In April 1865 the Confederate Army surrendered to the Union. The Confederate newspaper in Santa Rosa did not.
Over the four horrific years of the Civil War, the Sonoma Democrat remained steadfast in its support of the South and opposed to the Union and everything it stood for, including freedom for the slaves. This article covers what happened in Sonoma county at the end of the war and mirrors the earlier story of how the Democrat reacted to Lincoln’s 1860 election (“THAT TERRIBLE MAN RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT“).
A devil’s advocate might defend the Democrat by arguing the paper only reflected its readership – Sonoma was the only county in the state which didn’t vote for either Lincoln’s election or re-election. But the Democrat went way, way beyond simply standing as the loyal opposition.
For starters, the paper consistently lied to its readers about how the war was going. Victory for the South was always just around the corner because the Union troops were in disarray, cowardly or unwilling to fight. In 1863 the Sonoma Democrat reported, “The battle of Gettysburg was, on our part, a triumphant success an overwhelming victory…General Lee had won the ground and could have held it, but he chose, for military reasons, to fall back, after he had utterly broken the backbone of the Yankee army.” That was a reprint from the Confederate paper in Richmond, Virginia – enemy propaganda, in other words, the alt-facts about the South’s critical defeat.
The Sonoma Democrat was edited and published by Thomas L. Thompson. Although there was no Civil War combat in California, of course, week after week Thompson battled Samuel Cassiday, editor of the Argus in Petaluma, the only major town in the county supporting the Union.
Each of them denounced the other as a misguided fool and hypocrite. To the Argus, the Santa Rosa paper was deceitful by insisting the Rebels were only defending their constitutional right to govern themselves, while they actually wanted to hold on to their slaves. To the Democrat, the Petaluma paper was dishonest in stating the Yankees only wanted to preserve the Union, while they actually wanted to take away the South’s slaves.
This was no temperate political debate; it was a blood feud, each editor reacting to the other’s latest outrage – and often reacting to the other’s reaction to their reaction. These guys would have loved Twitter.
Their pages are full of fightin’ words which reflect the passions of the Civil War quite clearly, and could provide enough material for a series of articles (maybe even a book) – but historians rarely discuss the feud. The reason why: Thompson’s Sonoma Democrat also quite clearly reflected the Confederacy’s racist malignancy.
I defy anyone with a measure of basic empathy to read through the 1860s Sonoma Democrat and not come away sickened. The problem goes far beyond merely the use of “the n-word,” although that appeared hundreds of times in the Santa Rosa paper (along with every other racist epithet imaginable). It’s that the Democrat smothers the reader with its unceasing and pathological hatred and loathing for the entire black population of America. Sometimes the paper published a speech or sermon trying to justify slavery on historical, legal or biblical grounds, but mostly Thompson didn’t bother and preached to his Confederate-fan choir as if it were a settled matter – everyone with any smarts just knew blacks were inferior, the abolition of slavery would never work and the South was winning the war. Today we have a term to describe such delusional thinking: The Dunning–Kruger effect, meaning the smug over-confidence of the ignorant.
Then suddenly, Thompson’s favorite soapbox was taken away when the South surrendered.
Petaluma, joined by like-minded Union patriots in Marin, held a nine-hour celebration with a marching band, fireworks and a mock battle. There were three parades, all featuring banners with the artwork of a local man “whose patriotism is only equalled by his ingenuity in caricaturing treason and traitors.” What impressed most was a float 14 feet high and nine feet wide depicting “the Goddess of Liberty, holding in her hands the Stars and Stripes, and supported on both sides, by two ‘recording angels.'”
Meanwhile, Santa Rosa sulked and the Democrat – true to form – lied to its readers, claiming the displays seen at the Petaluma parade “were devoted almost entirely to the abolition of slavery and the elevation of the black race” (none had any reference to slavery or race). Editor Thompson, who did not yet know the details of the surrender at Appomattox, held out the hope that General Grant’s terms would roll back the clock to the good ol’ days before Lincoln: “…it has always been understood that he, like George B. McClellan, is for the ‘Union as it was.’”
Petaluma did not have long to celebrate, nor Santa Rosa long to grump. Three days after the parade came news of Lincoln’s assassination. From the Argus:
…All that we could learn was that Lincoln had been shot dead, in Ford’s Theatre, and that Seward had been stabbed several times, while in his bed, and was yet alive. At length the boat arrived, and to Mr. Charles Yeomans we were indebted for a [San Francisco] Bulletin Extra, giving the details. This was read from the Journal and Argus office to the throng outside. We soon had the sad particulars in type, passing extras, to those outside clamorous for the news, at the rate of 1,200 an hour…
The Petaluma newspaper continued: “…To render still more intense the excitement, a dispatch came announcing that the people of San Francisco had literally sacked five Secession newspaper offices, and that the Military and Police force was powerless to restrain them.”
