Letter from White Sulphur Springs

At White Sulphur Springs, 1870
At White Sulphur Springs (now WV)

White Sulphur Springs, VA, with its location in the Alleghenies, was a popular summer spot for Southern aristocracy from the early 19th century. Here is a letter in the Baton Rouge, LA Daily Advocate, September 5, 1860 from a Louisianan vacationing there:

White Sulphur Springs, Va., Aug. 24, 1860.
Editors Advocate—I find this great Southern watering place crowded to suffocation. But few are here from the North. All the Southern States, without any exception, are fully represented here.

[Discussion of the women vacationing there]

Politicians of every stripe are also here, among whom are a good number of Bell and Everett men, who publicly say that in case Lincoln is elected he will make a very good President—that after all the Republicans are not so bad!! I heard a large slaveholder say to-day, that before he would dissolve the Union he would give up all his negroes. I told him that, as much as Louisiana loved the Union, she would break it into a thousand pieces before she would give up the smallest n**r baby.

In discussing politics with the visitors here, I find that the things are very much mixed. Old Virginia will, however, prove true to the Constitution and the Union, and give her voice in November next for Breckinridge and Lane.

It is generally conceded on all hands, by every body, that Douglas will not carry a single State. His strongest friends admit it. They are, therefore, trying to cajole Bell into the belief that he can be elected. Before the election is over, you will hear of Douglas making Bell and Everett speeches, but as the Little Giant prefers “the clams of Rhode Island to the n**rs of the South,” I don’t think his speeches will take very well in our latitude.

I think the Southern people will, by general consent, permit this fastidious gentleman to eat his New England clams in quiet, cheek by jole [sic] with Forney, Dean Richmond & Co., but never will he eat his clams or drink his grog in the White House. It is generally conceded here by all unprejudiced men, that Breckinridge will carry nine Southern States, giving him 64 electoral votes, certain. This will carry the election into the House, for New York will certainly go for the fusion ticket.

Let us, however, do our duty in Louisiana. We are fighting on the only true constitutional platform. We are fighting the great battle of political equality, and even if we are defeated this time, “truth crushed to the earth will rise again. The eternal laws of God are hers.” Leaders may sell out, designing politicians may deceive, but the people, the honest, hard-working masses who read for themselves, and think for themselves, will rise in their might and hurl from power and from place the political judases who betray them.

There’s a lot of wishful thinking in this letter, or at least blindness. A bit like the people in 2004 who said “I don’t know anyone who voted for Bush!”, he imagines his social circle to be the whole South. Pretty much all of his predictions will turn out to wrong, as we’ll see.

** Maybe I’m overly fastidious, but I’m going to Bowdlerize the “n-word” in this blog.

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