New York Times, “A Halter with Two Nooses,” May 20, 1861

    Source citation
    “A Halter with Two Nooses,” New York Times, May 20, 1861, p. 4: 3-4.
    Newspaper: Publication
    New York Times
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    A Halter with Two Nooses
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    Don Sailer, Dickinson College
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    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    A Halter with Two Nooses.

    The Richmond Examiner has not acquired a reputation for conservative views and calm councils. At present, the movement in the Northwestern counties is entirely too provoking for any affection of equanimity; in fact, the Examiner raves at the impunity with which the leaders of that movement are permitted to form their arrangements. “Why,” it properly asks, “does not the Governor interfere to put down this sedition and servile insurrection in its incipiency? The loyal sons of Virginia demand of their Governor that steps be at once taken to have these wretches hung.”

    There are several reasons which Gov. LETCHER is probably prepared to give for not at once hanging the participants in the business referred to. He has something more than enough to do in attending to matters on the seaboard. A powerful force, sufficient, as he is quite aware, to overwhelm any army he may muster to arrest it, is threatening to occupy the State, and bring his treasonable government to a close. Even with the aid of his allies in treason from the South, the chances are strongly against his ability to resist the invasion of the Commonwealth from three or four points at once; as there is no point on the Eastern frontier not menaced by a justly incensed enemy, and which is not practically defenceless. In such circumstances, and with such fire-eating malcontents as the Examiner at his house-door, he has not even a hangman to spare for a campaign beyond the Alleghanies.

    There are, moreover, practical difficulties surrounding the proposed policy. Then Northwestern districts claim the same right to secede from Virginia that Virginia assumed in seceding from the Union. The Government and people of the loyal States go further, and make the exercise of this right an absolute duty. If, therefore, hanging be awarded to secession as its only adequate punishment, Gov. LETCHER, and some others at Richmond, may be adjudged by their own law, and with a much greater chance of the infliction of the penalty, as Fortress Monroe is nearer than Wheeling to Richmond. The mind of Gov. LETCHER is doubtless not so preoccupied and befuddled as to be insensible to these salutary reflections. With a possible halter dangling before his mind’s eye, he will hardly stop to sow hemp on the Ohio.

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