In another article on the same page, the Argus reprinted an item from a San Francisco paper reporting that the assassination news led to mobs destroying the printing presses and type cabinets of all pro-Confederacy newspapers in the city. (It’s said the De Young brothers founded the Chronicle using the lead type they swept up in the street.) Soldiers at the Presidio were called out to assist the police, and the combined armed force patrolled the streets until the next day, quelling the only Civil War-related riot in California.
|The San Francisco “Lincoln Riot,” April 15, 1865, destroyed the presses of pro-Confederate newspapers and journals. Photo: Lincoln Museum, Ft. Wayne, Indiana via foundsf.org
You can bet Thomas L. Thompson was nervously peeking out the windows at the Democrat once word reached Sonoma county that angry patriots were busting up the offices of disloyal newspapers. And given his years of snarkily taunting Petaluma, should he also fear being tarred and Petaluma-chicken feathered?
Luckily for Thompson, nothing happened – but both Petaluma and Santa Rosa papers suggested it was a close call.
Writing of Petaluma’s reaction to news of the San Francisco “Lincoln Riot,” the Argus stated, “This deed of righteous vengeance gave birth to dark thoughts and significant murmurs which required the combined efforts, cool heads to keep in restraint. The remotest semblance of exultation, over the fall of Lincoln, either by word or act, would have called forth swift and summary vengeance…it was a critical time and we felt rejoiced when night drew its curtains about our city and the people had dispersed to their homes…”
A couple of days later, Thompson wrote that someone in Petaluma was spreading rumors: “We have heard that some worse than brute in human shape, circulated a report at Petaluma [that Santa Rosa was not in mourning] and we deem it due to our people, as well as those in other portions of the State, to denounce the originator of the slander a wilful and malicious liar.”
Of course, Thompson being Thompson, he could not write a single paragraph without including some provocative remark. He now claimed the Sonoma Democrat was always respectful to Lincoln despite everything: “…as the great head of the Nation, which we have been taught to love and respect from our infancy, we have ever been willing to accord to him that respect which is properly due to the Chief Magistrate of the country.” Maybe Thompson bumped his head and forgot the barrels of ink he had used over the previous four years denouncing Lincoln as a dishonest, incompetent, lying, cowardly, deformed, witless tyrant – and that’s not even the rough stuff, where the president was accused of being a race traitor.
The history of those days cannot be written without mentioning “The Battle of Washoe House.” For those unfamiliar, there’s a story that a mob of Petaluma men did start to ride towards Santa Rosa but got no further than the famous roadhouse, drowning their indignant anger in suds. (A variant says their wives had to fetch the drunks home the next morning.) There’s no proof the story is even partially true; it was not mentioned in any period newspaper or book that can be found and as commented above, the local papers suggest there was nothing more than grumbling in Petaluma. Should something turn up I’ll correct it here, but after a long search I’m ready to file it away as a tall tale.*
A few days later, both Santa Rosa and Petaluma had funeral obsequies for Lincoln. Petaluma went all out, as might be expected. A rifle salute was fired every thirty minutes from sunrise to sundown; a cortège, complete with hearse, traced a route through all the main streets with church bells tolling the entire time. In Santa Rosa the procession went from the Fourth street courthouse to the Methodist church a block over, then back to the Plaza. “Nearly all the business houses in town were draped in mourning,” the Democrat reported. Nearly.
There followed a brief and uneasy truce in their (un)civil war. at least in the sense Thompson temporarily dialed back his attacks on the government and black people – perhaps he feared those buckets of hot tar and sacks of chicken feathers were still sitting in the back of Petaluma wagons. The Democrat reported, without comment, about residents of other counties being arrested for rejoicing over Lincoln’s death, and meekly protested the Democrats now felt like strangers in their own country.
Cassiday, on the other hand, kept hammering away, writing that the national Democratic party, the Sonoma county Democrats and the Santa Rosa paper were all guilty of treason. He took to calling Thompson “Limberback” for reasons unknown, although apparently it was a pretty good insult.
That truce lasted only a month after the war. Thompson wrote an obnoxious (but tame, for him) op/ed stating abolition was just a Yankee social experiment that may fail. “We the whole people of the United States, who have paid the price in blood and treasure for this little experiment in New England ideas, will endeavor patiently to await the result.”
