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O^uyJ- ^^-umA^oty 

[From "The Stormy Petrel," by kind permission of the author. Col. John Bowles 
from a daguerreotype taken by him at Lawrence, Kan.. September 12th, 1856.] 



With Some Account of the Roads They 
Traveled to Reach Harper's Ferry 




Author of " Handbook to Arizona," "English Radical Leaders," "Phillip 
Henry Sheridan," etc. Editor of " The Poems by Richard Realf" 





Two Cany Reived 
NOV 14 190? 
Copyrirht Entry 

WiO S- -«4Ma. No. 

Copyright, 1S04, by the 


rSrg'-s'.ered at Stationers' Hall, London, England.) 




John Brown, 1 856 (New) . . „ Frontispiece 

John Brown, 1858-1859 (Bearded). .. .. 200 

Oliver Brown ... .:...:. 53 

Aaron Dwight Stevens 99 

Albert Hazlett .....:. ....\ 1 58 

William Henry Leeman 236 

Steward Taylor 257 

Osborne Perry Anderson ;. 272 

Francis Jackson Merriam 274 

John Edwin Cook 275 

Dauphin Adolphus Thompson 283 

John Henri Kagi 286 

Dangerfield Newby 290 

Edwin Coppoc 295 

Watson Brown 303 

Jeremiah G. Anderson 306 

Lewis Sherrard Leary. 312 

William Thompson..-. 317 

Plan of Charlestown Jail 342 

John A. Copeland , 508 

Barclay Coppoc . 539 

Owen Brown - 555 

Charles Plummer Tidd 559 


Stanza, by Edmund Clarence Stedman 335 

Stanza by William D. Howells 379 

Stanza, by Edna Dean Proctor 398 

Commission of George B. Gill 486 



A Brief Prelude v 


I .—The Man 9 

II. — Purpose and Plans 22 

III. — The Kansas Overture 39 

IV. — Shadows from Pottawatomie 61 

V. — Preparation and Change in Kansas 93 

VI. — John Brown Making Friends 114 

VII. — Reaching a Culmination 153 

VIII. — Rescue of Missouri Slaves 200 

IX. — Life and Preparation at the Kennedy Farm 229 

X.— The Order of March 269 

XL— Rending the Fortress Wall 285 

XI I.— Capture— Trial— Prison— Scaffold 315 

XIII. — As Seen by Himself, Family, Neighbors, and 

Friends 4L3 

XIV. — John Brown's Men — Who They Were 449 

XV.— Men Who Fought and Fell, or Escaped 528 

Appendix 583 

Index 737 


Tt is the cant of To-Day to sneer at Sacrifice. It is 
not "scientific" to act without a visible reward or 
hope of material success. It is " scientific " to assume 
that " sacrifice " is but another and, it may be, foolish 
form of Self-love. 

Nevertheless, sacrifices are made ! Defenders of 
systems always assume that the majestic forces of 
Religion, the exalted functions of Order and Justice, 
or those within the shimmering arena of Knowledge, 
belong to them alone. They declare that he who 
resists should die "as the fool dieth." Perhaps the 
lives I have outlined herein may help to prove that 
true and natural religion, that wisdom and knowledge, 
are also united, not divorced ! This book may show, 
I hope, that generosity remains to bless our human 
lives; that an integral part of manhood and woman- 
hood is service from each to all, for the life of each 
and the advancement of all ! 

It will be said that the author of this volume holds 
a brief for John Brown and his Men. He does not 
deny it; but, on the contrary, esteems it to be an 
honor ! He has endeavored, however, to so link their 
lives with historical facts along the nobler lines of 
American endeavor, that their careers become asso- 
ciated with such loftier purposes and higher im- 
pulses, as illustrate that true and spiritual democracy 


which should in very truth animate the American 
Federal Republic. 

If no such spirit exists, and our institutions are but 
a mere convenience given to money making only, 
competitive triumph and sociological advancement of 
material conditions, without regard to ethical aims 
or considerations, let us openly enthrone Plutocracy 
and make Mammon the Baal of our Righteousness. 
Why should we have fought for the Union, if Free- 
dom was not also our blessed reward ? 

If it is the fashion to sneer, this volume is not in 
the fashion. If America means no more than Adolphe 
Thiers said of the latest European commonwealth: 
" The Republic is the government that divides France 
the least " (and I do not decry the wisdom of that 
astute saying); if it means only light taxes, a robust 
police, and the best armories, guns, and street-drill 
for national guards, let us deny at once the existence 
of historical continuity and assume the folly of 
human Love and Service ! However: 

The world's saints are few, and they're costly, too — 
We'll keep sweet their deeds, he they Rose or Rue ! 
So much in the making of human Woe, 
Of insight deep and tender Love doth go, — 
That more precious still they grow to our view, 
Bringing ripe sheaves whence all bitter weeds grew — 
As the tides of endeavor swiftly flow, 
At seedlet roots their lives heroic sow ! 

The Scoffers, keen with hitter jest, wax bold, 
While s;id souls by dull Faith are growing cold, 
As memories stern, so towering wait 
On the dread footsteps slow of austere Fate! 
What matters? Each lofty life finds its goal, 
And answering lives in blood their names enroll. 


This book, then, has been written because the 
writer was impelled and desired to do it. It was 
planned more than thirty years ago. The struggle 
for existence, which is all that those leave us who 
pervert the holy teachings of the Nazarene and the 
noble naturalism of Darwin, into apologies for econo- 
mic, political, and sociologic brutalities, provided only 
they exist as institutions, has heretofore prevented the 
writing of a work laid on one as a duty. These men, 
of whom I have written, were for me, in a humble 
sense, as dear comrades. They fell; I escaped! In 
writing of them, it is with a living sense of their 
worthier example. There are holier and nobler things 
in Life than Life itself. They are heroic exemplars 
of this ! 

I desire to express here my most grateful thanks 
for assistance extended to me by Mrs. Anne Brown- 
Adams, Mrs. Ruth Brown-Thompson, and John 
Brown, Jr., of the surviving children of John Brown. 
I am also specially indebted among others to George 
B. Gill, of Oklahoma (commissioned Secretary of 
Treasury under the John Brown-Chatham provisional 
constitution); to Dr. Thomas Featherstonhaugh and 
John W. Le Barnes, of Washington; Dr. Alexander 
Milton Ross, of Toronto, Canada; William Hutchin- 
son, one of the older and best of Kansas pioneers; 
Harvey B. Hurd, of Chicago; Horace White, of 
New York; Prof. L. R. Wetherell, of Davenport, 
. Iowa; Col. Thomas Wentworth Higginson, of Cam- 
bridge, Mass.; to Edmund C. Stedman; Wm. D. 
Howells; Edna Dean Proctor; Col. John Bowies, 
and Richard Greener, of New York; Miss Sarah 
J. Eddy, of Providence, R. I.; Franklin J. Keagy, 


of Chambersburg, Pa.; Horatio N. Rust, of Pasa- 
dena, Cal., and Mrs. Crowley (sister of John E. 
Cook), of New York, for most valuable aid in remin- 
iscences, letters, documents, and portraits. I desire 
particularly to give thus publicly my thanks to Frank 
G. Adams, Secretary of the Kansas Historical Society, 
whose untiring responses to many demands have 
laden me with gratitude, all the more pleasant, that I 
know how willingly he has served both the work I 
was doing for the love of it and for myself person- 
ally also. I cannot close without expressing grateful 
thanks to many whose abiding places are now un- 
known, but who years since placed in my hands 
letters and other papers relating to their dear ones. 
These are the families and relatives of the John 
Brown men, outside the family of their leader. If 
this volume shall reach any of them, they will find 
shortly after its publication all of such papers as I 
have left in the Library of the Kansas Historical 
Society, where I shall place the same, subject, of 
course, to their demands, but hoping they may be left 
permanently to add to the valuable collection that 
enriches that Library. 

" Maywood," Richard J. Hinton. 

Bay Ridge, N. Y. 




John Brown's birth, ancestry, training, education, pur- 
suits, niarriage, children, and daily life— His 
entrance into national life and renown — Removal to 
Kansas in 1.855. 

John Brown, born at Torrington, Connecticut, 
May 9, 1800, was hung on a scaffold at Charlestown, 
West Virginia, Dec. 2, 1859. The grandson and 
namesake of Captain John Brown, of West Simsbury, 
a Revolutionary officer who died in the field; he was 
also the sixth in descent from Peter Brown who came 
to New England in the Mayflower, 1620. Peter was 
a carpenter, who married after he landed at Ply- 
mouth. Within thirteen years he married twice, and 
died in 1633, leaving four children. Writing about 
1650 (Bradford— MSS. " History of Plymouth Plan- 
tation," 1624-57), Gov. Wm. Bradford says: "Peter 
Brown by his first wife had two children, who are 
living, and both of them married, and one of them 


hath two children; bv his second wife he had two 
more. He died about sixteen years since." Mary 
and Priscilla were daughters of the first wife, and 
are the two mentioned as married. In 1644, they 
were under the care of their uncle, John Brown, a 
citizen of Duxburv, where also Peter Brown settled 
a few years after landing at Plymouth. John Brown 
outlived his brother Peter many years. Of his 
family by his second wife, Peter Brown, born in 1632, 
was the younger. He was the ancestor of John 
Brown of Osawatomie and Harper's Ferry, and 
removed from Duxbury to Windsor, Connecticut, 
between 1650 and 1658, where he married Mary, the 
daughter of Jonathan Gillett. 

Peter Brown the pilgrim, had his home in Dux- 
bury, not far from the hill where Miles Standish 
built his house, and where his monument is now 
seen. His son, Peter, lived, and died, at Windsor, 
Connecticut, March 9, 1692, leaving thirteen children. 
Of these, John Brown, born Jan. 8, 1668, married 
Elizabeth Loomis. They had eleven children, among 
whom were John Brown, the father and survivor of 
John Brown, of West Simsbury, who died in 
the British prison-ship in New York harbor. He 
lived, and died, at Windsor, married Mary Eggle- 
ston; and the Continental captain, grandfather of the 
Kansas fighter, was the oldest son, born Nov. 4, 1728. 
He married Hannah Owen, of Welsh descent, in 
1758. Her father was Elijah Owen, of Windsor, and 
her first ancestor in this country, was John Owen, a 
Welshman who married in Windsor in 1650, just 
before Peter Brown came there from Duxbury. 

The Browns were, in fact, a distinguished family 


when the sixth in descent from Peter, the Plymouth 
settler, made it one of the most illustrious of the 
world. It had embraced soldiers of Indian wars, one 
hero of the Revolutionary struggle, and another of the 
War of 1 8 1 2. Its men were workmen, farmers, fighters, 
townbuilders, scholars, preachers, and teachers. The 
direct ancestor of John Brown's mother, Ruth Mills, 
of Simsbury, was a Protestant Hollander, Peter Van 
Huysenmuysen, who left that sturdy land when the 
Spanish Duke of Alva was harrying it. Settling in 
Connecticut, he built a mill and earned bread for his 
family. Hence the name Mills, under which the 
family passed into New England annals. They have 
bred a long line of physicians, ministers, and teachers. 
John Brown himself might well be counted, on the 
modern New York view of family place, among social 
" exclusives " of the first water. 

A President of Amherst College, the Rev. Herman 
Humphrey, D.D., and the Rev. Luther Humphrey, 
both famous Presbyterian ministers, were his 
first cousins, being the sons of his father's sister. 
The Rev. Nathan Brown, editor of the American 
Baptist, and a famous missionary in India and Japan, 
was a second cousin. He translated the Bible into 
Japanese. Owen Brown, the father (who died in 
1857), was one of the trustees of Oberlin College, and 
John Brown himself was associated with the affairs 
thereof for years. Salmon Brown, Owen's brother and 
John Brown's uncle, became a distinguished lawyer 
and judge, settling in Louisiana, and dying there. 
There are a score or more of other names belonging 
to this family, noted in New England and Ohio 
annals for learning, character, and service, as minis- 


ters, educators, and citizens. John Brown repre- 
sents in his own person, then, the best blood and 
character to be found in America. Thus, in him 
mingled three great racial forces, English of the 
Teutonic or Saxon type, the Welsh or ancient British 
stock, and the sturdy, independent Hollander, all 
vitalized by the mighty conflicts for the supremacy 
of civic freedom and liberty of conscience, in the 
Protestant struggle of the Old World, the founding 
of New England, and the fiery endurance of the War 
for Independence. 

John Brown was the oldest son of Owen Brown, 
himself one of eleven children born to the Revolution- 
ary captain and Hannah Owen, his wife. The 
grandmother lived to see most of her own children 
well established in life. One of them became a 
judge in Ohio; another, John, of New Hartford, was 
a man much esteemed, and a deacon of the church 
there. A daughter was the mother of the Rev. Dr. 
Humphrey. Owen Brown became a tanner and 
shoemaker, the same trade he taught his famous 
son. Owen, born and bred in Simsbury (now Can- 
ton), Connecticut, was married there to Ruth Mills, 
daughter of the old minister, Rev. Gideon Mills, on 
the nth of February, 1793; they then removed to 
Norfolk, where his oldest child was born, July 5, 
1798, and one year later moved to Torrington. John 
Brown was born there, also his brothers, Solomon 
and Oliver Owen, in 1800, 1802, and 1804. In 1805 
the father migrated, with his children and others of 
the family, to the Western Reserve, Ohio, settling in 
the town of Hudson. In the wilderness John Brown 
spent his childhood and youth, though his early 


recollections extended also to his Connecticut home. 
Hudson was a notable community of sturdy Ameri- 
can people of anti-slavery convictions. 1 

At sixteen John Brown joined the Congregational 
Church in Hudson. Desiring to study for the minis- 
try, he probably revisited Torrington in order to 
obtain advice of Jeremiah Hallock, who had married 
a relation. By him John Brown was advised to fit 
for college at the school of his brother, Rev. Moses 
Hallock, Plainfield, Massachusetts. His uncle, Her- 
mann Hallock, D.D., was soon after made president 
of Amherst College, to which the sturdy student 
would have gone, but for a serious inflammation 
of the eyes from overstudy, compelling him to go 
back to his father's 1 tanyard in Hudson. In De- 
cember, 1859, Hermann Hallock, the youngest son 
Gerard, of the Rev. Moses Hallock, wrote his brother 
editor of the New York Journal of Commerce, as 

" Your youngest brother does remember John 
Brown, who studied at our house. He was a tall, 
dignified young man. He had been a tanner, and 
relinquished a prosperous business for the purpose of 
intellectual improvement." 

Soon after John Brown's return to Hudson, Ohio, 
he married his first wife, Dianthe Lusk, June 21, 
1820. She died in childbirth, August, 1832. There 
were six other children of this marriage, the eldest of 
whom, John Brown, Jr., was born July 25, 1821; he 

1 See Appendix for the autobiography written for the son of 
George L. Stearns, of Boston, Massachusetts. 


still lives, residing at Put-in-Bay Island, Lake Erie, 
Ohio; Jason Brown, living at Pasadena, California, 
was born January 19, 1823; Owen Brown, born 
November 4, 1824, died in 1S90; Ruth (Mrs. Henry 
Thompson), now living at Pasadena, February 18, 
1829; and Frederick Brown, December 21, 1839, killed 
at Osawatomie, Kansas, August 30, 1856. By a 
second marriage with Mary Anne Day, of Meadville, 
Pennsylvania, in 1833, John Brown became the father 
of thirteen children, seven of whom died in child- 
hood; two, Watson and Oliver, were slain at Harper's 
Ferry, and four others have survived. These are 
Salmon Brown, born October 2, 1836; Anne, born 
September 23, 1843; Sarah, born September 11, 1846; 
and Ellen, born September 25, 1854. Anne, Sarah, 
and Ellen live in Santa Cruz and Humboldt Counties, 
California ; Salmon recently removed from Red 
Bluffs to Washington, near Tacoma. They are all 
married and have families. In all, John Brown was 
the father of twenty children, seven of whom are still 
living. The living grandchildren number twenty-six. 
John Brown was farmer, tanner, and land surveyor 
at Hudson, Ohio, until 1826, then at Richmond, near 
Meadville, Pennsylvania, residing there until 1835. 
He then removed to Franklin Mills, Portage County, 
Ohio, where he also speculated in land. He lost 
heavily in the panic of 1837, and in 1839 entered upon 
a new pursuit — that of wool-growing and dealing; 
driving also in that year a herd of cattle from Ohio 
to Connecticut. There he purchased a few sheep, the 
nucleus of what became a great flock. In 1840 he 
returned to Hudson, where his father, Owen Brown, 
lived until 1856. In 1842 Brown removed to Rich- 


field, and here his daughter, Anne, was born. Here, 
too, he lost four children in less than three weeks — 
Sarah, aged nine; Charles, almost six; Peter, not 
quite three, and Austin, about a year old. Three 
were buried in one grave and on the same date, a 
September day, in 1843. 1 ne next year he moved to 
Akron, and in 1846 to Springfield, in Massachusetts. 
He went there as a member of the firm of Perkins 
& Brown, and also as the agent of the sheep- 
farmers and wool-merchants of northern Ohio, whose 
products were then sold wholly to New England 
manufacturers. John Brown, to prevent loss to them 
by uniform low grading, initiated the system of grad- 
ing wools, since then generally adopted. The manu- 
facturers were too powerful for the Western farmer. 
They bribed his clerk (as he always believed) to 
change the wool marks, so that the stock was all paid 
for as low grade. This led to several lawsuits, one 
of which was tried and decided against him at 
Boston in the winter of 1852-53, after Brown had 
withdrawn from the business and was living in the 
Adirondacks. The next year he won a similar suit 
in a New York court, and always believed he would 
have won the Boston case but for the action of the 
counsel in compromising the same. The Boston judge 
was Caleb Cushing, and Rufus Choate was of counsel 
against Brown. 

In Springfield, John Brown lived in a very modest 
house on Franklin street, just north of the Boston and 
Albany Railroad, and his warehouses were close by. 
Frederick Douglass visited him there in 1847. Wish- 
ing to make a market for a large stock of Ohio wool 
then on hand, and b'elieving that he could sell it in 


Europe to advantage, he went there in 1848-49, travers- 
ing a considerable part of England and the continent 
on that business. He visited both wool markets and 
battlefields in impartial succession. Among dealers 
he was noted for the delicacy of his touch in sorting 
different qualities, and for skill in testing them when 
submitted to him. After trying the markets of Europe, 
he finally sold his Liverpool consignment at a lower 
price than it would have brought in Springfield. His 
ill success, added to the expense of his trip, finally 
ruined this business, and in 1849 ne gave it up and 
went to live, where he was afterwards buried, at North 
Elba, Essex County, New York. 

It was in the hope of enlisting and drilling recruits 
for his projected company of liberators that John 
Brown went to live among the colored men to whom 
Gerritt Smith had given land in the Adirondack 
woods. Mr. Smith had inherited from his father 
landed estate in more than three-fourths of the coun- 
ties of New York. In Essex, he owned several thou- 
sand acres. Farms were offered to such colored men 
as would live upon the land, clear, and cultivate it. 
On returning from England in 1849, Brown heard of 
the offer, and soon presented himself to Mr. Smith in 
Peterboro. A small colony of colored people had al- 
ready gone to North Elba to clear up the forest land 
given them. Brown made to Mr. Smith this pro- 
posal: " I am something of a pioneer, having grown 
up among the woods and wilds of Ohio, and I am used 
to the way of life that your colony find so trying; I 
will take one of the farms myself, clear and plant it, 
and show my colored neighbors how such work should 
be done, will give them work as I have occasion, look 


after them in all needful ways, and be a kind of father 
to them." 

Mr. Smith readily consented, and John Brown soon 
removed with his family from Springfield to North 
Elba. 1 They lived there most of the time between 
1849 an d 1862, and altogether, while their father was 
attacking slavery in Kansas, Missouri, and Virginia. 
Besides other inducements which this region offered 
him, John Brown considered it a place of refuge for 
his wife and younger children, where they would not 
only be safe and independent, but could live frugally. 
When he went there his youngest son, Oliver, was ten 
years old, Anne and Sarah were six and three years 
old. Ellen, his youngest child, was born at North 

In 1849, there were in Essex County but few roads, 
schools, and churches, and only a few good farms. 
The life of the settler at North Elba was pioneer 
work; the forest had to be cut down and the land 
burnt over; the family supplies must be produced, 
mainly, within the household itself. Sugar was made 
from the maple trees; from the wool they raised, the 
women spun and wove garments; sheep and cows es- 
pecially were the farmer's wealth. Winter continues 
for six months of the year; the short summer crops 
are grass, oats, and potatoes, a few vegetables, and 
the wild fruit of the woods and meadows. In the 
whole township of North Elba, Mr. Sanborn says of 
his first visit there in 1857, there was scarcely a house 
worth a thousand dollars, or one which was finished 

1 See Appendix for description of a visit there in the early 'fifties, 
written by Richard H. Dana, and published in the Atlantic, 


throughout. Mrs. Brown's dwelling had but two 
plastered rooms, yet two families lived in it. This 
house had been built by John Brown about 1850, in 
the shadow almost of the great rock beside which he 
lies buried. John Brown introduced his favorite 
breed of cattle, and exhibited them at the annual 
show of Essex County in September, 1850. They 
were a grade of Devons mixed with a particular Con- 
necticut stock, and the first improved breed that had 
been at the county fair. 

Of the four sons of his first marriage who were 
then living, two were married, and one, Frederick, was 
engaged. Ruth, the eldest daughter, had married 
Henry Thompson, a sturdy farmer of New Hampshire 
origin, who lived near the Brown farm at North Elba. 
He was in sympathy with, and readily consented 
to join the family in Kansas. Two of his brothers 
were killed at Harper's Ferry, and Watson Brown's 
wife was their sister. She is still living in Wisconsin, 
married to Salmon Brown, a cousin. 

In the winter of 1854-55 the four older sons of John 
Brown (John, Jason, Owen, and Frederick), with their 
half brother Salmon, living either in or near Akron, 
Ohio, made arrangements to settle in Kansas. They 
established themselves the next spring in Lykins 
County, about eight miles from Osawatomie. From 
there they wrote their father, asking his aid. Soon 
after an anti-slavery meeting was held at Utica, New 
York, on behalf of the settlement of Kansas as a free 
State. In this convention John Brown participated. 
He was described as a gentleman standing six feet in 
his boots, of thin face and dark complexion, with 
flowing beard and gray hair, lithe and straight, and 


about sixty years of age, being then but fifty-five. In 
his address he spoke of four sons already settled in 
Kansas, and of three others (Salmon, Watson, and 
Oliver) who wished to join them, but were unable to 
pay their way to the Territory. John Brown, refer- 
ring to the declaration of the assembly that it was 
Abolition in sentiment, urged that something practical 
be done, and reminded them that " without the shed- 
ding of blood there is no remission of sin." The will 
of the Puritan was finding speech. He asked for arms 
for the sons already in Kansas, reading letters from 
the two eldest that gave evidence of the violent spirit 
of the pro-slavery people. John Brown pledged him- 
self to go to Kansas with his three remaining sons, 
and " to make a good report of their doings "; this he 
certainly did. The funds were provided for the ex- 
penses of this segment of the Brown family to enter 
upon the harvest field. On the next day, Gerritt 
Smith in open session presented John Brown with 
seven muskets and bayonets, seven voltaic repeating 
pistols, and seven short broadswords — such as were 
then worn by artillerymen or sailors; a small purse 
was also given him, — sixty dollars had been collected 
the day before. The presentation of arms was a con- 
stant feature of Kansas meetings of that period 
on both sides of Mason and Dixon's line. John 
Brown's sons were already making their mark on the 
free-State records. They had selected claims — four 
of them — and the elder brothers, John, Jr., and Jason, 
with Frederick, were serving in free-State conven- 
tions. John, Jr., was also elected to the free-State 
Legislature, which convened soon after at Topeka. He 
and Frederick were delegates to the Big Springs Con- 


vention, September 5th; Charles Robinson, James 
Blood, G. W. Brown, and others of the few older 
citizens of Kansas, who have since made themselves 
unpleasantly conspicuous by malicious attacks and 
sometimes scurrilous abuse of " Old John Brown," 
were also present. Happily for the hero's name and 
family, it was found at Big Springs that there was no 
relationship between an editorial defamer and the 
fighting farmer of the same name. John Brown and 
his kin were, at least, spared that degradation. The 
two elder brothers were at Topeka in the same month 
and year, assisting in framing the famous free-State 
Constitution, known in political history by the name 
of its birthplace — Topeka. They both opposed the 
" black law " or negro-exclusion feature of the in- 
strument, while heartily sustaining the free-State pro- 

John Brown himself arrived at the family settle- 
ment on the Pottawatomie, 1 during the first week of 
October, 1855. The movement of his elder sons to 
settle in Kansas was projected by John, Jr., in the 
early days of January, 1855. At that time their father, 
while bidding them "God-speed," declared that his 
field of labor "was elsewhere." But the later call 
from Kansas was that of duty, and he cheerfully 
responded. John Brown had found the opening place. 
For him the ruddy lights were rising, and the mystic 
shadows were gathering. Up to this date his modest, 
quiet, orderly life had given little objective expres- 
sion to the heroic forces which, subjectively, the ag- 

1 See Appendix for letters by John Brown, Jr., describing their 
new home. 


gressions and oppressions of chattel slavery had been 
punctuating. For the first time a free hand, untram- 
meled by compromise or party restraint, that "feared 
God so much that it did not fear man," was writing 
large a bold interrogation mark against the record 
of Southern domination. It was also to write the 
answer thereto. From and after that October day in 
1855, J onn Brown was to punctuate American history, 
with the dynamic acts of a life unawed by power and 
untrammeled by policy. 



His earliest friends and confidants — Wife and sons are 
vowed to the struggle — His colored allies — Frederick 
Douglass s account of the flans — Steadfast devotion 
of the family — Life at Springfield and North Elba 
— On the Kansas threshold. 

Mary, his wife, was John Brown's first confidant 
and ally. His earliest recruits were sons of his loins. 
His faithful assistants were the daughters who had 
grown to years of discretion amid the plain living 
and high thinking so characteristic of this unique 
family. The husband of Ruth was one of her father's 
Kansas soldiers and is now in elder years the reve- 
rential supporter of his memory. The family from 
which Henry Thompson came — plain, simple, rustic 
farmers of Northern New York — gave their sons and 
daughters as readily to the fight as John Brown's 
children accepted in love their father's unflinching 
faith and fortitude. The sons' wives murmured no 
more than the sons, and the widows of Oliver and 
Watson went to the grave or bore their sorrow un- 
flinchingly. John Brown's detractors never take this 
marvelous tally into account. Unbending, simple, 
and Puritanical, living hard, as severe in demands as 
his morals were stern, amid the nation's years of 
growing power and wealth that have led to personal 
display and social unrest, John Brown's wife, sons, and 


daughters, have followed without hesitation in his 
" path of thorns." Among the large number of pub- 
lished letters, written only for each others' eyes, and 
as exigencies arose, there can be found but one of 
complaint against the father, and that appears to 
relate to a trivial rebellion of Owen, when a youth. 
John Brown's friends were found, first and most 
faithful, within his own household. They did, and 
have to the end, believed in him, wholly and utterly. 
They would not have done so had he not been 
wholly worthy. 

It was in 1839, at Franklin, Pennsylvania, that John 
Brown first announced his conviction that by blood 
atonement alone could chattel slavery be destroyed. 
De Toqueville, like Jefferson, had already partially 
realized this as a result not of an ideal but of 
conditions. It was then that he declared his purpose 
to live and to be with those in bonds, as if bound with 
them, even unto the bitter and bloody end. His 
three eldest sons were John, Jr., nineteen, Jason, 
seventeen, and Owen, sixteen years of age respect- 
ively. There was a colored preacher, named Fayette, 
visiting Brown about that time. He was intrusted with 
the purpose and place, and with John Brown's wife 
and three sons, took the obligation of assistance and 
secrecy. It is more than probable that this strong, 
simple man, did not hide his convictions, as long as 
they were unformulated in deed. In the twenty years 
that followed the family announcement and prayer 
unto the day when dying, he proved that America, 
like Rome, could destroy Spartacus, John Brown was 
not silent, but bore his testimony alike to wrong 
and remedy, to fitting persons and at proper times. 


John Brown, Jr., records, that the only time he ever 
saw his father kneel in prayer was when he first 
vowed himself and them to attack slavery by force. 
The pilgrim grimly held the ark of the covenant 
upright when he prayed to his Creator.- It was not 
pride but a rigid humility which thus est - -cd the 
handiwork of the Father. Still, the sou n travail 
over the slave, bowed itself to the dust in mourning 
for the Republic dishonored by slavery. It is worth 
while recalling that it was to Franklin that Owen 
Brown steered across the rough laurel-clad spurs of 
the Pennsylvania Alleghanies when, with Tidd and 
the younger Coppoc, he escaped in October and 
November of 1859, from the shadow land of the 
slave-driver and kidnapper to the shadowed depots 
of the underground railway in Western Pennsylvania 
and Northern Ohio. It was at Meadville, near by, 
that John Brown was practically refused church 
fellowship because he insisted on breaking sacra- 
mental bread with the fugitive, and held the brother 
in bronze the equal before God of him whose hue 
was lighter. It was here, also, that the Puritan tanner 
refused to do militia duty, and denounced war, pay- 
ing his fine for the same. John Brown never joined 
a church thereafter, and obeyed henceforth no man's 
order as a soldier. A leader of men and a born 
strategist, he was also a student of warfare. Von 
Hoist says, in his admirable monograph, that no one 
would have gone to John Brown for a criticism of 
Napoleon. On the contrary, he was thoroughly able 
to have given keen and incisive opinions on that 
commander's campaigns. Colonel Philips, of Kansas, 
has given evidence of the careful study he had made 


of the career of Spartacus. 1 He read alike of the 
guerilla warfare of Spain and the Caucasus, and 
could discuss aptly the movements of the Haytian 
freedmen, as well as the marching and maneuvers of 
European armies. John Brown equipped his brain 
as weu' his conscience. He made a special study 
of how tc iibsist men, learning to make a little go 
far in the commissariat — a knowledge which stood 
him in good stead in Kansas. And he was always 
conscious of his own power as one called to direct 
and lead. He begun to both think and write, as well 
as to prepare. During the following ten years 
he prepared 2 the ''League of Gileadites"; a paper 
on " Sambo," and addresses to non-slave-holding 
whites and to soldiers, among other matter. How 
many knew of his purpose outside of the home 
life from 1839 to 1858, it would not be easy to 
ascertain. A score or so of strong, brave colored 
men — Garnett, Gloucester, Loguen, Douglass, and, 
later, the Langstons, with Still, Baptiste, Reynolds, 
and others, who kept guard for the fugitive on the 
line of " Mason and Dixon," or that of the Canadas, 
knew of the Ohio farmer and Massachusetts wool- 
dealer, who in a quiet, unbending way, was preparing 
to precipitate a conflict to make of Jefferson's Decla- 
ration a practical fact, and of Hamilton and Frank- 
lin s Constitution something more than a mere ver- 
bal phantasmagoria. In 1839 the air was charged 
with vital interest. The rugged old squire, after 
whom the Ohio town of Hudson was named, typified 
one side when he rejoiced at the news of a slave- 

1 See Appendix. 2 Ditto. 


insurrection; and the constant conflict between slave 
catcher and fugitive along the dividing lines of North 
and South, expressed another. The opposite view of 
anti-slavery agitation and work to that held by John 
Brown was rising rapidly into intellectual power. 
Still, the industrial North however aroused, was at 
heart peace-loving as well as profit-seeking. So the 
Quaker conception of non-resistance readily became 
accepted as a worthy alternative to the passion created 
by knowledge of oppression. That form of action 
was presented as the only means of forwarding a 
crusade which inflamed the moral sensibilities. 
These are always the heralds of force, and play the 
role of couriers in the declaration of war. The South 
was saved from conflagration by the underground 
railroad. Mr. Garrison watered the consuming fires 
while he declared slavery to be piracy and murder; 
making the Constitution to be "a covenant with 
Death and an agreement with Hell." The flames 
thus ignited he would have restrained by withes of 
straw. Wendell Phillips presented the role of system- 
atic agitation, and binding the Anglo-Saxon instinct of 
order to the human passion of resistance to wrong, 
pointed, through his matchless oratory, the way 
for the great political forces of nationality and 
freedom. Conflagrations are not quenched by attar 
of roses. John Brown said: ''Talk was a national 
institution, but it did not help the slave." The 
Puritan argued from the individual to the institu- 
tion, and felt, in seeking to defend the former, he 
was saving the latter from the wreck and ruin in- 
justice brings to nations as surely as vice does to 


The South knew better than Garrison thought, and 
steadily prepared to fight. Chattel bondage com- 
bined with the cotton-gin to coin Southern fortunes, 
and at the same time to breed bankruptcy. The 
Southern .States gained political power by holding 
human "property." Extension of bondage controlled 
the public policy, and the oppressor satin the judg- 
ment seat. Still, the impossible became the efficient, 
and the unexpected happened. 

John Brown moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, 
as a wool-dealer. He fought the house of Amos A. 
Lawrence in business, and long afterwards Mr Law- 
rence, after arousing the free-State men to fight, 
joined Brown's defamers in seeking to assail his mem- 
ory. The warehouseman carried on a propaganda 
as well as business. There was, thirty years since, a 
daguerreotype, in possession, I think, of the North 
Elba household, which showed John Brown and a 
colored man, presumably Thomas, 1 a porter he em- 
ployed and trusted, in which the latter carried a small 
banneret, lettered " S. P. W." — letters signifying 
"Subterranean Pass Way." Brown's hand is on the 
colored man's shoulder. Mr. Sanborn's biography is 
the authority for the statement of Thomas's early 
knowledge of Captain Brown's purposes. Frederick 
Douglass tells his own story in that exquisite Eng- 
lish, of which the renowned slave, fugitive, freedman, 
orator, statesman, diplomat, and American citizen, is 
so perfect a master. He has given me authority to 
use as I wish this account, and I gladly avail myself 

1 Thomas Thomas recently died at Springfield, 111. He was in 
•\he service of Mr. Lincoln after his first election until his death- 


thereof, while gratefully acknowledging the favor. 
Frederick Douglass's narrative is the earliest in time 
of knowledge, as it is also a most cogent account of 
John Brown's views and plans. The first public ac- 
count was prepared, however, by me, under the title 
of " Some Shadows Before," as a chapter in James 
Redpath's book, published early in i860. 1 It is one 
of the few prizes of a busy life that Mr. Emerson, as 
stated by Henry D. Thoreau, declared this paper of 
mine to be "as positive a contribution to American 
history as John Brown's autobiography (also first 
presented by Mr. Redpath) was to the historical 
literature of the English language." 

Soon after Frederick Douglass returned from his 
first visit to England and had begun and successfully 
carried on at Rochester, New York, the publication 
and editorship of the North Star, he spent a night and 
a day under the roof of a man whose character and con- 
versation, and whose objects and aims in life made a 
very deep impression 2 on his mind. Other colored 
men of prominence, and Douglass names Loguen and 
Garnett especially, in speaking of him, would drop 
their " voices to a whisper," and what they said made 
Frederick "very eager to see and know him." Being 
invited to his home at Springfield, Massachusetts, for 
it was John Brown they spoke of, Mr. Douglass went 
there in 1847. He was surprised at the remarkable 
plainness in which the Browns lived, as the head of 
the family was to all appearance a prosperous mer- 

1 See Appendix. 

9 Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, pp. 337"43. Chap. 8; 
383-85, Chap. 10. De Wolf, Fiske & Co., Boston. 1893. 


chant doing a considerable business. Their dwelling 
was a small frame house on a back street, in a neigh- 
borhood chiefly occupied by laboring men and 
mechanics, and the inside was plainer even than the 
outside. In this house, writes Mr. Douglass, "there 
were no disguises, no illusions, no make-believes. 
Everything implied stern truth, solid purpose, and 
rigid economy." Of the head of that house, says 
the negro statesman, " he was, indeed, the master of 
it, as he would have been of any one in it if they only 
stayed long enough. . . . He fulfilled St. Paul's 
idea of the head of the family. His wife believed in 
him, and his children observed him with reverence." 
His arguments, adds Douglass, " seemed to convince 
all, his appeals touched all, and his will impressed 
all." This, too, because he was a man of truth and 
hid not where he trusted. Evidently the family heard 
what he had to say to Frederick Douglass, and this 
illustrates another notable fact: none of that family 
ever talked outside of their own circle, and, indeed, 
not often within it, of the vowed aim of all their 
lives. In their several degrees, each simple soul was 
wedded to ideas, and there never came to them 
thought of heroism or virtue; it was their daily life 
to be both heroic and virtuous. They have never 
posed for plaudits. Mr. Douglass writes that after 
the meal of " beef soup, cabbage, and potatoes," 
which was placed before his guest and family, John 
Brown " cautiously approached the subject; . . . 
he seemed to apprehend opposition to his views. He 
denounced slavery in look and language fierce and 
bitter, thought that slave-holders had forfeited their 
right to live, that the slaves had the right to gain 


their liberty in any way they could, did not believe 
that moral sausion would ever liberate the slaves, or 
that political action would abolish the system. . . . 
He had been for some time looking for colored men 
to whom he could safely reveal his secret." His 
plan had, writes Mr. Douglass, " much to commend 
it." There was no thought of a general slave rising, 
much less a " general slaughter of the masters." 
" Insurrection " would defeat the object he had in 
view, but John Brown, says Mr. Douglass, " did 
contemplate the creating of an armed force which 
should act in the very heart of the South." He 
designed using the Appalachian range, and declared 
that in them defensive posts could be made and 
camps established into which selected slaves could 
be recruited or taken, and from which then raids 
would soon " destroy the money value of slave prop- 
erty." The logic and sagacity of this idea may be 
realized, when it is recalled that the Nat Turner 
Virginian outbreak, in 183 1, almost frightened the 
people of that commonwealth into emancipation. 
Only three votes stood between the affirmative and 
negative of a constitutional convention. John Brown's 
attack on Harper's Ferry reduced the value of Vir- 
ginian slave-property by $10,000,000, and cost the State 
an expenditure of about $200,000, most of it spent on 
absurd acts, designed chiefly " to fire the Southern 
heart," and not at all to affect Abolition activity. 

" My plan," said John Brown to Frederick Douglass 
in 1847, "is to take at first about twenty-five picked 
men, and begin on a small scale; supply them with 
arms and ammunition, and post them by squads of 
five on a line of twenty-five miles. The most per- 


suasive and judicious of these shall go down to the 
fields from time to time, as opportunity offers, and 
induce the slaves to join them, seeking and selecting 
the restless and daring." With care and skill he 
deemed that one hundred good men could be gotten 
together, able to live hardily, well armed, and quick to 
seize all advantages. His original twenty-five would 
supply competent partisan leaders. When his one 
hundred were secured, entrenched in the mountains, 
whose Virginian portion he knew well from having 
surveyed for Oberlin College, in 1840, the lands that 
had been granted that institution, the area of work 
would be extended, slaves run off in large numbers 
and from various directions, while retaining the hardy 
and brave fighting men. Of course, he designed to 
subsist on the slave-holders. " If the slaves could in 
this way be driven out of one county," he said, "the 
whole system would be weakened in that State." 
Bloodhounds might be employed, but they could be 
killed as well as the hunters. He did not believe that 
over any considerable area, the means of subsistence 
could be cut off. Besides such men as he would train 
could carry subsistence enough for several days. 
They would live on game, could make jerked beef, 
find roots, use the wild fruits. Unnecessary fighting 
was no part of John Brown's plan. Evasion as well 
as resistance; strategy equally with combat; this was 
to be the rule. When attacked, resistance was to be 
made as costly as possible. His field was to begin at 
the northern section of the southern Appalachian 
range, not necessarily at Harper's Ferry, though from 
the outset he undoubtedly had that point in view as 
a place of possible attack. He anticipated also being 


able to arrange for sympathetic assistance along the 
border of Pennsylvania, and, when the progress of the 
movement warranted, along the Ohio also. Mr. 
Douglass gave favorable judgment so far as the prac- 
ticability of disturbing slavery in Maryland and Vir- 
ginia was concerned. He also saw that though 
"John Brown should be driven out of the mountains" 
(or even slain), that "a new fact would be developed 
by which the nation would be kept awake to the 
existence of slavery." Hence, he says, " I assented to 
John Brown's scheme or plan of running-off slaves." 

This was the key to the letters on the daguerreotype 
— S. P. W. It explains also the misapprehension of 
Brown's movement expressed by Major Martin R. 
Delany, in the pleasant biography of that notable 
colored savant, physician, and Union soldier, who 
called the Chatham (Canada) Convention together in 
1858. Major Delany declared, through his biographer, 
Frank Rollins (Mrs. Whipper, of South Carolina), that 
John Brown did not state that his operations were to 
be in Virginia, but left only the impression that the 
project was but a more systematic and enlarged run- 
ning-off of fugitive slaves. John Brown never de- 
signed throwing his life away in such an enterprise. 
He would help the bondman to flee as he did in his 
Missouri raid, in December, 1858, and, having done so, 
he would not be content except he knew they were in 
safety. His purpose was not to populate a Queen's 
colony, but to save a Republic. 

To fully understand John Brown and his Harper's 
Ferry raid, one must comprehend something of the 
conditions that existed during the years in which he 
brooded over it. Neither railroad nor telegraphs had 


to any large extent penetrated the Atlantic coast 
range. Very few towns of any size or importance 
existed near them or within their borders. A mobil- 
ized State force was unknown, either of armed police, 
country militia, or national guard organizations. The 
negro was not so rigidly watched as was the case in the 
next decade. The mountaineer and non-slave-holder 
knew that in the Carolinas and Virginia he and his 
had been for half a century deliberately pressed back 
and forced out of the eastern Piedmont region; were 
obliged to retreat to less fertile mountain fields 
and valleys, while the schoolhouse faded with the low- 
land farms. The strategical value of the Appalachian 
range, from the border of Pennsylvania southward, 
was instinctively signaled by Congress at the earlier 
stages of the Civil War in the creation of the State of 
West Virginia, and by the Executive in stubborn 
holding of the same at the heaviest of cost in blood 
and treasure. The Union holding of the upper por- 
tion of that range, was the possession of an armed 
and fortified promontory jutting into the furious sea 
of rebellion. It would have been a comparatively 
easy task then, given the acceptance of purpose and 
policy, to have at any time, between 1830 and 1850, 
placed a small body of trained men in that remark- 
able mountain formation which flows south from the 
Potomac and Ohio to the northern uplands of Florida, 
and projects westward as the Blue Ridge, Cumber- 
land, Missionary Ridge, and Lookout ranges, into 
Tennessee, southern Kentucky, and northern Georgia. 
The ranges that split the rebel territory in twain, and 
the holding or successful invasion of which marked 
the rise and fall of Confederate and Union fortune, 



would have been, under John Brown's original plans, 
a veritable land of refuge. Harriet Tubman, " the 
general of us all," as John Brown expressed it to 
Wendell Phillips in 1858, made these mountains the 
road by which she aided and guided over two thou- 
sand of her enslaved race from bondage to comparative 
freedom. The limestone formations of Kentucky are 
full of mountain caves — places which, till emancipa- 
tion came, often served the needs of flying fugitives. 
John Brown had seen or heard of all these things. 
He had studied the census, and knew the resources of 
the region in which he designed to operate. I have 
had in my possession a memorandum, prepared by 
Owen Brown, quaintly written with signs and abbre- 
viations of his own, which lets in considerable light 
upon the extent of the observations made. Much of 
this material was based upon the information of fugi- 
tive slaves. It relates largely to roads, location of 
plantations, and character of neighborhood supplies. 
The seven maps of slave States, with statistics packed 
on their margins, which were found in the carpet-bag 
of papers, etc., and captured by the Virginians, showed 
to Governor Wise and his councillors, that Captain 
Brown had contemplated more than the scare made 
by the attack at Harper's Ferry. 

Captain Brown did not loiter over his plans, except 
as want of means compelled inaction. In Springfield 
he set to work upon the passage of the Fugitive Slave 
Law: to systematize resistance thereto. He organized 
the League of Gileadites, 1 and went also to Syracuse 
to aid in the rescue of " Jerry," — a fugitive slave 

1 See Appendix. 


whose case made a famous row at the time. In all 
these matters it was his aim to find fit persons for the 
enterprise over which he steadily brooded. For this 
purpose in the main, he removed himself and family 
to North Elba, in the picturesque but severe Adiron- 
dack region. He hoped to find fighters among the 
colored farmers. Gerritt Smith was settling there, and 
he was necessitated by business failure also to econo- 
mize more closely. When he went to Europe on his 
wool-selling venture of 1850, he did not, one may be 
sure, lose sight or thought of the purpose he held. 
In Great Britain, Germany, Austria, and France, he 
visited forts, studied plans and ordnance, carefully 
looked at soldiers and their equipments; above all he 
inquired into moral, social, and economic conditions 
or results. More and more he clearly drew the lines 
he would follow in the struggle to which he was 
pledged without questioning. He had ideas in con- 
nection with defensive works, that bore on them the 
stamp of practical capacity. I saw and examined in 
Kagi's hands plans of John Brown, drawn by himself, 
for the mountain forts. They were to be used in ra- 
vines or " draws " when so situated that passage from 
one to another could be made. It was intended to 
conceal them by trees and thickets, place them on hill- 
sides, and otherwise arrange them as ambuscades. I 
do not know what became of these papers, but pre- 
sume, from expressions in the newspapers of the 
period, that they also were found stowed away in the 
captured carpet-bag. Frederick Douglass ' says of a 
visit made to him at Rochester in 1859, by Captain 

1 Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, pp. 386-87. 


Brown, that the latter " soon after his coming, asked 
me to get him two smoothly planed boards, upon 
which he would illustrate with a pair of dividers, by 
a drawing, the plan of fortification which he meant to 
adopt in the mountains. . . . These forts were to be. 
so arranged as to connect one with the other, by secret 
passages, so that if one were carried, another could be 
easily fallen back upon." In his Kansas warfare Cap- 
tain Brown would, as at Black Jack, seek a ravine for 
concealment and from which to make his first attack. 
His tactics were the reverse then, as a rule, of such as 
govern regular army operations when conducted on 
a considerable scale. 

From 1847 to 1855 no mention has been found be- 
yond the family circle of John Brown's purposes and 
plans. Much of that time was spent on the lonely 
mountain farm at North Elba, or at Troy and Utica, 
New York, in pursuing the lawsuits which had fol- 
lowed his failure in the wool business at Springfield, 
Massachusetts. It is singular, in view of the subse- 
quent relations of Amos A. Lawrence to John 
Brown's Kansas activities, and his later denunciation 
of the old fighter's memory, under the inspiration of 
ex-Governor Charles Robinson's morbid and morti- 
fied ambition, as well as of Eli Thayer's collapse as a 
public man, that John Brown's wool venture, bank- 
ruptcy, and subsequent severe poverty, should have 
directly resulted from the trade combination of which 
the Lawrence wool dealing and manufacturing firm 
of New England, were the center. The Ohio firm of 
Perkins & Brown was. organized, as sheep-growers, 
raising good breeds and fine wool, and subsequently 
undertaking to deal in American wools as presented 


for market, under the system of graded qualities 
which John Brown first invented. The wool tariff 
and its custom service was practically based upon the 
idea of the Ohio sheep farmer. In the Springfield 
warehouse, the wool bales consigned to John Brown 
were tagged and marked to indicate their grade. In 
some way, these marks were removed or obliterated 
(John Brown believed by bribery of his clerk) so that 
all the wool was sold as of one grade, and that, too, 
of a low class. The New England dealers and manu- 
facturers had steadily monopolized the market by 
this practice of rating American wool in but one low 
class or grade. John Brown broke it up, but his 
opponents broke him up also. He afterwards en- 
tered suit against the buyers, won the New York 
case and lost the one conducted in Boston, because 
of compromise made without his authority, as he 
claimed, by his lawyers. His New York lawyers tes- 
tified after he became famous alike, to the transpa- 
rently honest character of his business advice and 
action and to the earnestness also with which he 
watched the progress of the fugitive slave agitation, 
then at its height. In 1854 he was only prevented by 
threat of throwing up his case on the lawyers' part, 
at a critical moment therein of carrying out his desire 
to leave Utica for Boston to participate in the 
Anthony Burns rescue excitement. The Kansas and 
Nebraska struggle went on, and closed not until John 
Brown was long dead. But, " His soul went march- 
ing on." At the head of battling armies, in the up- 
roar of hilarious camps, amid the solemn savagery of 
the battle shock, flaming with its mighty " Halle- 
lujah Chorus " through all the thundering octaves of 


embattled conflict. It was the sign of human devo- 
tion, the unbridled recognition of courage blent and 
blending with lofty conviction. It was the song of 
praise fiercely tinged with that of the fighter, as when 
Jeff. Davis and the " sour apple tree " were brought 
figuratively into juxtaposition. It was the anthem 
of reverence, the choral shout of defiance, the jubilee 
of victory. John Brown's work was still a-doing. 



Slavery under arms— Freedom arousing — Slow advance 
and savage persecution — John Brown s friends and 
f oes — delations of the hero to the conflict — Recruits 
who came; confidants who sustained — What is said — 
Service without murmtcr made or plaudits gained. 

John Brown was not old as the years go. He 
should have been in his prime on entering Kansas. 
But repression tells, endurance wears, and the con- 
flicts of the soul leave scars that are the most indel- 
ible. John Brown, who had never been young with 
the pride of May, or known the joyous riot of June, 
was older than his fifty-five years when called to 
action in that fateful summer of 1855. He knew the 
summons of God had come at last, and he was ready. 
With the captain were his sons, John, Jason, Owen, 
Frederick, Oliver, Salmon, Watson, his son-in-law, 
Henry Thompson, and his brothers-in-law, the Rev. 
Mr. Adair, who is still living at Osawatomie, Kansas, 
and Mr. Orson Day, his wife's brother ; Ruth, his 
eldest daughter, Wealthy and Ellen, the wives of John, 
Jr., and Jason, with children — one having died while 
these emigrants were passing through Missouri. At 
first they were refused permission to bury the little 


body there, and finally had to bring it on to Kansas. 
These eight fighting men were a host in themselves. 
To their camp came James H. Holmes, a well-edu- 
cated New Yorker, fresh from college; August Bondi, 
European engineer and soldier; Charley Kaiser, one 
also of the brothers of Susan B. Anthony (there were 
two in Kansas); the Partridge boys, John Bowles 
and his brother William ; Dr. Updegraft, John 
Ritchie, H. H. Williams, and a few others. Augustus 
Wattles, O. B. Brown, the founder of Osawatomie, 
James Hanway, E. B. Whitman, James Montgomery, 
with one or two more comprised nearly all who, after 
that first year, became identified with John Brown. 
Some of them were advisers, not fighters. All the 
earnest men on the free-state side, — that is, those who 
were not temporizing for real-estate deals, political 
advancement, or color-hating propensities, — held John 
Brown in the sincerest respect. So far, however, as 
possessing his confidence as to ultimate designs, after 
all these intervening years of research, I fail to learn 
of more than four or five persons, except those who 
went out with him from Kansas to Iowa, and finally 
as to the most of them, to Virginia itself. William A. 
Phillips, besides myself, is the only one of the Kansas 
men who has presented a connected account of any 
such knowledge. Most of the regular Northern cor- 
respondents who were present in the Kansas fighting 
years — as Phillips, of the New York Tribune; Red- 
path, of the Missouri Democrat; Wm. Hutchinson, 
S. F. Tappan, and Mr. Winchell, of the New York 
Times; John Henri Kagi, of the New York Post; 
Hugh Young, of the New York Tribune and Pennsyl- 
vania papers; Anderson, of the Boston Advertiser, and 


tnyself of the Boston Traveller and Chicago Tribune, 
with a score of others who alternated letter-writing 
with farm-making or town-building, and some fight- 
ing when that was required, — were earnest supporters 
of John Brown. Most of us believed in striking 
back on Missouri and slavery, and we wrote and 
fought on those lines. But we knew nothing till 1857 
or 1858 of the reserved Alleghany campaign or of 
Harper's Ferry attacks. James Redpath affirmed 
that he went to Kansas, hoping to foment slave insur- 
rections. 1 That, as stated, was probably an after- 
thought, but there can be no doubt that he, like John 
Brown, fully believed that American slavery would 
go down amid a sea of blood. Perhaps I was the 
only other correspondent of that date who openly 
announced his adhesion to the task of fighting slav- 
ery with every weapon obtainable. There is no 
accessible evidence that others went to Kansas with 
any such opinions already formed. What they 
accepted as the coin of that bloody mintage is 
another matter. Deliberate misrepresentation from 
men animated by disappointed ambition has been so 
gross that it is essential to say these things in order 
to comprehend some of the forces that were affecting- 
John Brown's career. The Northern correspondents 
who have assailed or criticised us were merely " birds 
of passage," who took what was told them as gospel, 
or came later, like Albert D. Richardson or Edmund 
Babb. Professor Spring or David N. Utter belong 
to the later and second-hand regime. The men 
in the breach never assailed John Brown. 

1 The Roving Editor. New York City. 1858. 


No one, who knows the history and internal affairs 
of Kansas from 1854 down to 1866, can have the 
slightest doubt as to the motives that animate 
Charles Robinson. The people of Kansas after elect- 
ing him Governor, have never been moved to intrust 
him with any other elective office. His rival in their 
regard, the late General James H. Lane, once secured 
the coveted prize of a United States Senatorship, and, 
with all the faults acknowledged as making part of 
his character, his memory as their dead servant is 
more fragrant than the living aroma that identifies 
Mr. Robinson. The same galled pride of place which 
aroused hostility to Lane also animates the attacks 
on Captain John Brown's name and memory. Mr. 
Eli Thayer, of Massachusetts, is " tarred with the 
same stick," in that he realizes that his emigrant aid 
organization has not given him that high rank in 
current history which his own conception of its 
merits and of its author's ability, would have required. 
It is hardly worth while to refer to other writers who 
have attempted to whitewash and rehabilitate border- 
ruffian leaders and pro-slavery chiefs by minimizing 
the character or services of nearly all the active 
Kansas men of the free-state and war period who 
did not happen to belong to the personal entourage 
of the ex-Governor. Historical accuracy is illustrated 
by the manner in which they sneer at and have 
sought to belittle men who, if not always acting as 
God's children should do, were always, during those 
ten stern years of savage conflict, on God's side. 
Charles Robinson said in 1881, on retiring from 
the presidency of the Kansas Historical Society : 
" The time for writing the true history of Kansas has 


not yet arrived, and will not arrive till the historian 
shall be so far removed from the actors and passions 
of the hour as to be able to calmly survey the whole 
field, and clearly discern, not only events, but causes 
and effects as well." 

It is a pity that the ex-Governor should have for- 
gotten his own admirable maxim, and left thereby a 
blot on the fame of Kansas by the book which he has 
recently had published. 

Before John Brown reached Kansas, the slavocrats 
had twice invaded the Territory in force, men had been 
slain for opinion's sake, and a code of infamous 
enactments, which made it a penal offense to think of 
freedom, or to speak, write, or act in its behalf; which 
dictated ball and chain with hard labor for teaching 
negroes to read, or to print anything against slavery, 
had been forced by arms upon the people. Shortly 
after his arrival other free-state men were slain, 
cabins were burned, stock stolen, towns raided, courts 
packed and used for oppression, armed forces weie 
raised in the South. Missouri, as a State, and by its 
citizens individually, was invading the Territory, and 
highways of travel, such as the Missouri river, were 
impeded. The mails were robbed, and people left the 
Territory in dread of murder. And at the beginning, 
not over one in six of the free-state settlers owned 
weapons, while all the pro-slavery people, whether 
settlers or invaders, came armed to the teeth. A great 
pro-slavery organization flourished, and secret societies 
were active in carrying out the designs of nullifiers 
and secessionists. The army of the United States 
was as openly used as the courts to suppress free- 
State resistance. If its officers were better than their 


instructions, which was not always the case, it was due 
to the decencies inculcated by their professional 
training rather than by their honor as servants 
of a democratic commonwealth. Violence on be- 
half of slavery was found on every side. Resist- 
ance, slowly rising, became a natural consequence. 
John Brown's brain had forecast these condi- 
tions, and required him to utilize the results there- 
of. Other men talked revolution, but they trem- 
bled at deeds. It is beyond question that all the 
hours of the Kansas struggle were as replete with 
intended treason on the part of the pro-slavery 
leaders, as that its latter days saw the growth of 
fighters for freedom who realized fully that the exist- 
ence of slavery was a perpetual menace to the Repub- 
lic, and who were unwilling to accept as duty the dicta 
which would make them serve slavery or imperil the 
Union. Charles Robinson understood this as well as 
John Brown when he told William A. Phillips, on his 
leaving Kansas in the second week of May, 1856, that 
he designed going to the governors of the Northern 
States, and urging upon them the necessity of imme- 
diate oreanization for armed resistance to the South 
and its aggressions. The conservative newspaper 
man combated the free-state leader's idea, but to no 
avail. The latter went, was made prisoner at Kansas 
City, brought back to Lecompton, and released 
through the fighting men. He now lives in his old 
age to deride John Brown and intimate that Phillips 
was too radical in 1 856. 1 

1 " There was only one proposal," wrote Col. Win. A. Phillips, 
that ever came to my knowledge that even looked like revolti- 


John Brown's first appearance at Lawrence made 
him at once a conspicuous figure. Free-state confi- 
dence was not lessened by the defeat of Henry Clay 
Pate, of Black Jack, or by the fear which, after the 
Pottawatomie slaying, dwelt in every border-ruffian 
camp, and' at the threshold of all their strongholds. 
Osawatomie was a dear victory for the invaders. 
The forty-live free-state men against four hundred 
ruffians could not be expected to do the impossible, 
though they showed that they tried to, in the slaying 
and wounding: of as manv of their assailants as them- 
selves numbered. John Brown showed no insubor- 
dination or ambition in sinking his identity at the 
Washington Creek and the Titus Camp affairs, 
neither did he at the last defense of Lawrence on the 
15th of September, 1856, unless the caustic contempt 

tion in the country. I believed it then, as I have believed it ever, 
to be a mere crotchet in one man's brain, and one, too, in which 
he was not sincere. That man was Charles Robinson. You per- 
haps remember just before the sack of Lawrence by the border 
ruffians (May, 1S56) that Robinson started East. I for one could 
not understand why he should want to leave at such a time, and 
urged him strenuously to stay, and when pressed for a reason for 
his departure, he told me he saw the whole country was going to 
be involved in civil war, and that he was going to the free States to 
arouse the governors and the people of them to arm, so that when 
an army came on us, another could strike our enemies elsewhere, 
if necessary at Washington. ... I spent some time urging 
on him that the difficulties never need, or ought, to occupy such 
proportions. . . . When he left, I for the first time began to 
lose confidence in the man, and thought then, as I do now, that all 
the story about going to the free States was a mere pretense to 
get away from the danger." [Extract from letter of Win. A. 
Phillips to James Redpath, from Lawrence, Kansas, dated Feb. 
24, iS6o, and published in the New York Herald, April 20, i860.] 


expressed for mere words by the remark that I re- 
ported at the time of "great cry and little wool; all 
talk and no cider," made as he left a council where 
no one agreed to aid in organizing on the street that 
resistance to the Missouri invaders which the people 
of Lawrence were expecting, can be so considered. 
It has not been my intention to place recollections of 
my own at the fore, but rather to use them as only in- 
spiring and connecting this narrative. But as I was 
a part of the conflict under consideration, and others 
are busy in derogation of those who, having passed 
beyond, are unable to correct misrepresentations, I 
may surely be pardoned if some things are said upon 
my personal knowledge : 

I was in Lawrence on the 15th of September, 1856, 
and ready to do my share of its defense. During the 
forenoon we heard of the border-ruffian advance to- 
wards Franklin, six miles south of the little town. Of 
course, it was known also that the free-state " lead- 
ers," among whom John Brown never counted him- 
self, were sending frantic messages to Governor 
Geary, then at Lecompton, eleven miles distant. 
That functionary had announced his determination 
to stop the fighting and protect the people. He ful- 
filled the former by arresting Colonel Harvey and a 
free-state force under his command on its return 
from Hickory Point, a border-ruffian camp north of 
the Kaw river and west of Atchison. But the latter 
he almost failed to do, as it took him all day to reach 
Lawrence and the Missourians under Reid (the com- 
ander in the attack on Osawatomie, August 30) had 
already burned the cabins of free-state men, run off 
their stock, and murdered one of them, Mr. David 


Buffum, an unarmed cripple, who lived within eight 
miles of Lecompton and who was slain during the 
afternoon, almost in sight of Geary's slow-moving 
escort. The Governor had ten hours in which to 
have reached Lawrence. Certainly, that gallant 
Union soldier would never after have achieved his 
deserved reputation as a fighter and commander if 
he had shown no more alacrity than in serving Law- 
rence at the rate of one mile per hour on the 15th of 
September, 1856. At that date, I was the only cor- 
respondent in the town. By that, I mean the only 
one who was following that line of work exclusively. 
The night before I returned from Topeka where I had 
been sent by Colonel Harvey, on whose staff as a 
free-state commander I was serving. My detail had. 
reference to warning Colonel Whipple (Aaron D. 
Stevens), who had moved northward with a small 
command to meet an incoming body of Northern 
men, of the Federal Governor's avowed intentions to 
arrest these emigrants. On my return I heard of 
Captain Brown, whom I had already twice met, 
being in the neighborhood of Lawrence, and by 
request of Charles Robinson, in conference with him- 
self and others of the civil leaders. General Lane 
had already left for Nebraska to avoid complications 
with Geary and the Federal authority, and it was 
understood that John Brown would also " disappear." 
John, Jr., and Jason, his elder sons, who had been 
held prisoners by the United States troops, were in 
Lawrence with G. W. Brown, G. W. Deitzler, Judge 
Smith, Gaius Jenkins, and Charles Robinson, who had 
been hurriedly discharged by Judge Cato, after 
General Lane and the free-state force had " demon- 


strated " a few days before in front of Lecompton. 
The recollection is very distinct to me of the pro- 
ceedings of September 15th. But I am not left to 
my memory, however, for there lies before me as I 
write, my Boston Traveller letters of that date and 
the 16th, written on the spot, and also the journal I 
kept in those days of youthful enthusiasm. Besides 
these authorities, I am strengthened by the recollec- 
tions of Col. John Bowles, now resident in New York 
City, and then a young, talented, and devoted 
free-state man, whose brother William was a victim 
of the poor fare, bad treatment, and imprisonment of 
Harvey's command, held as prisoners by Geary for 
several months. The elder brother died at Lecomp- 
ton; both were Kentuckians and slave-holders, too, 
by inheritance. They emancipated their slaves. 
John Bowles became a Union soldier, and, like myself, 
was a commissioned officer (lieutenant-colonel) in the 
first body of colored men lawfully enlisted to fight 
(1862) for the Union. 1 Colonel Bowles was on the 
street with his rifle, and was among the dozen young 
men, similarly armed, " directed " by Captain Brown 
to take charge of the stone breastwork on Mount 
Oread, the right of our position, and where the State 
University now stands. John Brown appeared on 
Massachusetts street about one o'clock. I walked 
with him (he asked me for the place of meeting) to a 

1 The First Kansas Colored Vol. Inf'y. afterward (1864) the 
Seventy-Ninth IT. S. C. I. James M. Williams, Colonel; John 
Bowles, Lieutenant-Colonel; Richard Ward, Major; Adjutant, 
Richard J. Hinton. First enlistment, August 6, 1862 First 
appointment to recruit colored men, to Lieutenant Hinton, 
August 4th. 


large stone building on the corner of Winthrop street, 
and just opposite the ruins of the Eldridge or Free- 
State Hotel. In this building were assembled a 
number of "leading " citizens of the town, engaged 
in talking about the " situation." I stood by Captain 
Brown's side as he listened, briefly and impatiently, 
refusing to participate in the "jackdaw parliament," 
and went out with him on to the street where about 
three hundred men, boys, and women were gathered, 
with such arms as they possessed. Among them were 
a portion of the " Stubbs," under, I think, a Captain 
Cracklin, who now hastens to declare that John Brown 
had no " command " and did nothing. Among the 
talking counselors I recall Mr. James Blood, who, in 
1884, twenty-eight years after, and when Captain 
Brown had been dead a quarter of a century, went into 
cold type to argue that the old fighter was an unneces- 
sary slayer of men or a monomaniac. I recall him lis- 
tening, also with G. W. Brown and others, who have 
since assailed John Brown's memory, with muskets or 
long rifles in their hands, as the Captain mounted a 
dry-goods box and addressed the excited people. I 
reported that speech, and I find it printed in my old 
newspaper letter. 1 

1 Gentlemen — It is said there are twenty-five hundred Missour- 
ians down at Franklin, and that they will be here in two hours. 
You can see for yourselves the smoke they are making by setting 
fire to the houses in that town. This is probably the last oppor- 
tunity you will have of seeing a fight, so that you had better do 
your best. If they should come up and attack us, don't yell and 
make a great noise, but remain perfectly silent and still. Wait till 
they get within twenty-five yards of you, get a good object, be 
sure you see the hind sight of your gun, then fire. A great deal 



Most of us took position in one or the other of the 
two circular earthworks that had been made under 
General Lane's directions the winter before. Major 
Abbott was supposed to be in general command and 
doubtless consulted freely with Captain Brown. Cap- 
tain Sam Walker was out, I find by my notes, w T ith a 
small mounted force, watching Reid's forces, and at 
the same time looking for Geary's approach. The 
" Stubbs," or that portion of a company who were in 
the town were armed with Sharpe's rifles that Amos 
A. Lawrence, of Massachusetts, had purchased early 
in 1855, and sent by Mr. Abbott to Kansas for use in 
fighting the Missourians. Dr. Samuel Cabot, of 
Boston, about the same time paid for and sent through 
Mr. G. W. Deitzler (afterwards Brigadier-General 
United States Volunteers), one hundred Sharpe's 
rifles. Frederick Law Olmstead, of New York, with 
the aid of other gentlemen, sent by Major Abbott, 
rifles, revolvers, and one twelve-pound howitzer. All 
of these arms were solicited by Robinson, Blood, 
G. W. Brown, and others now attacking the memory of 
Brown and Lane for revolutionary action, and of the 
leading newspaper-writers also, as advocating retalia- 
tion on Missouri and attacks upon Federal authority 
and the Union. These arms were in Kansas two 
months before the sons of Captain Brown settled 
there, and men had been drilled in their use for the 

of powder and lead and very precious time is wasted by shooting 
too high. You had better aim at their legs than at their heads. In 
either case, be sure of the hind sight of your gun. It is for this 
reason that I myself have so many times escaped, for, if all the 
bullets which have ever been aimed at me had hit me, I would 
have been as full of holes as a riddle. 


purpose of resisting " alleged " Federal laws, at least 
three or four months in advance of Captain Brown's 
own arrival in Kansas. When I read the foolish ac- 
cusations made against the facts of history, I wonder 
that intelligent men like Charles Robinson can forget 
so easily their own acts and commitments. But, to 
return to whether John Brown aided or not in the 
defense of Lawrence. The Stubbsdetachmentmarched, 
by his suggestion, to an advanced point on the ex- 
treme left of our position where their long-range car- 
bines could be used effectively against Reid's ad- 
vance from Franklin. The party of which John 
Bowles was a member went on a run to Mount Oread, 
and then I find that Captain Brown came to the earth- 
work where I was stationed. J. W. Brown, one of 
his persistent defamers, was there with a United States 
musket in his hand; I remember two or three women, 
also armed, with others who were running bullets at 
a little fire. The Captain asked in a loud voice if any 
of us had Sharpe's rifles. On response he cried 
"Come out, quick." We never had an order or re- 
quest from any one else but John Brown, and some 
ten or twelve responded. Others came from the street 
and adjacent works, and about twenty-five or thirty 
so armed — all young men, as far as I now recall, — 
marched after Captain Brown who led us to a slight 
ridge on the level prairie about one-third of a mile 
away. There we were aligned and ordered by him to 
lie down behind the ridge and watch the advance of a 
party of about three hundred horsemen we could see 
coming towards us from the Wakarusa. We lay there, 
some five or six feet apart, while John Brown, in full 
sight with a revolver in his hand, walked slowly up and 


down giving us directions in the event of firing being 
required. We heard some shots from Mount Oread 
and from a field to the East also where the Stubbs 
where. This firing confused the Missourians of whom 
some were wounded. Then, as the horsemen were 
coming within our range, a commotion on the Cali- 
fornia Road, indicated the arrival of Governor Geary 
with two companies of United States dragoons, under 
Lieut. -Col. Phillip St. George Cooke, a gallant Vir- 
ginian, who remained faithful in after years to his flag 
and country. He was a courtly old gentleman, fair 
and loyal, and I owe an apology to his name for some 
harsh things written at that period. I think Captain 
Sackett, afterwards Inspector-General U. S. A., was in 
command of one of the squadrons. At the sight of 
the " regulars " coming down Reid's advance retreated, 
the town was saved, the fight did not come off, and 
John Brown " disappeared," having by his presence 
and encouragement, at least, prepared the way for 
stubborn defense. He always said he did not "com- 
mand"; so far as my knowledge goes, no one else 
did. I remember how the Governor and his troops 
failed to prevent the sky being reddened in those sun- 
down hours with fiercer hues than even a prairie sun- 
set brings, for the Missourians in their baffled rage 
set to work to burn every free-state cabin and build- 
ing in sight. Late that evening I was ordered to 
ride with a message of warning to the Captain, 
and taking the prairie— the road not being very safe 
for travel — I recall most vividly stumbling on John 
Brown's bivouac, several miles west of Lawrence. He 
had left immediately on Geary's arrival, disappear- 
ing as suddenly as he had appeared that day. With 



him were John, Jr., Jason, Salmon, and Oliver, if I 
recall aright. They had a small wagon and one 
horse, and with them was a fugitive slave, whom some 
of us kept hidden about Lawrence for several days 
before, while the black-law men threatened arrest 
and return, and the so-called anti-slavery leaders were 
asserting he had been sent into 
the town to embroil us under 
the Fugitive Slave Law with the 
Federal authorities direct. I 
had carried him out of the town 
one night, before my first Topeka 
detail, and left him at a settler's 
near the California road, where 
John Brown's party found and 
took care of him. He made his 
escape to Iowa. This episode is 
something of a digression, I 
know, but its telling will be 
borne with, as it illustrates a 
condition of affairs in Kansas 
now being actively denied and 
derided. To resume, however, 

during the spring and summer of 1856, the pro- 
slavery people had occupied the Missouri River route 
to Kansas, driving back during April, May, and June 
several parties of Northern emigrants. There were on 
the road other parties, with one of which I was con- 
nected, and it was decided to make our way through 
Iowa and across Nebraska, entering Kansas on the 
north, and, if necessary, fight our way through to the 
Kaw river. General Lane and other free-state lead- 
ers, who had escaped the general assault by Missouri 



border ruffians and the Buford contingent from other 
slave States, were raising emigrants in the Northern 
States. During the last week of July and the first 
days of August, 1856, about twelve hundred men were 
encamped on Camp Creek, a few miles from Nebraska 
City, Nebraska, near the preemption claim, then oc- 
cupied by the father and sister of John Henri Kagi, 
afterwards Brown's chief confidant and assistant. 

