One hundred fifty years ago this October, The Union newspaper, as we are now known, published its first edition under the “Grass Valley Daily Union” flag.
The newspaper was founded in 1864, as we state on the front page of each edition, “to preserve the Union … one and inseparable” in support of re-electing President Abraham Lincoln. Two months after Lincoln defeated George McClellan, and two years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation officially ordered the end of slavery in the United States, the Grass Valley Daily Union took the opportunity of an upcoming “Colored Peoples Festival” to speak to the righteousness of the proclamation, to dismiss those opposed for their bigotry and to predict President Lincoln’s prominent place in history.
Despite the rough language of the period, which no doubt is found to be offensive today, the following words that were shared with this community nearly a century and half ago were delivered at a time when the message would not have been so well received. Although the Civil War was winding down, with Lee’s surrender just four months later, and slavery outlawed under Lincoln’s proclamation two years earlier, we know our nation continues its struggle with equality for all citizens even today.
We take pride in the purpose behind the birth of The Union newspaper and are thankful for the following opinion shared by our founders — not only because the words were proven to be on the right side of humanity, as well as history, but largely due also for the great courage it took in publishing them Jan. 1, 1865.
We share this editorial today, as The Union kicks off its celebration of 150 years in serving our community.
GRASS VALLEY DAILY UNION (Jan. 1, 1865)
The Colored Peoples Festival — Tomorrow the colored people of the County will celebrate the second anniversary of Mr. Lincoln’s proclamation with religious, intellectual and festive ceremonies, fitting to so important an epoch in the history of their unfortunate race.
Can Christians doubt that the merry hymns of jubilee that will be sung by men, women and children; that the prayers and thanksgivings pure from their hearts for His blessings, will fail to reach God’s mercy because they come through the lips of dusky hue?
How many thousands of pure Caucasians are there in this great State of California, Christian men and women, who might profit by the example of these unfortunate but graceful negroes, by, like them, bowing down to God and thanking Him for the Freedom, prosperity and other blessings they enjoy. The ignorant and bigoted may call us what they please, for saying so, but it is our honest opinion that there are colored men in the County, who are superior in everything that constitutes manhood — save the color of their skin — to many of the “poor white trash,” who pretend to have such a holy horror of negro equality. It would be well for the country, if copperheads were on an equality with many of the negroes in intelligence, loyalty and industry.
We have not a doubt that the colored people throughout the nation, where they are treated as they should be, will prove that their emancipation was one of the greatest steps towards developing the resources of our unrivalled Republic ever made since its inauguration, and will hand down the name of Mr. Lincoln as second to no man on earth as a benefactor of the human race.
We hope the colored people may enjoy themselves on the occasion of the second anniversary of that great event.
Our View represents the opinions of The Union editorial board, which is comprised of members of The Union staff, as well as informed members of the community.