The Argus shot back angrily: “We rather think you won’t have long to wait. Have you heard from Jeff. [Davis] lately? By the way, Limberback, where was your blood and treasure expended? On which side of the line did you invest? Didn’t you lose most of your cash on the Confederacy?”
And then they were off again. Soon the Democrat was relitigating the war, insisting the South had the higher moral ground and a right to secede in order to maintain its slave economy. Thompson was back to flinging “the n-word” in nearly every issue and the newspaper’s racism was as bad as ever – no, actually worse.
I’m sure I’ll have to mention again their epic feud; any researcher looking at Sonoma county during the Civil War (and following years) can’t go very far without stumbling over their quarrels. And some of it is great fun in its own right; later in 1865 the Democrat offered a parody endorsement for “Dr. Gunny Bags’ Extract of Butternut Sap” which “cured political maladies, especially that peculiar type called fanaticism.” A fake testimonial declared, “I poured a little on the wheels of the Petaluma Journal and Argus, and it acted like magic. It immediately expelled the flatulency which had so long inflated the editorials of that paper.”
But like so much of what appeared in the Sonoma Democrat at that time, “Dr. Gunny Bags” is ruined by Thompson’s compulsive need to insert racial slurs. That shift in the article changes it from satire to white supremacist pornography, so I’ll never transcribe that item or write more about it than what appears right here. It’s enough to point out that a cesspool stinks without offering a scratch ‘n’ sniff card to prove it.
* “The Battle of Washoe House” first appeared in print in Adair Lara’s 1982 “History of Petaluma: A California River Town.” On pg. 50 she quoted Ed Mannion, an Argus-Courier columnist and local history buff per the fable of the “Petaluma Navy” which was poised to attack Santa Rosa once there was “an extremely high tide” (in other words, once the entire county flooded, yuk, yuk, yuk). In the next paragraph, Lara introduced the Washoe House story, stating, “…LOCAL HISTORIANS say that these guardians of the national honor got as far as the Washoe House…” (emphasis mine). Adair does not recall her source but agrees it could have been Mannion. Perhaps it was an old saloon tale or the sort of spoof which Mark Twain called a “quaint” which appeared in some non-local newspaper now lost. My personal theory is that it was either born or gained traction in 1958, the year of Petaluma’s centennial. That was also the 99th birthday for the Washoe House and members of E. Clampus Vitus mounted a plaque at the roadhouse in celebration. The Clampers were up to their usual hijinks that day, including trying to push an old fire engine into the lobby of the Hotel Petaluma. The events ended with a group dinner at the hotel (“A whole chicken for each man, and served on pitchforks” – Pet. A-C, April 14 1958) where the Clampers heard the “vigilante bell” story and other old tales.
|Petaluma Argus, April 20, 1865
From Plymouth Rock to where the Pacific’s waves lave [sic] shores of California, Oregon and Washington, the capture of the Rebel army under Lee, by the conquering hero, Lieut.-Gen. U. S. Grant, has called forth demonstrations of unbounded enthusiasm and rejoicing. The mountains echo back the shouts from the vallies, and to the outermost verge of civilization, bonfires have been kindled to herald the downfall of one of the most wicked and uncalled for rebellions that ever blotted the pages history. On Wednesday the loyal people of Sonoma and Marin counties assembled in this city, to exchange congratulations upon the encouraging prospect of a speedy restoration of our Union and termination of the further effusion of blood. Our city was filled to repletion with the inhabitants of the surrounding country. About noon the Lincoln Cavalry, Lieut. Causland, and Bloomfield Guards, Capt. C. R. Arthur, led by the Bloomfield Brass Band, entered our city with flying banners. About the same time the Washington Guards, Capt. W. A. Eliason, from Santa Rosa cheered us with their presence. At 1 1/2 o’clock, P. M. the above named Companies, with the Petaluma Guards. Emmet Rifles and City Guards, Major Jas. Armstrong, commanding, preliminary to a grand review on Union square, East Petaluma, escorted the patriotic boys of our Fire Department, comprised of Sonoma, No. 2, through several streets. The review at Union Square was witnessed by a vast concourse of ladies and gentlemen, and reflected great credit upon our citizen soldiers. A sham battle, in which the Lincoln Cavalry made repeated charges upon the Infantry drawn up in battle array, was the most exciting feature of the review. The clash and clatter of the cavalry, so they swept down upon the serried lines bristling bayonets, followed by the rattle of musketry as volley after volley of brank cartridges greeted the assailants, on a small scale, gave a fair representation of a battle scene. Nobody was hurt, however, and at 4 o’clock the Military was dismissed. At 7 1/2 o’clock in the evening a procession was formed on Main street, headed with the military, led by the Bloomfield Brass Band, and marched through the principle streets with a good display of fireworks, torches, transparencies and banners. The houses of the loyal people throughout the city were illuminated. As the procession moved along, cheer upon cheer answered the waving of handkerchiefs by the patriotic ladies along the route. God bless our mothers and sisters for the noble self-sacrificing spirit which has prompted them to buckle the armor upon sons and brothers, and bid them strike for their country, in its hour of peril! Their heart’s treasure has strewn a thousand fields; but they can today rejoice that their noble slain repose beneath their Country’s Banner. A large number of transparencies and banners, painted by Mr. Samuel Dearborn, of this city, whose patriotism is only equalled by his ingenuity in caricaturing treason and traitors, was a prominent feature of the procession. The following are a few of the inscriptions and devices:
Representation of the Goddess of Liberty, holding in her hands the Stars and Stripes, and supported on both sides, by two “recording angels.” This was a splendidly executed device, being fourteen feet high and nine wide, and was drawn on a wagon through the streets, to the admiration of everyone.