The dispersal of the Topeka Legislature occurred 
on the 4th of July. Captain Brown, whose limited 
means were nearly exhausted, decided to take his 
severely wounded son-in-law, Henry Thompson, and 
the two crippled and hurt sons, Owen and Salmon — 
all of them injured at the Black Jack engagement on 
the 2d of June — to western Iowa, and then return him- 
self to the field of action. The organized free-state 
men set about " blazing " a road from the Kaw River 
at Topeka to the Nebraska line due north, near 
where Falls City now stands. Aaron D. Stevens, 
then known as "Colonel Whipple," and as command- 
er of the second or Topeka free-state regiment, was 
engaged on this work. It was an absolute necessity 
to open the same. The chief free-state settlements 
of Kansas were then cut off and practically sur- 
rounded. They could only be succored by the bold 
flanking movement, which, with insufficent commis- 
sariat and a very inadequate ordnance, gathered its 
recruits, mostly young, from Massachusetts and New 
York to Wisconsin and Iowa, to rescue the free-state 
people. After leaving Iowa City, the last railroad 
station to the West, we marched nearly six hundred 
miles to Lawrence. The armed pro-slavery forces held 
the eastern line of Kansas through slave Missouri, and 


had flanked and surrounded the free-state communi- 
ties from the Missouri border at the south and just 
below Osawatomie, to Atchison on the north and 
upon the Missouri river. In the huge semicircle 
thus indicated, the towns of Osawatomie, Lawrence, 
Leavenworth, and Topeka, with the raw farms or 
settlements about them, were all embraced. Within 
this arc were also the border-ruffian settlements of 
Franklin, Paola, Lecompton, Indianola, Osawkee, 
Hickory Point, and Kickapoo, while Leavenworth, 
though near by them, had had a strong minority of 
free-state men. The line thus indicated, was almost 
completed and held by fortified camps occupied by 
Buford's Alabamians and Georgians ; Atchison's, 
Stringfellow's, and Reid's Missourians. Lane had 
practically planned the overland march, and pressed 
it upon the National Kansas Committee, at Chicago. 
The Massachusetts Committee, of which Stearns, 
Higginson, Cabot, Russel, Howe, and Sanborn 
(afterwards John Brown's friends) were the more 
active members, aided the Chicago movement, and 
somehow the men got through. The company of 
which I, a young printer and reporter, was a member, 
raised principally in Boston and Worcester County, 
was armed with Sharpe's rifles. My own weapons 
were given to me by Theodore Parker and Dr. Henry 
Channing. The Massachusetts Committee furnished 
transportation and arms, and we all signed a pledge 
to become bona-fide settlers in Kansas. Thaddeus 
Hyatt, president of the National Kansas Committee, 
bought and presented each of us with an Allen re- 
volver on our arrival in New York, and I took charge 
of fifteen hundred Springfield muskets. At Iowa 


City, 1,500 United States guns were taken from the 
State arsenal, the key of which was conveniently left 
accessible to my hands on Governor (afterwards Sen- 
ator) Grimes's desk. Arms were also obtained for 
Lane's men from an arsenal at Ottawa, Illinois. 
Several hundred Sharpe's rifles and Colt's revolvers 
were taken from Massachusetts and other emigrants 
at Lexington, Missouri, which were replevined next 
year by those who held the evidence of ownership. 
These weapons were distributed to free-state men 
enrolled in 1857, for the purpose of resisting the 
Lecompton Constitution movement. Other arms, 
including 400 Hall's rifles, made at the works where 
Kagi, Leeman, and Leary were killed two years later, 
were subsequently brought in. There were also two 
or three 12-pound guns, which subsequently helped 
to make the first battery served in the War for the 
Union by Kansas Volunteers. At the Nebraska 
camps many persons, then, or subsequently, of some 
historical note, were assembled during 1856. Besides 
Gen. J. H. Lane, Edmund Ross, afterwards United 
States Senator from Kansas and then Governor of 
New Mexico, was in charge of a Wisconsin party. 

A young-man of the name of La Grange, who sub- 
sequently as colonel of the First Wisconsin Cavalry 
assisted in the capture of Jefferson Davis, was also at 
Camp Creek. To it, while we were there, came as 
inspecting visitors, Thaddeus Hyatt, of New York, 
a famous inventor; Dr. Samuel G. Howe, of Boston, 
and Horace White, then of Chicago, and now one of 
the editors of the New York Evening Post. Among 
others present then or shortly after was Edward 
Daniel, a distinguished geologist and afterwards the 


first commander of the First Wisconsin Cavalry; 
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, preacher, agitator, 
fighter, soldier, poet, and author; James Redpath, 
journalist and editor, and S. C. Pomeroy, subsequently 
United States Senator from Kansas. These are only 
a few of the names that memory recalls. During 
that last week in July, James H. Lane, disguised as Mr. 
" Joe " Cook, with Capt. John Brown, who was known 
as " Isaac Smith," under Sam Walker's escort went 
southward. Lane was furnished with means, and 
aided to enter Kansas only upon the understanding 
with the National Committeemen that he would 
avoid any collision with Federal authority, officials, or 
troops, pledging himself, as he subsequently did, to 
leave Kansas whenever seriously threatened with 
arrest. This is a fact that I state upon personal 
knowledge. It was well understood that there was 
danger in Lane's immediate command, several hun- 
dred in number, breaking up for want of means. 
Lane himself was under indictment for " constructive 
treason." The National Kansas Committeemen then 
in our camp held the point of vantage which this fact 
insured. For the sake of national peace, then seri- 
ously endangered by the necessity of breaking up the 
pro-slavery forces, it was well to agree. 

It is part of the verities in relation to Kansas and 
John Brown to say at this point that whoever planned 
the summer campaign of 1856, breaking up the 
pro-slavery encampments at Franklin, Washington 
Creek, the Titus Camp near Lecompton, Hickory 
Point, Osavvkee, and Indianola, and compelling the 
subservient pro-Southern administration of Franklin 
Pierce to send to Kansas a Northern Democrat as 


Governor, who would and did endeavor vigorously 
to somewhat impartially keep the peace, it was not 
the free-state " treason " prisoners held by the United 
States troops at their camp adjoining Lecompton. 
Their release was a part of the campaign, sedulously 
forced to that point by General Lane, who retired as 
he came, with a small escort when this work was 
accomplished. Sifting the testimony at this late 
date, as thoroughly as I am able, it appears that 
Lane was the prime organizer, as he certainly was the 
chief leader in that nine or ten weeks of marvelous 
activity, which saw a sufficient force of earnest men 
gathered, armed, and marched into Kansas from all 
parts of the North, and a carefully planned conspir- 
acy of aggression, backed by Federal acquiescence 
and official power, beaten, overthrown, stamped out, 
and practically driven away. The attacks on Osa- 
watomie and Lawrence when Lane was retiring, 
though severe, were but flickerings of the fires he and 
his coadjutors had scattered, without any more aid 
than words from the gentlemen held as prisoners at 
Lecompton, on charges of "constructive treason," 
usurpation of office, etc. 1 

'In May, 1856, Chief Justice Lecompte, sitting in the United 
States Court at Lecompton, charged a Federal Grand Jury as 
follows : 

" This Territory was organized by an Act of Congress. . . 
It has a Legislature in pursuance of that organic act," and, " being 
an instrument of Congress it has passed laics. These 

la7vs, therefore, are of United States authority and making, and all 
that resist these laws resist the power and authority of the United 
States, and are therefore guilty of high treason." Further on he 
declared that for all combinations to resist, and all aiding in them, 
the Grand Jury must " find bills for constructive treason" Upon 


On his way out of Kansas, during the last two 
weeks of September, 1856, John Brown traveled part 
>f the road with deputy United States marshals and 
troops sent to arrest him, as well as to intercept the 
second body of Northern emigrants, whom the Mis- 
souri ruffians' seizure of the river route had compelled 
to march overland in Iowa from the Mississippi. The 
irresting parties had no idea that this sickly old man 
writh his sons, also sick, could be the formidable par- 
lisan leader they all dreaded. Colonel Whipple 
JAaron D. Stevens) was moving northward also with 
an armed free-state party, on parallel lines, but avoid- 
ing observation from the Federal force. Captain 
Brown was in Nebraska before the beaten deputies 
learned of his escape. He was in the Iowa and Ne- 
braska camps of the Northern train commanded by 
Col. Shaler Eldridge, S. C. Pomeroy, Samuel F. 
Tappan, Parsons, James Redpath, and others. The 
Iowa muskets, under charge of Pardee Butler, a North- 
ern preacher who had been run out of Kansas by bor- 
der ruffians at Atchison, had already got through in 
safety. It fell to my lot to meet and convoy Butler 
to Topeka. Governor Geary's policy at that date was 
to save the Democratic party, and bring about the 
election of James Buchanan. By worrying the 
free-state movements, and by the aid of coffee-pot 
colored election returns of Pennsylvania, that party 

this charge that Grand Jury did with the Judge revive Jeffrey's 
doctrine, and brought in a number of indictments against individu- 
als, including Charles Robinson, and also bills against the free- 
^tate hotel and printing-offices in the town of Lawrence, which a 
few days later were destroyed. [Sanborn's " Public Life of John 
Brown," pp. 237.] 


was successful in giving incipient rebellion four years 
more in which to prepare for an outbreak. Governor 
Grimes, the stalwart Executive of Iowa, waited until 
after the Presidential election, and then in the late 
winter notified the Governor of Missouri, that Iowa 
proposed to make the Missouri river "run unvexed" 
to its junction with the Mississippi, unless he should 
call off the ruffian people of his own State from im- 
peding that line of travel. 

There were several things to do in western Iowa be- 
fore Captain Brown could take up his next role. His 
enfeebled boys had to be cared for. Owen and Watson 
were left at Tabor. John and Jason returned to Ohio, 
in which State they once more made homes. Oliver 
and Salmon Brown, with Henry and William Thomp 
son, accompanied Captain Brown to Chicago, whence 
the Thompsons and Oliver went at once to North 
Elba. Captain Browm remained some days to confer 
with the officers of the National Kansas Aid Commit 
tee, whose headquarters were in that city. At Tabor 
Iowa, a number of old arms and equipments ha 
been left by the Northern train under Pomeroy and 
Eldridge. Captain Brown asked for and was re- 
fused their custody. Later, with the third Mass 
chusetts colony under Mr. Parsons, there was brough 
to and left at Tabor 200 Sharpe's rifles, etc. Thes 
arms afterwards came under Captain Brown's con 
trol, and were the rifles captured by Virginia afte 
the defeat at Harper's Ferry. 

\[ote. — Since this chapter was written, and just as this bool 
was finished, Charles Robinson, whose career and criticisms are 
animaverted upon, has died. If time had permitted the tone, n< 
the facts, might have been modified. — R. J. H. 



A startling deed — The staying of Jive men — Its causes 
and its effects — Aggressions of the slave-power — Pre- 
liminary to Kansas outrages — A conspiracy against 
the Nation — John Browns views of duty — The 
roads to Harper s Ferry — Who the slain men were — 
The border ruffians appalled — How the critics assail 
and falsify — An incident at Lawrence — Opinions of 

During the night of May 24, 1856, five men — 
William Sherman, Allen Wilkinson, and three others, 
named Doyle, father and two sons, were taken after 
midnight from their beds by armed men, w r ho said 
they were of the " Northern army." They were made 
to go a short distance from their cabins, and there 
slain by those who had captured them. Their bodies 
were found at daylight, the skulls having been split 
open, evidently by a heavy broad weapon which 
pierced at once to the brains of the men. Only one 
shot was fired. The slayers were eight in number. 
One was an elderly man who was directing, though 
not otherwise personally active. The only descrip- 


tion of the leader of the " Northern " band is given 
in the testimony of John Doyle and Louisa Jane Wil- 
kinson, as presented in a report made by the minor- 
ity member, Representative Oliver, of Missouri, of a 
Committee of the United States House of Repre- 
sentatives. John Doyle in his testimony, uses the 
following language: "An old man commanded the 
party ; he was dark compiexioned, and his face was 
slim." Louisa Jane Wilkinson says : " The old man 
who seemed to be commander wore soiled clothes, 
and a straw hat pulled down over his face. He 
spoke quick, is a tall, narrow-faced, elderly man. ' 
There is no other description given. 1 

Another member of the party does not appear to 
have been actively engaged, though of late years he 
has repaired that sluggishness by becoming the 
instrument of those who find a congenial occupation 
in assailing the memory and fame of the leader in 
this tragedy. Stated thus in the plainest of words, 

1 In the Thirty-fourth Congress, the House of Representatives 
passed into the hands of the anti-Nebraska party. N. P. Banks 
was elected Speaker. One of the first ac's was to provide for 
(March 19, 1856) a committee to investigate the border- ruffian 
invasion of Kansas, at the Territorial election just held. Lewis D. 
Campbell, of Ohio, and William Howard, of Michigan, Repub- 
licans, with Mordecai Oliver, of Missouri, Democrat, were, on the 
24th, appointed such committee. On the 251I1, Representative 
Campbell declined service, and Representative John Sherman was 
named in his place. It was this committee that was in Leaven- 
worth when the transaction at Pottawatomie occurred. The com- 
mittee never made any investigation. No evidence was ever taken 
at any of its sessions. The ex-parte affidavits referred to, were 
inserted by Mr. Oliver, in a minority report. They have no legaj 
status ; still no one disputes their general correctness. 


this was the deed of May 24, 1856, which is known in 
the free-state annals of Kansas and of anti-slavery 
resistance as the " Pottawatomie Massacre." I do 
not intend to excuse, defend, or extenuate as to 
guilt or innocence therein, nor to detract by any 
rhetorical effort from the simple sternness and sever- 
ity of the deed. It will be my purpose, however, to 
give with equal plainness both cause and effect. 

From the bivouac of the free-state farmers and 
settlers enrolled under John Brown, Jr., as " The 
Pottawatomie Rifles," then en route to the assistance 
of Lawrence, eight determined men are known' to 
have retraced their march from Captain Shore's 
dwelling on Ottawa Creek, back to the Pottawatomie, 
where they had settled as well as the men who were 
slain. These eight men, like their comrades in the 
free-state company, had "news" of the pro-slavery 
doings from the settlement. The eight men were 
armed with breechloading rifles and repeating re- 
volvers, while seven of them carried short, broad, 
heavy swords, such as artillerymen of the United 
States army then used as side-arms. The men who 
left the camp within twenty miles of the scene of death 
were, as is now known, John Brown; with four of his 
sons — Owen, Frederick, Salmon, and Oliver; a son-in- 
law, Henry Thompson; Theodore Weiner, a German- 
American settler and merchant, and James Townsley, 
a Marylander, identified as a settler with the free-state 
cause. The swords were sharpened before leaving 
camp, and their departure was greeted with cheers 
by their comrades. Information had just been re- 
ceived of threatened assaults upon the families who 
had been left behind by the free-state volunteers. 


The men were slain, and the act was deliberately 
done. There never was any doubt of that. It was a 
question for some years whether or not the act was 
done under the influence of, and by the direct orders 
of John Brown. No one now doubts that it was. In 
passing judgment, then, on this startling deed, the 
issue is to be made on motive and purpose, on cause 
and effect. If it were dictated by a supreme need, in 
order to save other lives, or if it were also the over- 
weening necessity of a situation based upon actual 
warfare, alive with all its imperatives, while the 
results wrought righteous advantage to the cause of 
Freedom, then in deadly peril, the verities must reach 
a conclusion in no sense detracting from the lofty 
moral standard of the grim and sturdy Puritan 
fighter. Let us examine this severe act, then, in the 
light of all that has since occurred, and with the 
relief from secrecy which time has wrought to our 

After thirty-eight years of perspective have been 
gained, we may look all around the act and decide 
without heat or partisanship. During those years 
also, this nation has passed through strangely clarify- 
ing experiences, which have made very clear the ter- 
rible righteousness of forces of which ordinarily we 
stand appalled. There are many worse things in 
human history than the taking of human life. It may 
be that in days of millennial joy, if they ever come, 
that the race can put behind it all darkness of strife, 
all shadows of conflict, all the lurid scarlet in whose 
deep currents we now see the great forces that have 
often made life worth living. Even altruistic halos 
may gain reflected luster from the blood of atone- 


ment. The currents of life are not made of perfumes. 
War is a stern teacher; a sterner master. When its 
wrath is righteous, may it not be most just ? When 
governed by conviction and engaged in human service, 
its seeming is actual and without question; its inflex- 
ible decision may justly be implacable. There are 
some things more sacred than life itself: as when sacri- 
lege attempts to destroy the Ark of the Covenant ! 

With the passage of the Missouri Compromise in 
May, 1820, there begun a long series of slave-holding 
aggressions, which culminated politically in the enact- 
ment of the " Nebraska Bill." The compromise of 
1820 — repealed in 1854 — declared: 

" That in all that territory, ceded by France to the 
United States under the name of Louisiana, which 
lies north of 36 39' North Latitude, not included within 
the limits of the State contemplated by this Act, slav- 
ery and involuntary servitude, otherwise than as the 
punishment of crime, shall be, and is, for ever 

John Brown was in his twentieth year when this 
Missouri Compromise was hailed by the slaveholders 
as a triumph. Good people in the North believed it 
would settle peacefully a great issue. Within a few 
years Missouri, with the aid of a National Administra- 
tion, violated it with impunity and almost unnoticed. 
The Platte purchase became a breeding-ground for 
border ruffians. Dedicated to free soil in 1820, stolen 
to slavery in the early 'thirties, it was, during the Civil 
War, the supporter of bushwhacking and a hotbed of 
secession sympathy. The young man, turned from 
the pulpit training he sought by an affection of the 


eyes, became farmer, tanner, and merchant; above all 
he watched and brooded over the course of events. 
To him the Declaration of Independence was almost 
as sacred as the Hebrew Scriptures and the Gospel 
of Christ. Each of the long line of aggressions by 
slavery left, therefore, enduring impressions on his 
mental character. They came rapidly: South Caro- 
lina nullification; campaigns against Indians for the 
surrender of " marooned " negroes ; the forcible re- 
moval of Indian tribes beyond the Mississippi and 
the Missouri, in order that slave territory might be 
organized or the central continental movement of 
Northern settlers might be checked; the seizure and 
annexation of Texas; the War with Mexico and the 
spoliation of her territory; the passage of the Fugitive 
Slave Law as offset to the admission of California as a 
free State, and finally the rending of the Compromise 
of 1820, by the" so-called "squatter-sovereignty" 
dodge as the central feature of the Nebraska Act. 
None of the other dark and lurid incidents of that 
third of a century seemed to have escaped the notice 
of John Brown. I heard him tell one evening at the 
home of Augustus Wattles, Moneka, Kansas, the 
obscure and forgotten stories of "Isaac," "Denmark 
Vessy," " Nat Turner," and the " Cumberland Re- 
gion " insurrectionary affairs in South Carolina, Vir- 
ginia, and Tennessee. He showed himself perfectly 
familiar with the sometime resistance to slave- 
catchers in Pennsylvania, and he knew the story of 
Hayti and Jamaica, too, by heart. The murder of 
Owen Lovejoy was a part of his own experience, 
and he had seen the principal riots against the 
Abolitionists. As an illustration of how he had fol- 


lowed the political workings of the 'slave-power, he 
called Mr. Wattles's attention to the policy which 
covered Kansas more than any other part of the trans- 
Missouri region with Indians removed from Ohio, 
Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and other States, and 
stated that for over twenty-five years but one man of 
Northern birth had been appointed Indian agent to 
any one of the dozen tribes living within the section 
then organized as the Territories of Kansas and Ne- 
braska ; a large portion of Colorado and Wyoming 
being then included. That one man, a Mr. Gay, was 
agent to the Shawnees. He was one of the earlier 
victims of border-ruffian disorder. 

It must not be forgotten that for John Brown 
the Kansas conflict was but an episode. It drew 
him aside from his main design, an attack on 
slavery for the purpose of making the "institution" 
unsafe, from the Appalachian mountains in Vir- 
ginia. The peril of his sons and their families, 
who were settlers in the prairie territory and the daily 
augmenting possibility of an outbreak against slavery 
itself being precipitated there, took him to Kansas, 
There was the increasing possibility also of finding 
recruits. John Brown had decided for himself that 
the slave-power designed to destroy the Republic. 
Did not crowding events justify that conclusion ? He 
was also sure, that the people of the free States were 
more alarmed at their own peace being disturbed 
than, at the danger of the Union. He decided for 
himself, by the severe processes of his own stern con- 
science, that his duty as a Christian lay with those in 
bondage, and that, as a citizen, whatever might be the 
individual cost, the Republic had to be defended. 


The closer one proceeds with analytical inquiry into 
this chrystalline personality, and the means for such 
analysis are abundant, the more evident it is that the 
Puritan farmer considered himself in all his purposes 
and the acts that blossomed from them, as obeying 
the highest obligations of citizenship, and fulfilling, 
not the promptings of his personal zealotry, but the 
direct obligations due from a man to his God, his 
fellows, and to his country. Nor did he misapprehend 
the possible penalties, but to him the slave-holder was 
a traitor to the Republic and slavery was organized 
treason to its institutions. As I have already sug- 
gested, his close study of current American history 
taught him the existence of a deliberate design to 
work the overthrow of the Federal Union. For years 
before Kansas was opened to settlement the Knights 
of the Golden Circle had been systematically organ- 
ized throughout western Missouri. Their offshoot, 
the Blue Lodges, were organized in 1854, in order to 
invade Kansas, carry elections, and make thereof 
another slave State. The Constitution was in his eyes 
being steadily violated. Was he not right in that 
regard ? To him as a Christian, if Christ were love, He 
also wore a weapon and smote the money-changers. If 
God were embodied mercy, He was also the enthroned 
Jehovah — " Judge of the quick and the dead." If men 
were the creatures of their conditions, they were to him 
also and supremely the choosers of their own path; 
responsible for what they knowingly left undone, as 
well as whatsoever they did in daily life and action. 
John Brown saw also with a marvelous precision that 
seemed like the mystic's flame, the startling course 
of sequences and events. He could not, therefore, 


act otherwise; nor could he fail to see the grim sever- 
ity of the conflict. Perceiving, he dared not turn 
aside for political gain or philosophical methods. This 
man lived his convictions, he did not dream that they 
were available only when convenient. Neither poli- 
tician nor agitator could change him; he judged by 
but one thing; did they, like his compass, point to 
the North ? That compass "wobbled," he said, but 
as the needle settled it always pointed to the North 

In Kansas the free-state politicians were bold at 
times, in words at least. Reeder, the kindly, weak, 
but well-meaning Pennsylvania Democrat, who had 
been sent to Kansas as Governor by President Pierce, 
declared, as he felt the barbarous aggressions of the 
slave-power, as early as October, 1855, that — "When 
other resources fail, there still remains to us the steady 
eye and the strong arm, and we must conquer or 
mingle the bodies of the oppressors with those of the 
oppressed upon the soil which the Declaration of In- 
dependence no longer protects." Andrew H. Reeder, 
to his credit be it said, never indulged in subsequent 
verbal denunciations of the man who did " mingle the 
bodies of the oppressors with those of the oppressed." 
That weakness was left in the main to some members 
of the New England Emigrant Aid Society, whose 
organizers, officers, and leaders had, as the preced- 
ing chapter shows, sent to Kansas, several months 
before John Brown entered the Territory, rifles, re- 
volvers, and cannon, with which to enable free-state 
men to defend themselves or to slay the assassians of 
their fellow settlers. Before Captain John Brown 
entered Kansas, the eight hundred legal voters of the 


Territory had been overridden by the invasion of more 
than four thousand Missourians who occupied the polls 
and elected a citizen of Texas as delegate to Congress 
from Kansas. Before John Brown's sons had started for 
the West, and before even Eli Thayer, Edward Everett 
Hale, Amos A. Lawrence, Thomas H. Webb, and other 
men in New England had organized the Emigrant 
Aid Society, which, within certain definite lines, did 
excellent work for free Kansas, the South Carolina 
nullifiers had publicly organized an association to aid 
" armed " emigration to Kansas. 

When the first legal election was called in Kansas, 
John Brown had taken no public step beyond appear- 
ing with his sons four months before in defense of 
Lawrence, yet, in March, 1855, over six thousand 
armed Missourians marched into Kansas and took pos- 
session of the polls. The enrolled legal voters num- 
bered 2,905. The invaders overrode the citizens, 
defied the Governor, and made a code of slave-sus- 
taining laws, 1 equaled only in atrocity by the codes 
for the control of the freed people which were adopted 
in South Carolina, Mississippi, and the other South- 
ern States, and which President Johnson sought to 
" restore " direct from the blistering furnace of civil 

After the election outrage of March, 1855, and the 
subsequent determination of the free-state people, 
as a body, to refuse obedience to the draconian code 
that Missouri had fashioned for Kansas, it soon be- 
came evident that the secession leaders in the slave 
States were determined to push their cause to the 

1 See Appendix for extracts from " The Border-Ruffian Code." 


perilous verge of civil war. A force of about seven 
hundred armed men was raised, chiefly in the cotton 
States, and placed under the command of one Buford, 
an Alabama fire-eater. From Arkansas, Texas, and 
Louisiana, there also came several smaller bodies, 
who, as they had their rendezvous at Fort Scott, the 
chief pro-Southern town in Kansas, outside of Leaven- 
worth and Lecompton, were not as well known and 
conspicuous as their confreres in the central and 
northern sections. From early in April, 1856, until 
the increasing free-state power caused them to begin 
retiring about the following October, there were cer- 
tainly in the Territory never less than an organized 
force of from one thousand to fifteen hundred armed 
men whose residences were elsewhere than in Kansas. 
A score of free-state assassinations, which included 
Dow, R. P. Brown, Barber, and others not nec- 
essary to name, had already reddened the record 
of the two years' occupancy of the Territory. Hun- 
dreds of cases of robbery and personal violence were 
known to have occurred. Not a single unmolested 
or non-blockaded way into the Territory could be 
found except on the northern or Nebraska line. The 
Missouri river was closed to the travel of free-state 
settlers. The mails were regularly stopped, opened 
and often robbed. Free-state men were maltreated, 
robbed, and threatened with death, their dwellings 
plundered and burned, the women of their house- 
holds threatened, abused, and even assaulted. There 
are hundreds of authenticated cases with a recital of 
which it is not necessary to cumber these pages. 
The troops of the United States were often used to 
enforce pretended legalities. It became the custom 


of the officers and judges of the Federal Courts to 
cause the indictment and attempt the arrest of all 
free-state men whose courage, activity, and ability 
fitted them to advise or lead their neighbors. John, 
Jr., and Jason, elder sons of Captain Brown, were 
both indicted for "usurpation of office," before the 
Pottawatomie slaying took place. Their offense con- 
sisted in being elected legislators under a State con- 
stitution which was never made operative. Up to 
the sacking of Lawrence on the 21st of May, 1856, 
three days before the tragedy under review, there had 
not been any really resistant act or deed perpetrated 
by the free-state men, except the rescue of Branson 
and the wounding in Lawrence of Sheriff Jones, the 
pro-slavery leader. This latter was a personal act 
committed by one man, and without any consulta- 
tion with others. They had prepared to resist 
oppression, and to defend themselves against the 
border-ruffian laws. No one need assume that the 
free-state men were saints. If they carried wings 
they were not those of angels. When they did strike 
back, it was done very effectually. The hammer of 
Thor when applied to the heads of ruffians made 
something crack. Why not ? 

Summed up, then, the general situation when the 
pro-slavery men on Pottawatomie Creek were slain, 
was this: The Federal judiciary was declaring that, as 
there was no right whatever (as afterwards affirmed by 
Dred Scott decision) to prohibit the taking of slaves 
into any Federal Territory, agitation against as well as 
resistance thereto, was nothing less than treason to 
the United States, while to advise or agitate on the 
same line was " constructive treason." This strained 


revival of Judge Jeffries's infamous doctrine was 
formulated by Chief-Justice Lecompte of the Federal 
Court, relative to whom Captain Brown once said 
that he " had earned the right to be hanged," and 
that " if the Lord had ever delivered Judge Lecompte 
into his hands, it would have required the Lord God 
Himself to have taken the Judge out of his (Brown's) 
hands." The Captain was not without humor of the 
grimmer sort. The Territorial Executive was a dis- 
sipated instrument of the slave-power. A militia 
force had been organized, on paper at least, with 
two major-generals and four brigadiers, all resi- 
dents of Missouri. Ninety-five of the officers and 
eighty per cent, of the Falstaffian rank and file were 
actually resident in Missouri; and, when summoned by 
Jones, Stringfellow, Calhoun, Donaldson & Co., came 
direct from Platte, Jackson, Clay, Lafayette, and 
other Missouri counties, bearing the arms of that 
State, or rather those the United States had assigned 
to it, and sometimes even wearing the State uniform. 
They were headed, too, by David R. Atchison, a 
United States Senator from Missouri, and, at the 
period now under review, presiding member of the 
United States Senate, and, therefore, in the absence 
of Mr. King, acting Vice-President of the United 
States. The Senator was the leader of the ultra 
wing of the Missouri Democracy, and the bitter oppo- 
nent of Thomas H. Benton and his following. Benton 
was equally as hostile to nullification and its advo- 
cates. He was the advocate of Continental Unity, as 
then comprehended. Some of his declarations during 
the early 'fifties now read like prophecies. The lead- 
ing newspaper on his side, the Democrat, of St. Louis. 


was the fast and wise friend, too, of the free-State 
men, from 1854 to i860, as it was also the loyal and 
gallant advocate of the Union against all comers in the 
five following years of the bitterest civil and even 
neighborhood warfare, which any section of the 
' Union was compelled to wage. Missouri was the hot- 
bed of pro-slavery aggression, violence, and final 
organized resistance to the Union. It is not essential 
to give details of all these acts in order to indicate 
the roads that the slave-power blazed and made wide 
for John Brown and his men to travel upon in reaching 
Harper's Ferry. All that is suggested in this narrative 
can be established, if disputed, " by bell and book." It 
is not essential to parade the acts of resistance thereto 
or to hold up the resisters — all of them— as priests or 
heroes. But it is essential to maintain for the truth 
of history, that the free-state men were never the 
aggressors, and it is certainly unnecessary to exalt 
the horn of special manliness for pro-slavery leaders. 
As persons, apart from opinions, they may be regarded 
as no worse than their neighbors who differed. But 
opinions shape conduct, nevertheless. It is too late 
in the day to measure great events by peanut criti- 
cisms. Still less is it writing history in fairness 
to carp and sneer at or minimize the characters, 
acts, services, and even the sufferings, of the men 
who on the right side made that history what it is. 
It has been too much a fashion in later Kansas to find 
fault only with those whose unselfish and early 
services aided in making that State a free com- 
monwealth. Let me give a striking illustration of 
this. The savage incidents it relates, too, occurred 
five days before the Pottawatomie slaying, temporarily, 


at least, awed the border ruffians into a trembling 
peace, and startled alike the brave and timid in free- 
state ranks with a triumphant, yet serious, feeling, 
that on their side at least a Man had arrived. In that 
portion of his readable, if not always fair or discrim- 
inating little volume, which treats of the sacking of 
Lawrence on May 21, 1856, 1 Professor Spring writes 
of incidents occurring on the 19th of May, two days 
before the actual raid, and while the " conserva- 
tive " free-state leaders in Lawrence were advising 
the young men of the " Stubbs Rifle " company to 
make no resistance to the armed Missourians gathering 
at Franklin, six miles from the little city on the Kaw. 
Mr. Spring shows himself in his presentation more 
concerned in censuring those whose manhood coun- 
seled resistance to murder than he does in character- 
izing with just indignation the purveyors, to use his 
own elegant comparison, of " abolition wolf meat." 
Here is the incident, as told thirty years after by 
the professor: 

" A detachment of the United States marshal's 
posse (May 19) shot a young man — mainly for the 
sensation and satisfaction of killing an Abolitionist. 
Three adventurous fellows, presumably intoxicated (the 
italics are mine, not Mr. Spring's) on hearing the 
news, snatched their weapons, dashed out of Law- 
rence to hunt the scoundrels, and begun a fusilade 
upon the first travelers they e?icountered without any pre- 
liminary investigation. The expedition tur?ied ont unfor- 
tunate for the assailants. Another Abolitionist was 
turned into wolf meat." 

Kansas," Commonwealth Series, Boston. 


It is somewhat difficult to refrain from wrath upon 
reading so contemptuous and cynical an account of an 
incident in regard to which the author might readily 
find, even at this date, a hundred living citizens of 
Lawrence — his neighbors — who would have told him 
the simple facts. Here they are, based upon personal 
knowledge on my part, and confirmed by two of those 
of the " adventurous fellows" who went out to find 
the murderers of an inoffensive young man, named 
Jones, sustained also by the narrative of the New 
York Herald's Kansas correspondent at the time, and 
found in the columns of that journal; by the story of 
Col. Wm. A. Phillips, as printed in the New York 
Tribune, and somewhat later in his interesting volume 
on "The Conquest of Kansas." I have also examined 
accounts published in the Missouri border papers of 
that date, and in the Kansas Squatter Sovereign, of At- 
chison, and the Leavenworth Herald, which exulted 
openly over the murder of tw T o young abolitionists, 
Jones and Stewart. These sources of information, 
except those of a personal nature, were and are acces- 
sible, I presume, to Professor Spring as to myself. 
But, as to the actual facts: 

Several miles directly south of Lawrence on the 
Wakarusa, a small branch of the Kaw River, was 
"Blanton's," a free-state settlement. It is quite famous 
in the stormy annals of that period. It was here that 
a blacksmith, named Dow, was murdered by one Cole- 
man, a deputy United States marshal and deputy 
sheriff under the bogus laws. The famous rescue of 
Jacob Branson by other free-state men, from Sheriff 
Jones's posse, which superinduced the Wakarusa War, 
occurred in the Blanton settlement. One of the free- 


state leaders, — Major Abbott, who had been sent 
twelve months before by Charles Robinson, James 
Blood, and other conservative free-state chiefs, to 
obtain from Amos A. Lawrence, Eli Thayer, and other 
Eastern friends, the breech-loading rifles, etc., which 
enabled the free-state men to make a successful resist- 
ance, — resided in the Blanton settlement. A bridge 
across the stream, so named, was indicted as a nuisance 
by a border-ruffian grand jury, convened and charged 
by United States Judge Lecompte. Its destruction 
was a part of the work for the doing of which a posse 
of 2,500 Missourians had been summoned to the 
neighborhood of Lawrence. There was in the Blan- 
ton settlement a widow and son, named Jones, — the 
latter was a quiet, inoffensive, but courageous young 
man of about twenty. Mr. Jones, on the day of his 
death (May 19, 1856), was at Blanton's store, purchas- 
ing some groceries. A party from Franklin were 
there, embracing among them the murderer of Dow, 
Deputy Marshal Coleman, with another known assas- 
sin, named, if I recollect aright, Cosgrove. Some 
abusive words and threats were aimed at Jones. On 
his part there is not a particle of proof as to any 
cause of offense. Though he had a small revolver in 
his possession he made no demonstration, but as 
quickly as he could gathered his goods and walked 
out of the store. There was no reason whatever for 
singling him out for assassination, but as he quietly 
turned his back on his assailants and walked on to 
Blanton's bridge, he was shot and instantly killed. 
Most of the free-state men were absent doing guard 
duty in Lawrence. The murderers mounted and rode 
westward towards Lecompton. Word was sent to 


the free-state headquarters, and early in the after- 
noon the body of young Jones was carried to Law- 
rence in a farm wagon. Of course, it created great 
excitement and indignation. Three " adventurous fel- 
lows " — all young men of less than twenty-five years 
of age — left the town to overtake and capture, if they 
could, Coleman and his gang. They went without 
orders from the free-state committee, but their leav- 
ing was seen and their errand known and approved 
of by all who saw them leave. These young men were 
John Edwin Cook, lawyer, Charles Lenhart, printer, 
and Mr. Stewart, a medical student from western 
New York, related, I believe, to the family of Alvin 
Stewart, once lieutenant governor of the Empire 
State and then a well-known anti-slavery politician. 
Of these three men, two had never used any intoxi- 
cating liquor, and the third, "Charley " Lenhart, left 
the "case " at which he was working in the Herald of 
Freedom office, a perfectly sober man, when the body 
of young Jones was brought to rest on Massachusetts 
street. Cook and Stewart had not been long in the 
Territory. The former came with ample means for 
his own expenses. Mr. Stewart was employed (at his 
own cost) in copying the laws which had been pre- 
pared by the Topeka Legislature in the vain hope 
that even squatter sovereignty might be used in re- 
moving the Missouri rule. Cook was hung at Char- 
lestown, Va., on the 6th of December, 1859, for par- 
ticipation in the Harper's Ferry raid. Cook, like Sfe-- 
vens, Hazlett, Coppoc, Copeland,. and Green, were- 
tried for insurrection and murder. 

John Brown was tried for treason against a State of 
which, hewas not a. resident, and, therefore, under the. 


State-sovereignty doctrine, one to which he owned 
no allegiance. The land of Washington and Jefferson 
had the " honor," then, of hanging the American 
Spartacus as a traitor. He is the only American so 
condemned and executed. Charles Lenhart died in 
1862, as a lieutenant in the Union army. Mr. Stewart 
was slain by murderer Coleman. It occurred in this 
wise : The fact was known that the assassins of Jones 
had ridden towards Lecompton, and as Cook and 
Lenhart both told me within two months after 
the Jones and Stewart murders, it was believed that 
they would soon return to their Franklin camp. 
Stewart, Cook, and Lenhart, well armed, went to- 
wards the old California trail or road, where about a 
mile south of Lawrence it crossed the lower portion 
of Mount Oread and made a highway to Franklin. 
They stationed themselves at this point and had been 
there about thirty minutes, when three men riding 
mules were seen coming.down the road. Their ani- 
mals, clothing, and arms, indicated they were Missou- 
rians, and as they rode nearer, Coleman, at least, was 
recognized. But a moment before the young free- 
state men had decided to return to Lawrence. Hesi- 
tating briefly as to what should be done (the mounted 
ruffians having evidently prepared for conflict), Stew- 
art impulsively ended the doubt by stepping forward 
but without raising his Sharp's rifle, and asked — 
" Where are you going, gentlemen ? " The response 
was immediate. A gun was raised and fired as 
Coleman shouted "We're going to Franklin and 
you're going to hell " Stewart fell dead as a bullet 
crashed through his forehead and entered his brain. 
The assassins put spurs to their animals, and dashed 


on to Franklin, followed by Cook and Lenhart, fir- 
ing as they run. One shot from Cook's rifle wounded 
the murderer Coleman, who dropped his rifle. 
Lenhart also wounded another. But the assassins 
escaped, and the two gallant young men, whose mem- 
ories are so shamelessly blackened by the later " his- 
torian," returned to Lawrence with the dead body of 
their friend. Is any further comment necessary than 
this plain statement ? I think not. These incidents, and 
such as these, are of those that led up to the slaying 
on the Pottawatomie. The very air of the Territory 
was reeking with murder. If the statement is ques- 
tioned, "The Conquest of Kansas" (1856, pp. 286) 
by William A. Phillips, will stand for proof. 

On Pottawatomie Creek, near where John Brown's 
four sons, his son-in-law, Thompson, and a brother- 
in-law, Mr. Orson Day, had made their land entries 
and settlement, one of the pro-slavery camps had 
also been established. It w^as but a short distance 
from the Missouri border. Above it was the pro- 
slavery town of Paola, and nearer to it the free-State 
town of Osawatomie. There is abundant evidence 
to show that this post was an important link in the 
pro-slavery campaign of that summer. The free-State 
settlers south of the Pottawatomie were compara- 
tively few. Fort Scott was left to take care of them. 
Practically, " Dutch Henry's Crossing," as the pro- 
Southern settlement was named, became the first at 
the southern end of the border-ruffian arc, which was 
forming to inclose the important free-State settle- 
ments; the Missouri border, from Bates County north 
to about St. Joseph, on the river, being the base of 
the arc, or string of the bow. Captain Brown knew 


clearly that the border-ruffian forces were but pup- 
pets moved on the board of secession politics, and 
this understanding far more than any personal threats 
or possibilities, moulded his acts. He kept himself 
thoroughly well informed of their purposes. Up to 
the first sacking of Lawrence (the second occurred 
under Ouantrill in August, 1863), the Captain was 
comparatively unknown in the Territory. His only 
public appearance was the one described in the pre- 
ceding chapter, when with his sons he went to the 
defense of Lawrence in December, 1855. But at 
Osawatomie, and among the free-state settlers on 
the Pottawatomie, this grave, quiet man was regarded 
with increasing confidence. He made no preparations 
for a continued residence, and was constantly moving 
about, often appearing in Missouri and along the 
border with one horse and a small wagon, loaded with 
surveying instruments. He was presumed to be a 
United States deputy surveyor and, therefore, " sound 
on the goose " by all the Southern men in whose 
camps he was constantly appearing. He allowed 
them to think as they wished, shaping his replies to 
questions, so as to add to their confidence. Salmon 
and Oliver, his two younger sons, generally accom- 
panied him. In this way, during the earl) r spring 
months, he became thoroughly posted not only on the 
purposes of the invaders, but as to the agents they de- 
pended upon. "Dutch Henry's Crossing" was their 
initiative post south of the Kansas River. Henry and 
William Sherman were South Germans. Henry, for 
some time before the Territory was opened to settlers, 
had been employed by Ottawa Jones, the leading 
member of an Indian tribe, so named, who were civile 


ized and Christian. Jones was an excellent farmer 
and a valuable man. Educated, and married to a 
white woman, formerly a missionary teacher, he was 
always an open helper of the free-state men, and 
Captain Brown soon became his friend. " Dutch 
Henry " had left " Ottawa " before the troubles began. 
He and his brotherWilliam took up claims, and opened 
asmallgrocery andgroggery. He was soon suspected 
of stealing stock and doing other disreputable acts. 
Both men were violent, ruffianly, and brutal. They 
were constantly insulting the free-state women and 
making odious threats against them. Allen Wilkin- 
son was a man of some education and a Marylander. 
He was at first disposed to be a " black law " free- 
state man, and his wife did what she couid to keep 
him from the bad influences at Sherman's. He was 
flattered into becoming actively pro-slavery and had 
been elected to the Shawnee Legislature — the body 
that enacted a slave code. The Doyles were a 
shiftless set, of the ruder and more brutal " poor 
white " sort, and they were used as tools that had an 
edge on them. 1 To this nucleus came others, until 

1 Henry Thompson, now residing at Pasadena, California, 
writes me recently, in relation to the elder Doyle, that " in Kansas 
in 1855, when the fall election came off, I, with others of our 
company, went to the polling- place on the Pottawatomie, thinking 
there might be trouble. . . . On the way home I walked 
about two miles with old man Doyle and others. Doyle had a 
great many things to say about the * nigger,' declaring they had 
no human feelings and did not know anything. I told him I had 
seen colored men as much smarter then he was as he was smarter 
than his little dog. Doyle said that was incendiary language and 
I would pay for it. So, in the spring of 1856, when they held 
their bogus court at Dutch Henry's. Doyle swore out a warrant for 


the Sherman's place was the center of proposed oper- 
ations against the free-state people and cause. These 
operations did not materialize, because the material 
was missing. The Federal Judge, Cato, held court 
there, and from among its frequenters, the larger 
number of whom were residents of border Missouri, 
were gathered the grand juries, so-called, that pre- 
sented indictments against John and Jason Brown, 
H. H. Williams, of Osawatomie, and other free-state 
men who had become prominent. 

The summary removal of Judge Cato, who pre- 
sided, was afterwards demanded by Governor Geary 
because of his aiding to prevent the arrest of the 
murderer Coleman, who, besides slaying Dow and 
Stewart, was also a party to the killing of David 

No one knew these pro-slavery agents so well as 
Captain John Brown. Scores of pages might be 
filled with evidence of this, but one statement will be 
sufficient. In conversation with E. A. Coleman, now 
living near Lawrence, Captain Brown in reply to 
questions about some of the circumstances that 
doubtless led more directly to the Pottawatomie slay- 
ing, said in 1856 in the Coleman cabin near Osawa- 
tomie and just before the battle thereof: 

" Mr. Coleman, I will tell you all about it. I had 
heard that these men were coming to the cabin that 

my arrest. When we beard of it, we held a little council and 
decided it best for me to go and give myself up. Salmon Brown 
went with me as dispatcher, so if they served the warrant on me, 
the others of our company were to come into court and hand me 
two revolvers. The court was to be summarily adjourned, but 
the court had weakened and left before I got there." 


my son and I were staying in, . . . to set fire to 
it and shoot us as we ran out. Now, that was not 
proof enough for me; but I thought I would satisfy 
myself. ... I was an old surveyer, so I disguised 
myself, took two men with me to carry the chain, and 
a flagman. The (section) lines not being run, I knew 
that as soon as they saw me they would come out to 
find where their lines would come. And taking a 
book out of his pocket," the Coleman story proceeds 
with " Here is what every man said that was killed. 
I ran my lines close to each man's house. The first 
that came out said, 'Is that my line, sir?' I replied, 
' I cannot tell; I am running test lines.' I then said, 
* You have a fine country here; great pity you have 
so many Abolitionists in it.' 'Yes, but, by God, we 
will soon clean them out,' he said. I kept looking 
through my instrument, making motions to the flag- 
man to move either way, and at the same time I 
wrote every word that was said. Then I said, ' I hear 
that there are some bad men here by the name of 
Brown.' 'Yes, there are; but next Wednesday night 
we will kill them.' So I ran the lines by each one of 
their houses, and I took down every word; and here 
it is, word for word, by each one." 

At the camp, en route to Lawrence, intelligence was 
received of the burning of Mr. Theodore Weiner's 
house and store, with abundant proofs of a general 
advance against the influential free-state settlers 
along the Pottawatomie Creek. It was known that 
the honor as well as the lives of the women were in 
peril. In after years I heard some narrations as to 
this that were sufficient to set any man's blood on 
fire. Among others who fled hastily for security to 


Osawatomie, after the younger John Brown's com- 
pany had left for Lawrence, were the wives of John, 
Jr., and Jason Brown, as well as members of the 
Partridge and Updegraft, with other families. James 
G. Blunt, then a practising physician in that section, 
and afterwards a major-general of volunteers, with 
a distinguished record, on whose staff I served for 
two years, told me of the continued unrest and dread 
that preceded the 24th of May, and of the quiet and 
peace that for a considerable period followed there- 
after. I never heard a free-state citizen of that sec- 
tion among the scores personally known to me, depre- 
cate the act of death with which John Brown's name 
is there associated. I have known some of them to 
evade the expression of an opinion. In fact, the only 
upright and honorable free-state citizen I have known 
as always declaring the "Pottawatomie Massacre" 
to have been unwarranted, was the gallant Col. Sam- 
uel Walker, of Lawrence. But, he never made his 
view a cause of attack upon John Brown's honesty of 
purpose or integrity of character. He held the act 
to be such a case of mental aberration or fanaticism as 
one, for example, in criticising Calvin, might con- 
sider the burning of Servetus. Col. Walker left per- 
sonal reflections to men inside of his own lines who 
cared more for partisan success, or personal profit 
and advancement, than they did for conscience and 
unselfish service. Some attempt has been made to 
have it appear that John Brown in striking the Pot- 
tawatomie blow was obeying the dictates or sugges- 
tions of a secret free-state order or council. There 
is absolutely no proof of such a thing, and I do not 
believe it to be in any way credible. Reference is 


made to this rumor so as to call attention to a series 
of " half truths " that have been made to do duty as 
"whole falsehoods" ever since i860. These were 
started, as far as they have a place in this history of 
events under consideration, by ex-Governor Charles 
Robinson, in his volunteered testimony before the 
Senate Committee's " Inquiry into the Harper's Ferry 
Raid." In that testimony, as printed at the time in 
the New York Herald and other papers, Dr. Robin- 
son spoke of a secret order among free-state men 
known, as he said, as " The Danites." He declared, 
that he was not a member of it, but that James H. 
Lane (his rival for political preferment) was. He 
mentions also John Brown's sons, James Redpath, 
Wm. A. Phillips, J. H. Kagi, killed at Harper's Ferry, 
and myself. When his testimony appeared, Colonel 
Phillips, Mr. Redpath, and myself denied fully all of 
Robinson's statements. He never answered our 
proven denials. But there was a " League of Free- 
dom " organized in Kansas, in the fall or early winter 
of 1855, and Dr. Charles Robinson, then chief agent of 
the New England Emigrant Aid Society, residing in 
Lawrence, was, as I have good reason for saying, its 
first chief or commander. I have in my possession a 
paper marked "Confidential," written by a well-known 
and still prominent citizen of Kansas, who states this 
position of Robinson to be a fact, and claims for him- 
self to have served as the first secretary. This witness 
states that the original minutes are all in his poses- 
sion, and that they will at some future day be depos- 
ited with the State Historical Society. In writing of 
11 Dutch Henry's " character, he says, that a messenger 
started and failed to reach the camp of the Pottawa- 


tomie Rifles with a request for the striking of some 
blow that would compel a pause on the part of the 
border-ruffian assailants. ' 

John Brown Jr., has declared in recent years that a 

1 Henry Sherman, or " Dutch Henry," as he was called, lived on 
Pottawatomie Creek and kept a store or saloon. It had become the 
rendezvous for the Doyles and others who were known as border 
ruffians, spies, thieves, and murderers. It was through them the 
Missourians gained all information concerning the condition of the 
free-state men. At this particular time, the country was full of 
such ruffians, who had come up here to murder our people and 
burn our homes. These men were most active and bold. They 
ordered free-state men to leave under pain of death if they failed 
to comply. While our men were under arms and in camp, these 
marauders went to the homes of the settlers, where there was no 
one but women and children; they were abusive and indecent. On 
one occasion they so frightened one woman who was quick with 
child that she gave premature birth to it and came near dying. 
These conditions were reported, and a council was called, the 
whole matter was discussed, and after a full investigation, it was 
decided that " Dutch Henry" and his whole gang should be put 
to death, as an example and warning to the many murderers who 
infested the Territory at that time. It was believed their crimes 
merited it, and the safety of the free-state community demanded 
it. I do not say that John Brown's party were chosen ; probably 
the decision was anticipated. I do say we decided that it must be 
done. The execution of these men was the dawn of peace in 
Kansas. There was no more murdering except by ruffians attached 
to forces coming over in large numbers. House-burning was done 
only under similar circumstances. Pro-slavery men who where 
not border ruffians, and there were a goodly number, were soon 
ready to aid in the protection of free-state men. They asked and 
were never denied protection by the latter. It was the great be- 
ginning of the glorious ending in Kansas. I justified it then, so 
did Robinson and everybody else. I have had no reason to change 
my mind upon that subject since. 



night or two before the last attack on Lawrence 
(September 15, 1856), Dr. Robinson in his own house 
told his father that the Pottawatomie slaying was 
entirely justifiable, and that more of the same sort 
should be done. Captain Brown grimly advised the 
doctor that if he had any such jobs on hand he 
should do them himself. The " League of Freedom " 
was designed only to enable the harassed free-state 
men to know each other, to aid in protection and to 
assist in rapid gathering for defense. There was no 
obligation taken of a wrong or violent character; 
there was ho disloyalty in its pledges, and on the 
whole, as I now recollect, it was less forceful even 
than the Union League of America, which became so 
powerful in the war period. That League seems to 
have followed the Kansas outline. I distinctly remem- 
ber that the badge of recognition was for both bodies 
the same — a little piece of black tape or ribbon worn 
in a button hole or at the throat. The Kansas League 
was formed into units or councils of ten. That's all 
I recall, except that I know that it was as a factor of 
no great consequence. The actors, and no " Danite " 
order, alone bear the direct responsibility of the Pot- 
tawatomie slaying; and as every sincere and active 
Kansas free-state man of that period, but one, of whom 
I have any knowledge, indorsed or acquiesced in the 
deed and its results, they must all accept a share of 
responsibility. Charles Robinson declared that the 
effect was to strike terror into the hearts of pro-slavery 
men; that their "party could take no exception to 
it as they had inaugurated the war." He asked: 
" But was John Brown at heart a murderer in this 
butchery? I think not. He worshiped the God of 


Joshua and David, who ordered all the enemies of 
his people to be slaughtered; . . . and every- 
thing that breathed." 1 In December, 1859, three and 
a half years after the event, Dr. Robinson, at a public 
meeting in Lawrence, supported resolutions declaring 
that said transaction was not unjustifiable, but " that 
it was performed from the sad necessity which ex- 
isted at the time to defend the lives and liberties of 
the settlers of that region." Again, at the unveiling 
of John Brown's monument at Osawatomie, August 
30, 1877, twenty-one years after the Pottawatomie 
slaying, Charles Robinson, in his dedicatory speech, 
declared of the Harper's Ferry party: "They were 
men of conviction, though death stared them in the 
face. . . . The soul of John Brown was the in- 
spiration of the Union armies in the emancipation 
war. . . . To the superficial observer, John Brown 
was a failure. So was Jesus of Nazareth. Both 
suffered ignominious death as traitors to the Govern- 
ment, yet one is now hailed as the Saviour of the world 
from sin, and the other of a race from bondage." 

Eli Thayer, who, like Governor Robinson, has been 
lavish in defamatory abuse of John Brown, knew well 
the story of Pottawatomie and all that it suggested, 
vet up to 1858 he was the open and apparently sincere 
admirer of the Puritan fighter. In May of 1857 he 
paid for and made Captain Brown a present of a 
large gun, carrying a two-ounce ball, which had 
been manufactured at Worcester for Captain Brown's 
use by the Massachusetts Arms Company. The re- 
ceipted bill made out to Eli Thayer was indorsed and 

1 Topeka Commonwealth, 1879. 


signed on the back in his own handwriting as follows: 

"Presented to my friend, Captain John Brown, for 
use in the cause of Freedom. Eli Thayer." 

This document was in my possession in i860, and 
was used in the campaign of that year against Eli 
Thayer's candidacy for Congress. He was running 
as an Independent, and part of his stock-in-trade was 
denunciation of John Brown's character and memory. 

Perhaps no single piece of evidence will more 
clearly show the immediate effect of the Pottawatomie 
blow, than the following letter by one who is known 
as the, lieutenant-colonel of the First Colorado Cav- 
alry, and, after the War, as one of the Indian Peace 
Commissioners, appointed by President Grant. At the 
date of the slaying there was considerable commotion 
throughout the Territory. A party of Northern emi- 
grants which had left Illinois for Kansas by the Mis- 
souri River, had been turned back at Leavenworth 
by Buford's men. The Oliver Congressional Com- 
mittee was in session at Leavenworth. Threats of 
driving out all Northern men were freely made. 
Colonel Samuel F. Tappan says: 

"In the summer of 1856, I was at Leavenworth as 
clerk of the Congressional Committee, investigating 
free-state affairs. A reign of terror prevailed, free- 
state men, women, and children, were forcibly driven 
from their homes, put upon steamers, and sent down 
the river. Free-state men were arrested by a mob 
of Buford men, and imprisoned in the basement of a 
warehouse. Miles Moore, M. J. Parrott, Charles 
Robinson, Judge Wakefield, and others, were also held 
as prisoners in the city. This continued until one after- 


noon the Herald (General Easton, editor) published 
an extra about six inches long — giving an account of 
the horrible murder by John Brown, of Wilkinson and 
six [four] others, on Pottawatomie Creek, Southeast- 
ern Kansas. This put a stop to further demands upon 
free- state men, and they were all soon after released. 
The Buford men remained quiet, no longer appear- 
ing in the street under arms. In a few days I took 
passage in mail-coach for Lawrence, with S. C. Smith. 
Mr. Weibling, who had been a prisoner, drove the 
team, Judge Wakefield, having been released, was 
also on the coach, and we drove to Lawrence without 
further trouble." 

So much is certain: The men who were slain rep- 
resented the worst elements arrayed in behalf of slav- 
ery, and engaged in harrying the free-state settlers; 
the results of the deed w r eie immediately and per- 
manently beneficial, and the most of those who have 
since defamed and assailed the name and fame of John 
Brown under pretense of being shocked by the Potta- 
watomie tragedy, were conspicuous in earlier days in 
eulogizing the man they now assail. It is an act not 
to be judged by soft " lutings of my lady's chamber," 
or the usual conventionalities of peaceful periods. 
Those who are shocked always at the shedding of 
blood will shudder when reading the story. Those 
who comprehend that evolution includes cataclysm 
as well as continuity, will realize the nature of the 
forces in issue, and decide as their own conception of 
events and their righteousness may determine. Those 
who lived through those titanic days, and stood for 
freedom, will have no doubt in ranging themselves. 
For John Brown himself, no one who understands the 


conditions then existing will offer apology or excuse. 
The act done proved to be a potential one in the win- 
ning of free institutions for Kansas. And that is 
what they have to deal with. John Brown always 
declared that the people of Kansas would surely 
sustain and justify the deed done on the 24th of May, 
1856. The marble statue erected in his honor at 
Osawatomie is in evidence of the faith that was in him. 
For himself, while never acknowledging participation 
in the Pottawatomie slaying, he never denied it either. 
He always declared, however, that, as he avowed a 
belief in its righteousness, he could not, therefore, 
avoid a personal responsibility for the deed. This 
has been the attitude of every honorable free-state 
man in Kansas. To avoid now would be cowardice 
indeed. Time has lifted the shadows, but it has not 
dulled the memory. 



John Brown leaves the Territory — Through Nebraska 
and Iowa to Chicago — Governor Geary and the 
Northern emigrants — Free-state prisoners serving as 
his body guard — How they were ill-treated — The 
political conflicts — Serving Territorial power — The 
Lecompton and Leavenworth Constitutions — Ballot- 
box frauds — John Brown in Iowa and Kansas 
again — A new leaf turned. 

The Missourians suddenly retired from Lawrence 
on the evening of Sept. 15, 1856. They had failed in 
their avowed design of " wiping cut " the town; first, 
because the courage of its residents combined with 
John Brown's presence, gave definite direction to the 
defense; and, second, because the Democratic fear of 
Fremont's election compelled the interference of 
Governor John W. Geary. But he made no effort to 
prevent the malign pro-slavery force from wreaking 
such vengance as they were able when retreating, 
in the burning of every free-state cabin in sight. 
Memory still recalls the scene. Two squadrons of 
United States dragoons, commanded by Lieut. -Col. 
Phillip St. George Cooke, surrounded the Governor 
while occupying the crown of Mount Oread, a small 
range of hills upon which now stands the State uni- 


versity buildings. At that time it was occupied only 
by a rude circular wall of earth and stone thrown up 
for defensive purposes. Capt. Samuel Walker was 
conversing with Geary. Soon after he was ap- 
pointed acting sheriff of Douglas County. All free- 
state men esteemed Captain Walker, but many of 
them did not like the appointment, because it in- 
volved a recognition of the " bogus laws." The sun- 
set's glow faded swiftly from the western sky, as a low 
soughing wind arose. The shadows were made lurid 
by the red flames of a dozen fires that could be seen, 
marking the retreat to the Missouri border of the 
pro-slavery force. All of us were impatient, for mur- 
der had been committed. Rapine was free, yet the 
Governor was slow. His severe manner showed he 
felt the full importance of his strange position, while 
it also made manifest his mental attitude towards the 
free-state people. Hostile and unfriendly then, we 
knew soon after that he was at heart of genuine stuff. 
Doubtless he realized that he had by not pressing 
the Missouri invaders, saved for the time being that 
Union, for whose defense and preservation he after- 
wards fought so gallantly and served so well as sol- 
dier and commander. Had Lawrence been destroyed 
that day, the North would have arisen in its wrath, 
Fremont would have been elected President, and the 
South would doubtless have revolted four years 
earlier than it did. There were men in the pro- 
slavery camp and councils in Kansas who steadily 
sought to precipitate that issue. It needed, however, 
the crucial test of the Harper's Ferry sacrifice to 
educate the awakening North to a fuller measure 
of the work before it. 


John Brown, under the friendly shadows, left the 
town he had helped to save, no longer to him and his 
a friendly refuge. John, Jr., and Jason, were with 
him, also a fugitive slave, hidden in the ricketty one- 
horse wagon that Captain Brown had moved about 
in when appearing as a United States land surveyor. 
Two others probably joined him at Topeka. They 
were Charles P. Tidd and William H. Leeman, after- 
wards known to be with him at Tabor, Iowa. Owen 
I Brown had been left at Tabor, when Captain Brown 
went to Iowa, and returned to Kansas in the preced- 
ing August. This trip was made in order to convey 
Henry Thompson, wounded at the Black Jack fight, 
with Owen and Salmon, who were also injured by 
accidents at the same time. Owen was on his way 
to meet his father, and did not get to the neighbor- 
hood of Lawrence until long after dark. He had an 
arduous task in the night to locate the bivouac of his 
father and brothers. The presence of a fugitive slave 
in the party made necessary more than usual caution. 
Captain Walker directed me, after the Governor and 
his escort made camp and found shelter for the night, 
to find John Brown's camp, or at least to overtake 
him by the time he should reach Topeka, giving him 
warning of an attempt to arrest. I found them early 
in the morning, and shared with the party their break- 
fast of roasted corn ears, lean beef toasted over a little 
fire, and corn-coffee. In those days such parties never 
traveled the highway, avoided the cabins, and at night 
usually camped without fire in sheltered ravines. 

At Topeka, the center of interest then because of the 
incoming Northern emigrants, the policy of the new 
( iovernor was soon made known. He sought to, and 


did divide free-state councils, inducing conserva- 
tives, like Captain Walker, to cooperate in securing 
what was alleged to be peace, but which in reality only- 
made oppression more difficult to resist. He then 
directed his efforts to the arresting or scattering of the 
men, organized in the Northern emigrant trains, that 
were coming to the Territory by way of the long land 
route through Iowa and Nebraska. The nearest rail- 
road stations to Kansas at that time were Iowa City, 
Iowa, to the north and east, and Jefferson City, Mis- 
souri, to the south, each about four hundred miles 
distant. The Missouri River, from St. Louis to St. 
Joseph, was in the hands of the pro-slavery forces and 
practically closed to free navigation, the Federal 
authorities passively cooperating. A number of 
Eastern and Northern emigrant parties had been 
turned back thereon, and their arms and other goods 
taken from them. The Sharp's rifles, which John 
Brown afterwards transported to Virginia, were origi- 
nally shipped, after purchase by George L. Stearns, 
from Massachusetts for Kansas via St. Louis and 
Kansas City. They were stopped on the road and sent 
to Iowa City, whence some one of the agents of the 
National Kansas Aid Committee, probably Mr. 
W. M. F. Amy, had them forwarded with other sup- 
plies to Tabor, a few miles from Nebraska City. 
Mr. John Jones received and warehoused them at 
Tabor. It is not generally known, but it is a fact 
nevertheless, that there were from 1856 to 1858 more 
slaves in southern Nebraska than in Kansas itself. 
Less than a hundred were brought there, and most 
of them were conveyed to the north star section 
soon after. The first attempt to cross the Missouri 


river by the new route was made by the Massachu- 
setts party, under charge of Martin Stowell, of which 
I was a member. We were the advance guard in 
July, 1856, of " Jim " Lane's hastily gathered com- 
mand. The Nebraska City ferry was worked by a 
southern settler, named Nuckolds, who iiad brought 
slaves there and who declared that our company 
should not cross. Three of us, who were mounted, 
rode down, called and got the ferry over to the Iowa 
or eastern side of the river, with Nuckolds himself in 
charge, and we held it there until our little company 
of sixty-five young men with three wagons were 
ferried over. These incidents are only mentioned 
to show the nature of the obstacles. Mr. Nuckolds 
yielded to our persuasive force, aided by that of his 
neighbors, many of whom were free-state in sym- 
pathy, and, perhaps, even more by the profit he found 
in the large ferriage tolls we promptly paid. Briga- 
dier-General Persifer Smith, U. S. A., was in com- 
mand, with headquarters in Fort Leavenworth, from 
early in 1856 until the spring of 1857, had spies 
in our camps. Southern by birth and associations, 
he leaned certainly to that side. Colonel Sumner, a 
cousin of Senator Sumner (then a helpless invalid 
from the bludgeon of Preston Brooks, of South 
Carolina), was actively commanding in the field. He 
is remembered with admiring gratitude for fair play. 
It is not designed to suggest, however, that General 
Smith was intentionally and deliberately partisan, 
but he treated the Northern emigrants as marauders, 
armed to disturb the peace, and regarded the South- 
ern and Missouri forces as composed of gentlemen, 
engaged, though in mistaken ways, in the assertion of 


their rights. This seems to be the attitude of some 
of our local historians, who ought to know better. 1 

Governor Geary for a time held a somewhat simi- 
lar attitude as to our newcomers, though he could 
not be in sympathy with the brawling border-ruffian 
element, by which at Lecompton he was at once sur- 
rounded. Indeed, he earl)'' exhibited genuine manli- 
ness by rejecting their advice and declining personal 
association with them. So marked grew the diver- 
gence that within less than three monlhs the border- 
ruffian leaders at Lecompton were seeking some pre- 
text for his assassination. Perhaps Gen. Persifer 
Smith's tendencies were shown in no more marked 
way than by his treatment of Governor Geary, whose 
demand for troops, needed in order to prevent that 
assault on himself and authority, he even rudely de- 
clined to recognize. That Geary passed this peril 
safely was mainly due to the fact that a number of 
free-state men were being nominally held as prison- 
ers at Lecompton. But of this in another place. 

