September 21, 1865: A reply to “Anxious Parent”

Last week a letter to the editor from “An Anxious Parent” asked some probably rhetorical questions about the implementation of the Ironclad Oath in the new Missouri Constitution. This week’s Argus runs a response from a strong Unionist.

Mr. Editor: We are not one of the radical officials of this city, but we will try and gratify an “Anxious Parent,” by answering the questions in last week’s “Argus” to the best of our ability.

First, “whether, under the new Constitution a sabbath school teacher is required to take the oath of loyalty?” We say yes, by all means; for of all places where a traitor would be most out of place, we think it would be teaching children in as sacred an institution as a sabbath school.

Second, “whether a teacher employed to instruct in a private family is required to take and file the oath of loyalty?” We should suppose that a parent’s own heart would respond to this, by saying most emphatically, God forbid that the pure minds of the children He has given me should ever by contaminated by coming in contact with treason.

Third, “In cases where parents become the teachers of their children around their own fireside, are they liable to punishment for failing to take and file the oath of loyalty?” Surely there ought to be a law forbidding parents to teach their children treason. Perhaps we do wrong in condemning all as traitors who refuse to take the oath of loyalty. But why, if they are loyal and not tainted with treason, should they refuse? — This is what we cannot understand. Perhaps “An Anxious Parent” will deign to enlighten us. With all our boasted attainments, society is rotten to the very core with the taint of treason. The man who, at this day, stands by the old fashioned creed which makes life as pure as beautiful, and our homes and associations like heaven, as they ought to be, will be called a “Puritan,” a “straight-laced fool” and will be mocked and taunted for his folly. If the social history of many in this city and town were put on record, the land would be aghast. The people would learn that those “centers” of beauty and fashion and political influence are pits of the blackest, deadliest treason, casting their pestilential malaria into a home circle. Many who are professing Christians and models of social propriety, like cowardly traitors that they are, have surrendered the principles of a lifetime, dishonored their own family, friends, and their own manhood. We believe the time is not far distant when the loyal people oi this nation will not listen as they have done, with seeming indifference and without a murmur, to words of treason. We cannot believe they are so infamously destitute of self-respect, manliness and moral pluck. People may say cui bono? Let us ask did it ever occur to them to make their own existence the subject of that terrible inquiry, cui bono?


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