“The Angel of Peace.” (Picture of Gilmore’s ‘Swamp Angel.'”)
“The rebel Hill; the difference between his place and name is all in your ‘eye,’ (i)”
Picture of Johnny Crapeaud in Mexico. Johnny is represented as a frog, under the iron heel of Brother Johnathan [sic].
“Steel Bayonets, Yankee Shoe pegs.”
“Long may he wave.” (A picture of Jeff. Davis suspended by a rope around his neck.)
Sam’s large transparency, the one used in the last campaign, was changed to suit the occasion, and was carried on an omnibus.
“Blessed are the Peace Makers–Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Thomas and Porter.”
“The Rebellion shipwrecked on a ‘LEE’ shore.”
“Sound the tocsin, beat the drum, the year of Jubi-‘Lee’ has come!”
At about 9 o’clock the procession was disbanded on Main street, when a platform was erected in front of the American Hotel, and the meeting organized with I. G. Wickersham, Esq., as Chairman. Prof. E. S. Lippitt addressed the vast assemblage present for over an hour, after which the Glee Club sang a patriotic song, and the Band played several spirited pieces. So ended the jubilee over the capture of Lee’s army.
– Petaluma Argus, April 13, 1865
Treason and Hypocrisy.
We can endure with a good deal of patience the rebels in their revolt, for although it is one of the most henious crimes known to our laws, yet it is true, the great mass of them, from habit, education, and their entire surroundings, have been honestly led to believe they are justifiable in fighting against the Government, for what they term their independence. In fact we cannot refrain from respecting an open and manly enemy. One may contend for a principle, amid many trials and through sacrifices, the principle for which he is striving may be most pernicious and dangerous in its tendencies. And while we insist that the rebels should be punished, for the good of society and the well-being of future generations, yet we deeply commiserate them and painfully regret they had not received a better and more correct education.
But there is a class of men in the North, for whom we neither can have respect or feelings of pity. They occupy a position so perfectly inexcusable, and without excuse, that patriotic men cannot help but feel that the severest penalty known to our laws would, at best, very inadequately punish them for the crimes of which they are guilty.
We refer to that hypocritical and treasonable portion of the Democratic party, which cover itself with a flimsy mantle of loyalty, just sufficiently heavy to save them from being banished beyond our lines, or from imprisonments in the cells of our military prisons–some of them, even then, only avoiding the latter by the nimbleness of their heels. Men who belie their early education, stultify their judgements, an go contrary to the clearest promptings of their consciences; who remain under the Government; claim and receive its protection, which they are constantly scheming for its overthrow; who for the sake of saving their necks will urge men to enlist, while with the next breath they proclaim that the guilt and entire responsibility for the war, in the first place, and for its further continuance, rests upon the North.
Now, in the name of all that is sacred and solemn, if the rebels are right in this struggle, and are willing to lay down their arms just as soon as they have the promise and security that they will be protected in their just and constitutional rights, but can any one believing this, aid the Government in the further prosecution of the war? If we held such views we would not stop under such a government a single day, but would join our destiny with the party battling for the right; and so would every man who is worthy of the name. Those who hold that on Mr. Lincoln rests “the odium, the blood, the guilt of a further prosecution of the war,” while at the same time they are urging men to enlist, demonstrate to the public, as clear as the noon-day sun, that they are both hypocrites and traitors, and although personally they may be very insignificant and beneath the notice of the military authorities, yet some of them occupy positions which places a lever in their hands by which they may accomplish much mischief. And the community which patronizes and sustains such persons, will be very likely ultimately to find, that they have been warming a viper into life, which will turn on them and fasten its envenomed fangs into their quivering flesh.
