Sunday, November 21, 2010

November 21, 1860: "Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch"

Richmond, Virginia c.1860-1865

On Wednesday November 21, 1860, the readers of Richmond's Daily Dispatch would have seen the following discussion of the relative merits of slavery in the South and freedom in Africa or in the North.
Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.

Death of a Good Man--State of Feeling in the Country — An Eloquent Sermon — Abolition Slander — Mass Meetings, &c., &c.
Chesterfield County,Nov. 20. 1860.

Yesterday the body of the Rev. Mr. Belcher was interred. He had for forty years been a minister of the Gospel, and preaching to Baptist Churches in this county. He was a good man, and much respected by all classes of the community. Rev. G. Mason, of Manchester, preached the funeral sermon.

There seems to be felt a deep solicitude in reference to the present state of the country. "What will Virginia do?" is the question which overrides all others. Though it seems to me that all have a conviction that no great harm is coming, and that after awhile the dark clouds will be swept away, and all will move on as heretofore, yet how such a desirable state of things is to be effected, is a matter about which the wisest confesses his ignorance.

Last Sunday I attended service at the African Church, at the Midlothian Pits, and was delighted with what I heard and saw. Rev. D. B. Winfree preached an eloquent sermon, and the singing and praying, which was done by the "colored brethren," was very fine.-- This is one of the best houses of worship in the county owned by slaves, and they employ a pastor who preaches for them three Sundays a month, while most of the white churches have preaching but one Sunday in the month. I could but think, while listening to the able exposition of Divine truth, and seeing how great are the religious privileges these people enjoy, how much better is their condition here than it would have been in Africa, or even in the Northern States, with no one to care for their souls or their bodies. When abolitionists assert that no provision is made for the religious culture of our slaves, they tell what is not true. Something is done — much is done, and a great deal more would be done if they would let us alone.

Mass meetings are being held in various portions of this county, in behalf of Sabbath Schools and colportage. I attended one of these, at Jerusalem, a few days ago. It was stated that the colporteurs in the employ of the Sunday School and Colportage Board in Richmond, have within three years organized sixty five Sunday Schools in destitute neighborhoods in this State, have found four thousand families destitute of the Bible, and about five thousand with no religious book but the Bible, and have put good books and tracts in two hundred and fifty thousand families. Rev. Masers, Winfree, Bland and Dickinson addressed the meeting in behalf of this good work, and $130 were subscribed.

I have just been looking at a farm which seems a very good one, which was sold not long since for $8 per acre. It is strange that lands so near Richmond, within a few miles of a railroad, and probably containing millions of dollars of coal, should sell so cheaply.[1]
It's interesting to see this writer blame the way slaves are treated on abolitionists themselves: "Something is done — much is done, and a great deal more would be done if they would let us alone."

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