Items: “Disgraceful Conduct in Greensborough,” page 1, column 3; “[From the Greensborough Patriot.],” page 2, column 4. The North Carolina Standard—Semi-Weekly Standard (Raleigh, N. C.), 9 February 1864.
Background: These news articles are a continuation of yesterday’s post.
Disgraceful Conduct in Greensborough.
We publish to-day a statement by James A. Long, Esq , who presided over the recent meeting in Greensborough, giving a true account of the disgraceful manner in which the meeting was disturbed. Mr. Long’s well known character for veracity is a sufficient guaranty of the correctness of his statements.
At least one thousand of the most substantial and respectable citizens of Guilford took part in this meeting. By the Constitution and laws of the country they had a right thus to assemble, without disturbance or molestation; and it is a sad evidence of the depravity of the times that such a meeting, in a town like Greensborough, long noted for its order and respect for law, should have been disturbed by the yells and hootings of drunken boys and irresponsible loafers.
Some of the Destructive journals of this State and of Richmond appear to be delighted at the disturbance at this meeting. The Fayetteville Observer says, “one of the leaders, who afterwards avowed himself a Union man, was whipped by a soldier.” This is false. One of the gentlemen who took part in the meeting was insulted by a Tennessee soldier, he resented the insult, a fight occurred, and the Tennesseean attempted to shoot him. The idea that he was “whipped” appears to have tickled the Observer. But that paper admits there is a “better” mode of treating such meetings than that adopted at Greensborough. It is pleased with the yells, and hootings, and rotten egg performances, but it would have been “better” pleased if some other plan had been adopted to prevent the free expression of opinion. “To what base uses may we come at last, Horatio.”
[From the Greensborough Patriot.]
Mr. Editor: — A short time since, a notice appeared in the Patriot, signed “Many Citizens,” calling upon the freemen of Guilford county to meet in the town of Greensborough to consult and advise as to what was best to be done in the present state of the country. According to said notice on last Saturday, the 30th ult., a very large number of the most respectable citizens of Guilford, and many from the adjoining counties assembled themselves together; and at the ringing of the bell, our large and commodious Courthouse was filled to overflowing, while hundreds could not gain admittance. At the request and desire of my fellow-citizens, I consented to act as Chairman. After the meeting was organized by the appointment of proper officers, a committee was appointed to prepare business for the consideration of those who had met to consult for the common good. The committee having retired for a short time, returned and reported through their Chairman, Mr. R. P. Dick some resolutions, wh[i]ch I presume will appear in the Patriot this week, and it is therefore unnecessary for me to add them to this my short communication. Suffice it therefore to say, that there was nothing in them but what every patriot could endorse, and nothing to which any man could object, except he was in favor of a military despotism.”
Up to this period of the meeting every thing was j quiet and orderly, but as soon as Mr. Dick commenced commenting on the resolutions, a confusion arose in the gallery so that he could not be heard. As Chairman of the meeting, I requested Mr. Dick to suspend his remarks, and I appealed to those who were disorderly to reflect that hundreds of the most respectable and oldest citizens of the county, and as good patriots as any in the Confederacy were in consultation, and that Mr. Dick, one of our most intelligent and respectable citizens, was addressing them; and I hoped therefore that for them, our credit, and for the honor of the county, and for the respect due to the many old gray-headed men, and good citizens who were there assembled, that peace and quiet might be preserved. This appeal was met with hisses, whistling, cursing and other disorder from the gallery. Mr. Dick, on account of the confusion, was not able to proceed with his remarks. After Mr. Dick took his seat, Mr. D. F. Caldwell attempted to address the meeting, but so great was the noise in the gallery, (below every thing was quiet and calm,) that he could not be heard. The resolutions were then put and passed unanimously, or, at least, were voted for by all except those few who came in for the purpose of disturbing the meeting.
When I speak of the disturbance in the gallery, I desire to be understood that it was confined to only a few, and most of.them boys; for in the gallery were many highly respectable gentlemen, who not only disapproved of the noise, but were much annoyed thereby.
I have felt it my duty as Chairman of the meeting to make this statement of facts. I have done it also in order to shield the credit of the county, for I trust the citizens of Greensborough will not be held accountable for the disorder of a few inconsiderate boys, and the over zeal of a few of more considerate years, and yet whose sense of discretion has not kept pace with a desire to achieve a little temporary notoriety, or perhaps rather with the hope that a loud cry of patriotism, and big words of war upon their lips, they can remain at home free from, all danger.
Many of the boys, or young men if they prefer it, who made the disturbance, are known, but I refrain from mentioning them both because they are rather too small to be dignified with a newspaper notice, and also on account of the great mortification which I know that their parents have undergone since I learning of their son’s, youthful indiscretions. Nor am I disposed to censure too severely the conduct of these boys. I have no doubt that much of it arose from youthful indiscretion. Many of these young men may hereafter, however hopeless the prospect at present, become distinguished as statesmen, patriots and ornaments to society, but should such be the case, they will ever look back upon the scenes of last Saturday with pain and regret.
The people I know went home after the meeting much excited and quite indignant. I hope, however, on reflection they consider, that no man of any position in Greensborough had any thing to do with the disorder. It is however to be much regretted that some who could have prevented all disorder and preserved peace and quiet, did not do so.
I have simply to add in conclusion that the meeting on last Saturday has satisfied every intelligent man that so far as the people of Guilford are concerned, that while they are willing and ready to put forth all their energies in common with their fellow-citizens of the Confederacy to gain their independence, and to make a final separation from the North, yet they are not prepared, and will never submit to a military despotism at home, and will contend for the writ of habeas corpus under any and all circumstances. JAS. A. LONG.
Citation: The North Carolina Standard—The Semi-Weekly Standard (Raleigh, N.C.), 9 February 1864, page 1 column 3, and page 2 column 4. North Carolina Collection, Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; call number C071 Z.