– Petaluma Argus, April 13, 1865
From the San Francisco Dispatch
Great outburst of Popular Feeling.
WHOLESOME DESTRUCTION OF COPPERHEAD NEWSPAPERS.
This afternoon between the hour of two and three o’clock, P. M. the loyal people of San Francisca, paid their respects to the office of the Democratic Pres, which they at once proceeded to demolish without ceremony. The types and other printing material were cast out of the windows and down the stairs, the stands and cases were smashed into fragments, the papers were distributed on the viewless wings of wind, much more expeditiously than the carrier ould have done it, the window frames were bodily torn out of the fastenings, and thrown down upon the pavement, where all the debris was gathered in a pile–the office, in fact, completely destroyed and gutted.
An immense multitude gathered in the streets and watched the proceeding with interest. Not the least attempt at resistance or rescue was made, showing that this prepeeding met with universal approbation.
After the consumation of this act of signal justice, the crowd moved off to the office of Marriot’s News Letter, which was served in a similar manner. Great enthusiasm prevailed. A number of persons secured the latest impressions. One person cried out “here’s the last issue of Marriot’s News Letter. The work of destruction was accomplished when Chief Burke accompanied by two companies of armed police, with bayonets fixed, marched round several squares and up Clay street to the News Letter, where the Chief spoke in favor of moderation, as the crowd began to move away, only, but ever, to rush up to the office of the Monitor (weekly Copperhead,) where they in a manner demolished, or in Secesh parlance, “wiped out.”
The office of the Occidental shared the fate of the Press. During its destruction, the Vox de Mejico, the loyal Mexican paper, took in its flag, but after the occurrence threw it out again amid loud cheers.
The proprietors of all the papers destroyed made good their escape, and no violence was perpetrated at that time.
This act of justice, happening upon the heels of the sad intelligence announcing the double murder in Washington seems most appropriate.
– Petaluma Argus, April 20, 1865
Petaluma in Mourning.
…All that we could learn was that Lincoln had been shot dead, in Ford’s Theatre, and that Seward had been stabbed several times, while in his bed, and was yet alive. At length the boat arrived, and to Mr. Charles Yeomans we were indebted for a Bulletin Extra, giving the details. This was read from the JOURNAL AND ARGUS office to the throng outside. We soon had the sad particulars in type, passing extras, to those outside clamarous [sic] for the news, at the rate of 1200, an hour. To render still more intense the excitement, a dispatch came announcing that the people of San Francisco had litterally[sic] sacked five Secession newspaper offices, and that the Military and Police force was powerless to restrain them. This deed of righteous vengeance gave birth to dark thoughts and significant murmers [sic] which required the combined efforts, cool heads to keep in restraint. The remotest semblance of exultation, over the fall of Lincoln, either by word or act, would have called forth swift and summary vengeance. Those of known secession proclivities seemed to fully realize the position of affairs, and deported themselves accordingly. It was a critical time and we felt rejoiced when night drew its curtains about our city and the people had dispersed to their homes…
– Petaluma Argus editorial, April 20, 1865
The Death of the President.
The announcement of the sudden and tragic death of President Lincoln reached Santa Rosa on Saturday last at about 11 o’clock. Two dispatches were received from San Francisco bearing the terrible intelligence, and the people stood aghast for a time, loth to believe that such could he true, but the announcement was soon affirmed by other dispatches. The effect upon the minds of the people of every sect, partv and denomination was the same. A truly mournful gloom was soon spread over the entire community.— Business houses were all closed, and the flags upon the public and private buildings were lowered to half mast. We have heard that some worse than brute in human shape, circulated a report at Petaluma to the contrary of what we have stated, and we deem it due to our people, as well as those in other portions of the State, to denounce the originator of the slander a wilful and malicious liar. We have never seen any gloom so generally shared in as that occasioned in our midst by the sad announcement of the brutal and fiendish assassination of the Chief Magistrate of the Nation. We have never been a supporter of Mr. Lincoln’s peculiar policy in administering the government, but as the great head of the Nation, which we have been taught to love and respect from our infancy, we have ever been willing to accord to him that respect which is properly due to the Chief Magistrate of the country. We have heard nothing but the deepest sorrow and regret expressed by all our people at the sad announcement of his death.
