previous next

James Lyons, Esq.

--The affirmative response of this gentleman to the call upon him to become a candidate for Congress, to take the place of the lamented Tyler, is gratifying to hundreds of citizens of this District, who, like the writer of this, did not vote for him in the late election. The eminent fitness of Mr. Lyons for the important position for which he is presented, is indeed acknowledged by all impartial persons who are familiar with his character. Within the last twenty-five years he has been called to a number of public offices in the States, all of which he has filled not only with credit, but with marked distinction.--To use the language of one who know him as a member of the House of Delegates, Senate, and ‘"Reform Convention"’ of Virginia, respectively, "Mr. Lyons graces every station to which he is called. Though he never occupied any official position under any other Government than that of his native Commonwealth, he has long been extensively known as one of the distinguished sons of the South. The writer of this has a distinct recollection of the impression made by Mr. Lyons upon the Southern Commercial Convention, held at Savannah in December, 1856, of which body he was President. In that assembly, composed in part of some of the ablest statesmen of the South, Mr. Lyons gained a reputation of which any one might be justly prond. That able and discriminating journal, the Savannah Republican, in a notice of the proceedings of the Convention, thus expressed itself in regard to President Lyons:

"Whatever differences of opinion may exist in regard to the sentiments and doing of the Convention, there is one point upon which all are agreed, namely: that they have made most excellent choice of a President. Indeed, we do not recollect ever to have seen a presiding officer more thoroughly qualified, in every respect, mental and physical, for the difficult and trying duties of his position. He is thoroughly versed in parliamentary usage, while his mind is both strong and quick in its action, always prepared to grasp the knotty points of a debate, and prompt to apply the rule and solve them.--His voice is lond and strong, without harshness, and may be distinctly heard over the largest assembly. To these are added a frank and manly face, and a commanding person, that would insure respect in any company, high or low.

‘"Mr. Lyons has discharged the duties of President of the Convention with signal ability, justice, and impartiality. He has been kind to all its members, yet prompt and orderly in the dispatch of business, and allowing no trespass upon the established rules of debate. Upon the whole, we regard Mr. Lyons as a fine specimen of a Virginia gentleman, and the Old Dominion may well be proud that she is able to boast of such a son."’

This compliment to Mr. Lyons was cordially endorsed, so far as could be ascertained, by the entire Convention.

Another Southern journal spoke of his closing address to the Convention as one of the happiest efforts of extemporaneous eloquence. ‘"Knightly courtesy,"’ said the writter, ‘"was stamped on every paragraph; the chaste, graceful, and eloquent elocution would have done no discredit to Chesterfield or the Earl of Chatham. The address breathed throughout the spirit which should animate every man in the South."’

Such was the impression made by James Lyons as the President of an intelligent Southern assembly, five years since. That he would make an equally favorable impression in the Congress of the Confederate states, we do not entertain a doubt. Elect him to the ensuing Congress, and he will occupy in it the position or one of the most able, accomplished, and useful members.

Upon the great questions which have engaged the public mind for some time past, Mr. Lyons's course deserves the commendation of every friend of our Confederacy. He proved himself a sagacious and intrepid statesman in predicting the subjugation policy of the NOrth, and in advising the boldest measures of self-protection and self-preservation on the part of the South. As far back as 1856, Mr. Lyons came out unqualifiedly in favor of a separation from the North in the event of the election of a Black Republican President. In the Presidential canvass of that year, in answer to an invitation of a portion of the people of Northampton county to address them on some court day, he wrote a letter in which he reviewed the history of parties in the North, and deduced therefrom the conclusion that there was but little conservative nationality of sentiment in that quarter. He closed his letter with an appeal to his countrymen to resist the election of a Black Republican President. The following is an extract:

‘"It is impossible,"’ said Mr. Lyons, "that the Southern States can ever permit Mr. Fremont to be inaugurated as their president, unless they are prepared to become worse than bondsmen, more degraded than the serfs of Russia, the very slaves of their own slaves. Place at the head of this Government, and in command of the army and navy, a man who has been cashiered for mutiny, with the Treasury under his care; who has attempted to plunder the Treasury of nearly one million of dollars, with a party at his back proclaiming hostility to slavery and slave-owners; who claim the right and declare their purpose to be to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia--in the forts, arsenals, and dock-yards — and who are pledged to repeal the fugitive law, and to prohibit the sale of slaves from one State to another, and what will be the condition of Virginia, and especially of your country, the Eastern Shore, with Fortress Monroe, manned by a Black B-publican army, the rendesvous for all your fugitive slaves, and the Navy at head to protect them as they sail from your waters ? What will be the condition a Norfolk when, with this state of thirgs, the Navy-Yard shall become the receptacle of her runaway negroes? What will be left you then but to fight for your property, your homes, your liberty, aye, and your lives, and with the disadvantage of having your forts and arsenals turned against you ? Will you submit to this ? Will you wait to be thus hemmed in and hewed down ? Will you justify the imputation of the brees Burlingame, who ran away from his seat in Congress to avoid the lash of Brooks, and of the patriotic Banks, whose mission it was to make the Union slide, until he slid into the Speaker's chair, and who now says that nothing can dissolve the Union--that you are cowards, whom no wrong, no oppression, no insult can excits to resistance ? Never ! never ! This Union has been glorious, and is dear to the heart of every patriot; but liberty, honor, independence are dearer far. They are the great ends — the Union is but the means; anti if it fails or becomes subversive of those ends, it cease to be the Union of brothers, and becomes the bond of oppression and the badge of disgrace.

"Let the election of Fremont, then, be the signal for the assembling of the Southern States to proclaim our independence, and prepare for the conflict, if conflict must come. Our forefathers had not half the cause to resist Great Britain that we shall have to dissolve our connection with the Abolitionists of the North, if Fremont is elected, and to declare him and his myrmidons enemies in war, in peace friends.

‘"Spirits of the Revolution ! Arouse the sleeping energies of your sens, and lead them to resistance, to victory, and to independence."’

Such was theappeal of James Lyons to his countrymen in 1856. The contingency for Southern action did not then occur, and perhaps it is well for us that it did not as Mr. Lyons was obviously in advance of our people respecting the ‘"mode and measure of redress"’

In the canvass of 1860, Mr. Lyons, in his many speeches, declared that he had seen nothing to change his views of 1885, but much to confirm them; that upon every consideration of honor, duty, and safety, the South was bound to resist the inanguration of a Black Republican President.

He was still in advance of the public sentiment in his section; but his follow citizens will now admit that he exhibited the sagacity of a stateman and the nerve of a fearless and true hearted son of the Old Dominton. His friends may well point to him as one of the most faithful and vigilant sentinels on the watch-tower of the South; and with pleasure and pride will they hall him as the Representative of the Metropolitan District of Virginia in the Confederate Congress. Ja 31--1ts

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
James Lyons (16)
Fremont (3)
Burlingame (1)
Brooks (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1856 AD (2)
1885 AD (1)
1860 AD (1)
December, 1856 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: