The New York Times
, referring to the stay law before the Legislature of this State, says it is a very unwise thing for a people seeking and needing credit, from the North
, to proclaim to the world that while they are willing to contract new obligations, they decline, or are unable, to pay old ones.
On the strength of the prospective crops of cotton and tobacco, the Northern
merchants are supplying Southern wants liberally and on favorable terms. "But who can expect them," it is asked, "to trust men now who hasten "to repudiation, and who take away from "credit its props and safeguards?" It is then intimated that, in passing these stay laws, our people are actuated more by feelings of revenge than by any motive of public policy, and the writer adds; "We are not surprised "that Mississippi
should originate such a law, "for the past has made her familiar with repudiation; but that Virginia
, priding herself upon her honor as a Common wealth, "should follow an example so bad, is strange " and inexplicable."
We trust our contemporary will do Virginia
the justice to publish the real facts connected with this subject, which differ widely from those assumed in his commentary.
The temporary legislation adopted at the present session of the Virginia Legislature consists in amendments of pre-existing stay laws, which were passed under the State
government during the war, and intended to afford relief to the people who were deprived of their usual means of paying their debts.
No purpose of revenge could, by any possibility, have prompted their enactment; and when we state that the proposed amendment adopted by this Legislature expressly excepts from the benefit of its provisions debts contracted since the 3d of April, our contemporary must himself see the grievous injustice of his imputations upon the motives of our Legislature.
The only design of the stay law was, and is, to save our people, who have nothing left them but their lands, from the enforced collection of debts; but a new provision is now added, by which all debts incurred since the 3d of April, and therefore including all that has been advanced by Northern capitalists for our relief, are explicitly excepted from the benefits of the stay law. The legislation thus far is expressly declared to remain in force during the present session of the Legislature, and if any further amendments are necessary to secure to Northern creditors their rights, they will no doubt be promptly made.
It is the enough that Virginia
prides herself upon her honor as a Commonwealth, but it will be time enough when she repudiates her honest debts, to see anything in her conduct "strange and inexplicable." In her deepest distress and poverty she has not forgotten her ancient integrity, and will pay not only every dollar of her indebtedness since the 3d of April, but, as soon as she recovers from the the war has entailed remembered that just before the adjourned for the holidays a bill passed the Senate, and will, without doubt, be passed by the House
after the recess, authorizing the Trustees of Manchester
to borrow money on the credit of the town to build a bridge across James river
Preparations are now being made to construct it at once.
Able and experienced engineers are about to commence surveys to select the best site, and to prepare plans and estimates for its construction.
Whether the bridge will be of wood, iron or stone, is not yet determined, but the present intention is to make it of the most durable material and in the best manner.
When the several sites have been surveyed — some above and some below the present bridge, and reported on — then there will be an interesting question, and possibly some competition on this side
of the river as to its location.
It will be, of course, greatly to the interest of merchants that the bridge should bring the line of travel along their streets, and the value of property at the terminus of the bridge will be greatly increased.
We therefore expect that handsome offers will be made by capitalists in Richmond
to secure to themselves such a terminus of the bridge as will be most advantageous to themselves, and these offers would be perfectly legitimate, and would surely be considered by the founders of the bridge.
The whole object of this bridge is to make toll rates as low as possible.
There is an earnest wish all through Manchester
for the establishment of a free bridge.
This is no doubt desirable, but, to the Trustees, does not seem at present practicable.
It has been held that if a free bridge were to be built by the town of Manchester
, the increased value of the property in that town would more than pay for the bridge.
This may be partly true; but in that case the entire weight of the expense would fall upon the town, while the whole south-side country who use the bridge constantly could go and come at pleasure, and have not a cent to pay. It is for this reason that the toll system is adopted.
Under its operation those who use the bridge — and those only — pay for it, and pay in exact proportion to that use.
It should be stated, however, that the Treasury of the town of Manchester
gains nothing directly by the building of the bridge, and only gains indirectly by the advantage of increasing the business of the place, and by enhancing the value of its taxable property.
The charter explicitly states that the highest rate of toll shall be the lowest rate that was charged by the present bridge in 1860, and that no higher rate shall ever be charged than is sufficient to keep the bridge in repair and to re-build it in case it should be destroyed by fire or flood.
The projectors of this enterprise consider that competition is not to be feared by the town of Manchester
; for should the existing bridge charge a less rate of tolls than the new one, the very object of the new bridge would be gained; cheap toll.
The town could well afford to pay the losses arising out of the competition by reason of the great increase of its business, and increase in the value of its real estate
It is to be hoped that the bridge will be a handsome as well as a stable one; that it will be well lighted and have broad sidewalks, thus being an ornament to the city as well as to the town, and a pleasant promenade to the waterside citizens on summer evenings.