Wednesday, May 29, 2013
By Adam Clark, Of The Morning Call
May 28, 2013
While many men from the Lehigh Valley left their home towns to fight for the Union during the Civil War, some of their neighbors clearly did not embrace the cause that propelled thousands to enlist.
Though Pennsylvania remained staunchly with the Union, the state faced the same questions about race as the rest of the nation: Should slavery be outlawed? Could blacks mix with whites? Did blacks deserve equal rights?
The Allentown Democrat took a firm stance in an Aug. 6, 1862 article headlined "White vs. Black."
"The two races can never commingle, nor exist together on a common platform of equality," the paper wrote.
The newspapers of the Lehigh Valley mirrored those of the time — along with the news, readers got a very partisan reporting on the big issues of the day, and none at the time was bigger than the war and reasons for it.
Many of Allentown's 8,000 residents spoke German — the so-called Pennsylvania Dutch — and there were four-German language newspapers. The Democrat was the largest of two English papers and was an advocate of the region's Democratic Party. Throughout the Civil War, it railed against President Lincoln and his Republican Party, abolitionists, blacks and sought a compromise with the South to end the war.
"Ours is a government of white men, made for the benefit of white men," the paper wrote. "Any Quixotic attempt of silly theorists to raise the negro to an equality with the white man by seducing him from his natural field of labor in the South, to crowd out the white laborer of the North will only have the effect to hasten the day of his destruction."
The paper wrote that if blacks came to the North to work, white men would feel the necessity of "getting rid of the negro at whatever cost." That feeling would eventually exterminate the freed slaves or drive them from the northern borders, the paper wrote. Read more here