– Sonoma Democrat, April 22 1865
THE NEWS–AND HOW IT WAS RECEIVED. —Those who have advocated the war, and accepted and ratified every act of the administration, without hesitating a moment to consider the consequences hereafter, looking forward alone to the subjugation of the South and the liberation of the negro, have had a gay old time this week over the news which has been transmitted across the wires. The intensely loyal had a good pow-wow at Petaluma on Wednesday, and at Healdsburg and Santa Rosa, demonstrations of joy were manifested in various ways. It is not because of the prospects of peace that they celebrate, but rather the triumph of might. We are informed that the transparencies in the procession at Petaluma were devoted almost entirely to the abolition of slavery and the elevation of the black race. It may be that these sticklers for Sambo, celebrate too soon, for Grant has made the terms, and it has always been understood that he, like George B. McClellan, is for the “Union as it was.”
– Sonoma Democrat, April 22 1865
A NUMBER OF ARRESTS.–From our numerous exchanges we see that in almost every portion of the State men have been arrested for rejoicing over the assassination of President Lincoln, and have been sent to prison. Here is a chance for the great Democratic Constitutional expounder, of this city, to declaim against “unconstitutional arrests.”
– Petaluma Argus, April 27, 1865
San Francisco stands alone in the category of cities which, upon the arrival of the recent dreadful news from Washington, was disgraced by a resort to mob violence, in order to appease the grief and indignation of her people. It is gratifying to hear that even there those who had recourse to such dangerous and unlawful proceedings formed bnt a small portion of the inhabitants, and the outrages committed were condemned and deeply regretted by the more respectable classes of the community. Generally those who give vent to their feelings on such occasions as the present by a resort to unlawful measures are men who have nothing to lose and everything to gain by throwing a community into a state of tumultuous excitement, and in such times it becomes every good citizen to raise his voice in behalf of law and older. Since 1851, San Francisco has been subject to periodical outbreaks of popular excitement, and on this occasion we find in the ranks of the mob men who at other times have sustained the law, and wo can only account for their conduct on this occasion in believing it was instigated by a desire to gratify a spirit of revenge harbored against certain loyal publication offices in that city as well as against Democratic papers. It is a well known fact that had it not been for the timely interference of the military on the 15th inst., the offices of the Alta and Bulletin and the Overland Telegraph Company would have suffered. It is positively asserted by the Flag newspaper, the organ of the disorderly, as well as by citizens of San Francisco who witnessed the proceedings that these establishments were included in the programme laid down for the mob to execute. The military commandant of the coast was appealed to for protection, and did prevent the destruction of these as well as certain Churches in the city which were also threatened, by the establishment of a military guard about them. From the best information we can gather we are fully satisfied that credit is due to Major General McDowell for the prevention of further and more disastrous, destruction of property than did occur. We regret exceedingly that we cannot record that he saved the property of Democrats as well as of other citizens, for to assume that they are not entitled to the protection of law is to ignore the rights of fully one-half the population of the loyal States.
All reports of the destruction of newspapers elsewhere in the State besides San Francisco were without foundation. In every other section the people manifested their grief by more quiet and respectful proceedings. True, in some instances, threats were made by persons who imagined it would be proper for them to imitate the example set at San Francisco, but thanks be to the cooler heads of the more orderly masses, we are spared the necessity of recording any further violation of law. It is to be hoped that every law abiding citizen, be he Democrat or Republican, Abolitionist or Copperhead, will continue to exert himself in behalf of law and order, for surely no good can come of violent demonstrations, be they of what character they may.
We append hereto some very sensible remarks upon this subject taken from the S. F. Bulletin:
“Every intelligent Unionist must perceive that no good can possibly result from lawless bursts of anger at this time. The duty of the hour is a calm adherence to the legal sanctions of order, that society may as soon as possible recover from the disturbing effects of civil war and the passions that follow in the train. Mere brutal violence is an affront to the spirit of the great dead, whose marble serenity still hushes the nation’s capital. We should go through this memorial week–about to be made sacred forever in our history his by obsequies — with dignity and decency worthy of our grief and of his character. Everv good citizen should frown upon all incitements to scenes of disorder, chief among which, and altogether the most reprehensible, are incendiary publications of the character of the American Flag, which should be discouraged and discarded by every friend of sobriety and good government. The civil and military authorities should continue their efforts to preserve the peace, and use every proper means to prevent inflammatory appeals and expressions.”
– Sonoma Democrat, April 29 1865
The Opponents of the Administration.
