On Christmas Day, 1861, the Richmond Daily Dispatch took an editorial swipe at the Yankees and their war on Christmas.
The editorial touches on some common themes. First, the South’s origin myth among the noble Norman “Cavaliers”. “Christmas has always been an honored festival among the descendants of the Cavaliers,” unlike the hated Puritans with their Thanksgiving, “stuffing themselves to death with pumpkin pies”.
Next, the Godlessness of the North. Abolitionists, and northerners in general, were reviled as atheists by slavery apologists, who found clear acceptance of slavery in the Bible. In this editorial, the Dispatch says that the North “stands alone among Christian nations, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, in its neglect of the greatest festival of the Christian year”. A little foreshadowing of Bill O’Reilly, I guess. Actually, if the same day’s editorial in the New York Times is any indication, the North was celebrating Christmas with about equal enthusiasm.
Finally, of course, the innocence of the South in the current conflict.
“Asking only to be ‘let alone,’ standing upon our own thresholds in defence of our hearths and homes, and seeking to make the hearths and homes of no other people desolate and miserable…”
It is interesting to note the juxtaposition of this claim against the advertisements running in the same issue of the Dispatch (see below). They’re nothing out of the ordinary; the “runaways” section appears daily. But then again, there’s no break for Christmas in the pursuit of people who have escaped their captors. A couple of them are expected to show up at plantations where their wives are enslaved, but dragging them away in chains won’t make their “hearths and homes .. desolate and miserable,” I suppose.
Runaway in Jail.
–Was committed to the jail of Henrico county, on the 23d of November, 1861, as a runaway, a Negro Man, who calls himself John, and says he is the property of Mrs. Mary Scott, of Albemarle county, Va.–Said negro is about 25 years old, 5 feet10 inches high, yellow complexion, and had on when committed a light winter suit of homespun clothes.
The owner of said negro is requested to come forward, prove property, pay charges, and take him away, or he will be dealt with as the law directs. Geo. D. Pleasants, S. H. C.
–Will be paid for the apprehension and delivery of a servant girl, Mary Jane, calls herself Mary Jane Jackson She is a small, delicate-featured woman, of a dark ginger bread color, about 20 or 25 years of age, and generally dresses in black. She was hired to Mr. Joseph Jackson this year, and left her home about July last. She has been seen in the city within a week past.
Lucy H. Wharton,
Grace street, be wean Adam and Foushee.
Mrs. W. has some very valuable servants for hire the ensuing year. de 23–3t*
Runaway–twenty Doldars reward
–Will be paid for the apprehension and delivery in Mr. Grady’s Jail, a Negro Man named Joe. It is supposed he is attending in some of the military camps near the city, and at night about Screamersville. He is small of stature; black whiskers; usually wears a blue overcoat and black beaver, or silk hat.
J. L. Apperson,
de 19–6t* Adm’r of Wm. Jarvis, dec’d.
–Ranaway, from the jail of Thos. Jones, of this place, on Monday, 21st of October, 1861, a Negro Man, named James; dark brown complexion, 21 years old, and nearly six feet high. He had on a dark suit when he left; also, a military overcoat. I expect he will try to pass for a free boy. I will pay the above reward for said boy, if taken out of this city, or $25 if found in it, to be de delivered to me at E. H. Stokes’s, Richmond, Va.
de 19–1m* J. A. Burdett.
Twenty dollars reward.
–William Foster, a mulatto man, well known as having lived with Messrs. Warwick & Barksdale, and as a famous runaway, is off again, and I will give $20 reward for his apprehension and delivery in Cary street Jail, or to me.
de 7–ts Robert B. Lyne.
–Ranaway from the subscriber, on the 3d inst., my slave woman Parthena. Had on a dark brown and white calico dress. She is of a ginger-bread color; medium size; the right fore-finger shortened and crooked, from a whitlow. I think she is harbored somewhere in or near Duvall’s addition. For her delivery to me I will pay $10.
de 6–ts G. W. H. Tyler.
Ranaway.–twenty dollars reward.
–Ranaway, on the 1st instant, a negro man named John Fisher. He is about 30 years old; slightly bald; black color; had on drab coat and pants, and a straw hat. He is from near Harper’s Ferry; formerly belonged to Michael Tearney; has a wife in said neighborhood. I will give the above reward for his delivery to me, or placed in Jail, so I get him.
N. M. Lee, Agent for
de 3–tf Greenlaw & Wicks.
–Ranaway from the subscriber, on the 15th day of October last, his Negro Man Henderson. Said negro is about 25 years old, very likely, not very dark, and about 6 feet high. The tips of the fore and middle fingers on the left hand have been cut off, and some of his toes have been frostbitten. He has a wife at the farm of Mr. Wm. Boulware, adjoining mine. He may be lurking near some of the camps, with a view to engage himself as a servant. It is not remembered what colored clothes he had on when he left. The above reward will be paid if he is lodged in jail so that I get him, or upon his delivery to me at my residence, in Henrico county, near Dutch Gap.
no 30–ts Henry Cox.
–Ranaway, on Monday, a Negro Boy, named Essex, about five feeteight inches high; black; stammers slightly; about twenty or twenty-two years old; weight about 150 pounds; formerly belonged to Capt. John Wright, of Plain View P. O.,King and Queen county, Va. The above reward will be paid on his delivery to me at my office, in this city. He may be making his way to West Point, Va. He has a wife in that neighborhood. His upper teeth are dark, from tartar on them.
oc 22–ts Benjamin Davis.