After the arrival in July and August, 1856, from the 

1 Among our army officers in Kansas during the free-state pre- 
lude, were many of the most distinguished corps and division com- 
manders, on both sides of the subsequent Civil War. General 
Smith, Col. Joseph E. Johnston, Captain Longstreet, Lieutenant 
Mcintosh, Captain Anderson, I recall as noted Confederate offi- 
cers. Cols. Sumner and St. George CooUe, Majors Thomas, 
Sedge wick, and David Hunter, Captains Wm. B. Wood, Sackett, 
and Nathaniel Lyon, are some of those who made fame as soldiers 
and renown as Union commanders. And singularly, too, the 
harshest and most unfair of them all in his personal attitude and 
action in dealing with free-state men was a fine soldier, now 
relieved with rank as Major-General of Volunteers and Brigadier 
General of Regulars, after a notable career as a corps commander. 



Northern and Eastern States of over one thousand 
additional free-state men, the conditions of the con- 
flict favorably changed. The effort then begun to dis- 
integrate the free-state party. It had so far deliber- 
ately avoided either Republican or Democratic affili- 
ations. With the repulse at Lawrence, the victorious 
fighters, Lane, Harvey, Brown, and others, quickly 
disappeared. This was in accord with the politic 
demands of the National Kansas Committeemen, 
who demanded non-resistance to Federal authority 
as a condition of organized North- 
ern support. General Lane left for 
Nebraska as soon as Geary's arrival 
at Kansas City was known. He 
was escorted out of Kansas by a 
small force commanded by Colonel 
Whipple — the name by which 
Aaron D wight Stevens 1 was known 
in Kansas. He was the fighting 
free-state leader at Topeka, and to 
him was entrusted a defense of the 
open road to Nebraska and Iowa. 

On John Brown's arrival at 
Tabor, in the middle of August, 
Henry and William Thompson, 
with Salmon and Oliver Brown, started at once for 
their Adirondack homes, glad to get away from war's 
disorder. For a considerable period thereafter, they 
were disinclined to proceed any further in their 
leader's course. On the second trip north, Captain 
Brown and party camped near or passed the lines of 


1 Hung at Charlestown, Va., March, 16, i860. 

L Of C 


United States cavalry, engaged in efforts to arrest 
him. Colonel Whipple with his command marched 
on parallel lines, but kept out of sight, arriving in 
Nebraska in time to meet the Northern emigrants 
who were organized and marching under Colonel 
Eldredge, of Lawrence; S. C. Pomeroy, afterwards 
United States Senator; Samuel F. Tappan, and James 
Redpath. Preston B. Plumb was also making his 
third attempt to enter Kansas, the State which sent 
him to the United States Senate in after years, he 
having twice before been taken prisoner by Missouri- 
ans and compelled to return to Ohio. John Brown 
left Topeka later (Sept. 20th) and moved with less 
rapidity than Lane, avoiding also the emigrant 
trains. His son Watson, then a youth of seventeen, 
had left North Elba for Iowa on the arrival home of 
his brothers, but he missed his father and turned 
eastward before the latter's arrival early in October at 
Tabor. Captain Brown proceeded direct to Chicago, 
where he arrived on the 25th or 26th of October. 
After conferring with the National Committee, there 
began the plan of agitation which finally led directly 
to Harper's Ferry. He had framed definite plans, 
the character of which will develop in this narrative. 
While John Brown was making his way eastward 
on a missionary tour for " Beecher's Bibles " (Sharpe's 
rifles) and money to sustain further active operations, 
affairs in Kansas became more complex and also 
quite serious in character. The " Executive Minutes " 
of Gov. John W. Geary, published by the State His- 
torical Society of Kansas, within a few years, shed 
considerable light on the passing events of the period 
under review, 


One startling reminder of border-ruffian domination, 
threatening renewal of strife for more than the year 
following Governor Geary's arrival in the middle of 
September, 1856, was an alleged law passed by the 
Shawnee Mission Legislature, 1 providing for the con- 
vening of a so-called constitutional convention at 
Lecompton, the Territorial capital, with sixty dele- 
gates. These were apportioned so as to allow of 
electing four-fifths of the delegates from counties 
controlled by Missouri votes. In an apportion- 
ment for Territorial Legislature, nineteen Southern 
counties were given but three representatives, three 
counties containing the bulk of free-state voters 
were given nine, while seven pro-slavery counties 
with one-half of their population were given twenty- 
four members. Attempts were made to induce the 
Governor to authorize and recognize the arming of 
small bodies as militia for the purpose of preventing 
any election outbreaks. The leaders were to be pro- 
slavery partisans like Henry Clay Pate, and men of the 
same type. Geary did not yield to this request, nor 

1 The Shawnee Mission was partly in Missouri and partly in 
Kansas, this segment being on the Shawnee reservation in Johnson 
County. The missionary was a Southern Methodist, and a violent 
pro-slavery man. Governor Reeder convened the first Legislature 
at Pawnee City, Riley County, the center of the Territory. The 
War Department, Jefferson Davis, Secretary, decided that Pawnee 
was on the military reservation of Fort Riley. Colonel Mont- 
gomery was cashiered, and unjustly, for it has since been found 
that it was not on the reservation at all. The general belief in 
Kansas was that if Colonel Montgomery had been " sound on the 
goose," i. e., slavery, he would not have been cashiered. The 
Missourians immediately after organizing, adjourned to the 
Shawnee Mission and there went on with their work. 


did he to the demand of the United States marshal, J 
Donelson, of South Carolina, for an escort of tweni 
dragoons to enable him to arrest a number of active 
free-state men, charged with resisting the border- 
ruffian code. The Governor expressed his aversion to 
the use of troops in serving civil processes, and, on that 
ground, declined. Among those to be so arrested may 
be found the name of Charles W. Moffett, one of John 
Brown's Regulars, and a member of the party who 
drilled twelve months later at Springdale, Iowa, for 
the Virginia raid. These rebuffs to the unqualified 
ruffian elements soon gave breathing space lobona-fide 
settlers on both sides. At Lecompton the situation 
was complicated by the holding as prisoners of 101 
free-state men, who had left Lawrence under Colonel 
Harvey, on the 12th of September, for the purpose of 
attacking a fortified camp of Buford's men, located 
at Hickory Point, some thirty miles northeast of 
Lawrence. A squadron of dragoons, under Captain 
Wood, left Lecompton on the 14th to intercept Har- 
vey, but did not meet and capture his command till 
the job they started to do had been fully completed. 
The captured free-state force consisted, as the Geary 
minutes state, of 101 prisoners, a brass cannon, seven 
wagons, and a large quantity of arms and munitions 
of war. The prisoners were conveyed to the encamp- 
ment of the United States troops.' 

1 List of Prisoners confined at Lecompton, K. T. , Sept. 27, 1856. 
and bound over on the charge of murder in the first degree: — 

C. H. Calkins, Bangor, Me.; Thos. Bickerton, Portland, Me.; 
F. B. Swift, Brunswick, Me.; Win. Butler, Cook Co., N. H.; J. 
F. Tabor, Howland, Vt. ; J. L. King, Brattleboro', Vt. ; O. M. 
Marsh, Woodstock, Vt.; Stafford J. Pratt, Boston, Mass.; W. N. 
Bent, Dorchester, Mass.; D. H. Montague, Springfield, Mass.; 


Kagi. was the correspondent of the New York 
Evening Post and the National Era, Washington, 
D. C. He and Moffett were afterwards members at 
different periods of the Harper's Ferry party. Will- 
iam Bowles was the brother of Col. John Bowles, to 
whom the readers of this work are indebted for the 
new portrait of Captain Brown, published herein. 
Among this list are many names of men who after- 
wards distinguished themselves in the Union army. 
The arrest, confinement, trial, and conviction with 

A. W. Dole, Fiichburg, Mass.; Howard York, W. Brookfield, 
Mass.; C. L. Preston, Worcester, Mass.; "Major" Soley, Wor- 
cester, Mass.; A. H. Parker, Clinton, Mass.; Geo. S. Leonard, 
Franklin, Mass.; Eli D. Lyman, South Hadley, Mass.; L. D. 
Coleman, Southampton, Mass.; Henry Heard, Lowell, Mass., 
Ed. Whipple, Providence, R. I.; Wra. Owen, Central Falls, R. I.; 
Alonzo Crawford, Union, Conn.; C. C. Hyde, Hornellsville, 
N Y.; Jared Carter, Saratoga, N. Y. ; Chester Hay, Madison Co., 
N. Y.; Theo. J. Dickinson, Newbury, N. Y.; Jas. R. White, New 
York City, N. Y.; A. Cutter, Central Falls, N. Y. ; Henry N. 
Dunlap, Buffalo, N. Y. ; Geo. H. Powers, Oneida Co., N. Y., 
Chas. J. Archinbole, Buffalo, N. Y. ; John J. Howell, Utica, 
N. Y.; Jas. B. Haynes, Philadelphia, Pa.; Jas. J. Bower, Chester 
Co., Pa.; T. P. Brown, Alleghany Co., Pa.; Thos. J. Porterfield, 
(aged 67), Preble Co., O.; Henry H. Easter, Highland Co., O.; 
E. R. Farley, Morrow Co., O. ; Wm. Ware, Preble Co., O. ; Ed. 
Collingham, Preble Co., O.; S. Vogelsang, Columbiana Co., O. ; 
Josiah G. Fuller, Oberlin, O. ; Alfred J. Payne, Cuyahoga Co., O. ; 
Thos. Bowers, Ross Co., O. ; J. T. Yunker, Coshocton Co., O ; 
Albert F. Baker, Lake Co., O. ; Chas. Sexton, Oberlin, O. ; J. N. 
Thompson, St. Joseph Co., Mich.; Orville Thompson, St. Joseph 
Co., Mich.; Roswell Hutchins, Oakland Co., Mich.; John W. 
Stone, Detroit, Mich.; Sam'l Stuart, Detroit, Mich.; Sam'l Dol- 
man, Grant Co., Ind.; A. G. Patrick, Greencastle Ind.; John 
Ritchie, Franklin, Ind.; Henry Knowles, Huntington Co., Ind.; 
Henry Hoover, Huntington Co., Ind.; Nath. Griffith, Huntington 


subsequent treatment, had a serious effect on public 
affairs and greatly intensified the Northern sentiment 
on behalf of the free-state cause. Their former 
residences show how wide the range of sentiment 
must have been. The permitted escape of assassins 
like Coleman, who had shot down unarmed or unre- 
sisting men like Dow, Jones, Buffum, and others, too 
vividly contrasted with the brutal starvation of men 
who had met in open day an enemy under arms, and, 
after a six hours' combat, captured them in three 
heavily built log cabins, each side losing one man in 

Co., Ind., Jas. Siuex, Wayne Co., Ind., Eph. Bainter, Henry Co.; 
John Laurie, White Co., Lid.; Wm. Eptograft, Fulton Co., Ind.; 
Thomas Kemp, Tippecanoe Co., Ind.; W. G. Portet, White Co., 
Ind.; Jesse Pyle, Schuyler Co., 111.; A. D. Roy, Lyndon, 111.; 
Geo. Smith, Ogle Co., 111.; Geo. Nebb, Bloomington, 111.; Justice 
Ketchum, Bloomington, 111.; Geo. Pinney, Joliet, 111.; Thos. 
Leeson, Rock Island, 111.; Gilbert Tower, Lake Co., 111.; Jeremiah 
Jordan, Ogle Co., 111.; Thos. Aliff, Carlisle, 111.; Adam Bower, 
Schuyler Co., III.; J. M. Cole, St. Clair Co., 111.; Aaron M. 
Humphrey, Kendall Co., 111.; Wm. Cline, Peoria, 111.; Isaac 
Gray, Chicago, 111.; A. S. Gates, Hamilton, 111.; Phineas Stevens, 
Bloomingdale, 111.; Jas. Connelly, Lake Co., 111.; W. O. Fisher, 
Madison Co., 111.; John White, Lasalle Co., 111.; Thos. Hankins, 
Dover, 111.; W. H. Gill, Elizabeth, 111.; Louis Remiatte, Tazewell 
Co., 111.; R. D. Nicholls, Jefferson Co., Wis.; Robt. M. Nown, 
Racine Co. , Wis. ; C. S. Gleason, Albany, Wis.; W. Florentine, 
Jefferson Co., Wis.; Ed. Jenkins, Spring Prairie, Wis.; G. O. 
Eberhart, Muscatine, la. ; Oliver C. Lewis, Davenport, la.; Ed. 
Jacobs, Mahaskie Co., la.; M. Kincle, Davenport, la.; Oliver 
Langworihy, Poweshiek, la.; Jacob Fisher, Jefferson City, la.; E. 
R. Moffett, Bristolville, la. ; Wm. Kerr, Washington, la.; Wm. 
Reyman, Cooper Co., la.; J. H. Kagi, Nebraska; Wm. Bowles, 
St. Charles Co., Mo.; David Patrick, Lafayette Co., Mo.; Jos. 
Hicks, Platte Co., Mo.; Thos. Vainer, Buchanan Co., Mo.; J, H. 
York, Buchanan Co., Mo. 


the fight. It was not until the middle of March that 
our men were released under " pardons " issued by- 
Governor Geary. It was the writer's good fortune to 
carry the printed blanks from Lawrence to Geary's 
office and assist in the necessary clerical work in fill- 
ing them up. Some twenty of the prisoners had pre- 
viously been transferred from Lecompton to Tecum- 
seh, within a few miles of Topeka. A brief visit 
there under cover of night by some citizens of 
Topeka, which may possibly have included a gentle- 
man who afterwards served first as United States 
Senator and subsequently as Governor of one of the 
Territories, speedily achieved a big hole in the base- 
ment wall of the Tecumseh court-house through 
which our men walked to freedom. The nature of 
the treatment given these prisoners may be seen from 
the following transcript of a diary now in my posses- 
sion. It is worth reading. 1 

1 Monday, Sept. 20. — Received no rations from United States 
camp, — moved to Lecompton. Received at 5 o'clock one sack of 
shorts baked into bread, — one ditto not made into bread; 75 lbs. 
of bacon, 6 candles; — 103 men — no coffer or sugar. 

Tuesday evening. — One sack of shorts, 103 lbs. of bacon, 4 lbs. of 
coffee, 6 do. of sugar, 8 or 10 do. of salt; 1 do. of saleratus, 1 gall. 
of molasses; — 103 men. 

Wednesday evening. — One sack of shorts, 5 lbs. of coffee, 5 do. of 
sugar, one gall, of molasses, 1 lb. of saleratus; — 105 men. 

Thursday evening. — One sack of flour, 50 lbs. of bacon, 6 lbs. of 
coffee, no sugar, 1 lb. of saleratus, 1 qrt. of vinegar, 3 candles, 1 
gall, of molasses; no provisions brought after dark. 

Friday , 2 o'clock. — Called on the sergeant of the guard for pro- 
visions, was informed that he had spoken to the Marshal, and that 
we were curtailed to two meals per day. Half-past 4 the Marshal 
came; brought 50 lbs. of bacon, fore-quarter of beef — about no 


After a short detention in the military camp, the 
hundred prisoners were huddled into a large log- 
cabin, not fit for an abiding-place for even a score. 
Colonel Titus, a notorious pro-slavery driver, was 
placed in charge as jailer. Some of the number 
escaped. William Bowles, for one, had this oppor- 
tunity, but he refused to leave his companions, even 
though his brother was near to aid him. The gallant 
young man died from the confinement and semi- 
starvation to which he was subjected. These priva- 
tions superinduced ship's fever and pneumonia. One 
of his companions was a physician, but without 
medicines of any kind. All help was refused. A fee 
of $10 in gold was sent to a pro-slavery physician, 

lbs.; 125 lbs. of flour, 1 bushel green beans in the pod, 1 qrt. of vin- 
egar, 6 lbs. of coffee, no salt, no sugar; we got about 1 quart of 
salt from a neighbor. 7 o'clock. — Fresh arrival of 9 prisoners. 
Marshal brought 3 candles for the whole amount of us, n 1 men. 
Furnished 15 mattrasses to sleep upon. 

Saturday. — Received 28 lbs. of beef, 125 lbs. of flour, 1 small 
sack of salt, I gall, of molasses, 1 qt. of vinegar, 6 lbs. of coffee; — 
in men. Spoke to Marshal in behalf of 9 men brought here 
yesterday, who had no blankets, was told that it was impossible 
to furnish any for them. He afterwards brought 3 quilts for 

Sunday. — About 100 lbs. of beef — much damaged, 125 lbs. of 
flour, 6 lbs. of coffee, ]/ 2 lb. of saleratus, 1 peck of beans, 3candles, 
4 lbs of sugar. 

We give the above as the amount of provisions received by the 
prisoners since coming to Lecompton, and are willing to make 
oath to the same. 

E. R. Falley, 
Artemus H. Parker, 
Commissaries for the prisoners, to distribute the provisions fur- 
nished for the same. 


one Dr. J. N. O. P. Wood, and he not only refused to 
attend, but sent word to the effect, "that he would 
see every damned Yankee prisoner dead and in hell 
before he would either come or send any medicine 
for their relief." Shortly after William Bowles died. 
The two brothers were of Kentucky birth. John 
early became anti-slavery in conviction. Both inher- 
ited a few slaves, and when they moved to Missouri, 
the younger brother emancipated his. William, who 
went with John to Kansas, soon followed his example, 
and became also a faithful free-state citizen. John 
Bowles was early in the volunteer service, and, as 
a lieutenant in a Kansas cavalry regiment, was in 
association with other company officers, the active 
cause in bringing about an important public policy. 
Capt. J. M. Williams, Lieut. John Bowles, and Capt. 
Henry Seamen, of the Fifth Kansas, were on detached 
service and during it were ordered by their colonel 
to return to their master one or more fugitive slaves 
who had found refuge in their lines. The order was 
disobeyed (this was early in 1862), and the three offi- 
cers were placed and kept under arrest for several 
months. The incident created excitement, was dis- 
cussed in Congress, and Henry Wilson, as chairman 
of the Senate Military Committee, brought in a bill, 
which became law, enacting a new article of war, 
forbidding the use of the army or navy in the cap- 
ture or return of fugitive slaves. John Bowles was 
made a field officer in the first regiment of colored 
men raised during the War for the Union. Capt. 
James M. Williams became its colonel, and the writer 
had the honor to be the first adjutant, as well as to 
legally enlist the first man of color. This seems a 


digression, but it illustrates how the roads to Har- 
per's Ferry were made. It may not be out of place 
to mention here that William, the brother of John A. 
Copeland, one of the colored men hung by Virginia, 
December 16, 1859, was one of four men of color, 
'commissioned and mustered, by order of the War 
Department, to command a light battery manned by 
colored soldiers. These four were the only men of 
their race commissioned as line officers, and actually 
fighting as such in the field, as they did during the 
Price Missouri campaign of 1864. 

To return to Lecompton, Governor Geary's grow- 
ing insight into the pro-slavery conspiracy and the 
character of the tools it used, soon made his residence 
there, not only uncomfortable, but very unsafe. And 
it is an undoubted fact that the free-state men, 
retained as prisoners and convicted by a border-ruffian 
court of murder or other crimes, practically were the 
only men in Lecompton he could depend upon to 
prevent his assassination. A fair-minded man, Ken- 
tuckian by birth, was substituted for Titus, and arms 
were introduced into the log-prison. Signals were 
arranged by which, if any attack or alarm was aimed 
or made at the dwelling near by, where Governor 
Geary had his executive office and residence, the free- 
state prisoners could immediately march to his 
defense. While the Lecompton Constitutional Con- 
vention was in session during this period, the chief 
reason felt for being safe in attendance thereon by 
the free-state correspondents was the vicinity of the 
prison and its armed inmates to the Convention Hall, 
reeking with abuse and threats from the lips of 
the acknowledged assassins, aimed more or less 


directly at the busy men who were educating the 
North to the real condition of affairs. The commer- 
cial free-state politicians and writers who have since 
those days falsified the record and abused the men 
whose unflinching work made it possible for them to 
be safe in trade and real-estate jobbery, were soon after 
seen aiding the Governors in these early efforts 1 to 
divide the free-state ranks on the vital issue of recogni- 
tion of the slave code made by the Missouri invaders, 
and then enforced chiefly by the armed men Buford had 
brought from the further South, in the guise of the 
United States marshals and court posses. Governor 
Geary soon saw the futility of tampering with our 
integrity or dealing with the enemies of Kansas. As a 
result he was compelled to retire from the Executive 
office and Territory. Settlers from the North came 
pouring in by the thousands and, ere the spring of 
1857 awoke, at least twelve to fifteen thousand free 
citizens were added to the population. Naturally, 
town booms arose, and the want of titles or means of 
perfecting them, as well as other administrative agen- 
cies, became seriously felt. The divergencies thus 
created were doubtless inevitable. Business accepts 
expediency as its rule. Barter and profit control its 
action. The dispute made hot contention. Every 
attempt to get around the trouble was regarded by 
Geary's successor, Gov. Robert J. Walker, and the 
secretary, Frederick P. Stanton, ex-Congressman, of 
Tennessee (both very able gentlemen, who finally 
became friends of the free-state cause), as an 

1 Geary did a little in that direction, but Walker and Denver^ 
who followed, were active. 


evidence of the conspiracy, they were told, ex- 
isted to put into force by piecemeal the Topeka 
Constitution. It is a long and interesting record 
—that of the years 1857-58 in Kansas, — but its 
details belong in the main to a full and fair, but as 
yet unwritten history of Kansas, not to these pages, 
designed only to sketch the course of events. John 
Brown was- kept faithfully advised in his Eastern 
agitation of the various phases of the Kansas strife. 
Among the more active of the radical section of the 
free-state party were several of the young men who 
afterwards followed him to Iowa, Canada, and Vir- 
ginia. Kagi, Realf, and Cook especially were active 
as correspondents for the Eastern and Northern press. 
They were also always ready, with other of the 
Captain's friends, for any needed service. The 
divergent elements, led by Charles Robinson, G. W. 
Brown, and others, were quite prominent and more 
successful. The Lecompton Constitutional Conven- 
tion finished its unwholsome labors, and the need 
of preventing its being forced upon the majority by 
the machinery of the pro-southern minority, sustained 
more or less effectively by Federal influences, were 
soon beyond dispute. It was decided at last to obtain 
the needed power by voting under the " bogus laws" 
of the Territory — a proposition, which, of course, met 
the stoutest resistance on the part of the younger 
and more radical wing. The voting was done, and 
the Territorial Legislature was seized, and as a first 
result the repeal of the bogus code immediately fol- 
lowed. An Act, providing for a Constitutional Con- 
vention, was then passed. The Topeka instrument, 
which had done its work as a means of holding the 


free-state cause together, was abandoned and buried 
for good. The abandonment was somewhat indecently 
done on the part of those who had been the chief 
beneficiaries of that movement. Charles Robinson, 
the Governor chosen thereunder, did not even recog- 
nize its final session. He was too busy with certain 
real-estate and town-booming operations, to con- 
cern himself with funeral services over a gallant effort 
of freemen. He was, of course, active enough in the 
movement to secure real-estate titles. Looking back 
over the intervening years, it may well be recognized 
that no other method than the one that succeeded 
could have been adopted. But that fact made it then 
no less difficult to accept. Of course, the adoption of 
such civic methods soon demoralized the foes of 
free Kansas also. The new Constitutional Conven- 
tion met at Leavenworth and drafted a Constitu- 
tion, quite superior in many respects to that of 
Topeka. Provision was made to elect a State Legis- 
lature and a full set of officers under it. 

The pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution was not 
to be submitted to the voters, but was sent to Con- 
gress direct for acceptance. But an election for State 
officers under it had been provided. This the free- 
state men decided to capture. An election to vote 
on the Leavenworth Constitution and to choose the 
officers and legislature thereof was decided upon. It 
was also determined to put up the same men under 
the Lecompton election, so that if Congress consented 
to the proposed iniquity of admitting the State under 
the pro-slavery instrument without the people's con- 
sent and against their unrecorded, yet well-known 
opposition, the men chosen for the Leavenworth in- 


strument would be in control. The State being ad- 
mitted to the Union, it was argued that a peaceful 
revolution could be at once achieved, by the substitu- 
tion of the free-state for the pro-slavery Constitution, 
the installation of officers, and the selection of United 
States Senators. As the free-state voters numbered 
fully ten to one in the fall of 1858, the programme 
was certain to succeed if fraud did not intervene. Steps 
were taken to meet the issues that might arise there- 
from. The Territorial Legislature passed laws provid- 
ing for a military organization. This they placed 
under command of James H. Lane, and it was known 
as " The Ballot Box Guards." It was formidable, on 
paper at least, and doubtless would have done its se- 
lected work had the occasion really arisen. 

John Brown was in western Iowa, sick in body and 
disappointed because of the non-receipt of means he 
anticipated, harassed, too, by the efforts that were 
making from Kansas to get possession of the arms, 
munitions, and supplies stored at Tabor, and which 
had been placed under his control in Massachusetts. 
He had another use than arming Lane's men with 
them, as he did not believe that the real danger to 
Kansas was over or could be met in the way pro- 
posed. So, partly from sickness and partly from the 
desire to avoid being complicated with " authority," 
he did not respond to the urgent requests for his 
presence in Kansas, made in September and October, 
1858. He did not appear till November, and then 
only made his presence known to a trusted few at 
Lawrence and Topeka. He gathered rapidly the 
nucleus of the party that went to Chatham and Har- 
per's Ferry, to make Time's sounding-board ring with 


the echoes of their footsteps and the impact of their 

The Kansas elections passed over without blood- 
shed, though the turmoil was fierce and the attempts 
at frauds by the Lecomptonites among the most stu- 
pendous in any political history, — prior at least to 
these later days when the suffrages of a whole race 
of voters are practically made nugatory and of no 
avail. The Kansas processes were more clumsy, 
however. Polling places with a dozen or twenty 
voters were made to return, by the aid of city direc- 
tories, from one thousand to three thousand votes 
each — all, of course, in support of the pro-slavery 
side. The Territorial machinery was in free-state 
hands and all the election officers that did not run 
away were speedily arrested. Governor Walker re- 
jected these returns, and thereby prevented an out- 
break which would have utterly wiped out the ag- 
gressive remnant in Kansas of the pro-slavery power, 
while it probably would also have involved us with 
the Federal authorities, bringing on another period of 
civil strife. This chapter of Kansas history came to 
an end with the action of the next session of Con- 
gress, in submitting the Lecompton Constitution to 
the voters of Kansas, who, of course, overwhelmingly 
and contemptuously trampled it out of sight under 
their ballots of rejection. It opened another chapter 
in the story of John Brown and his men. To make 
this clear it will be necessary to go back over the 
same year and trace the Captain's movements in the 
East and North — a year so fruitful as it was of forces 
that led with the irresistibility of fate to the deed he 
had to do — the blow it was given him to strike ! 



Movements eastward — The National Kansas Committee — 
Paper by Harvey B. Hurd — Letters of Horace White 

— What the political fighters meant — How John 
Brown was, and was not aided — The work of the 
Massachusetts Aid Committee — George Luther 
Stearns, Theodore Parker, Frank B. Sanborn and 
other men of Boston — John Brown s letter of auto- 
biography — Lowell and Emerson vs. Hay and Nicolay 

— Where John Brown got his money and his arms — 
His active ititierary — Return to Lowa — Supplies 
found there — Hugh Forbes, the English Garibal- 
dian — His relations with, and conduct to John 

With John Brown's arrival in Chicago, October, 
1856, accompanied by his son Owen, there begun a 
more definite development of the purposes and plans 
he had so long conceived. The reputation gained in 
Kansas opened many doors and won confidence for 
him in the minds of men of position and even re- 
nown. The whole country was quickened, and the 
Northern States, especially, were vibrating with a 
sense of danger to institutions, freedom, and union, 
such as had never before been felt. The overture of 
Kansas sternly preluded the vaster movements of the 


coming slave-holder's rebellion. John Brown real- 
ized that if he openly expressed his ideas or his pur- 
poses, in their entirety, he would repel more than he 
gained. But he knew that standing-room had been 
achieved. The attacks made by slavery familiarized 
other minds with the need of answering with blows 
for freedom. His first purpose was to confer with 
the National Kansas Committee, through its executive 
body, resident in Chicago. In fact, that Committee 
had already sent both to Kansas and Iowa, asking the 
Captain to visit their headquarters at Chicago. This 
National Committee had been selected in the preced- 
ing summer at a convention held in Buffalo, New 
York, which was called to consider the means most 
available and necessary for the protection and aid of 
the free-state people of Kansas, and of the bodies of 
ardent Northern emigrants who were preparing to 
join them. Thaddeus Hyatt, of New York, a well- 
known inventor and manufacturer, who is still living 
in his seventy-eighth year, and still working, I 
believe, on the problem of aerial navigation, was 
made chairman of the Committee. A son-in-law of 
Thurlow Weed, Mr. Barnes, of Albany, was chosen 
secretary of the Buffalo Convention. Horace White, 
now editor of the New York Evening Post, then on the 
editorial staff of the Chicago Tribune, was an active 
official of the Committee ; Harvey B. Hurd, a well- 
known lawyer, and now professor in a famous law 
school of Chicago, was secretary of the Executive 
Committee ; George W. Dole was treasurer, and 
J D. Webster, afterwards brigadier-general and chief 
of artillery on the staff of General W. T. Sherman, 
throughout his campaigns in the Central and Coast 


States of the South during the Civil War, was vice- 
chairman. I am indebted to Mr. Hurd for an inter- 
esting paper which will in large part be given in this 
chapter. The first evidence of his arrival, is found 
in letters of General Webster and Horace White, bear- 
ing date respectively the 25th and 26th of October. 
In one of them is the significant remark that " Cap- 
tain Brown says the immediate introduction of the 
supplies is not of much consequence compared to the 
danger of losing them," a suggestion which illustrated 
his practical sagacity, as will be seen from what fol- 

Horace White's letter mentions to Captain Brown 
that " Theodore Parker, of Boston," was at the 
Briggs House and wished to meet him. This was 
an introduction as significant as any one of the not- 
able incidents, which, begun, from that time forward 
crowded upon John Brown's days. Hitherto the 
Puritan fighter had been, outside Kansas, known only 
to a few colored men and women of character, and to 
his fast friend, Hon. Gerrit Smith, of Peterboro, New 
York, as one of the most vigorous and determined of 
resistant Abolitionists. 

In order to apprehend more fully the conditions 
which affected, shaped, or marred the mission he had 
undertaken it will be necessary to briefly sketch some 
of the movements which the National and other 
Northern Kansas Aid Committees had set in opera- 
tion or had then in progress at the time of John 
Brown's first appearance in Chicago. At that date 
(last of October, 1856) several armed emigrant trains 
were congregated in Nebraska, on the northern bor- 
der of Kansas. Among other members were Richard 


Realf, George B. Gill and Barclay Coppoc, the first 
of whom was named at Chatham, Canada, eighteen 
months later as secretary of state for the provisional 
government formed there, the second was commis- 
sioned as secretary of the treasury, and the third ac- 
companied the Captain to Harper's Ferry just three 
years later. Among the leaders of the Northern com- 
mands were James Redpath, John Brown's first biog- 
rapher, and P. B. Plumb, who, as a Senator from 
Kansas, afterwards defended and eulogized him on 
the floor of the United States Senate. There were 
also with the trains, among others, Thomas Went- 
worth Higginson, author, preacher, soldier, poet — 
always faithful to the same ideal of American liberty 
that John Brown died for — and who, with Theodore 
Parker, George Luther Stearns, Dr. Samuel G. Howe, 
Frank B. Sanborn, the later and authorized (by his 
family) biographer of John Brown, and Gerrit Smith, 
formed later a council of friends to aid the Captain in 
his final efforts. I believe Mr. Sanborn visited Kansas 
about that date, and I know that Thaddeus Hyatt, 
with W. M. F. Amy, of Illinois, afterwards a Governor 
of New Mexico, then the general agent of the Na- 
tional Kansas Committee, were then or soon after en 
route to Kansas. Horace White visited Kansas also. 
General Lane was in Iowa making speeches, filled 
with his peculiar, flashing, and exciting oratory. 
Watson Brown, ^/ route to Kansas, writes the family 
at North Elba from St. Charles, Iowa, under date of 
October 30, 1856, that " We are in the company of a 
train of Kansas teams loaded with Sharpe's rifles and 
cannon. I heard a report that father had gone east. 
We travel very slow; you can write to us at Tabor. 



On our way we saw Gerrit Smith, F. Douglass, and 
other old friends. We have each a Sharpe's rifle." ' 

Finding, on arrival at Tabor, that his father had 
gone eastward, Watson returned to Chicago and soon 
rejoined him, going home later to North Elba. It is 
not possible to do more than outline the crowding in- 
cidents of that winter. 

Captain Brown spent about two of the five weeks that 
passed between his last active appearance at Lawrence, 
Kansas, and his reporting in Chicago, at Tabor, Spring- 
dale, and Iowa City. I am greatly indebted to Prof. 
L. H. Wetherell, of Davenport, Iowa, for very inter- 
esting data relating to John Brown and his men dur- 
ing this and their subsequent visits to Iowa. The 
first visit was made on this journey to the Springdale 
Quaker settlement in Cedar County, where, just a 
year later, the Captain housed for several weeks eleven 
of the original Harper's Ferry party, and in which 
place four of his associates were found and recruited. 
At the burial of Owen Brown, Pasadena, California, in 
1892, one of the pall-bearers was Mr. James O. Towns- 
end, a liberal Quaker, formerly the landlord of the 
''Traveller's Rest," West Branch, ten miles east of 
Iowa City. Mr. Wetherell describes Captain Brown 
riding up to the little roadside inn, a spare, gaunt 
figure on a gaunt, spare mule. After dismounting, the 
traveler asked the landlord: 

" Have you ever heard of John Brown, of Kansas ?" 

Mr. Townsend eyed him sharply without reply. 
Having thus satisfied himself that the question iden- 
tified the person, he took out a piece of chalk from his 

1 Sanborn's " Life and Lelteis of John Brown," p. 341. 


vest pocket and deliberately took Brown's hat off and 
marked on it a large X; as deliberately he marked 
Brown's back with a XX, and ended by chalking a 
large one on the mule's back, saying as he put the 
chalk back in his pocket : 

"Just put the animal into the stable and walk right 
into the house. Thou art surely welcome." 

And Captain Brown was always a welcome guest at 
the " Traveller's Rest." Literally of Mr. Townsend it 
could be said he fulfilled the injunction of the Saviour: 
" I was a stranger and ye took me in; I was a-hun- 
gered and a-thirst and ye gave me meat and to 

Captain Brown's first advice at Chicago was char- 
acteristic. By " supplies " were meant the arms — 
Sharpe's and Hall's rifles. An Illinois party managed 
to avoid spoliation at Lexington, Missouri, but on 
arrival at Leavenworth, Kansas, their arms were seized 
and themselves driven back. Several hundred Hall's 
rifles, from the gun-factory at Harper's Ferry, whose 
seizure was one of the objective points in John Brown's 
plans, at which Kagi, Leeman, and Leary lost their 
lives, were taken from this party. The late Senator 
Preston B. Plumb was a member thereof. He re- 
fused to go back when ordered, came ashore at 
Leavenworth; being threatened with lynching on the 
streets he was rescued by Nicholas V. Smith (who 
married one of Horace Greeley's daughters) and his 
brother-in-law, Col. Hampton P. Johnson, afterwards 
the first Kansas soldier killed for the Union in a con- 
flict with Missouri rebels. The Plumb incident was 
brought to an end by the news of the Pottawatomie 
slaying, which, for the time being, proved a complete 


deterrent to border ruffian enterprise. The emigrants 
going to Kansas by the land route were always in 
danger of having their arms taken by the United States 
troops under orders from the deputy marshal sent 
with them by Governor Geary. In fact, some four 
hundred Hall's carbines were so seized. All these 
weapons were afterwards recovered. A bill of sale 
was made to some competent party, whose name is 
not recalled, and the rifles, etc., held at Lexington 
were obtained by legal process, and brought to Kansas 
in the summer of 1857. With the Northern trains, 
under Red path, Parsons, Eldridge, and Pomeroy, were 
several guns, twelve-pound howitzers — three in all, I 
think. These were buried near the northern border 
of Kansas, to prevent seizure by the troops, and were 
afterwards brought into Kansas when the struggle 
against the Lecompton constitution assumed the pros- 
pect of renewed belligerency. In December, 1857, the 
fraudulent election on the slavery clause of that instru- 
ment was held. The people at Leavenworth, Law- 
rence, knowing what was designed, took steps at once 
to recover their property. The guns at Leavenworth 
were replevined under a bill of sale made to a promi- 
nent free-state citizen there. Those at Lecompton 
were taken from a cellar wherein they .were stored, 
while the acting Governor, J. W. Denver, whose office 
was in the same building, was engaged in conversa- 
tion upon a pretended matter of business. This trans- 
action had its amusing as well as dangerous aspect, 
and I remember laughing with great gusto at General 
Denver's anger when he found out he was tricked. 
This did not occur until the loaded wagon was about 
to drive off. Direst threats of legal action were 


huried at us, but none was taken, for the Governor 
found on inquiry that he was virtually a party to 
holding stolen property. It is no wonder that John 
Brown advised as he did in the face of the Federal 

The conditions grew complex. Naturally gentlemen 
charged with a grave responsibility like that taken on 
the shoulders of the Kansas National Committee, grew 
cautious in the presence of a personality so simple and 
positive as John Brown's. The party political condi- 
tions were also of the gravest character. At this late 
date perhaps no fairer presentation of the disputed 
attitude of the National Committee can be given than 
is found in the communication sent me, under date of 
October i, 1892, by Mr. Harvey B. Hurd. He says: 

" The organization of the National Kansas Committee was 
authorized by a convention held in Buffalo in the summer of 
1856. An earlier one had been held in Cleveland for the same 
purpose, but adjourned to meet later in Buffalo. This was 
presided over by Governor Reeder, and was very fully attended, 
something like five hundred delegates being present. The pur- 
pose was to take charge of the contest then raging in Kansas, and 
conduct it on behalf of the North. State Committees were 
formed, and it was the intention to have the States divided into 
districts, each under a district committee, and this was carried 
out to a considerable extent. There was a pretty general organiza- 
tion of the North, its head being the National Committee. More 
specifically, that Committee took charge of the contest in Kansas, 
as well as of the aid which the North furnished, and therefore, 
had much to do with the organizing of such military companies 
in Kansas as were necessary, and the furnishing arms, pro- 
visions, clothing, and the like, for military operations, as well 
as for the purpose of settling the Territory, the ultimate object 
being to control it with free-state settlers, and carry forward a 


free-state government to success. The National Kansas Com- 
mittee had a dep6t at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, where it furnished 
horses, wagons, provisions, and arms for emigrants, and or- 
ganized them into companies, with such commanders as were 
necessary to put them in shape to defend themselves against 
attacks from the pro-slavery forces. Our emigrants were for- 
warded by way of Tabor, Iowa, and through Nebraska, down 
into Kansas, Lawrence being their objective point. Some of 
the arms which were purchased for these emigrants were fur- 
nished by the Massachusetts State Committee, notably 200 
Sharpens rifles. The latter were forwarded as far as Tabor, and 
were there at the time they were voted to John Brown, I do 
not remember of the Massachusetts Committee or any com- 
mittee other than the National Committee furnishing any other 
arms directly. 1 What other arms were furnished were bought 
by the National Committee, and furnished directly to emigrants. 
The Committee bought many Colt's revolvers. 

" An accurate account of the moneys received and expended 
by the National Kansas Committee was kept at the time, but 
the books of account, with the other records and papers of the 
Committee, were destroyed by the Chicago fire of 1871. My 
recollection of the amount of money contributed and expended 
by the Committee is in round numbers $100,000. There was 
contributed besides money a large amount of clothing. This 
was gathered or made-up by local town committees and for- 
warded through the State Committees to the National Com- 
mittee, and by the National Committee to its agents in Kansas, 

1 Arms were furnished by local committees and individuals in 
New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, and 
Wisconsin, to the writer's personal knowledge. Thaddeus Hyatt, 
for example, presented each member of the Massachusetts com- 
pany to which I belonged, with a revolver upon their arrival at 
New York. Several cases of Springfield muskets, received in 
New York, were placed by T. W. Higginson, then a Unitarian 
minister, resident in Worcester, Mass. , and by Mr. Hyatt, of New 
York, in my charge to convey to Kansas, which was safely done. 


where it was distributed. No fair estimate can at present be 
made of the value of this clothing. I think it equaled the cash 

"John Brown never had any close official relation with the 
National Committee. He was often at the Committee's head- 
quarters, and the Committee supplied him with some money, 1 
and provisions and clothing at times. At the meeting of the 
National Committee, held at the Astor House, in January, 
1857, a proposition was made by one of the representatives of 
the Massachusetts Committee to furnish John Brown with the 
arms and money to organize and drill military companies in 
Kansas, and to have them in readiness in any emergency, such 
as invasions from Missouri. I was fearful that Mr. Brown's 
design was to invade Missouri or some other slave State, for 
the purpose of bringing on a contest between the North and the 
South.'*' Gerrit Smith had said in the Buffalo Convention, ' that 

1 Only $150 in all. 

-This suggestion is probably the result of after knowledge- 
born of the fact that John Brown did at later dates invade both 
Missouri and Virginia. The real fear of the National Kansas 
Committee was that Captain Brown or some other Kansas man, 
who was genuinely anti-slavery in feeling, would carry resistance 
to the bogus laws or the Fugitive Slave Act far enough to get into 
direct collision with the Federal, authorities in the beleaguered 
Territory. All idea of a possible invasion was an afterthought, 
outside a very small number of Kansas men. In August, 1856, 
General Lane was compelled to promise Thaddeus Hyatt and 
others of the National Committee, when the Northern emigrants 
were concentrated in Nebraska, that he would so conduct the cam- 
paign then pending, against the border-ruffian forces harrying the 
Kansas free-state settlements, as to avoid in every possible way a 
direct collision with the Governor or United States Judges, before 
the means would be furnished to move forward the 1,200 men 
waiting impatiently to enter Kansas. Lane did as he promised. 
He demonstrated against, but did not attack, Lecompton, still 
bringing about the release thereby of the so-called "treason" 
prisoners in the United States camp. When the troops were sent 


slavery would never be peacefully abolished, but must be 
washed out with blood,' and he advocated such a course on the 
part of the Committee as would bring on open hostilities be- 
tween the North and the South. It was my opinion at the time 
that John Brown and Gerrit Smith were in full accord, and 
that Mr. Brown believed that that was the only way to abolish 
slavery. One of his purposes was to bring on that contest. I 
therefore opposed the Committee granting the request unless 
Mr. Brown would pledge himself not to invade a slave State. 
Mr. Brown was called in before the Committee, and asked if it 
was his intention to invade a slave State ; to which he replied, 
that he would not disclose to the Committee his intentions ; 
that most of those present knew him well, and they would have 
to trust to him in that matter. If they were not willing to do 
that, he advised them not to grant him anything. The Massa- 
chusetts Committee thereupon requested to be permitted to 
withdraw the 200 Sharpe's rifles, then at Tabor, from the 
National Committee, for the purpose of turning them over to 
Mr. Brown, and the National Committee voted to return them, 
and did so. They went into the hands of John Brown, and 
were the same that were afterwards found at Harper's Ferry. 
The Committee did also at that meeting vote to John Brown 
$5,000 in money and some clothing. The latter was furnished 
to him in Kansas by the agent of the Committee, Mr. Whit- 
man, but no money was given to him then. When he drew 
upon the Committee, the Committee was out of funds and 
never had the money to meet his drafts. That happened in 
this way : At the same meeting at the Astor House, the Com- 

against him he disappeared. Under his orders, when the United 
States marshal, 'guarded by dragoons under Captain Sackett, 
came into Lawrence to arrest Lane and others, no one said " yea" 
or " nay," but only stood laughing at the marshal and cheering 
the troops. The National Kansas Committee carried Fremont's 
election on their shoulders, just as Governor Geary believed on 
his arrival in Kansas that the election of Buchanan depended 
upon him. 


mittee hacj already voted to make an arrangement with the 
steamboat owners on the Missouri river and railroads through- 
out the country to sell through tickets from all principal cities 
in the North to emigrants in the spring of 1857, by way of St. 
Louis and the Missouri river. They also voted to purchase 
seeds for Kansas, to be forwarded as soon as it could be done, 
and all the money in the National Committee's hands was ex- 
pended in the making of such arrangements for the transporta- 
tion of settlers, and in purchasing and forwarding the needed 
seeds. A hundred tons of seeds were purchased and sent to 
Lawrence by a steamboat, purchased for that purpose. 1 The 
large emigration which took place early in 1857 as the result 
of the through-ticket arrangement, really settled the Kansas 

" In consequence of the Committee's failure to pay Mr. 
Brown's drafts on account of the $5,000 appropriation, Gerrit 
Smith came to Chicago to see me. He was very much offended 
because the Committee did not pay the drafts, but he was told 
that they had not the means with which to meet them, and 
there was no other way but to let them be protested. Drafts 
to the amount of $500 were given to some person in Connec- 
ticut,' 2 who, as I afterward understood, had made some pijkes, 
or same other implements of warfare, for Mr. Brown. He drew 
for about five hundred dollars, but his drafts not being paid, he 
did not draw any others. 

" The National Committee's operations substantially closed 
with the distribution of the seeds, clothing, arms, etc., in the 
spring and summer of 1857. The seeds were given out to the 
settlers on their receipts, promising to return the amount in 
kind, when their crops should come in ; but these obligations 
were never enforced. 

" Mr. Brown did not, as I understand it, remove the 200 

1 Thaddeus Hyatt advanced the money for this. 

2 Charles W. Blair, of Collinsville, by whom the pikes captured 

at Harper's Ferry, in 1859, were manufactured. 


rifles from Tabor until the winter of 1 857-58, * about the time 
that he came East from Kansas by way of Iowa and went to 
Canada, where he organized his raid upon Virginia. I saw him 
while he was then in Chicago, at that time, and talked with him 
to some extent about his operations in Kansas and his future 
purposes. He had a paper about which he wished to consult 
me, some parts of which he read to me. I afterwards found 
that it was a draft of the constitution which he intended to 
have adopted if it became necessary to form a government, as 
the result of his prospective operations in Virginia. He was 
exceedingly thin and worn at that time, and I remarked to him 
that he was looking very feeble and much older than his years 
(fifty-eight), to which he replied : ' Yes, but I feel that I have a 
work to perform, and I must be expeditious if I am to do it.' I 
have no doubt now, he had reference to his then contemplated 
movements. I talked to him some about his operations in 
Kansas, and what the newspapers had said in his justification ; 
that he had suffered a good deal at the hands of the border 
ruffians. This plea of justification seemed to grieve him and 
he said to me, ' I wish you would, wheneveryou have an oppor- 
tunity, contradict that idea. I have done nothing out of revenge 
or because I considered that I have suffered in any way. All 
that I have done has been through my desire to do justice by 
this oppressed race — the negro slaves. I consider it beneath 
any man to avenge himself.' These are not the exact words, 
but are substantially what he said to me in 1858. Mr. Brown 
was at the time very poorly clad, and a number of his friends 
got together and raised a purse for the purpose of buying him 
a new outfit. As I was the nearest to Brown's size and form, 
I went and bought the clothes, had them fitted to myself, and 
sent them to him, he not daring to go on to the street at the 
time, there being an offer out by the President of $3,000 reward 
for his arrest. ' 2 

1 He moved them from Tabor to Springdale in December, 1857, 
and to northern Ohio in Apiil. 1858. 

2 Mr. Hurd is mistaken as to the date of last seeing John Brown. 
It was during the early part of February, 1859, when he was en 


"There was, during the entire operations of the National 
Committee, an element having some influence before the Com- 
mittee, pressing for more aggressive operations on their part — 
to carry the war into the enemy's camp — but those having the 
conduct of the affairs were unanimous in their determination 
to stand on the defensive alone, and to confine their operations 
to the protection of the free-state settlers in Kansas, so as to 
prevent them from being driven out or overpowered. That was 
the whole sum and substance of the policy upon which the 
Committee acted. The Executive Committee, having the 
matter in charge at Chicago, were J. D. Webster (afterwards 
General), vice-president of the Committee ; George \V. Dole, 
treasurer, and myself as secretary. I gave my entire time to 
the business of the Committee, and perhaps more than any 
other managed its affairs." 

Horace White, in letters of recent date, recalls some 
details of value as to the relations of Captain John 
Brown and the National Kansas Committee of which 
he was so efficient an officer. It is apparent from all 
evidence obtainable that the anti-slavery soldier was 
invited to confer with that Committee, as he was also 
when in New York early in January, 1857, asked to 
visit Boston and counsel with the Massachusetts Kan- 
sas Committee. In this connection it may be well to 
state that outside of Mr. White's letters no evidence 
whatever appears that John Brown personally solic- 
ited the custody, control or gift of any of the supplies, 
whether consisting of arms, clothing, tools, camp 
equipage or teams, that had been raised exclusively for 
the service of Kansas and the free-state cause. Such 

route to Canada, removing the eleven fugitive slaves rescued by 
him from Missouri, Christmas Eve, 1858. The document partially 
read was already adopted at the Chatham Convention, May, 1858. 
The suit Mr. Hurd purchased is the one the Captain wore when 
taken at Harper's Ferry. 


materials or supplies as passed into his hands came 
there as a volunteer act. The explanation of this 
seeming contradiction is found in the probability that 
Gerrit Smith was active in securing for the Captain 
such control. The close relations between the two 
friends will easily account for the statement made by 
Mr. White. The motion to appropriate $5,000 to Cap- 
tain Brown was made by the Vermont committeeman, 
B. B. Newton, of St. Albans. This $5,000 was never 
paid. Authority w r as given Captain Brown to draw 
for $500 thereof, and his drafts for that amount were 
dishonored in the following April. All the money he 
received from this body was $150. Of course the 
want of funds on the Committee's part was a suffi- 
ciently peremptory reason, but there can be little 
doubt either that it was a convenient and gratifying one 
also, to the committeemen who were openly opposed 
to the purposes and policy of action which they felt 
rather than knew that John Brown was in favor of 
carrying out. When the National Committee ceased 
to exist, soon after the January meeting at the Astor 
House, New York City, a quantity of supplies, chiefly 
clothing, bedding, and camp utensils, became John 
Brown's property under the terms of their res- 
olutions, or by reason of their being actually under 
the control of the Massachusetts Committee. Of the 
twenty-five Colt's revolvers sent to Kansas in Septem- 
ber, 1856, for John Brown's use, fifteen of which had 
been loaned out to various free-state men in need of 
arms, 1 the Captain recovered ten or twelve. Other 

1 One of these revolvers thus passed into my possession and sub- 
sequently I accounted for the same to Captain Brown himself. It 
was lost in my army service three years later. 


articles of no great money value were also obtained 
by him at Tabor and Ottumwa, Iowa, where they had 
been stored, and subsequently used or sold to enable 
him in part to care for his company in 1857-58, and the 
fugitive slaves he carried to Canada early in 1859. It 
is doubtful if all he ever received from or through the 
National Committee exceeded in value a total of one 
thousand dollars. 1 

Under date of September 17, 1892, Horace White 
writes that the National Committee " had some arms 
on hand after the struggle was over " (that is, that por- 
tion of the free-state conflict which ended with 1856); 
" Brown applied for them, and Hurd, on behalf of the 
Committee, required him to promise that he would 
not use them to make war on slavery in the States. 3 
This he would not do. So the Committee handed 

1 A proposition was made at the New York meeting for the 
equipment of a company of fifty picked men for special serv- 
ice under John Brown. The Captain's modest estimate for 
camp service and teams, two of the latter, amounted to $1,774. 
Later in the year the Massachusetts Committee, through Mr. 
Stearns, in a letter dated May 18, 1857, writing to Thaddeus Hyatt 
as chairman of the National Committee, stated that a grant of $100,- 
000 was to be asked from the State Legislature, for Kansas relief, 
and that a secret force should be organized under John Brown, 
strictly defensive in character. A fund should also be raised in aid of 
settlers who might have been impoverished through the pro-slavery 
war. Mr. Stearns mentions $13,000 as the money value of arms, 
materials, etc., entrusted to John Brown. Thaddeus Hyatt re- 
cently told me of his surprise at getting that letter. He contributed 
personally, but the Committee did not. 

2 This suggestion probably results from that blurring of memory 
which time makes with us all. No one had any thought whatever 
at that dale (1857), that John Brown dreamed of attacking else- 
where than in Missouri and only as a retaliatory measure for Kansas. 



the arms back to the Massachusetts Committee from 
whom they were received." After teferring to the 
action of the latter party in donating arms and money 
to Captain Brown, Mr. White continues: " But my 
recollection is that his (Brown's) principal supply of 
money came from Gerrit Smith." 

But any responsibility for that must rest chiefly upon 
George L. Stearns, who manfully accepted it when 
giving ; though Gerrit Smith was the next largest 
contributor. As near as can be estimated the money 
received by Brown could not have exceeded $12,- 
000, while the supplies, arms, etc., furnished may have 
cost $10,000 more. Of course there w r ere smaller con- 
tributions and support coming on, but if the total es- 
timate be placed at $25,000, for the period between the 
15th of September, 1856, when he left Lawrence, Kan- 
sas, and the 16th of October, 1859, when he moved on 
Harper's Ferry, Virginia, with twenty-one men, it will 
certainly cover all of the outlay except that of time, 
labor, and lives. And of this total John Brown ex- 
pended not one cent for personal expenses, outside of 
the very moderate amounts required to enable him to 
keep at his work. He was in those days always eco- 
nomical to the verge of penuriousness, regarding the 
moneys in his hand as a trust. During those three years 
of "storm and stress," the North Elba family mainly 
provided for their own wants, with the exception of a 
sum of $1,000 raised from private contributions in the 
East made by Gerrit Smith, G. L. Stearns, Amos A. 
Lawrence, Dr. Howe, Dr. Cabot, Theodore Parker, 
and a few others, which amount was expended in the 
payments of debts incurred by reason of the Adiron- 
dack family's sacrifices for Kansas. Debts were paid 



and the humble dwelling at North Elba was iu some 
degree repaired and made more habitable. That was 
all. 1 The largest contributors, then, to John Brown's 
enterprises were certainly George L. Stearns and 
Gerrit Smith. Francis Jackson Merriam, his latest 
recruit at the Kennedy farm, who gav& $600 as well 
as his services, was doubtless the next largest contrib- 
utor. Mr. and Mrs. Stearns were devotedly generous 
for they placed, during the early summer of 1857, at 
some personal inconvenience, the sum of $7,000 to 
John Brown's credit. It was never drawn against, as 
the Captain did not feel that when conditions 
changed from those under which he considered the 
generous proffer to have been made, that he had the 
right to use any of it, no matter what the need may 
have been. The Medford family, however, certainly 
gave in arms and cash not less than $7,500, and possi- 
bly more, to John Brown and his cause. 

In a later letter, bearing date October 6, 1892, Mr. 
White makes quite clear the matter of the purchase 
of arms from the funds of the National Committee. 
He says: 

"A meeting was held in New York, January 25, 
1857, at which a statement of money received and ex- 

1 A large number of personal and family letters are preserved in 
the archives of the Kansas Historical Society, many of which are 
printed in Mr. Sanborn's volume; there are also memoranda of 
receipts and expenditures. Of all these I find only five references 
to money sent to Mrs. Brown or to North Elba, the total being 
but $403. 10. lam not quite sure that the whole of the $1,000 
promised to relieve the homestead was really obtained. Mr. Amos 
A. Lawrence raised $550, and probably Mr. Stearns and Gerrit 
Smith gave the balance. 


pended was read by me and published in the New 
York Tribune. The expenditures of the Committee, 
were made in the way of outfitting emigrant trains in 
Iowa, paying freight on clothing and other articles 
forwarded, and incidentals. According to my recol- 
lection, no money was expended by the National Commit- 
tee for arms, but arms passed through our hands from the 
Massachusetts Committee. ! 

" My report contains an apparent discrepancy. It 
speaks of 763 packages of clothing as received, but of 
only 400 boxes forwarded. I happen to remember 
that the balance was stored for the winter in a barn 
or house owned by W. M. F. Amy, at Bloomington, 
Illinios. 2 The Committee voted $5,000 to Brown at 
the New York meeting for any defensive measures that 
may become necessary, but when the time came for 
paying it they were out of funds." 

The total received by the National Committee, as 
given in the report published in the New York 
Tribune of January 27, 1857, show cash receipts of 
$85,196.46. Of this, Massachusetts contributed $26,- 
107.17, and New York $33,707.39. Of the latter sum 
the largest part was raised by the Tribune. The fif- 
teen free States all contributed, though New England 
and New York bore two-thirds. In all, 762 packages of 

1 Mr. Sanborn makes it clear also in his " Life of John Brown," 
and it agrees with my own recollection of instructions from Mr. 
Higginson and Mr. Hyatt with regard to arms sent to Kansas. 

2 A considerable amount of that clothing reached Kansas early 
in the spring on the little steamboat. Mr. Hurd writes: Messrs. 
Hyatt and Amy came up from St. Louis on it. Realf and myself 
met it at Kansas City, and were on board during the trip up the 
Kansas River to Lawrence, 


clothing, etc., were contributed. The estimated value 
of all contributions through the National Committee 
was not less than $200,000 ; as much more was con- 
tributed and expended through the several States or 
direct by individuals. 

John Brown left Chicago early in December, visit- 
ing Albany, Rochester, and Peterboro ; also, North 
Elba, for a few days. He was at the Astor House, 
New York City, on the 25th of January, 1857 ; and 
from thence went to Boston, being the guest, for 
the time, of Judge Russell and Dr. Thayer, in that 
city, and of George L. Stearns, at Medford. He also 
visited Concord, having met Mr. Sanborn at Theodore 
Parker's house. He doubtless met Wendell Phillips, 
T. W. Higginson, and other anti-slavery people, 
though he rather avoided such personal publicity and 
acquaintance. James Redpath was married and living 
in Boston. At Worcester, where Eli Thayer resided, 
he w T as a frequent visitor. The well-laden archives 
of the Kansas Historical Society, at Topeka, give in 
the personal and family letters, as well as in other 
manuscripts belonging to its large and valuable col- 
lection of John Brown papers, the close and frequent 
intimacy, among others, of Captain Brown and Eli 
Thayer; one, too, of decided admiration on the lat- 
ter's part. Mr. Thayer evidently aided the equip- 
ment of the Captain to the extent of his ability, by 
way of facilitating, at least with his purse and credit, 
the procurement and repair of arms. The demand 
for Sharpe's rifles had stimulated the manufacture 
of that very serviceable type of weapon. The Allen 
rifle, manufactured at Worcester, was one of the im- 
provements thereon. Mr. Thayer, up to the close of 


1857, maintained very friendly relations with John 
Brown. He knew as much then as he did subse- 
quently of the story of the Pottawatomie slaying. 
Yet he could write upon a bill receipted by Allen & 
Wheelock, that the gun it called for was presented to 
his friend John Brown for use in the " Cause of Free- 
dom," and he could advise also that the company or 
command which John Brown proposed to organize, 
and for the procurement of arms on behalf of which 
he was striving, should be called " The Neighbors," 
as representing the scriptural story of the man who 
fell among thieves and was succored by the con- 
temned Samaritan, white the Levite and Pharisee 
passed by on the other side. In 1880, Eli Thayer 
stated to G. \V. Brown, of Rockford, 111., a constant 
assailant of Captain Brown's name and memory, that 
" not long before his attack on the United States 
arsenal, he (Brown) came to my house to ask for 
arms ... to protect some free-state settlements 
in Kansas," etc. As Captain Brown did not see or 
call upon Eli Thayer at any date after May or June, 
1857, — two and a half years — the value of Mr. Thayer's 
" Memoirs " as an authority falls far below par. John 
Brown certainly qonceived of Eli Thayer as his friend 
as late as the spring of 1859, for he so wrote of him 
at that period to his son John. Nor is Mr. Thayer 
seen of record to have" been anywhere unfriendly to 
John Brown's acts or character until after he failed 
of election to Congress in i860, when he ran as an 
Independent and in opposition to the Republican 
nominee in the Worcester, Mass., district. 

All over the North, especially in the more active 
centers of Republican political activity, John Brown 


found friendly sympathizers, a good deal of verbal 
encouragement, and — a small degree of pecuniary 
assistance. Yet, no one who came into close contact 
with him could doubt but that he held firmly to a 
grim purpose, and that at some date, not far distant, 
he would probably be heard from by way of a direct 
attack on slavery. There never was any disguise on 
the Captain's part that, in his opinion, the only effect- 
ual policy would be to "carry the war into Africa." 
But talk was cheap. In nothing more distinctly, too, 
is the intellectual quality of the Captain shown than 
by the fact that he measured all this at no more value 
than it deserved. Nor was he ever thereby led into 
giving his confidence. This was due, not because he 
did not esteem in their places, men of the weight and 
influence of Sumner, Wilson, Greeley, Chase, et al., 
as that he intellectually perceived that the methods 
he would pursue must be entirely unapproved of by 
them. To him they were all instruments. The anal- 
ogy holds good, however, that he held no kindred 
sympathy or association with the methods of the non- 
resistant Abolitionists or their unflinching antagonism 
to any form of direct action other than that of agita- 
tion. John Brown was always a devoted Unionist. 
He would never have consented to its dissolution 
without fighting. He was organizing a forcible 
attack on slavery, because without question he held 
the conviction that slavery was an organized menace 
to the existence of the American Republic. Without 
freedom, it could not justly exist; with slavery it was 
always in peril; slavery must, therefore, be destroyed: 
first, because it was a crime against human life and 
the law of God, and, therefore, as a corollary, always 


a menace to free government, the Constitution, and 
the Union. This comprised John Brown's simple, 
stern political creed; the one upon which he acted 
with unwavering fidelity "even unto death." May he 
not, therefore, be classed as a Unionist of Unionists, 
a Loyalist of Loyalists, without evasion or guile ? 
Naturally, such directness made him out of place in 
party politics. Expediencies he could not recognize; 
he never accepted them nor was with them, and the 
shortsighted capacity of the pro-slavery politicians, 
in endeavoring, after Harper's Ferry, to establish a 
connection between that action and the parliamentary 
leaders of Northern politics, was ridiculous enough 
to breed Homeric laughter. It certainly intensified, 
not reacted, on the opinions assailed. A letter, pub- 
lished in the New York Tribune, from the pen of 
Richard Realf, bearing date January 30, i860, shortly 
after his escape from the South, expresses quite forc- 
ibly and, I believe, correctly, the opinions of John 
Brown as to political action and the Republican party. 
It will not be out of place, then, to append some 
extracts from this paper. 1 

'"To the Editor of the 'New York Tribune': Sir — 
Permit me, who have barely escaped from being lynched as an 
Abolitionist in the South, only to find myself denounced as a 
recreant apostate in the North, and who, therefore, can hardly be 
suspected of bidding for sympathy from either section, to say a 
word or two in answer to the allegation, asserted with so much 
heat and clamor, ' that the Harper's Ferry insurrection of John 
Brown was the natural, legitimate, and inevitable consequence of 
the teachings of the Republican party.' In contradicting and dis- 
proving this charge, I am moved, not by any particular regard for 
Republicanism, nor any particular hatred of Democracy, but only 
by a desire to do justice to the memory of John Brown. . . . 


The meeting of John Brown and George Luther 
Stearns, the Boston merchant, marked for the 
anti-slavery fighter and idealist the beginning of a 
momentous end. I hold that it was an event of deep 
national importance also. Without Mr. Stearns's 
friendship and cooperation, the blow struck at Harper's 
Ferry would probably have never been delivered, as 
the means would doubtless have been lacking. The 
Boston merchant was a leading spirit among the prom- 
inent men who gathered around Theodore Parker and 
the Twenty-eighth Congregational Church, of which 
that independent Unitarian preacher, scholar, and 

The charge thus alleged is wholly and altogether untrue, and this 
for the simple reason, that the movement of John Brown was con- 
ceived and originated at least a score of years antecedent to the 
formation of the Republican party. . . . The Republican party 
had no existence until 1S54 ( ar >d no national organization till 1856). 
The statement, therefore, that the incursion into Virginia resulted 
as a consequence of the inculcated doctrines of Republicanism, is 
now disproven. Nor was Brown himself, nor were any of his 
coadjutors committed to the Republican creed. Henry Wilson, 
in 1857, advised that the free-state party in Kansas secure the 
Legislature to themselves by voting under the provision of the 
Lecompton Constitution. The advice was taken, and the result 
predicted was achieved. Not one of Brown' s original party voted. 
Some of us were at the time correspondents of the Eastern press; 
and in the interim between the Grasshopper Falls Convention, 
1851 (when it was decided upon to vote), and the day on 
which the election occurred (in 1851), we opposed the action of 
the party in every possible way, by speeches, and in every avail- 
able manner. 

"Once more: the only representative of Republicanism who 
received any inkling of John Brown's plans, learned them from a 
hostile quarter, and took immediate steps to put it out of Brown's 
power to commit any illegal act whatever. I allude to Senator 
Wilson, and his letter to Dr. Howe, of Boston." 


agitator, was the pastor. The Music Hall congrega- 
tion and fraternity embraced, with the Parker house- 
hold, more or less actively, very many of the cultured 
men and women of Boston, often too within the pale 
of the orthodox churches who were strongly, even 
passionately, anti-slavery, but who could not satisfy 
themselves with the policy of non-unionism and non- 
resistance advocated by the American Anti-Slavery 
Society. They were the backbone of resistance to the 
rendition of fugitive slaves; they were found active as 
Conscience Whigs, early Free Soilers, and foremost in 
younger Republican ranks. But the men who were 
inspired by Theodore Parker or aided to sustain him, 
were always something more than political workers. 
They were positively and practically anti-slavery, 
helping every phase of agitation and effort. Their 
circle also included some of the ablest business men 
of New England. Great railroad systems in the West 
received their incentive and initiative in the discus- 
sions constantly going on at Mr. Parker's residence. 
The lyceum system was then in its largest vogue ; a 
magnificent educator of Northern intellect and senti- 
ment. Theodore Parker shared with Wendell Phillips 
and Henry Ward Beecher its leading honors, and he 
was also its chief sacrifice, as the labor and exposure 
of travel and lecturing undoubtedly hastened his un- 
timely death. It was the wide knowledge which was 
thus acquired of the new West, then opening, that 
aided in broadening New England's business enter- 
prise. To the intense interest aroused by the Kansas 
struggle was in great part due the great investment 
and sagacious direction that created the enlargement 
of the railroads running to Missouri from Chicago, the 


early construction of the Hannibal and St. Joseph rail- 
road, the beginning of the great Santa Fe system and 
also of the now vast network of roads in Iowa and 
Nebraska, as well as of northern Missouri and Kansas. 
The free-state struggle, like the Civil War, vastly 
quickened enterprise. And out of the Music Hall 
Sundays, " Parker's Thursdays " at home, the Stearns's 
country home, and the headquarters of the Emigrant 
Aid Society, with the personal efforts, intellectually 
quickening as they were, of lawyers like Russell and 
Andrews, active scholars like Howe, Cabot, Thayer, 
Bowditch, and scores of others, an influence went that 
did very much to prepare New England and the great 
North for the mighty struggle that was impending. 
Parker, a pulpit Socrates, was always questioning the 
oracles, and as he was sincerity itself, grandly human 
to the core of his being, the Delphian soul always 
responded. John Brown came, passed through, and 
went away, leaving behind him an impression of a per- 
sonality so simply true, a character so sternly yet im- 
personally fixed, a brain so honest and clear, and a 
courage so unfailing, that none who met him, however 
slightly, failed to be affected as if by the " moving 
of waters"; the passing of an unquestioned human 
force. Some were small enough to fear him; a few 
have since been false enough to defame a life they 
could not comprehend; but all of them felt his pres- 
ence as that of an Ithuriel spear, touching to the very 
core of things. Among the noblest and sanest of all, 
George Luther Stearns and his wife Mary must be 
counted as the foremost. 