Some people place a poor estimate upon the patriotism, virtue and intelligence of the American people when they endeavor to fix the responsibility of the recent tragic occurrences in our Nation’s history upon those who, in their wisdom, have seen proper to exercise the privileges of citizenship by recording their votes against the peculiar policy of those who administer the Government. The right of freely expressing one’s views and the free exercise of the right of suffrage are privileges which have been guaranteed to the people of this country, not only by the Constitution of the United States, but by that of every individual State in the Union… At the recent Presidential election over fifteen hundred thousand American citizens entered their protest against the peculiar policy of those who were administering the Government. If it were true that these people desired the downfall of the Government or the assassination of its Chief Executive, then, indeed, are we a degenerate nation. We do not believe that the masses of the dominant party attribute any such designs or motives to those who opposed them in the last Presidential contest–but, rather, they stand with the lamented President, who himself spurned to assume such to be the case, and in his last Message administered these fanatics a withering rebuke by taking upon himself the defense of the Democratic party against this senseless cry of disloyalty and treason.
But, we regret, there are some high in authority who see proper to take a different view from Mr. Lincoln, and declare or insinuate that those whom the late President would defend from the foul invectives hurled against them are guilty, as charged by the fanatical press of the country. We have heard nothing from the East of this tirade against Democrats; it appears to be confined alone to the Pacific coast. — And feeling, as we do, that they have cause to and do as deeply mourn the loss of the lamented dead as any who set themselves up to be models of loyalty. we deeply regret that such should be the case here. In the defense of the Democracy by Mr. Lincoln we have another reason Democrats everywhere should deplore his loss; for surely we had a better friend in him than we may ever hope to find in those who rule the country now.
– Sonoma Democrat, April 29 1865
David James and two sons, Wm. P Durbin and son, Charles Ramsey and son, and John Stilts were arrested by military order in Green Valley, Solano county, on Monday List, lor rejoicing over the death of President Lincoln. — A company of militia were despatched from Benecia to execute the order, and met with resistance from the parties, two soldiers being wounded. After an exchange of several shots, the above named parties surrendered themselves to the militia, and are now confined at San Francisco, where they will be tried by military court for resisting the execution of the order. Four men were arrested at Colusa on Thursday of last week, by a company of soldiers from Sacramento, also charged with rejoicing over the death of the President. The names of the parties so arrested are…
– Sonoma Democrat, April 29 1865
Will Awaken Reflection.
There is scarcely a Copperhead journal in the State but that comes to us clothed in mourning, and filled with lamentations over the untimely fall of Abraham Lincoln, by the hand of an assassin. How sincere they are in their protestations of sorrow is a matter of little or no importance to us; but we are curious to see what effect it will have upon those who had been educated up to an intense degree of fanatical hatred of Lincoln by these same organs. Ignorant men and women whose minds are plastic material in the hands of unscrupulous demagogues, when once thoroughly indoctrinated with sentiments, however brutal, are hard to uneducate; and in the present instance very many of them gave utterance to their joy at the cowardly assassination of President Lincoln, little dreaming that the journals which had always held him up to them as a “monster in human form;” a “tyrant whose iron rule was insufferable,” would exhibit such an agony of grief at his removal. Even the lowest order of intellect can discern that either in the beginning or end they have been dealt falsely by; that if their leaders were sincere at the outset, they have deserted them now; and if sincere now, they willfully deceived and betrayed them into a false position in the beginning. Those who, upon hearing of the assassination of Lincoln, exclaimed, the ‘Abolitionists’ have been rejoicing over the capture of Lee’s army but now it is our turn to rejoice, little dereamed that their leaders would fail to join with them in their origies [sic] over a slain “tyrant.” How chilling must have been the effect upon the patrons of the Santa Rosa Democrat, when upon unfolding its pages expecting to find a ponderous leader under the caption, “Caesar found his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell, and Lincoln his Booth,” their eyes were greeted with an ostentatious display of mourning, and professions of inconsolable sorrow. However bitter the disappointment to some, it will not be wholly barren of good results. Some minds are so constituted that just such impressive lessons are the only instrumentalities that will arouse them to the perception of new truths. Party leaders, so long as they keep up a semblance of consistency and sincerity, may keep such minds in the grooves of old beaten tracks, but when, as is the case just now, those leaders stand unmasked, shrinking from the position into which they have betrayed their dupes, their misguided followers will be slow to fall into line and follow them into new and unexplored fields. The whole stock in trade of the Democratic leaders, in this county, has been vituperation of Lincoln, By falsehood and misrepresentation they kept men in their party trammels by systematic and unscrupulous appeals to the lowest instincts of brutalized humanity. Like the keeper who shrinks back powerless to command the obedience of animals whose appetites have been whetted by the blood of some hapless victim, these same leaders stand trembling in the presence of the demoniac spirit they have instilled into the hearts of their followers, and which will not down at their bidding. This condition of affairs has awakened reflection in the minds of a small minority in that party, who can lay some claims to intelligence and respectability, and they unhesitatingly renounce their allegiance to it. Oceans of hypocritical tears will not suffice to remove the stain of Lincoln’s blood from the Democratic party; it will adhere to it with the tenacity of the poisoned shirt of Nessus.
