Shepherdstown, Va., January 30, 1858
For the Register,
Warrensburg, Mo., Jan. 15, 1858.
Mr. Editor. -- Perhaps you think I ought to be able to furnish you some news from the great political bone of contention -- Kansas, because I am now in Border Ruffiandom -- only some 60 miles from the theatre of startling events. It would indeed afford me pleasure to inform you of the doings in Kansas, but I am not in possession of anything later than what you have heard. "We get nothing here direct from the Territory; all our news comes from Washington, which is the most reliable. It is impossible to obtain the real condition of affairs in Kansas
from any one there, a* there are two parties contending for the supremacy, and every resident of the place has his prejudices one way or the other. Almost everything coming directly from Kansas, relative to affairs there, is devoid of the least semblance of truth ; and the nearer you approach the place the farther off you are from the truth, from the simple fact that the theatre of action is no place to get a correct statement, and the camp is always filled with fabulous stories. Therefore the only place you can obtain reliable intelligence is from headquarters - Washington.
I am fast becoming accustomed to the habits and customs of Missourians, and the more I see of Missouri the better I like it. Since my last letter I have been roaming considerable space, and I find this not only a beautiful, desirable and rich country, but it also has some pretensions to a romantic one. The country between here and Lexington is beautiful and attractive, challenging the admiration alike of the traveller and the lover of agriculture. It is all rolling prairie thickly - interspersed with beautiful farms and; handsome residences.
This is certainly the State for a man of limited capital to come to, as the land is cheap and daily enhancing in value - and with half the labor better crops can be produced than on the worn-out farms of the East. Missouri is destined to be one of the leading States of the Union; her endless coal banks - as yet undeveloped -the of incalculable benefit ; her railroads
are now diverging in all directions thro' the State, and ere long the music of the Iron Horse will be heard from one end of the State to the other. Thousands of acres of land are lying yet uncultivated for the want of labor to till them. All that Missouri asks is emigration. A person with a small amount of means need not confine himself to farming to make a "pile there are various other ways to accomplish that. Money is in demand here - consequently it commands a high rate of interest - and a man can just seat himself happily and loan his funds out at four per cent a month. Mechanics of every description can make money here;
the mechanics here are of an ordinary character, but do well. Even in Warrensburg there is a great demand for carpenters, bricklayers and cabinet makers, (send Hopkins out, he can make a fortune and marry well) for the town is improving rapidly and cries loudly for assistance. I mention these few facts for the benefit of those of your readers who contemplate migrating to the great West. The inhabitants are clever and hospitable, industrious and money-making - and to the observer they exhibit a disbelief that "money is the root of all evil," for their whole object seems to acquire a colossal fortune and to that end they are as sharp as the great Moguls of a certain town I wrote of. Though convinced of the advantages to be derived from a residence here, yet had I had a fine farm in Jefferson county, Va., well stocked with Negroes, Missouri with all its allurements could not induce me to relinquish my hold upon my nativity. So far this has been a remarkably mild winter, and at present writing the sun sheds down a mild and genial warmth, more meritorious of the month of May than the middle of January, apropos to this I may here remark that such mild weather is a perfect God-send to the many emigrants who are pouring into the; country from all quarters. The most of them travel in wagons, and camping out on an open prairie on a cold winter's night is aught else but pleasant, therefore; they at least, are not disposed to find fault: with the clemency of the season.
The news of the arrest of Gen. William Walker was received here with the same feelings that was evinced throughout the South. No doubt the whole country - especially the South is under deep obligations to Com. Paulding for the exceedingly dutiful manner in which he executed his instructions. Personally, it caused me a pang of deep regret, but the sting of the wound is somewhat softened by the gallant and fearless manner its which the friends of the cause stand by him in the South. To the admirers of Walker and the advocates of Americanizing Nicaragua, this effort of the South to sustain the"grey-eyed man of destiny" against the abuse and double-dealing of the administration, comes like glad tidings of great joy." The General has been meanly and rascally dealt with by an uneasy and troubled administration; and by rights he should be reinstated. However distressing to the friends of the regeneration of Central America, the late disgraceful act of the Government to Walker was, it is nevertheless consoling to know that it had the effect of enlisting the sympathies of many in his favor, who otherwise remained silent on the subject. If Walker still persists in going bark to his rightful country, and old Buck tacitly favors him, but avowedly issues "stringent orders" against him, some more of our moral officers may signalize themselves like their immortalized predecessors have done. The South ought surely award a leather medal to Com. Paulding for the immense service he has rendered the country, by his late daring act. By an open declaration of war, (which was in humble imitation of the brave Davis) 800 marines and any quantity of cannon he actually arrested 150 men!!! Noble, commendable, and self-sacrificing deeds of daring! If the United Slates overlooks the claims of Davis and Paulding, then surely Republics are ungrateful. The present administration has, indeed, gotten into a sad predicament. The very name of Walker has been to it a great bug bear-- "A hideous monster of such frightful men, That to be hated needs but to be seen." With the Governor in the North and the General in the South, me thinks they have "old Buck" where Paxton had the "Ram." If the President wishes to retire from the White house with honor to himself and satisfaction to the nation he must divest himself of all double-dealing and soft-bolder, and take an independent stand upon all questions, and that will bring him out "right side up," for independents in these days of political equivocation is a rare virtue-- a rich jewel, I await with great anxiety for further developments in this important national subject, hoping that "our" cause may yet triumph.
