C. M. Entler 1852 Diary
A special thanks to Jill Craig, Digital Archivist at Washington County Free Public Library, who scanned the diary for Historic Shepherdstown, and to Washington County Free Library for allowing her to use their equipment on our behalf.
“Black Republicans,” (see pages 18 and 19 of the diary) generally speaking, was a term of opprobrium given by Southern Democrats to those sympathetic to the efforts to limit slave expansion into the territories added to the Union after the Mexican War. The Southern Democrat view, supported by the national party, was that the constitution of the U.S. gave them the right to move with their slaves into any part of the territories.
Anyone who opposed that concept–people like abolitionists and political leaders such as New York Senator (and later Lincoln’s Secretary of War) William H. Seward—were labeled by Democrats as “Black Republicans.” The ultimate Black Republican was Abraham Lincoln. Most of the fiery political squabbles of the 1840 and 1850s were fought out over these issues, and ultimately the Civil War was the result.
Most of the people on what we might call the Shepherdstown “black list” were people who came to the area from the North or who during the 1850s had sympathy with a growing anti-slavery sentiment that existed even in Virginia. It was a view held by a substantial number of Virginians west of the Blue Ridge, and of course West Virginia came into existence because of the strong anti-slavery sentiments beyond the Shenandoah Valley. Most of the people on the Shepherdstown list were probably Whigs rather than Democrats during the antebellum political fights, and that faction actually was often predominant in Jefferson County political fights in the 1850s. Elections in Virginia between Whigs and Democrats were very close in the period.