– Petaluma Argus, May 4, 1865
Beginning to Reap the Penalty.
So long as there was a remote possibility that the armed rebellion with which our Government was struggling, might ultimately accomplish its end, Norther traitors could hold up their heads with some assurance; but now that the cause which has commanded their entire sympathies, is hopelessly crushed, they beging to have a foretaste of the infamy in store for them and their posterity, for generations to come. Every day is rendering more legible the line of demarkation between loyal men and traitors. Where loyalty and treason have been unequally yoked together in business firs the work of severance and readjusting is rapidly going on. Aiders and abettors of treason are being made to feel that they are regarded as moral lepers who live by the sufferance of the community they infest. As well might they attempt to elude their own shadows as the disgrace which will attend them at every step throughout their lives and brood over their graves after their death.
– Petaluma Argus, May 4, 1865
The Day of Reckoning.
What did you with the inheritance bequeathed to you by the founders of our Government? When treason uplifted its bloody hand against the National life, what position did you assume, that of loyalty or disloyalty to your country? These are grave questions, but they are interrogatories which will meet you at every turn in life, and whether you are willing or not, answer to them will be exacted. The antecedents, associations, and records of some of the would-be prominent men of this county have branded their brows with treason, in characters so legible, that even children will recognize them, and shrinking from their path will point after them and say, “there goes a TRAITOR.”
– Petaluma Argus, May 4, 1865
“LET THE GALLED JADE WINCE.”–No wonder Limberback, of Santa Rosa, is afraid that during the coming canvass “Democrats will be denounced as sympathizers with treason and assassination.” Jeff. Davis is certainly a good Democrat. Jacob Thompson, C. C. Clay, Beverly Tucker, and Geo. N. Saunders, dictated the platform which was adopted by the Democratic National Convention at Chicago. They are good Democrats, yet they are directly implicated in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and are supposed to be in sympathy with the late rebellion. The plot to assassinate the President was doubtless well known in the wigwams of the Golden Circle, or Knights of the Columbian Star, and no sensible person will attempt to deny that the leaders of the Democratic Party of Sonoma County, were members of that organization. Is it strange that the people hold the Democratic Party responsible for the rebellion and the assassination of Mr. Lincoln?
– Petaluma Argus, May 11, 1865
U. S. BONDS–The Santa Rosa treason mill has been selected as one of the papers to advertise the U. S. 7-30 Loan! That is proper and right. The paper has been loyal for two weeks through fear of being destroyed by an outraged people! This brazen-faced hypocritical, teason-breeding tool of Jeff. Davis, after working four years for the Southern Confederacy, now has the impudences to advise loyal men to invest in the Government Loan! Oh, what cheek! Limberback is subjugated! He will be a howling Abolitionist in another month. Advising the people to subscribe for the National Loan! Aint, that funny! He will be advocating negro equality pretty soon. Can’t be subjugated, oh no! Where is the last ditch? Ha, ha, haw-haw!
– Petaluma Argus, May 11, 1865
New England on Trial.
New England chuckles over what she deems the complete success of her blind theories; she has obtained in the hour of national insanity, what she vainly endeavored for half a century to win from the calm judgment of our people, viz: The privilege of testing the the truth or falsity of her Abolition dogma. We the whole people of the United States, who have paid the price in blood and treasure lor this little experiment in New England ideas, will endeavor patiently to await the result. If upon a practical demonstration, Emancipation shall prove a benefit to humanity, white and black, then glory be to New England. Then who would not be an abolitionist? If the negroes and their former masters can inhabit the same soil equal in all things, and nearly equal in numbers, each happy and all things harmonious in their new relation, then New England ideas have triumphed. New England stands or falls by the result. The test of Emancipation is the test of New England, and woe to the disciple of John Brown if after a fair trial we find that we have paid so dearly for their teachings, only to be deceived in the result.
– Sonoma Democrat, May 13 1865
“We the whole people of the United States who have paid the price in blood and treasure for this little experiment in New England ideas, will endeavor patiently to await the result.” – Santa Rosa Democrat.
We rather think you won’t have long to wait. Have you heard from Jeff. lately? By the way, Limberback, where was your blood and treasure expended? On which side of the line did you invest? Didn’t you loose [sic] most of your cash on the Confederacy?
– Petaluma Argus, May 18, 1865