In my peregrinations through this country I came across an old Jefferson county friend, W. S., who has been living here for some time, and who expatiated largely on the beauty, advantages, of Missouri. After he got through his enconium he said "the only objection I have to Missouri, you get such awful bad whisky." By the way, I see by the last "Register" that another effort is being made to; prohibit the use and sale of intoxicating liquors. I infer from this move that the late act of the County Court upon that subject had not its desired effect. Last spring the only portion of Jefferson county that was in a state of inebriety, and needed reform was Harper's Ferry. They petitioned to the Court praying for its aid in the matter; their Honors - the Magistrates - in their wisdom took it upon themselves to reform the whole county, which only seemed to prove the old adage "too much of a good thing is equal to a bad." It is indeed painful to me to hear that my old town, too, has gotten on a drunken spree, and tumbled into the wake of Harper's Ferry; that the morals of that cherished spot--Home, is falling into such a distressingly disreputable, and morbid state, that the "citizens are drinking themselves to death," and, that in order to prevent the old unterrified from dieing a "drunkard's death," the good people have determined to organize a Temperance Vigilance Committee. Little dull I think, and, indeed, it is mortifying to hear, that the young men have so fallen from grace that they can't enjoy a "social glass" without gelling drunk. It was not so formerly, Mr. Editor, as you know, and I know by actual observation that the young men of Shepherdstown could take a drink and not repeat it, just as they desired. . .
But, now, I infer from the article in the Register, that a fellow can't swallow three scruples of Whisky without getting light. This is a deplorable slate of things, and I congratulate myself upon my exodus from such an anathematized town at the propitious hour I did, or, perhaps I might have been one of the victims.
I was always of the opinion that the young men of that locality were elegant; drinkers-- that they had too much pride and self-respect to allow themselves to degenerate into a community of worthless sots. But if there is any truth in the communication in the paper, I am convinced that a thorough reformation is needed; that the time-honored old place has fallen from the proud position she once occupied down to a common dodger. As a Temperance Vigilance Committee is about to be formed for the express purpose of "tapering off" the young men in town, allow me to throw out a few hints, relative thereto. It is a fact established; beyond all precedence and incontrovertible That woman exist" a great influence over man, and inasmuch as your town is lavishly endowed with women - amiable,
pretty, loving and lovable girls, I would humbly suggest that the said committee the composed of the most amiable, the most influential, and the most fascinating ladies In town, invest them with power to do just what they please with the boys, and I'll risk my imputation that in less time than you can write a Temperance pledge the object will have been accomplished. I sincerely hope the temperance meeting met with success, and that those whom "Stella" called to the "rescue" put their "shoulders to the wheel," -- especially the Shepherdstown "Philanthropist" institution I should be happy to see. There formerly were "Philanthropists" there but, like Philanthropists generally studied almost every body and then---"suspended." I do not wish your readers to look upon your unpretending correspondent as an anti-temperance man--- far from it; I go in for temperance in all things; and as a proof of it, I give you my word of honor if it's worth anything kind reader) that I haven't tasted a drop of the "oh ! be joyful" for some time, and I don't intend to. (The consequence is that I'm getting up such an awful "drouth," that when I do I take a "horn" it will be a Culpepper Winder.) I have two reasons for quitting : one is that the Whisky out here is infernal "Bust-head," Rifle whisky that kills around a corner; the other is that there is a vast deal soft corn this year that won't make good liquor; therefore the supply will be so mean and less of it, the demand as great, the price increased so high that I can't afford to indulge. As it is, liquor has "ris" prodigiously; when I was a boy you could get good whisky and big drinks for a "fip," but lately you have to "fork over" a dime, which with the strychnine strengthened liquor has a tendency not only of burning out you "copper," but continually keeping burnt holes in your pocket. If the boys would take this philosophical view of it there would be no need of a Temperance Vigilance Committee. But if they will indulge in spite of Committees, I would advise them to go down to Texas where it is considered an accomplishment to "lake a little," and where the Methodist Parson advertises for a Camp Meeting thus:
"Barbacue (sp. this way) Camp Meeting."--- 'There will be a camp meeting to commence the last Monday of this month, at the Double Spring Grove, near Peter Brinson's in the county of Shelby. The exercise will open with a splendid barbacue. The preparations are made to suit all tastes.
There will be a good barbacue, better liquors, and the best of Gospel" For fear of trespassing upon your "gracious patience" I must bring my long remarks to a close, or your readers will consider it "linked sweetness long drawn out." Kind reader, be merciful; scrutinize as close as you please, but extend some indulgence. In school-boy oratory;
"Don't view me with a critics eye,
But pass my imperfections by."
H. E. U.