Who was Turner anyway?

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The Election on Monday.


January/February 1861

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, February 16, 1861.

The Election on Monday.

Notwithstanding the desperate efforts of the Republican to precipitate an armed collision on Monday, between the Union men and the Disunionists, there is every reason to conclude that a riotous attempt, should it be made, will be speedily and effectually suppressed by the city authorities.  We learn that Mayor Filley has taken such measures as will ensure a legal and orderly election.  We therefore call on our citizens to dismiss from their minds the apprehensions which the incendiary articles of the Republican may have created.  There is even less reason to anticipate a riot Monday next, than there was on the first Tuesday in November or the first Monday in August.  Were it all necessary, we would advise the Union men of all parties to observe a scrupulous propriety of deportment on that day.  They are the party of law and order, and the opponents of revolution and civil war.  Those whose aim it is to overturn the Constitution of the United States, would not hesitate to trample down freedom of election, but fortunately they are too few to accomplish either project; and if they essay violence, they will find the police more than a match for them.

The peace of the city will not be disturbed; and the secessionists and conditional secessionists must admit that it is at least as much their interests as the Union men, that such should be the case.  A riot would find its victims on both sides.  We will go into no cold-blooded calculation as to which side would be likely to prove the victor.  It is enough to know that the whole community would suffer in one way or another, and the innocent as well as the guilty.  He who would do anything calculated to bring about such a catastrophe is, in our opinion, unworthy of human fellowship, much less of political association with Christian society.  Unlike our contemporary on Chesnut street, we are, therefore, for peace; and we even go so far as to ask the disunionists to imitate the Union men, by abstaining from all demonstrations having a tendency to lead to a riot.  If Missouri is to be dragged out of the Union; if the attempt shall be made to coerce St. Louis into a position of antagonism to the Federal Government, the disunionists, we venture to assure them, will get plenty of fighting in these streets.  Let them, then, contain themselves, unless, like Bob Acres, their valor is oozing out at their finger ends.  [Bob Acres is a character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals.  Acres was a coward, whose “courage always oozed out at his finger ends”.]  They may as well know that St. Louis will not leave the Union, unless under very strong physical compulsion, but until that question arises, let us all conform to the laws, and maintain our local institutions.  If the issue of the present controversy is to be war, let us do all in our power to postpone rather than accelerate it.  If it comes at all, it will come too soon for the most impetuous braves in the city.

The fact of some Republicans—chiefly Germans—having armed themselves, is the cause of much nonsensical clamor.  Why have they armed?  Because they have been threatened with expulsion or extermination; because the terrorists throughout the State have by every contrivance striven to intimidate peaceable Republicans and drive them into exile; because the Minute Men organized, drilled and armed themselves, in ostentatious style, with the avowed object of fighting against the Stars and Stripes, and separating Missouri from the Union on or before the 4th of March, as the Republican advised them to do.  Everywhere in Missouri, except in St. Louis, Republicans have been under a reign of terror for months; and here, because some of them on hearing the rattle of the serpent, put themselves in attitude—of defense, they are denounced in the most virulent language.  Is it not notorious that their position has been very similar to that of Major Anderson in Fort Sumter, not knowing the moment an attack might be made on them?  The winter has been a long martyrdom to the Republicans in the interior.  They have been placed under the surveillance of Vigilance Committees; notices to quit the State have been posted upon their doors; numberless threatening letters have been addressed to them.  And the same spirit exists here, and to a certain degree expresses itself.  Why have Republicans armed?  To defend their rights, their families, and their lives, we should say; and because, perhaps, they were resolved, and are still resolved, not to die like rats in their holes.  The very nature of things renders it impossible that they could have armed for any other purpose than self-defense.  They meditate no revolution or coup d’etat.  They have no quarrel with the Union or the Constitution; with the Federal Government or any other.  They are not tired of Mayor Filley, and they submit to Claib. Jackson and the Missouri Legislature as inevitable evils.  Therefore, if any of them have armed, they have armed to resist threatened physical aggressions.  Our readers know that we have constantly opposed armed political societies.  Early in the winter we proposed the disbanding of all political societies then organized until three weeks or so before the April election.  The Minute Men and the Constitutional Guards were then experiencing the benefits of a revival, and so the proposition was not seconded by the Republican or any other Democratic paper.  The formation of Union Clubs naturally followed.  As the Disunionists adhered to their organizations it was necessary to organize the Union men also.  The Union Clubs are conservators of order, instead of disturbing agencies.  Therefore, all the efforts of the Republican to create a riot on Monday will prove of no avail, for the Union men are too powerful to be assailed, and the city authorities too well prepared for the Disunion rowdies.