Mr. Stearns met John Brown for the first time in 
December, 1856, and at once invited him to Boston. 



They met again on the street near to the rooms of the 
Massachusetts Kansas Committee. It was Mr. Stearns 
who introduced Frank B. Sanborn to John Brown. 
On the first Sunday in January, 1857, John Brown went 
to the Music Hall to hear Theodore Parker preach. He 
was there introduced to Mrs. Mary E. Stearns, 1 who 
survives her noble husband and now resides near 
Boston, at Tuft's College. Their home was then at 
Medford. Mrs. Stearns is the niece of Lydia Maria 
Child, a well-known and most graceful authoress, 
whose pen was also and always at the service of 
anti-slavery work and ideas. John Brown's first visit 
to Medford was made on the second Sunday in Jan- 
uary, 1857. The eldest son, Henry, was naturally 
attracted to the old hero, to whom, apart from a rea- 
sonable curiosity, all children and young people were 
irresistibly drawn. As he was telling of the privations 
endured by Kansas families, Henry, a boy of thirteen, 
brought to him a little hoard of pocket money, and, as 
he put it into the Captain's hands, asked if he would 
buy something needed " for the Kansas children," and 
added, as the grave old man thanked him: " Captain 
Brown, will you not write me, sometime, what sort of 
a little boy you were?" 2 This was the origin of a 
remarkable composition, which if, as the writer some- 
time over-modestly declared: " I know no more of 
grammar than one of that farmer's calves " — plainly 
shows that he was of those in whom plain living and 
high thinking make the noblest of spiritual and intel- 
lectual utterances. 

1 See Mrs. Stearns's interesting paper on " George L. Stearns and 
John Brown " in the closing pages of the appendix to this volume. 

2 Sanborn's " Life and Letters of John Brown," p. 18. 


James Russell Lowell has, it is stated, pronounced 
the Brown letter to Henry L. Stearns " one of the 
finest pieces of autobiography extant." ' Ralph 
"Waldo Emerson is reported to have declared that this 
paper of John Brown was " a positive contribution 
to literature." He also regarded " in the deliberative 
reflection of after years," the Virginian court-room ad- 
dress, coupling it with Lincoln's Gettysburg speech as 
of "the most eloquent words of the present century." 
Yet, the latest biographers of Abraham Lincoln have 
traveled far out of their road on narrow bypaths to 
sneer at John Brown; discrediting his services in Kan- 
sas, decrying him as a man " of little wisdom," with a 
"crude visionary ideality," " ambitious to irritation;" 
as " clean, but coarse; honest, but rude"; with a cour- 
age that " partook of the recklessness of insanity," and 
of a "military ability, too insignificant even for ridi- 
cule." Messrs Hay and Nicolay, themselves among the 
more stupendous failures as biographers and histo- 
rians in the face of the greatest of personality and sub- 
jects that human history has offered, to competent 
capacity, have succeeded in their unnecessarily ex- 
tended diatribe on John Brown, and indeed, too, of all 
the preluding struggle which gave to Abraham Lincoln 
his exalted opportunity, in making plain the smug 
limits of their own mental obtuseness. John Brown's 
reputation can stand that critical judgment far better 
than their literary capacity can the making of it. 

It is difficult to give a correct account of the money 
raised in the service of Kansas. But the figures given 

1(, John Brown," by Herman Von Hoist, Boston, 1889. Ap- 
pendix, p. 221, by Editor Frank L. Stearns. 


by Mr. Sanborn in his " Life and Letters of John 
Brown," must be taken as fairly approximating the 
facts. The National Committee is credited, as already 
stated, with raising and disbursing $85,196.46 in 
money,and in clothing, supplies, etc., to the estimated 
value of $110,000. The Massachusetts Committee 
raised chiefly through Mr. Stearns's exertions $48,000 
in money; Mrs. Stearns, in supplies, at least $30,000 
more. Thaddeus Hyatt probably gave $3,000 for the 
purchase of arms, etc., outside of his contributions to 
the National Committee. Previous to the formation 
of the National Committee, six hundred Sharpe's 
rifles were purchased by Amos A. Lawrence, Dr. 
Samuel G. Cabot, Frederick Law Olmstead and 
others; also two 12-pound howitzers, and several 
hundred revolvers; all these were sent to Kansas, at 
a cost in all of about $20,000. After the sacking of 
Lawrence, in May, 1856, when there really was the 
appearance of civil war, the purchase of arms and the 
equipment of intending settlers from the free States, 
was an avowed and open policy. In Massachusetts, a 
second and more private committee was formed to 
purchase arms and otherwise provide for defense and 
resistance; the public body chosen at a Fanueil Hall 
meeting having virtually agreed not to spend money 
for that purpose. In this, as in the general com- 
mittee, Mr. Stearns was the pervading spirit. T. W. 
Higginson, Sanborn, Howe, Russell, Thayer, and the 
Cabots were all active. Many others, doubtless, came 
to the inner circle from time to time. It would seem 
to be not an extravagant statement, to estimate that 
the total expenditure for arms and other needed 
supplies for free Kansas cost in the vicinity of half a 


million dollars, before the books were sealed in such 
uneasy peace as preceded the actual outbreak of 
civil war. In the foregoing figures the contributions 
to John Brown are not included. The arms purchased 
for that summer's campaign, so far as they can be 
traced, consisted of 368 Sharpe's rifles, used to equip 
three companies of New England emigrants, 250 more 
(of which 200 were purchased by Mr. Stearns, never 
taken into Kansas and afterwards carried to Virginia 
bv John Brown). In all, there were certainly bought 
for Kansas, between the summer of 1855 and the fall 
of 1856, at least 1,200 Sharpe's rifles, 400 Hall's car- 
bines, 1,500 United States Springfield muskets, four 
12-pound guns, and not less than 2,500 revolvers. 
Besides these about 2,000 United States muskets were 
obtained in Iowa and Illinois for free-state use. Of 
the Sharpe's carbines, 200, as already stated, came 
under John Brown's control and were not taken into 
Kansas at all. 

From the departure of Captain Brown in September, 
1856, to his brief and almost secret return to Kansas 
early in November, 1857, his days were filled with 
ceaseless efforts. John Brown's itinerary alone is start- 
ling. There were weeks of severe fatigue as well as 
wearying danger, following his departure east after 
the last attack on Lawrence. His visit to Chicago in 
the last week of October was rapidly followed by trips 
to New York, Boston, and western Massachusetts. 
Before the Astor House meeting with the National 
Committee during the last of January, 1857, he had 
previously conferred at length with the Massachusetts 
Kansas Committee in Boston, arranged for the cus- 
tody of the Stearns rifles, that were captured by Vir- 


ginia in 1859, made the acquaintance of most of those 
who thereafter faithfully aided him in his work, went 
to Vermont, where, at Vergennes, he probably met 
one of his sons, 1 stopped at Peterboro, Rochester, and 
Albany, and hastened to Boston, so that on the 18th 
of February he was able to address the Massachusetts 
House of Representatives on behalf of Kansas. Feb- 
ruary, March, April, and May saw him in Connecticut, 
visiting and speaking at Hartford, New Haven and 
elsewhere. At Collinsville he made with Charles Blair 
a contract for the manufacture of 1,000 pikes, 900 of 
which were captured by Virginia, and also arranged 
for the removal to North Elba, of the tombstone over 
his Revolutionary grandfather's grave, that has since 
become renowned in this man's remarkable life-story. 
He was at Worcester and Springfield, Akron (Ohio), 
and back in New York in the last of May. He made 
his appeal to the " Friends of Freedom " through the 
Tribune in April, and issued the quaint " Farewell to 
Bunker Hill and Plymouth Rock," which indicated in 
its tone how sharply he felt his comparative failure to 
get the amount of pecuniary assistance he needed. 
From Kansas reports were steadily coining of the Le- 
compton Constitution movement and the dangerous 
conditions it was creating. The necessity was upon 
him of being near to, if not within, the Territory, and 
early in June, with his son Owen, he left Hudson, 
Ohio, and soon after appeared in Iowa, fitting out for 
his tedious overland journey at or near Iowa City. 
Two wagons and teams were purchased, the Captain 

1 The constant threat of arrest under Federal territorial war- 
rants compelled him to refrain from visiting his home during the 
entire period occupied by the movements under review. 


driving one, and Owen the other. They were three 
weeks on the road to Tabor, camping in their wagons 
and living, as the Captain wrote to Mr. Sanborn, on 
herring, soda crackers, sweetened water, a little milk 
and a few eggs. Yet he paid for the outfit $780, and 
could, but for that conscientiousness which permitted 
all for the cause and only the barest of necessities for 
himself, have afforded at least decent food. This was 
not nearness of habit though, but a strained honesty 
of purpose. The Browns reached Tabor the first 
week in August, a letter dated the 8th being the 
first knowledge of his arrival. Several importunate 
letters and messages from General Lane and 
other Kansas friends, urging the need of his 
presence, awaited him at Tabor. Richard Realf had 
been sent up in July with some funds, which he left 
there. Hugh Forbes, the English Garibaldian with 
whom Captain Brown made a contract that caused 
much subsequent trouble, appears personally for the 
first time by joining the Browns at Tabor. Mention 
is made of his " instructions " in letters dated during 
September and October. He must have returned 
east in November, 1857, as the results of his disagree- 
ments with John Brown, for the latter was by the 
middle of that month on his way to central Kansas. 
The Captain had already sent to Concord (Mr. San- 
born being the correspondent selected between him- 
self and the other friends who had subscribed to his 
efforts and expenses), an account of his expenditures 
with an inventory of the goods which he found in 
storage in Iowa City and with John Jones at Tabor. 1 

1 Of property forwarded by the National Committee and which 
Captain Brown never removed, he itemizes: One brass piece, 


The earlier details, relating to John Brown's rela- 
tions with Hugh Forbes are now unknown. The 
latter was then a man of about forty-five years of 
age, an Englishman by birth, who had lived at Siena, 
Italy, doing business as a silk merchant. He was a 
man of good education and considerable accomplish- 
ments, being a good linguist, an excellent master-at- 
arms, and a fair military engineer. This statement is 
made on the authority of General Garibaldi's chief 
of staff, in the Sicilian and Neapolitan campaign, 
Wm. De Rohan, an American who knew Hugh 
Forbes, and for years a close friend of this writer. 
Forbes early in his Italian life identified himself with 
the " Young Italy " party, and was a trusted agent of 
both Mazzini and Garibaldi. He participated in the 
campaigns of 1848-49, and showed himself a man of 
courage and some ability. With defeat he had of 
course, to leave Italy, and for a time lived in Paris, then 
in London, and some time in 1855 or 1856, he came to 

complete; one damaged gun-carriage, some ammunition, seventy- 
five old United States rifles and muskets, and twelve sabres. There 
were also twelve boxes and barrels of clothing and bedding, three 
hand grist-mills, some powder and lead. At Iowa City he had 
obtained eleven blankets, nine tents complete, three sets of tent- 
poles, and three axes, with the addition of an order for fifty dol- 
lars, given him in Chicago by Mr. Hurd, to be expended in wagon 
covers, ropes, etc. These embrace all the material from the 
National Committee he then received. The Stearns goods con- 
sisted of 194 Sharpe's carbines complete, with 3,300 ball cartridges, 
and necessary primers. He had, besides, two repeating rifles, two 
Colt's revolvers, a two-ounce gun, a few of the arms he carried into 
Kansas in 1855, two wagons and four horses, with about five 
hundred dollars in money. This was all of the outfit he possessed 
for his gteat enterprise, 


New York. The Italian and Garibaldian men were 
all on the side of the North and the Union. But 
Forbes, evidently, did not understand our politics. 
He mistook the ferment and sympathetic excitement 
in favor of Kansas for a deep-seated revolutionary 
sentiment in favor of freeing the slave by force of 
arms, if necessary. The arming of Northern emi- 
grants en route to Kansas, he accepted as a counter- 
part to the probable arming of the negroes, and evi- 
dently, as his letters of complaint against John Brown 
show, he regarded the bold antagonism, expressed in 
speeches and newspapers, of Republicans to the pro- 
slavery Democracy and its actions, as an undoubted 
proof of the drift of the North towards open and 
armed resistance to the aggressions of the slave-power. 
No doubt such a feeling was manifested in very intel- 
ligent and influential circles. Men did talk boldly in 
those days of the need of forcible resistance; but it 
was not for the slave they talked, but for the free 
States and the institutions of the land. In the notable 
coteries, where European refugees of '48 were re- 
ceived, such a man as Hugh Forbes would be made 
welcome. And he undoubtedly was. Probably, 
also, he used his pen, as well as his skill as a swords- 
man, to maintain himself, wife, and daughter. What is 
more likely than that John Brown, who could not but 
have perceived from his twelve months' experience of 
partisan warfare in Kansas, as he well knew theoreti- 
cally from his years of silent study, observation, and 
planning, the need of competent men to train and 
direct, may have cautiously suggested this need to 
some of the many persons he came in contact with. 
There were men connected with the New York Tribune, 


for example, who knew Colonel Forbes. His name 
may thus have been mentioned, and an introduction 
followed. John Brown had a system of his own as 
to field defenses, drill, and discipline. Such matters 
would be at once discussed. Then all that followed 
is simple enough. Forbes was familiar with the plans 
of the European revolutionary organizations and 
leaders. Among their instrumentalities were plans of 
street-fighting, guerilla and irregular warfare, which 
had been systematized by a French or Italian general 
officer of considerable ability, who had identified him- 
self with the European republican organization. This 
system he embodied in a bulky " Manual," and Hugh 
Forbes proposed to condense and translate the same 
into English. Probably this proposition was first 
made to John Brown, who agreed to bear the expenses 
of the printing, etc. It was for this purpose that most 
of the $600 drawn by Forbes from John Brown through 
a banker of Hartford, Connecticut, in the spring and 
early summer of 1857, was expended. It is not neces- 
sary to accuse Hugh Forbes of treachery, any more 
than it is to assume that John Brown acted in this 
matter with less than the careful prudence he always 
showed in monetary dealings. It is more necessary to 
get at the actual situation, and then for the critics, who 
desire to understand and not merely accuse or make 
a telling point, to put themselves in the other man's 
place. Since the gun at Fort Sumter was fired at 
the Union, people in our modern world, Americans 
included, have made huge strides in the use and sys- 
tematization of destructive forces and arms. But 
before that date we knew but very little, less, too, on 
this side of the Atlantic than was known on the other. 


If this view is correct it will not be difficult to under- 
stand why John Brown trusted Hugh Forbes whose 
"Manual of the Patriotic Volunteer" was a useful 
book for those who were thinking, studying, and long- 
ing to act against slavery, or to defend Kansas against 
its assailants, as many of us were in those days. 1 As to 
paying Colonel Forbes a certain monthly sum, Captain 
Brown used his own judgment, which, granting his 
premises and purposes, was not so far out of the way. 
Forbes had no means and certainly no pecuniary 
credit. He had current expenses that pressed upon 
him, and only by regular earning could he maintain 
his wife and daughter. John Brown, while reducing 
his personal burdens to the cost of covering the nar- 
rowest margin, had more than a fair knowledge of 
conditions other than those to which he voluntarily 
limited himself. While always apart from it, he was 
still a man of the world, having traveled widely, 
transacted large business affairs, and of later years 
mingled with those who represented culture and em- 
bodied refinement in the best of senses. It is part of 
his title to leadership in his chosen path that he should 
apprehend the limits of men who infringed upon it. 
All this is not designed to defend Hugh Forbes, but 
only to show how John Brown and himself came to- 
gether and how they also rudely separated. 

At Tabor, in all probability, as to their disagreement, 
John Brown must have given Colonel Forbes his entire 
confidence, so far as naming to him, as he had done to 
Frederick Douglass, in 1847, an d to a few others of his 

1 My copy of the " Manual " was burned with other books and 
property in Lawrence at the time of the Quantrell raid in 1863. 


race before and after that date, the place or region in 
and from which he designed to attack slavery. It is 
very evident that this was not at all the idea which 
Hugh Forbes had associated with the expected move- 
ment. John Brown was of course very set— dogmatic 
indeed — on his own lines. He knew what he wanted to 
do. The more his purposes are studied in connection 
with the environment and times in which he lived, the 
more must the unprejudiced student, separating him- 
self from his own conceptions and trying to under- 
stand the growth of so strange a personality, so 
unique and noble a character, be convinced that if his 
intended Virginian foray had been undertaken at 
such time and circumstances as can be reasonably 
conceived of as possible, that there was from the point 
of view of endangering slavery and making it wholly 
insecure, far more than a mere probability of success. 
Hugh Forbes could not see that. He, too, was dog- 
matic, and possessed with a great self-pride, as his as- 
sociate Garibaldian has stated. He might, therefore, 
readily come to the conclusion that he had been 
" used " — not fairly dealt with — when he found John 
Brown's plans so different from those which he, Hugh 
Forbes, had worked out for him in his own mind. 

Certain it is they parted. There is no evidence to 
show that it was in anger. Whether John Brown 
expected to find Forbes still at Tabor, on his early 
return from Kansas with the eleven associates he 
brought with him to study in the school and " Manual 
of the Patriotic Volunteer," cannot now be ascer- 
tained. From later letters of advice to John Brown, 
Jr., then living in Ohio, it would seem as if the Cap- 
tain thought Forbes might still be won over. One 


letter indicates that his son had seen the Garibaldian 
and was certainly corresponding with him. There is 
not an angry or reproachful word of reference to 
Forbes's attitude; there is shrewd advice as to trying 
to mollify his anger and threatened exposures. It 
must also be said that there is not a particle of evi- 
dence to prove that Colonel Forbes went over to " the 
enemy," as he must have understood that term. His 
letters of angry complaint to Senators Henry Wilson 
and Charles Sumner, Horace Greeley, Dr. Howe, and 
others, are all explainable, though not justifiable, upon 
the hypothesis suggested herein — that in Forbes's 
opinion the leaders of Northern political agitation 
were all more or less approving of Captain Brown's 
course and were covertly, at least, sustaining him 
therein. If Forbes believed also that there was a 
distinct apprehension (and some purpose to definitely 
prepare therefor) of a Northern outbreak "all along 
the line," there is another explanation of the earnest- 
ness and even passionate nature of his warning and 
demanding letters. John Brown did not stoop to 
mourn over the spilled milk, or waste time and energy 
by useless regrets. He endeavored to temporize, and 
then, when that was impossible, made another move 
which threw Forbes and others off the scent. There 
is no excuse, however, for Forbes's demands but des- 
perate necessities. His own conceptions, largely self- 
imposed though they were, of the work he had ex- 
pected to be engaged upon, must be considered in 
making up judgment. He began to write wildly 
about John Brown's course in the winter of 1857-58, 
compelling thereby the movement from Chatham to 
Kansas in the following summer, and then he dis- 


appeared wholly from our vision, until October, 1859, 
and later when he was reported in command of a 
fortress under Garibaldi, at or near Messina, Sicily. 
An attack was made on him by some American news- 
papers, 1 and, owing to that publicity he fell into con- 
siderable discredit, dying soon from exposure and 
wounds, hastened doubtless by the mental mortifica- 
tion he underwent. Hugh Forbes was not of the 
higher type. He was very human in his weakness, 
but it remains true that he did good service else- 
where in the cause of human freedom, and that must 
in all generosity be weighed in his favor. John 
Brown cast no stone at him. Others can afford to let 
his memory rest. He did not send the warning letter 
of August, 1859, to Mr. Floyd, Buchanan's Secretary 
of War, for that act was left to an American to 

1 The strongest criticism came from Horace Greeley's pen, and 
was published in the N. Y. Tribune, upon which I find also Col. 
Forbes to have been occasionally employed as a translator. — 
R.J. H. 



The Chatham, Canada, Convention — The refuge of the 
fugitives — Movements in the East — Telling Gerrit 
Smith and Frank B. Sanborn of his intention to raid 
slavery — The six friends and councilors — Martin R. 
Delaneys misapprehension — " The League of Liberty' 
— Dr. Ross, of Canada — What was meant by the Pro- 
visional Constitution — Hugh Forbes and his evil acts 
— Delay almost fatal — Throwing Forbes off the see fit 
— The Lecompton Constitution — Massacre of free- 
state men — Reuniting the little band. 

John Brown arrived at the farm of Mr. Whitman, 
near Lawrence, on the 5th November. On the next 
day he sent for John E. Cook and myself. At that 
date I was temporarily absent and had also concluded 
a contract for twelve months' newspaper work. 
Richard Realf and Luke F. Parsons were named to 
John Brown by John E. Cook. On the 14th Cook, 
Realf, and Parsons reached Topeka, joining John 
Brown there, leaving almost immediately for Tabor, 
Iowa, with " Colonel Whipple," as Aaron D. Stevens 
was then known, Charles W. Moffett, from Montour, 
Iowa, and Richard Richardson, an intelligent man of 
color, who had the year before been assisted from 
slavery in Missouri. After reaching Canada, however. 

i54 John brown. 

in May, 1858, he does not again appear in the record. 
Captain Brown's presence in Kansas at this period was 
known to a very few persons. The status of the Ter- 
ritory was by no means a settled one, owing to the 
pendency of the Lecompton Constitution, and it was 
a favorable element on the free-state side to have it 
believed that John Brown was supposed to be mys- 
teriously hovering along the northern line. The active 
resistance at this period of James Montgomery, after- 
wards colonel of the Second South Carolina Colored 
Volunteers, to the policy of voting under the " bogus 
laws," was keeping southern Kansas in a state of fer- 
ment, which had, however, a sufficient basis in the exist- 
ence of plots and ruffianly efforts to drive free-state set- 
tlers in that section from their public land entries and 
settlements.' From Tabor John Brown soon moved to 

1 There were other questions embraced in the opposition to 
voting for State officers under the Lecompton Constitution, besides 
that of the recognition of the " bogus laws" it directly involved. 
In Southern Kansas, especially, the so-called "black law" free- 
state Democracy had a stronghold. To some extent the leaders of 
this faction were more unfair than were the pro-slavery party 
proper. A movement was on foot at this time to break down the 
real free-state party, by substituting for it a so-called Democratic 
one, which would have virtually served all the interests of the slave- 
power, without having " chattelism " actually established. Some 
of the more sagacious pro-slavery men had ere this realized the 
impossibility of making Kansas a slave Slate. The special obsta- 
cles to this Democratic movement were the John Brown feeling, 
though the Captain had no partisan relations whatever; Captain 
Montgomery's defense of the free-state settlers, and the untiring 
hostility of the Northern newspaper correspondents of 1S55— '6— '7. 
They were not many in numbers; their pens actually shaped the 
policy of the free-soil and anli-Lecompton press. Governor 
Robert J. Walker found this out when he first bent his astute 


Springdale, the Quaker community lie had selected 
for temporary residence. When assembled the party 
consisted of John Brown himself, his son Owen, Aaron 
Dwight Stevens, John Henri Kagi, John Edwin Cook, 
Richard Realf, Charles Plummer Tidd, William Henry 
Leeman, Luke F. Parsons, Charles W. Moffett, with 
Richard Richardson, colored, eleven in all. John 
Brown departed almost immediately for the East, 
leaving Stevens in charge as military instructor. Be- 
fore spring came the company was strengthened by 
the accession of George B. Gill, Steward Taylor, 
Edwin and Barclay Coppoc. George B. Gill and 
Barclay Coppoc had entered Kansas the previous year 
with the Eldridge-Perry emigrant trains and had met 
therein Richard Realf and others; also met John 
Brown coming out, and finding Stevens on the road 
guarding the trains into Kansas. 

Owen Brown's diary locates the arrival of Hugh 
Forbes at Tabor on August 9th. He writes of reading 
for the first time " The Manual of the Patriotic Volun- 
teers," and mentions also George Plummer Tidd 
under the name of Carpenter. On the 4th of 
November Owen writes that he was thirty-three years 
old. A few davs later he mentions the arrival of 

intellect lo the task of making a free-stale Democracy. Some 
among ns may have considered the courage of the Republican 
party as not up to the measure of its occasion or duty, but there 
was no hesitation in sustaining it as against an administration 
Democracy and "squatter sovereignty." In this way the cor- 
respondents earned the bitter hatred of G. W. Brown, Eli Thayer, 
and others it is utterly useless to name. They certainly have been 
entitled by service to something different from the " cold shoul- 
der," historically speaking, which is all their work has in the main 
received from Kansas writers of later years. 


" eleven desperadoes," as he jestingly termed his father 
and their new comrades. 

John Henri Kagi, who had visited a short time 
at Camp Creek, Nebraska, with his father and sister, 
soon joined the command, and remained with it until 
the Chatham, Canada, movement was made in April. 
The Sharpe's rifles, revolvers, ammunition and other 
material which Captain Brown had found at Tabor 
and taken possession of were shipped as freight to 
northern Ohio in John Brown, Jr.'s, care. The orig- 
inal intention was to take part of the men to Ashta- 
bula County, Ohio, Hugh Forbes being expected to be 
in charge there, and Colonel Whipple (Stevens) 
remain behind among the Iowa Quakers. With the 
withdrawal of Forbes, concentration in Iowa was the 
most reasonable plan. The men were boarded by the 
Maxsons at the very small rate of one dollar each per 
week, 1 the entire cost of their winter's residence not 
exceeding $250. Most of the men did some work 
in addition to the drilling and gun practice they regu- 
larly followed. Stevens, a very competent drillmaster 
and swordsman, found apt pupils. Cook, who was 
almost a phenomenal marksman and had a passion 
for firearms, readily led the record at the target. 
Stevens had served several years as a United States 
dragoon at frontier posts, and had learned much of 
rough campaigning. His lessons were all of a prac- 
tical order. There was no attempt to make a secret 
of their drilling, and as Gill shows and Cook stated in 
his " confession," the neighborhood folks all under- 
stood that this band of earnest young men were pre- 

1 See the account given by George B. Gill in the Appendix. 


paring for something far out of the ordinary. Of 
course Kansas was presumed to be the objective point. 
But generally the impression prevailed that when the 
party moved again it would be somewhere in the di- 
rection of the slave States. The atmosphere of those 
days was charged with disturbance. It is difficult to 
determine how many of the party actually knew that 
John Brown designed to invade Virginia. All the 
testimony goes to show that it is most probable that 
not until after the assembling at the Maryland farm 
in 1859 was there a full, definite announcement of 
Harper's Ferry as the objective point. That he fully 
explained his purpose to make reprisals on slavery 
wherever the opportunity offered is without ques- 
tion, but except to Owen, who was vowed to the 
work in his early youth, and Kagi, who informed me 
at Osawatomie in July, 1858, that Brown gave him 
his fullest confidence upon their second interview at 
Topeka in 1857, there is every reason to believe that 
among the men the details of the intended movement 
were matters of after confidence. My own experience 
illustrates this : I was absent from Lawrence when 
John Brown recruited his little company. He had 
left already for Iowa before I returned. I met Realf 
just as he was leaving, and we talked without reserve, 
he assuring me that the purpose was just to prepare a 
fighting nucleus for resisting the enforcement of the 
Lecompton Constitution, which it was then expected 
Congress might try to impose upon us. Through this 
advantage was to be taken of the agitation to prepare 
for a movement against slavery in Missouri, Arkansas, 
the Indian Territory and possibly Louisiana. At 
Kagi's request (with whom I maintained for nearly two 



years an important, if irregular, correspondence), I be- 
gan a systematic investigation of the conditions, roads 
and topography of the Southwest, visiting a good deal 
of the Indian Territory, with portions of southwest 
Missouri, western Arkansas, and northern Texas, 
also, under the guise of examining railroad routes, 
etc. The letters I wrote Kagi from time to time were 

signed William Harrison bv an 
understanding with him. It was 
this name Albert Hazlett gave 
when taken prisoner at Carlisle, 
Pennsylvania, and, with John E. 
Cook at Chambersburg, was il- 
legally extradited to Virginia. 
Under it he was tried at Charles- 
town, and executed in the follow- 
ing March, i860. It will be re- 
called by those familiar with the 
drama of events that John Brown 
always declined publicly to recog- 
nize Hazlett, after the latter was 
imprisoned at Charlestown, as 
one of his men. He did not 
wish to throw any obstacles in the way of his pos- 
sible escape before the Virginia courts. 1 It was un- 


1 The only witness before the Virginian Court who swore to 
Albert Hazlett's presence in the Harper's Ferry fight was a man 
named Barry, an Irish-American schoolmaster, whose life Hazlett 
is reported to have saved. This statement is made on the author- 
ity of George Alfred Townsend, who gives it as coming from 
Barry himself. The latter is the author of the pamphlet on 
Harper's Ferry, published under the name of "Josephus"as 
author, referred to and quoted in other chapters. 


doubtedly the signature to my letters that made him 
use the name of Harrison when arrested. These 
letters were captured in the carpet-bag at the Virginia 
schoolhouse, and Governor Wise himself told me 
at Richmond in 1857, that two were secretly litho- 
graphed and sent to many leading men of the South 
and Southwest as evidence of the plots that were 
being formed. It is to be presumed that these were two 
that gave an account of discontent among the slaves 
in southwest Arkansas, northwest Louisiana, and 
those held by the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Cherokee 
Indians; planning at the same time to ferment an out- 
break among them, aided by Kansas men, led, perhaps, 
by Captain Montgomery. These things are recalled in 
connection with the open drilling within a Northern 
State of a body of men, however small in numbers, 
having the avowed purpose of carrying the free-state 
war into the Africa of slavery itself. They serve to 
prove how charged and vital was the public mental- 
ity in those days. A conflict seems to have been 
expected, denounced or tolerated by all sides. It was 
this condition that enabled John Brown to hold his 
small force together without the fullest confidence to 
them on his part, and, at the same time, keep from 
active suspicion the public feeling around himself and 
party. The roads they traveled would never have 
been so accessible but for the currents that were set 
in vibration by the aggressions of the slave-holders, 
their leaders, and politicians. 

Hugh Forbes must have left Tabor immediately 
after Captain Brown left for Kansas, for he was at 
Rochester, New York, in the latter part of November. 
The latter with his party arrived at Springdale, and 


himself moved eastward about the 20th instant, called 
chiefly by the fact that Forbes had already begun a 
campaign against his chief. 1 His earlier letters were 
addressed to Dr. Howe, Senator Sumner, and some 
other of the more radical anti-slavery men. He de- 
manded that Brown be withdrawn from command, 
and that he himself or some other person be placed 
in charge. Evidently he thought there was a political 
revolutionary conspiracy on foot. Of course such 
letters produced commotion and caused annoyance. 
Dr. Howe seems to have been most seriously affected 
by them. Forbes had received sufficient confidences 
from John Brown to be able to apprehend some of 
the weaker points, or rather he knew where the 
joints in the armor were. The fact that the Cap- 
tain's " tools" were apparently the ''property" of the 
Massachusetts Kansas Committee, and that Brown had 
been made their "agent," would seem to have caused 
a fear that that body might be charged with a 
breach of trust if Forbes's allegations should become 
public property. There is no evidence that Messrs. 
Stearns, Howe, Parker, Gerrit Smith, Sanborn, Hig- 
ginson, or even Senator Sumner — who knew nothing 
of the Committee's work except by hearsay — were 
troubled as to reprisals on slavery itself. Mr. Stearns 
certainly was not, nor Higginson, Sanborn, Parker. 
Dr. Howe, sometimes overwrought by the multiplicity 
of his laborious duties, was evidently excited by the 
possibility of reflections on the integrity of the Kansas 
Aid Committee, of which he had been an active mem- 
ber. As a matter of fact, the material in John Brown's 

1 I am here indebted chiefly to Mr. Sanborn's " Life and Letters 
of John Brown," Chap. XII., pp. 418, et al. x for dates, etc. 


possession as "agent" was not the property of any 
committee, but of George L. Stearns, who had paid 
for and owned it. The relations of the Massachu- 
setts Committee were protected by later letters (May, 
1858) from Mr. Stearns, as chairman, notifying John 
Brown that said arms were to be used only " for the 
defense of Kansas," and shortly after their final dis- 
position w r as made by his absolute and personal gift 
of them to John Brown direct. This action was not 
had, however, till Hugh Forbes found that his letters 
to the more intimate friends of Captain Brown in 
Massachusetts did not produce the effect he sought, 
and he had begun to extend his correspondence of 
assailment to public men like Senators Wilson, Hale, 
and Seward, as well as to Horace Greeley and William 
Cullen Bryant, having evidently been posted on the 
idea that they as party and political leaders could 
have no relations with direct attacks on the institu- 
tion of slavery. It must be borne in mind that the 
aim of the new politics, its party, and policy, was 
simply to denationalize slavery : John Brown's pur- 
pose to render it unsafe and dangerous to hold slaves 
by attacks which would show the system's inherent 
weakness. He had no theory to substitute therefor, 
except that of the Declaration of Independence; and 
his convictions that constitutional provisions guard- 
ing and preserving, or aiming to, the rights of the 
individual and of the citizen, were more potential 
than evasive and temporary compromises. Natu- 
rally, however, the organizers and leaders of the new 
party, already realizing that success was before them, 
dreaded all action by the "fanatics" of the day. 
Every period hcis its sneer. That was the way it 
1 1 


sounded then. Now the term is " crank," or worse. 
Ethics are brushed aside for "practical " success, and 
faith is lost in sacerdotalism. Plutocracy loves cere- 
mony, and hierarchical forms are the natural product 
of class and privilege. The fanatics are denounced ; 
the cranks are derided, but lo ! Time changes, and 
the " practical " men who have feared or sneered, 
become the active administrators of the ideas and 
ideals they denounced and derided. The administra- 
tors "win"; the others fail of personal reward and 
often even of recognition. But the work they do 
goes on. So it was with John Brown. 

The Captain left Iowa late in December. Letters 
had reached him there, at Springdale, and at West 
Andover, Ohio, very early in January, with accounts 
of the Boston-wise perturbations. Forbes was at 
Rochester, N. Y., in November, calling on Frederick 
Douglass, presenting a letter from Captain Brown. 
Mr. Douglass says he was not favorably impressed, 
but he took him to a hotel and paid his bill while 
there. He also gave him a little money, and through 
a German lady friend he received introductions also 
to other Germans in New York. For a short period 
he did not attack John Brown, but that reticence soon 
wore off. Mr. Douglass did not hesitate to say that 
Forbes betrayed the movement to the authorities at 
Washington. In that, however, I believe he was mis- 
taken. There are details of this imbroglio which 
tend to show that Colonel Forbes must have about 
this time got into relations with a small coterie of 
clever colored men in New York City, revolving 
around a well-known physician of that race, now de- 
ceased, who were notoriously at variance with the 


efforts and associations of many others of their race 
leaders. They held the theory that it was the duty 
of all educated colored men to mould their people 
into separate and violent resistance. In their minds 
the reaction to race oppression and outrage led to 
a counter race contempt, antagonism, and rage. 
They wanted no help from white men, and some of 
them spent a good deal of misdirected intellectual 
effort in the endeavor to prove that somewhere in the 
historic past their race had been one of the ruling 
forces of the world. They did not realize that it 
mattered not to them if it ever had; the living issues 
were the potential ones of present wrong-doing and 
oppression, hurting the wrong-doer as well as the 
wronged ones. From such sources as these, limited 
though they were, Hugh Forbes received many hints 
of possible relations, which his imperfect conception 
of American affairs turned into remarks that very 
naturally assumed a malignant aspect when put into 
letters to prominent men. 

A letter of John Brown to his son John, written at 
Rochester to West Andover, Ohio, early in February, 
shows the manner in which he was disposed to deal 
with Forbes. 1 At this date Captain Brown was fully 

1 After referring lo a letter from the Garibaldian, of January 
27th, the Captain outlines a reply to be written to Forbes by John, 
saying: " I am anxious lo draw him out more fully, and would also 
like to keep him a little encouraged and avoid an open rupture for 
a few 7ueeks at any rate." He then adds: Suppose you write 
Forbes thus: 

"Your letter to my father, . . . after mature reflection, I 
have decided to return to you, as I am unwilling he should, with 
all his other cares, ... be vexed with what I am apprehen- 
sive he will accept as highly offensive and insulting, while I know 


bent on delivering his intended blow, and came to the 
East determined to strain every nerve to obtain the 
moderate means needed to begin with. He realized 
that his handful of keen-witted, brave, and devoted 
young men, then at Springdale, while heated through 
to the annealing point by the furnace of Kansas war- 
fare, were liable to all the cooling influences of their 
years and temperaments, and such modifying con- 
ditions as the shifting phases of Time might readily 
bring to bear on them. He wanted to strike. Besides 
he desired to use the colored people if possible. It must 

he is disposed to do all he consistently can for you . . . unless 
you are yourself the cause of his disgust." The letter then sug- 
gests the statement that he, John, understands from his father, 
that $600 or " six months' pay" had already been advanced in the 
face of his own disappointments, " to enable " Forbes to " provide 
for his family." The contract was to be $100 per month as long 
as Forbes continued to serve. " Now," continues the draft of 
the letter to John Brown, Jr., "you (Forbes) undertake to 
instruct him (Brown) to say that he had positively engaged you 
for one year. I fear he will not accept it well to be asked or told 
to state what he considers an untruth" The draft adds that he, 
Captain Brown, will hardly take kindly to be instructed as to how 
he should transact " his own business and correspondence." Refer- 
ence is made to " the seemingly spiteful letters " Forbes owns to 
have written as having not only done himself " great injury," but 
" also weakened him (Captain Brown) with his friends to whom 
they were sent." This draft is a very shrewd yet kindly forbearing 
with all, and closes with suggesting that a draft of $40 may be sent 
to him (Forbes) if the rebuke intended had its effect. It closes by 
saying, " I do not mean to dictate to you as he does to me, but I 
am anxious to understand him fully before we go any further, and 
shall be glad of the earliest information of the result." No reply is 
alluded to, and presumably therefore, as the facts show, the " re- 
buke " had no effect. — "Life and Letters of John Brown," pp. 


have been within the brooding, observant purview of 
his perceptive brain to understand that they, too, 
growing in apprehension of larger political growth, 
were likely to feel their personal animosity lessened. 
Knowing their helplessness as a despised minority 
they might grow timid, more or less disposed to wait 
upon the changes that the rising tide of northern opin- 
ion would bring in favorable drifts towards them. 
John Brown comprehended with undaunted clearness 
that respect was only won by compelling it. A blow 
for freedom was always a victory. That was his view. 
So he pushed forward on the hard and stern road he 
had blazed for himself. 

At Rochester in January and February, staying at 
the Douglass House for three weeks, where he wrote 
industriously, combating the mischief Forbes's at- 
tacks were doing. He was urged to visit Boston, but 
thought it not safe for him to pass through Albany 
and Springfield, where he was so well known. An 
extract of a letter to Thomas W. Higginson shows 
generally how he was pressing his friends to the con- 
clusion of such assistance as he needs. Evidently 
Higginson had suggested underground railroad 
work on a scale larger than was then practised. It 
was in him to do that, as he was always open to the 
direct conception of resistance to oppression and the 
duty of each of us to aid therein. Here is John 
Brown's suggestive note: 

"Railroad business on a somewhat extended scale 
is the identical object for which I am trying to get 
means. I have been connected with that business, 
as commonly conducted, from boyhood, and never let 
an opportunity slip. I have been operating to some 


purpose the past season, but I now have a measure on 
foot that I feel sure would awaken in you something 
more than a common interest if you could understand 
it. I have just written my friends G. L. Stearns and 
F. B. Sanborn, asking them to meet me for consulta- 
tion at Peterboro, New York." 

It was in Peterboro, New York, at the home of 
Gerrit Smith, that the definite direction of John 
Brown was made known to the friends who had so 
far aided. They were indeed few in numbers. All 
of the Emigrant Aid Society organizers had fallen. 
John Brown himself still clung to the belief that Eli 
Thayer might "hook on his team," as he later sug- 
gested to John, Jr., when planning out some trips of 
observation and inquiry. His experience with Amos 
A. Lawrence, especially over the matter of the North 
Elba homestead and the $1,000 to be raised for its 
protection, did not induce any desire to ask his aid. 
He had never sought assistance from the Abolition- 
ists proper — that is, the Garrisonians. And of course 
the National Kansas Committee people were of no 
avail. The two sources of monetary support open to 
him, were Gerrit Smith, his personal friend as well 
as faithful anti-slavery ally, and the very small coterie 
of Boston gentlemen, whose names are linked for- 
ever with his own. Frank B. Sanborn arrived at 
Mr. Smith's residence on the evening of February 22, 
1858, representing also Messrs. Stearns, Parker, Howe, 
and Higginson. It was on this occasion that John 
Brown unfolded in detail the fulness of his purpose, 
with the possible reservation of not in words naming 
Harper's Ferry, though his general purport must 
have led directly thereto. Of the three persons 


to whom this high-wrought conception was thus 
presented, Gerrit Smith and Frank B Sanborn do 
not appear to have accepted it unquestioningly. 1 
According to Mr. Sanborn's very interesting account, 
the conference lasted till after midnight, and began 
again briefly on the morrow, being concluded by 
Gerrit Smith saying: 

" You see how it is; our dear old friend has made 
up his mind to this course and cannot be turned from 
it. We cannot give him up to die alone ; we must 
support him." 

Captain Brown had named $800, even $500, as the 
extent of his need. Then $1,000 was decided upon, 
and Mr. Sanborn left on the 24th for Boston, to 
present the matter and raise the balance of the 
amount. Mr. Smith's share became $500 before 

1 Mr. Sanborn mentioned Edwin Morton as one who was con- 
fided in. At the time that gentleman was an inmate of Mr. 
Smith's house as a tutor to his sons, and he acted also as secre- 
tary or confidential amanuensis. Captain Brown, Mr. Smith, and 
Mr. Sanborn adjourned to Mr. Morion's room. He was a class- 
male of Mr. Sanborn, and, in the familiar relations he bore, had 
necessarily to be trusted. But there is no other evidence than 
this of Mr. Morton's association with the movement. Mr. Smith, 
after the blow was struck at Harper's Ferry, had a severe recur- 
rence of a nervous trouble he had been afflicted with at the time of 
the long legislative struggle in the United States House of Rep- 
resentatives over the repeal of the Missouri Compromise in 1S54, 
and was sent again to the institution in which he was first treated. 
The family deemed it wise to send Mr. Morton to Europe for two 
years. No one in Massachusetts- or Kansas, or in John Brown's 
home circle, seems, besides Mr. Sanborn, to have considered Mr. 
Morton as directly identified. John Brown, Jr.. in letters during 
1659, speaks of once meeting and talking with him. 


the conclusion was reached. In Boston, Parker 
agreed, thought the matter worth trying, though ex- 
cept for effect on opinion, he did not believe it would 
accomplish much. Dr. Howe accepted the idea with 
earnestness. He never doubted that within the lines 
to be worked upon, were real military possibilities, and 
that it was not necessarily a foredoomed failure. Mr. 
Stearns accepted, with an utterly loyal belief in the 
old covenanter. Higginson also held the same view, 
and Mr. Sanborn almost decided to take a personal 
share in the movement. To those who knew him 
then, the wonder is that he was not found at the Ken- 
nedy Farm. John Brown, however, knew that some 
men were more valuable alive just then, than they 
would be as sacrifices. 

From the 23d of February the Captain was a busy 
man. The " freight " stored at Conneaut, Ohio, about 
which embarrassing questions were arising, had to be 
placed where John, Jr., and Jason, could control it. 
Letters were written from North Elba, asking Ruth 
that Henry, her husband, might "go to school " — join 
in the pending raid. The incident had a pathetic 
ending in inducing Oliver and Watson to volunteer 
on that which was their death-errand. On the 4th 
of March, the Captain was in Boston, stopping at the 
American House, where he was visited by all his little 
circle of friends. While they resolved themselves 
into a committee of aid and advice, Sanborn is con- 
vinced ' that Harper's Ferry was never named as the 
first or chief point of attack. On leaving Boston, 

1 See Chapter XII. " Life and Letters of John Brown." 


March 8th, he carried with him $500 in gold and 
assurances of other support. He passed through New 
York on the 2d, preferring to go round rather than 
take the risk of being recognized in western Massa- 
chusetts. On the 10th of March, Frederick Douglass, 
Henry Highland Garnet, of New York, Stephen 
Smith and William Still, of Philadelphia, with John 
Brown, Jr., met the Captain in conference at the 
dwelling of either Smith or Still. Others may have 
been present, but their names are nowhere given. 

Earlier letters to his eldest son show in part what 
must have been discussed, among other matters, at 
the Philadelphia meetings. On the 4th of February, 
the Captain wrote John, that: "I have been thinking 
that I would like to have you make a trip to Bedford, 
Chambersburg, Gettysburg, and Uniontown, in Penn- 
sylvania, traveling slowly along, and inquiring of 
every man on the way, or every family of the right 
stripe, and getting acquainted with them as much as 
you could. When you look at the location of those 
places, you will readily perceive the advantage of 
getting up some acquaintance in those parts." 

He further advised with his son to visit Washing- 
ton and see certain Congressmen, with the hope of 
"getting some money for secret service "; and then 
he continued, — " You can say to our friends that I am 
out from Kansas for that express purpose." In subse- 
quent letters he withdrew the Washington suggestion, 
remarking that he had but little "faith in princes." 
He mentions, however, that Anson Butiingame 
gave him $50; and then he directs John to go to 
Hagerstown, Martinsburg, and eve?i to Harper s Ferry 
itself in pursuing the inquiries he desired to have 


made. Of course, the object of these was to find out 
the underground railroad routes and stations, to as- 
certain the persons who were actually to be relied 
upon, places to stop at, means of conveyance, and 
especially to learn of the colored men who could be 
trusted. The Philadelphia conference must have 
gone over this ground with the two Browns, and the 
experience of those who were the most active of U. 
G. R. R. directors in that section, could not but 
have been very useful. In the early part of April, 
John Brown visited St. Catherine, Ingersoll, Hamil- 
ton, and Chatham, in Canada West, to prepare for the 
convention he wished to convene just before he en- 
tered on his active work. He was also reported at 
Sandusky, Ohio, and Detroit, Michigan. A visit had 
been made to North Elba, and it was arranged, that 
Henry Thompson should manage both farms, while 
Oliver and Watson would "go to school" with their 
father. The Captain was hastening his steps in 
order to return to Iowa and bring his men on to 
Chatham, and from there, as he then expected, to the 
border of Virginia, to begin working out the serious 
aim of his life. 

John Brown's purpose in calling and holding 
the convention at Chatham, Canada West, was in 
harmony with the conception and plans he had 
evolved. There was a large number of colored resi- 
dents under the British flag. They were mainly fugi- 
tive slaves; among wiiom necessarily were many bold, 
even daring men. In the section, of which Chatham 
was one of the centers, considerable direction had 
been given to the settlement of these people. There 
were among them (and still are) a good many far- 


mers, mechanics, storekeepers, as well as laborers. It 
would not be correct to say that no prejudice existed 
against them, but it was not strong enough, as in the 
land from which they fled, to prevent industry and 
sobriety from having a fair chance, while intelligence, 
well directed, made its way to civic and business rec- 
ognition. There were probably not less than 75,000 
fugitive residents in Canada West at the time of the 
Chatham gathering. Their presence, well-ordered 
lives, and fair degree of prosperity, had brought also 
to live with them as doctors, clergymen, teachers, 
lawyers, printers, surveyors, etc., educated freemen 
of their own race. Martin R. Delany, a physician, 
editor, ethnologist, and naturalist, was one of them. 
Mr. Holden, a well-trained surveyor and civil engi- 
neer, at whose residence in Chatham, John Brown 
stayed, the Rev. William Charles Munroe, Osborne 
Perry Anderson, and others, were among these helpers. 
Dr. Alexander M. Ross, of Toronto, Canada, phy- 
sician and ornithologist, who is still living, honored 
by all who know him, then a young (white) man 
who devoted himself for years to aiding the Ameri- 
can slave, was a frequent visitor to this section, tie 
was a faithful friend of John Brown, efficient as an 
ally also, seeking to.serve under all conditions of need 
and peril. But it was not simply the presence of 
these forces which took John Brown to Chatham. As 
one may naturally understand, looking at conditions 
then existing, there existed something of an organiza- 
tion to assist fugitives and of resistance to their 
masters. It was found all along the Lake borders 
from Syracuse, New York, to Detroit, Michigan. As 
none but colored men were admitted into direct and 


active membership with this " League of Freedom," 
it is quite difficult to trace its workings, or know how 
far its ramifications extended. One of the most in- 
teresting phases of slave life, so far as the whites were 
enabled to see or impinge upon it, was the extent and 
Vapidity of communication among them. Four geo- 
graphical lines seem to have been chiefly followed. 
One was that of the coast south of the Potomac, 
whose almost continuous line of swamps from the 
vicinity of Norfolk, Va., to the northern border of 
Florida afforded a refuge for many who could not 
escape and became " marooned " in their depths, 
while giving facility to the more enduring to work 
their way out to the North Star land. The great 
Appalachian range and its abutting mountains were 
long a rugged, lonely, but comparatively safe route 
to freedom. It was used, too, for many years. Doubt- 
less, a knowledge of that fact, for John Brown was 
always an active underground railroad man, had very 
much to do, apart from its immediate use strategi- 
cally considered, with the Captain's decision to begin 
operations therein. Harriet Tubman, whom John 
Brown met for the first time at St. Catherine's in 
March or April, 1858, was a constant user of the Appa- 
lachian route, in her efforts to aid escaping slaves. 
" Moses," as Mrs. Tubman was called by her own 
people, was a most remarkable black woman, un- 
lettered and very negrine, but with a great degree of 
intelligence and perceptive insight, amazing courage, 
and a simple steadfastness of devotion which lifts her 
career into the ranks of heroism. Herself a fugitive 
slave, she devoted her life after her own freedom was 
won, to the work of aiding others to escape,, First 


J 73 

and last Harriet brought out several thousand slaves. 1 
John Brown always called her "General," and once 
introduced her to Wendell Phillips by saying " I 
bring you one of the best and bravest persons on this 
continent — General Tubman, as we call her." Will- 
iam Lambert, who died in Detroit a few years since, 
being very nearly one hundred years old, was another 
of those of the race who devoted themselves to the 
work for which John Brown hoped to strike a cul- 
minating blow. Between 1829 and 1862 — thirty-three 
years — William is reported to have aided in the es- 
cape of 30,000 slaves. He lived in Detroit, and was 
one of the foremost representatives of his people in 
both Michigan and Ontario. Underground-railroad 
operations culminating chiefly at Cleveland, San- 
dusky, and Detroit, led by broad and defined routes 
through Ohio, to the border of Kentucky. Through 
that State, into the heart of the Cumberland Moun- 
tains, northern Georgia, east Tennessee, and north- 
ern Alabama, the limestone caves of the region served 
a useful purpose. And it is a fact that the colored 
people living in Ohio were often bolder and more de- 
termined than was the rule elsewhere. The Ohio- 
Kentucky routes probably served more fugitives than 
others in the North. The valley of the Mississippi 
was the most westerly channel, until Kansas opened 
a bolder way of escape from the Southwest slave 
section. John Brown knew whatever was to be known 
of all this unrest, and he also must have known of 

1 " Harriet— The Moses of her People." By Sarah H. Bradford. 
George R. Lockwood, New York, 1SS6. Mrs.' Tubman is Still 
living at Auburn, N. Y 


the existence of the secret organization which George 
B. Gill mentions' (see Appendix) in his interesting 
paper. This organization served a purpose of some 
value to the Government in the earlier parts of the 
Civil War, a fact, that lies within my own knowledge, 
and then fell into disuse, as the hours moved swifter 
to the one in which the gateway of the Union swung 
aside, and the pathway of the Law opened, to allow 

1 A letter from Dr. Alexander Milton Ross, bearing date To- 
ronto, January 21st, 1893, contains two points of interest. The 
first is that relative to the lime of moving on Harper's Ferry. Dr. 
Ross writes: " On the occasion of my last interview with John 
Brown I asked him directly — ' When do you intend to begin your 
work?' After a moment's reflection he replied in these words, as 
near as my recollection serves me: 'God willing, I shall move 
between the 15th and 27th of October.' I replied: 'Then you will 
wish me to be in Richmond between the 15th and 27th !' He said: 
' Yes, not later than the 27th.' " 

" Now, in reference to the ' Liberty League ' — I was one of their 
members at large — Gerrit Smith and Lewis Tappan were the 
others. As to the actual members I had very little acquaintance. 
I knew of George J. Reynolds, of Hamilton (Sandusky also), 
George W. Brown and Glover Harrison, of this city (Toronto). 
The branch of the League in Upper Canada had no connection 
with the armed and drilled men along the United States border, 
whose duty it was to help the slaves to escape to Canada. Of 
course, I knew many of them — Liberators, as they were called — 
from Erie to Sandusky and Cleveland. I never had much in them 
and but little to do with the organization, always fearing treachery. 
I never had any military taste or predilection, and but little to do 
with armed men. Except to my friends, I was not known as Doctor 
Ross, and my friends took pains to shield me." ... I fre- 
quently heard the slaves speak of insurrectionary movements in 
progress, but never anything definite. The slaves were very 
simple, childlike, and superstitious — ready to believe anything told 
them by those in their confidence." 


the colored American to reach emancipation and 

These were some of the forces John Brown hoped 
without doubt to use. He never expected any more 
aid from them than that which would give a first im- 
petus. Had he got away from Harper's Ferry and 
kept in the mountains for a brief period, no doubt 
exists whatever in my mind, that there would have 
been more or less sporadic outbreaks along the cen- 
tral lines I have suggested. The underground rail- 
roaders from Ohio and in Kentucky could not have 
kept out of the struggle. 

The home of Isaac Holden, Chatham, Canada West, 
is an old-fashioned red brick, two-storied, comfort- 
able-looking dwelling-house, nearly square, with brick 
gables higher than the roof, having a broad, outside 
chimney at each end, with the side to the street. 
Five low, broad windows light the parlor floor, one 
portion of which John Brown occupied. Mr. Holden, 
who had resided twenty-five years in Canada at the 
time of this visit, is a native of Louisiana, a man of 
means and liberal education. It was in John Brown's 
room that a committee met to examine the constitu- 
tion. Dr. Delany was chairman, and J. II. Kagi and 
Osborne P. Anderson acted as secretaries. The 
meetings of the convention itself were held in a 
Baptist Church, of which Mr. Munroe was the pastor. 
Osborne P. Anderson describes some of the incidents 
as follows: 

" The first visit of John Brown to Chatham was in April, 1858. 
Wherever he went around, although an entire stranger, he 
made a profound impression upon those who saw or became 
acquainted with him. Some supposed him a staid hut modern- 


ized Quaker, others a solid business man from ' somewhere,' 
and without question a philanthropist. His long white beard, 
thoughtful and reverend brow and physiognomy, his sturdy, 
measured tread, as he circulated about with hands under the 
pendant coat skirts of plain brown tweed, with other garments 
to match, revived to those honored with his acquaintance and 
knowing of his history, the memory of a Puritan of the most 
exalted type." (" A Voice from Harper's Ferry," 1861, p. 9.) 

Dr. Delany in the Rollins biography gives a more 
detailed account. The doctor's statement seems to 
be at variance with those made by Anderson, Gill, 
Realf, and Moffett, who were present. It must be 
borne in mind that Captain Brown had not only 
alternative methods of action in his own mind, but 
ample reason for not drawing the close attention even 
of friends to the one which he most desired to put 
into operation, viz., an attack on Harper's Ferry 
itself. In the first place, he knew that Forbes had 
sources of information, and was disposed to use them 
adversely to success, and, next, he never felt sure of 
the way in which his daring conception would be re- 
ceived. * 

The " Subterranean Pass Way " represented ideas 
and methods in accord with and enlarging the work 
on the underground railroad. The essential dif- 
ference was that, the rescued fugitives or runaways 
should be planted in or near to a Northern or Western 
community and not brought under the British flag. 
One purpose was to educate Northern people to de- 
fend fugitives, and the other would have been to teach 
the runaways to defend themselves. No report exists 
from any other source of any such plan having been 

1 See Appendix for extract from the Delany biography. 


discussed within the Chatham Convention itself. I 
have talked it over with Gill and Realf who were 
actively participating; incidentally I have asked Tidd 
and Osborne P. Anderson, but from none did I ever 
gather the idea of any discussion, as Dr. Delany 
intimates. Yet it doubtless occurred, and in all 
probability within the preliminary committee meet- 
ing. The convention talk was general. It is also 
certain that more criticism and resistant views came 
from colored men in the body than ever appears to have 
been urged at any time by the white men (except 
Hugh Forbes), who were knowing to Captain 
Brown's purposes or associated with him. It is also 
a fact that he received very little of the aid it was 
presumable he had a right to expect from colored 
men. Osborne P. Anderson was the only man of his 
race who reported from Canada, none of those who 
had Brown's confidence to a greater or lesser degree 
were on hand at the Kennedy farm, the two Ohio 
(Oberlin) recruits being the fruits of a near and pre- 
ceding fugitive slave excitement. It is not necessary 
to comment on this; it is essential though to state 
the fact. 

John Brown was at Springdale, Iowa, on the 27th 
of April, 1858, having arrived from Canada, via Chi- 
cago, on the 25th, for the purpose of removing east- 
ward his "band of shepherds," as he termed them, or 
"surveyors," as they termed themselves. At this 
date the Boston and Peterboro friends, according to 
Mr. Sanborn, expected to hear of "his flock " being 
turned "loose about the 15th of May." J. H. Kagi, 
C. P. Tidd, and L. F. Parsons had preceded by a few 
days the main body, which left West Liberty on the 



27th. At Chatham, where the}' arrived on the 30th 
inst., they were joined by these three associates. 
There were in all of the Brown party, including the 
Captain himself, thirteen persons, one being col- 
ored. The convention did not assemble till the 8th 
of May, and there were only forty-six present, twelve 
of whom were white men. The others were all 
colored men; Doctor Delany being the only one of 
any wide reputation. There is no evidence to show 
that Douglass, Loguen, Garnet, Stephen Smith, 
Gloucester, Langston, or others of the prominent men 
of color in the States who knew John Brown, were 
invited to the Chatham meeting. It is doubtful if their 
appearance would have been wise, as it would assur- 
edly have been commented on and aroused suspicion. 
But the singular fact remains, looked at in either 
way, whether asked or not, that their influence had 
no visible representation or presence. John and 
Owen Brown, father and son, John Henri Kagi, 
Aaron Dwight Stevens, still known as Charles Whip- 
ple, John Edwin Cook, Richard Realf, George B. 
Gill, Charles Plummer Tidd, William Henry Leeman, 
Charles W. Moffett, Luke F. Parsons, all of Kansas, 
and Steward Taylor, of Canada, who had joined in 
Iowa; twelve in all. Richard Richardson, a member 
of this party, was a colored man. The remaining 
members, thirty-three, were all colored. The president 
of the convention, William Charles Munroe, was pastor 
of the church in which the sessions were held on 
Saturday the 8th and Monday the 10th of May. 
Other delegates were Dr. Martin A. Delany, and 
Alfred Whipper, Pennsylvania; William Lambert and 
I. D. Shadd, of Detroit, Michigan; James H. Harris, 


of Cleveland, Ohio (after the war a Representative 
in Congress for two terms from North Carolina); G. 
J. Reynolds, J. C. Grant, A. J. Smith, James M. Jones, 
M. F. Bailey, S. Hunton, John J. Jackson, Jeremiah 
Anderson, James M. Bell, Alfred M.Ellsworth, James 
W. Purnell, George Aiken, Stephen Dettin, Thomas 
Hickerson, John Cannel, Robinson Alexander, 
Thomas F. Cary, Thomas M. Kinnard, Robert Van 
Vauken, Thomas M. Stringer, John A. Thomas (be- 
lieved to be John Brown's earlier confidant and em- 
ploye at Springfield, Massachusetts, afterwards em- 
ployed by Abraham Lincoln in his Illinois home and 
at the White House also; he died recently at Spring- 
field, Illinois); Robert Newman, Charles Smith, Simon 
Fislin, Isaac Holden, and James Smith; making 
thirty-four colored and twelve white members. John 
Henri Kagi was made secretary. The entire proceed- 
ings did not occupy over fifteen hours in both days, 
and practically consisted of ratifying what had already 
been agreed upon in the various conferences field 
during the preceding three weeks. 1 The points of 
difference were of no great consequence, except one. 
That was a discussion of the. forty-sixth article of 
the proposed Constitution, which reads as follows : 


" The foregoing Articles shall not be construed 
so as in any way to encourage the overthrow of any 
State Government, or of the General Government of 
the United States, and look to no dissolution of the 

J See Appendix for minutes of proceedings. 


Union, but simply to Amendment and Repeal. And 
our flag shall be the same that our Fathers fought 
under in the Revolution." 

The motion to strike this out came from George J. 
Reynolds. He is mentioned both by Dr. Ross and 
Mr. Gill, as a leading member of the " League of 
Liberty." When John Brown, Jr., was engaged during 
August and September of the next year in the effort 
to get the Chatham Convention men together for the 
Harper's Ferry movement, he wrote from Sandusky, 
Ohio, to Kagi at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, that the 
" Coppersmith " was "one of those men who must be 
obtained if possible." This reference is understood 
to be to Mr. Reynolds. In the discussion which fol- 
lowed, Reynolds was the only advocate of the motion. 
Dr. Delany, Elder Munroe, and Mr. Kennard, all col- 
ored, were strenuous in opposing; and Captain Brown 
Kagi, and Realf made earnest argument against the 
motion. Article XLVI. was in fact the keynote of 
John Brown's position. He was defending the Union 
and the Government under it, threatened as he reas- 
oned, by the existence of chattel slavery, having, un- 
der misapprehended provisions, political powers 
which necessitated and encouraged the formation 
of a dangerous and continuous pro-slavery conspiracy. 
The presence of this Article makes consistent the 
declaration subsequently embodied in his last speech 
in the Virginia Court, in response to the usual ques- 
tion " Why sentence should not be passed upon 
him?" In that reply he declared, as will be seen, 
that he had not " raised" insurrection, committed 
"treason," incited to "civil war," or "instructed" 
slaves to kill their masters. Right or wrong, as he 


may be judged, it is necessary to apprehend clearly, 
in order to estimate justly, the mental processes of 
this remarkable personality. Certainly, there is noth- 
ing anarchistic in them. The "roads" John Brown 
mapped out and which he sought to travel, carried, 
in his mind at least, the highest respect for law, and 
recognized to the full the responsibility to social 
order and equity. The difference between him (as he 
saw it) and the established " disorder," was that the 
latter had its strength in wrong-doing, and threatened 
free institutions to the degree that the reserved rights 
of the citizen could justly be called upon for resist- 
ance. Kennedy's motion had the support only of his 
own vote. Messrs. Kagi and Realf were particularly 
vigorous and eloquent in their arguments, as Gill and 
others report. 

John Brown made the opening and principal speech 
of the convention. No orator, certainly no rhetori- 
cian, yet he was sententious, logical, direct, very apt 
in illustration, and, like all men of intellectual reserve, 
brooding usually on solitude and silence over large 
issues, quite aphoristic and terse in expression. John 
Brown had read well and thought clearly within the 
deep lines his brain and character wrought out for 
action. 1 In his evidence before the United States 

1 In childhood, youth, and manhood the Bible was his constant 
study. Mr. Gill says that a volume of the "Sayings of Confucius," 
was one of his later favorites. He read " Pilgrim's Progress," 
the "Life of Franklin," " ^Esop's Fables," " Plutarch's Lives," 
" Biography of Washington," all Revolutionary material, and 
made a study of Marion and Sumpter's careers, "Napoleon and His 
Marshals," Baxter's " Saints' Rest," " Herodotus," " Josephus," 
and several theological works. He read the newspapers and was 
well informed in current history and invention. 


Senate Committee on the " Harper's Ferry Invasion," 
that was the way in which the Virginian and the 
Southern Statesmen put it in order to maintain the 
idea of John Brown's movement being- concerted with 
the aid of Republican and Northern leaders. Richard 
Realf thus outlined John Brown's opening speech in 
the Chatham Convention. His report is no doubt 
substantially correct, though more rhetorical in tone 
than were the Captain's actual words. Estimating 
the quality and temper of the latter, especially at a 
" supreme moment " like this one, it may readily be ac- 
cepted that John Brown's actual speech was far more 
vigorous and striking even than is shown in the pic- 
turesque report of his poet follower. 

" John Brown, on rising," said Realf to the Committee (p. 96- 
97 of Report), "stated that for twenty or thirty years the idea 
had possessed him like a passion of giving liberty to the slaves. 
He stated immediately thereafter, that he made a journey to 
England in 1851, in which year he took to the International 
Exhibition at London samples of wool from Ohio, during which 
period he made a tour upon the European continent, inspecting 
all fortifications, and especially all earthwork forts which he 
could find, with a view, as he stated, of applying the knowledge 
thus gained, with modifications and inventions of his own, to 
such a mountain warfare as he thereafter spoke upon in the 
United States. John Brown stated, moreover, that he had not 
been indebted to anybody for the suggestion of this plan ; that 
it arose spontaneously in his own mind ; that through a series 
of from twenty to thirty years it had gradually formed and 
developed itself into shape and plan. He stated that he had 
read all the books upon insurrectionary warfare which he could 
lay his hands upon — the Roman warfare ; the successful oppo- 
sition of the Spanish chieftains during the period when Spain 
was a Roman province ; how with ten thousand men divided 


and subdivided into small companies, acting simultaneously, 
yet separately, they withstood the whole consolidated power of 
the Roman Empire through a number of years. In addition 
to this, he said he had become very familiar with the successful 
warfare waged by Schamyl, the Circassian chief, against the 
Russians; he had posted himself in relation to the wars of 
Toussaint L'Overture, and the other phases of the wars in 
Hayti and the islands round about; and from all these things 
he had drawn the conclusion, believing, as he stated there he 
did believe, and as we all (if I may judge from myself) believed, 
that upon the first intimation of a plan formed for the liberation 
of the slaves, they would immediately rise all over the Southern 
States. He supposed that they would come into the mountains 
to join him, where he proposed to work, and that by flocking 
to his standard they would enable him (by making the line of 
mountains which cuts diagonally through Maryland and Vir- 
ginia down through the Southern States into Tennessee and 
Alabama, the base of his operations) to act upon the planta- 
tions on the plains lying on each side of that range of moun- 
tains, and we should be able to establish ourselves in the fast- 
nesses, and if any hostile action (as would be) were taken 
against us, either by the militia of the separate States, or by 
the armies of the United States, we proposed to defeat first the 
militia, and next, if it were possible, the troops of the United 
States, and then organize the freed blacks under this .provision- 
al constitution, which would carve out for the locality of its 
jurisdiction all that mountainous region in which the blacks 
were to be established, and in which they were to be taught 
the useful and mechanical arts, and to be instructed in all the 
business of life. Schools were also to be established, and so 
on. That was it. 

"The negroes were to constitute the soldiers. John Brown 
expected that all the free negroes in the Northern States would 
immediately flock to his standard. He expected that all the 
slaves in the Southern States would do the same. He believed, 
too, that as many of the free negroes in Canada as could 
accompany him, would do so. 


" The slaveholders were to be taken as hostages, if they 
refused to let their slaves go. It is a mistake to suppose that 
they were to be killed; they were not to be. They were to be 
held as hostages for the safe treatment of any prisoners of 
John Brown's who might fall into the hands of hostile parties. 

" All the non-slaveholders were to be protected. Those 
who would not join the organization of John Brown, but who 
would not oppose it, were to be protected ; but those who did 
oppose it were to be treated as the slaveholders themselves. 

