The Appointments of the "Conservative, Old Line Whig," Black Republican Speaker
Richmond Semi-weekly Examiner, February 14, 1860
The formation of the committees of the House is an admirable commentary on the conservative, anti-sectional character which the Opposition friends of PENNINGTON in the South have been so kind as to give him. His union with the Black Republicans—his continued, zealous and unhesitating service in their ranks—his nomination and election by that party—his refusal to vote for a South American or a Southern old line Whig, could not convince the leading Opposition press in Virginia that he was any other than a true, patriotic, Unionloving, anti-sectional conservative. The people, we trust, need no further evidence to convince them that he is not only in full affiliation with the bitter enemies of the South, but that his election is another evidence of the power of those enemies, and a dangerous and offensive attack upon the interests and rights of the people of the slave-holding States. The Black Republicans know, appreciate and reward him. Let the people of the South understand, and take warning. They have nothing to expect but conflict. The House of Representatives is presided over by their uncompromising foe, and he has not been slow to show his hatred, nor has he bungled in the execution of his allotted task. SHERMAN and GROW and HICKMAN evidently planned it, and he hastened to its execution—not as if he was hired by wages alone, but as if he was called to a labor of love. He has finished the first part of his work. No fault can be found with its completeness, or with the fidelity of the laborer. It is but a foretaste of what the South has to hope from power placed in the hands of "conservative, old line Whig, Union-loving" men turned Black Republicans. "This thing is done in the green tree. What will be done in the dry?"—Let us look at the formation of the important committees by this Speaker. Let us judge him by his principles carried into action; not "by what he calls himself," nor by what newspaper editors say of him. His election was followed by filling the House with Freesoil subordinate officers. This was done by himself and his Black Republican associates. Let us see how he acted of himself, on his own responsibility, at the bidding of his hidden advisers. At the head of the first and most important committee, he places the most noted leader of the strictest sectional party—the endorser of HELPER—JOHN SHERMAN. He and four other Northern men constitute the majority of the Committee of Ways and Means, and the Southern minority of the committee is headed by the notorious HENRY WINTER DAVIS, who is as bad as the worst Northern Freesoiler. This committee has a controlling influence over the taxation of the people, and it is so constituted as to devise, and plan and secure the greatest injustice to the Southern people in the Confederacy.—This is the first example of this man's equal love of all sections and of his love of justice. The next—the Committee on Commerce, whose task it will be to provide for discriminations against Southern industry and in favor of Northern—has a majority of two-thirds Northern men, headed by the Black Republican WASHBURNE, of Illinois, with a minority of three Southern men.—The Committee on Elections has a majority of Northern men, and the Committee and the Southern minority have at their head Mr. GILMER, of North Carolina, who has the reputation of being as near in thought and feeling like unto Mr. HENRY WINTER DAVIS as any man living in the South with any pretense to the possession of a conscience can be. Mr. H. W. DAVIS's seat is contested, and this committee reports on it.—The Committee on the Judiciary, second only in general importance to that of Ways and Means, has seven Northern men and three Southern. The Northern men are all either Black Republicans, or Anti-Lecompton Democrats, headed by the rancorous enemy of the South, HICKMAN, and the three Southern men have amongst them the anti-Southern, Northern-leaning NELSON, of Tennessee. An excellent chance there will be here for devising means to evade the Dred Scott decision, and rendering of no avail the Fugitive Slave Law, if such can be accomplished by any legislative jugglery. The Committee on Foreign Affairs is composed of five Northern men and four Southern. In memory of the patriotic prayer, put up in the late war with Mexico, that our enemies should welcome our citizen soldiery "with bloody hands to hospitable graves," the noted THOMAS CORWIN, the Black Republican author of this traitorous piece of blasphemy, is put at the head of this committee.
Out of twenty important committees, eighteen are presided over by Northern Chairmen—all the eighteen are Black Republicans, we believe, save two, these two are BRIGGS and HASKIN, who are rewarded for their desertion of the Democracy and efficient service rendered to the Black Republicans. of the two Southern Chairmen, of Committees, one is GILMER—who has sailed under the same flag with HENRY WINTER DAVIS so long—the other is ETHERIDGE, of Tennessee, both of whom are thus rewarded for their desertion of the South, and their persistent efforts to defeat a union of the South Americans with the Democracy in their long and luckless struggle with the Black Republican assailants of the South. To no man from the South, who has the confidence of the Southern people, who has shown any disposition to resist Northern aggression, has he shown favor or given prominent position. To no man North, out of the ranks of the Black Republicans, has he given power, unless he purchased his reward by base desertion of his professed principles and party, and added to his infamy the degradation of supporting this said PENNINGTON for the office he now holds. These are the evidences of his unselfish purity, of his anti-sectional feeling, of his "Old-line Whig" conservatism, of his love of the Union. He gives all power to one section—he places that power in the hands of the most embittered sectional party in that section—he rewards no man from the South who has not signalized his disregard of Southern rights by aiding, directly or indirectly, in his own personal elevation. He had not the common feeling of kindness and generosity, even of good taste, to extend the common courtesy to his Democratic or old-line Whig opponents, BOCOCK and SMITH, a complimentary appointment, even as first on an unimportant committee.
We submit, now, to the judgment of the conservative people of this Union, North and South, whether an official position in this country was ever filled by a man whose action proved him to be more thoroughly sectional, a more embittered and bigoted enemy of the South, or a more unvarying and unscrupulous partizan? Let other cause be found for rejoicing in the South than this man's election. Let us see other reason to abate our vigilance, and to stay our dread and hate of freesoil aggressions than can be found in this last victory of Black Republican representatives. Let not the North hear any voice from the South save of wrath and regret at this fatal achievement of the enemies of the Constitution and the South.