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1864 February 13: North Carolina’s Peace Movement

February 18, 2014

The following article appeared in both The Polk County Press and The Prescott Journal of February 13, 1864.  The title of the article is the same in both papers; only the Press had the subtitle.

From North Carolina.


In speaking of the growing discontent among the people in North Carolina, and the desire to hold a State Convention, the Wilmington (N.C.) Journal says :  “We say, and we say most sincerely, that plans recently concocted and movements evidently set on foot in North Carolina are ominous of graver consequences than even the advance of the enemy.”

The Raleigh Standard, in its appeals to slaveholders for peace, says :  “We went to war to protect the state sovereignty  and to defend and perpetuate the institution of slavery, but if it should appear that we are likely to lose both, as rational beings we should pause and consider well the direction we are taking.  If the war should continue twelve months longer, with no greater success to our arms, there is great danger that the institution of slavery will be hopelessly destroyed.”

Gov. Vance [Zebulon B. Vance] of North Carolina, comes out in a card in the Raleigh Standard, against the taxation of state property for the confederacy.  The North Carolina and Virginia papers are firm in the belief that Wilmington is soon to be attacked, and have much to say about the concentration of the forces here, which are magnified into very large numbers.  Dr. J. T. Leach¹ a conservative member, elect, in the new Confederate Congress, which meets in February, says, in the Raleigh Standard of the 13th inst., that North Carolina now claims the fulfillment of the compact or the right to depart from the confederacy in peace.  At the great meeting held recently in Johnston Co., favoring a call for a state constitution, Dr. J. T. Leach was elected chairman of the committee on resolutions.  Meetings are being held in different counties, having the same object.

The Raleigh State Journal says that the proposition for a state convention so closely on the heels of Mr. Lincoln’s proposition to let one-tenth of the people form a State Government, has a very strong odor of disloyalty and treason about it.  [Abraham Lincoln]

The Henderson North Carolina Times is delighted over the reported retirement of Gen. Butler [Benjamin F. Butler], and by the establishment of a Department of North Carolina, which the Times says removes the most serious obstacle to the return of North Carolina to the Union.

The Raleigh State Journal says “our exchanges from all quarters of the Confederacy admonish us that an advantage by Beast Butler on some point on the Wilmington & Weldon railroad is probable—from Gen. Bank’s Department [Nathaniel P. Banks].

1.  James Thomas Leach (1805-1883) was a physician, Whig anti-secessionist, and member of the Confederate Congress from Johnston County, N.C.  He “played an important role in North Carolina’s Peace Party Movement during the American Civil War…. Leach became a symbolic leader of the peace movement on May 27, 1863, when the pro-peace Raleigh Weekly Standard published one of his letters. Leach wrote that the war would end if Southern leaders ‘offer[ed] the olive branch of peace to those who are arrayed against us.’ In the fall of 1863, Leach won a seat in the Confederate House of Representatives by calling for a ‘just, honorable and lasting peace.’” For more on Leach, see the North Carolina History Project website.  His archival Papers can be found at the University of North Carolina Libraries, including some digitized content.

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