpable treason to Virginia.
We are happy to be assured that the vast majority of the people in the Kanawha region will abide the action of their State, and stand gallantly by her fortunes, through weal or woe.
There is now no middle course. He who is not for us is against us; and the man who sympathizes with the Lincoln Government or withholds his aid from Virginia in her hour of trial, is a recreant to our venerable mother and a traitor to the allegiance which he owes her.
Of Ruffner, Patrick, Summers, nothing more need be said than that they have sunk where the hand of resurrection will never reach them.
May 31, 1861
The Politicians of Kanawha
We have before us an address “to the voters of Kanawha county,” dated 16th May, 1861, signed L. Ruffner, Spicer Patrick and others, and containing a violent appeal to the people of that county to put forth their utmost exertions to defeat the ordinance of secession at the polls on the 23d instant. We shall notice the address somewhat in detail hereafter,. A correspondent informs us that, owing to the absence of the active secessionists on military duty and the exertions of Dr. Patrick and the other signers of the address, supported throughout by Mr. Summers, the county of Kanawha gave about one thousand majority against the ordinance.
Mr. Summers, it will be seen, has resigned his seat in the Convention, and Dr. Patrick, we presume, will resign also. Certainly the Convention, with a proper appreciation of its responsibility and duty, will refuse to admit to membership Dr. Patrick or any other man who refuses to acknowledge his allegiance to Virginia.
We have a strong assurance that the people of the Kanawha region will stand by Virginia, notwithstanding their vote on Thursday.
May 19, 1861
To the Voters of Kanawha
The people of Virginia, at the election in February last, by a majority of more than fifty thousand votes, required that any secession ordinance which the Convention might pass, or any other act changing the relation of Virginia to the United States, should be submitted to the people for ratification or rejection, and until so ratified should have no force or binding effect. In pursuance of this requirement the ordinance of secession is to be voted on at the election on the fourth Thursday in this month.
How we should vote on this most solemn and responsible occasion, is a matter of more than ordinary interest and solicitude.
We have carefully an earnestly considered the subject, and in answer to the enquiry so often made of us for our opinion in the premises, take this occasion to state the conclusions at which we have arrived.
1st.That the doctrine of secession is a political heresy, wrong in itself, and not only destructive of the Union and Constitution of our country, but of all permanent government.—We cannot therefore conscientiously vote for the ordinance of secession, but must, under a solemn sense of duty, vote against it.
2nd. The inevitable consequences of ratifying the ordinance of secession are
First, To involve us, as we believe, in the most terrible and destructive civil war that the world has ever witnessed.
Second, To fix and bind us hand and foot without our consent to the Confederate States.
Third, To subject us to the control and burthens of a government which we had no agency in making and whose officers we have had no part or opportunity of electing.
Fourth, To transfer the seat of the war from the territories of the belligerent parties to the fields and hearthstones of our own people.
Fifth, To sacrifice the happiness, fortunes, and lives of our people in the quarrels of others, where we have nothing to gain and everything to lose.
If the Union shall be maintained and peace restored, the evils that threaten will soon disappear.
We are advised that our gallant sister State of Kentucky, by an overwhelming vote of her people, a few days since, has declared for the Union, and has received assurances from the Administration at Washington, that if she observes apposition of neutrality she will not be invaded by the Government of the United States, nor required to furnish troops to that government. Thus her interests and honor are secured against the calamities that must follow secession.
There is strong reason to believe that Missouri and Maryland will pursue the same policy and avoid the same evils.
It seems to us, therefore, that duty patriotism, and policy, all require a united vote by the people of Virginia, and of the West especially, against this Ordinance of Secession, however much we reprobate as unwise and impolitic, the warlike policy of the President.
Nor should any freeman be intimidated by false reports from going to the polls on the day of election, and casting his vote as his judgment and conscience may approve.
John D. Lewis
W. L. Hindman
Wm. Fisher, Sen.
May 16, 1861
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: May 1861