New York Times, “Sensible Southern Sentiments,” May 11, 1857

    Source citation
    “Sensible Southern Sentiments,” New York Times, May 11, 1857, p. 5: 4.
    Original source
    Norfolk (VA) Southern Argus
    Newspaper: Publication
    New York Daily Times
    Newspaper: Headline
    Sensible Southern Sentiments
    Newspaper: Page(s)
    Newspaper: Column
    Date Certainty
    Scott Ackerman, Dickinson College
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print.  Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    Sensible Southern Sentiments.

    The Norfolk (Va.) Southern Argus reads some of its contemporaries a very sensible lecture upon the hullabaloo they are raising over the projected immigration from the Northern States. It thinks they are “quite too sensitive on the subject of Southern institutions,” that their excessive alarm is construed into a sign of weakness, and that they are very likely to make themselves “ridiculous in the eyes all sensible people abroad.”

    The Argus
    does not apprehend any special danger to Virginian institutions from the projects of the Homestead Company; and for this opinion it gives the following reasons:

    “We are inclined to think that Virginia would be a poor field for operations. They may buy lands at low rates in the western part of the State, but the difficulty would be to get settlers to occupy them, even where they gave these lands away. The tide of emigration is settling from Northern States to the West, and will continue to flow in that direction as long as there are prairie lands with timber conveniently near to be occupied. It costs at least ten dollars per acre to clear the western lands of Virginia of timber, and put them in as favorable a condition for cultivation as the Western prairies are in their present condition.

    In Eastern Virginia, the prospects of the Homestead Company would not be more favorable. Lands which remunerate the cultivator for his labor, could not be procured except at high prices, and consequently would afford no speculation. Worn out lands, and those of light soils but capable of improvement can be purchased at low rates, but these would not answer the purposes of the Homestead Company. Capital is necessary to begin the cultivation of these lands. They are to be limed and marled, and money is to be laid out for guano and clover seeds, and other improves. But the Company’s settlers are poor; they have no capital. What would a Paddy, or a German, or even a Yankee do, besides starve, if he was put upon a hundred acres of land, without money, when the land was so poor, that it would not produce over five bushels of corn to the acre, without at first and outlay of from $6-$10 per acre.

    But even supposing all these obstacles to be overcome, what harm could two or three or even ten thousand Northerners scattered among us do our institutions. If they were located in the West, they would do no harm, for there are but few slaves in that part of the State. But suppose them scattered through the East; what harm would they be likely to do? Would they excite the slaves to insurrection? We would certainly find them out, and a hanging or two or three of them would put a stop to that. But would they be likely to do this? They would have an interest in the soil and an interest in the prosperity of the State, and this would prevent them from doing any rash act, even if they were Abolitionists. But we must suppose these settlers to have eyes and ears and some little common sense, and a residence of six months would convince them that it is best for all classes that the negro should be held in bondage. There are many Northern people now among us. Are they less reliable on the Slavery question then our own citizens? When has one who has settled down and made the State his home been found tampering with the negroes, or in any way acting against the institutions of the South? We would therefore say to ELI THAYER and company: Send on your settlers. If you send us neither paupers nor thieves we will welcome them, and in six months we will convert them all to our own faith. We have many among us already, Pro-Slavery men and slaveholders, and the only fault we have to find with them is that they are rather sever masters, but we hope to cure them of even that fault in time.

    Let the cry be Southward ho! We are ready for you.”

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