" John Brown said," continued Realf, summing up the pro- 
ceedings, "that he believed a successful incursion could be 
made ; that it could be successfully maintained ; that the sev- 
eral slave States could be forced (from the position in which 
they found themselves) to recognize the freedom of those who 
had been slaves within their respective limits; that immediately 
such recognitions were made, then the places of all officers 
elected under this provisional constitution became vacant, and 
new elections were to be made. Moreover, no salaries were 
to be paid to the officeholders under this constitution. It was 
purely out of that which we supposed to be philanthropy — love 
for the slave. Moreover, it is a mistake to suppose, as Cook in 
his confession has stated — and I now get away from John 
Brown's speech — that at the period of that convention the 
people present took an oath to support that constitution. They 
did no such thing. Dr. Delany, of whom I have spoken, pro- 
posed, immediately the convention was organized, that an oath 
should be taken by all who were present, not to divulge any of 
the proceedings that might transpire, whereupon John Brown 
rose and stated his objections to such an oath. He had him- 
self conscientious scruples against taking an oath, and all he 
requested was a promise that any person who should thereafter 
divulge any of the proceedings that might transpire, agreed to 
forfeit the protection which that organization could extend 
over him." 

George B. Gill gives briefly his recollections, written 
to me, as follows: 


" William Munroe, as president of the convention, signed the 
commissions issued. The sessions were not fully harmonious. 
There were some small points of difference, which were satis- 
factorily adjusted in the end. I only remember a few of the 
colored men ; amongst them was Dr. M. R. Delany, J. J. 
Jackson, Wm. C. Munroe, of Chatham, G. J. Reynolds, of San- 
dusky City. The only whites present were members of our 
party. The most of us at that time did not appreciate the 
necessity of keeping journals. I am, however, indebted to ab- 
breviated notes for the precision in my memory on many points. 

" The main business of the convention was the adoption of 
a constitution, which Brown had already prepared, and the or- 
ganization of a provisional government under that instrument. 
The election of officers occurred on the 10th. John Brown 
was, of course, elected commander-in-chief, Kagi, secretary of 
war, Realf, secretary of state, the treasurer was Owen Brown, 
and the secretary of the treasury was George B. Gill. Members 
of congress chosen were Alfred M. Ellsworth and Osborne P. 
Anderson, colored. I am sure that Brown did not communi- 
cate the details of his plans to the members of the convention, 
more than in a very general way. Indeed, I do not now remem- 
ber that he gave them any more than the impressions which 
they could gather from the methods of organization. From 
those who were directly connected with his movements he 
solicited plans and methods — including localities — of operations 
in writing. Of course, we had an almost precise knowledge 
of his methods, but all of us perhaps did not know just the 
locality selected by him, or, if knowing, did not comprehend the 
resources and surroundings." 

Had John Brown been able to have moved at once 
from Canada to Harper's Ferry, the result would 
have been more startling than even when the blow 
did come. The delay was caused by Hugh Forbes's 
leiter of exposure to Senator Henry Wilson and some 
other leading politicians. Mr. Wilson bestirred him- 
self actively. He had been in Kansas some months 


before, and knew the intense hostility that existed, 
and heard both approval and adverse criticism of 
Captain Brown's views of aggression. He also appre- 
hended clearly the spirit of influential persons in 
Massachusetts. There was no escape from his de- 
mands on the members of the Kansas Aid Committee, 
even though it was practically defunct. Mr. Stearns 
felt compelled, under pressure, to inform Captain 
Brown that he must not use the " tools " in his pos- 
session except " in the defense of Kansas." He was 
also notified that an agent would come to Chatham 
to see him. This policy was changed, and John 
Brown arranged a visit to Boston. " The news," 
says Osborne P. Anderson, in " A Voice from Harper's 
Ferry" (p. 16), "caused an entire change in the 
programme for a time. The old gentleman went one 
way, the young men another, but ultimately to meet 
in Kansas, where the summer was spent." Specula- 
tion may be idle, but it is reasonably certain that the 
movement would, had it then taken place, have been 
bolder and with more men in it, as there was then 
unquestioned earnestness in Canada and along the 
lake borders. Superficial students, failing to put 
themselves in the other man's place, condemn as in- 
sanely inadequate John Brown's force, while his 
organization has been derided as absurd. The fairest 
criticism yet published is found in the admirable 
monograph on "John Brown," by Dr. Von Hoist. 1 

1 "John Brown," by Dr. Hermann Von Hoist, professor at the 
University of Frieberg, in Baden (not of Slate University, Madi- 
son, Wis.), author of " The Constitutional History of the United 
States," edited by Frank Preston Stearns. Boston: Cupples & 
Reed, 1889. Pp. 109-112. 


That able historical writer speaks of the "Provisional 
Constitution" as "a confused medley of absurd 
because absolutely inapplicable forms, and of meas- 
ures well calculated for the end in view, — of sound 
common sense and of absurd systematizing; of cool 
computation and of inconceivable overestimates of 
the resources at hand; of true, keen-sighted human- 
ity and of reckless severity." It was insane " to 
create such a Government and to want to carry on 
such a war," while declaring there "was no intention 
of overthrowing existing Governments. But the 
Chatham men certainly "saw farther than their 
noses," in seeking to provide for the negro slaves, 
they designed to consider as " men and citizens." It 
was entirely rational to form and " create a strong 
organization " and " sensible to appoint a supreme 
commander," though absurd to suppose "that a little 
band, . . . without influence, should secretly put 
their heads together, ... to give a constitution 
to the United States; " this latter being, with all due 
deference to Von Hoist, exactly what they did not 
intend or mean to attempt doing. The absurdity of 
copying the offices of the Federal Constitution is very 
palpable to the critics, but the logic of it is not quite 
so plain. To one who understands that John Brown 
was above all other things a plain, believing, Ameri- 
can citizen, there was the common-sense thought 
that with the impressible people to be dealt with and 
controlled, large forms and sounding names or titles 
were of value, especially if they led to such direct 
connection with patriotic terms and ideas as might 
be likely to affect the minds of other sympathetic 
persons. Dr. Von Hoist, strangely enough in the light 


of the Franco-Prussian war, regards as severe pro- 
visions for taking from all who held slaves willingly, 
and from those who assisted them, all they possessed, 
whether in free or in slave-holding States." 

The recognition of " any kind of neutrality," the 
enforcement of "fair trial," provisions against" all 
useless destruction of property," and forbidding the 
use of ill words or abuse of "defeated enemy," are 
esteemed by him as proofs of humanity. What Von 
Hoist fails to see is, that these seemingly petty 
and even contradictory details were all used upon 
shrewd conceptions of the limitations of the people 
to be freed, and a clear understanding of the con' 
ditions that would exist in such fugitive camps as 
should be created. Even the learned doctor sees the 
significance of providing for " bringing together again 
of separated families, for schools, and for the further- 
ance of ' personal cleanliness.' " 

In all criticism, the one palpable omission is the 
failure to perceive how far removed John Brown's 
mental processes were from revolutionary bias or 
lawless intent. The trouble is, and strangely, too, 
that the fact seems the hardest one to understand, that 
John Brown actually believed in the idea of freedom, 
just as he believed in the existence of God. There 
was no " if," " but," or " and "; no qualification for 
him in one or the other matters of faith. Without 
question, he accepted as a conviction the idea that 
the real and actual purpose of the Federal Constitu- 
tion, and of the Union formed under it, was to " estab- 
lish justice," " maintain peace," and "promote public 
tranquility." He could not and did not conceive of 
it as merely a mechanism for courts, a machine for 


money-making, a means only for opening new lands 
and building more towns; something by which debts 
could be collected and order maintained, plus the 
constable and the cannon. This was not John Brown's 
conception. It is no wonder, therefore, that he was 
deemed " insane." 

It will be observed in the papers adopted and plans 
proposed at Chatham, that certain objects were defi- 
nitely kept in view: 

First. That slavery was in derogation of the 
Republic and contrary to just law, its righteous inter- 
pretation, and to the purposes of the American Union. 

Second. That, therefore, it was slaveholders, not 
liberators, who were traitors and rebels. Hence John 
Brown's justification of his constitution and his 
denial, when on trial, of having raised an insurrection. 

Third. His purpose to organize authority among 
his adherents. With this idea in view, the simple 
organization John Brown projected is seen to be 
admirably adapted for the conditions he anticipated 
creating — a widely scattered state of resistance among 
an untrained but willing set of people, to a system of 
oppression, — then resistance being presumed to be set 
in conditions half, leaning to their own views and 

Fourth. The military plans can be seen by the 
flexible form of organization, seen in " General 
Order No. i," 1 to be adapted to 'an insurgent war- 
fare. The bands, sections, platoons, and companies 
were designed to act separately or together. In 
this will also be seen some explanation of why an 

1 See Appendix. 


attack was made with so small a force. Each one of 
that band was fitted for some separate command, 
however small. If the best slaves had joined the lib- 
erators, and they, as originally designed, had gone 
into the Alleghany Mountains, and not been cooped 
up in the Harper's Ferry cul de sac, how soon would 
they have been subdued? It is reasonably assured 
that a number of neighborhood negroes did know of 
Brown's intention. At least they knew something was 
in the air. Osborne P. Anderson declares, 1 that visits 
were made to plantations, " and the slaves rejoiced. 
At the slaves' quarters there was apparently a gen- 
eral jubilee, and they stepped forward manfully, 
without impressing or coaxing. In one case only was 
there any hesitation. A dark-complexioned, free-born 
man refused to take up arms. . . . Of the slaves 
who followed us to the Ferry, some were sent to help 
remove stores, and the others, . . . furnished by 
me with pikes, acted as a guard to the prisoners, to 
prevent their escape." Captain Brown's purpose was 
to make of his white men, and of others as soon as 
possible, independent commanders of some small 

The Chatham Convention adjourned on the 10th 
of May, 1858. An active and acrid correspondence 
had been progressing while the " Liberators " were 
in council. A letter of Hugh Forbes, dated May 5th, 
showed that he followed somewhat closely each of 
the next moves. John Brown on the 14th wrote his 
eldest son to watch him close and forward all details. 

1 " A Voice from Harper's Ferry," Boston, 1861, p. 60. 


Following Mr. Sanborn's narrative ' it is stated that G. 
L. Stearns and Theodore Parker were for postponing 
for a year. Mr. Sanborn was in doubt; T. W. Higgin- 
son in favor of immediate action; Dr. Howe, on the 9th 
of May, held the same view; on the 18th he demanded 
immediate postponement ; Gerrit Smith on the 7th 
wished to go no further; Higginson, and probably 
Howe, suggested that " when the thing is well started, 
who cares what he (Forbes) will say." 

Steps were taken on May 20th to change the loca- 
tion of the arms and material, for " reasons that can- 
not be written." A meeting of the Captain's friends, 
Messrs. Smith, Stearns, Howe, Parker, Higginson, and 
Sanborn was held at the Revere House, Boston, on 
the 24th of May, when, as Mr. Sanborn writes, it was 
" resolved that Brown ought to go to Kansas at once." 
On the 31st inst., the Captain reached Boston. He 
was full of regret and much discouraged by the 
assumed necessity of postponement. The Revere 
House meeting decided that no effort should be made 
till the next winter, when a considerable sum, from two 
thousand to three thousand dollars, would be raised. 
Brown, in the meantime, according to the notes made 
by Col. Higginson 2 at the time, was " to blind Forbes 
by going to Kansas, and to transfer the property so as 
to relieve the Massachusetts Kansas Committee of re- 
sponsibility, and they in future were not to know his 
plans." To all this, the Captain objected that his 
force would be demoralized; "it would not cost 
twenty-five dollars apiece to move his thirteen men 

1 " Life and Letters of John Brown," p. 460, et al. 

2 " Life and Letters of John Brown," p. 464. 


from Ohio; " he would start if he had but three hun 
dred dollars. The knowledge Forbes could give to 
his opponents "would be injurious, for he wished " 
them " to underrate him, but still . . . the in- 
creased terror produced w T ould perhaps counterbal- 
ance this, and it would not make much difference. 
If he had the means, he would not lose a day." 
Higginson's report is undoubtedly a faithful one, 
and those who knew him then can realize that his 
own views were coincident with Brown's. Still, the 
latter said he did not wish his friends to think him 
" reckless," as they " held the purse, he was powerless 
without them," that some of them were " not men of 
action," and had allowed themselves " to be intimi- 
dated " by " Senator Wilson's letter." The Chatham 
episode had cost him nearly all his funds; so he was 
obliged to submit. Looking back, one can perceive 
that for what he was aiming at, and others were sym- 
pathizing with, John Brown was right and they were 
wrong. The blow may have been severer and longer 
fought. Its direct effect as a blow would have been 
more immediate and widely extended; its moral 
effect would doubtless have been much less, and no 
one can now judge with any reasonableness as to 
what might have been the political consequences fol- 
lowing a continued and far-spread slave uprising. 
The Boston incident closed, however, with Captain 
Brown leaving for the West on the 3d of June "in 
good spirits," with $500 in gold, and liberty from Mr. 
Stearns, their legal owner, to retain all the arms as 
his own property. Doubtless his willingness to re- 
turn to Kansas, apart from the need of confusing 
Forbes, which that movement most effectually did, 


was due to a real emergency that had arisen in the 
much-harried Territory. 

The Lecompton Constitution still cast its por- 
tentous shadow along the path of the free-state 
people. Though rejected in different ways, — the 
people, in order to accomplish this peacefully, having 
even "stooped to conquer," by voting under the 
fraudulent Missouri code ; — yet the national pro- 
slavery administration and party had endeavored in 
Congress to force the admission of Kansas under it 
as a slave State. They failed finally in this. A com- 
promise measure, known as the " English bill " was 
adopted on the 18th of May, by which the Governor 
of Kansas (James \V. Denver) was to appoint a day 
for voting for or against the wretched instrument. 
The Governor soon after named August 2d for the 
polling of this foregone conclusion. 1 

1 The votes cast upon the final effort to force slavery upon Kan- 
sas are instructive. They were: Election of delegates to Lecomp- 
ton Constitutional Convention (apportionment fraudulent), June 
T 5. I 857t 2,200 votes. Election of State officers under the Lecomp- 
ton Constitution, Dec. 21, 1857; vote for or against slavery 6,143, 
with 569 against; fraudulent vote proven, 3,006. The free-state 
men did not vote on the Constitution, but elected a majority of 
the Legislature; their vote on State ticket and Member of Congress 
averaged, 6,908; the pro-slavery vote nominally averaged 6,509, a 
numerical free-state majority of 399. The Constitution itself was 
not submitted, and Congress was asked to provide for that, or, 
better still, to reject the whole instrument; and, judging by the un- 
challenged votes on the question " with" or " without " slavery, 
the actual pro-slavery vote in 1S57 was 3,733. But there were 
many small frauds perpetrated, and 2,500 would be a liberal 
number. The Territorial Legislature (free-state) ordered an elec- 
tion on the Lecompton Constitution, and it was held January 4, 

i 9 4 


But this was not all, nor the chief incident which 
decided John Brown's friends and John Brown himself, 
that it was a duty as well as the best policy for him 
to return forthwith to Kansas. On the 18th of May, 
along the eastern border of Linn County, southern 
Kansas, eleven peaceable, unarmed citizens, at work 
in field, forge, and dwelling, or on the unthreatened 
highway, were suddenly captured at different points 
within a small radius by an armed band of twenty- 
five men, who appeared to rise as it were from the 
ground, so sudden and unexpected was their presence 
and action. I speak from personal knowledge of the 
terrible deed, known as the " Marais des Cygnes" 
massacre. The twenty-five armed men were a rem- 
nant of the Buford gang of two years before. They 
were led by one Charles Hamilton, who was with 
most of his associates openly sheltered at Fort Smith, 
Arkansas, and whose terrible and unqualified act of 
assassination was boastingly defended all along the 
southwest slave borders. 1 

1858; vole was as follows: against 10,226; for, with slavery 138, 
without 25; total 10,389. Congress submitted the instrument over 
again by act signed May 18, 1858, and under it a vote was had 
August 2d. It stood for it I.7S8; against it 11,300; free-stale ma- 
jority, 9,512. 

1 The names of all the assassins are not at my hands. The Hon. 
D. W. Wilder (" Annals of Kansas," p. 183) gives from " Kansas 
in 1858," William P. Tomlinson, the following names : Charles 
A. Hamilton, Dr. John Hamilton, Algernon Hamilton (three 
brothers), Luke and William Yealock, Thomas Jackson, James 
Tate, Lewis Henderson, W. B. Brockett, Harlin, Beech, and Mat- 
tock. The names of the other thirteen scoundrels appear to be 
l„ s t — a f a te that is meritled. The Hamiltons were men of edu- 
cation, residing, I believe, at or near West Point, Mo. ; all of them 


These inoffensive men, eleven in number, were 
marched to a point near the Snyder forge, an open 
log building, — sometimes called by the frightened cor- 
respondents and politicians of those days, " Snyder's 
Fort," — there made to stand in line, while a volley 
was fired into them, killing five outright, and wound- 
ing five others very severely. It was a lovely after- 
noon, and the scene of murder is the centre of a 
landscape remarkable for its placid features and rural 
beauty. The deed startled the country; the North, 
slow of anger, was roused to passionate heat; the free- 
state people, who were divided into savage factions, 
melted and fused together again under a common 
horror and a single purpose. Robert B. Mitchell, a 
leading free-state conservative, rode with James 
Montgomery, the fighting radical of southern Kansas, 
in the endeavor to overtake the Hamilton gang. At 
Fort Scott, just before this deed, Sheriff Samuel J. 
Walker, of Douglass county, acting as deputy United 
States marshal, had placed Montgomery under ar- 

were, I believe, killed as Confederate guerillas in the Civil War, 
and one was slain in combat in the Price campaign of 1864, at or 
near the point of the murder in 1858 — the Chateau Trading Post. 
The eleven free-state men, all quiet citizens, were: William Ro- 
bertson, William Colpetzer, Patrick Ross, Thomas Stillwell, John 
F. Campbell — killed at the first fire; — Asa and William Hairgrove, 
Charles Snyder, Amos Hall, and Charles F. Reed, a Methodist 
circuit rider and preacher. These were all severely wounded 
by the same fire. Amos Hall fell unhurt when the other volley 
was fired, and, feigningdeath, escaped unhurt, to be sholtodeath, 
as stated in the "Annals of Kansas," after in some later border 
trouble. The two Hairgroves were natives of Georgia. Mr. Snyder 
was a border-state man; none of the assailed party were identified 
with the radical wing of the free-state men. 


rest, for acts previously done in defense of his neigh- 
bors' and his own rights. At the same time leaders of 
the ruffian element were also arrested by this same cool 
and fearless officer. Montgomery was released on his 
parole; the United States Court discharged the pro- 
slavery criminals. No reward was -offered by any 
authority for the capture of the Hamilton murderers. 
The Governor of Missouri did not feel his jurisdiction 
outraged, and the President offered no reward. The 
Governor of Kansas contented himself with placating 
the angered citizens, not in pursuing the assassins. 
When, however, seven months later, John Brown res- 
cued eleven slaves from their Missouri masters, and 
Aaron D. Stevens slew one of these while he was in 
the act of leveling a revolver on him, the Governor 
of Missouri hastened to put a price on John Brown; 
President Buchanan offered a reward for his capture; 
United States marshals and posses were sent after 
him, while the army of the United States was required 
to join in the pursuit by Governor Medary, of Kansas. 
In the one case, the lives of non-slave-holding " poor 
whites " alone were sacrificed to the malignant pas- 
sions of the " chivalry," while in the other the sacred 
rights of property in human flesh and blood was 
sternly assailed by armed "Abolitionists." The 
Hamilton gang coolly and without haste made their 
way further south. I learned of their movements day 
after day, and soon after saw the leading assassin 
strutting as a hero in the streets of Fort Smith, 
Arkansas. One of the most stirring of John G. Whit- 
tier's lyrics is that of " Le Marais du Cygne," (" The 
Swamp of the Swan ") a picturesque name given to 
the portion of the Osage River valley by the early 


French voyageurs, who served at Chotteau's Trading 
Post, close by which the terrible deed occurred. The 
closing stanzas of Whittier's poem have that pro- 
phetic tone, which in the supreme moments of human 
conflict, always make the true poet a seer — proclaim- 
ing what will be. How prescient are the words: 

" Not in vain on the dial 

The shade moves along 
To point the great contrasts 

Of right and of wrong ; 
Free homes and free altars, 

And fields of ripe food ; 
The reeds of the swan's march 

Whose bloom is of blood. 

" On the lintels of Kansas 

That blood shall not dry; 
Henceforth the bad angel 

Shall harmless go by ; 
Henceforth to the sunset 

Unchecked on her way, 
Shall liberty follow 

The march of the day." 

The John Brown men were scattered after the ad- 
journment of the Chatham Convention, a little dis- 
couraged, too, as Steward Taylor wrote on the 
13th of May to Dr. H. C. Gill at Tabor, Iowa, by the 
aspect of what was " the most critical point" in their 
endeavors. Owen Brown went to visit his brother 
Jason at Akron, Ohio. Cook left Cleveland for the 
neighborhood of Harper's Ferry. Realf left for New 
York, and from there went to England, not to be 
heard of or from again until arrested in Texas, dur- 



ing the winter of 1859-60. Gill, who tells the story 
elsewhere in a simple narrative full also of uncon- 
scious art, went to work in a Shaker settlement, prob- 
ably Lebanon, Ohio, where Tidd was already em- 
ployed. Steward Taylor went to Illinois where he 
had acquaintances. Kagi and Stevens waited Brown's 
return at Cleveland. Parsons and Moffett stayed a 
short time in northern Ohio, and then departed for 
Iowa. Leeman got some work to do in Ashtabula 
County. John Brown left Boston, as already stated, 
on the 3d of June, proceeding to Vermont, where he 
was joined by his son John, and both went to the 
North Elba homestead for a very short visit. Kagi, 
Stevens, Leeman, Gill, Parsons, Moffett, and Owen 
were gathered up and the party pushed through to 
Kansas, arriving at Lawrence on the 25th of June. 
On that day and the following one, Captain Brown 
was the guest of James Redpath and myself, at the 
Whitney Hotel. How he blazed his road from 
southern Kansas and Missouri through Canada back 
to Harper's Ferry, must, with the four months of the 
life at Kennedy Farm, be told in bold outline in the 
next succeeding pages. 



Out of the "jaws of death " — John Brown as he looked 
in Kansas in i8jd and 1838 — Affairs along the 
southwest border of Missouri — Intrigues and dis- 
sensions in both parties — Captain James Mont- 
gomery — John Brown and " So?ne Shadows Before " 
— Snyder's Fort — Harrying each other — Pro- 
Slavery kidnappers and free-state raiders — Fort 
Scott affairs — Firing on troops — John B roam's 
first band of freed people — From Missouri to 

John Brown in 1858 presented a somewhat dif- 
ferent aspect to that which first impressed me in 
1856. Yet the figure was the same. The picturesque 
portrait of him found in this volume, gives a full con- 
ception of the fighting farmer that he was. The one 
with the beard recalls the deeper ensemble left on 
memory, of his appearance in the summer and fall of 

On the Northern emigrants' march of 1856 to the aid 
of their fellows at Lawrence, Topeka, and other 
Kansas free-state settlements, it fell to my lot to be 
one of a small company doing rear guard duty near 
the Nebraska line. But three days before we had 



led the general advance across the northern line of 
Kansas from Nebraska, appeals had been made that 

no arms were to 
be openly carried. 
Our little com- , 
pany, under Martin 
Stowell and my- 
self, rebelled, claim- 
ing the right as 
we phrased it, to 
carry our weapons 
without conceal- 
ment, and we did 
it. In that advance 
party were two of 
the men afterwards 
slain in the Har- 
per's Ferry fight. 
One was William 
Henry 1 Leeman, a 
boy of eighteen 
years, from Maine, 
who had been 
working as a shoe- 
operator in Massa- 
chusetts, and joined 
in June, 1856, at 
Worcester, Dr. Cut- 
ter's party of Mas- 
sachusetts men. He turned back with them at Lex- 


1 His middle name, as designated by his parents, was " Pillsbury," 
his mother's maiden name. He afterward adopted " Henry " and 
they acquiesced. 


ington, Mo., and then came up the Mississippi River 
from St. Louis to Davenport, Iowa, where he entered 
our party, which had determined to march across 
Iowa and southern Nebraska into Kansas, where he 
found his way to John Brown and Osawatomie. The 
other one was William Thompson, of North Elba, 
New York. Henry, his elder brother, the husband of 
Ruth Brown, was with John Brown in Kansas and had 
been severely wounded at the Black Jack fight, June 
the second. William left the Adirondacks immediately 
on receiving the news and joined our party at Buffalo, 
as we were taking the Plymouth Rock steamer for 
Detroit on our westward way. The camp where my 
first meeting with John Brown occurred was also 
named Plymouth. 

" Have you a man in your camp, named William 
Thompson? You are from Massachusetts, young 
man, I believe, and Mr. Thompson joined you at 

These words were addressed to me by an elderly 
man, riding on a worn-looking, gaunt gray horse. It 
was on a late July day and in its hottest hours. I had 
been idly watching a wagon and one horse, toiling 
slowly northward across the prairie, along the emi- 
grant trail that had been marked out by free-state 
men under command of " Sam " Walker and Aaron D. 
Stevens, who was then known as "Colonel Whipple." 
Three days before, when we crossed the Kansas line, 
Sharpe's rifles on shoulders and Colt's revolvers at 
hips, a small party of mounted men was drawn up 
on the line to welcome us. " Colonel Whipple," who 
was in command as we proudly marched by — for, well 
I remember, we all thought the fate of the Nation 


was on our shoulders — gave the order in a ringing 
voice : 

" Present arms! " 

It was done, and we cheered. We then heard, 
" What are you doing here, men ? " in the same, clear 

" Holding town-meeting," was the swift reply from 
his own following. 

''Where's your ballot box?" was the next question, 
and " Here " was the loud response, as each man 
brought his hand down on his Sharpe's rifle, which 
rang with the blow. This was a formula gotten-up 
for identification and encouragement. 

John Brown, whose name the young and ardent 
had begun to conjure with and swear by, had been 
described to me. So, as I heard the question, I looked 
up and met the full, strong gaze of a pair of lumi- 
nous, questioning eyes. Somehow, I instinctively 
knew this was John Brown, and with that name I 
replied, saying that Thompson was in our company. 
It was a long, rugged-featured face I saw. A tall, 
sinewy figure, too, — he had dismounted — five feet 
eleven, I estimated; with square shoulders, narrow 
flank, sinewy and deep-chested. A frame, full of 
nervous power, but not impressing one especially 
with muscular vigor. The impression left by the 
pose and the figure was that of reserve, endurance, 
and quiet strength. The questioning voice-tones were 
mellow, magnetic, and grave. On the weather-worn 
face was a stubby, short, gray beard, evidently of 
recent growth. John Brown never wore a beard, as a 
usual habit, till the attacks of Hugh Forbes seemed 
to make necessary a change in his usual appearance. 


The lower portion of the jaws was sharp rather than 
broad, ending in a square, firm, but not heavy chin. 
The mouth was close set and wide, deep lined, firmly 
held. It looked like that of a man who was swift to 
act. The eyes first struck me, because they had in 
them an expression I had already begun to associate 
with all the free-state men I met; that was one of 
steadfast alertness, keen, sharp observation, — the look 
of the uncowed man in constant danger and always 
on the watch, in some respects the " hunted " look. 
It was the look seen in later days of war, in the eyes 
of men employed as scouts or secret service. I am 
not saying these things from memory alone, for an 
old manuscript journal of the period has been drawn 
upon and I am transcribing in the main the impres- 
sions then more effusively written. I had an excel- 
lent opportunity for making a rapid mental sketch. 
The face was long, as I have said; the cheek bones 
prominent — privation and fatigue doubtless made 
this more apparent. John Brown's roman nose was 
a very distinctive feature. Its shape was fine, the 
bridge well marked, while the lines were long, wide 
at the bridge, broad, and rather thin at the nostrils. 
It has been stated by a competent physiologist that 
this organ is a distinctive trait of the Brown family 
and was perceptible in the revolutionary ancestor, as 
it is slightly less accented in John Brown, Jr.'s, feat- 
ures. Our Captain's "roman" was masterful, not 
domineering or inquisitive in expression. The root- 
space was broad, and the gray, bushy eyebrows were 
well defined and moderately arched. The eyes, not 
large, were deep set, blue-gray in color, darkening 
almost to blackness at times. The impression was 


not that of a flashing glance; it was not one that 
lighted-up suddenly and quickly; it was a steady 
luminous look, which inquired, but did not attack 
or disturb. They left on me always an impres- 
sion of deep kindliness, as well as penetration. 
Yet I recall it as one impersonal and withdrawn 
in character. They took in at once, not only the 
person addressed, but all the surroundings. The 
head also was both long and broad, and carried well 
forward on a long sinewy neck. The forehead seemed 
to be a low one at first glance, but it could soon be 
noted that this impression was due to the short, gray 
hair that grew down somewhat the front of a broad, 
well-developed cerebrum. The perceptions were finely 
marked, and the space from the ears forward and 
upward was quite deep, even remarkably so. This 
figure — unarmed, poorly clad, with coarse linen 
trousers tucked into high, heavy cowhide boots, with 
heavy spurs on their heels, a cotton shirt open at the 
throat, a long torn linen duster, and a bewrayed chip 
straw hat he held in his hand as he waited for 
Thompson to reach us, made up the outward garb 
and appearance of John Brown when I first met him. 
In ten minutes his mounted figure disappeared over 
the north horizon. With him went William Thomp- 
son; — blond, sturdy, yellow-bearded, bold, generous; 
a loud-voiced, fun-making young fellow of but twenty- 
two — and I never saw him again. He was done to 
death in the Shenandoah River, while clinging, a 
wounded man,, to a pier of the Harper's Ferry rail- 
road bridge, from which he had been thrown, after 
being taken prisoner and then dragged out of 
Foulke's Hotel for wanton butchery. John Brown 


was met a second and third time that year near 
Osawatomie and at Lawrence. At the latter place 
I heard and saw him in action, and his voice, though 
a little sterner, seemed to me no louder or harsher in 
tone than when I first heard his question in northern 
Kansas. At Lawrence, too, I first remarked his dis- 
tinctive walk. His feet were set firmly to the ground; 
the whole form moved steadily onward, never sway- 
ing, but walking as if on a visible line, prearranged 
for the occasion. Every one gave way; a crowd 
parted like the waters when a strongly-driven boat 
presses through. Yet the movement never seemed 
an assertive one, never left an impression of mere 
push or aggressiveness. The next time we met 
was on the 25th of June, 1858, at a hotel in Law- 
rence. In those two years he had aged more than 
Time required. He was past fifty-six at the first 
meeting, and had just passed his fifty-eighth birthday, 1 
when he was seated between James Redpath and 
myself at that dinner-table. I can hardly define the 
difference in impression that remains in memory, 
unless by terms which may seem overstrained. But 
I venture to say that, in 1858, John Brown looked to 
me as a "Prophet" might have done; in 1856, he 
certainly embodied the " Fighter." Under no cir- 
cumstances could he ever have appeared common- 
place. The heavy, gray beard, almost snow-white, 
lent a degree of dignity* as well as a grave pictur- 
esqueness to his face and figure. This was enhanced 
by a slower movement, manners of simple distinction, 
and a grave, reticent dignity of speech, which tran- 

1 John Brown was born May 9, 1801. 



scended the terseness of the fighting summer days. 
This impression was greatly deepened at the meeting 
had with him at Osawatomie, in the August follow- 
ing, when by his direction Kagi gave me a full insight 
into the whole enterprise, place, and purpose. 1 

Affairs in southern Kansas, apart from the Hamil- 
ton massacre atrocity, were in a state of seething tur- 
bulence, and had been so, more or less pronounced, 
ever since the summer of 1856. In large degree 
southeast Kansas, below the Pottawatomie basin, had 
not been very favorably affected by the free state 
triumphs of 1856. Fort Scott, formerly an army 
post, had been disposed of to pro-slavery speculators 
for a small sum. The buildings alone substantial 
stone and frame post and headquarters, were worth 
the sum given, even as old material, while the reser- 
vation land was simply given away. A Federal land- 
office was established, and Clark, the murderer of 
Barber, a bold and violent Missourian, was the most 
active pro-slavery leader. Blake Little was made 
receiver. Later, a superannuated Democratic politic- 
ian of Michigan, was made land register in defer- 

1 See Appendix for paper entitled "Some Shadows Before." 
" Five years before, when tliey first went to Kansas, the father and 
sons had a plan of going to Louisiana, trying this same project, 
and then retreating into Texas with the liberated slaves. Nurtured 
on it so long, for years sacrificing to it all the other objects of life, 
the thought of its failuie never crossed their mind; and it is an 
extraordinary fact that when the disastrous news first came to 
North Elba, the family utterly refused to believe it, and were 
saved from suffering by that incredulity till the arrival of the next 
weekly mail." Account of a visit to the John Brown household, 
November, 1859, by Thomas We nt worth Higginson. 


ence probably to the slightly growing strength of a 
presumed sentiment among members of that party 
who were originally from free States. Since Bourbon, 
Anderson, Allen, McGee, and Coffee counties were 
iess affected than others by the violent outbreaks of 
1856, as the border ruffians had things their own 
way, a considerable number of so-called conserva- 
tive free-state settlers — men chiefly from border 
slave or western States — had taken " claims " in the 
Osage, Marmaton, Neosho, and other small valleys 
of the counties named. So also did the pro-slavery 
men from Missouri and Arkansas. Many of Buford's 
men filed upon preemption claims in that district, and 
generally, too, upon those from which other men had 
been driven. There were also Indian trust lands 
ordered to be sold by the ruling Buchanan admin- 
istration, which, being located on the western border 
of Missouri, afforded occasion for the combining and 
gathering of some of the worst elements left over 
from the savager days of the free-state struggle. 
Later, too, a few free colored people from the Indian 
Territory, southwest Missouri, and Arkansas, began 
to quietly settle in this section. Among them were 
farmers of some means; all were quiet and inoffen- 
sive. The chief cause of their appearance was that 
growing ill-will shown in neighborhood feeling and 
State law, by which they w r ere unfavorably affected. 
The history of the few years immediately preceding 
the slaveholder's rebellion is deeply marked with the 
harsh treatment of this unfortunate class. The dis 
bandment of border-ruffian gangs, forced by the 
political necessities of the party in power, gave zest 
to land-jobs, claim-jumping, and later to negro-kid- 


napping as a business, wherever the more radical 
free-state feeling was not strong enough to be a per- 
sistent menace to such action. From this same class 
came at a later day (and quite as naturally as they 
had become manstealers from 1857 to i860), most of 
the leaders - of the guerilla bands who infested west- 
ern and central Missouri, and harried the Kansas 
border during the Civil War, writing in fire and blood 
a record of atrocity so fearful that for the sake of a 
common nationality it is better that no full record 
exists nor can be made. 

Resistance came. Fort Scott, as shown, became 
the seat of pro-slavery hostility, just in proportion as 
the power for evil diminished in other localities. The 
free-state settlers, who had been driven or kept out 
of southern Kansas from the spring of 1856 to that 
of 1857, begun to return and to settle in that section. 
At once violence became rampant. The free-state 
land claimants found themselves insulted and out- 
raged by the public officials, arrested on false charges, 
and in personal danger whenever they went to Fort 
Scott. Appeals were made in August and September, 
1857, to free-state friends at Lawrence and elsewhere, 
and volunteers soon appeared. A squatter's tribunal 
was organized. It is not essential to this narrative to 
give details. The fact that the more violent of the 
Missouri and Buford politicians and leaders made 
their headquarters at Fort Scott and Paris, while 
free-state black law and ''conservative" Democratic 
politicians were numerous at the county seats of 
other counties. Intensified quarrels and fighting 
soon ensued. It is not necessary to either defend or 
narrate the history of free-state resistance. It is 


necessary to bear in mind, however, that the worst 
residuum of the pro-slavery force were in power. Fed- 
eral interference was called for, and the disturbances 
arose from their usurpation of land claims. The 
more daring free-state men rallied around Captain 
James Montgomery, who, in the fall of 1857, occupied 
the place which had fallen the year before on John 
Brown. His arrest was ordered, attacks were made 
on his cabin, and resisted. Warrants were issued, 
and finally troops were sent to execute the same. 
An attempt was made by Blake Little, in December, 
1857, to arrest and break up the squatter's court. A 
fight ensued, but no one was killed and the marshal 
retired without any prisoners. Montgomery opposed 
voting for State officers under the Lecompton Con- 
stitution, which was voted upon "for" and "against" 
under Territorial enactment, passed by the free-state 
majority, who, under the advice of Senator Henry 
Wilson and other friends, had "stooped to conquer," 
and thereby captured the Territorial legislative 
power. The Radicals did not vote as a rule. Mont- 
gomery is charged with having forcibly broken up 
the voting at his precinct. 

Southern Kansas affairs grew warmer as 1858 
lengthened. In April following, Captain Anderson, 
with his squadron, followed Montgomery and his 
men up the Marmaton and Little Sugar valleys for 
the purpose of arresting them. Montgomery, occu- 
pying a strong defensible position, turned and fired 
upon the pursuers, killing one soldier, wounding 
another, and the captain, too. This is the first and 
only time that the free-state men actually resisted 
United States troops. This, in all probability, would 



not have been done, but for the notorious fact that 
Anderson and his troopers 1 were practically a gang of 
pro-slavery partisans, not acting as a lawful posse. 
Indeed, the proceedings of that period at Fort Scott 
and vicinity afford reasonable grounds for the belief 
that the leading men in the pro-southern councils, 
who were at heart disunionists /<?/- se, were endeavor- 
ing by violent persecutions, under the pretense of 
law, to embroil free-state people in a conflict with 
United States authority. 2 A short time before Cap- 
tain Montgomery's cabin was surrounded and 
attacked with firearms, after the inmates were sup- 
posed to have retired (I was a guest therein at the 
time), a supposition which cost the life of one of the 
assailants, at least. About the same time, a pro- 
slavery occupant of a Marmaton claim, first settled 
on by a free-state man (the validity of whose entry 
was finally favorably decided by the General Land 
Office on appeal) who had called in a force from Fort 
Scott to drive away the free-state claimant, on being 
visited by a posse from the squatter court, fired at 
once on those who knocked and was himself killed 
by a rifle shot from Montgomery. These facts are 
only recalled to illustrate the existing conditions and 
to show how the " Swamp of the Swan " assassina- 
tions were led up to by acts of rapine, violence, and 
resistance. In such scenes as these, Barclay Coppoc, 
Jeremiah G. Anderson, and Albert Hazlett, begun to 

1 A number of Bu ford's men enlisted as dragoons. 

-Jeremiah G. Anderson and Albert Hazlett, both emigrants of 
the winter of 1856-57, were active members of Captain Mont- 
gomery's company. I was myself a witness of many of these 


traverse the roads which led them to Harper's Ferry 
and, for two of them, to death in Virginia. 

The promotion of James W. Denver from Secre- 
tary to the position of Governor, was first followed 
by renewed efforts to arrest Captain Montgomery, 
and whether or not that was any direct embolden- 
ment of the infuriated ruffians, the failure to arrest 
was followed in three days by the killing and wound- 
ing at the trading-post, Linn County, of the eleven 
victims of the Hamilton fury and bloodthirstiness. 
Immediately following, some arrests were made in 
connection with the trading-post crime, and for the 
two preceding assassinations of Denton and Hedrick, 
near Fort Scott. The arrested men were immedi- 
ately released at Fort Scott, and Montgomery made, 
June 6th, a raid on the place. The assassins got 
away, and nothing more fatal occurred than an ex- 
change of shots. The partisan support by the pro- 
slavery court seems to have alarmed the Territorial 
executive. Governor Denver moved on Bourbon 
County. 1 

Returning to John Brown's movements, my journal 

1 Governor Denver left Lawrence June gth with Charles Robin- 
son, Judge John Wright, A. D. Richardson {Boston Journal), 
Lewis M. Tappan, Edmund Babb {Cincinnati Gazette), and others, 
for Fort Scott. Montgomery joined the party at Moueka. The 
Governor's terms of peace are thus reported : 

i. The withdrawal of United States troops from Fort Scott. 
2. The election of new county officers in Bourbon County. 3. The 
stationing of troops along the Missouri frontier to protect the 
settlers of the Territory from invasion. 4, The suspension of the 
execution of all old writs until their legitimacy is authenticated be- 
fore the proper tribunal. 5. The abandonment of the field by 


states that he remained in Lawrence from his arrival 
on the 25th of June to the morning of the 27th, when, 
with Kagi, the only one of his party who then accom- 
panied him, he left for Osawatomie. By invitation I 
afterwards visited him at the house of his brother-in- 
law, the Rev. Mr. Adair. 1 A letter to " F. B. Sanborn, 
and Friends at Boston and Worcester," bearing dates 
July 20th, the 23d, and the 6th of August, gives an 
account of his movements. I reproduce in part 
from Mr. Sanborn's volume the essential details. The 
address is " Missouri Line (on Kansas Side)," and it 
states that " I am here with about ten of my men, 
located on the same quarter section where the terrible 
murders of the 19th May were committed." The ten 
men were his son Owen, John Henry Kagi, Aaron 
Dwight Stevens, Charles Plummer Tidd, William 
Henry Leeman, George B. Gill, of the original Kan- 
sas-Springdale, Iowa, party, with four others, were 
men who escaped with their lives from Hamilton's 
murderous arms. These were the two Hairgroves, 
the blacksmith, Snyder, and John Mickel or Michael. 
The Captain assumed the name of " Shubel Morgan," 

Montgomery and his men, and all other parties of armed men, 
whether free-state or pro-slavery. 

Montgomery immediately accepted these terms. At Fort 
Scott, Governor Denver and Judge Wright made speeches. The 
pro-slavery men were dissatisfied with the first, and threatened 
violence over the latter. The Governor left on June 16th; Mont- 
gomery then disbanded; the United States troops left Fort Scott, 
and Captain Weaver, United States Army, was stationed on the 
Missouri border in Linn County. — "Annals of Kansas," D. H. 
Wilder. (The truce was not of long duration, however.) 

1 See Appendix for my paper, "Some Shadows Before." 


and fourteen persons signed the roll of his new com- 
pany. 1 Captain Brown vividly described the prevail- 
ing feeling of terror, when he said: " Deserted farms 
and dwellings lie in all directions for some miles 
along the line, and the remaining inhabitants watch 
every one moving about with anxious jealousy and 
vigilance." "Any little affair," continued the Cap- 
tain, " may open the quarrel afresh. ... I have 
concealed the fact of my presence pretty much, lest 
it should tend to increase excitement; but it is getting 
leaked out, and will soon be known to all. As I am 
not here to seek or secure revenge, I do not mean to be 
the first to reopen the quarrel. How soon it may be 
raised against me, I cannot say, nor am I over-anx- 
ious." He then refers to misrepresentations in the 
New York Tribune, under date from West port, Mis- 
souri, as to the existence of an alleged fort, called 
" Snyder's." It was said, in the Westport letter, that 
it was " a house built in the gorge of two mounds, 
and flanked by rock walls, a fit place for robbers and 
murderers." This was the place the Captain was 
occupying, and he thus described it: "At a spring in 
a rocky ravine stands a very small open blacksmith's 
shop, made of thin slabs from a saw-mill. This is the 
only building that has ever been known to stand 
there, yet it is called a ' fortification.' It is to-day 
just as it was the 19th of May, — a little pent-up shop, 
containing Snyder's tools (what have not been carried 
off), all covered with rust, — and had never been 

1 See Appendix for Enrollment and Rules of the " Shubel 
Morgan" Company. These rules should be carefully read, as 
expressing the spirit of all John Brown's movements. 


thought of as a ' fortification ' before the poor man 
attempted to use it in his own and his brother's and 
his son's defense. I give this as an illustration of the 
truthfulness of that whole account. It should be 
left to stand while it may last, and should be known 
hereafter as Fort Snyder." 

The Captain's letter, under date of July 23d, 
describes a renewal of excitement, threatening an 
attack on a free-state Missourian, named Bishop. 
The letter says: "At present, along this part of the 
line, the free-state men may be said in some sense to 
' possess the field,' but we deem it wise to ' be on the 
alert/ Whether Missouri people are more excited 
through fear than otherwise I am not yet prepared to 
judge. The blacksmith (Snyder) has got his family 
back; also some others have returned, and a few new 
settlers are coming in." 

In the closing paragraph, under date of August 6th, 
John Brown describes his exposures and privations, 
being down with the ague, having " lain every night 
without shelter, suffering from cold rains and heavy 
dews, together with the oppressive heat of the days." 
The armed posse stationed on the line by Gov. Den- 
ver, moved to and encamped on the quarter section 
adjoining Snyder's, which the Captain was occupying. 
He wrote: "Several of them immediately sought 
opportunity to tender their service to me secretly. I, 
however, advised them to remain where they were. 
Soon after I came on the line, my right name was re- 
ported, but the majority did not credit the report." 

Shortly after this last date he returned to Mr. 
Adair's, where I found him early in September, still 
quite feeble from the effects of congestive chills. 


During this time the Lecompton Constitution elec- 
tion, as already reported, came off, creating fresh dis- 
order and bringing warrants with posses from Fort 
Scott to arrest Montgomery and his men. It must be 
borne in mind that if there were dissensions as to the 
policy of the free-state people, there were also very 
ragged-edged ones within the pro-slavery camp. 
From the first, as already pointed out, there was a 
distinct and keen-witted faction determined to force 
their issue to the verge of destructive fight. They 
were playing " to fire the Southern heart " with Kan- 
sas free-state outrages, just as twelve months or so 
later, Governor Wise, of Virginia, was doing with the 
Harper's Ferry prisoners and material in his hands. 
The object was disunion, pure and simple. And at 
this time, the movement centered in Fort Scott. The 
leaders still held Federal offices, and were able to so 
harry the free-state farmers as to force them to 
gi eater lengths. Then there were the loose and irre- 
sponsible on both sides. Those of the Missouri bor- 
der turned kidnappers, like William C. Quantrill 
(afterwards known as guerilla and wholesale assassin), 
and murderers like the Hamiltons; while on the free- 
state side were men ready to risk their own lives and 
the peace of the community, to free a negro and con- 
vey a pro-slavery horse or mule to their own use or 
profit. John Brown and James Montgomery are not 
to be so recorded, though at times men served with 
them both who were adepts at such actions. The 
essential difference, however, was that the one would 
help a slave to escape, even if they would not steal a 
horse, while the other type would rather murder a 
free-state man than kidnap a negro, even into bond- 


age, and the latter was their usual avocation. Politi- 
cally, then, a considerable element in the pro-slavery 
party within Kansas were willing to surrender the 
idea of a slave State for the maintenance of Demo- 
cratic power. Mr. Buchanan was advised by these 
shrewder men, the Stringfellows, Eastin, Henderson 
& Co., to let the extreme Southern wing go, and build 
up a Northern or black-law Democratic party. He 
would not do it, and after him came the deluge ! It 
is not possible, then, to understand the situation in the 
fall of 1858, without keeping these issues in view. 
John Brown understood and sought to use them. To 
a certain extent he did, acting only so far as it could 
aid the spread of growing hostility to the slave-power. 
Members of his party were more active than himself. 
Stevens was several times threatened with attack at 
Snyder's. He refused to do anything but fight, and, by 
his bold attitude with a few men, caused the retreat of 
a larger body. Kagi was with Montgomery a good 
deal of the time. In the beginning of November, the 
latter's cabin was fired into. Kagi was a guest at the 
time and assisted in its successful defense. Tidd 
was also on hand. Gill was mainly with the Captain. 
Stevens held " Snyder's Fort." Jeremiah G. Ander- 
son and Albert Hazlett were usually under Mont- 
gomery's command. The former was several times 
in arrest. Leeman remained with Stevens. The 
Captain was chiefly at Osawatomie or Moneka, visit- 
ing with the Wattles at the latter place. The Fort 
Scott pro-slavery policy culminated on the 25th of 
November in the arrest and chaining of a farmer 
named B. M. Rice, under charge of murder, but 
whose real offense was giving, as alleged, information 


to Capt. James Montgomery. A meeting was called 
on the 30th by the free-state people of Bourbon 
County, Montgomery attending. The sheriff started 
to arrest " Old Brown " on the same day. He was 
living on the Snyder place with four of his men. The 
Captain had left for Osawatomie unaware of this pro- 
posed call. One hundred men were in the sheriff's 
posse, and on their arrival at " Snyder's," a demand 
for surrender was made. Stevens declared he would 
fight all of them, and prepared with three others to 
resist Sheriff McDaniel, who retired in good order. 
The next eighteen days were filled with excitement, 
ending on the 16th of December, with Montgomery's 
capture of Fort Scott, rescue of Ben Rice, and the 
killing of Blake Little, the pro-southern leader. 
Kagi, Hazlett, Tidd, J. G. Anderson, of the Harper's 
Ferry party, were certainly active in this affair. 

For some days there was a lull, and then came a 
startling event, which I shall leave one of the prin- 
cipal actors therein, George B. Gill, to describe. In 
letters to me, recently revised, he says: 

" We occupied a log building on a claim owned by Mont- 
gomery's mother-in-law on the Little Sugar creek, and but a 
short distance from his own dwelling. Our family consisted of 
Brown, Kagi, Tidd, and Stevens — Montgomery was with us 
occasionally at night. We threw up some earth as a barri- 
cade on the outside, and made a few concealed loopholes 
between the logs in the house and called it a fort. On the 
13th of November Montgomery, with his friends, our little 
company included, visited Paris, the county seat of Linn, in 
search of a supposed indictment said to have been found by 
the Grand Jury. Brown accompanied us to the outskirts of 
the town, saying that he would hold himself in readiness if 
needed. Later, Captain Brown, accompanied by myself, visited 


Osawatomie. We returned December ist. During our 
absence a demonstration was made against our fort by Mound 
City parties. This demonstration emanated from a public 
meeting held for the avowed purpose of creating sentiment 
against Montgomery. On the 16th of December Montgomery 
invaded Fort Scott and released Ben Rice, in which melee a 
deputy United States marshal, J. Blake Little, was killed. 
Brown's party participated, but Brown himself remained at 
the Little Sugar creek rendezvous. 

" Returning from Fort Scott, we stopped at a settlement on 
the Little Osage. With the exception of Jerry Anderson, I 
only remember the names of two of the residents of that 
locality. One was Captain Bain, the other was a brother 
of Jerry Anderson. On the Sunday following the expedition 
to Fort Scott, as I was scouting down the line, I ran across a 
colored man, whose ostensible purpose was the selling of 
brooms. He soon solved the problem as to the propriety of 
making a confidant of me, and I found that his name was Jim 
Daniels ; that his wife, self, and babies belonged to an estate, 
and were to be sold at an administrator's sale in the immediate 
future. His present business was not the selling of brooms 
particularly, but to find help to get himself, family, and a few 
friends in the vicinity away from these threatened conditions. 
Daniels was a fine-looking mulatto. I immediately hunted up 
Brown, and it was soon arranged to go the following night 
and give what assistance we could. I am sure that Brown, in 
his mind, was just then waiting for something to turn up ; or, 
in his way of thinking, was expecting or hoping that God 
would provide him a basis of action. When this came, he 
hailed it as heaven-sent. Arrangements were made for Brown 
and his party to visit Hicklan's (the name of Daniels's owner) 
and others on the north side of the Little Osage, Missouri, 
while Stevens was to take a small party and bring in one or 
more applicants from the south side. Brown's party numbered 
about a dozen. Doctor, afterwards Colonel, Jenisson, 
" Pickles," a reckless young fellow of the section, and a couple 
of Dr. Ayres's sons, being among the number. J. G. Anderson 


Ckilled at Harper's Ferry) was also with Brown. Stevens 
was accompanied by Tidd, Hazlett, and others, to the number 
of eight. On the night of the 20th of December we wended 
our way slowly down into Missouri, first stopping at Hicklan's, 
with whom Daniels and family were staying. Hicklan, I 
think, had an interest in the estate, his wife being one of the 
heirs, but they were living on the farm at this time simply as 
tenants. It required a nice discrimination to tell his individual 
property from that belonging to the estate. All of the personal 
property belonging to the estate that he could find, Brown 
intended to take as being owned by the slaves, having surely 
been bought with their labor. In his view, they were entitled 
to all the proceeds of their labor. He would have taken the 
real estate as well if he had the facilities for moving it across 
the country to Canada. He reasoned that they, the slaves, 
were the creators of the whole, and* were entitled to it, not only 
as their own, but from necessity, for they must have a convey- 
ance and also something" to dispose of in order to raise funds 
to defray the expenses of the long overland trip. Captain 
Brown had no means of his own to do this for them. 

" Daniels was intrusted with the arrangements on the outside, 
as he was apparently the soul of honor, and a good friend of 
Hicklan, who, I believe, was a very fair man and, perhaps, a 
very good one. Daniels was very careful that nothing belong- 
ing to Hicklan should be taken or interfered with. It was also 
Brown's intention that nothing, if possible, should be touched 
that did not in his estimation belong to the slaves. 

'• I was intrusted with this matter in the house, and I then 
declared that Hicklan's effects should not be touched. I 
soon discovered that watches and other articles were being 
taken by unscrupulous members of our party. Brown caused 
an immediate disgorgement. Hicklan himself was consulted 
as to what property belonged to him and what belonged to the 
estate; his word being invariably relied upon. If he had any 
property taken it was by some sneak thief in defiance of the 
most explicit orders and our utmost care. The party was 
hastily gathered and the selections were not perfect. 


" From the Lawrence estate were taken Daniels's wife, with 
their two children and two other chattels ; also a yoke of cattle, 
two horses, a large old Conestago wagon, beds and bedding, 
with clothes and personal effects. 

" From Hicklan's we went direct to LaRue's, whose house 
was surrounded. We found them in bed and asleep. The old 
man being awakened with the usual ' Hallo' ; which, when re- 
plied to by ' What's wanted,' was answered by the old Captain 
stating the business thus tersely: 'We have come after your 
negroes and their properly; will you surrender or fight ? ' 

" I think that they had been rather looking for such a com- 
pany and were prepared to receive us, as we found in a few 
minutes that there were several men inside with plenty of arms. 
The immediate reply was ' We'll fight.' ' All right,' said 
Captain Brown, 'we'll smoke you out, then.' 

"This would have been attempted forthwith, as there was 
plenty of fire in the negro quarters, had they not very quickly 
reconsidered their decision and surrendered. From this place 
was taken five more negroes, some clothing, bedding, and 
other personal effects, another yoke of cattle, wagon and 
several horses. The horses taken from LaRue's were probably 
never seen by Brown. He heard of them afterwards, no doubt, 
but that would be about all. Jenisson undoubtedly rode one 
of them away. Two or three of the white men were carried 
with us several miles into Kansas and then released, with the 
suggestion from Brown that ' You can follow us just as soon 
as you like.' One of them remarked in reply, 'I'll follow 
home; that is just about what I'll do.' It was a very cold 
night, but to our contrabands the conditions produced a genial 
warmth not indorsed by the thermometer. One of the women 
pitied ' poor marsa ! he's in a bad fix ; hogs not killed, corn not 
shucked, and niggers all gone.' One, who was driving the 
oxen, inquired the distance to Canada. He was told that it 
was only about fifteen hundred miles. ' Oh, golly ; we 'uns 
never get dar before spring ! ' he exclaimed as he brought the 
whip down on the oxen, shouting 'Git up dar, buck; bung 
along!' Daniels himself was very thoughtful, realizing to the 


fullest extent the clangers of the situation. The others seemed 
to have implicit confidence in their protectors. 

"On meeting the other party in the morning we learned that 
they had succeeded in getting the contraband ' Jane ' that they 
had gone after, and that Stevens, much to Brown's sorrow, 
had killed Mr. Cruise, the so-called owner of Jane. The inci- 
dent was told to me by several of the party immediately after. 
They gained access to Cruise's house by representing them- 
selves to be pro-slavery friends. After gaining entrance 
Stevens informed them of their business, and demanded his 
surrender, when he attempted to draw a revolver, which was 
conveniently near. One of his children had been playing with 
a ribbon or string and had created an obstruction, or an 
entanglement, which gave Stevens an advantage and he saved 
himself by killing Cruise at the first shot. I had no personal 
knowledge of Cruise, but he was represented as one of the most 
active enemies of the free-state cause, and as having accumu- 
lated much property through raids into Kansas. As reported, 
he was absolutely notorious. His wife was seemingly not 
much surprised, for she said that she had often told him that if 
he didn't behave himself he would get killed sooner or later. 
The negroes were taken first to Augustus Wattles's, from there 
to Mendenhall's and Adair's, close to Osawatomie, but were 
finally landed in some cabins, close to Garnett, under the care 
of Doctor (afterwards Major-General) James G. Blount. We 
then returned to Captain Bain's, and, in anticipation of being 
hunted by the Missourians, Captain Brown commenced a 
system of earthworks in a naturally inaccessible position on 
the Little Osage, close to Bain's house. The position, properly 
defended, would have been well-nigh impregnable, and could 
have been held by a handful against a small army, without 
artillery. Rumors of all kinds were thick and warlike, and, 
while waiting for the Missourians, a friendly messenger from 
higher up the Osage reached our camp in the night with the 
information that the conservative free-state men, under a 
prominent local leader, were organizing to either kill Captain 
Brown or hand him over to the Missourians. The State 


authorities there had by this time offered a reward for him and 
his men. 

" Brown, in the estimation of these free-state men, -had 
exceeded his privileges by invading Missouri and interfering 
with the divine institution of slavery. Their code confined all 
their motions to the defensive. Missouri might invade Kansas, 
but Kansas must not invade Missouri; pro-slavery men might 
cross the line and steal from, harass, or murder free state 
settlers, yet free-state men must not retaliate by crossing the 
line, and must be very careful not to insult the slave interest. 1 
Neither Missourians nor • conservative ' free-state men, how- 
ever, came to trouble us. The company up the Osage dis- 
covered that another company had formed in the rear, which 
would have given them especial attention had they moved 
towards us. Besides, Montgomery was still a power behind 
the throne ; apparently out of the arena, yet ready in case of 
need to give Brown his active support. Brown at this time 

1 As one result of all these conflicting conditions and disturb- 
ances, an agreement was entered into after a conference at 
Moneka, Mr. Wattles acting as peacemaker. It was at this time, 
when Mr. Wattles and other friends urged upon the Captain that 
Kansas was too greatly harassed, that the latter replied : " He 
would soon remove the seat of the trouble elsewhere." The 
following is a copy of the agreement made : 

" We, the undersigned citizens of Kansas and Missouri, Jan. 
I, 1859: 

" 1. All criminal proceedings for any action connected with 
politics to be quashed. 

"2. All active political men, who have been 'forcibly driven 
from the Territory for their crimes ... to remain away.' 
This did not apply to those ' voluntarily ' leaving * through fear.' 

" 3. No troops or posse to be sent out. 

" 4. All parties shall in good faith discontinue acts of robbery, 
theft, or violence of any kind — on account of ' political differ- 

Augustus Wattles, John Brown, William Aulderson, 
James Montgomery, O. P. Bain, and others. 


wrote his famous parallels, 1 and was exceedingly anxious to 
move north at the safest time for traveling" with the colored 
people. It was found impossible to move them in considera- 
tion of Daniels's wife, she having given birth to a boy, who 
was christened 'John Brown' Daniels. Dr. Blount, who 
had attended her, began to grow weary under the care, and 
sent a messenger to have them moved as soon as possible. 

"It must have been on or about the 20th of January, 1859, that 
we left Garnett. Captain Brown and myself were alone with 
the colored folks." 

Mr. Gill then mentions Ottawa Jones's, Brown's Indian 
friend, Major Abbott's, and a Mr. Grover's, near Lawrence, 
as some of their stopping-places. From Grover's point John 
Brown visited Lawrence, sold the oxen, which were probably 
butchered there, and hired a team or two to help the party 
through as far as Tabor, one of the teams eventually going as 
far as Springdale, Iowa. At Lawrence the old man arranged 
his finances, mostly from the sale of the cattle however. 2 

" The colored folks cooked," continues Mr. Gill, "a supply of 
provisions, mostly obtained through the generosity of the 
Grovers and Abbotts. I remained with the colored folks while 
Brown attended to his business in town. We left Grover's on 
the evening of the 28th of January, I still being guide and guard, 
riding a fine stallion, which Brown had given Hazlett a forty 
acre land warrant for. The land warrant Gerrit Smith had 
sent Brown, and the stallion Hazlett had picked up clown in 
Missouri. Brown afterwards sold it at auction, in Cleveland, 
Ohio. About midnight, and somewhere opposite Lecompton, 
on our way to Topeka, I noticed men behind a fence. Of course 
I could not tell how many. Going to the wagon in which the 
old man rode, I acquainted him with the fact. He was dozing 
when I spoke, but my news woke him up. He told me to keep 

1 See Appendix. 

2 It was at this time that Captain Brown had his last interview, 
and most remarkable interview, with William A. Phillips. (See 


a good lookout. No one troubled us, however, but I found out 
afterwards from some prisoners we took at Holton, that they 
had actually ambushed us, but could not conceive of ours being 
the outfit that they were looking for, until it was too late, no 
oxen, no guards, or if there were guards they were behind and 
of an unknown quantity, and it might be unsafe to stop us, or 
it might be a stragetic movement of some kind to take them in. 
They waited to see and missed us. At Topeka, Stevens joined 
us, and I stopped to rest with John Ritchie. On the 29th the 
fugitives passed through and w'ere stopped a little north of 
Holton, on what was then known as Spring Creek. A mes- 
senger was hurried back by Mr. Wasson, living there, to 
Topeka, and Col. Ritchie quickly raised a force, reaching Holton 
in the afternoon of the 31st, We found Brown and Stevens 
with the colored folks and teamsters in log houses with one 
prisoner. We immediately organized and advanced towards 
the ford or crossing which was in possession of the supposed 
posse who were drilling on its banks. The stream was very 
high and almost unfordable. We succeeded in crossing, how- 
ever, and taking several prisoners without any one getting hurt. 
This was known as the Battle of the Spurs. The piisoners we 
kept a day or two and then allowed them to go home on foot. 
It was these prisoners that it was reported were made by 
Brown to kneel and pray. There was no truth in this what- 
ever, as I guarded the prisoners myself. One of the prisoners, 
to show his bravado, commenced to swear as only a first-class 
expert could do. The old man hearing him said, ' Tut, tut, you 
are not doing right, for if there is a God, it is wrong to speak 
His name in that way ; if there is none it is certainly very foolish.' 
" One of our boys also undertook to show his bravery by 
abusing the prisoners. The Captain read him a lecture on 
the cowardice of insulting a man unable to defend himself. 
Some of the Topeka party accompanied us to Tabor, Iowa. 
We understood at this time that troops were in our rear in 
Kansas, and that there probably would be squads of armed and 
organized parties to either kill, arrest, or otherwise retard our 
advance. We stopped over night at a Nebraska Indian settle- 


ment (the Otoes), and slept in their houses. In the morning 
the river had risen, and the ice floated free from each shore. 
We felled trees and bridged from the shore to the ice, drawing 
our wagons over by hand and leading the horses. Previous to 
passing through Nebraska City, I had, in consequence of the 
cold, walked behind the train. Being in quite a crippled con- 
dition, I got some distance behind ; or it is possible that 
the drivers were hurrying up, as it was growing dark. At any 
rate, I found myself intercepted by three scouts. In my efforts 
to throw them off, I claimed to be traveling south, which I suc- 
ceeded in doing, but it delayed my getting into the city until 
about ten o'clock. Our folks had then crossed on the ice and 
passed on, I stopped over night with Kagi's brother-in-law, 
Mr. Mayhew, but had some difficulty in rinding him, having 
had to inquire some. A letter from there shortly afterwards 
stated that I had not been gone the next morning more than 
fifteen minutes, before the house was surrounded by about fifty 
men, being a marshal's posse in search of us. Arriving at 
Dr. Blanchard's, midway, perhaps, between Nebraska City, 
at which place Brown and party had stopped, I found that the 
posse had preceded me, and searched thoroughly, even moving 
bookcases and cupboards out from the wall, to see that there 
were no secret recesses to hold underground travelers. How I 
missed coming into contact with them, or how Brown's party 
missed them, can only be accounted for on the supposition that 
different roads were traveled. On the night of the fifth of 
February, 1859, we arrived at Tabor, where we stayed until the 
nth. At this place, meetings were held, and resolutions 
passed, denouncing Brown, his party, and actions. Yet Tabor 
had been the starting-point for the free-state movements in 
western Iowa, and the people continued to aid us. 

" Leaving that place on the nth, we took up our line of march 
for Springdale, stopping at Toole's the night of the 12th, Lewis's 
Mills the 13th, Porter's tavern, Grove City, the 14th, Dalman- 
utha, the 15th, at Murray's, Aurora, on the 16th, Jordan's on 
the 17th, and, about noon on the ^ 8th, passed through Des Moines 
City, stopping quite a while in the streets, Kagi hunting up 


Editor Teesdale, of the Register, an acquaintance of his ; he 
also proved to be an old acquaintance of Brown. Mr. Tees- 
dale paid our ferriage across the Des Moines River. On the 
night of the 18th we stopped at Hawley's, on the 19th at Dick- 
erson's, and on the 20th reached Grinnell, at which place our 
welcome was enthusiastic, Mr. J. B. Grinnell, afterwards in 
Congress, personally superintending the reception. 1 On the 
25th we reached Springdale, going through Iowa City some 
time during the forenoon. No efforts having been made to 

1 Reception of Brown and Party at Grinnell, Iowa. [In 
the handwriting of Captain Brown is the following memoranda 
now among the records of the Kansas State Historical Society :] 

" 1. Whole party and teams kept for two days free of cost. 

" 2. Sundry articles of clothing given to the captives. 

" 3. Bread, meat, cake, pies, etc., prepared for or.r journey. 

" 4. Full houses for two nights in succession, at which meetings 
Brown and Kagi spoke and were loudly cheered, and fully in- 
dorsed. Three Congregational clergymen attended the meeting 
on Sabbath evening (notice of which was given out from the pul- 
pit); all of them look part in justifying our course, and in urging 
for contributions in our behalf. There was no dissenting speaker 
present at either meeting. Mr. Grinnell spoke at length, and has 
since labored to secure us a free and safe conveyance to Chicago, 
and effected it. 

" 5. Contributions in cash amounting to $26.50. 

"6. Last, but not least, public thanksgiving to Almighty God, 
offered by Mr. Giitmell, in behalf of the whole company, for His 
great mercy and protecting care, with prayers for a continuance 
of these Blessings. 

" As the action of Tabor friends has been published in the news- 
papers by some of her people (as I suppose), would not friend 
Gaston, or some other friend, give publicity to the above? 

" Respectfully your friend, 

" John Brown. 

" P. S. — Our reception here among the Quaker friends has 
been most cordial. Yours iruly, J. B f 

" Springfield, Iowa, 26th Feb. , 1859." 


conceal our movements after entering Iowa, rumors came of an 
intended attempt to capture Captain Brown and the negroes. 
A building was selected to keep the latter in. There was 
scarcely any necessity for guards, as the whole community was 
alert, and any attempt to invade Springdale would have most 
likely proven very disastrous to the intruders. West Liberty, 
a railroad town seven miles south of Springdale, was a very 
hotbed of Abolitionists, and in full sympathy with Brown's idea." 

Mr. Gill left the party at West Liberty on the ioth 
inst., as health gave out and inflammatory rheumatism 
prevented further travel on his part. One of the 
Kansas escort accompanied the party to Crookes's in 
Iowa, and others left at Tabor. 

