Monday, March 4, 2013

The Foe in our Midst

In St. Louis there are scores of dangerous men, zealous and scheming rebels, who are both acting the part of spies in our camp, and, by their position, presence, example and counsel, are rendering valuable service to the enemy.  The immunity with which they have long done this emboldens others to follow in their footsteps, and gives encouragement to the almost despairing foe in the field.  It is time that these mischief makers were placed where their influence would be powerless.  The peace of the city, the welfare of the State, and the cause of the country, as well as genuine kindness to these disturbers and their friends, all demand this. – Justice, policy, precedent and propriety alike require it.

During the struggle that gave birth to the Republic, the country was grievously infested by active and bitter tories.  In certain portions of the land they especially abounded, and in some were actually predominant in numbers.  They frustrated the efforts of patriots, gave invaluable information to the enemy, and materially aided in protracting the conflict.  Many of them were wealthy, educate, of high standing, had even gained a reputation for integrity, and thus wielded an influence mischievous in the extreme.  The journals of that time have since been published, tell us how these citizens were disposed of.  They were made to pay heavily for carrying on the war, and were removed to some region where their power for evil ceased.  This course was adopted by the advice and with the hearty concurrence of Washington.

In principle, the secessionists of this war are more flagitious than the tories of ’76, and in practice those of them near our military lines are worse.  The difference between the olden and the modern tory is purely circumstantial, and the circumstances are in favor of the former.  The one breathed in the times of ’76, when a republic was an experiment, the other knows that the experiment has been gloriously successful for four score years.  The one was opposed to a government of the country by the people of the country, and the other is so opposed.  The first was unwilling to have the people of the land rule the land, and the second is similarly unwilling.  But while one objected to sacrifice, peace and the ties of the fatherland, with its hallowed memories and proud historic associations, to enter upon a novel experiment under gloomy auspices, the other invokes war, tramples upon every sentiment of national price, outrages the glorious history and flag of his country, in order to render abortive the tried and well proved experiment of national self government.  Every sentiment that palliated the course of the tory of ’76, aggravates that of the secessionist of to-day.

What plea can be urged in behalf of further tolerance to the foe in our midst?  Why has he more claim to the shelter of constitutional law than the [foe] in the field?  How, when his whole spirit, all his aspirations, hopes, efforts and influence, are known to be hostile, is he not amenable to the laws of war?  Are the friends and well wishers of the enemy to be indefinitely harbored and cherished among us? – It is time that all illusions were at last dissipated, and that many of our citizens, who seem to be still dreaming amid the terrible realities upon us, were startled with a discovery of the serious nature of their position.  We are at war, St. Louis is a military post, yet in all quarters she is infested with prying, hypocritical, plotting, ingenious, implacable and deadliest foes.  What shouts of jubilee would they send up in our streets should some chance of war enable the enemy, through their aid, to gain possession of St. Louis?  How much mercy would be shown to their Union fellow-citizens?  Not a particle.  Every Unionist would be banished, or imprisoned and his property confiscated.  The wealth of the patriots of St. Louis has been by Sterling Price distinctly offered, though with absurd imbecility, as the prize of his rebel horde!  We urge no such wholesale treatment of those here who may sympathize with the enemy. – Yet the busy leaders and conspicuous intriguers among these sympathizers ought to be, and we trust soon will be, marked and effectually disposed of.

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, February 8, 1862, p. 2

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