From the Richmond Dispatch, 4/14/1888, p. 2, c. 2

Libby Prison.

Is the result of the next presidential election to turn upon the removal of Libby Prison to Chicago? – or rather upon the proposition to remove it? If so, we may paraphrase NAPOLEON’S famous dictum, and say, “Scratch a northerner and you will find a South-hater.” We own that we have felt a good deal of surprise when we have seen how much importance is attached in some quarters to the proposition. The feeling of many southerners is that no good result can flow from the removal, and that it would be better for the whole country to leave the old prison where it is. Conservative, quiet, patriotic southerners are those who look upon the matter in this light.

It may seem to be an extravagant estimate, and yet we suppose it is not extravagant to say that during the last twenty years the hack-drivers have annually derived such a revenue from the passengers whom they have driven to the Libby Prison that they at least must look with the utmost disfavor upon the proposed transfer of that property to northern lands and hands. That revenue is henceforth to be turned into the pockets of the white hack-drivers of Chicago and withheld from the pockets of the negro hackmen of Richmond. We do not doubt indeed that the hack-owners of this city could afford to make a liberal contribution to the fund that may possibly be raised for repurchasing the famous building. Inasmuch as the Chicago purchasers seem perfectly willing to sell the prison back to our people, perhaps it would not be amiss to institute inquiries to ascertain how much money Libby Prison has attracted to this city since the close of the war. More, we guess, than twenty-three thousand dollars. The hotel-keepers have received more of it, of course, than the hack-drivers, or the merchants, or the sellers of relics of the war, or any other one class.

It would be unfortunate, to say the least, if this proposed removal should be accomplished in time (and just in time) to have the building opened for exhibition during the session of the Republican National Convention. That is the only prospective fact that has caused us any considerable concern. We are inclined to the belief recently expressed very forcibly by the Iowa State Register, a Republican paper edited by a member of the Republican National Committee, that the Republicans of the eastern States have determined to frown down all attempts to raise sectional issues. We take it, too, that the Anarchists and others have driven sectionalism out of Chicago. The opposition, therefore, to removing the Libby Prison to Chicago would not be half so strong after the presidential election as now. Indeed the opposition would be much less if the removal were postponed until after the adjournment of the Republican National Convention.

But whatever is to be done must be done soon. Let us not, however, place ourselves in a wrong position.


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