After leaving Iowa there was very little of special 
interest until arrival at Detroit and transfer to Canada. 
Of course, vigilant care had to be exercised- On the 
12th day of March, 1859, he saw his band of freed 
people, augmented to twelve by the birth of a boy 
while camping near Dr. James G. Blunt's place on 
the Pottawatomie in the January r preceding, carried 
in safety from Detroit to Windsor. John Brown, the 
baby born in freedom, and bearing the name of his 
emancipator, still lives in Windsor, having, it has 
been stated, never set foot in the United States. The 
Missouri freed people are nearly all living, doing well, 
and having large families about them. Of course, 
Captain Brown's successful raid met severe criticism 
on all sides, and to some extent, too, among a few of 
his Massachusetts friends. Neither Gerrit Smith nor 
George L. Stearns were counted among the critics. 
In Detroit, Captain Brown met Frederick Douglass, 
who happened to be engaged for a lyceum lecture 
there. A little meeting was held at the dwelling of 
a Mr. William Webb, and a report has been made of 


sharp disagreements between John Brown and the 
colored orator and editor. Mr. Douglass assures me 
nothing of the sort occurred. John Brown girdecl up 
his loins again, and with his purse a little replenished 
by Eastern friends, started once more on the culminat- 
ing work of his life. With him at Detroit and en route 
to Cleveland, Ohio, were his son Owen, Kagi, Stevens, 
Leeman, Tidd, Hazlett, Edwin Coppoc, J. G. An- 
derson, and Barclay Coppoc of those that finally went 
down into the valley of shadows. Steward Taylor 
was waiting and working in Illinois, and Cook was in 
Virginia, ready for work. The hour was coming 



Friends in southern Kansas and Iowa — Safe arrival of 
his freed people in Canada — Meeting a fid speeches in 
Cleveland — Where the men went and what they did — 
John Brown at home in North Elba — Peterboro and 
Boston — On the borders of slavery — The Kennedy 
farm and the hiring — Gathering there — Life within 
— Mrs. Anne Brown- Adams the last survivor — Mar- 
tha Brown — Oliver s girl wife — John Brown, Jr., 
in Canada —-Shipping the freight — Kagi at Cha in- 
ter sburg — Frederick Douglass and Shields Green — 
Arrival of Osborne P. Anderson and Francis J. 
Merriam — Return of Anne and Martha to North 
Elba — John E. Cook — A curious despatch — " The 
shot heard round the world." 

John Brown's second and last campaign in Kansas 
left behind warm and enduring friendships. He car- 
ried to his grave, less than a year beyond the day 
when its prairies, made sacred with human passions 
and human woes, faded from his vision, a sense of 
enduring regard and honor, which has since made 
itself felt in many a brave tribute. The real free-state 
men of southern Kansas have never given a single 


recruit to the detractors of Captain Brown. " I shall 
remove the seat of disturbance from Kansas," were 
his last words to the " Squire," as he always termed 
his old and trusted friend, Augustus Wattles, of 
Moneka. Truly, he did remove it across the Con- 
tinent to the Alleghanies and down to the Gulf of 
Mexico, and in removing it he aided beyond words 
in making a Nation without a slave and a Union 
without a foe. The meaning of the remark was well 
understood, though nothing would be known defi- 
nitely of place and plan. That John Brown would be 
heard from again was certain to all, as was learned 
when, in the spring of 1859, I last visited that sec- 
tion. Among John Brown's friends and supporters 
many became noted in the stormier years that fol- 
lowed. Among the rank and file, I recall the Hair- 
groves and Snyder, shot in the Marais du Cygne 
atrocity, as gallant Union soldiers. Dr. James G. 
Blunt was a prominent major-general of volunteers; 
James Montgomery a colonel of colored troops in 
South Carolina ; Dr. Jenison commanded a regiment 
of cavalry; James Hanway was a district judge; H. 
H. Williams a major of volunteers; Drs. Ayres and 
Gilpatrick army-surgeons; John Ritchie, at Topeka, 
a colonel, while William A. Phillips, editor, author, 
lawyer, commanded a loyal Indian brigade of Chero- 
kees and Creeks, and John Bowles was lieutenant- 
colonel of colored infantry. There were no doubters, 
cowards, or trimmers among John Brown's Kansas 
friends when the war issues finally came. But the 
personal regard and friendship of the two Wattles 
families, at Moneka, Levin County, with the unbending 
Puritan leader, was an incident almost idyllic in char- 


acter. Their homes were always open to him and his 
men, while the Captain was loved by the charming 
group of girls who made them so attractive. 

Augustus and John Wattles were of Quaker origin. 
They were refined, scholarly, cultivated. Augustus, 
being more a man of affairs than his brother, John, 
who took no public part in Kansas matters, though a 
devoted anti-slavery man. He was a musician of fine 
ability — the inventor of a system of musical notation, 
once in considerable use. His brother was lawyer, 
farmer, and editor. They came from the famous 
free-soil district in Indiana, which so long sent 
George W. Julian to Congress. Both had been iden- 
tified as advocates and writers with the dreams of 
social equity and organization, so early advanced by 
the late Albert Brisbane, the disciple of Fourier and 
Josiah Warren, author of an almost-forgotten form of 
Bellamyism. Among such groups as these John 
Brown seems always to have been understood^ yet he 
was apart from them all. On his way out he met 
William A. Phillips at Lawrence, holding with him 
the last of a series of remarkable conversations; which 
are reprinted in the Appendix to this volume. John 
Bowles, then about to start for California, held a long 
and confidential talk with him and Kagi being 
intrusted with the general outline and location of 
the movement that was made ten months later in 
Virginia. In Iowa, the foremost Republicans and 
anti slavery citizens, while ostensibty shaking their 
heads — a la politician style, as at Tabor, where they 
first cared for his party, and then resolved that it was 
very wrong to help a human being to freedom, if he 
or she happened to be dark-skinned and African in de- 


scent — to the Governor and his staff ; leading men like 
Hiram Price, J. B. Grinnel, Wm. Penn Clarke, Senator 
Grimes's sons; — editors, lawyers, officials, prospective 
Congressmen and soldiers of future prominence, vied 
with each other in helping forward the liberator and 
his party. In Chicago, his presence was widely 
known, and, though an " outlaw " with two rewards 
for his arrest, aggregating $3,250, no one seemed to 
be deterred from making him welcome. No attempt 
at arrest, no threat even, came to his ears, in either 
Chicago, Detroit, or Cleveland. The United States 
marshal of northern Ohio did not attempt an arrest, 
though a Federal reward was offered, but when 
Captain Brown was captured and lay, with five 
wounds, on the bare floor of the United States 
armory guardroom, he was among the earliest of 
political visitors from the North, seeking, if possible, 
to glean from expected weakness an admission 
against Joshua R. Giddings, Ralph M. Plumb, or 
some others of the anti-slavery men of the Western 

To Cleveland John Brown shipped the mules for 
which he had traded the oxen taken in Missouri from 
the estate of the slave-owners, and which had been 
used in transporting his band of freed people to 
" Canaan's happy land," as they had joyfully styled 
the far-off north land to which they were bound, 
when leaving Missouri. The stallion,, which had been 
purchased from Hazlett and been ridden by the Cap- 
tain on his long journey with two or three other 
travel-worn horses, and perhaps the two wagons used, 
were on hand. His small funds were divided as far as 
possible with the rescued when they were left in 


Canada, and it was decided to sell the property. This 
was done on the public street by Captain Brown him- 
self, who also gave due notice of the facts connected 
with them. An amusing incident was narrated in a 
newspaper interview years after about Judge Carter, 
of Ohio, Chief-Justice of the District of Columbia. 
The Judge was narrowly critical of John Brown, who 
had called upon him the day after the Cleveland sale, 
of which he gave the lawyer full particulars, drily 
remarking "and they (the animals) brought good 
prices', too." The lawyer bought a pair of mules — at 
second hand, he was careful to say. The amount was 
given to me afterwards at several hundred dollars, 
and I find a note thereof among memorabilia of the 
Cleveland visit, which was on the 23d of March. 
That evening, a well-attended meeting was held at 
Chapin's Hall, a small admission fee being charged. 

The speakers were John Henri Kagi and John 
Brown, the former making the first address, while the 
latter in his speech made a significant declaration, 
which I afterwards copied from the Cleveland Leader s 
report of the same. Interest turning on events in 
southern Kansas, Kagi gave a rapid review of their 
history, showing the border-ruffian outrages of 1856; 
the land-settler persecutions and the official injustice 
the free-state entrymen were subjected to; the con- 
stant "nagging" of the Blake-Little-Clark-Ransom 
pro-southern gang, with the view of producing retali- 
ation by free-state men, the unfair interference by the 
Executive usually on the pro-southern side; the send- 
ing of picked squadrons of dragoons with Southern 
sympathy against Montgomery and his men; the con- 
stant forays, kidnapping, etc., from Missouri, with the 


constant violations of all agreements made for peace, 
the culminating atrocities of the Hamilton gang. Kagi 
was a strong, logical, convincing, even eloquent, 
speaker, with a fine presence and a good command of 
language. He knew the subject, and did not seek to 
either evade or defend the actions of free-state men. 
He simply showed what they were and how they came 
to be, leaving his audience to decide the ethics thereof. 
Kagi's description of the one-sided fights, ending in 
the Southerners' flight were amusing and pleased the 

Captain Brown's speech was like himself, — direct, 
to 'the point, unequivocal, and animated, with his 
stern conviction of righteousness. He was capable 
of grouping his points well, and, from a mere brief, 
presenting a close, connected statement. He told the 
audience that his purpose in charging an admission 
fee was to aid in reimbursing the expenses of his 
recent effort. Although he had been threatened 
abundantly during his last visit to Kansas, he had not 
been engaged in any fight. Some of his young 
men, however, had bettered the instructions of 
the Southern men. He was now an outlaw, with a 
price on his head. The fact did not inconvenience 
him or cause any loss of sleep. He should never sub- 
mit to an arrest, as he had nothing to gain by submis- 
sion. This recalls the fact that Mrs. Brown said just 
previous to the execution of her husband, that it had 
always been her feeling, as well as the Captain's, that 
if he was ever defeated, he should be killed rather 
than made a prisoner. In referring to his position, 
John Brown grimly remarked, that he " should settle 
all questions on the spot, if any attempt was made to 


take him." His purpose in liberating the Missouri 
bondsmen was to make familiar a direct blow at 
slavery. He laid it down as a platform for himself, 
that he considered it his duty to liberate the slave 
wherever he had an opportunity, fie was a thorough- 
going Abolitionist. In referring to his life and actions 
in Kansas, he said that he, John Brown, " never lifted 
a finger toward any one whom he did not know 
was a violent persecutor of the free-state men. 
He had never killed any body, although on some occasion 
lie had shown the young men how some things might 
be done as well as others, and they had done the business. 1 
He had never destroyed the value of an ear of corn, 
and had never set fire to a pro-slavery man's house or 
property, and had never by his own action driven out 
pro-slavery men from the Territory, but, if occasion 
demanded it, he would drive them into the ground 
like a stake-fence, where they would remain perma- 
nent settlers." These grim declarations were probably 
in reply to charges and attacks made in the current 
Democratic newspapers. The Captain continued, as 
reported: "Further, he had yet to learn of any pro- 
slavery man being arrested or punished for any crime, 
while free-state men were slain even for the crime of 
having opinions, as was his son Frederick, the partic- 
ulars of whose slaying at Osawatomie he narrated." 
The speeches and meeting were a remarkable success, 
and even the Democratic papers treated it fairly in 
their reports. 

1 This report was obtained by me in i860 from a Cleveland 
paper, I believe the Leader, and the copy in my handwriting is 
before me as I write. 

2 3 6 

John brown. 

From Cleveland, Ohio, after short visits with his 
sons, John, Jr., at West Andover, and Jason, at Akron, 
in the same State, Captain Brown, with J. G. Ander- 
son, left for his home at North Elba. The remainder 
of the party which had accompanied him as far as 
Detroit now provided for themselves at various points. 
Owen Brown remained until July at Akron, with 

his brother Jason. Aaron D. 
Stevens, as Charles Whipple, 
went to West Andover, where 
he was employed by Mr. Lind- 
sey on his farm until the follow- 
ing August. W. H. Leeman got 
work at Lindenville, nearby, 
making whips in a factory there. 
The two Coppocs, Edwin and 
Barclay, went to Medina and 
Salem, where they had relatives, 
and remained working until 
August, when they were sum- 
moned to the Kennedy Farm. 
Albert Hazlett returned to his 
home at Indiana, Pennsylvania, where he got employ- 
ment till August. C. P. Tidd remained in the vicinity 
of Cleveland, while J. H. Kagi divided his time until 
late in June, when he went to Pennsylvania, between 
Cleveland, West Andover, and Oberlin, being occu- 
pied, while waiting for the Captain's last return from 
the East, in looking after the freight shipments (/. e. 
the arms, etc.) which had been sent from Iowa to 
Conneaut, Ohio, and in watching the progress of the 
Price fugitive slave rescue case, in which a number of 
noted persons, professors at Oberlin, and others, were 



2 37 

involved. Several of them were imprisoned in Cleve- 
land, and Kagi and Tidd planned with others taking 
them out. The State of Ohio, however, intervened 
by arresting the Kentucky slave-catchers, when they 
came to testify against the rescuers, upon the very 
plain ground that the original capture of the alleged 
fugitive Price, was in reality a kidnapping, done with- 
out regard to the Federal law and in clear contra- 
vention of State laws. Their arrests brought about a 
settlement of the whole affair, by which fugitive and 
rescuers were discharged, and the Kentuckians very 
gladly availed themselves of a chance to get out of 
Ohio. Kagi acted as the correspondent of the New 
York Tribune and also wrote for the Cleveland 
Leader. Steward Taylor was still in Illinois, not hav- 
ing gone to Kansas with the others. 

Early in April, John Brown, accompanied by his 
faithful aide, J. G. Anderson, was in Rochester, and 
from the nth to the 14th at Peterboro, a guest of 
Gerrit Smith. The latter gave him $200. On the 
14th he started for North Elba, having been at his 
home but once in two years. At this visit arrange- 
ments were made for Oliver to join him at an early 
day, and Watson later in the summer, after his wife 
Isabella's confinement. Martha, Oliver's wife, and 
Anne Brown, the second daughter, it was afterwards 
arranged, were to go to the Maryland farm as house- 
keepers. The Captain remained at home for about 
two weeks, and then left for Massachusetts. He was 
at Concord, the guest of Mr. Sanborn, on the 7th of 
May, remaining till his fifty-ninth birthday, when 
he left for Boston. He met John M. Forbes and a 
few other well-known men at this visit for the first 


time, and received, with what Gerrit Smith sent, 
about $500 in all. At Concord he attended and spoke 
at a meeting held to hear him. Mr. Sanborn in' his 
volume (pp. 564-65) quotes Emerson, and Thoreau, 
and Alcott; the latter as writing in his journal in 
part as follows: 

"Concord, May 8, 1859. — This evening I heard Captain 
Brown speak, at the Town Hall, on Kansas affairs. . . . 
He tells his story with surpassing simplicity and sense. Our 
best people listen to his words — Emerson, Thoreau, Judge 
Hoar (afterwards Attorney-General under Grant, and Con- 
gressman). . . . Some of them contributed in aid of his 
plans, without asking particulars, such confidence does he 
inspire in his integrity and abilities. . . . He is San- 
born's guest, and stays for a day only. A young man named 
Anderson accompanies him. They go armed, I am told, and 
will defend themselves if necessary. . . . The Captain 
leaves much in the dark concerning his destination and designs 
for the coming months, yet he does not conceal . . . his 
readiness to strike a blow for freedom at the proper moment. 
I infer it is his intention to run off as many slaves as he can, 
and so render that property insecure to the master." 

From Boston to New York 1 and Eastern Pennsyl- 

1 Among ihe manuscript letters in my possession, chiefly written 
by the men, I find two from J. G. Anderson to his brother, Dr. 
John B. Anderson, of Springdale, Iowa. The Doctor had served 
in southern Kansas, and was trusted, so that " Jerry" Anderson 
wrote quite freely. A letter of June 17th, from West Andover, 
Ohio, describes their travels. The first three weeks were spent at 
Peterboro, North Elba, N. Y., and in Boston and vicinity. In 
New York City four days, and the young Western farmer gives a 
naive description of the impressions he received. He visited 
Brooklyn, met John Hopper, son of Isaac T. Hopper, the Quaker 
philanthropist, Dr. George B. Cheever, and also saw Henry Ward 
Beecher on a street car, whom he described as " a very common- 
looking man with very coarse features, but showing undoubted 


vania and Ohio by the middle of June. Arrange- 
ments were to complete the pikes ordered in 1857 of 
Charles W. Blair, of Collinsville, Conn. They were 
partly paid for then, and Captain Brown paid the 
balance, $300, ordering them finished as rapidly as 
possible, and shipped to Isaac Smith & Sons, Cham- 
bersburg, Pa., where Kagi was mainly found until 
the last of September. These " tools " did not reach 
the Maryland farm until late in September, where 
they were stored, 950 of them, in the attic of the Ken- 
nedy dwelling. The Sharpe's rifles and other articles 
filled fifteen heavy boxes. Curiosity had been aroused 
as to Iheir contents at Conneaut. John Brown, Jr., 
removed them to West Andover and theYi to Harts- 
town, Crawford Co., Pennsylvania, July 27th, shipping 
by canal to Chambersburg, from whence they were 
removed early in September to the Kennedy Farm. A 
log cabin, belonging to the place, just across the road 
from the house was used for storage. William 

good sense," — a knockdown sort of characterization that. A visit 
to Joshua R. Giddings at Jefferson, Ohio, is mentioned, and then 
" Jerry " writes : 

" This is an age of miracles. I wouldn't be surprised if you 
should hear of me being in some place before long. We are going 
to start from here next Monday (June 19th) for Cleveland, from there 
across Pennsylvania to the border of Virginia, on a surveying expedi- 
tion. I think I shall write to you from that region in a few weeks. 
You need not be uneasy about us stealing niggers, for that is not our 
business, but be patient, and in due time you will be apprised of 
our business, and how we succeed. Our theory is new, but un- 
doubtedly good, practicable, and perfectly safe and simple, but I 
jjdge when we put it into practice, it will astonish the world and 
mankind in general. We called on Fred. Douglass again as 
we passed through Rochester; he is to be one of us," 


Thompson, Watson Brown, and Jeremiah G. Ander- 
son slept therein after the tools arrived, partly as a 
guard, and as a place of defense in the event of any 
attack or danger. Captain Brown arrived at Cham- 
bersburg early in June, and with his sons Oliver 
and Owen, or " Jerry " Anderson, made observation 
trips along the border, or went to Pittsburgh, Cleve- 
land, and Philadelphia on business. On the 30th of 
June, with Owen, Oliver, and Anderson he went to 
Hagerstown and Sandy Hook, Maryland, and on the 
2d of July they were in Harper's Ferry itself. Cook 
was living there, and knew of the Captain's visits. 
Interviews were had, care being taken not to appear 
too public' and familiar. The party were supposed 
to be prospecting for minerals. Out in the country, 
however, they were cattlemen from northern New 
York, looking for grazing land, on which to fatten 
their lean stock. In an article on " The Virginia 
Campaign," published in The Atlantic, December, 
1875, Mr. F. B. Sanborn gave an interesting account 
of the finding of the Kennedy Farm, in Washington 
County, Maryland, but four miles from Harper's Ferry, 
which was rented for a year for $35. Starting out 
from Sandy Hook, where they had stayed the night 
before, on the 4th of July they went up the river 
road toward the house of Mr. John C. Unseld, a Mary- 
land slaveholder, who lived but a mile from the 
Ferry, on one of the mountain roads. 

"Between eight and nine o'clock that morning, as Mr. 
Unseld was riding down to the Ferry, he met the party stroll- 
ing along the edge of the mountain. Falling into conversa- 
tion with them, in the country fashion, he learned that the 
old man was named $mith, that these were his sons, Watson 


and Oliver Smith, and that the other youth was named Ander- 
son. ' Well, gentlemen,' said the Marylander, 'I suppose you 
are out hunting minerals, gold and silver, perhaps.' ' No,' said 
Brown, 'we are out looking for land. We want to buy land ; 
we have a little money, and want to make it go as far as we 
can: How much is land worth an acre, hereabouts? ' Being 
told that it ' ranged from fifteen dollars to thirty dollars in that 
neighborhood,' he said, ' That is high . I thought I could buy 
for a dollar or two an acre.' ' No,' said the Marylander, ' not 
here; if you expect to get land for that price, you'll have to go 
farther West, to Kansas, or some of those Territories where 
there is Congress land. Where are you from ? ' ' The northern 
part of New York State.' 'What have you followed there?' 
' Farming,' said Brown ; but the frost had been so heavy of 
late years it had cut off their crops ; they could not make any- 
thing there, so they had sold out, and thought they would come 
farther South and try it a while. Having thus satisfied a 
natural curiosity, Mr. Unseld rode on. Returning some hours 
afterward, he again met Mr. Smith and his young men not far 
from the same place. ' I have been looking round your 
country up here,' said he, 'and it is a very fine country — a 
pleasant place, a fine view. The land is much better than I 
expected to find it ; your crops are pretty good.' As he said 
this he pointed to where the men had been cutting grain — 
some white men and some negroes at work in the fields, as the 
custom is there. For in Washington county there were few 
slaves even then, and most of the field work was done by 
whites or free colored men. Brown then asked if any farm in 
the neighborhood was for sale. ' Yes, there is a farm four 
miles up the road here, towards Boonsborough, owned by the 
heirs of Dr. Booth Kennedy ; you can buy that.' ' Can I rent 
it ? ' said Brown ; then turning to his companions he said, ' I 
think we had better rent a while, until we get better acquainted, 
so that they cannot take advantage of us in the purchase of 
land.' To this they appeared to assent, and Mr. Unseld then 
said, ' Perhaps you can rent the Kennedy farm ; I do not know 
about that, but it is for sale, I know.' Brown then turned 


again to his sons and said, ' Boys, as you are not very well, you 
had better go back and tell the landlord at Sandy Hook that 
Oliver and I shall not be there to dinner, but will go on up and 
look at the Kennedy place ; however, you can do as you 
please.' Watson Brown looked at Anderson and then said, 
•We will go with you.' ' Well,' said the friendly Marylander, 
'if you will go on with me up to my house, I can then point you 
the road exactly.' Arrived there, he invited them to take 
dinner, for by this time it was nearly noon. They thanked him 
but declined, nor would they accept an invitation to 'drink 
something.' 'Well,' said Unseld, 'if you must go on, just 
follow up this road along the foot of the mountain ; it is shady 
and pleasant, and you will come out at a church up here about 
three miles. Then you can see the Kennedy house by look- 
ing from that church right up the road that leads to Boons- 
borough, or you can go right across and get into the country 
road and follow that up.' Brown sat and talked with Unseld 
for a while, who asked him 'what he expected to follow, up 
yonder at Kennedy's,' adding that Brown ' could not make a 
living there.' 'Well,' said Brown, 'my business has been buy- 
ing up fat cattle and driving them on to the State of New 
York, and we expect to engage in that again.' Three days later 
(July 7th), the genial Unseld, jogging to or from the Ferry, again 
met the gray-haired rustic, who said, 'Well, I think that place 
will suit me ; now just give me a description where I can find 
the widow Kennedy and the administrator,' which Unseld did. 
A few days after, he once more met the new comer, and 
found Mr. Smith had rented the two houses on the Kennedy 
f arm — the farm-house, about three hundred yards from the 
public road on the west side, where, as Unseld thought, 
' it makes a very pretty show for a small house,' and ' the 
cabin,' which stood about as far from the road on the east side, 
'hidden by shrubbery in the summer season, pretty much.' 
For the two houses, pasture for a cow and horse, and fire- 
wood, from July till March, Brown paid thirty-five dollars, as 
he took pains to tell Unseld, showing him the receipt of the 
widow Kennedy." 


The Booth-Kennedy family lived at Sharpsburg, 
where Lee had his headquarters when the battle of 
Antietam was fought. The Confederates named it 
after the Maryland village. .The Maryland farmer 
testified before the United States Senate's Committee 
on " the Harper's Ferry Invasion." The name of the 
Virginian Senator's Committee should be borne in 
mind, as a peculiar piece of direct evidence of the 
manner in which Mason, Davis, Wise & Co. were 
working towards revolution by firing the Southern 
heart with systematic misrepresentation of the 
relations of the North to the John Brown raid. Mr. 
Unseld said that he did " not once mistrust him, 
though he rode up to the Kennedy Farm nearly 
every week from the middle of July till the ist of 

"' I just went up to talk to the old man,' said he to Senator 
Mason, when telling the story before the Senate Committee, 
'but sometimes, at the request of others, on business about 
selling him some horses or cows. He was in my yard fre- 
quently, perhaps four or five times. I would always ask him 
in, but he would never go in, and of course I would not go in 
his house. He often invited me in ; indeed, nearly every time 
I went there he asked me to go in, and remarked to me fre 
quentlv, " We have no chairs for you to sit on, but we have 
trunks and boxes." I declined going in, but sat on my horse 
and chatted with him. Before the 20th of July he saw there 
" two females," who were Martha, the wife of Oliver Brown, and 
Anne, the eldest unmarried sister of Oliver. Both of them 
were but girls in their seventeenth years, as they were born in 
1843. "Twice I went there," says Unseld, and found none of 
the men, but the two ladies, and I sat there on my horse — 
there was a high porch on the house, and I could sit there and 
chat with them — and then I rode off and left them. They told 
me there were none of the men at home, but did not tell me 


where they were. One time I went there and inquired for 
them, and one of the females answered me, " They are across 
there at the cabin ; you had better ride over and see them." I 
replied it did not make any difference, and I would not bother 
them, and I rode back home. '" 

The region is semi-mountainous, and is still sparsely 
settled. Within three years after John Brown's ad- 
vent, it passed into national history as the scene of 
McClellan's defeat of Lee. Across it passed in part 
the great armies that met in a decisive battle shock 
at Gettysburg. But it will always be recalled more 
readily as the location of John Brown's final prepara- 
tions for the Harper's Ferry attack, which sent the 
old lighter's soul " marching on " until chattel slav- 
ery, by the will of the Nation and the fearful cost of 
civil war was abolished in the land. It is ruggedly 
picturesque, quiet, rural, well wooded, and with no 
great stretches of open, arable lands. The section 
is quiet, the residents are easy-going and the land- 
scape is the most attractive thing connected there- 
with. Of late years it has become somewhat noted 
for the summer residences of well-to-do families, 
chiefly from Washington and Baltimore. Osborne 
Perry Anderson, in " A Voice from Harper's Ferry," 
wrote that " To a passer-by the house and its sur- 
roundings presented but indifferent attractions. 
Any log (frame) tenement of equal dimensions would 
be as likely to attract attention. Rough, unsightly, 
and aged, it was only those privileged to enter and 
tarry for a long time and to penetrate the mysteries 
of the two rooms it contained — kitchen, parlor, 
dining-room below, and the spacious chamber, attic, 
storeroom, prison, drilling-room, comprised in the loft 


above — who could tell how we lived at Kennedy 
Farm ? " 

The question may in a fair fashion be answered, as 
besides other sources, I am fortunately endowed 
with permission to use the vivid recollections of Anne 
Brown (now Mrs. Adams, of Petralia, Humboldt 
County, California, and the mother of six children, who 
was called by her father his " watch dog") who has 
written me valuable notes and memoranda, full, as I 
name them, of thumb-nail sketches, which illustrate 
the scenes of that summer, and the men, too, who 
were actors in them. Coming from the only survivor 
of the little band who lived at the Kennedy Farm, 1 
these recollections have a special biographical and 
historical significance. 

Anne Brown and Martha Evelyn, the loving young 
wife of Oliver, who was as much slain as if she had 
fallen by a Virginian bullet, arrived at the Maryland 
camp in the third week in July. " Josephus," the 
Harper's Ferry annalist often quoted in these pages, 
says, that the Captain and his sons, with Jerry 
Anderson, first boarded with Mr. Osmond Bulter, at 
Sandy Hook, Maryland. The Virginian pamphleteer 
adds, "their conduct was unexceptionable. They 

1 It is necessary to emphasize the fact that Anne Brown Adams 
is the only one alive of the Kennedy Farm party. Besides George 
B. Gill and Charles W. Moffett, of Iowa and Kansas, there are 
none alive of those who went " to school " at Springdale, Iowa, 
and participated in the Chatham, Canada, Convention, in 1857-58, 
unless it be Richard Richardson, a colored man, of whom I learn 
nothing. Others are living who were actively aiding and trusted 
by John Brown, but these named were actually at the farm, in the 
tight, or trained therefor. 


paid in gold for whatever they purchased, and as 
their manners were courteous to all, they were, on 
the whole, very popular." Kagi came down from 
Chambersburg, and remained two or three days with 
them at Sandy Hook, but his likeness to the Virginian 
" Keagys," as his uncle's family were called in the 
neighborhood, compelled him to make a quick retreat 
to Chambersburg. He was born in southern Ohio, his 
father having removed from the Shenandoah Valley, 
but himself went to school, and taught also in the sec- 
tion, when about sixteen years old. He distinguished 
himself even then by assisting a fugitive slave, and 
was obliged to return to his father's home in Ohio. 
There was danger that he would be recognized. A 
memorandum in John Brown's handwriting found in 
the captured carpet-bag and printed in a State docu- 
ment some time after, gives a good idea of Captain 
Brown's care for details. It was evidently written 
for Kagi's guidance, and on the back of it a rough, 
topographical road sketch, with the names of the 
towns in Kagi's own handwriting. John Brown 

" Look for letters directed to JohnHenrie; at Chambersburg 
inquire for letters (there) directed to J. Smith & Sons; for 
Isaac Smith inquire for freight at the depot, at Chambersburg, 
for J. Smith & Sons; and write them at Harper's Ferry as soon 
as any does come. See Mr. Henry Watson, at Chambersburg, 
and find out if the Tribune comes on. 1 Have Mr. Watson and 
his reliable friends get ready to receive company (about this 
time Leary and Copeland were to arrive from Oberlin, Ohio, 
Anderson and others from Canada were expected). Get Mr. 
Watson to make you acquainted with his reliable friends, hit 

1 A memorandum exists of a subscription of $3 sent early in June. 


do not appear to be anywise thick with them ; and do not often 
be seen with any sue// man. Get Mr. Watson to find out if he 
can, a trusty man or men to stop with at Hagerstown (if any 
such there be), as Mr. (Thomas) Henrie (A. D. Stevens) has 
gone there. Write Tidcl to come to Chambersburg, by Pitts- 
burg and Harrisburg, at once. He can stop off the Pittsburg 
road at Hudson and go to Jason's (Akron) for his trunk. Write 
Carpenter (Edwin Coppoc probably) and Hazlett that we are all 
right and ready as soon as we can get our boarding-house 
fixed ; when we will write them to come on and by what route. 
I will pay Hazlett the money he advanced to Anderson 
for expenses traveling. Find yourself a comfortable, cheap 
boarding-house at once. Write J. Smith & Sons, at Harper's 
Ferry. Inquire after your four Cleveland friends, and have 
them come on to Chambersburg if they are on the way ; if not 
on the road let them wait till we get a little better prepared. 
Be careful what you write to all persons. Do not send or bring 
any more persons here until we advise you of our readiness to 
board them." 

The " four Cleveland friends'' referred in all prob- 
ability to colored men: Lewis Sherrard Leary, and 
John A. Copeland, of Oberlin, who did report for 
duty; Charles Langston and James H. Harris, of 
Cleveland, who were for some reason unable to come. 
The date of the foregoing must have been about the 
10th or 12th of July, as about that time Kagi first 
appeared in Chambersburg, and letters began to reach 
different parties pledged to the enterprise. I received 
inquiries relating to Richard Realf and Charles W. 
Leonhardt, of whom further mention will be made. 

Oliver Brown was sent at the same time that Kagi 
left for Pennsylvania to North Elba, to bring his 
wife and Anne to Maryland. On their return to the 
Adirondack homestead, seventeen days before the 
outbreak, Oliver escorted them as far as Trov, New 


York, where, on the 2d of October (Sunday), they 
parted to meet no more on earth. Mrs. Adams 
describes the love of the young couple as an exquisite 
thing, so happy were they " in the enjoyment of each 
other, that they did not feel the need of much of this 
world's goods." They were married on the 7th of 
April, 1858, he being but nineteen and she but six- 
teen. Their married life lasted only a few months, 
nearly three of which were spent at the Maryland 
Farm, in the shadow almost of Death. Martha was 
cook and housekeeper, and Anne aided as best she 
could, her chief duty being, as she writes, to serve as 
" outside guard," and to meet all who called, parley 
long enough on porch and steps for those inside to 
remove all suspicious things. If surprised while eat- 
ing, the men would each seize his dishes and food, 
and then the table-cloth, quietly going upstairs, till 
the visitor had left. Her father demanded "constant 
watchfulness " on her part; others could help with 
the housework, and the men aided in turn. She sat 
on porch or at inside door, sewing or reading, with a 
constant lookout on the road, listening to the katydids 
and whippoorwills. " I used to enjoy watching the 
fireflies," she writes, " in the evening and looking at 
the lights and shadows on those fine old trees and the 
mountain ridge upon moonlight nights." 

By the first week in August, then, there were assem- 
bled the brothers Owen, Oliver, and Watson Brown, 
William and Dauphin Thompson, Edwin and Barclay 
Coppoc, C. P. Tidd, J. G. Anderson, and Aaron D. 
Stevens; while close after came Albert Hazlett, Will- 
iam H. Leeman, and Steward Taylor. Captain 
Brown and one of his sons, usually Watson, were away 


a good deal of the time. Owen, at first, was on the 
road between Chambersburg, Hagerstown, and Har- 
per's Ferry, the farm being in general charge of ship- 
ment, both men and freight. Kagi remained at 
Chambersburg, under the name of "John Henri." 
He boarded at the house of Mrs. Ritner, the widow 
of a famous ex-governor of Pennsylvania, known in 
State history as being a sturdy man of anti-slavery 
sentiment and the first organizer of free or public 
schools, also as an early friend and political associate 
of the " great commoner." Thaddeus Stevens, " Isaac 
Smith," and his sons also stopped at Mrs. Ritner's. 
Occasionally Tidd, Merriam, and one or two others 
stopped there ; Mrs. Virginia Cook, also most of 
the men, as they arrived, went to Bedford or Hagers- 
town. The colored men were chiefly booked at 
Chambersburg by Henry Watson, a trusted colored 
agent of the " underground railroad." 
. " The pictures of the men do not do them justice," 
writes Mrs. Adams; " Oliver Brown, Edwin Coppoc, 
J. G. Anderson, and John H. Kagi, whose faces are 
given as shaven, all had full beards at the Kennedy 
Farm, and were really handsome men. Cook had a 
mustache, and Leeman a mustache and imperial. 
They were all," writes Mrs. Brown Adams, " much 
better looking than the pictures convey an idea of." 
The Oliver Brown picture was taken before he went 
to Kansas in 1855, when he was but seventeen. 

"All questions on religion or any other subject 
were very freely discussed b)?" the men, and father 
always took an interested part in the discussions, and 
encouraged every one to express his opinion on 
any subject, no matter whether he agreed with him 


or not. Stevens had a copy of Paine's ' Age of 
Reason ' there; that was read by some of the men and 
discussed. Father subscribed for the Baltimore Sun, 
and Kagi used to send down a bundle of papers and 
magazines from Chambersburg when the wagon went 
up. They had a manual of military tactics that was 
studied a good deal. 1 Cook obtained directions for 
browning or coloring rifle-barrels in the arsenal at 
Harper's Ferry, and the men spent a part of the time 
in this work on their Sharpe's rifle-barrels, making 
belts, pistol holsters, etc. They also played checkers, 
cards, and other games, and sang a deal of the time. 
Stevens and Tidd were very fine singers, the former 
having an excellent baritone. They often sang ' All 
the Old Folks Are Gone,' substituting * All the Dear 
Ones' for the first words; 'Faded Flowers,' and 
1 Nearer My God to Thee.' " 

The live stock consisted of a mule and " Cuff," a 
mongrel pup, but very vigilant and noisy when any 
stranger or a neighbor appeared. There was no cow 
or chicken, and very little furniture. Boxes were 
used for seats, and the men slept on the floor, camp 
fashion, in the large room upstairs. A small log- 
building across the road was later on used by several 
of the men. Some housekeeping articles had been 
brought from North Elba, and a few purchased at 
Chambersburg. A stout, though small, wagon and 
a mule was their only conveyance, and by its means 
the 198 Sharpe's rifles and belongings, with 950 pikes, 
shipped from Connecticut and Ohio to "Isaac Smith 

1 Forbes's " Patriotic Volunteer." W. H. Tinson, printer, 43-45 
Centre street, New York. 1657. 


& Sons " at Chambersburg, were brought from there 
via Hagerstovvn to the Farm. The section of Penn- 
sylvania, over which they passed was then a more 
dangerous one to them than the neighborhood of 
Harper's Ferry itself. "Hunting niggers" was a 
regular occupation at that date, and small, " covered " 
wagons were often objects of suspicion, as fugitive 
slaves were occasionally so transported, so as to en- 
able the friendly Quaker, Dunker, or colored farmer 
along the route to declare they had not seen any 
fugitive. Provisions could be taken by drivers to 
these wagons, and no one appeared at all but the 
driver. Usually the movements of colored men were 
made on foot. Mrs. Adams describes an incident 
which occurred about the 19th or 20th of August. 

" When Owen was bringing Shields Green down to the farm 
some men got after them and they were chased into the woods. 
While the pursuers went back for reinforcements, Owen took 
Green on his back and swam across the river. As they were 
traveling south, the slave-hunters did not look in that direc- 
tion, naturally supposing Green to be a fugitive making his 
way to the North Star. After that Owen staid at the farm, for 
fear he might be recognized. The Captain with his son Watson 
or J. G. Anderson made the journeys to and from Chambers 
burg to the Kennedy farm, rendered necessary by the removal 
of their freight, some of which remained at the Pennsylvania 
town, and was discovered there after the blow was struck. 
The Kansas recruit, whose arrival at Hagerstown, on the 14th 
of October, is elsewhere mentioned, was sent back therefrom 
to Chambersburg by Captain Brown and Kagi who had met 
him with instructions to ship this freight. He had the means 
to obtain a team for that purpose. He reached too late on the 
15th to attend to any business, and the 16th, being Sunday, he 
kept close out of the town in the dwelling of a trusted colored 
man. The next the news of the attack came, and the Kansan 


made his way to Harrisburg and' Cincinnati, thence returning 
East. He has since accounted, in his own mind, and from 
greater familiarity with the details of events, for the condition 
in which he was placed, by the possibility of Kagi's desire to 
save his life, for that heroic soul had no doubt of personal 
defeat. On a letter summoning him (the Kansas man), the 
23d and the 25th of October was named as the beginning 
of operations. The dispatch of the 15th, however, may have 
had the effect of determining a sudden movement. A 
horse and mule with a small covered wagon formed their only 
quartermaster train. One would drive and the other ride, 
before or behind, so as to keep a lookout for suspicious move- 
ments. People along the road were beginning to be very 
inquisitive, often stopping them and asking questions as to 
their business. Kagi being well known in this section, having 
resided as a boy in the upper Shenandoah Valley with an uncle, 
and got himself into trouble too, by aiding a slave to escape, 
was compelled to remain most of the time at Chambersburg. 
The Browns, with " Jerry " Anderson and himself, first boarded 
at Sandy Springs." 

While the strange, quiet life at the farm went on, 
John Brown was busy through the correspondence 
of Kagi from Chambersburg in bringing together his 
entire band. Several letters of inquiry about Realf 
had already reached me in Boston and Kansas, and I 
referred them to William Hutchinson, of Lawrence, 
Kansas, Thaddeus Hyatt, and Charles Yeaton, of New 
York. During my stay in Boston in the fall and winter 
of 1858, I outlined to James Redpath and Francis 
Jackson Merriam the plan of attack on slavery with- 
out, however, at the time naming Harper's Ferry to 
either of them. In a letter from Kansas to Merriam, 
during the spring of 1859, I told him of the point of 
assault, and advised him, if I now remember aright, 


that lie ask Mr. Sanborn to put him in communica- 
tion with Captain Brown. Mr. Redpath never knew 
till the telegraph brought the startling news from 
Virginia on the 17th of October, 1859. C. W. Moffelt, 
at Montaur, Iowa, and George B. Gill, then with his 
brother, Dr. Gill, at Springdale, and still suffering 
from the rheumatic fever he got during the slave 
rescue trip from Missouri to Iowa, were written to. 
Luke F. Parsons was also addressed, but it was learned, 
that he had withdrawn entirely under the advice of 
Col. Wm. A. Phillips, settling at Salina, Kansas. 
Another person addressed was Charles W. Leonhardt, 
a Polish gentlemen from Posen, Prussia. The Slav 
"ski " had been dropped from his name when he first 
came to the United States about 185 1 or '52. He was 
a member of a well-to-do family of old Polish stock, 
who had been educated for a Prussian soldier and 
had served as lieutenant in some guard corps at 
Berlin. He was very handsome, dark, with black 
silken hair, fine eyes, prominent features, and a sol- 
dierly aspect. In 1848 he joined the German and 
Polish revolutionists, and soon after found his way 
with Dembrowski and the Polish army to Hungary, 
where he served against Russia. He was made a 
staff officer with the rank of colonel, serving with 
Klapka, distinguishing himself for great gallantry. 
Leonhardt escaped to Turkey with his general, and 
came to America when Kossuth did. He became 
fluent and eloquent too in his command of English. 
During the fall of 1856 Leonhardt arrived in Kansas. 
He wrote for German, American, and other papers, 
and commenced the study of law. He was an enthu- 
siastic anti-slavery man, active in helping fugitives, 


became well known as a free-state speaker, and iden- 
tified himself with Montgomery in 1858 and '59. At 
this time he became known to Kagi, and through him 
to Captain Brown. It is certain that he agreed to 
serve and was entrusted with the plan and intended 
movement. Early in 1859 Leonhardt removed to Cin- 
cinnati and entered as astudent and clerk the office of 
Chase (Salmon P.) and Ball. During subsequent 
months Colonel Leonhardt received several notes 
from Kagi, as he himself informed me shortly 
after the Harper's Ferry attack. Edmund Babb, 
an editorial writer on the Cincinnati Gazette, now 
dead I believe, had been in Kansas two or three 
times during the troubles that followed the arrival of 
Governor Geary. I recall his first arrival at Lawrence, 
Kansas, in December or January, 1856-57; he was a 
close friend of Leonhardt. From the first, as a Kan- 
sas correspondent, Babb was critical, censorious, and 
carping, decrying the journalists and other men who 
had been " in the breach " for the preceding two 
years. He personally identified himself with the 
views of Charles Robinson and George W. Brown, 
editor of the Herald of Freedom, who was especially 
hostile to all other Northern newspaper men, or " letter- 
writers," as they were then termed. Mr. Babb was with 
Governor Denver in 1858, when that Executive visited 
southern Kansas to stop the Fort Scott Blake Little- 
Montgomery troubles. His correspondence, though 
written to a strong Republican paper, was always 
hostile in tone to the resistant free-state men and 
their actions. Leonhardt, a generous soul, was apt 
to trust those about him. He gave me distinctly to 
understand that he made a confidant of his editorial. 


friend, after receiving early in August letters from 
both "Isaac Smith" (John Brown), and John Henri 
(Kagi) from Chambersburg, Pa., informing him that 
the " mines" were ready, and the " workmen " needed. 
These were the terms agreed upon between Kagi and 
myself, as well as to Leonhardt and the others. Almost 
immediately after confidence was given to Mr. Babb 
the following letter was sent to John B. Floyd, sec- 
retary of war, who, it will be recalled, took no notice 
of the same. He was probably too much engaged 
himself in preparing for a coming civil war by a 
systematic distribution of United States arms and 
munitions from Northern to Southern Government 
arsenals, to take any notice of the Cincinnati warning. 
Here is the letter: 

Cincinnati, August 20, 1859. 
SIR — I have lately received information of a movement of so 
great importance that I feel it my duty to impart it- to you with- 
out delay. I have discovered the existence of a secret associ- 
ation, having for its object the liberation of the slaves at the 
South by a general insurrection. The leader of the movement 
is " old John Brown," late of Kansas. He has been in Canada 
during the winter, drilling the negroes there, and they are only 
waiting his word to start for the South to assist the slaves. 
They have one of their leading men (a white man) in an armory 
in Maryland, — where it is situated I have not been able to 
learn. As soon as everything is ready, those of their number 
who are in the Northern States and Canada are to come in 
small companies to their rendezvous, which is in the mountains 
of Virginia. They will pass down through Pennsylvania and 
Maryland, and enter Virginia at Harper's Ferry. Brown left 
the North about three or four weeks ago, and will arm the 
negroes and strike the blow in a few weeks ; so that whatever 
is done must be done at once. They have a large quantity of 
arms at their rendezvous, and are probably distributing them 


already. As I am not fully in their confidence, this is all the 
information I can give you. I dare not sign my name to this, 
but trust that you will not disregard the warning on that 

What this letter contains is, in effect, what I under- 
stood from Colonel Leonhardt, that he told Edmund 
Babb. The latter then, and successfully too, labored 
with the law student not to go further in the John 
Brown movement. At the time, inquiring in Cincin- 
nati also among earnest anti-slavery friends as to Mr 
Babb's standing on matters of direct help to fugitives, 
etc.. and with the reluctant belief, too, of his friend 
Leonhardt behind me, I soon after made public the 
allegation that Edmund Babb wrote the letter to Sec- 
retary Floyd. I still hold that view, and repeat it 
now as part of the narrative, without the slightest 
feeling one way or the other relative to the person 
whom I believe wrote the same. Mr. Babb never 
denied the authorship, though that is not, of course, 
conclusive or affirmative. Captain Brown knew 
nothing whatever of this letter and of the peril it 
indicated, until his attack and defeat caused its pub- 

It is almost startling now, in view of the many 
statements to relatives and friends, that were made 
in letters written during this period by members of 
the party, as well as the great public interest that 
attended John Brown's movements, that there was 
not an undue exposure and arrest of the whole party. 
I have in my possession a score of letters from 
Anderson, Leeman, and Taylor, very plainly setting 
forth the general purpose. Anderson, it is evident, 
was better informed than most of them as to the 



place and date. In visits after the war to London 
County and other parts of the valley of Virginia, I 
gathered many details of Cook's movements, as a 
writing-teacher, map and book agent, etc., and of his 
rather loose talk. He never concealed his identity with 
the Kansas free-state cause, and was quite open, at 
least among the Quaker and Dunker farmers of that 
section, in declaring that there might be "disturb- 
ance" or " active uneasiness " among the "darkies." 
In one letter Leeman tells his 
mother he is in Virginia, en- 
gaged in a movement to attack 
slavery at Harper's Ferry. 
Steward Taylor was engaged in 
writing farewells to intimate 
friends and his brother, and 
letters found in the carpet-bag, 
captured in Virginia, shows that 
even Tidd had been very frank 
in his hints to his brother and 
sister as early as 1858. Some 
of these matters reached John 
Brown and aroused his anxiety, 
if not anger. The sharpest let- 
ter from his pen I have seen was 

written to Kagi, though not designed for him, and is 
as follows: 


"Washington, Md., nth August, 1859. 
"J. Henrie, Esq.: 

" Dear Sir — I got along Tuesday evening all right ; with 
letters, etc. I do hope all corresponding except on business of 
the Co. will be droped for the present. If every one must 
write some^/W; or some other extra friend, telling or shoing 



our location ; and telling (as some have done) all about our mat- 
ters ; we might as well get the whole published at once., in the 
New York Herald. Any person is a stupid fool who expects 
hisfriends to keep for Aim; that which he cannot keep himself. 
All our friends have each got their special friends; and they 
again have theirs; and it would not be right to lay the burden 
of keeping a secret on any one ; at the end of a long string. I 
could tell you of some reasons I have for feeling rather keenly 
on this point. I do not say this on account of any tale- bearing 
that I accuse any — you of. Three more hands came on from 
North Elba on Saturday last. Be sure to let me know of any- 
thing of interest. 

"Yours in Truth." 

There is another fact to account for the feeling this 
letter manifests. At this time there was evidently con- 
siderable and earnest discussion in progress at the 
Kennedy Farm. The men there were made acquainted 
with the fact that John Brown intended to first cap- 
ture Harper's Ferry Even his own sons did not 
regard it as a wise or practicable step. Mrs. Adams's 
memoranda gives warrant to this. It would seem as 
if the men had a desire to only repeat but on a larger 
scale the Missouri episode and run off a large body 
of fugitive slaves. The discussions were "warm." 
Even his sons Owen, Oliver, and Watson, unwillingly 
consented to the attack on Harper's Ferry. Kagi 
came down from Chambersburg to take part in that 
decision. Cook was also present from Harper's Ferry. 
Charles P. Tidd got so warm, writes Mrs. Adams, 
that he left the farm and went down to Cook's dwell- 
ing near Harper's Ferry " to let his wrath cool off." 
He remained away for over a week. Kagi, when 
telling me of the plan, had emphasized the intention 
of getting out of the place before the frightened 


people could get organized for an attack in force. 
This, as we know, was not done. Cook favored the 
capture quite forcibly, and made many visits to 
examine and report on the Government buildings, 
their contents, weak or strong points, habits of their 
watchmen, and other matters of value. Kagi, the 
adjutant-general, did not oppose Captain Brown. 
Stevens, Anderson, Leeman seem also to have been 
with their leader. Owen, Oliver, and Watson, all men 
of ability, Oliver especially, had visited the Ferry quite 
often, and saw readily what a deathtrap it might be- 
come. This brave, clean-souled lover and husband, 
young and ardent, with a beautiful girl-wife near 
him, closed the discussion, for the sons at least, with 
the remark: "We must not let our father die alone." 
The Captain had declared that he would go to the 
Ferry with the half dozen, who had signified that they, 
at least, would follow him anywhere and under all 
conditions. He also proposed to resign the com- 
mand and follow Kagi, Stevens, or whoever the men 
might choose. On that question their vote was a 
united negative. The following letter was written two 
days before Frederick Douglass and Captain Brown 
had their last meeting in the old stone quarry, near 

Here it is: 

Harper's Ferry, August 18, 1859. 

Dear Sir — We have all agreed to sustain your 
decisions, until you have proved incompetent, and 
many of us will adhere to your decisions so long as 
you will. Your friend Owen Smith. 1 

1 For " Smith " we should, of course, read " Brown," 


"The men generally,'' writes Mrs. Adams, "did not 
know that the raid on the Government works was 
part of the 'plan' until after they arrived at the 
farm in the beginning of August. We knew," she 
writes, " that he had planned the taking of Harper's 
Ferry long before he or any member of his family 
ever went to Kansas. It was father's original plan, 
as we used to call it, to take Harper's Ferry at the 
outset, to secure firearms to arm the slaves, and to 
strike terror into the hearts of the slaveholders; then 
to immediately start for the plantations, gather up 
the negroes, and retreat to the mountains; send out 
armed squads from there to gather more, and event- 
ually to spread out his forces until the slaves would 
come to them, or the slaveholders would surrender 
them to gain peace. He expected . . . that if 
they had intelligent white leaders that they would be 
prevailed on to rise and secure their freedom without 
revenging their wrongs, and with very little blood- 
shed. . . . He changed his plan as to the places 
for commencing while in Kansas, and at one time 
thought of going down to the vicinity of New Orleans 
and working north from there." ' 

John Brown, Jr., begun active work "hiving the 
bees," as his father told Frederick Douglass, at 
Chambersburg, he wished him to do; after shipping 
the precious freight of tools, etc., the Captain had 

1 This may account for a series of memoranda relative to Louis- 
iana slave plantations, routes, etc., which, in Owen's peculiar 
hand, are nor/ in possession of Mrs. Ruth Thompson, the eldest 
sister. It may also account for Kagi suggesting to me the trips I 
made into the Indian Territory and even further south, reporting 
observations to him by letter. 


procured with such labored efforts, July and part of 
August was taken up with this work. The first trip 
was made to Boston, August ioth, where he succeeded 
in raising about two hundred dollars. He wrote Kagi 
from Syracuse, under date of August 17th, that he 
dined at Medford, with George L. Stearns, who said 
as he left: " Tell friend Isaac that we have the fullest 
confidence in his endeavor, whatever may be the 
result." John Brown, Jr., adds: " I have met with no 
man on whom, I think, more implicit reliance can be 
placed." Of other Boston friends whom he met or 
had communication with, he says; " Our cause is 
their cause in the fullest sense of the word." On the 
same day he sends a brief note from Rochester, an- 
nouncing that Frederick Douglass had left via New 
York and Philadelphia, to meet " friend Isaac." He 
also states " That other young friend went on from 
here, to visit you yesterday," referring to the negro 
Shields Green, whom Douglass had enlisted in his 
place. John Brown, Jr., then went northward to 
Canada West, taking with him a colored man, the 
Rev. Mr. Loguen, of Syracuse, of whom he afterwards 
wrote as "too fat" for real use. St. Catherine, 
Hamilton, Chatham, London, Buxton, and Windsor 
were all visited. Branches of the League, of which 
mention has been made in chapter seven, were 
organized. John's letters are full of information, but 
all of them indicate delay on the part of the small 
number relied upon. He was in Detroit, conferring 
with De Baptiste, and at Sandusky and Cleveland, 
urging others to work and assist. In a letter from 
Sandusky to "John Henri" (Kagi), bearing date 
August 27th, John, Jr., writes of " a coppersmith," sup- 


posed to be Reynolds, who was at the Chatham Con- 
vention and one of the sharpest of would be fighters, 
saying, " I think he is one of those men who must be 
obtained if possible," but he had been out of work, 
and now "has a job, which he cannot leave until 
finished." At another man's " an association " was 
formed, " the business of which is to hunt up good 
workmen and raise the means among themselves to 
send them forward." None of these things material- 
ized. John, Jr. believed that " they will take hold 
and do something." At Chatham " I met a hearty 
response," he writes and that's all, except that the 
brave, modest, reticent O. P. Anderson, paid his own 
way and reported for duty shortly after. Robinson 
.Alexander, also a member of the Chatham Convention, 
"thinks," writes John, "he can now close out by 1st 
November, and in the meantime to prove his devo- 
tion will furnish means to help on two or three him- 
self." But if he did that, they fell by the wayside some- 
where. Mr. Holden, also a member of the conven- 
tion, had "gone to the Frazier River," British Colum- 
bia. Even Richard Richardson, the fugitive, who 
had been helped out of Missouri, and w r as afterward 
one of the men " at school " in Iowa and a member 
of the Chatham Convention, was "away harvesting " 
All, indeed, appeared to be otherwise busy or to mis- 
apprehend. Canada, and the freed refugees therein, 
proved a broken reed, indeed. Harriet Tubman, 
"the General of us all," fell sick and could not travel. 
Frederick Douglass's refusal to finally join the enter- 
prise has never, to me, appeared to warrant adverse 
criticism. His position before the land justified, in 
1859, a choice between both conditions, nor failed of 


endeavor. Certainly he was doing a large work, 
compelling, by his intellectual power and eloquence, 
a fast-growing recognition for the oppressed race, of 
which he was an able leader. He might well weigh, 
as he did, the question of casting this upon the 
"hazard of a die." The "logic of events" at least 
has justified Frederick Douglass, and his faithful 
services must silence critics ; those at least who also 
had the opportunity and did not follow John Brown. 
On the 2d of September John, Jr., writes again to 
"John Henri," dating from his home at West Andover. 

In this he mentions sending letters to Canada 
points, and says that "friend L — y (Leary), of Ob — 
(erlin) will be on hand soon." He brought a recruit, 
too, in the person of John A. Copeland " C. H. L — n 
(Langston) will do all he can, but his health is bad." 
Another one has " married a wife and cannot come." 
So had Oliver Brown, but he had never been a slave. 
John, Jr., inquires as to the "frame of mind" in 
which the Rochester friend (Frederick Douglass) 
returned. On the 8th of September, another letter 
reaches Kagi, in which John, Jr., says: " I had sup- 
posed you would not think it best to commence 
operations opening the coal banks before spring, un- 
less circumstances should make important." This mis- 
apprehension, if such it was, seems to have been the 
cause of delays on the Canada side. I do not myself 
believe that beyond a dozen in all, there was any 
real expectation of competent recruits arriving. Mrs. 
Adams's statements confirm this view. 

Reasons grew for pressing to a conclusion. Dis- 
bandment was not hinted at even ; a forward move- 
ment was therefore necessarv. Life in the little farm- 


house went on, becoming almost unbearable at times ; 
the men, who, in spite of their devotion, good humor, 
and discipline, necessarily feeling the vigorous caution 
and confinement demanded by it Their singing was 
a great relief when it could be indulged; Stevens and 
Tidd especially having fine voices, the former being 
an excellent baritone of superior timbre Among 
their favorite songs were " All the Dear Folk have 
Gone," " Faded Flowers" and 'Nearer My God to 
Thee/' No spiritual " seances " were held at 
Kennedy's, at least while Anne and Martha were 
there. John Brown was always good to his neigh- 
bors, and his acts of personal kindness and charity, 
as well as his skill as veterinarian with sick cattle 
and horses, are remembered to this day, and have 
become parts of the neighborhood traditions. At 
the " Ferry,'* he and his sons became favorites, and 
were noted for their courtesy and willingness to 
oblige. Owen especially used to spend hours in talk- 
ing with the railroad men and others, learning there- 
by, without arousing suspicions, of the people, topog- 
raphy, the best and worst slaveholders, and of the 
" tools," etc., in the United States Arsenal. Cook at 
this time was constantly on the move, selling maps 
through the country as an excuse. The people 
around the Kennedy Farm were mainly of the Dun- 
ker sect or church, and of a division therein which 
were non-resistant and did not believe in slavery. 
Captain Brown used to go nearly every evening to a 
little church close by, and join with these quaint people 
in their religious exercises, often exhorting or preach- 
ing to the small congregation. Mrs. Adams says of the 
result of one of these occasions: 


" There was a family of poor people who lived near by who 
had rented the garden on the Kennedy place, directly back of 
the house. The little barefooted woman and four small chil- 
dren (she carried the youngest in her arms) would all come 
trooping over to the garden at all hours of the day, and, at 
times, several times during the day. Nearly always they would 
come up the steps and into the house and stay a short time. 
This made it very troublesome for us, compelling the men, 
when she came in sight at meal times, to gather up the victuals 
and table-cloth and quietly disappear up stairs. One Saturday 
father and I went to a religious (Dunker) meeting that was 
held in a grove near the schoolhouse, and the folks left at home 
forgot to keep a sharp lookout for Mrs. Heiffmaster, and she 
stole into the house before they saw her, and saw Shields 
Green (that must have been in September), Barclay Coppoc, 
and Will Leeman. And another time after that she saw C. P. 
Tidd standing on the porch. She thought these strangers were 
running off negroes to the North. I used to give her everything 
she wanted or asked for to keep her on good terms, but we 
were in constant fear that she was either a spy or would betray 
us. It was like standing on a powder magazine, after a slow 
match had been lighted." 

The Pennsylvania border was more suspicious. It 
floated slowly over to Maryland, and rumors began to 
be heard of possible domiciliary visits, of calls by the 
sheriff, and other symptoms of distrust. They did not 
crystallize into action, but it is most probable that an 
exposure of some sort must have soon occurred, if 
Captain Brown had not himself made the same. The 
men themselves were overstrained. The exaltation 
they were feeling would have broken and fallen down. 
"One day, while we were alone in the yard," writes 
Mrs. Adams, "Owen remarked as he looked up at the 
house — 'If we succeed, some day there will be a 
United States flag over this house — if we do not, 


it will be considered a den of land pirates and 

On the 29th of September, the two young and 
brave women left the Kennedy Farm for North Elba. 
Martha's babe was born, and died five months after, 
and in a few days she parted with life also. Oliver 
escorted them to Troy, and then returned direct. 
Virginia Cook, the wife of John Edwin, spent one 
night, the 13th of October, on her way from her home 
to Chambersburg, where she was left with her babe 
almost destitute for some days. When Anne and 
Martha, with Oliver, were on their way to Chambers- 
burg to take the train and ere they had left Maryland, 
a constable, or deputy sheriff, rode up and compelled 
Oliver to stop, while he searched the little wagon. 
When the train reached Harrisburg, the three young 
folks met their father and Kagi, returning from Phila- 
delphia, and there in the depot bade them farewell, — 
the last one as it proved. It was difficult to make any 
of the Brown family believe their father's plan was to 
prove a failure. When the startling news reached 
them at North Elba, and it came in even worse than 
the actual shape, they could not be induced to give it 
full credence. 

The last of the party closed in. Osborne P. Ander- 
son arrived at Chambersburg on the 16th, and reached 
the farm on the 25th of September. Dangerfield 
Newby, who had been living in a border town of 
Pennsylvania, was on hand, Captain Brown, Kagi, 
Leary, and Copeland alone were absent. The two 
last arrived v. n the 2d of October. Merriam reported 
at Philadelphia on the 10th or nth of the last month, 
met Captain Brown there, and, after conference, left 


immediately for Baltimore, where he purchased a 
large amount of primers and caps. The dealer testi- 
fied afterwards that he supposed the purchase to be 
for some filibustering expedition. On the 15th, Mer- 
riam arrived at the Kennedy Farm. From Harper's 
Ferry he sent the following inexplicable dispatch: 

Harper's Ferry, Oct. 15, 1859. 
Lewis Hayden, 1 Secretary of State's Office, State House, 

Orders disobeyed. Conditions broken. Pay S. immediately 

balance of my money. Allow no further expenses. Recall 

money advanced, if not sent. 

Francis J. Merriam. 

The meaning of this dispatch is unknown. It can 
only be conjecturall\ T understood. There is not the 
slightest ground for supposing it to relate to any dis- 
satisfaction with Captain Brown. Merriam brought 
with him to the point at which he first met John 
Brown several hundred dollars in gold, and trans- 
ferred to him in large part what he did not expend at 
Baltimore on the 13th or 14th of October in the 
purchase of 40,000 Sharpe's rifle primers and per- 
cussion caps, etc. It is evident, therefore, that the 
message could not have referred to affairs at the 
Marvland rendezvous, and must have related to some 
undue gossip or complaints made in Boston. The 
five men of color that Lewis Hayden states agreed 
to, but did not go to join John Brown, were to have 
traveled on funds advanced by Frank J. Merriam, who 
had drawn $600 from his uncle before he left Boston, 
leaving part of it with Mr Hayden. My information, 

1 A well-known colored man, of Boston, now deceased, himself 
a fugitive slave. 


though not quite verified, goes to show that he gave 
and spent for Captain Brown and the enterprise 
about $400 in all ; fortunately retaining some for 
himself, thus enabling him to make his escape from 
Chambersburg north to Canada, after the defeat. 

Frank B. Sanborn (on the authority of Hayden 
himself), in an Atlantic article, December, 1875 ("The 
Virginia Campaign of John Brown "), states that 
Lewis Hayderi was informed of the movement by 
John Brown, Jr., after conferring with Mr. Stearns 
and Dr. House in June, 1859, of his father's purposes 
and plans. The Atlantic article says: 

" Mr. Hayden entered warmly into the work, and undertook 
to enlist a few colored men in Massachusetts. . . . Accord- 
ing to his recollections he did enlist six such recruits . . . 
only one . . . reached Harper's Ferry, hefore the attack, 
and even he took no part in the fight." In a footnote to the 
same article, it is said, on Mr. Hayden's authority, that " John 
Anderson was a different person from Osborne (Perry) Ander- 
son ; that he was the only one of the colored recruits from 
Massachusetts who reached Harper's Ferry, but that he took 
no part in the fight and returned to Boston, where he has since 
died." [I have been unable to find the slightest trace of such a 
person. — R. J. H.] 

This much is certain, that with the arrival of the 
Boston recruit, Francis J. Merriam, the tally was 
closed, the list put away, the die was cast ! Within 
thirty hours, at sunrise of the 17th of October, 1859, 
a " shot was fired " that, like that of the embattled 
farmers of Concord and Lexington, eighty-two years 
before, led, too, by the grandfather of the Reverend 
Theodore Parker, one of John Brown's warmest 
friends, " echoed round the world." 


"THE order of march." 

Gathering the last recruits — Date of assault — Was it 
changed? — Arrivals from Canada — Ohio — The 
young Bosto?iiati — A colored man who cantwt be 
traced — Lewis Hay den and John Brown, Jr., as 
recruiting agents — The Kansas notification — Night 
rides from Chamber sburg to Hagerstown — The last 
Sunday services at the farm — A council of war — 
Assignments to duty — Dow?i the moonlit road. 

The movement upon Harper's Ferry begun at eight 
in the evening of the 16th of October, that being the 
hour at which the little band assumed their weapons 
and left the Kennedy farm. John Brown returned 
from Philadelphia via Hagerstown, during the night of 
the 14th, reaching the farm early in the forenoon of 
the 15th. All who participated in the attack answered 
the roll call. It remains uncertain whether the actual 
blow was suddenly decided on or not. Dr. A. M. 
Ross, of Toronto, Canada, states that he was notified 
that the blow was to be delivered between the 15th 
and 27th, and, according to a previous understanding, 
the doctor went to Richmond and was in that city 
when the startling news arrived. John Brown, Jr., 
evidently did not anticipate as early a movement. 
His letters from Canada, found in the captured car- 


pet-bag, showed that there were colored men from 
Canada and Ohio who expected and were preparing 
to join during the last week of October. One hand 
from Kansas reported to Captain Brown himself, 
between the 10th and 14th, while the latter was 
absent from the farm. This Western man was sent 
to Hagerstown and Chambersburg, receiving a dis- 
tinct impression that a week would elapse before 
positive action. He managed to remain from the 
15th to the 18th in the neighborhood; and then, find- 
ing it impossible to assist in any direct way the 
party headed by Owen Brown who had escaped into 
the laurel hills of southern Pennsylvania, successfully 
made his way to Cincinnati, returning immediately 
to the border counties of Pennsylvania. As a news- 
paper correspondent, being recognized or suspected 
of being, moreover, a "Kansas" man — not a safe 
designation in those days, — he soon left for Harris- 
burg and Cleveland, and finally went to Boston. 

