Who was Turner anyway?

Who was Turner anyway?

Click on this image to find out who Turner was.

Field Musicians Wanted!

A Turner Bugler, 2004

Click on this image to learn about opportunities as a bugler, fifer or drummer with the Turner Brigade.

To Governor C. F. Jackson.


January/February 1861

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, January 9, 1861.


DEAR GOVERNOR:  I had heard a bad account of your inaugural; that you had turned traitor and come out against your country.  I have made it a point for a long time now to judge for myself, as far as possible, and I waited to read the document.  This I have done.  And, dear Governor, the first thought that came into my mind, on laying it down, was, why did you not proclaim, when you were a candidate, that it was your purpose to betray and deceive me and all the honest men in the State who voted for you?  For you know, dear Governor, that thousands and thousands of the loyal people of Missouri, who voted for you, would have seen you at the devil long before they would have made you Governor, with the knowledge of your motives.

The next thought that came into my mind was to get the Constitution, and see what kind of an oath you took just before you delivered that inaugural.  I found on page 71, revised code 1855, the following provision:

“All officers, both civil and military, under the authority of the State, shall, before entering on the duties of their respective offices, take an oath of affirmation to support the Constitution of the United States and of this State, and demean themselves faithfully in office.”

Now Claiborne Fox, dear Claiborne Fox—did you take this oath?  If you did, did you deliver the inaugural?  Which horn, noble Governor, on which horn are you hung up?  Both?  Great God!  my hair stands on end to think of it.  You say, dear Governor, that South Carolina has seceded; has broken her own Constitution, and also the Constitution of the United States.  You also say:  “I do not stand here to justify or condemn the action of South Carolina.”  My very dear Governor, why could you not justify?  It would have been gratifying to South Carolina had you justified her.  I am sorry you did not.  She has only committed treason, and you are ready, you say, to do the same.  Why then did you not justify South Carolina?

Speaking of the incoming administration of Mr. Lincoln, you ask:  “Is there nothing alarming in the fact that the whole power of the Federal Executive is pledged in advance for the subversion of the constitutional rights of nearly one-half of the republic?”  No, dear Claiborne Fox, there is nothing alarming in the fact—but seriously much that is alarming in the falsehood.  Most affectionately, now, I say to you that you did not tell the truth just there.  I am sorry to say, I think you knew better.  Dear Claiborne, don’t you know that the Republicans stand ready to guarantee that the fugitive slave law shall not be repealed; that is shall be executed; that Congress shall not abolish slavery in the District, while it exists in Maryland or Virginia; that it will not abolish the slave trade between States; that the liberty bills being unconstitutional and void, shall be repealed; in a word, that all the constitutional rights of the States shall be secured to them?  Don’t you all know this noble Fox Jackson?  Yes, you do; and you did, when you wrote the lines quoted.  Dear Fox Jackson, I would not object to your misrepresenting the facts of the case, in order to promote your party purposes, except for the good of your soul.  But lying is sinful; and, dear Fox, you and many others are in imminent danger of being essentially and eternally damned, for lying on the Republicans.  So, my advice is, stop at once.  Dear Governor, why did you not tell the people the truth?  Dear Governor, are you constitutionally as well as habitually opposed to the truth?  Did you not positively know that the Republicans had at all times, and in all ways and shapes, offered to guarantee the peace and security of slave property, in every State where it now exists by law, and had offered your friends, the fire-eaters, to fix these things in their own way?  Oh yes, you knew it—knew it all— knew that the sole question of controversy made by the Free Soilers is not the security of slavery where it is, from interference by Congress, but whether they shall propagate and extend the greatest evil which afflicts the country.

Dear Claiborne Fox, I am glad to find you read books—I heard you did not.  I am mistaken.  No doubt you have read of the good old days of ’76; of Washington; of Henry; of Jefferson.  Then the battle cry of statesmen was “liberty.”  Then, said Jefferson, “let us deal discreetly with existing institutions, even though founded on error; peace enjoins, and social order enforces the policy.  But now, dear Claiborne Fox Jackson, the battle cry is “slavery”—slavery for the sake of slavery, and slavery forever.  Give us new lands on which to spread it; give us new countries on which to rear an empire of human bondage; and give us niggers to fill these countries with, or “give us death.”  You are opposed to the slave trade with Africa, my dear Claiborne.  South Carolina is not; and your tender heart forbids you to condemn.  Dear Governor, when you prepare your next State paper, please mention the principle in your politics, or the trait in your character which forbids you to engage in the slave grade.  For the present, affectionately yours,