The Staunton Vindicator, November 23, 1860, p. 2, c. 4
Where are our Statesmen?
In these dark hours of our national existence, when political throes are shaking the fundamental law of the country--when the passions of sections are erupting the groundwork of the government, and spreading the fiery lava of sectional animosity and hatred broadcast over the land, unsettling commerce, depreciating property, stagnating every channel of trade, and sending dismay and painful forebodings to the firesides of the timid, where is the statesman of Virginia to come forward and open up some way of deliverance? Echo answers, where? The press, with a puerility that is really disgusting, is furnishing ailment for excited passion, never aspiring to the dignity of grappling and digesting a comprehensive idea.--Conducted, with a few exceptions, by men who could never reach a higher distinction in any other profession than that of an eleventh-rate lawyer, or third-rate calico vender, they have succeeded, by the aid of a few store-box and pot-house politicians, in raising a storm that utterly bewilders them, and which leaves them without compass or rudder to guide the vessel they have launched. The criminal ignorance or imbecility of the men who have brought about this fearful state of affairs can only properly be atoned for upon the gallows.
But where are our statesmen? Not a man of prominence in the State, save Governor Letcher, has come forward with any suggestion looking to a solution of the difficulties that now environ us. Hunter, fearful that he may not strike the current, awaits the development of the opinions and plans of everyone else, before he will venture to present to the nation any devisement by which our country may be saved from the impending ruin. He, of all others, should come forward and endeavor to direct the storm, for it was the folly of his shallow-pated followers that created it. Mason, too dull to emit anything original and too soporific to play the part of an ingenious plagiarist, amuses himself in the luxurious and dreamy delights of bedizening milk punch and apply-toddy, while the very citadel of liberty is trembling and quaking under the shock of the attacks of reckless fanatics. Wise, that intellectual comet of the age, throwing himself, Achilles-like, stubbornly into the bosom of Princess Anne, ventures no further than to organize his Minute men, apparently unmindful of the duty he owes his State and the country, and forgetful that Princess Anne is neither the State or the Union.
The press, incapable of suggesting an idea, and only equal to the task of adding fuel to the flame, with no power to suppress it, and our Senators and Congressmen apathetic and indifferent, Virginia of 1860 presents a painful and humiliating contrast to the Virginia of other days. We shall look for some comprehensive plan from Governor Letcher in his message to the extra session of the Legislature. We discover in his inaugural address the true idea on which to base action. We trust he will again recommend it, and elaborate the propositions presented.