Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ruffianism in Cincinnati

The Covington Journal of April 20, 1861 is full of interesting articles in the aftermath of the firing on Fort Sumter, including a few about reactions and incidents in Cincinnati. (This was a weekly newspaper, and the April 12th bombardment happened too close to this papers deadline to be covered until the following week.) Here is one more of these articles.

Ruffianism
Affairs have come to a deplorable pass when acts of ruffianism are exultingly paraded in the columns of a newspaper as evidences of loyalty to the North.

This has been done by newspapers published in Cincinnati. We believe, however, that only the least offensive cases have been published. 


We are strictly within the bounds of truth in saying that it is at some risk of personal safety that a citizen of Kentucky now goes to Cincinnati for the purpose of transacting ordinary business. He may go there with a determination to express no opinion as to the cause of our national troubles; but if he happens to get into a crowd of anti-slavery fanatics his opinions are demanded in such a way that he cannot remain silent without debasing his manhood. No matter what his views, if they do not accord with the prevailing sentiment he is liable to be called a "d____d liar" or a "d____d traitor."


We have heard of several instances this week, in which Kentuckians, giving their views (moderate and conservative) in compliance with requests which could not be evaded, have been grossly insulted. 


It is well understood that the Cincinnati Enquirer, which was a true Union paper, has been compelled by threats of mob violence to take another chute.


On Tuesday last, ex-Senator Bright of Indiana stopped at the Spencer House. He was suspected of entertaining anti-Lincoln sentiments. A mob committee was appointed to conduct him out of Cincinnati. The committee went to the hotel for the purpose of executing the order, but Mr. Bright had left for the East, and thus avoided their tender of Black Republican hospitality.

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It's interesting that they claim there were situations where a Kentucky man would lose his "manhood" if he elected to keep his opinions to himself; that's a good example of how "honor" was so important to many Southerners, or at least the image of being honorable. (Ironically, this same newspaper had an add that began: "Manhood, How Lost, How Restored." See my previous post about this ad in an earlier edition of this newspaper.)

It also is perhaps a bit ironic that Cincinnati eventually developed a reputation for having much support for the South, and the Enquirer did too, but I guess in the days when feelings on both sides were at their highest pitch, those pro-Southern leanings had not yet become evident.

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