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Union or Secession
  • "How Rockingham stands in the present crisis"
Early in January 1861, the editor of the Harrisonburg Rockingham Register wrote that the Germans in the Shenandoah Valley would fight for their rights.
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"How Rockingham stands in the present crisis"

Extract from an editorial in the Harrisonburg Rockingham Register, January 4, 1861.

The Shenandoah Valley had a large population of people of German ancestry, who may have owned fewer slaves on average than other residents, leading some people to suppose that those Germans might not share with other white Virginians a determination to oppose Republicans and other antislavery advocates. "No people are truer to their fatherland," the editor of the Harrisonburg Rockingham Register, wrote at the beginning of January 1861, and "no people are more ready and willing to 'fight' for the protection of their honors and their firesides than the good people who make up the mass of our population." In the presidential election in November 1860, voters in Rockingham County gave Democrat Stephen A. Douglas 46.48 percent of the vote, the highest percentage in Virginia. One month after the editor published his comments on the inhabitants of the county, the voters elected three men who were all firm opponents of secession to represent the county in the state convention.

Extract from an editorial in the Harrisonburg Rockingham Register, January 4, 1861.
It is quite natural that there should be some enquiries as to how Rockingham stands in the present crisis. She is known to possess a large and dense population, whose habits, pursuits and inclinations are all averse to scenes of strife and conflict and the shedding of human blood. They are happy and contented in the pursuit and cultivation of the arts of peace and fraternal feelings. In addition to all this, our people are phlegmatic and eminently cool and calculating. Yet if any one imagine that our people, because this is their character and these are their habits, are destitute of State pride and patriotic feeling, he is greatly mistaken. No people are truer to their fatherland—no people are more ready and willing to "fight" for the protection of their honors and their firesides than the good people who make up the mass of our population. If we know anything, therefore, of Rockingham and her noble, quiet, honest, upright, toiling people, "the sunny South" contains not within its generous bosom a more patriotic and loyal population than inhabits this peaceful valley. They make no great ado about fighting—they make no pompous, swelling, windy speeches; but if anybody thinks a German because he is a quiet man won't resent insult and oppression and wrong, he is vastly mistaken, and will find he has "waked up the wrong passenger," when he goads him and thinks he will not fight. We have conferred with a great many of our fellow-citizens who have no desire to make a noise in the world, and we find them resolved to resist Federal aggressions to the last extremity, and to peril "life and fortune and sacred honor," in defence of the just rights of their section.