20 DECEMBER 1935, Page 19


[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.] SIR,—As some reference was recently made in The Spectator to the American State Debts, I should like to say that I was a landowner and taxpayer in Virginia, and present throughout the State Election of 1881, which was to decide on the debt question. All the larger taxpayers, odd as it may sound, voted for an honest. settlement of the debt.. The " Read- justers," as the other party called themselves, consisted almost entirely of the negroes, poor whites and a fraction of interested politicians led by an Irishman, Mahone—a railway- man. All my friends and acquaintances were for a debt pay- ment. There was great excitement over the election. To explain why the practically non-taxpaying part of the .corn..- inanity voted for repudiation and the taxpayers against it would take up too much space and be, of course,, useless to your readers, save that it was a feeling of honour that actuated the one class, while the others, mainly illiterate, here the tools of unscrupulous politicians. Virginia was very poor after the Civil War. .Pennsylvania, one of. the richest States of the Union, was another matter, of which I know