8 February 1864: “. . . it must have been done in dumb show.”

Item: editorial, The Daily Journal (Wilmington, N. C.), 8 February 1864, page 2, column 1; followed by “Public Meeting in Guilford County,” The North Carolina Standard—Semi-Weekly Standard (Raleigh, N.C.), 5 February 1864, page 2, column 4.

Background: The Daily Journal’s editorial on 8 February 1864 refers to a public meeting held in Greensboro, N. C. on 30 January—a meeting similar to several held around the state in late January and early February.  The article following the editorial is from The North Carolina Standard (published by William W. Holden) three days earlier.  During this period The Standard printed the resolutions from or announcements of public meetings held in Granville and Greene counties on 21 January; Rutherford County on 26 January;  Moore, Rowan, Transylvania, and Wake counties on 30 January; Chatham on 4 February; Cabarrus, Johnston, and Wake on 6 February.  (This may not be a complete list.)


The editorial above refers to the following article in The North Carolina Standard—Semi-weekly on 5 February 1864.



The Daily Journal (Wilmington, N. C.), 8 February 1864, page 2, column 1; The North Carolina Standard—The Semi-Weekly Standard (Raleigh, N.C.), 5 February 1864, page 2 column 4.  North Carolina Collection, Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; call number C071 Z.






There are sundry versions of the Guilford county meeting, the Standard containing an account drawn up by the Secretary, in which everything is reported as passing off finely, including a long string of “cunningly devised fables”—we mean resolutions—in which the real aim of the promoters is hidden under a moss of words—that aim though hidden is not abandoned.  It is peace at the cost of submission,—reconstruction or any other sacrifice or humiliation.  As a means towards this end the resolutions embody a bill of indictment against the Confederate Government, and darkly hint of danger to our rights and subversion to our liberties through the action of the Confederate Congress and Executive, the object being to make our own Government odious to our people—to wean their affections from the Confederacy, and thus prepare them for a transfer to Lincoln and Company.

But as we have already said, there are sundry and variant accounts of the meeting itself.  Instead of the plain sailing reported by the friends of the movement, we have heard from outside sources that there was really no chance of doing any thing—that the meeting broke up after lasting not even half an hour—that if the resolutions were read nobody heard them, and if they were passed nobody knew it.  If, as reported by Wm. M. Mebane, Secretary, “the meeting was addressed by Robert P. Dick, D. F. Caldwell and James A. Long,” it must have been done in dumb show.



For the Standard.

Public Meeting in Guilford County.

A very large and respectable meeting of the citizens of Guilford county was held in the Court House in Greensboro’ on the 30th of January.

The meeting was organized by the appointment of James A. Long, Esq., Chairman, Col. Abram Clapp, Vice President, and William M. Mebane, Secretary.

On motion, Robert P. Dick, Wm. S. Gilmer, Esq., Jesse Benbow, Esq., Jeremiah Clapp, Esq., and John Gant, Esq., were appointed a committee to prepare business for the consideration and action of the meeting.

The committee through their Chairman, R. P. Dick made the following report:

We as freemen of Guilford county, and loyal citizens of North Carolina in public meeting assembled, believing that our liberties are in serious peril; do solemnly assert the following rights, and express the following opinions upon questions of public interest:

Resolved, “That the people have a right to assemble together, to consult for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the legislature, for redress of grievances.”

Resolved, That the declaration of rights is a part of the constitution of this State, and ought never to be violated on any pretence whatever.

Resolved, That we are a law-loving and law-abiding people—true and loyal to our whole country, and it is our privilege, and our duty to use all legal and constitutional means for a redress of grievances.

Resolved, That we are still freemen ; and will never surrender our inalienable rights and constitutional liberties to any power on earth.

Resolved, That a government deserves the respect, the generous confidence and love of its people, as long as it keep its plighted faith, observes its solemn contracts, protects the liberty of its citizens, and holds sacred and inviolable the letter and spirit of its constitution.

Resolved, That the writ of habeas corpus is a great writ of right, dear to every freeman and formidable to tyrants only ;—and we will regard its suspension as the subversion of a free government, and the establishment of an odious military despotism.

Resolved, That an honest, learned and independent judiciary is an indispensable part of our free government; — its authority should be maintained and enforced by the whole power of the State; and its decisions ought to be cheerfully obeyed by every one as the “laws of the land.”

Resolved, That the Confederate government is a government of limited powers, and no necessity or emergency can justify it in disregarding its Constitution, trampling upon the reserved rights of sovereign States and usurping despotic control over the life, liberty and property of its citizens.

Resolved, That North-Carolina is a sovereign State, and honor, patriotism, justice, and truth require her citizens to maintain her sovereignty at every hazard, and without regard to consequences.

Resolved, That the partisan spirit and fondness for power of the Confederate administration, and the wild, inconsiderate, unjust and reckless legislation and propositions of Congress have produced great despondency among the people, and given much aid and comfort to the enemy ; we therefore earnestly entreat our rulers to respect the rights of the citizen, and by calm courage and wise counsels restore hope and confidence to the nation.

Resolved, That a further extension of the conscript act by Congress, will greatly endanger the domestic peace and security of the State ; and so derange our industrial pursuits as to add famine to the other horrors of war.

Resolved, That the sovereignty of North-Carolina and the liberties of her people are in imminent peril ; and we therefore respectfully and earnestly request our Governor to convene the Legislature, that the question may be submitted to a vote of the people, whether or not a Convention shall be called with full power to protect the sovereignty of the State, and the rights of its citizens, and to meet every emergency, and every peril.

The meeting was addressed by Robert P. Dick, D. F. Caldwell and James A. Long, and then the report of the committee was unanimously adopted.

The following resolution introduced by General Joab Hiatt was adopted:

Resolved, That we hereby respectfully request the publication of the proceedings of this meeting in the Patriot, Standard, Daily Progress, and all other papers that advocate the doctrines of free speech, a free press and a free government.

On motion, the meeting was adjourned sine die.


William M. Mebane, Sec’y.

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