Details multiply to show that "Isaac Smith's" 
appearance, with the presence of Owen Brown and 
his brothers and of Jerry Anderson, in such a quiet 
neighborhood and upon so small a farm, excited 
active suspicions among those who were always alert 
to guard the interests of slavery. The presence of a 
colored man at the farm-house, known as it was, 
according to Dauphin Thompson's letter, could but 
excite alarm. The Pennsylvania border was a more 
dangerous neighborhood than that of Maryland. 
The "peculiar institution," as Ralph Waldo Emerson 
once wittily termed chattelism, was never without 
assets, however, when assault was threatened or dan- 
gers feared. A large draft of alarm was always ready 

"the order of march." 271 

for discount. The type of Pennsylvanians by whom 
Cook and Hazlett were afterwards done to death, 
were as " mediumistic " as the border slaves and free 
people of color. In Maryland, county peace officers 
were somewhat anxiously inquiring about "Isaac 
Smith & Sons," a mining firm that did not mine — 
cattle buyers who were not trading in stock. Annie 
Brown (Mrs. Adams), whom her father called his 
" little watch-dog," because so vigilant when at the 
farm, recalls in her California home that, when she and 
Isabel, her brother Watson's wife, left the Kennedy 
farm for North Elba, nearly a month before the out- 
break, that persons were already prying about the 
place. James Redpath 1 puts the expected date as 
the 24th of October. He was in communication with 
Lewis Hayden and Francis J. Merriam, and had, as 
he wrote, all the current data at command. During 
August, I received at Leavenworth, from J. H. Kagi, 
a letter referring to a proposed "expedition" to 
" Central America," being about to start later in 
October. From " Isaac Smith " there came to me 
in the middle of September, bearing date at Cham- 
bersburg, a brief note by which I was notified that 
" mining operations " would begin in October, and 
that if I still wished to enter upon the speculation/ 
I should report by the middle of that montlwat 
a point named. Under the tense excitement of 
that period, I destroyed this note, and have ever 
since been apologizing to myself for the only bit of 
fear or evasion as to my own feelings or purposes, 
of which I was in any way guilty during all the fierce 

" Public Life of Capt. John Brown," Boston, i860. 



days that followed the 17th of October, 1859. In 
subsequent conversation with Charles Plummer Tidd, 
while in northern Ohio, and later with Barclay Cop- 
poc in Boston and at North Elba, the following July, 
I had my view strengthened into conviction, that the 
final order to move was based upon a sudden emer- 
gency. Osborne Perry Anderson's graphic and in- 
valuable little monograph " A 
Voice From Harper's Ferry," 
must after all be the best au- 
thority. Summarizing his testi- 
mony, he states that, after his 
own arrival at Chambersburg, 
Pa., from Chatham, Canada, on 
the 16th of September, 1859, 
there was a council or confer- 
ence held, presumably at Mrs. 
Ritter's, the boarding-house 
where " Isaac Smith" and "John 
Henri " always put up, and 
where boarded also the Car- 
penters (the two Coppocs), 
George Plummer (Tidd),Watson 
and Oliver "Smith" (Brown), 
and to which Mrs. Virginia Cook, the young wife of that 
abolition partisan, went on the night of the 12th or 13th 
of October, from Martinsburg, via Hagerstown, Md. 
The colored hands were usually accommodated, it is 
presumed, by men of that race, like Henry Watson, 
the barber. There were ethers who tilled small 
areas of land and worked " round," that could also 
De depended upon. Mr. Anderson, in conversation at 
Washington during 1870, estimated that mere were at 




"the order of march." 273 

least one hundred and fifty actively informed slaves. 
He spent eight days at Chambersburg. On the 20th 
and 24th, conferences as before referred to, weie 
held, and upon the latter date Anderson started afoot 
for Middletovvn, a village on the borders of Maryland 
and Pennsylvania. He arrived there at dark and 
found Captain Brown awaiting him in a one-horse 
covered wagon he used. The underground railway 
work of that border was usually done in such 
vehicles, when " Walker's express " was not employed. 
It was this little experience that helped Anderson to 
escape. If the party which Owen Brown afterwards 
led, had taken the same general direction northwards 
that Anderson did, probably all of them would have 
got away. Cook's anxiety to get news of his young 
wife, then at Chambersburg, and Owen Brown's 
knowledge of western Pennsylvania, led to the 
route, west and south of the range — the road watched 
by the professional kidnappers and fugitive slave- 
hunters of those days — which they finally followed. 
Hazlitt's divergence at Chambersburg from the 
north star line, also led to his arrest at Carlisle. 
But to return to Anderson's experiences. 

After meeting Captain Brown on the outskirts 
of Middletown, they drove at once to the Kennedy 
Farm, arriving there about daybreak. As a neces- 
sary precaution against surprise all the four colored 
men who went from the North to the farm and 
ferry made the journey from Chambersburg to the 
Kennedy Farm in the night. Anderson says: "A 
more earnest, fearless, determined company of men 
it would be difficult to get together." On the 12th 
of October John A. Copeland and Lewis Sherrard 



Leary, colored men from Oberlin, Ohio, arrived at 
Chambersburg. Captain Brown on the ioth or nth 
of October was in Philadelphia, meeting F. J. Mer- 
riam there, and sending him over to Baltimore to buy- 
gun caps, rifle primers, tools, etc. Why these were 
not purchased in Philadelphia has never been ex- 
plained. The large quantity of 40,000 caps Merriam 
purchased aroused suspicion of a filibustering move- 
ment and almost caused his arrest. Some days be- 
fore, Merriam, who had learned 
from me a few months previously 
of the proposed attack on slavery, 
was met on a Boston street and 
asked by Lewis Hayden for $600, 
which was furnished, Merriam well 
knowing it was intended for " secret 
service "purposes. Lewis Hayden 
always said one " John Anderson," 
a colored man, went from Boston 
and never returned. Mr. Sanborn 
in his " Life and Letters of John 
Brown " gives this name. But I 
have never been able to trace any 
such person, and if John Anderson 
did go to join John Brown, he 
must have been slain on the road after the fight 

The party who assembled then in council at the 
Kennedy Farm after the Captain returned from the 
little Winebrenarian (Dunker) chapel and the evening 
prayer-meeting therein, consisted of John Brown and 
his three sons — Owen, Oliver, and Watson; William 
and Adolphus Dauphin Thompson, brothers of Henry, 




husband of the Captain's eldest daughter Ruth; John 
Henri Kagi, Aaron Dwight Stevens, John Edwin 
Cook, who had come the same day from Martinsburg, 
Maryland, where he had lived for about fifteen 
months with his wife's people ; William H. Leeman, 
George Plummer Tidd, Jeremiah G. Anderson, Albert 
Hazlett, Steward Taylor, Edwin and Barclay Coppoc, 
and Francis J. Merriam, white men, 
and Osborne P. Anderson, William 
Copeland, Lewis Sherrard Leary, 
and Shields Green (known usually 
as "the Emperor"), colored. No 
mention is made as being at the 
farm of Dangerfield Newby, the 
Virginian free man, who fought 
and died at Harper's Ferry, in the 
evident hope of making his wife 
free. She was a slave woman who 
lived about thirty miles south of 
Harper's Ferry and was then, as 
letters show, about to be sold to 
a Louisiana trader. She was sub- 
sequently so sold and still lives, I 
learn, in the Pelican State, made 
free by the civil war. 

Of the twenty-one followers assembled in the Ken- 
nedy dwelling, thirteen of them, including the Browns 
and William Thompson, had all seen service in Kan- 
sas. Of the younger whites — Dauphin Thompson 
was a North Elba recruit, the brothers Coppoc were 
from Iowa, and Francis Jackson Merriam, a grandson 
of the president of the American Anti-Slavery Society, 
came naturally with his hostility to chattel bondage, 



though his feeling did not take the non-resist- 
ance form of Francis Jackson. Adolphus Dauphin 
Thompson and Barclay Coppoc were both in their 
twentieth year; Merriam was not over twenty-one. 
The unmarried men were besides these three young- 
sters, — Owen Brown, Kagi, Stevens, Tidd, Leeman, 
Edwin Coppoc, Taylor, " Jerry " Anderson, his colored 
namesake, Osborne, and Shields Green — twelve out 
of the twenty-two. During the summer months the 
wives of Oliver and Watson Brown had both been at 
the Kennedy Farm on short visits. Virginia, the 
wife of Captain Cook, was then at Chambersburg, 
Pa., waiting with her young child for the news of an 
event whose nature she but half suspected. The 
wives of the Browns were all in North Elba. The 
roads by which the little band of heroic emancipators 
had traveled to reach Harper's Ferry that fateful 
Sunday evening, were indeed sufficiently denned. 
Five through slavery and fugitive days; thirteen in 
the miry smoke and red flame of Kansas aggressions; 
the remaining five of the party had been trained by 
the seeing of events and through their associations. 
Only one recruit came direct from Canada. There 
was also one unknown colored Virginian left at the 
Maryland farm to assist Owen's party in moving 

That suspicions were aroused became even more 
evident on the Pennsylvania border, where the 
profit of fugitive slave-hunting had trained its 
human bloodhounds, than it was in the sleepy 
fields of Maryland. A letter of Dauphin Thomp- 
son to his North Elba home gives a reason for 

"the order of march. 277 

" Parts Unknown, September 4, 1859. 

" Dear Brother and Sister — ... I am sit- 
ting in the door of an old log-house, in which we 
have stored some of our freight. It is about fifty 
rods from the house in which we live. We are all 
well and in capital spirits. The girls have gone to 
meeting this morning, and some of the boys. They 
call the meeting a bush-meeting. They have meet- 
ings in a grove during the daytime, and at evening 
in the house. The meeting is conducted by a sect, 
called Winebrenarians. They are opposed to slavery, 
so much so that they will not have anything to do 
with the institution in the least. If a strange minister 
comes along, they will not let him preach until they 
find out whether he is in favor of slavery or not. 

" We have to be very careful here how we act in 
everything. We have one colored man in our com- 
pany who has been seen by a neighbor woman, but 
she thinks he is a fugitive, and that we are trying to 
help him to his freedom. She has promised to keep 
dark about it, and we are going to trust her honesty. 
It is rather a bad job, but it can't be helped, as we 
are not ready to begin operations yet. Probably you 
will hear from us about the 1st of October, if not 
before. The girls will be sent home before we begin 
operations. I have been over into Virginia a number 
of times since I have been here. There are some of 
the best farms in Jefferson County I ever saw. There 
are two nephews of George Washington over there. 
They own large farms and lots of slaves." He then 
inquires after home and neighborhood affairs, and 
writes: " I suppose the folk think we are a set of fools, 
but they will find out we know what we are about." 


It is also known that Captain Brown had learned 
of orders to remove a large number of arms at an 
early day from the Harper's Ferry Arsenal to other 
points, chiefly in the South. Indeed, the removal had 
already begun, for when on the 17th the citizens 
began to arm themselves, it was United States mus- 
kets they obtained from boxes stored in the town 
previous to transfer elsewhere. There can be little 
question to a student of the period, that the removal 
of which Captain Brown heard, was commenced in 
pursuance of the Secretary of War's policy of loading 
the Southern arsenals with the military property of 
the general Government. 1 

Mr. O. P. Anderson's narrative continues by saying 
that a tried friend (Dangerfield Newby) had given 
information of the state of public feeling without, and 
of the projected search. Captain Brown, therefore, 

1 Valuable documents of an historical character were obtained 
during the Civil War, by army seizures, etc. Among such finds 
were a number of letters taken from Jefferson Davis's plantation 
house in Mississippi, bearing dates from 1S51 to 1S56. They were 
from various Southern Senators; all of them urged secession if the 
new Northern party should prove successful, and several demanded 
of Mr. Davis, as Secretary of War, the replacing of old arms in 
Southern arsenals with the best at command of the War Depart- 
ment. Senators Butler (South Carolina) and Mason (Virginia) 
were especially earnest. The latter, under date of September 30, 
1856, writes Davis, after urging the supply of arms as indicated, 
that " in the event of Fremont's election the South should proceed 
at once to immediate, absolute, and eternal separation," adding, 
that " I am a candidate for the first halter." It were a pity that 
he did not get it also. This, and other letters, first appeared in 
print in The Republic (May, 1876), a political monthly then issued 
at Washington, of which I was one of the editors. 


concluded to strike the blow immediately, and not, 
as at first intended, to await certain reinforcements 
from the North and East, which would have been in 
Maryland within from one to three weeks. Captain 
Brown was not seconded in another quarter as he 
expected at the time of the action, but could the fears 
of the neighbors have been allayed for a few days, the 
disappointment in that respect would not have had 
much weight. It is not of much moment to speculate 
as to the disappointment Anderson refers to, but it 
seems most probable that the reference is made both 
to the failure to make connection with the Canada 
colored recruits, who had been expected, and to the de- 
clination of Frederick Douglass to participate in the 
Harper's Ferry movement, as there is some evidence 
that other colored men made their possible activity 
contingent on that of their leading orator and states- 

" On Sunday," writes Anderson, " October the 16th, 
Captain Brown arose earlier than usual and called his 
men to worship. He read a chapter from the Bible 
applicable to the condition of the slaves and our duty 
as their brethren, and then offered up a fervent prayer 
to God to assist us in the liberation of the bondmen." 
After breakfast the Captain called the roll, a sentinel 
was posted outside the door to warn if an}- one should 
approach, and at 10 o'clock the council assembled ; 
Osborne P. Anderson was appointed to the chair. 
John Brown preserved the moral logic of his attitude 
by putting this competent colored man into the pre- 
siding place. After the council adjourned the con- 
stitution was read for thebenefit of the four who had 
not before heard it and the necessary obligations 


taken. Mr. Anderson used the word " oaths," but 
the records show that it was a parole of honor which 
was taken at Chatham when the " Constitution " was 
adopted. Men who were to hold military positions 
in the organization, and who* had not received com- 
missions before then, had them filled out by J. H. Kagi, 
and gave the required promises of obedience. In the 
afternoon eleven orders were made out by the Cap- 
tain and were afterwards carried out in all partic- 
ulars by the officers and men. They were as follows: 
i. Captain Owen Brown, F. J. Merriam, and Bar- 
clay Coppoc to remain at the old house as sentinels, to 
guard the arms and effects till morning, when they 
would be joined by some of the men from the Ferry with 
teams to move all arms and other things to the old 
school-house in Virginia, located about three-quarters 
of a mile from Harper's Ferry. It is a place selected 
beforehand by the Captain. 

2. All hands to make as little noise as possible 
going to the Ferry, so as not to attract attention till 
we could get to the bridge; and to keep all arms 
secreted, so as not to be detected if met by any one. 

3. The men to walk in couples, at some distance 
apart; and should any one overtake us, stop and de- 
tain him until the rest of our comrades were out of 
the road. The same course to be pursued if we are 
met by any one. 

4. That Captains Charles P. Tidd, and John E. 
Cook walk ahead of the wagon in which Captain 
Brown rides to the Ferry. They are to tear down the 
telegraph wires on the Maryland side along the rail- 
road; and to do the same on the Virginia side, after 
the town should be captured. 

"the order of march." 281 

5. Captains John H. Kagi and A. D. Stevens to 
take the watchman at the Ferry bridge a prisoner 
when the party get there, and to detain him until 
the engine-house upon the Government grounds shall 
be taken. 

6. Captain Watson Brown and Steward Taylor to 
take positions at the Potomac (covered) bridge, and 
hold it till morning. They to stand on opposite 
sides, a rod apart, and if any one entered the bridge, 
they are to let him get in between them. In that 
case, pikes to be used, not Sharpe's rifles, unless they 
are offered much resistance, and they meet with refusal 
to surrender. 

7. Captains Oliver Brown and William Thompson 
are to execute a similar order at the Shenandoah 
bridge; remaining until morning. 

8. Lieutenant Jeremiah Anderson and Adolphus 
(Dauphin) Thompson to occupy the engine-house at 
first, with the watchman from the bridge and the 
watchman belonging to the engine-house yard as 
prisoners, until the one on the opposite side of the 
street and the rifle factory be taken, after which they 
would be reinforced, to hold that place with the 

9. Lieutenant Albert Hazlett and Private Edwin 
Coppoc to hold the armory opposite the engine-house 
after it has been taken; remaining through the night 
and until morning, when arrangements would be dif- 

10. That John H. Kagi, Adjutant-General, and 
John A Copeland (colored), take positions at the rifle 
factory through the night, and hold it until further 


12. That Capt. A. D. Stevens proceed to the coun- 
try with his men, and after taking certain parties 
prisoners, bring them to the Ferry. In the case of 
Col. Lewis Washington, who had certain arms in his 
possession, he must, after being secured as a prisoner, 
deliver them into the hands of Osborne P. Anderson. 
Anderson being a colored man, and colored men 
being only things in the South, it is proper that the 
South be taught a lesson upon this point. 

Preparation had been made for the means of firing 
the bridges, buildings, etc., by tow balls steeped in 
oil. The making of these was probably due to Annie 
and Isabel Brown before they left. These articles 
were taken to the Ferry, but no use was made of 
them. It was the intention, evidently, to set fire be- 
fore leaving that place for the mountains. 

Captain Brown did not omit, it is said by a former 
neighbor of the Kennedy farm party, to proceed to 
the nearby Danker or" Winebrenarian " Charch, and 
conduct there the services in which he had partici- 
pated or led during the preceding months of his life 
in Maryland. But that is doubtful, as the order to 
move was made so early. When all was ready, Cap- 
tain Brown then gave his final charge to the men, in 
which he said among other things, as Anderson re- 

"And now, gentlemen, let me impress this one 
thing upon your minds. You all know how dear life 
is to you, and how dear your life is to your friends. 
And in remembering that consider that the lives of 
others are as dear to them as yours are to you. Do 
not, therefore, take the life of any one if you can 
possibly avoid it; but if it is necessary to take life 



in order to save your own, then make sure work 
of it." 

The several parties had been chosen. John H. Kagi 
being second in command, the capture and holding 
of Hall's Rifle Works was naturally assigned to him. 
To Aaron D. Stevens was assigned the capture of 
several prominent slaveholders. He selected for his 
assistants Charles P. Tidd, John E. Cook, Osborne P. 
Anderson, Lewis Sherrard Lear)', and John A. Cope- 
land. Stevens was to send over from Virginia to 
Owen Brown at the farm a wagon 
with negro help for the removal of 
the pikes and guns, etc., stored at 
the farm. Captain Cook had 
several times traveled thus along 
the Valley turnpike and collected 
information needed. He thus 
learned of Lewis Washington's 
possession of the historic arms of 
Frederick the Great and General 
Lafayette that were afterwards 
captured. 1 

It would hardly be necessary to 
repeat the startling story, except to 
bring out the actions of the party 
as a whole and as individuals. One thing must be 
realized from the first moment: not one faltered, 
quailed, or failed. From the two country lads, who 
had not yet crossed the path of manhood, Dauphin 
Thompson and Barclay Coppoc, neither of whom had 


1 The Lafayette pistol or pistols were afterwards restored by 
Owen Brown; the sword was retaken from Captain Brown. 


reached his twentieth year, to Kagi and Stevens and 
Cook — the three whose experience of the world had 
most assuredly given some mental maturity, fitted 
them to understand as they did, the desperate chances 
of their startling venture — all the associates at Har- 
per's Ferry failed not in obedience, courage, and 
combat, to their veteran and idealistic leader. From 
the outset, intelligently and intellectually — sen- 
timentally and by feeling — new recruits as well as 
long-time comrades, all knew or felt that the attack on 
slavery they were about making, whether lost or won 
at the moment, would assuredly " pay," and it did. 
John Brown was right when he said so in the jail and 
on the road to the sacred gallows. 



The first blow — An Irish watchman — Twenty -two cap- 
ture the United States arsenal, armory, and works 
— Stopping the train a fatal blunder — The town 
people's fright — Sunrise brings aid — Capture of 
Lewis Washington — Attack on the little band — 
Beginning of the fateful end— The fight was on — 
Two thousand held at bay by seventeen ?ne?i — Bar- 
barities and brutalities — Courage and calmness 
— The United States marines — The Virginians' own 
verdict on their oivn acts — Where the roads ended. 

Down the still road, dim white in the moonlight, 
and amid the chill October night, went the little 
band, silent and sober. Tidd and Anderson stated 
afterward that they saw no sign and felt none them- 
selves of any special excitement. Cook and Tidd 
were so busily engaged in cutting the telegraph wires 
along the road that they had no time to think. Near 
the Maryland entrance of the Ferry bridge the wagon 
stopped and the men assumed their carbines and 
cartridge-boxes. No one had seen them on the road. 

John H. Kagi and Aaron D. Stevens led the march 
and were first to cross the bridge. Williams, the 
watchman there, was captured without disturbance. 
Captain Brown with the wagon and the balance of 



the force went on and into the Arsenal grounds. 
Watson Brown and Stewart Taylor were placed as 
guards, and the engine-house was then occupied. The 
watchman in the armory began to shout and would 
not open the door, which was forced. The two prison- 
ers were left under charge of Jeremiah G. Anderson 
and the younger Thompson. Stevens then moved 
to take possession of the armory. Kagi and Copeland 

were left at Hall's rifle works, 
and Albert Hazlett and Edwin 
Coppoc held the United States 
armory. William Thompson and 
Oliver Brown held possession of 
the Shenandoah railroad bridge. 
Up to this point not a shot had 
been fired. Returning to the 
engine-house, where Captain 
Brown had already stationed 
himself, Stevens with Cook, Tidd, 
Leary, Shields Green, and O. P. 
Anderson, left to secure Lewis 
Washington, Terence Burns, and 
Alstedt as hostages, with their 
slave men as recruits, according 
to the arranged programme. The capture of the place 
was effected before eleven on the 16th. At midnight 
the relief watchman for the railroad bridge came 
down. He may be left to tell his own story of 
events. The first shot fired was at that watchman. 1 


1 Patrick Higgins is a watchman of the Baltimore and Ohio 
Railroad, who is still at Harper's Ferry, where, in the employ of 
that corporation, he has resided for nearly forty years, recently 
gave to Dr. Thomas Featherstonhaugh, of Washington (to whom 


On the night of the 16th of October, 1859, Patrick 
Higgins went to his post at midnight, waiting as 
usual at the end of the bridge till the half hour 
came in order to pull the indicator, as required by 
the railroad regulations. He noticed that the lamps 
at each end of the bridge were out, and thought 
it strange but did not light them. A little alarmed, 
with a lantern in his hand he passed the watch-house 
looking for the other man, Bill Williams. When 
nearly over the bridge he was suddenly halted by two 
men; keeping on, however, he was seized by one 
(Oliver Brown, he afterwards learned) who, grasping 
his arm, told him to "come along." Higgins walked 
on, remonstrating quietly, till he saw by the light of 
his lantern a half dozen pikes leaning against the 
bridge rail. Terrified at this, he struck Oliver a 
savage blow on the right ear and knocked him back 
to the rail. Then he ran towards the Foulke's Hotel, 
while William Thompson, the other guard, immediate- 
ly fired upon him, sending the bullet from his Sharpe's 
rifle through Higgins's hat, and grazed his scalp, leav- 
ing a mark which is still visible. This shot and Hig- 
gins's story gave the alarm to the Hotel people, but 
as to the party in possession, nothing was known. The 
barkeeper ventured out from curiosity soon after and 
was captured. Captain Brown exchanged this man 
in the morning for breakfast for forty men, which 

I am greatly indebted for detailed local and other important in- 
formation), his recollection of the capture of that place by John 
Biown and his men. Mr. Higgins is a man of recognized probity 
and character. His courage and manliness was conspicuously 
manifested during the remarkable scenes of which he speaks 
clearly and with so much interest. 


number included his prisoners. The careful Vir- 
ginians afterwards deducted from such remnants of 
the Captain's property, as could be recovered from the 
ravenous hands of enemies or relic-hunters and sold 
for his benefit, the price of these meals. After his 
escape, Higgins went to Williams's house, and found 
that he had not returned and was a prisoner. The 
train was in when the watchman got back. Accom- 
panying the conductor (Mr. Phelps), they went to 
the armory grounds, saying loudly " What's the matter, 
boys ? " The answer was: 

"We want liberty; the grounds, bridge, and town 
are in our hands." 

By this time the passengers were swarming in the 
depot and much excited; no one knew, and the watch- 
man could not tell them, what was the matter. It was 
generally thought to be a strike of dissatisfied men, 
working on a government dam. As the dawn broke, 
John Brown told Mr. Phelps to " proceed, that he had 
no intention of interfering with the comfort of pas- 
sengers or hindering the United States mails." Cap- 
tain Brown was apparently unarmed, and with cool 
deliberation and as much unconcern as if carrying on 
an ordinary business proceeding, walked with the 
conductor across the bridge. He waited with Mr. 
Phelps till the signal to proceed was given, and then 
walked back over it alone. 

The four-horse wagon load of Colonel Washington's 
slaves, etc., had already been brought in. Just as the 
train was leaving, Cook recrossed the bridge, with a 
companion (a colored man) driving the wagon, to 
the school-house and Kennedy farm. Heyward 
Shepherd, the Hotel porter, was shot soon after. 


Higgins aided in his removal to the depot, where 
the watchman remained with the dying man. Early 
in the forenoon, Hey ward asked for water, and Hig- 
gins started to the pump to get some. On starting 
to return William Thompson halted him and asked 
for a drink. The bucket was handed him. After 
drinking he asked Higgins to go to the bridge and 
give some to two men. They were Oliver Brown and 
a negro. As he did so, Oliver said: 

" You're the buck that hit me last night, eh ? " 

Replying affirmatively to Oliver, the latter con- 

" Well, you did an unwise thing; it was only this 
leg that saved you"; showing a cut near his left 
knee, which he received on striking the bridge from 
Higgins's blow. The latter then asked: 

" What's all this fuss about, anyhow ? " 

" Oh, its a darkey affair," laughingly replied Thomp- 
son, pointing to the smiling negro, and adding: " I 
am one, and here's another." 

" I'm on a darkey affair, too," responded Higgins, 
"and that's to get water for a negro whom you have 

" All right," replied Oliver, " go along. He brought 
it on himself by refusing to obey orders." 

Soon after, the Mayor, Mr. Beckham, was shot and 
his body lay exposed by the water tank for some 
hours. It was not molested by the invaders. Citizens 
in the town had got arms and others were arriving 
from the valley and from Maryland. A party from 
that side, says Higgins, opened the fight in earnest, 
coming upon the bridge and firing a volley. A negro 
ran towards the arsenal and was shot down while 




getting over a fence. People came along, says this 
eye witness, and cut pieces from his ears and face, 
and the pigs ate from a neck wound. The latter in- 
cident is told of Dangerfield Newby's body, but as 
he was shot at the armory gate, it is probably untrue. 

Mr. Higgins describes Aaron D. 
Stevens as the boldest man of the 
party. He stood in the open en- 
trance of the bridge, firing upon 
the Marylanders, and that, too, 
after he was desperately wounded. 
The watchman reached him when 
he fell face downward, taking a 
pistol from his person, and assist- 
ing in removing the wounded 
man to the Gait House. William 
Thompson had in the meanwhile 
been taken prisoner, carried to 
Foulke's, and then brought out 
upon the bridge, shot, and thrown 
over into the river mortally 
wounded. He managed to swim or wade and reach 
one of the piers, where he was discovered and 
riddled with bullets. 

Mr. Higgins's description of the scenes of the day 
and night of the 17th is certainly terse and graphic. 
"The people, who came pouring into town," he says, 
" broke into liquor saloons, filled up, and then got into 
the arsenal, arming themselves with United States 
guns and ammunition. They kept shouting, shoot- 
ing at random, and howling." Day passed in this way, 
and evening came. During the night the United 
States marines came. He saw the attack upon and 



capture of the engine-house. Oliver's body was, the 
watchman says, thrown into a cart and carried to a 
shallow grave across the Shenandoah. Shots came 
from the side of the mountains during the afternoon 
of the 17th from Cook, as he believed then, and 
as we now know. It was supposed that Cook had 
quite a command in the range, and even as late 
as 1887, Andrew Hunter, John Brown's prosecutor 
at the Charlestown trial, asserted that the mountains 
and woods were full of John Brown's men. It is 
proper to say at this point, that the few shots Cook 
was able to fire in the futile though gallant effort 
that courageous but unfortunate young man made to 
assist his leader and comrades then in the engine- 
house and arsenal building, with a few more fired by 
Albert Hazlett and Osborne Perry Anderson later in 
the day from the Maryland Heights, after they had 
succeeded in crossing the river unharmed from the 
arsenal building, was all the firing actually known to 
have been done outside of the United States grounds 
by any of the John Brown party. There is reason to 
believe that a small band of neighborhood negroes 
fired a few desultory shots from the upper shore, but 
that cannot be positively stated. Mr. Higgins re- 
mained at Harper's Ferry all through the war, saw 
both armies in possession, and all the fighting, but the 
nights of the John Brown raid stand alone in his 
memory for their terror and the fury and excesses 
that prevailed. Higgins knew Cook well, had often 
talked with " Isaac Smith," remembers Owen's ar- 
rival and asking for the " Smith place." He assisted 
in placing John Brown's body into the freight car, 
and saw Mrs. Brown, who was, he quietly remarks, 


"a nice-looking little woman." He closes his narra- 
tive with the suggestion that " It was not healthy to 
be out in sight of the armory during the fray." 

With the moving of the train, early in the morning, 
the alarm was given to the country. And what a 
startling one it was ! From Penobscot to Mobile, and 
from New York to San Francisco the story flashed! 
Extras were issued ! The headlines were ablaze ! 
Here are some culled from the dailies of the period: 

harper's ferry. fearful and exciting 
intelligence ! 









WAY ! 






On the road the Stevens party met several colored 
men who promised to at once arouse their fellows. 
The designated hostages were then captured ; Colonel 
Washington being the first. The Virginian gave the 
sword of Frederick the Great and the pistols of 
Lafayette to O. P. Anderson. Shields Green and 
Leary were placed on guard, one at the side and the 
other in front of the house. Of course Colonel 
Washington was excited and alarmed. Stevens, who 
was dramatic in manner as well as commanding in 
appearance, briefly told him that they would take 
his slaves, not his life, and that he must go to the 
Ferry with them as a prisoner. The slaves in the 
meanwhile had been aroused and harnessed up a 
family carriage and a four-horse wagon. Whiskey 
was offered and refused, and when he found the 
handsome, tall, full-bearded invader was not to be 
moved, Colonel Washington broke down utterly. 
Amid the cries of his family he was placed in his 
carriage, and with the addition of his slaves, who 
filled the big wagon, the party started back. O. P. 
Anderson writes that all the colored people they met 
were eager to aid. Seventeen men were armed and 
added to the force. The only shot fired that first 
night was at the railroad bridge and that was the 
only act also of direct personal violence. • Sunrise on 
the 17th was, however, greeted with stirring action on 
both sides. O. P. Anderson says that, in conse- 
quence of the movements of the night before, we were 
prepared for commotion and tumult, but certainly 
not for more than we beheld around us. Men, 
women, and children could be seen leaving their 
homes in all directions, climbing up the hillsides, 


evidently impelled by a sudden fear. Captain Brown 
was all activity, though at times he appeared some- 
what puzzled. He ordered Lewis Sherrard Leary, 
and four slaves, to join Kagi and Copeland at the 
rifle factory. Copeland was the only man of the 
seven (Leeman afterwards joining them) who 
escaped from the dangerous post. Kagi early realized 
the perilous position, and ineffectually sent for orders 
to join Captain Brown. Tidd, Leeman, and Cook, 
with some fourteen slaves were ordered to take 
Washington's four-horse wagon and proceed to the 
Kennedy farm where Owen Brown, Merriam, and 
Barclay Coppoc had been left to guard the place and 
the arms. Cook, Leeman, and Tidd returned to the 
schoolhouse, Leeman subsequently reporting to 
Kagi. Owen Brown then began to move the arms 
and goods down to the schoolhouse in the mountain, 
three-fourths of a mile from the Ferry. Cook and 
Tidd, with the help of armed slaves, busied them- 
selves in the capture of Terence Burns, Mr. Alstedt, 
and some other neighboring slaveholders, whom they 
sent into the Ferry. Their orders required them also 
to hold the schoolhouse, to which it was understood 
Captain Brown, Kagi, Stevens, and comrades, with 
such negroes as might follow from the Ferry, would 
retreat, bringing any arms, etc., that it should be 
deemed advisable to remove. Up to and about noon 
this could have been accomplished. Early in the 
morning it could have been done without loss; in the 
waning hours of the forenoon, there would have 
been some sporadic fighting. The noon sun, however, 
saw the liberators encircled. Even then a bold 
sortie would have opened the ring, though pursuit 


2 95 

had surely followed. The United States reservation 
w r as to them a trap of death. O. P. Anderson remained 
at the Ferry, and, by Captain Brown's orders, pro- 
ceeded to arm slaves in the grounds with the pikes 
brought by the wagon from the farm. Among those 
who eagerly accepted the weapons were several farm- 
hands who had come in on hearing the reports from 
" underground wires." Colonel 
Washington's "Jim" was one of 
the boldest of the new fighters. 

Outside the gates the excited 
citizens gathered. Arms were 
found and began to be used. 
Desultory firing commenced in 
the middle of the forenoon. 
Kagi's position was chiefly as- 
sailed, as the Virginia and Mary- 
land farmers could fire on the 
rifle works without getting within 
the deadly range of the engine- 
house squad. O. P. Anderson's 
arming of the negroes led to the 
early report that the commander 
was a colored man named Ander- 
son. Edwin Coppoc, on guard at the arsenal gates, 
was fired upon from the outside. He was not struck. 
Immediately after, writes Anderson, an old colored 
man armed with a double-barreled shotgun, taken at 
the Washington's and loaded by Leeman with buck- 
shot, was ordered by Captain Stevens to arrest a citi- 
zen. The latter refused to obey the order to halt, 
and the old man fired both barrels into him, causing 
his death immediately. A rifle-shot from the engine- 

EinviN coppoc 


house bad also wounded the man who fired at Coppoc. 
From the rifle works where Kagi, Leeman, Leary, and 
Copeland, with four freed men held the fort, came 
fresh messages urging immediate withdrawal. It 
was at this point that John Brown lost control of his 
judgment, and acted with hesitation unusual to him, 
halting between two views of the situation. He tried 
to be both teacher and fighter at once and necessarily 
failed, not that the characters are incompatible, but 
that if fighting to achieve a moral result is accepted, 
then fighting rather than teaching is the order of the 
day. In his anxiety to prove that the movement was 
one not of outlawry and destruction, but of benefi- 
cence, of justice, and lofty purpose, the logic of the 
method chosen was temporarily overlooked. Just 
then the business of the liberators was to have got 
out of Harper's Ferry and into the mountainous region 
nearby, leaving Virginians, prisoners, and citizens 
alike to settle for themselves as best as they might, 
whether their assailants were freebooters or freedom- 
makers. It may well be supposed also, that the long 
strain of mental effort and agony he had endured, 
combined with undoubted debility consequent upon 
intermittent attacks of chills and fever with malarial 
tendencies, had some temporary effect on his intel- 
lectual powers. Though possessing a sturdy frame, 
an iron constitution, enriched and endowed with a 
temperate life, he was over fifty-nine years of age and 
showed it. But, whatever was the cause, Captain 
Brown delayed, and when the October sun reached 
its meridian on that memorable Monday, he and his 
little band were practically hemmed in by fire from 
five hundred guns, held and used by infuriated 


men, with more coming and the certainty also that a 
Federal force was on its way to the scene of action. 

This tardiness was fatal, and the general encounter 
commenced in all its fury. With Frederick the Great's 
sword on his hip, the Captain went on the street, 
sending for the men at the arsenal, Stevens, Ander- 
son, Dauphin Thompson, Dangerfield Newby, and 
several colored Virginians. A fight impending, no 
indecision existed. Anderson reports the scene in a 
vigorous style: 

"The troops are on the bridge coming into town; 
we will give them a warm reception," said Captain 
Brown as he walked around among us, giving -words 
of encouragement: 

"Men! be cool! Don't waste your powder and shot! 
Take aim, and make every shot count! The troops 
will look for us to retreat on their first appearance; 
be careful to shoot first." 

His men were all supplied with rifles, but Captain 
Brown had only the sword mentioned. The troops 
soon came out of the bridge and up the street facing 
us, we occupying an irregular position. When they 
got within sixty or seventy yards, Captain Brown said: 

" Let go upon them ! " 

Which we did, when several of them fell. Again 
and again was the fire repeated, creating consterna- 
tion among the troops. From marching in solid 
marching columns they became scattered. Some 
hastened to seize upon and bear up the wounded. 
They seemed not to realize at first that the raiders 
would fire upon them, but evidently expected they 
would be driven out by them without firing. Captain 
Brown seemed to understand this, Anderson wrote, 


and in defense undertook to forestall their move- 
ments. The consequence of their unexpected recep- 
tion was after leaving several of their dead on the 
field, the Marylanders beat a confused retreat into the 
bridge and stayed there under cover until other rein- 
forcements came to the Ferry. On the retreat of the 
troops, Brown ordered his men back to their former 
posts. While going, Dangerfield Newby was shot 
through the head from the window of a brick store on 
the opposite side of the street. Anderson writes: 
" He fell at my side, and his death was promptly 
avenged by Shields Green, the Zouave of the band, 
who afterwards calmly met his fate on the gallows 
with John Copeland." Newby was shot twice. At 
the first fire he fell on his face and returned it; as he 
lay, a second shot was fired and the ball entered his 
neck. Green raised his rifle and brought down the 
assailant before the latter could even get his gun and 
face from the window. 

The hillsides grew more lively with the frightened 
people, and for a time even that refuge became un- 
safe, as armed slaves were seen in some numbers. 
Cook's later statement and the escape account given 
years later to Ralph Keeler for magazine publication 
by Owen Brown, shows that the laborers on the canal 
above the Ferry, and, indeed, generally the non- 
slave-holding white workmen of the neighborhood, 
took very little part in the fighting, and, while alarmed 
at the tumult, were evidently somewhat disposed to 
feel kindly to the liberators. Cook, at least, testified 
to this. He was given coffee and food, as well as 
warned of the location of armed men and the danger 
of capture he ran. 


For some time after the Maryland militia fell back, 
nothing of moment occurred until William Thompson 
was slain on the railroad bridge. Shortly after the 
Mayor, Fountain Beckham, was shot dead from the 
engine-house and all the furies were released. Thomp- 
son was dragged out of the Foulke House. Oliver 
Brown was mortally wounded at the arsenal gate and 
Stevens soon after receiving several wounds, was 
captured and taken to the Gait House. The men at 
the rifle works were in the deadliest peril, and the 
difficulty of communication became greater. Jere- 
miah G. Anderson w r as sent with a message to Kagi, 
requesting him," to hold out a few moments longer." 
But that was the last. An hour's severe fighting en- 
sued. More troops were on the ground, from Fred- 
erick, Baltimore, Hagerstown, in Maryland, and Win- 
chester, in Virginia. From current accounts at the 
time, a list of twelve companies is obtained, number- 
ing in all from 700 to 800 men. Officers were numer- 
ous. Colonel Baylor, who evidently had some mili- 
tary knowledge, assumed command, and from that 
moment all chances of escape from the self-made trap 
had passed. The flag of truce, pressed for and ac- 
companied by some of Brown's Virginian prisoners, 
was fired upon after the hostages had escaped, which 
they swiftly did. In this way, Oliver and Watson 
Brown, with A. D. Stevens, were slain or wounded 
and the latter was captured also. "Jerry ' Anderson, 
carrying a last message and making his way to the 
rifle works, was fired upon and returned to the en- 
gine-house. Continuous firing was kept up till dark 
on both sides. The little garrison at the rifle works 
had all been slain. The men at the armory were iso- 


lated,all slain but two, and they crossed the river and 
escaped. Captain Brown, with four men and ten 
prisoners, his dead son Oliver, and with Watson 
dying, settled himself grimly for the night to " hold 
the Fort." The United States marines, less than a 
hundred in number, commanded by General Scott's 
chief-of-staff, Robert E. Lee, were on the ground at 
night to regain control of the Federal reservation. 
The incidents of that night, with the early morning 
attack, may fully be told by eye witnesses who were 
prisoners. It will not then be said, the story is the 
concoction of an advocate or admirer. John Brown 
selected eight prisoners to hold as hostages after he 
was compelled to retreat to the engine-house. Among 
these were Jesse W. Graham, armory workman, and 
acting United States paymaster or pay clerk, John 
E. R. Daingerfield, who had been taken on the 17th. 
Mr. Daingerfield tells of his capture, 1 and of being 
taken to " Captain Smith," and adds: 

" Upon reaching the gate I saw what, indeed, looked 
like war — negroes armed with pikes, and sentinels 
with muskets all around. When I reached the gate 
I was turned over to ' Captain Smith.' He called me 
by name, and asked if I knew Colonel Washington 
and others, mentioning familiar names. I said I did, 
and he then said, * Sir, you will find them there,' mo- 
tioning me towards the engine-room. 

" We were not kept closely confined, but were al- 
lowed to converse with him. I asked him what his 
object was; he replied, ' To free the negroes of Vir- 
ginia.' He added that he was prepared to do it, and 

1 Century for June, 1885. John Brown at Harper's Ferry, 


by twelve o'clock would have fifteen hundred men 
with him, ready armed." 

This is evidently a mistake or misconception of the 
paymaster's memory. After describing briefly from 
his own point of view the excitement, massing, and 
arming of the citizens, by which Captain Brown and 
three unvvounded men, one dead, and one dying, with 
eight prisoners, were driven to keep within the engine- 
house, Mr. Daingerfield says: 

" After getting into the engine-house with his men, 
he made this speech: ' Gentlemen, perhaps you wonder 
why I have selected you from the others. It is be- 
cause I believe you to be the most influential, and I 
have only to say now that you will have to share pre- 
cisely the same fate that your friends extend to my 
men.' He began at once to bar the doors and win- 
dows, and to cut port holes through the brick wall." 

Firing ceased at nightfall, but the men were vigi- 
lant, responding to their Captain's voice and com- 
mands. After the arrival of the United States marines, 
the paymaster says: 

" When Stuart was admitted, and a light brought, 
he exclaimed, ' Why, aren't you old Osawatomie 
Brown, of Kansas, whom I once had there as my pri- 
soner?' 'Yes,' was the answer, 'but you did not 
keep me.' This was the first intimation we had as to 
Brown's true name. He had been engaged in the 
Kansas border war, and had come from there 
to Harper's Ferry. When Colonel Lee advised 
Brown to trust to the clemency of the Government, 
he responded that he knew what that meant, — 
a rope for his men and himself, — adding, ' I 
prefer to die just here.' Stuart told him he would 


return at early morning for his final reply, and left 

(t When he had gone, Brown at once proceeded to 
barricade the doors, windows, etc., endeavoring to 
make the place as strong as possible. 

"During all this time no one of Brown's men 
showed the slightest fear, but calmly awaited the 
attack, selecting the best situations to fire from upon 
the attacking party, and arranging their guns and 
pistols so that a fresh one could be taken up as soon 
as one was discharged. . . . 

" When Lieutenant Stuart came in the morning for 
the final reply to the demand to surrender, I got up and 
went to Brown's side to hear his answer. Stuart asked, 
1 Are you ready to~ surrender, and trust to the mercy 
of the Government ? ' Brown answered promptly, ' Nol 
I prefer to die here.' His manner did not betray the 
least fear." 

He then pays the stern partisan this tribute: 

"During the day and night I talked much with 
John Brown, and found him as brave as a man could 
be, and sensible upon all subjects, except slavery. 
Upon that question he was a religious fanatic, and 
believed it was his duty to free the slaves, even if in 
doing so he lost his own life. 

"During a sharp fight one of Brown's sons was 
killed. He fell; then trying to raise himself, he said, 
' It is all over with me,' and died instantly. 

" Brown did not leave his post at the port-hole, but 
when the fighting ceased he walked to his son's body, 
straightened out his limbs, took off his trappings, then, 
turning to me, said, 'This is the third son I have lost 
in this cause.' Another son had been shot in the 



morning and was then dying, having been brought 
in from the street. While Brown was a murderer, 
yet I was constrained to think that he was not a 
vicious man, but was crazed upon the subject of 
slavery. Often, during the affair in the engine-house, 
when his men would want to fire upon some one who 
might be seen passing, Brown would stop them, say- 
ing, 'Don't shoot; that man is 
unarmed.' The firing was kept 
up by our men all day and until 
late at night, and during this time 
several of his men were killed; 
but, as I said before, none of the 
prisoners was hurt, though in 
great danger." 

Mr. Daingerfield's description 
of the entrance of the marines is 
very vivid and worth reproduc- 
ing here: 

" I had assisted in the barricad- 
ing, fixing the fastenings so that I 
could remove them upon the first 
effort to get in. But I was not 
at the door when the batter- 
ing began, and could not get to the fastenings until 
the ladder was used, I then quickly removed the 
fastenings, and after two or three strokes of the 
ladder the engine rolled partially back, making a 
small aperture, through which Lieutenant Green of 
the marines forced himself, jumped on top of the 
engine, and stood a second in the midst of a shower 
of balls, looking for John Brown, When he saw 
Brown he sprang about twelve feet at him, and gave 



an underthrust of his sword, striking him about mid- 
way the body and, raising him completely from the 
ground. Brown fell forward with his head between 
his knees, and Green struck him several times over 
the head, and, as I then supposed, split his skull at 
every stroke. 

" I was not two feet from Brown at that time. Of 
course I got out of the building as soon as possible, 
and did not know till some time later that Brown was 
not killed. It seems that in making the thrust Green's 
sword struck Brown's belt and did not penetrate the 
body. The sword was bent double." 

Twud y^ars after this was prepared and published, 
Mr. Hunter in a paper printed in a New Orleans 
journal, declared that Captain Brown was " sham- 
ming" sickness and feebleness from his wounds. He 
is the only Virginian of repute who saw Captain 
Brown at that time, that has, since his death, gone 
aside to defame him, supplying material for the same 
purpose to others. 1 

Mr. Graham gave Dr. Featherstonhaugh (in 1892) 
interesting details of his experience, from which I 
extract some significant details. When Mr. Graham 
was brought to Captain Brown, he reports the latter 
as saying in response to a question as to reason for 
capture, that he " had no time to make breastworks, 
and I mean to use you as such." Graham went 
soon after (the prisoners were then all in front of 

1 '* Trial of John Brown," pamphlet. By Gen. Marcus J. 
Wright (ex-Confederate Major-General, and then, 1889, in charge 
of Confederate records, War of the Rebellion, War Department). A 
review of Professor Von Hoist's paper on John Brown, Richmond, 
Va., 1889. 


the engine-house) to Stevens, who was walking up 
and down as a guard, and begged for leave to go 
home for twenty minutes and tell his family. After 
a while Stevens yielded and told the Captain he'd 
•be responsible for his, Graham's, return, then led 
him to the gate where he was placed in charge of 
" a small man " (probably Steward Taylor) who was 
directed to escort and bring Graham back, which was 
done. Coming back, Daingerfield was captured by 
Graham's guard. Firing had then begun, and soon 
after Newby having fallen near the gate, Graham 
saw Mr. Burleigh shot by Shields Green. The party, 
prisoners and all, were obliged to take shelter in the 
engine-house. Shields Green, or "Emperor," was 
the only negro taken out of the engine-house when 
the capture was made. Mr. Graham and others, who 
were there, mention "negroes" as being in the early 
hours of the fight in and around " John Brown's 
Fort." One of these, says Mr. Graham, commenced 
making a hole in the wall for firing. Some one in a 
building near by — only a road and fence intervening 
— saw what was in progress and fired at the hole. 
Pieces of brick, etc., flew about the negro and he 
never ventured near the spot again. Shields Green 
is spoken of as " very impudent." Probably that was 
true from a chattel owner's point of view. When Mr. 
Beckham was shot Graham remonstrated, and Green 
pointed a pistol at his head telling him to " shut up." 
Before the engine-house was finally occupied, a num- 
ber of prisoners escaped to the back of the building. 
Mr. Graham is interesting when describing the scenes 
inside the engine-house just before and at the attack 
on the doors. He says: 



"Early on Tuesday morning I peeped out of a 
hole and saw Colonel Lee, whom I had seen before 
at the Ferry, standing close by with the troops behind 
him. A negro stood near him, holding a large military 
cloak. Just then Edwin Coppoc thrust me aside, and ' 
thrust the muzzle of his gun into the hole, drawing a 
bead on Lee. I interposed, putting my hand on the 

rifle and begging the man not to 
shoot, as that was Colonel Lee, 
of the United States army, and if 
he were hurt the building would 
be torn down and they'd all be 
killed. Green again put up his 
pistol and Coppoc readjusted his 
rifle. During this momentary 
altercation, Robert E. Lee had 
stepped aside, and thus his life 
was saved to the slaveholder's 
Confederacy. After the demand 
for surrender had been made and 
rejected, the attack begun. A hole 
was made by a sledge-hammer in 
one of the doors, and Ouinn, who 
crawled through, was shot at by 
J. G. Anderson, who a few moments after, when with 
a ladder the doors were battered in, raised his gun to 
fire on another marine. The gun snapped and the 
marine made a savage bayonet thrust. The weapon 
passed clean through Anderson's body and pinned it 
to the wall where in the dying struggle it turned 
clear over, so that Anderson hung with his face 
downward, a horrible sight. Lieutenant Green 
struck at Captain Brown, who stood by the side of 



the engine, wounding him over the left eye, so that 
he fell to the ground, where, as the Lieutenant inm- 
self testified on the trial and before the United States 
Senate Investigating Committee, as since in letters 
published in current newspapers, he struck at him 
several times in the shoulder and in the stomach and 

Mr. Graham tells of visiting Stevens after his own 
release, and states that while talking with him, a 
citizen armed with a bayonet rushed in and pressed 
the point on Stevens's neck saying "I'm minded to 
kill you." The wounded man cooly looked up and 
said : 

" If I were up and had a pistol in my hand, you 
would jump out of that window," pointing to an 
open one. Mr. Graham adds that Stevens was brave, 
cool, and kindly, too. 

The fight was over; the work was done. John 
Brown was a prisoner, surrounded by politicians, 
soldiers, reporters, and vengeful spectators. His son 
Owen, with his followers, Cook, Tidd, Barclay Cop- 
poc, and F. J. Merriam. as also Albert Hazlett and 
O. P. Anderson, on their own account, were fugitives. 
Of these, Cook and Hazlett were captured, tried, and 
executed. Stevens, Edwin Coppoc, Copeland, and 
Shields Green were hung, while Oliver and Watson 
Brown, William and Dauphin Thompson, John H. 
Kagi, Wm. Leeman, Steward Taylor, Lewis S. Leary, 
Jeremiah G. Anderson, and Dangerfield Newby were 
killed in combat or as prisoners. If ''John Anderson " 
was present and slain, the deaths were ten of the 
attacking party, and during the fighting; afterwards 
seven were executed, and five escaped. It is known 


and allowed that seventeen colored men were slain, 
though the policy of Virginia minimized the action of 
the slave-population. On the side of the citizens and 
soldiery, eight were killed, seven whites and one 
colored. Nine persons were wounded. John Brown 
held eight prisoners in the engine-house during the 
night, all of whom testified during the subsequent 
trial to the uniform kindness of the leader, and as to 
the civility of the men. The attitude of other Vir- 
ginians seems to have been different. 

From a pamphlet, 1 still sold at Harper's Ferry, in- 
teresting details are given of the raid, and especially 
of the treatment of men, shot, wounded, and slain, 
by one who was an eye witness to the defense against 
and attacks on John Brown's party. 

The village annalist says: that " he encountered 
four armed men at the arsenal gate — two white and 
two black," — on the morning of the 17th. They saluted 
him civilly and "one of the white men asked if he 
owned any slaves. On his answering in the nega- 
tive, the strangers told him there was a movement on 
foot that would benefit him and all people who did 
not own such property." His curiosity then led him 
to look in and speak to some of the prisoners within 
the arsenal gates that he knew, and the result was 
that he had to run to escape being himself taken. 
Four Sharpe's rifles were raised and his chances of 
escape seemed small, when a colored woman, who 
was crouched in a doorway in the alley, rushed out 

1 " Annals o( Harper's Ferry," by Josephus, Jr., Hagerstown, 
Md., 1869, pp. 64. The author's name is Joseph Barry, formerly 
a school-teacher. 


between him and the guns, and extending her arms 
begged of the men not to shoot. They did not, but 
the pamphleteer finds no space or words to thank the 
brave woman for her timely and courageous kind' 

The treatment of prisoners and wounded captives, 
as well as the indignities inflicted on the dead, are 
described with apparent gusto by this village pam- 
phleteer. He says: " William Thompson was dragged 
to the bridge and riddled with bullets. He even, 
however, tried to escape by letting himself drop 
through the bridge into the river. He had been left 
for dead, but it appears he had vitality enough left 
to accomplish this feat. He was, however, discovered 
and a shower of bullets was discharged at him. He 
was either killed or drowned, as he could be seen for 
a day or two after lying at the bottom, and with his 
ghastly face still exhibiting his fearful death agony." 

Jeremiah G. Anderson, slain by the bayonet in the 
engine-house, had, says the Harper's Ferry annalist, 
" three or four bayonet stabs in the breast and stomach. 
When dragged out of the engine-house to the flagged 
walk in front, he was yet alive and vomiting gore 
from internal hemorrhage. While he was in this 
condition a farmer from some part of the surround- 
ing country, came up to him and viewed him in 
silence, but with a look of concentrated bitterness. 
. . . He passed on to another part of the yard, and 
did not return for a considerable time. When he came 
back, Anderson was still breathing, and the farmer 
addressed him thus: ' Well, it takes you a hell of a 
long time to die.' . . . After death, also, this man 
Anderson appeared to be marked out for special 


honors and the most marked attention. Some phy- 
sicians from the valley of Virginia 1 picked him out as 
a good subject for dissection, and, nem. con., they got 
possession of his body. In order to take him away 
handily, they procured a barrel and tried to pack 
him into it. Head foremost they rammed him in, 
but they could not bend his legs so as to get them 
into the barrel with the rest of his body. In their 
endeavors to accomplish this feat, the man's 
bones, or sinews, fairly cracked. The praiseworthy 
exertions of these sons of Galen, in the cause of 
science and humanity, elicited the warmest expres- 
sions of approval from the spectators. The writer 
does not know what disposition was finally made of 

The would-be humorous brutality of this incident 
is only equaled by the evident delight the annalist 
takes in the following description of Dangerfield 
Newby's death. He was a colored man, and native 
of that section of Virginia, whose wife Harriet was a 
slave living some thirty miles below. By letters 
found in the famous carpet-bag, afterwards published 
in State Legislative Document No. i, accompanying 
Governor Wise's message relating to the outbreak, it 
appears she was the mother of their children, and 
about to bear another, while in hourly dread of being 
sold to a New Orleans trader. She was afterwards 
found in Louisiana. Dangerfield Newby was killed 

1 Winchester doubtless, as there was a medical college there, 
and, some years after the war, the bones of Oliver and Watson 
Brown were recovered there and taken away by John Brown, Jr., 
for burial with their brothers. 


about 11 a. m. on the 17th, and lay where he fell, his 
body exposed to nameless brutalities until the after- 
noon of Tuesday the 18th of October. A writer for a 
Maryland paper stated that infuriated people beat the 
body with slicks, put them in the wounds, showered 
curses on the dead and otherwise degraded them- 
selves. The annalist shows that Newby was fired- 
at from above, a house window probably, as " the 
bullet struck him in the lower part of the neck and 
went down into his body. From the relative position 
of the parties, the size of the bullet, the hole in his 
neck was very large," and it was remarked that "a 
smoothing iron had been shot into him. Shortly after 
his death a hog came rooting about him. . . . 
Suddenly the brute was seized with a panic, and, 
with bristles and tail erect, it scampered away as if 
for life. This display of sensibility was very credit- 
able to that hog, but soon a drove of the same genus 
crowded round the dead man, none of which appeared 
to be actuated by the same generous impulse as the 
first. . . . The King of Terrors himself could not 
exceed those hogs in zealous attention to the defunct 
Newby. They tugged away at him with might and 
main, and the writer saw one run its snout into the 
wound and drag out a stringy substance of some 
kind, which he is not anatomist enough to call by its 
right name. It appeared to be very long or elastic, 
. . . one end being in the hog's mouth and the 
other in the man's body. This circumstance," says 
the gloating annalist, "could not fail to improve the 
flavor, . . . and value of pork at Harper's Ferry 
next winter." 

Of the fate of others the annalist, already quoted, 



says, that Lewis S. Leary " was mortally wounded * 
early on the 17th, " at the rifle factory, and died in 9 
cooper's shop on 'the Island.'" He suffered great 
agony, but was left alone by the infuriated defenders. 
Of the circumstances attending the death of Dauphin 
Thompson, little is known, except that he was shot 
outside and died in the engine-house. Steward Taylor 

was killed near the rifle works. 
The bodies of Kagi, Leary, and 
Wm. Thompson were taken out of 
the river on the 18th, and buried 
in shallow holes upon the river 
bank, where the dogs soon rootec* 
them out. They were partly de- 
stroyed before the Winchester 
doctors took the remains away 
for dissection. Hazlett and O. 
P. Anderson, who served with 
Kagi, managed to cross the bor- 
der in safety and get away from 
Maryland into Pennsylvania, 
where Hazlett was arrested and 
extradited at the demand of 
Virginia. After W. H. Leeman 
had cut off his accoutrements and wounded as he was 
plunged into the river at the rifle works, a Virginia 
militiaman waded after him. Leeman threw up 
his hands and said appealingly, " Don't shoot." 
The maddened pursuer thrust his pistol in the boy's 
face, fired, and blew it into an undistinguishable and 
bloody mass. He then cut off the skirts of his coat, 
gathered the weapons of his victim, and returned f> 
the bank, where he was loudly applauded by nis 



fellows. With him in the river or lying on the rocks 
were the riddled bodies of Kagi, Steward Taylor, 
William Thompson, and Lewis S. Leary. 

It is related by a Maryland newspaper man that 
some time after Leeman had been killed as described, 
another militiaman waded out to where it lay and set 
it up in a grotesque attitude as a target. Finally he 
was pushed off and floated down stream, lodging near 
William Thompson's body. The correspondent re- 
marks that "being outlaws," they " were regarded as 
food for carrion birds and not as human beings." 
The same writer stated the " dead lay . . . sub- 
jected to every indignity that a wild and madly ex- 
cited people could heap upon them. Dangerfield 
Newby's wounds had sticks 'ran into' them, they 
were used 'to beat him,' while the assailants 
1 wished he had a thousand lives ' wherewith to 
appease their fury." In striking contrast with this, 
was the fact that when Mr. Beckham, the Mayor, was 
killed, his body lay for some time exposed on the 
road, till the hotel porter volunteered to bring it in. 
A lady also went out, and as soon as the reason for 
their presence was seen, the anti-slavery men ceased 
their fire and the body was recovered. 

It is almost in order to apologize for quoting such 
brutalities. They would not be given here but for 
the illustration afforded thereby of the temper 
and tone of the occasion, flickering down into 
verbal indecencies several years after the occasion. 
They are of a piece with the sad and savage 
spirit the wretched Mahala Doyle, of the Potta- 
watomie affair, was induced to exhibit when she 
signed the letter written for her in which she 


desired to furnish the rope wherewith to hang John 

Very different in tone, though no less inexorable 
in spirit and purpose, were the unqualified tributes 
which the power of character wrung from Messrs. 
Wise, Hunter, Mason, Vallandigham, and Voor- 
hees, pro-slavery sympathizers as they were. These 
direct if unwilling estimates to the convictions, 
high courage, stoical endurance, and the moral pur- 
pose of John Brown, were given by them under con- 
ditions which would have certainly excused opinions 
to the contrary. Hunter, the prosecuting attorney; 
Avis, the jailer; Campbell, the sheriff; and Parker, the 
judge, have also given unmistakable evidence of the 
moral magnetism and personal grandeur of the man. 
As a rule, it is not among the Virginian survivors of the 
Harper's Ferry raid, it is not in Southern books and 
newspapers that one will find abuse and denunciation, 
assault on motives, denial of honesty, and general 
effort to belittle and degrade the memory of a great 
soul or besmirch the luminous apotheosis of a special 
and sacrificial deed. It is left to Kansas defamers, 
and Northern cynics and sciolists to do these things, 
and credit themselves with honor in the doing. 1 

1 It is not my purpose to shoot partliian arrows in the dark. I 
have especial reference in this allusion, among a few other assail- 
ants, to ex Governor Charles Robinson, of Kansas; to Eli Thayer, 
of Massachusetts, and to Mr. David N. Utter for his indefensible 
article of November, 1883, in the North American Review. 



/// the hands of the foe — Governor Wise and John 
Brown — Andrew Hunter, prosecutor and executioner 
— JoJui Brown "is not a madman" — "The 
coolest" of men — /// the Char lest own jail — The Peo- 
ple's hysterical fury — Systematically fanned — 
Troops paraded in the interest of coming disunion — 
The trial and its mockery — How the prosecution 
was foiled — " Rescue " scare — Arrival of the 
Massachusetts lawyer Hoyt — His letters — Le Barnes, 
Griswoldj Chilton, Montgomery, Blair, Sennott — The 
making of two wills — How Brown was plundered — 
Attempts of Wise to bully Governors Packer and 
Chase — His execution — The trials and death of Cook, 
Coppoc, Green, Copeland, Stevens, Hazlett — Duplicity 
of President Buchanan — Slavery's merciless cruelty. 

John Brown, wounded and prone, gibed and 
wondered at by those he had scared to the verge 
of hysterical fury, was captured by a party of eighty 
United States marines, commanded by Major Russell 
and Lieutenant Green, who were directed by the 
chief-of-staff of Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott — 
Colonel Robert E. Lee — he being also accompanied 
by a dragoon officer, afterwards to be the most 


famous of Confederate cavalry raiders — Lieut, j. E. 
B. Stuart. Nine hundred armed Virginians and 
Marylanders! Nearly one hundred Federal soldiers 
with the power of army headquarters behind them! 
All these were necessary to capture one old man, a 
dying son, and four young men, one seriously 
wounded. Harper's Ferry had practically been held 
for fifty-eight hours by seventeen men. 1 For more 
than half that time not over a dozen men of the 
party were actually in the fighting. 

It was a wonderful object-lesson in the weakness of 
a slave-holding community. But there were more 
forcible ones yet to be taught. The old man lay 
for eighteen hours on the floor of the armory superin- 
tendent's office, which thus became an improvised 
guardroom. His wounds remained undressed for all 
that period: wounds, too, administered by bayonets 
of marines and sabre of officer, Lieutenant Green, 
after firing had ceased, and both Coppoc and Ander- 
son had announced their surrender, while the latter, 
too, had been fastened by Marine Quinn's bayonet to 
the wall of the engine-house. Brown's gun 2 was in his 
hand when Russell and Green entered the engine- 
house, and either of them could have been slain by 
him. He lowered the muzzle and was immediately 
struck down. Aaron D. Stevens, also shot while 

1 Owen Brown, Barclay Coppoc, and Francis J. Merriam were 
not at the Ferry at all. John E. Cook and Charles Plummer 
Tidd took no active part in the fighting, being ordered to the 
Virginia schoolhouse in the forenoon of the 17th, and then being 
unable to afterwards return. 

2 One of his prisoners, Mr. Graham, states that he had taken up 
a pike, 



carrying a flag of truce, lay by his Captain's side, 
with six bullet wounds, five of the bullets being im- 
bedded in head and neck. He, too, was unarmed 
when shot. In fact, Virginia's victims were so taken, 
and the most of her shots were directed against un- 
armed prisoners, or men dying or already dead. It 
was Henry Hunter, son of the State's special attor- 
ney, Andrew Hunter, who testified on John Brown's 
trial, upon call to the witness stand 
by his father, that he shot William 
Thompson, an unarmed prisoner, 
and only regretted that he was not 
quite sure of having killed him, as 
some one else fired into his head 
at the same time. Another Vir- 
ginian, George Schoeper, of Har- 
per's Ferry, is reported to have shot 
Leeman, after he fell dying into the 
Shenandoah, wading out into the 
stream and setting up his poor body 
against a rock, to enable a Mary- 
land company to make a target 
thereof. Schoeper cut off the tail 
of the boy's coat in which he found his commission as 
a lieutenant. George Chambers, of Williamsport, Vir- 
ginia, is reported as the man who shared with Henry 
Hunter in the massacre of William Thompson, and 
boasted of it. James Holt, of Harper's Ferry, was 
seen to club the body of Leary, after the capture of 
the raiders, and long after life was extinct. A farmer 
spat his tobacco expectoration into the throat of the 
dying Jerry Anderson. But the Virginians who 
had been John Brown's prisoners, resisted the cruelty 



of their fellows, and it was they who testified as to 
the capture, as witnesses at the trial and ever since 
to their deaths, to the uniform kindness and courtesy 
of manner of John Brown and to his anxiety to pre- 
vent their being unnecessarily exposed to the reck- 
less firing of their own'people. The bodies of Oliver, 
dead, and Watson, dying, were brought to the 
armory. The latter died about three in the after- 
noon with his head pillowed on the knees of Edwin 
Coppoc. Two wounded men, three un wounded, ten 
of the raiders dead, and seven fugitives was the tally 
which Governor Wise was greeted with upon his 
arrival from Richmond, about 9 a. m. on the 18th of 
October. In the New Orleans Times-Democrat of 
September 5, 1887, the late Andrew Hunter published 
a long and somewhat remarkable account of the 
John Brown raid and trial. In this paper Mr. Hun- 
ter sought to prove that the Liberator's wounds were 
slight, only one, he said, and that was on the temple, 
from whence the blood spread down his face and 
breast. The garments, afterwards mended by Mrs. 
Rebecca Spring, of New Jersey, and in which his 
body was clothed, were in proof of the reverse of 
this. One severe bayonet wound in the left kidney 
caused Captain Brown to suffer until his execution 
had ended the account. 

Federal soldiers were necessary for the protec- 
tion of the prisoners. The wonderful vitality and 
mental force of Captain Brown kept him alert 
throughout the long strain of examination and inter- 
viewing, to which he was subjected. Immediately 
upon the Governor's arrival, the Baltimore Grays 
went to the Kennedy Farm-house and the mountain 


school-building, and soon brought in the famous 
carpet-bag, containing the historic John Brown's 
papers, and also a large number of letters, etc., 
belonging to the men. The arms, etc., found at the 
schoolhouse, were legally John Brown's property. 
A small wagon and mule, compass, and other per- 
sonal property, were brought from the Maryland 
farm into Virginia and there confiscated; the wagon 
and mule being seized by Foulke, the Harper's Ferry 
hotel-keeper, to pay for meals which Brown had 
obtained to feed his prisoners and his men. It was 
well that the money found on Brown's body, when 
captured (about two hundred and ninety dollars in 
gold and silver), had been taken by Federal officials, 
or otherwise he would not have any means whatever 
to aid in defraying the small expenses of a trial 
and prison life. Even that, he did not obtain the use 
of till the 30th instant, after Northern counsel had 
arrived. Virginia had a somewhat obsolete law, 
sequestrating the property of a convicted person found 
within the State. While Judge Parker said nothing 
and Sheriff Campbell was ignorant, wrote Counselor 
Hoyt of its existence, Andrew Hunter, claiming 
kindly treatment to his prisoners, and even writing 
his will, exacted however the State's full pound of 
flesh. The military stores of the raiders proved a 
somewhat rich " loot " for the captors. To this day 
the " pikes" are being offered for sale from distant 
points in Alabama, and elsewhere, to which it is 
claimed they were carried early in the Civil War. 
Of arms there were not less than 180 Sharpe's rifles 
and 75 Allen revolvers, a little less in size than the 
Colt navy-pistol, with 950 pikes, and primers, caps. 


powder, tools, etc. The following were reported on 
the trial as received by the State authorities: 108 
Sharpe's rifles, 12 revolvers, 455 pikes, several kegs of 
powder, 40,000 rifle and 20,000 revolver percussion 
caps, with a quantity of rifle primers, several reams 
of cartridge paper, lead for bullets, ladles, a small, 
portable furnace, and a swivel gun, with some other 
articles. The swivel gun, carrying a two -ounce 
ball, was found in the Kennedy house, and it was the 
weapon presented to John Brown by Eli Thayer, " for 
service in the cause of freedom," in April or May, 
1857. The Sharpe rifles and Allen revolvers were 
those turned over to the Captain in 1857, and finally 
presented to him as a personal gift, in 1858, by 
George Luther Stearns, of Massachusetts. 

By noon on the 19th of October, the armory-room 
was crowded by local magnates, press men, and 
military officers, while the train soon brought leading 
men from Richmond, Washington, Baltimore, and 
Ohio, — Senator Mason and Clement L. Vallandig- 
ham, among others — representatives of some leading 
newspapers, and the agent of the Associated Press, 
from Baltimore, connected with the America?i of that 
city. They certainly manifested a fair and manly 
spirit in all dispatches, and, even at this date, they 
can be admired for their candid, almost judicial 
temper. These dispatches, still present a remarkable 
tribute to the character and personality of the anti- 
slavery raider. " Porte Crayon " (General Strother), 
artist for Harper s Weekly, a Virginian born, was 
among the earlier arrivals. His graphic pencil, 
made furious by the thoughts of an avoided slave 
insurrection, spared no line in savage realism. 


Captain Brown's identity had been settled the day 
before. 1 Governor Wise and Senator Mason arrived 
during the early afternoon of Tuesday. Lieutenant 
Stuart, who had been stationed in Kansas during the 
fighting summer of 1856, also recognized the leader 
as Black Jack and Osawatomie. A remarkable intel- 
lectual duel at once ensued. 

