Centennial Times - Jan 25, 1861 - North must compromise
Meetings Urge North To Compromise
Washington County citizens, in meeting after meeting, are declaring themselves in favor of the Union.
Almost everyone here favors any compromise that will keep the South in the Union peacefully. Many will admit the technical right of a State to secede. Few look with favor upon the new Lincoln administration.
But in meeting after meeting, as state after state secedes, Washington County citizens are declaring themselves for the Union. If Maryland secedes, it will not be with the support of Washington County.
The first Union meeting was held at Hancock shortly after the election on November 27.
On January 10, a meeting of prominent citizens, including some from this county, was held in Baltimore. Governor Hicks was called upon to hold a vote on the last Monday in January as to whether or not a secession convention should be held. He has not done so. The meeting expressed devotion to the Union, and approved the Crittenden Compromise.
Then, on January 12, after the news of South Carolina’s secession reached here, another was held, in Boonsboro. The Hon. Andrew K. Syester said, the South has been abused and persecuted by the North, but that these abuses can best be remedied inside the Union, not out of it. Resolutions were adopted favoring the settlement of sectional difficulties by the Crittenden resolutions in the Senate. The details of this compromise are outlined, elsewhere on this page.
George C. Rohrer was president of this Boonsboro meeting. Jacob Rudy and Anselm Waters were vice-presidents. Dr. William Beal and Dr. H. B. Wilson were secretaries.
On January 15, an immense meeting was held at the Washington County Court House, made up of people from all districts of the county. A short time before the appointed hour, the people rushed into the hall.
There was a strong division of feeling and, consequently, great excitement over the organization. Since compromise seemed the order of the day, two sets of officers were elected. The Presidents were Charles Magill and John McKee.
A committee of twenty was appointed to draw up resolutions. The chairman was Richard Alvey and members included William T. Hamilton, George Schley, Daniel Weisel, George Freaner, William Mother, Alexander Neill, James Wason, Isaac Nesbitt, Elias Daws, and other leading citizens.
While the committee met, speeches were made by J. Dixon Roman, Louis P. Fiery, James H. Grove and others. The Hon. Mr. Roman approved of the course of Governor Hicks, for his work to keep Maryland in the Union.
It was almost night before the committee reported. Since most of the farmers in the group had already started for home, it was decided that action on the committee resolutions should be postponed until the following week.
The resolutions dwelt upon the wrongs inflicted upon the South by the North. These wrongs demand redress, the resolutions said, but redress can be found within the Union and under the Constitution. The best method to settle the problem was passage of the Crittenden Compromise resolutions in the Senate.
The blame for the present difficulties, the resolutions said rests squarely upon abolitionists and fanatics in the North. Any concession is worthwhile if it preserves the Union, they continued, and any policy of force will permanently destroy the Union. Governor Hicks was requested to recommend a referendum upon the calling of a convention.
All the above was the unanimous resolution of the committee.
A minority, headed by Richard Alvey, proposed an additional resolution, declaring the right of a state to secede and arguing that the federal government has no right to compel a state to stay in the Union by force.
When the meeting convened again the following week, a strong division of feeling was apparent. A motion was made to adjourn from the Court House to the Public Square. The chairman declared the motion lost, whereupon the strong Union men withdrew and organized a separate outdoor meeting in the snow.
Daniel Startzman Sr was the chairman of the outdoor meeting. Daniel Weisel reported a series of resolutuions for the committee, moderate in tone, but firmly for the Union. Though Weisel and the committee regretted the election of Lincoln, they trusted in the good sense of the American people to turn him out of office in 1864. They said that the federal government has the right to enforce the laws and that no state, North or South, has a right to defy these laws. This last was a slap at the New England states that have defied the Fugitive Slave Laws, as well as the Southern States which have seceded.
However, the committee went on to say that if a new confederacy of states was formed, Maryland should act as her self-interest dictates. It also recommended that the Electoral College replaced by a district system of choosing the President and Vice-President, to prevent the election of sectional candidates like Abraham Lincoln.
Meanwhile inside the courthouse, the resolutions, prepared by the Hon. Mr. Alvey favored a convention to determine whether Maryland should stay in the Union or secede. It declared that a state had the constitutional right to secede, and that no force should be used to compel a state to stay in the Union.
Since then more meetings
have been held throughout the County. All commended Governor Hicks and all favored the Crittenden Compromise resolutions.
The Herald and Torch Light seems to express their feeling when it says “It is our duty as Southern men to hold back secession until the sober second thought of the North can be put into operation for the preservation of the Union.”
While the first Hagerstown meeting was going on, another meeting was held in Hancock. John J. Thomas was president, James D. Hork vice-president, and Robert Bridges secretary. Conservative resolutions were adopted.
Another Union meeting was held in Mr. Pearson’s schoolhouse, Smithsburg shortly after the first Hagerstown meeting. George Winters was chairman; and Philip Oswald, secretary. William B. McAtee and J. D. Price read resolutions, prepared by the committee of 20 in Hagerstown. The first four of these resolutions were approved.
On January 18 a Union meeting was held at Rohrersville. Elias Rohrer was president and Josiah E. Mullendore was secretary.
On January 19, a group of Hagerstown workingmen met to endorse Governor Hicks. Secession was condemned and the Crittenden Compromise approved. William Miller was chairman of the meeting; A. J. McGruder, William Bieshing and William Ratchliff were vice chairmen; and William Updegraff was secretary.
On January 22, a Union meeting of Leitersburg, Cavetown and Hagerstown citizens was held at the Pleasant Hill School House. James M. Leiter was president, Jacob Eckstine vice-president, and D. M. Good secretary. George W. Lantz, A. J. Hartmen and John Slick prepared resolutions.
On January 23, a Union meeting of Clear Spring residents has been scheduled at the Hagerstown Academy. Denton Jacques is chairman, George Ernst vice-president, and Dr. H. F. Perry, secretary. The details will be reported as soon as one of these gentlemen communicates with us.
On January 30, a Union meeting will be held at Blair’s Valley at John Feidt’s school house; Dr. William Fiery will speak. John Bartel and Samuel Bartel urge everyone to attend.
On February 2, a Union meeting will be held at Keedysville. Captain Elias Davis of Boonsboro will speak. Jacob H. Cost, Samuel Pry, Washington Kitzmiller and Dr. H. G. Chritzman are said to be the organizers of the meeting.
On February 9, the Union Flag will be raised at Clear Spring. Lewis P. and Samuel M. Fiery will speak.
Used with permission of the Herald-Mail
59 x 33 cms
Washington County (Md.), history; Antietam, Battle of, Md., 1862; Sharpsburg, Battle of, Md., 1862; Centennial celebrations, etc:
Washington County (Md.), 1860-1862