NAVASOTA, April 29, 1866.
ED. TELEGRAPH: I returned (after two weeks absence) from Montgomery Court yesterday evening, and learned from the Bulletin and Telegraph that the former had preferred sundry charges against the late editor of the latter. I had heard somewhat of this affair on the 27th, but not enough to enable me to understand the issue between these gentlemen, and how far I had been made a party. Otherwise, an earlier notice would have been taken of the controversy.
I know nothing of a douceur (bribe) having been offered Mr. Cushing, nor of his agreeing to take one if tendered, as an inducement for his advocacy of negro suffrage, or any measure.
Here, a strict regard for private intercourse admonishes me to stop, but having been involuntarily thrust before the public, a departure from that rule will be pardoned in this instance.
Very soon after the return of Mr. Cushing from his Northern tour last summer, upon his own solicitation, we had a brief interview. I was mainly left to infer the object from the conversation. He expressed a desire to dispose of his paper and retire from journalism--spoke freely of the impressions made upon his mind during his trip, the results of the war, and probable consequences flowing therefrom.-- Among the latter he regarded negro suffrage as inevitable, adding that we had as well make up our minds to stand it.
He authorized me to say that the Telegraph was for sale, and that I might consult with my "Union friends" about the propriety of purchasing by joint stock subscription or otherwise.
I observed in conclusion that he was then making a pretty good "Union paper"--excepting several articles, (the authorship of which he disclaimed) and that I felt no interest in seeing him give place to another. In connection with the articles objected to, he replied in substance, that the public mind was sore, and would have to be approached gradually upon the concessions necessary to be made. The subject was never thereafter referred to by either of us.
In January last, I pointed out to Gen. Gregory an article in the Telegraph, which spoke in terms of commendation of the freedmen. I then mentioned the interview with Mr. Cushing, and observed that since then, he had refitted the office, purchased new type, and seemed disposed to take some interest in the politics of the country. I gave it as my opinion that if he had a guarantee equal to his probable loss of patronage, that he would boldly advocate the President's policy of rehabilitating the States upon true republican principles.
Among which, the fundamental idea of restoring the States, upon the theory that all "just governments are founded upon the consent of the governed," and "instituted for their benefit." The President holds that this can not be done without returning to the principles of the founders of the American States, and the Republic. The evil apprehended from unqualified negro suffrage, could be averted by establishing a uniform rule, based upon intelligence and property. This idea has been frequently presented by the President, elaborated by Judge Reagan, and incorporated in the Governor's message. I fully concur. This is what I supposed Mr. Cushing would advocate, and I did then further believe, and so expressed myself, that he would advocate unqualified negro suffrage, should it become necessary to establish the equal rights of man before the law.
The Union party of Texas, and their candidates so far as I am acquainted with them, are now doing and will continue to do all in their power to avert negro suffrage, in the sense in which they are charged with advocating it. Yet the same causes which provoked, and rendered necessary their emancipation, are now at work, and will end in their enfranchisement, and if it shall ever occur, its real authors will be the radical secessionists, as they are of emancipation.
SIR:--The communication of Judge Caldwell, entirely voluntary on his part, has been kindly shown me by yourself before publication. So far as it details the conversation between him and myself I cheerfully assent to the correctness of it. It is the substance of what I have said privately to many friends of all parties. Nay, more; I have gone so much further than this as to say that if our people were wise they would, in the matter of negro education, negro advancement, etc., take the entire control of this subject themselves, and use this new element of free negroism, with whatever powers might attach to it for their own protection, instead of permitting it to fall into the hands of their enemies for their own basement. These private opinions of mine are now no concern of the public, and I do not propose to elaborate them, being content as I have frequently said to retire entirely from public observation.
A word or two as to the conversation between myself and Judge Caldwell. It has been known to my friends for two years that I was desirous of disposing of the Telegraph, and embracing another occupation. During the last year of the war I was deterred from making proposals to sell from a fear that my doing so would be construed into an abandonment of the cause of the Confederacy, a cause in which my whole existence had been bound up. On the failure of that cause and with it the erasure from the United States Constitution of the principles for which I had so long contended, I felt that I had no politics left, and nothing to do with them, further than to labor for the reconstruction of public affairs, and so shaped the course of the Telegraph.
During my Northern tour I met and conversed with representative men of all classes and sought to inform myself of the temper of the people there. All the information I could glean confirmed me in these ideas.
During my absence I also learned that among the most fixed purposes of those who having been on the other side of the war, had now returned to the State clothed with power, was the overthrow of the Telegraph, and the ruin of myself. On my return I learned that threats of this character had been freely indulged in, and that the strongest efforts had been made to induce the military authorities to take forcible possession of the office. On reaching New Orleans, I was met by letters from my friends, urging me to hurry home, or I should be too late to save the Telegraph. I hurried on to Galveston, and lost no time in calling upon Gen. Kent, then Provost Marshal General, who told me he had only detained the order for suppression until I reacheded [sic] home, that the course the Telegraph was pursuing could not be allowed. I went to Gen. Wright, the commander of the Department, and learned substantialy [sic] the same thing from him. On reaching Houston, I saw Gen. Mower, and he repeated in substance the same threats. Under the influence of these thoughts I sought at once to dispose of my office, and believing it would be impossible for a secessionist to carry it on with the permission of the authorities, I sought an interview with Judge Caldwell with the proposition he refers to.
It may be asked why I have not made my views regarding negro suffrage more prominent. I answer for the reason that I did not desire to take the responsibility of doing so, especially as I was and am yet not firmly fixed in those views. A person may talk crudely with a friend, but when it comes to talking to and inducing fifty or a hundred thousand people, he is obliged if conscientious to weigh his words.
I have thought it due to Judge Caldwell's statement this much. I now dismiss the matter from further consideration.
I am very respectfully, yours,
E. H. CUSHING.
Houston, May 1st, 1866.
It will be seen that the communication we copy from the Telegraph entirely exonerates Mr. Cushing from the charge made by Flake's Bulletin. Mr. Cushing's article speaks for itself. Our views upon negro suffrage and all other matters in this controversy, have been too freely expressed heretofore to require any comments from us now.
The efforts to overthrow the institution of slavery as guaranteed in the Constitution, date back to our earliest recollection, and we have persistently warned the country against them in our journal for near 25 years. Those efforts have at last triumphed, in spite of all constitutional guarantees, and perhaps the present efforts to secure negro suffrage may also triumph, but they will not by any abandonment of duty on our part. We shall never consent to give to negroes privileges not allowed to intelligent foreigners who make our country their adopted home.