The Editorials on Secession Project
Free Negroes from Virginia
Columbus Crisis, February 7, 1861
Eighteen free negroes arrived in this city last week from Virginia, and we are informed that there are more to follow. We can not see how Ohio is to be benefitted by this process of making her a general depot for all the free negroes of the South. It is a new way of elevating the white working people, and it is very likely in the general breaking up of order and established government that those who labor will have something to say about this introduction of blacks amongst us.
What is of more than ordinary consequence in this matter is the fact, that Mr. GREELEY of the New York Tribune has all at once discovered that the present national troubles can be solved by purchasing all the’ negro slaves in the border States, by the Government, and setting them free.
This would turn nearly a million of negroes loose upon our borders to immigrate into Ohio to mix with the white population, and compete with the white laborers for a living, or steal from those who have got property, to suit their tastes and wants.Ohio would be the general resort of these freed blacks, as the laws of Indiana and Illinois do not favor their introduction there.
In behalf of the farmers, mechanics and clay-laborers we protest against this interference with their peace, prosperity and manhood. The next movement would be to elevate them to the right of suffrage, and hence of office and honors as well as competitors for labor.
Our Legislature being in session, their attention should be called to this evil, and such enactments should be placed upon our statute books as would protect their constituents from this evil and degradation.
The public feeling is becoming more and more excited on this negro question, and it will not now be quieted until the whole subject is ventilated, not as a party question as heretofore, but as one of self defence and self preservation. The South will find before it is over that we are not Abolitionists nor in favor of negro equality. We may lie under that stigma now, but the people will not be satisfied with it, and will rebuke, at the first opportunity, the idea that this population of white men desire to interfere with master and slave, and much less do they favor having these negroes introduced into their midst without a master to take care of them and keep them out of their way.
The whole politics of the country have run into the negro business as though there were no white men left amongst us. It is time this subject had changedand it is time also that the white man had become of some consequence in politics and legislation.
The negro philanthropists have got our country into a pretty predicament, and it now becomes white men to get it out, even if politicians have to be discarded entirely. Every day produces evidence that the people are becoming disgusted with negro rule on the stump and in legislative halls, and in churches, and in lecture rooms as well.The cry of “free speech” will result in “free votes,” and “free negroes” must give way to free white men.
What benefits have resulted to the white men or black men either, from this ocean of troubled waters? Injury to both, and a most sorrowful evil to the country.
Of what value is this population to Ohio when brought here? Has any town, city or neighborhood been benefitted by their introduction? They are a source of weakness to the State in every point of view in which their introduction can be considered. Has Columbus been improved in morals or industry? Has Xenia, in Greene county, since becoming a common depot for them, been elevated, or in any way improved, or the condition of society raised to a higher state of security and advancement? We think but very few would bear witness to such a result.
The evil is becoming one of great magnitude, and in the general disturbances and disintegration of the States, we have got to look into the whole subject in self-protection. It is of lasting importance to the working population, and they cannot overlook the consequences to themselves if this process of filling up the avenues of industry with such a population of a lower race, continues. Where they are held as slaves they are less prejudicial to the rights and interest of the laboring white man than when running at large with no one to take care of them and look after their material interests.
It is no longer what we may think of the abstract question of negro slavery, but it is what we think of ourselves and what we should do to protect and advance our own personal interests and welfare. To this shape it must come at last, and the responsibility will rest on those who have forced the people to investigate it, and to settle it. If it is a war of races, the superior race will very likely take care of itself.
We have no reason to blame Virginia for sending these manumitted slaves into our midst. They have reason to believe, from the speeches of the WADES, BINGHAMS, SHERMANS, GURLEYS, &c., in Congress, that the public sentiment of Ohio is in favor of their introduction, and they think they are doing a service to the blacks of Virginia and the whites of Ohio.
Our duty will be to undeceive them, and to protest against any such public sentiment here. Thousands if not tens of thousands voted the Republican ticket, who never intended any such a construction to be put upon their votes. They never dreamed of such a thing as a dissolution of the Union, or the introduction of hordes of free negroes into Ohio, as the consequence of electing Mr. LINCOLN to the Presidency, and they are not prepared to follow leaders any longer who either knew the consequence of their party organization and refused to tell it, or who were ignorant of the effects of their own doctrines. Either horn of the dilemma condemns them, and they may choose their point of defense.
We say they were not ignorant, that such men as Senator SEWARD did know that their success must lead to the sad consequences that are now passing before our eyes. That he did look to a division of these States into two confederacies as the end, if not the aim, of the triumph of his party, and that he in part, as far as it was prudent at the time, gave out dark inklings of such a result.
We learn that the Virginians who accompanied these manumitted slaves have purchased a farm on which to place them near Hilliard’s station, in this county, on the Urbana railroad.
Since the above was in type we learn that 79 free negroes arrived about the same time at Zanesville, from North Carolina.Ohio is thus rapidly increasing in population!
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