Pennsylvania’s Attitude

At the height of the discussions about slavery, the following two articles appeared in Pennsylvania newspapers in Franklin County, located in the south central portion of the state. The city in which these newspapers were published was Chambersburg a city a few miles north of the Maryland border. Chambersburg is approximately 150 miles southwest of Cheltenham.

Note: The article below is from the Franklin County, Pennsylvania, Repository & Transcript. The Repository & Transcript was the mouthpiece for the county’s Republican Party. The paper was not representative of the entire national party, but it still provides an interesting example of how Republicans tailored their message to appeal to different kinds of voters.

Franklin Repository and Transcript, September 14, 1859, p. 4, c. 2
Becoming Africanized

We have often stated that the tendency of extending the area of slavery is to eradicate the white population in the old Southern States. This is fast becoming verified in the very strong-hold of the peculiar institution. The authorities in South Carolina have instituted measures for taking the census of that State, which produces such an abundance of fire-eaters. The returns from seventeen parishes alone, show a decrease of more than 5000 in the white population, in the last four years, (a similar census-taking having occurred in 1855,) whilst the blacks have increased very largely in numbers, in the same time, in those parishes. At this rate the blood-and-thunder State will soon become sufficiently Africanized to suit the tastes of the greatest negro-lovers in the land.

Is it not astonishing that the simpletons who urge so strongly the propriety of repealing the laws of Congress which pronounce the Slave-trade piracy, cannot see that they are preparing for themselves the most horrible doom imaginable? The slave-holders of the South are now almost afraid to go to bed without a revolver under their pillows for fear their darkeys will rise in the night and inflict retaliatory vengence upon their self constituted owners–their unfeeling task-masters. Then why do they insist upon increasing the danger? They had better be upon their guard, and prevent this iniquity, while they have the strength, lest an opening of the Slave trade should result in so completely Africanizing the Southern States as that the tables might be turned–the whites becomes the slaves while the blacks bear rule. The only way slavery is upheld now, or ever was, is by brute force–the law of might. If, therefore, the weak of to-day become the strong of to-morrow, there is nothing in the world which can prevent their enslaving the weaker portion of society–from whom they have learned the inhuman lessons.

Nearly eight months later this article appeared in the city’s other newspaper.

Note: The article below is from the Franklin County, Pennsylvania, Valley Spirit. This paper was closely tied to the county’s Democratic Party.

The Valley Spirit, May 2, 1860, p. 4, c. 1
The Abolition of Slavery

The abolitionists object to slavery as an element of political power. They complain that the whites of the South vote for their negroes–that three-fifths of all the negroes are taken into the account in adjusting the ratio of Congressional representation. This, they say, gives the South more political power than she is justly entitled to.

We reply that the Constitution of the United States provides for the enumeration of three-fifths of all the Southern slaves, and that to attack this arrangement is to attack the work of the founders of our Republic. But how much better off would the North be if slavery were abolished? If the Southern negroes were set free, not merely three-fifths, but all of them would be counted, as all negroes are now counted at the North.

There are about five million slaves in the country, three millions of whom are taken into the account in apportioning political power among the States. Set them free and the two millions who are now excluded will have to be counted. At the present ratio of representation, this would give twenty more members of Congress to the Southern States! Do the abolitionists wish to endow the Southern States with more political power than they already possess?

The rooting out of slavery would not promote Northern interests. It would directly conflict with the interests of Pennsylvania, if there is any truth in the claim that the interests of this State require an increased tariff–for the South is opposed to an increase of the tariff, and if slavery should be abolished and twenty more Representatives be added to the Southern strength in Congress, anybody of sense can see that there would be just so many more votes against an increase of tariff.


According to the 1860 US Census there were 523 African Americans living in the Chambersburg limits. In Franklin County precincts that voted for Lincoln in 1860 also contained the majority of churches in the following denominations: Dunker, German Reformed, Manees, Methodist Episcopal, Union, and United Brethren. Some denominations had churches located in both precincts that went for Lincoln and those that went for Breckinridge: Lutherans and Catholics. The lone African church was located in a precinct that went for Lincoln. The geographic locations of churches relative to the precinct’s voting pattern in 1860, then, reveal few clues about ethnicity and political expression.


Back to top