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Not-so-good old days
It's been noted previously that the old Oxford Democrat came out strongly against slavery long before the Civil War. However, it seems it was somewhat ambivalent when it came to supporting people who protested abolition in more active ways - that is by breaking the law. This quote from the paper of January 14, 1845, seems to approve sending one such abolitionist to prison.
Mr. Torry, who was convicted in Baltimore enticing Slaves from their masters, was placed in the State Penitentiary a week ago last Monday. He goes into the weaving department. He was convicted on three indictments. On the 1st, confinement in the Penitentiary from Dec. 28, 1844, to the end of April, 1847. On the 2nd, until April, 1849. On the third, until 2nd of April, 1851. Total, six years. Guess he begins to think the way of the transgressor is hard.
On the subject of a possible war with Mexico, however, the Democrat seemed to have opposed it and just about anything to do with Texas from the start. There was a lot of lobbying in Congress going on and a lot of money and ink spilled to drum up support for annexing the territory, then a part of Mexico. The following item appeared in the same issue of the Democrat, downplaying the reality of a Mexican threat:
A MEXICAN WAR — The papers are discussing the results of a war with Mexico; and some of them – the Courier and Enquirer, for instance – talk of the ravages of Mexican privateers, and the ruin they would inflict on our commerce. They assert that from the variety and extent of our commerce we should be sufferers; and that armed vessels under Mexican letters of marque and reprisal, would be fitted out at our own and at neutral ports got prey upon our trading ships. This is all very pretty at first sight; but aside from the infamy which such language confers on the American who dares to utter it, is entirely false. It is well calculated to frighten old women; but its fallacy will at once be detected and exposed by men of sense.
The practice of privateering is a plunder under the forms of law. That law is the universal sufferance of nations. If its rules be violated, the privateering turns to piracy. A vessel fitted out at any of our ports for the purpose of warring against our commerce, no matter how much under the protection of a letter of marque, is a pirate. If captured by a vessel of war, her crew would be hung like dogs, at the yard-arm. If fitted out in a neutral port, after a protest against it by our government, it is a virtual declaration of war against us, but the neutral power who permits it. Neither England, nor France, nor any other European nation would enter into war with us, for anything less than a great cause. If fitted out, in the port of a neutral power against the command of the authorities there, we should be justified in treating its sailors as pirates. Now hanging is a very uncomfortable death, and not to be jumped into willingly.
As to fitting out privateers in a Mexican port — that is rank nonsense. It takes time; and we could blockade every port of Mexico, in two weeks notice. Not a vessel could go in or out, for our cruisers. We could destroy every town along the Mexican seacoast where a privateer could possible obtain munitions of war; and in less than a week after our squadron arrived there, they would not have a depot for naval operations of any kind.
In case readers don't quite recall, what we call the "Mexican War" was not the Texas war for independence in which Davy Crockett died at the Alamo. That was over by then, it only lasted from 1835-36. But, while Texas was a breakaway Mexican territory, it was still legally Mexico.
The Texans wanted to become a part of the U.S. A hot topic was that Mexico had declared slavery illegal, but in the U.S. it was still legit. In July, 1845, their wish was granted by the U.S. Congress, which annexed it. The Mexican government took exception to that and the war started in April, 1846, ending in February, 1847.
The U.S. ended up paying for the land it had taken. As one veteran said later, "The only honorable thing about it was that once we took the whole country, we only kept half of it." He later became president of the U.S., after beating the Confederacy (including Texas) in the Civll War — Ulysses S. Grant.
In 1846, however, he was only a recent West Point graduate who had to go to Mexico instead of the assignment he'd been promised — staying on to teach math at the academy.
Although political items dominated, a few items of garden variety mayhem managed to slip into the news that year.
Murder on board a whale ship — Mr. Worth, late first officer of ship Virginia of this port, arrived here Tuesday via Panama, Carthagena and Jamaica, reports the ship Ontario. Gibbs, of Nantucket, touched at Tecamas in November last for wood and water. A seaman of the Ontario, named George Corsa, who had previously been confined on board in irons for mutinous conduct, succeeded in releasing himself from his irons while the ship's company were on shore, (except Mr. Brooks, one of the mates, the cook, steward and Corsa), procured a musket on board, and shot Mr. Brooks dead. He then put some muskets and ammunition in a boat and made for the shore. On the return of the ship's company, and learning the facts from the steward, Corsa was immediately pursued, and found on shore a few miles from Tecamas, concealed in the sand, only a portion of his face remained uncovered. He was arrested, taken to Tecamas, and delivered on board the U.S. sch Shark, to be sent home for trial. — New Bedford Mercury
See, there's nothing like a good sea story.
As is our custom, we try to exactly reproduce the grammar, spelling, punctuation and style of the original. Commas might appear where least expected and remain absent where we’d expect them if the item was written nowadays. On the other hand, consistency was not considered of utmost importance, so variations of a spelling might appear within one story. In addition, some words were abbreviated differently than today. Where brief explanations of terms are considered necessary, they are presented in brackets  within the quote. Otherwise, explanations appear at the beginning or at the conclusion, without quotes. Parenthesis () used in a quoted passage appeared in the original.