Congressional Campaign opened in Hancock.
September 4, 1863
Congressional Campaign opened in Hancock.
To-day quite a crowd of citizens were out at the Court-house in Hancock to witness the inauguration of the Court under Judge Caldwell in this Circuit. His charge to the Grand Jury was clear and full, and gave assurance of an honest intention that so far as he was concerned the laws of the land should be fully executed.
At 1 o’clock P. M., the Court having given way, the citizens were addressed by Messrs. Jacob B. Blair and E. M. Norton, candidates for the suffrages of the people in the approaching Congressional election.
Mr. Blair led the way in a speech of considerable length. He is a pleasant speaker and of fine address. Having represented the people of the 11th Congressional District of Virginia in the last Congress, he has made a record to which he appealed, and desired a re-election at this time as an endorsement of his former course. He was one of the five members from the border States who brought in a minority report endorsing the President’s plan of gradual emancipation in the border slave states, with remuneration from the general government to loyal men, as a measure calculated to detach the border states from the Southern Confederacy, and save them from the vortex of secession.
He had voted against the abolishment of slavery in the District of Columbia, believing it to be injudicious at this time.
On the great question of emancipation by the proclamation of January 1st, 1862, he was opposed to the policy of the Chief Magistrate, believing it to be inexpedient impolitic and tending to still further exasperate the border slave states already trembling in the balance. As commander-in-chief of our armies, he admitted that the President had full power to issue that proclamation and that every slave in the states included was this day a free man, with no power on earth having rightful authority to again remand him him to servitude. He believed the proclamation to be constitutional, and although opposed to the policy at the time of its issue events have proven the wisdom of the President, and he now rejoiced that the same had been made.
He fully endorsed everything that had been done by the Government to put down this rebellion, military arrests, emancipation proclamation, confiscation and all, and pledged himself that if returned to the next Congress he should be found standing side by side with the friends of the Administration in the election of a Speaker for the House of Representatives and in the passage of every measure having for its object the safety of the Union. He passed a high encomium upon the President as one of the best of men, whose great and good heart beat only for his country, and who deserved the sympathy and confidence of every man who loved the Union cause, and who was determined to maintain it.
Mr. Blair, whatever has been his record heretofore, now certainly endorses fully the administration in its policy, and has got home about as safely to “Abraham’s bosom” as the most ardent admirers of our worthy President could desire.
Mr. Norton followed in an able speech of about equal length, not, probably quite so polished in delivery as his competitor, but in that earnest pointed style which never fails to impress the audience with the views of the speaker.
In every pulsation of his heart he was with the President, as the Executive of this Government in putting down this rebellion. He had even stood forth as the champion and the friend of the man who had to labor. Opposed to slavery from principle, while he had always adhered to the doctrine of non-intervention by Congress with the institutions of any State, because he believed our fathers had so made the contract. But now when these rebels had cast aside that Constitution, and absolved him from further obligation to uphold their peculiar institution, every emotion of his heart was in favor of freedom, and no condition of things could induce him to sanction any arrangement that would send back a single one of these four million freedmen into the hands of southern traitors, reeking as they are with the blood of our best citizens – our brothers and our sons.
He hailed with joy the consummation of our new State triumph. The shackles of Old Virginia could no more bind our active energies. Henceforth our course was onward and upward, and he reasoned that as the President had cut the Gordian knot as to our admission as a State by the sententious decision that “he must protect his friends,” so now the administration might justly expect that we should send representatives whose every sympathy would be in unison with those who had done so much for us in the hour of need.
With that good humored sincerity which attaches to friendly competitors for office before the people, Mr. Norton referred to some of the votes of Mr. Blair in the last Congress, dwelling at length upon his vote against the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, where to our shame, for years slaves had been manacled, bought and sold beneath the very shadow of our national Capitol. He read the yeas and nays taken upon sundry resolutions and references in which Mr. Blair’s name was repeatedly placed in such unpopular company as Vallandigham, Voorhees, Wickliffe, &c.
The speaker were frequently applauded, but at no time more heartily than when they uttered sentiments of devotion to the Union or when they pledged unqualified adhesion to the course of our chief magistrate.
Much as our people may be opposed to the employment of conventions as a general rule, I think a large majority feel that we have too much in jeopardy to leave a possible chance for the election of a butternut. In the hands of any one of the candidates now before us I doubt not our cause would be safe enough, but at the eleventh hour a disloyal man, concentrating all the votes of that class, might obtain a plurality over our scattered forces, though in the aggregate we might be largely in the majority.
In union there is strength.
New Manchester, Sept. 2, 1863.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: September 1863