From the outset, Governor Wise, who dominated 
the situation by virtue both of public position and- 
erratic zealotry as a representative Southerner, 
sought to shape questions and entrap replies into 
the mould he had already formed, viz., the idea that 
John Brown was but the agent of an extended and 
powerful combination of Northern politicians and 
persons opposed to slavery. Vallandigham seconded, 
and rudely even, this effort of the Governor. Sena- 
tor Mason, as the report shows, aimed more at ascer- 
taining the Captain's motives and pleas in justifica- 

1 Col. Robert W. Baylor, "Colonel-Commandant" of the 
State forces, then about six hundred in number, in his report to 
Governor Wise, published the following cartels. It was 3 p.m. of 
the 17th, Stevens had already been shot while carrying a flag of 
truce and bearing John Brown's first proposition to retire, releasing 
his prisoners, forty in all, as he got beyond Harper's Ferry. 
Baylor than assumed command, pouring in a heavy fire, rescuing 
thirty of the hostages and compelling Brown to retire with five 
men and ten prisoners to the shelter of the engine-house. Having 
driven them under cover, Baylor also withdrew his own troops 
out of range. A second flag of truce appeared; Isaac Russell, a 
prisoner, being used to bear a verbal message. Baylor replied: 

Headquarters, Harper's Ferry. 
Capt. John Brown: Sir — Upon consultation with Mr. Isaac 
Russell, one of your prisoners, who has come to me on terms of 
capitulation, I say to you, if you will set at liberty our citizens we 


tion. The evidence then and afterwards indicates 
that the author of the Fugitive-Slave Law gave but 
little weight to the apparently excitable conceptions 
which dominated Henry A. Wise. All, however, 
were eager for any means of " firing the Southern 
heart," for the disunion struggle up to which their 
efforts were leading. John Brown, still bleeding, 
stiff, sore, and dazed; in blood-stiffened and dirt- 
begrimed garments; suffering from hunger, thirst, 
and want of even the rudest care; with his project 
defeated, his men slain, captured, or scattered; him- 
self a prisoner, one son dead, another expiring while 
the Southern politicians questioned, and a third a 
fugitive with his fate wholly unknown, held himself 
with such firmness, intellectual clearness, stoic 
grandeur and manly directness, that the harsh floor 

will leave the Government (Federal) to deal with you concerning 
their property, as it may think most advisable. 

Robert W. Baylor, Colonel-Commandant. 

The following written reply was then received: 

In consideration of all my men, whether living or dead, or 
wounded, being soon safely in and delivered to me at this point, 
with all their arms and ammunition, we will then take our prison- 
ers and cross the Potomac bridge, a little beyond which we will 
set them at liberty; after which we can negotiate about the Gov- 
ernment property as may be best. Also we require the delivery 
of our horse and wagon at the hotel. 

John Brown. 

Baylor returned the following: 

Capt. John Brown: Sir — The terms you propose I cannot 
accept. Under no considerations will I consent to a removal of 
our citizens across the river. The only negotations upon which I 
will consent to treat are those which have been previously pro- 
posed to you. Robert W. Baylor, Colonel-Commandant . 


on which he lay became, as it were, the enthroned 
seat of true courage, while his bearing compelled the 
unwilling attention of all present and the unstinted 
and admiring respect of some of them. There was a 
persistent demand to know " who paid " and " who 
sent" John Brown to Virginia. Vallandigham en- 
deavored to lay all sorts of verbal traps in which to 
catch the Ohio or other Republicans. Governor 
Wise showed to greater advantage than others, 
and his questions were straightforward and direct, 
being such as his position gave him the right to ask. 
To the Ohio politician John Brown said: "No man 
sent me here; it was my own prompting and that of 
my Maker; or that of the devil, whichever you please 
to ascribe it to. I acknowledge no master in human 
form." To Senator Mason's question of " How do 
you justify your acts?" he turned the tables by say- 
ing: " I think, my friend, you are guilty of a great 
wrong to God and against humanity — I say it with- 
out wishing to be offensive — and I believe it would 
be perfectly right to interfere with you, so far as to free 
those you wickedly and willfully hold in bondage." 

In reply to other questions he declared that he did 
what "he thought right", that he "applied the 
golden rule " to his own conduct, and that it was " a 
duty to help others to gain their liberty." In reply 
to a question of the Senator, as to whether he con- 
sidered the Provisional Constitution (copies of which 
in pamphlet form were in the hands of his examiners, 
as the carpet-bag with his papers had been brought 
from the Kennedy Farm-house to Harper's Ferry), 
Captain Brown said: "Yes, in some respects. I wish 
you would give that paper your close attention." 


To Lieutenant. Stuart, who remarked in comment 
on some expression of the wounded man — " The 
wages of sin are death " — John Brown replied with 
quiet dignity, " I would not have said that if you had 
been a prisoner and wounded in my hands." When 
asked under " whose auspices " he went to Kansas, 
he told Vallandigham — " Under the auspices of John 
Brown and no one else." To Governor Wise he said 
he was an " instrument in the hands of Providence," 
and that he considered the work he attempted " the 
greatest service man can render to his God." During 
the long examination to which he was subjected, 
Captain Brown avoided all names; all recriminatory 
speech, and contented himself with courteous but very 
direct replies as to his motives and purposes; declar- 
ing that he had none but the freeing of slaves; that 
he had treated his thirty prisoners well and with 
humanity. Those who were present promptly con- 
firmed this. He asserted that the only reason for his 
defeat and capture was that he considered too long 
the feelings of families of those he was holding as 
hostages. But for that he would have got away. To 
the reporters present he said: 

" I claim to be here in carrying out a measure I 
believe to be perfectly justifiable, and not to act the 
part of an incendiary or ruffian; but, on the con- 
trary, to aid those suffering a great wrong. I wish 
to say, furthermore, that you had better — all you, 
people of the South — prepare yourselves for a settle- 
ment of this question. You may dispose of me very 
easily. I am nearly disposed of now; but this ques- 
tion is still to be settled — this negro question, I mean, 
The end of that is not yet." 


Governor Wise, before leaving for Richmond, 
directed that the bodily necessities of the prisoners 
be properly cared for, and also declared that Captain 
Brown and his men should have a fair trial. How 
little he meant this became soon apparent. There 
were five alive and in their hand, — John Brown and 
A. D. Stevens, wounded; Edwin Coppoc, Shields 
Green, and John A. Copeland (the two last colored), 
unwounded, retained in the army guardroom till 
noon of the 19th, when all were removed to Charles- 
town. They were then placed in the jail, a moderate- 
sized brick building, which still stands. It was 
surrounded by State troops under Colonel Baylor's 
orders, and two guns were also placed in position to 
command the jail. The scare begun. Rage had taken 
the place of the first alarmed surprise. It had vented 
itself in a saturnalia of abuse and outrage on the 
bodies of those whose lives had been given in return 
for their daring. But when the first excitement flick- 
ered down a little, a terrible dread then arose as to 
how far the movement extended among the slaves 
and free people of color. This dread reached Rich- 
mond, Baltimore, and Washington. It caused vigil- 
ance and guards at Charleston and New Orleans, 
and put the entire South into a ferment, illustrating 
John Brown's biblical comment — "The wicked fleeth, 
when no man pursueth." That it was a terror need 
not be denied or evaded. In Virginia and Maryland 
one effect was to cause a rapid sale at reduced prices 
" down South " of all slaves w T ho were " suspects," 
unruly, or turbulent. The loss from this source has 
been estimated at $10,000,000 in Virginia alone. For 
a considerable period thereafter some of John 


Brown's friends kept a record, so far as newspaper 
information permitted, of the enforced movement 
southward of slaves from the border States. It was 
very rapid and extended from Virginia to Mis- 

There and then began another marvelous struggle, 
not for life, but for recognition; for a clear apprehen- 
sion of motives, conditions, and results. History 
holds no record more memorable. It was waged 
against the entrenched Slave power, embattled insti- 
tutionalism, aroused legal ties sure to avenge them- 
selves if the taking of life would accomplish that; 
but, more than all, it was set to conquer and convict 
the Northern States, with all their compromising 
tendencies, their commercial needs, and social de- 
mands excited and in hostile array. More, too, than 
that, there was a growing power in public affairs to 
be influenced, whose dominance aiming only and 
wholly for the advancement of the Nation, was 
threatened in its very heart, apparently, by this 
seemingly frantic blow at Harper's Ferry. To meet 
all these there was but a simple, upright, crystalline 
manhood, physically sure of only but one thing — 
Death! To him, however, there was also, and with- 
out questioning, God! Convinced of his cause, sure 
of his motive, purged of all desire but service, and 
confident that such sacrifice was victory, John Brown, 
knowing what he was doing and whither it led, was 
supremely the Idealist, — transendental and trans- 
parent, too, in the eyes of the world. To this end 
the men most opposed, most actively aided. The 
manhood of men like Wise and Vallandigham run, 
for the time being, with their schemes, aims, and 


policies, so far as John Brown's character and motives 
were concerned. 

The Harper's Ferry raid was at, once used as a 
means of attack on Northern and anti-slavery opin- 
ion. More than that, however, the attack was moulded 
so as to arouse every hostile feeling in the South. 
The effort to prove that Republican leaders, voters, 
and newspapers were parties to the movements of 
John Brown soon failed of their own inanition. But 
the larger purpose of preparing for revolution, by 
inflaming Southern sentiment, gathered force with 
every da}', and the words of the hour served John 
Brown, his men, and their cause most admirably. 
So far as affecting fierce and fusing public opinion, 
as well as the colder verdict of history, Henry A. 
Wise stamped on the latter his representation of 
John Brown, when he said in a public speech, upon 
his return to Richmond, from Harper's Ferry, that — 

" They are themselves mistaken who take him to he a mad- 
man. He is a bundle of the best nerves I ever saw, cut, and 
thrust, and bleeding-, and in bonds. He is a man of clear 
head, of courage, fortitude, and simple ingenuousness. He is 
cool, collected, indomitable, and it is but just to him to say that 
he was humane to his prisoners, as attested to me by Colonel 
Washington and Mr. Mills [an armorer at the United States 
works], and he inspired me with great trust in his integrity, as 
a man of truth. He is fanatic, vain, and garrulous, but firm 
and truthful, and intelligent. 1 His men, too, who survive, except 

1 Governor Wise is the only man of weight who ever criticised 
John Brown as " garrulous." Those who knew him best always 
considered him a reticent man. He was able to talk, however, 
on proper occasions, and this, with the listening ears of men wide 
open, waiting on his utterances, was certainly one that he im- 
proved upon, and wisely too. 


the free negroes with him, are like him. He professes to be a 
Christian in communion with the Congregational Church of the 
North, 1 and only preaches his purpose of universal emancipa- 
tion; and the negroes themselves were to be the agents, by- 
means of arms, led on by white commanders. When Colonel 
Washington was taken, his watch, plate, and jewels, and 
money were demanded, to create what they call a ' safety 
fund ' 2 to compensate the Liberators for the trouble and expense 
of taking away his slaves. 3 This, by a law, was to be done 
with all slaveholders." 

1 This seems to be an error. If John Brown was a regular 
church member, it would have been with a small Presbyterian or 
Cameronian sect, the chief seat of which was in Pittsburg and 
western Pennsylvania, and which was positively anti-slavery in its 
tenets and action, not fellowshipping with those who were actively 
or tacitly <-m- favor of slavery. He seems not to have been in 
regular standing with any church body after being ostracised early 
in the 'forties on account of his recognition on equal terms of 
colored Christians. 

2 The "safety fund" mentioned by the Governor was never 
designed for " compensation to liberators" or any one else. Its 
purpose was simply that which its name implied, or for what, by 
the light of war experiences, we should now term " secret ser- 
vice " work. 

8 "Article XXIX. 


" All money, plate, watches, or jewelry captured by honorable 
warfare, found, taken, or confiscated, belonging to the enemy shall 
be held sacred, to constitute a liberal intelligence or safety fund ; and 
any person who shall improperly retain, dispose of, hide, use, or 
destroy such money or other article above named, contrary to the 
provisions and spirit of this article, shall be deemed guilty of 
theft, and on conviction thereof, shall be punished accordingly. 
The treasurer (Owen Brown) shall furnish the commander-in-chief 
(John Brown) at all times with a full statement of the condition 
of such fund and its nature." 


After referring to the taking of Frederick the 
Great's sword by Stevens, Governor Wise went on to 
say of John Brown: 

11 He promised. ... to return it when he was done 
with it. And Colonel Washington says that he, Brown, was 
the coolest and firmest man he ever saw in defying danger and 
death. With one son dead by his side, and another shot 
through, he felt the pulse of his dying son with one hand, and 
held his rifle with the other, and commanded his men with the 
utmost composure, encouraging them to be firm, and to sell 
their lives as dearly as they could." 

In the light of historic evidence, events, and con- 
ditions, such as can now be seen, it is quite apparent 
that the Virginian managers sought to prove that 
John Brown represented a wide-spread, organized, and 
active hostility in the North, deliberately aiming to 
injure the South and destroy its slave institutions. 
Such careful examination of the "John Brown 
papers," as Governor Wise and Senator Mason, with 
their counselors and aids must have given, could 
but have convinced them that the range of Brown's 
active support was very limited indeed. The Vir- 
ginian Executive secured the services of the ablest 
detectives, lawyers, newspaper men, etc., to examine 
these papers and to follow up the clues afforded. 
These men and their rumors, or reports, fooled him 
to the top of his bent. They led nowhere and ended 
in nothing, until early in November the paper pre- 
pared by John Edwin Cook, under the pressure 
brought upon him by his brother-in-law and other 
relatives, gave the names of Dr. Howe, F. B. San- 
born, Thaddeus Hyatt, and Gerrit Smith as being 
active in support of the Captain's movements. In all 



the papers and letters printed in " Appendix No. I." 
to the messages of Governor Wise, or in the Harper's 
Ferry raid report of the United States Senate Investi- 
gating Committee, there are but few clues to any 
names. 1 

After removal by United States marines to Charles- 
town, six miles beyond the direct jurisdiction of the 
general government, four of the prisoners — Brown, 
Coppoc, Copeland, and Green— were kept until the 

1 The " Appendix to Message I. Documents relative to the 
Harper's Ferry Invasion," is a thin octavo of 154 pages. With 
some exceptions as to personal letters, it probably contains nearly 
all the manuscripts or printed matter found in the Captain's 
carpet-bag or at the Kennedy Farm-house, "in addition to a letter, 
addressed to President Buchanan, dated November 25th, and the 
reply thereto; also letter of Wise to the Governors of Maryland, 
Ohio, and Pennsylvania, with replies, all relating to the " inva- 
sion" for " rescue " purposes, of which Governor Wise claimed 
he had positive information; with reports of State militia com- 
mandeis, Cols. J. T. Gibson and Robert W. Baylor. There 
is a letter from one Henry Hudnall to the Governor, setting forth 
at some length the contents of the captured carpet-bag. Hudnall 
was probably a lawyer-clerk, employed to look over this material, 
and his comments are not especially marked by acumen or ability 
of any value. The formal documents are the 4 * Provisional Con- 
stitution and Ordinances for the People of the United States;" 
" No. I. The Duty of the Soldier;" " Blank Form of Commission 
under the Provisional Government." The three were printed; 
the first and last having been " set up " at St. Catherine's, Canada. 
Then follows the manuscript journal of that convention, with the 
autographs attached of the delegates thereto. Outside of John 
Brown's own name, there is not one known at the time beyond a 
neighborhood circle, unless Dr. Delany is an exception, as having 
been editor of a weekly paper. A remarkable document was 
" A Declaration of Liberty. By the Representatives of the Slave 
Population of the United States of America." This was in the 


25th without further disturbance. On the 22d, the 
Captain wrote letters to the North appealing for 
counsel. At John Brown's home in North Elba — 
shut away amid the mountains from rapid communi- 
cation with the world — the news of disaster and 
death had been slow in its merciless movement. It 
was not until the afternoon of Friday, the 21st inst., 
that a young man, their neighbor, brought to the 
lonely dwelling under the shadow of Whiteface and 

original, bearing, wrote Mr. Hudnall, "strong internal proof of 
having been the work of Brown, parodied on the colonial declara- 
tion, with some very original variations and interpolations by 
Brown himself, the whole being copied by his son, Owen, and 
fixed upon a roller." There are 102 letters in this " Appendix," 
mainly written to and from the men of the party, and a few by 
friends at Springfield, la., or Cleveland, O. There is a business 
note of Horace Greeley & Co. inclosing to Kagi a check in pay- 
ment of work done for the Tribune; one from Gerrit Smith, for- 
warding $200, and nothing else directly relating any one to 
Captain Brown's movements. Reference is made under initials, 
or assumed names, to Messrs. Stearns, Howe, Sanborn, and 
Parker, as persons having relations with his efforts. The cor- 
respondence must have been a disappointment to the Virginians. 
What became of these papers and the historic carpet-bag is 
unknown, though there is reason to believe they were kept in the 
Virginian State Library at Richmond until 1865. When the Federal 
army was about entering the ex-Confederate capital, it is stated 
that the librarian threw the carpet-bag and contents into some 
receptacle between the walls of the dome of the Capitol, from 
which, if so, they have never been recovered. This statement is 
not vouched for, however, but yet it seems to have some founda- 
tion in fact. What is of interest in the carpet-bcig papers is the 
unquestioned fact that they offered little or no foundation for the 
inflated structure of hysteria and suspicion, Governor Wise sought 
to build upon them. 


amid the somber Adirondack woods, a copy of the 
New York Time's of the 18th. The day before an 
exaggerated report of the defeat had reached them, 
but this they would not believe. But the newspaper 
with all its startling details could not be denied. To 
them the shock was lessened by the sacrificial, expec- 
tant atmosphere in which they had all and so long 
moved. Within the small frame-house, dim and un- 
painted, were Mary, the wife and mother; Annie, 
Sarah, and Ellen, the younger daughters — the latter 
still a child — and Martha, the pregnant widow of 
Oliver Brown, who was so soon after to join her 
boy-husband in death; also Salmon, the remaining 
brother and son, while Henry and Ruth Thompson 
were close neighbors. The dwelling of the elder 
Thompson was one of mourning also. Two of 
its boys had fallen, their sister was the widowed 
wife of Watson Brown, while in another home 
William Thompson's wife wailed in loneliness her 
sudden widowhood. Five households and four 
families were stricken by the blow at Harper's Ferry, 
and yet no recognized murmur ever escaped any of 
them, unless it were from the parents of Oliver's 
widow, who were very hostile to the anti-slavery sen- 
timents of the Browns and Thompsons. The neigh- 
borhood, too, was somewhat unfriendly on account 
of political feeling, but the overwhelming nature of 
the defeat and the reluctant admiration extorted by 
the way the sorrow was borne, soon changed hostile 
indifference into active kindliness. How vividly does 
memory recall the facts relating to their devotion, 
the Spartanlike simplicity of their lives, the courage 
which came because it must and never thought to 


vaunt itself. No one murmured, and each sought to 
lift the burden of the two fated mother-lives — the 
wife who had borne sons for freedom, and the young 
bride who was so near death in her coming mother- 
hood. The sorrow and endurance at North Elba 
was felt elsewhere. In Jefferson County, Ohio, the 
homes of John, Jr., and Jason Brown, at Dorset and 
Akron, were abodes of care and suffering. It was 
known that one brother — Owen— had escaped, but 
his fate remained in tedious uncertainty. It was 
also certain that John, Jr., would early be an object 
of suspicion, as many of his letters were among the 
captured papers. The inaccessibility of North Elba 
doubtless prevented annoyance and insult to the 
elder household; in the Western reserve the orga- 
nized courage and open determination to resist at- 
tempts at arrests, kept the Federal and State agents, 
officers and detectives, at a respectful distance. John 
Brown, Jr's, home at Dorset soon became for John 
Brown men the safest place in the land. There was 
mourning in southern Nebraska, where father and 
sisters lived, for the able and gallant John Henri 
Kagi; at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, the wife of 
John E. Cook, cowered in bewildering dread, saved 
only at first from insult and possible arrest by the 
courage of Mrs. Ritner, in whose boarding-house she 
had temporary shelter. In the homes of his own 
relatives, in Connecticut, New York, and Indiana 
sorrow and anxiety felt for Cook was made bitterer 
by open hostility of feeling felt towards his cause. 
The father and sisters of Aaron Dwight Stevens, 
whom he had not seen since, as a youth of nineteen, 
he had enlisted in the United States army, were in 


accord with his nobler aims, and cheered him unre- 
mittingly through the four and a half months of 
brave prison life that followed. In Springfield, Iowa, 
the Coppoc boys left home and mother behind them, 
and there were other hearts drawn by tender feelings 
towards some of the party. Edwin's Quaker mother 
bore her burden well, rejoicing at least that one of 
her sons came safely through the fiery furnace. In 
Maine, two households were affected, that of Leeman 
unto death, and that of Tidd, until his safety was 
assured. In Oberlin, the widow of Leary was 
mourning for her beloved, while Harriet Newby, her 
Virginian sister in affliction, weighted too with bond- 
age, was hurriedly sold to a Louisiana dealer. The 
range of interested and sympathetic excitement ran 
over a wide area. Danger, too, shadowed some well- 
known door-steps. One family neither affirmed or 
denied. The household of George Luther Stearns, im- 
plicated as was its generous head, made no change 
and took no precautions. Dr. Howe found it advis- 
able to visit Canada. Gerrit Smith was stricken 
under the excitement with severe recurrence of a 
former nervous disorder which necessitated his being 
placed in perfect quiet and care. Frederick Doug- 
lass soon and wisely, too, left for England Mrs. 
Gloucester, of Brooklyn, who was known to have 
freely assisted John Brown, took no outward heed of 
the talk aimed at her, as well as others, while in 
other directions men marked for suspicion and 
known at least to have been trusted, went unfearing 
about their work of moulding opinion for John Brown 
and his acts, or for at least his character and pur- 
poses. From startled surprise and deprecation, even 


savage criticism, Northern opinion begun to mellow 
and glow in the light and heat of the calm unflinch- 
ing courage and sincerity that aura-like enveloped 
John Brown. Orator, writer, and poet, expressed 
their true thoughts. Among those who, without in- 
dorsing John Brown's acts, still felt the force of John 
Brown's character, was the poet from whose stirring 
" Old Brown of Osawatomie," the following verse is 
given in autographic fac-simile: 

7 &4 

^Ly fccfa, ph. U^nCo ,***-, Ok. xJtf <U£> & *ftc hw^{ 


The hot passion of Virginia, which was perfectly 
natural at first, degenerated as details came out of 
the manner in which twenty-two men had throttled 
the State and five had held 800 of its armed citizens 


at bay for at least eighteen hours, into a very drivel 
of hysterical fears, which fed a nervous and almost 
ruffianly panic at every stupid rumor or darkling 
fear that crossed those trembling days. Northern 
newspapers, of any character, were compelled to 
resort to all sorts of subterfuges to gain information. 
Edward House and Mr. Olcott, since known as 
a teacher of modern theosophy, went to Virginia in 
disguise, the latter joining a Richmond volunteer 
company sent on guard duty to Charlestown. Other 
correspondents were stationed at Baltimore, Wash- 
ington, Harrisburg, and various points in Maryland 
and Pennsylvania, to whom letters were sent from 
" within the lines," it being unsafe to direct them 
openly to the several journals. Harper's Ferry was 
the chief outpost of this strange encampment, in 
which, first and last, Virginia massed about four thou- 
sand militia at a cost of $200,000/ maintaining an 
armed force about Charlestown throughout of not 
less than from one thousand to three thousand men, 
with artillery, and yet it may safely be affirmed that 
there never was over one hundred men in all of the 
United States directly involved or knowing in any 
positive degree, the character of John Brown's in- 
tended movement. That the " wicked flee when no 
man pursueth," was never more vigorously illus- 
trated. In the North for weeks the leading brains 
on the anti-slavery side, that spoke out boldly, could 
be counted on one pair of hands. Garrison doubted 
the use of it, Beecher denied wisdom and depre- 

1 Andrew Hunter's paper of 1887 put the cost at $250,000 ; a 
carefully prepared statement of a New York paper, published in 
December, 1859, made the bill up to that time $193,000. 


cated responsibility, and, as a matter of course, the 
Northern political leaders denied, avoided, or de- 
nounced. The bitter taste left of Mr. Seward's assail- 
ing speech, has not yet departed. The newspapers 
grew slowly to understand, brought thereto more 
rapidly by the stupid folly of the South itself. Even 
its readiest servants in the North, like the New York 
Herald, were denied access to information or oppor- 
tunity for proper publication. That great journal 
was able only to get its interesting matter by the 
fact that it had as a correspondent a cousin of editor 
Gallagher, of the Jefferson County Times-Democrat. 
He was a native of Charlestown, who secured em- 
ployment as a jail guard, and so got to the prisoners 
occasionally. He did his work well, for at the exe- 
cution he drove the undertaker's wagon in which 
John Brown was seated. 

The provisions of law under which the State's 
attorney, Andrew Hunter, and his associates were 
proceeding, are in substance as follows: Treason 
was defined as an offense against the " sovereignty of 
the State," and the provision of the Code of Virginia 
(1859-60), Chapter CXC, read as follows: 

I. Treason shall consist only in levying war against the 
State, or adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort, 
or establishing, without authority of the Legislature, any gov- 
ernment within its limits, separate from the existing govern- 
ment, or holding or executing, in such usurped government, 
any office, or professing allegiance or fidelity to it, or resisting 
the execution of the laws, under color of its authority; and 
such treason, if proved by the testimony of two witnesses to 
the same overt act, or by confession in court, shall be punished 
with death. 


Sections 2 and 3 relate to " accessories," etc. The 
fourth defines conspiracy with slaves as follows: 

4. If a free person advise or conspire with a slave to rebel 
or make insurrection, or with any person induce a slave to 
rebel or make insurrection, he shall be punished with death, 
whether such rebellion or insurrection be made or not. 

The general laws of the State provided for the 
holding of special term of courts, and for immediate 
process on indictments for felony, and for trial 
on such indictments at the same term of court. 
They also authorized immediate execution of the death- 
sentence in cases of insurrection or rebellion. This class 
of cases was excepted under the existing code out of 
the general provision of law, allowing thirty (30) 
days to intervene between sentence and execution. 

Under these statutes, then, John Brown and his 
fellow prisoners could have been tried, convicted, 
sentenced, and executed on the same day they were 
arraigned, had the court so minded, and the execu- 
tion could also have been conducted in private, if so 
ordered. These provisions were undoubtedly intended 
for the defense of a slave-holding community. They 
probably had their active origin in the Nat Turner 
insurrection of 1839, though the "patrol law," and 
other provisions, run further back, even to colonial 
days, when attempts at insurrections seemed more 
frequent. It was perfectly, then, within the legal 
power of Virginia to have tried, sentenced, and exe- 
cuted the Harper's Ferry raiders in its custody within 
the ten-days " emergency " law, of which Andrew 
Hunter wrote in 1887, and upon which, but not avow- 
edly, he attempted to proceed in 1859. The reason for 


holding back Aaron Dwight Stevens is apparent un- 
der the light of these provisions. With the rest swept 
away, his case could have been used to foment sec- 
tional feeling and to hunt down the Northern men 
and women, whose love of liberty may have drawn 
them to John Brown. Mr. Hunter's disingenuousness, 
in his paper of 1887, is only equaled by Governor 
Wise's double dealing, in so emphatically promising 
John Brown a fair trial. It is a matter of uncertainty 
as to how far the Captain's knowledge of the State 
Code then extended, but it is certain that his deter- 
mination to make clear his own objects as well as 
the methods that were being pursued by the State 
authorities, completely baffled the latter, and led to 
that full understanding of a simple, moral, and intel- 
lectual courage, which, combining lofty aims and 
intentions, has made the name and history of John 
Brown that of one of humanity's nobler servants and 

The Examining Court met under orders. John 
Brown, manacled to Edwin Coppoc, supported on the 
other side by an armed man, and surrounded by 
eighty men with fixed bayonets, was taken to the 
courtroom and arraigned. The presiding justice was 
a slaveholder named Davenport. He was ordered to 
plead to the charges made, and in response replied as 
follows, as reported by the Associated Press: 

"VIRGINIANS: I did._not ask for quarter at the time I was 
taken. I did not ask to have my life spared. Your Governor 
assured me of a fair trial. In my present condition this is im- 
possible. If you seek my blood, you can have it at any time 
without this mockery of a trial. I have no counsel. I have 
not been able to advise with any one. I know nothing of the 


feelings of my fellow prisoners, and am utterly unable to 
attend to my own defense. If a fair trial is allowed, there are 
mitigating circumstances to be urged. But if we are forced 
with a mere form — a trial for execution — you might spare 
yourselves that trouble. I am ready for my fate. I beg for 
no mockery of a trial — no insult — nothing but that which con- 
science gives or cowardice would drive you to practice." In 
conclusion he added : " I have now little further to ask, other 
than that I may not be foolishly insulted, as only cowardly 
barbarians insult those who fall into their power." 

No attention was paid to this trenchant statement. 
Attorneys Lawson Bottsand Charles J. Faulkner 1 were 
assigned by the examining court as the prisoner's 
counsel. On being asked if he accepted their services 
(Attorney Green, ex-Mayor of Charlestown, and now 
a State judge, was afterwards substituted for Mr. 
Faulkner, who could not attend), Captain Brown 
stated he had sent for counsel, and there was no time 
given for their arrival. He had no wish to trouble 
any gentleman, and with such mockery of trial. In 
reply to Harding's statement that he would have " a 
fair trial," the Captain said: "I want counsel of my 
own. I have been unable to have any conference 
with any one. Let these gentlemen exercise their 
own pleasure." The other four agreed to the assign- 
ment, but in no affirmative way did John Brown 
acknowledge them as his counsel. The proceedings 
went on, and eight witnesses testified to the attack 
on, the fighting, and results at, Harper's Ferry. The 
prisoners were at once committed. The Grand Jury 

1 The latter served the Confederacy as a diplomatic agent, and 
has since been elected from West Virginia as Congressman and 
United States Senator. 


met on the 25th, and remained in session. A true 
bill was found with three counts against John Brown, 
and at a later session, October 25th, bills were also 
presented against the others for slave conspiracy, 
murder, and robbery. John Brown was charged 

— Conspiracy with slaves for the purpose of insur- 
rection; with 

— Treason against the Commonwealth of Virginia; 
and with 

— Murder in the first degree. 

The trial was set for the next day, Wednesday, the 
26th of October. Still the prisoners were practically 
penniless and defenseless. No matter what might 
have been the courage and uprightness of Messrs. 
Botts and Green, it was simply an impossibility for 
them to have martyrized themselves by vigorous 
showing. In the Andrew Hunter narrative of the trial, 
there is abundant testimony, even if unconsciously 
given, to this state of feeling. It is asserted that 
''Brown's men" were "swarming" in the one street 
of Charlestown, that the jail was approached by 
them, and that they were constantly managing to 
converse with either him or some of his men through 
the cell windows of the jail, which, as the diagram 
shows, were in the back part, looking into the yard. 
All these statements are without foundation in fact. 
That it was impossible to communicate with John 
Brown or his men, may be understood when it is 
known that the jailer's house occupied the front, 
and that the yard inclosing the brick jail was sur- 
rounded on three sides by a wall fourteen feet in 



Here is a rude plan of the building and its yard : 


Brick wall 14 feet high t 


Jailer's dwelling. 

Main street. 

1 I 1 

A Main entrance; i? Space between walls, Avis's house, and the 
jail building; C Point of wall which Cook and Coppoc reached 
on the night of Dec. 15th in their attempt to escape; D Jail yard 
d d d d d, cell doors; E Reception-room; F Cell occupied by 
Brown and Stevens, afterwards by the latter and Hazlett; G Cell 
of Green and Copeland; H Cell of Coppoc and Cook; / Cell 
first occupied by Albert Hazlett, w w 7v, w w, windows, those of 
cells look into the jail yard; c c cots of Brown and Stevens. 

At this date, too, the building was guarded by a 
heavy force, two cannons were planted so as to cover 
the same, the inside guards were heavily armed and 
increased in number, several hundred State troops 
were encamped about the town. Harper's Ferry, the 
nearest railroad point, was occupied as an outpost, 
and no one was allowed to pass from the earliest 


days of the raiders' imprisonment at the county seat 
without passes from Governor Wise or Mr. Hunter 
himself. All this procedure seemed to be decided 
upon as a means of forcing any issue justifying the 
execution of John Brown and of breeding sectional 
ill will. Espionage and vigilance were increased, not 
diminished, as the trial, etc., went forward. 

Mr. Hunter's explanation (New Orleans Times- 
Democrat, September 5, 1887) of the haste shown in 
the preliminary examination is, that " according to a 
very anomalous system peculiar to Virginia, it was 
necessary that from the time of issuing the warrant, 
calling for the examining court, not less than five 
nor more than ten days should expire." So Mr. 
Hunter proceeded to enforce the law to almost the 
rigidest letter thereof, by putting the examination on 
the sixth day. The State w T arrant for John Brown's 
commitment was not issued till October 19th. The 
examining court, which had to consist of not less 
than five justices of the peace (a Mr. Davenport pre- 
sided, and eight were summoned), could acquit, but 
not convict a prisoner. The October term of the 
county court began the next day, the 20th. The pre- 
liminary inquiry was ordered for the 25th; the trial 
for the next day. The Hunter programme, defeated 
by the arrival of Counselor Hoyt and the sagacious 
courage of Captain Brown, would, if unchecked, have 
had the chief prisoner examined, committed, indicted, 
tried, convicted, and sentenced by the 28th of Oc- 
tober, and probably also, executed the next day — all 
being done within the ten days permitted by Vir- 
ginian law. 

Captain Brown was unable to stand more than a 


few minutes at a time. The wound in his head had 
affected both his sight and hearing, and he was with- 
out friendly counsel or money, as the Federal agent 
at Harper's Ferry yet retained what was taken from 
his person. On the 26th the trial proceeded, and it was 
only by a fortunate series of incidents (for Captain 
Brown and his cause) that conviction did not trans- 
pire on the 28th or 29th of the same month. It has 
been left to men like Hunter, however, who had 
motives to present, ambitions to serve, and records 
to maintain, to accuse John Brown of trifling and 
trickery. He accuses him of shamming weakness, of 
declaring he wanted no trial, while at the same time 
he did all he could to delay the proceedings. It must 
be borne in mind that John Brown had not the 
slightest expectation of escape from the severest legal 
penalty. His only interest was in securing time 
sufficient to make evident to the country and the 
world the motives that animated him, the objects he 
had pursued, and the manner in which he had acted. 
He was confident of his historical vindication, or, 
rather of that of his cause. It was the interest of 
Virginia and of the larger issues of Southern policy 
which at once developed themselves, that John 
Brown's motives should be questioned and his action 
left obscure. Hence, in spite of the tribute to 
character already wrung from Henry A. Wise and 
others, it becomes at once plain that the intention 
was to press the examination, trial, conviction, sen- 
tence, and execution to as rapid a consummation as 
possible. The current press records show this; they 
were not in John Brown's interest, and offer therefore 
the best of evidence. Virginia was afraid of abetter 


understanding of John Brown on the part of the 
country and of the world. John A. Andrew voiced 
the growing public opinion when he said at this time: 
" Whatever may be thought of Joh?i Brown's acts, John 
Brown himself is right ! " 

The court begun its business early. Judge Parker, 
who presided, lived to the age of eighty-three, dying 
in 1893, was then a man of about forty-nine years, 
handsome and dignified, with a severe look, rather 
small in stature; personally, a very social and agree- 
able gentleman. He was a native of the section, and 
connected by family and marriage with all the noted 
Virginians therein. Charles B. Harding, the County 
Attorney, is reported in the current dispatches as a 
man of intemperate habits, unprepossessing, morose, 
and even ferocious in manners. He w T as soon blotted 
out of the case, however. Captain Avis, who is still 
a resident of Harper's Ferry, was then a man 
approaching middle age, short and stout, with a 
humorous-looking, pleasant face, but of serious man- 
ners. He was always kind, and the testimony to that 
effect is without a negative. The sheriff, Mr. Camp- 
bell, was a tall, stout man, of middle age, who, like 
Avis, won the respect of his prisoners. Indeed, he 
did for them, and willingly, even more than common 
humanity required. The most comical, pompous 
apparition of the period was a militia officer, to whom 
the " protection " of the court and " security " of the 
prisoners was committed. This was Col. J. Lewis 
Davis, a very queer-looking dignitary indeed, espe- 
cially profuse in his hirsute appendages. He wore 
his hair braided in two queues tied by a bow-knot 
over his forehead, and with arrogant manner and 


strident voice, armed with a Sharpe's rifle, "looted" 
by him from Captain Brown's stock, which he always 
carried, he was the ever present, conspicious, and 
unendurable figure about the courthouse. His special 
purpose seemed to be the hunting out of newspaper 
men and annoying them all he could. He was bru- 
tally offensive to Counselor Hoyt, and it was by his 
order that Mr. Jewell, a newspaper artist or illustrator, 
and Mr. Hoyt were driven from Charlestown. Col. 
Lewis A. Washington was naturally also a conspicu- 
ous figure. A handsome man, of medium height, 
with slow, grave speech and walk, he looked like 
Trumbull's portrait of his great-uncle. Lieutenant 
Green, of the Marine Corps, was another personage 
of the period. He is an undersized, dull-look- 
ing man, compact of build, and with the air of a 
stupid sort of a swashbuckler. Andrew Hunter, the 
State's special attorney, fully represented Virginia, in 
both her strength and weakness. His, was the domi- 
nant figure in the prosecution. Governor Wise made 
no mistake in selecting Hunter. About fifty years of 
age, six feet in stature, well proportioned, active, 
elegant in manner, generally suave, quiet, and grave 
in speech, from the first carrying everything with a 
high hand, confident, as a matter of course, of con- 
viction, he could still be very overbearing in act and 
coolly insolent in manner. This was his attitude at 
first to the brave, quick-witted, keen-brained, but 
inexperienced young lawyer, George Henry Hoyt, of 
Massachusetts, who appeared so opportunely in that 
Virginia courthouse, disarranging thereby the short, 
swift plans of the haughty Virginian prosecutor. 
Afterwards he gauged Hoyt's ability more fully and 


got him out of Virginia as early and rudely as he could. 
He did not care even to assume the virtue he had 
not, and made it quite clear that he proposed to drive 
matters red-handed. This became very apparent at 
the afternoon session of the 29th, when, as Hunter 
states in his last paper (1887), " the court reassembled 
after dinner," and the " word came from the jail that 
Brown was too sick to appear that evening. I at 
once suggested to the court to have the jail physi- 
cian summoned to examine, whether he was too sick, 
and to report. This was done, and the physician, 
who was Dr. Mason, promptly reported that he was 
not too sick, and that he was feigning. On my 
motion, the court directed him to be brought into 
court. . . . He was conducted through the line 
of soldiers into the courthouse and placed (still on 
the cot) in the bar, with one of his lawyers (Mr. 
Hoyt) fanning him. The trial went on to a certain 
extent, but every effort was made to protract it. I 
resisted it, but at last, late in the evening, the judge 
called me up and said he thought we'd better agree, 
to avoid all further cavil at our proceedings, to let 
the case be adjourned over till Monday, which was 
done. Brown did not require to be carried back to 
jail that evening; he walked back." In this statement, 
it is possible that Mr. Hunter was as wrong as in his 
writing that the trial ended on Monday night, October 
30th, when, in fact, the verdict was not rendered until 
Wednesday, November 2d. Mr. Hunter's own state- 
ment shows how incapable he and all his associates 
were of understanding the representative character of 
John Brown. He was at that moment the embodied 
moral sense of the free States; he had sought to be 


the mailed hand thereof. It was essential that intel- 
lectual courage should serve the conscience of free- 
dom better even than armed action has sought to do 
it, and he was not found wanting. Privilege never 
can understand the resistance planted on the basis of 
right dealing. Scratch its veneer ever so slightly, 
and the brutal grain always appears. Attorney Hunter 
demonstrated this in many ways. As a pleader, his 
manner was subdued, his diction strong and earnest, 
his voice deep and full, and he could make it ring at 
will. He did this, and with a touch of ferocity, too, 
when making his final argument for the conviction of 
Shields Green, till the crowd in and around the court- 
house blazed with fury at his denunciation of the 
black man who had attempted to free his race, and 
both as fighter and prisoner showed in rude, but 
vigorous manner, his utter disdain of men who sold 
mothers, dealt in men, bred children for sale, making 
concubines for profit of every ninth woman in the 

The Virginian lawyers selected by the Examining 
Court to defend these prisoners had an ungracious 
and thankless task assigned them. Mr. Green was 
described by Correspondent House, of the New 
York Tribune ', asa" most extraordinary man to look 
upon, . . . long, angular, uncouth, and wild in 
gesture, . . . deficient in all rhetorical graces. 
His words rush from his mouth scarce half made 
up. He speaks sentences abreast. . . . His 
. . 'whar and ' thai* ' are the least of his offenses. 
His demeanor, altogether, is of unrivaled oddity; 
and yet his power is so decided that, while he is 
upon his legs, he carries everything before him. 


He is the most remarkable man I have seen here, 
although not so impressive in his bearing as Mr. 
Andrew Hunter, who is a man of real nobility of 
presence." Mr. Lawson Botts is also mentioned in 
the Cook trial as having all the while " sat coiled 
together in his chair, . . . watching for opportuni- 
ties of springing upon his antagonist at the least sign 
of weakness, he has darted upon Hunter and striven, 
. . . to destroy the fabric of his argument." 

George Henry Hoyt served an excellent purpose 
for the defense by his presence, and won a deserved 
place for both courage and ability. Mr. Chilton, of 
Washington, was selected by Montgomery Blair, who 
at one moment, under the solicitation of John A. An- 
drew, was almost ready to go himself. Chilton was a 
Virginian by birth, connected with leading Valley 
families, thoroughly familiar with the State laws, and 
quite able to measure the needlessness of the extreme 
alarm, which was driving the community into such 
violent excitement. He understood the political 
drift of the positions taken by Mr. Hunter and 
Governor Wise, and afterwards aided Blair and 
other conservative Republican leaders to make the 
most of it. Judge Griswold, of Ohio, was a strong, 
conscientious, able lawyer, who did not at all like the 
work he had undertaken at the request of Judge 
Tilden, John Brown's former lawyer and personal 
friend. He did his work well, as a lawyer, and got 
away as soon as it was done. George Sennott, the 
young Boston Democralic lawyer who volunteered, 
working for only his bare expenses, did a man's part 
as well as a lawyer's in the defense of Copeland and 
Green, the colored men, as also for Stevens, Cop- 


poc, and Hazlett. His avowed Democracy gave him 
a better chance than Mr. Hoyt would have had. 
Indeed, it was probably fortunate for himself that 
the latter did not have occasion beyond the first day 
he was in court, to make a plea for his friend and 
client, as his warm and impassioned speech and 
earnest anti-slavery feeling — Hoyt was a man of 
genuine eloquence even then — might have led him to 
expressions that w T ould have been unwise and readily 
have proven dangerous, too. The most picturesque 
and powerful figure connected with any defense was 
that of Daniel \V. Voorhees, now the veteran Demo- 
cratic leader and United States Senator, of Indiana; 
then in the full zenith of his ability as a pleader, and 
gifted with the soaring power of speech which so 
well befitted Western and Southern juries of the 
period. John E. Cook had wealthy relations — 
opposed to him in opinions, but strongly attached to 
him personally, — and they made for his life a forensic 
and legal fight of the most vigorous character. It 
was unsuccessful, for he had lived and married 
among the neighborhood people. With that strange 
belief in the iniquity of disbelieving what they be- 
lieve, still a characteristic of our Southern brethren, 
the Virginians would have almost let Brown go in 
preference to Cook, if a peremptory choice had been 
thrust upon them. These were some of the salient 
features of that courthouse drama, though when the 
curtain rolled up for the first act, it was on a scene 
all one-sided. The gray-bearded, worn old man, so 
imperturbably lying or half raised on his dirty cot; 
the intense, almost savage faces of spectators, the 
alert dignified judge, the already decided jury wait- 


ing with barest patience for the hour in which their in- 
evitable verdict would be recorded, the armed attend- 
ants, subdued but still eager for force; yet domi- 
nated all over by the strident will of Andrew Hunter, 
pursuing his end with contemptuous disregard of 
practice, caring nothing for the bungling form of 
papers and pleas, brushing aside all dilatory motions, 
declaring that the cost of waiting was too great, and 
demanding a swift ending; — these made a somber 
prologue to the powerful tragedy. 

Cannon were trained on the courthouse. The 
building and vicinity swarmed with armed guards. 
Brown's face was less swollen, but he managed to 
walk only with great difficulty. Stevens, supported 
by two bailiffs, was held up, breathing with great 
difficulty ; afterwards he lay on a mattress placed 
upon the floor. Coppoc, Copeland, and Green stood 
behind. All four were removed to the jail after the 
indictments were read, Captain Brown being left 
alone. Before the indictment was read, the prisoner 

" I do not intend to detain the Court, but barely wish to say, 
as I have been promised a fair trial, that I am not now in cir- 
cumstances that enable me to attend a trial, owing to the state 
of my health. I have a severe wound in the back, or rather in 
one kidney, which enfeebles me very much. But I am doing 
well, and I only ask for a very short delay of my trial, and I 
think I may get able to listen to it; and I merely ask that, as 
the saying is, ' the devil may have his due ' — no more. I wish 
further to say that my hearing is impaired, and rendered indis- 
tinct, in consequence of the wounds about my head. I cannot 
hear distinctly at all. I could not hear what the Court has 
said this morning. I would be glad to hear what is said on 
my trial, and am now doing better than I could expect to under 


the circumstances. . . . I do not presume to ask more 
than a very short stay. ... If that could be allowed me, I 
would be very much obliged." 1 

This is certainly a remarkable speech for a man 
"shamming weakness," defiant of proceedings, and 
desirous of " embarrassing" justice. It was objected 
that the request was premature, and the reading of 
the indictments were proceeded with. A plea of 
" not guilty " was made and separate trials asked for 
in each case; the State electing to try John Brown 
first. Lawson Botts, of counsel, then made the 
formal plea for a short delay on the ground of the 
prisoner's physical disability. The Court after brief 
discussion, ordered the jail physician, Dr. Mason, to 
examine the Captain. He did so and swore that 
Brown was able to stand trial, upon which the Court 
ordered it to proceed. During the afternoon the 
jury was made up. Not a single member of the 
panel was challenged by Mr. Botts, though preju- 
dice and preconceived opinion was necessarily evi- 
dent in a majority. At five o'clock the Court 
adjourned. On the 27th, Captain Brown was brought 
into court on a cot. The illustrated papers of the 
date give pictures of the carrying of him to and fro, 
accompanied by armed guards. A press dispatch 
describes the prevalent opinion, as follows : 

" There is an evident intention to hurry the trial through, 
and execute the prisoners as soon as possible — fearing attempts 
to rescue them. It is rumored that Brown is desirous of 
making a full statement of his motives and intentions through 
the press; but the Court has refused all access to reporters— 

1 See Associated Press dispatches of date. 


fearing that he may put forth something calculated to influ- 
ence the public mind, and to have a had effect on the slaves. 
The reason given for hurrying the trial is that the people of 
the whole country are kept in a state of excitement, and a 
large armed force is required to prevent attempts at rescue." 

On entering court, Captain Brown was confronted 
with a dispatch sent from Cleveland, Ohio, alleging 
his insanity and urging delay, in order to prove the 
same. This emanated from persons unable to grasp 
the ethical nature of the situation. Jeremiah L. Brown, 
half-brother of the Captain, was one of the most per- 
sistent of those who asserted that John Brown's brain 
was affected. Others, and a majority, desired only 
to save, if possible, the life of the old covenanter, and 
were ready for any method that offered. As amatter 
of fact, no saner man lived or died than John Brown. 
In the court, when Attorney Botts presented the dis- 
patch, the Captain, slowly getting on his feet, said: 

" I will add, if the Court will allow me, that I look upon it as a 
miserable artifice and trick of those who ought to take a dif- 
ferent course in regard to me, if they took any at all, and I 
view it with contempt more than otherwise. ... I am 
perfectly unconscious of insanity, and I reject, so far as I am 
capable, any attempts to interfere in my behalf on that score." 

This little speech and other details again proved that 
the accused did not seek to obstruct, or cause any 
unnecessary delay. 

The jury being sworn, and the indictment read, a 
plea of " Not guilty " was entered. Mr. Hunter then 
stated the evidence he propossd to present and 
urged absence of prejudice, but demanding celerity 
in the proceedings. Mr. Green argued in reply, that 


the indictment for " treason " was faulty, as it must 
be shown that an attempt was made to " set up " a 
separate State government, and to show the treason- 
able purpose of all acts done, not by the prisoners' 
confessions, but by two separate witnesses; that the 
alleged conspiracy with slaves must be shown by 
competent testimony to have existed within the State 
of Virginia itself. The Court could not punish for 
acts done in Maryland or within the Federal juris- 
diction at Harper's Ferry, and this applies also to the 
charge of murder committed on the United States 
reservation there. Mr. Hunter replied, that the 
treason was shown by the effort made, backed by the 
evidences of a new form of government being ready, 
if the effort was successful. On his own confession, 
Brown was guilty of conspiracy. The murder was 
notorious, and the prisoner was in command. The 
United States had always recognized the local juris- 
diction over criminal offenses committed at Harper's 
Ferry. Testimony was given, among others, by the 
train men to the effect that Captain Brown expressed 
regret that the train had been stopped and that no 
one should be hurt, adding that it was not his inten- 
tion that " blood should be spilled." The stoppage 
was bad management on the part of the men stationed 
on the bridge. He walked over the bridge with the 
conductor, as a guarantee that the passengers and 
people would not be injured. Messrs. Washington, 
Allstadt, Ball, and others, who had been held as 
hostages by Captain Brown, testified as to his direct- 
ing them to keep out of range of the firing as far as 
practicable, and of the unvarying courtesy of manner 
and speech he showed towards them; also, as to his 


steadfast coolness and courage, and of a declaration 
to them, that "his object was to free the slaves and 
not to make war on the people, . . . that it was 
no child's play he had undertaken; that he was only 
obeying the Bible and following the law of God." 
He assured all in his hands that he was not making 
war on property, but defending liberty. 

During this afternoon and early the next morning, 
he offered no obstacles whatever to the progress of 
the trial, identifying as handed him all the docu- 
ments, papers, and letters, found in the Kennedy 
Farm-house, or at the Virginia schoolhouse, declaring 
as documents were handed him by the prosecuting 
attorney through Sheriff Campbell (who had made 
himself familiar with Captain Brown's handwriting) 
that he was " ready to face the music," and save all 
trouble in such matters. Adjournment on Thursday 
afternoon was had at a reasonable hour. The 
arrival about midnight of George Henry Hoyt, a 
young Massachusetts lawyer, who proposed to serve 
as junior counselor for John Brown, marked the 
beginning of historical incidents of importance. Mr. 
Hoyt was not allowed to enter the jail; Messrs. Botts 
and Green called at the hotel and notified him that 
they declined his or any other man's assistance, while 
the public hostility was eagerly and loudly made 
apparent. By Judge Parker's direction, with the 
aid of Sheriff Campbell, Mr. Hoyt was permitted to 
enter the courtroom and seat himself by the cot of 
the prisoner. During the early part of the Friday 
(October 28th) morning session, the evidence of the 
leading " hostages," and the identification of the 
John Brown papers proceeded. 


It soon became evident that the prosecution was 
about to rest. Witnesses subpoenaed were called, but 
did not respond, though, as Mr. Hoyt stated in after 
years, John Brown himself pointed out to him several 
he desired to testify as being then in the courtroom. 
The position was a very plain one. Mr. Hunter had 
called enough of John Brown's more prominent 
" hostages " to give some color to the prosecutor's 
desire for " fairness," and did not want any further 
testimony of that character. He had brought out the 
seizure of buildings and train, the capture of prisoners 
and property; the presence of negroes, free and 
slave; the firing, wounding, and killing of persons; 
and, to emphasize this latter, put his own son on the 
stand to show the death of Mr. Beckham — " his 
grand-uncle " — and his subsequent seizure and slay- 
ing, with others, of Wm. Thompson. A good case 
had been made and none of the testimony disproven. 
Why, then, should John Brown be permitted in a 
Virginia court, under plea of defense or " mitigating 
circumstances," to make anti-slavery arguments or 
prove that his aim was to attack slavery as " the sum 
of all villainies"? Why, indeed! The instinct of 
self-preservation leads clearly to the tacit under- 
standing, as existing between prosecution and de- 
fense. Counselor Hoyt always charged this. And 
here comes in the narration of events, described to 
this writer and others, by Mr. Hoyt, and established, 
too, by the exhibition of a brief, or memorandum, in 
John Brown's handwriting, which, during the earlier 
years of the Civil War, was in Colonel Hoyt's posses- 
sion. As this gentleman sat by the Captain's cot, his 
attention was called by a silent motion of the Cap- 


tain's eyes and head to a paper with writing on it, 
lying near the chairs occupied by Messrs. Botts and 
Green. My recollection of Hoyt's statement was that 
it lay close to Mr. Green's chair. He managed to 
secure the same, attention being directed to Captain 
Brown's rising from his cot and addressing the Court 
as follows: 

May it phase the Court, — I discover that, notwithstanding 
all the assertions I have received of a fair trial, nothing like a 
fair trial is to be given me, as it would seem. I gave the names 
as soon as I could get at them, of the persons I wished to 
have called as witnesses, andwas assured that they would be 
subpoenaed. I wrote down a memorandum to that effect, say- 
ing where those parties were, but it appears that they have 
not been subpoenaed, so far as I can learn. And now I ask if 
I am to have anything at all deserving the name and shadow 
of a fair trial, that this proceeding be deferred until to-morrow 
morning; fori have no counsel, as I have before stated, in 
whom I feel that I can rely, but I am in hopes counsel may 
arrive who will see that I get the witnesses necessary for my 
defense. I am myself unable to attend to it. I have given all 
the attention I possibly could to it, but am unable to see or 
know about them, and can't even find out their names; and I 
have nobody to do my errands, for my money was all taken 
from me when I was hacked and stabbed, and I have not a 
dime. I had two hundred and fifty or sixty dollars in gold 
and silver taken from my pocket, and now I have no possible 
means of getting anybody to go my errands for me, and I have 
not had all the witnesses subpoenaed. They are not within 
reach, and are not here. I ask at least until to-morrow morn- 
ing to have something done, if anything is designed. If not, I 
am ready for anything that may come up. 1 

1 Associated Press report of period. 


This bold address created a sensation. Messrs. 
Botts and Green withdrew peremptorily. An exami- 
nation of the paper Mr. Hoyt had secured, showed it 
to be a memorandum made by John Brown for the 
use of counsel, containing the names of witnesses, 
with notes of what was to be shown by the testi- 
mony. It was written on legal foolscap (blue) and occu- 
pied nearly the whole four pages thereof. The hand- 
writing was unmistakable. When I saw it in 1862 
this document still bore the marks of tobacco juice 
and bootheels with which its place on the courtroom 
floor had caused it to be decorated. Evidently it 
had been rejected by "counsel" and flung away. 1 
Nothing else was left, of course, to Messrs. Botts and 
Green, than to retire at once from John Brown's case. 
Mr. Hoyt was perforce compelled to assume charge, 
and first made a request for an adjournment until 
morning in order to enable him to examine the in- 
dictment papers in the case and the Virginia statutes, 
etc. In resisting and refusing this motion both the 
Judge and State's Attorney were contemptuously un- 
gracious in speech. John Brown at this time sug- 
gested to Hoyt that a motion for time be made on 
account of the non-appearance of witnesses for the 
defense and the lack of subpoenas for them. On 
this ground Mr. Hoyt was at home, fresh as he was 
from his common-law studies, and aroused to the full 
significance of the delay asked, by the arrival of tele- 
grams tOiCaptain Brown, announcing that Mr. Gris- 

1 Of what has become of this document I have no knowledge. A 
statement or replica of its contents was once published, if I recol- 
lect aright, in the daily Conservative ', Leavenworth, Kansas, D. W. 
Wilder, editor. 


wold had already left Cleveland, that Mr. Samuel 
Chilton, of Washington, would leave by the evening 
train, so that both would be in the courtroom next 
morning. The interest and excitement of the after- 
noon was added to by the arrival later in the day 
under heavy guard, of John E. Cook, captured two 
days before at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and re- 
turned under the stimulus of Governor Wise's reward, 
without waiting the full legal execution of the proc- 
ess of extradition. Mr. Hoyt's earnestness and per- 
sistence coupled with the news that the other counsel 
were to arrive, brought about an adjournment till 
morning. Cook, in the meanwhile, was being arraigned 
before the examining court. Mr. Hunter was baffled, 
he did not dare to meet the issue made and used the 
full power of the law to end the trial ! The young 
lawyer was admitted to a conference with Captain 
Brown, Jailer Avis being present. He managed to 
place in Brown's hand a private note from a Boston 
friend, the purport of which is hereafter shown, and 
proceeded with the larger duty that had fallen upon 
him, spending the night in an examination of the 
State laws. 

The trial proceeded; Messrs. Chilton and Griswold 
taking full control of the defense on Saturday morn- 
ing. Both gentlemen asked for a few hours delay, in 
order that they might have time to read the indict- 
ment at least. Mr. Chilton had expected to assist 
the Virginia lawyers, and finding they retired from 
the case, had hesitated to take charge, but at the 
solicitation of Captain Brown and Mr. Hoyt, and 
friends elsewhere, he had consented to serve. A few 
hours' delay only was essential for Judge Griswold 


and himself to become informed. Judge Packer was 
almost surly in his rejection of this motion, referring 
with marked asperity to the speech made by Captain 
Brown the day before. "The trial must proceed," he 
ordered. The witnesses Brown desired were secured, 
and the evidence of Master-Armorer Mills, Paymaster 
Daingerfield, and Samuel Snider, of the United States 
Arsenal, Captain Sims, a Maryland militiaman, with 
others testified strongly to the general aim and speech 
of Captain Brown and the men under him, in the care 
for prisoners and other matters, and equally as general 
inhumanity on the part of all the Virginians who 
directed the attack. The evidence of Captain Simons, 
Fredericksburg, Maryland, Guards, is worthy repro- 
duction as to the essential points : 

" Brown complained (at the time of the first proposition on 
17th, for withdrawal) that his men were shot down like dogs, 
while bearing a flag of truce. I told him they must expect to 
be shot like dogs, if they took up arms in that way. Brown 
said he knew what he had to undergo when he came there. 
He had weighed the responsibility and should not shrink from 
it. He had had full possession of the town, and could have 
massacred all the inhabitants, had he thought proper to do so ; 
but as he had not, he considered himself entitled to some 
terms. He said he had knowingly shot no one who had not 
carried arms. I told him that Mayor Beckham had been killed, 
and that I knew he was altogether unarmed. He seemed 
sorry to hear of his death, and said, ' I fight only those who 
fight me.' I saw Stevens at the hotel after he was wounded, 
and shamed some young men who were endeavoring to shoot 
him as he lay in his bed, apparently dying. ... I have no 
sympathy for the acts of the prisoner, but I regard him as a 
brave man." * 

1 Condensed from the current press reports. 


An attempt was again made to force the prisoner's 
counsel to proceed to a finish As the ten days of 
the "Emergency" law had expired, the effort was 
altogether needless. Hunter made his opening 
speech and the Court then adjourned until Monday 
at nine. Late in the afternoon, of Monday, October 
31st, after about six hours were consumed by the 
arguments of Messrs. Chilton, Griswold, and Hunter, 
the case was delivered to the jury. An absence of 
less than an hour occurred and then the jury returned. 
The clerk asked: 

" Gentlemen of the jury, what say you? Is the 
prisoner at the bar, John Brown, guilty or not 
guilty?" The offense charged had previously been 

" Guilty," was the foreman's reply. 

"Guilty of treason, and conspiring and advising 
with slaves and others to rebel, and of murder in the 
first degree," officially queried the clerk. 

" Yes," slowly and seriously responded the fore- 

Strange as it seems under the high-pressure ex- 
citement that existed, not a word or sound, beside 
the natural stir of the audience, was heard. All 
seemed to feel that a deep tragedy, to be met with 
befitting stillness, was in progress around them. 
Counsel Chilton entered a motion for arrest of judg- 
ment, on errors to which he had taken exceptions in 
both indictment and verdict ; Hunter even then 
wanted, or said he did, to proceed with the argu- 
ments. But the Court adjourned till next day, when 
the closing arguments were heard. Edwin Coppoc 
was called to the bar, and his trial proceeded, lasting 


less than two days. So on the second day of Novem- 
ber, while the jury was out on the verdict thereof, 
Captain Brown was brought into court. He still 
walked with difficulty, every step being attended 
with evident pain. His features were firm and com 
posed, but within the dimly lighted courtroom, 
showed wan and pallid. He seated himself near his 
counsel, and resting his head upon his right hand, re- 
mained motionless, apparently the most unheeding 
man in the room. He sat upright with lips com- 
pressed, looking direct into the chilled stern face of 
the judge as he overruled the exceptions of counsel. 
When directed by the clerk to say " why sentence 
should not be passed upon him," John Brown rose 
slowly to his feet, placing his hands on a table in 
front of him, and leaning slightly forward, in a voice 
singularly quiet and self-controlled, with tones of 
marked gentleness and a manner slow and slightly 
hesitating, made this memorable speech: 

I have, may it please the Court, a few words to say: In the 
first place, I deny everything but what I have all along ad- 
mitted, — the design on my part to free the slaves. I intended 
certainly to have made a clean thing of that matter, as I did 
last winter, when I went into Missouri and took slaves without 
the snapping of a gun on either side, moved them through the 
country, and finally left them in Canada. I designed to have done 
the same thing again, on a larger scale. That was all I in- 
tended. I never did intend murder, or treason, or the destruc- 
tion of property, or to excite or incite slaves to rebellion, or to 
make insurrection. 

I have another objection : and that is, it is unjust that I 
should suffer such a penalty, Had I interfered in the manner 
which I admit, and which I admit has been fairly proved (for 
I admire the truthfulness and candor of the greater portion of 


the witnesses who have testified in this case), had I so inter- 
fered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so- 
called great, or in behalf of any of their friends — either father, 
mother, brother, sister, wife, or children, or any of that class 
— and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, 
it would have been all right ; and every man in this court 
would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than 

This court acknowledges, as I suppose, the validity of the 
law of God. I see a book kissed here which I suppose is the 
Bible, or at least the New Testament. That teaches me that 
all things whatsoever I would that men should do to me, I 
should do even so to them. It teaches me further, to " remember 
them that are in bonds, as bound with them." I endeavored to 
act up to that instruction. I say, I am yet too young to under- 
stand that God is any respecter of persons. I believe that to 
have interfered as I have done — as I have always freely ad- 
mitted I have done — in behalf of His despised poor, was not 
wrong, but right. Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should 
forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and 
mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and 
with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights 
are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, — I 
submit; so let it be done. 

Let me say one word further. 

I feel entirely satisfied with the treatment I have received on 
my trial. Considering all the circumstances, it has been more 
generous than I expected. But I feel no consciousness of 
guilt. I have stated from the first what was my intention, and 
what was not. I never had any design against the life of any 
person, nor any disposition to commit treason, or excite slaves 
to rebel, or make any general insurrection. I never en- 
couraged any man to do so, but always discouraged any idea 
of the kind. 

Let me say, also, a word in regard to the statements made 
by some of those connected with me. I hear it has been 
stated by some of them that I have induced them to join me. 


But the contrary is true. I do not say this to injure them, but 
as regarding their weakness. There is not one of them but 
joined me of his own accord, and the greater part of them at 
their own expense. A number of them I never saw, and 
never had a word of conversation with, till the day they came 
to me ; and that was for the purpose I have stated. Now, 1 
have done ! 1 

On that act the curtain fell, without a sound. Over 

1 At a later date (November 22d), under pressure from Andrew 
Hunter, John Brown wrote a letter to explain the apparent 
discrepancy between his statement to Governor Wise, on the day 
of capture, and the above speech. The Captain declared he wa 
taken by surprise in court, not having anticipated so early 
sentence. Hunter wrote, in 1887 (New Orleans Times- Democrat 
paper), that he informed Governor Wise, at his visit to Brown in 
jail, on the 20th of November, that the latter's speech in court 
" was deliberate, cool, and evidently prepared beforehand." Not 
a word of such preparation has ever been heard of, and the speech 
itself bears internal proof of unexpectedness on his part. Gov- 
ernor Wise declared that Brown represented to him and the | 
examining court that he designed to free slaves on the soil, and 
did not primarily design to turn them off. Under date of Novem- 1 
ber 22d, John Brown addressed Andrew Hunter a letter, in which i 
the apparent " connection" was dealt with. Of what he said in j 
court, John Brown wrote: " I was taken wholly by surprise. 
. . . In the hurry of the moment I forgot much of what I had j 
intended to say, and did not consider the full bearing of what I 
did say. I intended to convey this idea: that it was my intention 1 
to place the slaves in a condition to defend their liberties, if they ] 
would, without any bloodshed, but not that I intended to run them 
out of the slave States. I was not aware of any such apparent con- I 
fiiction until my attention was called to it. . . . A man in my 
then circumstances" could not be " superhuman in respect to the 
exact purpose of every word he might utter." What he said 
to the Governor " was intended for truth," and what was said in 
court " was equally intended for truth, but lequhed a more full 
explanation than I gave." 


all sounds were the echo of those firm but gentle 
tones ! 

The letters of George Henry Hoyt, furnished me 
by J. W. Le Barnes, Esq. 1 (now a practising lawyer 

1 In a recent letter, this gentleman writes : " Hoyt went to 
Charlestown, at my instance, and I furnished him the money for 
his expenses. He was living at Athol, Mass., with his parents, 
having then recently graduated at law. The morning that the 
news was received of the raid and capture, he came at once to 
Boston, and I met him at the Republican Headquarters and told 
him I wanted him to go to Charlestown and act as counsel for 
John Brown. My suggestion was that so youthful and physically 
fragile a person in appearance (he was not more than twenty-one, 
and looked not more than nineteen, and was slight in figure) 
would not create the suspicion that a more mature man might do, 
and I believed that for this reason he would be more likely to 
succeed in being allowed access to Brown than another, and did 
not believe he would be in as much personal danger as another 
might be. The purposes for which I wanted him to go were: 
first, to watch and be able to report proceedings, to see and talk 
with Brown, and be able to communicate with his friends any- 
thing Brown might want to say; and, second, to send me an 
accurate and detailed account of the military situation at Charles- 
town, the number and distribution of troops, the location and 
defenses of the jail, the nature of the approaches to the town and 
jail, the opportunities for a sudden attack, and the means of 
retreat, with the location and situation of the room in which 
Brown was confined, and all other particulars that might enable 
friends to consult as to some plan of attempt at rescue. Hoyt 
was willing to accept the commission, if his expenses could be 
paid, as he had no money himself." Le Barnes and Hoyt visited 
Dr. Howe, at South Boston, who threw cold water on the project, 
declaring that John Brown's execution would have a good effect 
on public opinion. Such a view naturally seemed cold-blooded to 
these earnest young men. It was probably a surprise when they 
found John Brown holding the same and living up thereto, para- 
doxical as that seems in statement. Le Barnes furnished Hoyt 


of Washington, D. C), by whom Mr. Hoyt was 
induced to volunteer for the Virginia work, and who 
supplied the modest means required to defray his 
expenses, give details of the trial and prison life, 
which will be of interest here. 

Under date of Sunday, October 30th, Hoyt writes 
Mr. Le Barnes, that — 

" Pursued with unrelenting zeal by the prosecution, who 
intended to have had Brown convicted and sentenced last night, 
even if the session continued until twelve o'clock. By ingenious 
devices, counsel have got the case continued until to-morrow 
(Monday, October 31) for concluding arguments. We are for- 
tunate in having here Mr. Chilton, of Washington, a Virginian, 
and a very eminent lawyer, . . . also a relative of the 
Judge and the family friend of most of the wealthy and 
respectable people hereabouts. . . . Associated with him, 
also, is Mr. Griswold, one of the eminent Ohio lawyers, wh( 
was for many years the Reporter of the State. He was sent 
on by Judge Tilden, who is a personal and family friend of B'« 
relations in Ohio. . . . After referring to the legal points 

seventy-five dollars " in silver," and afterwards sent him othei 
small remittances. The funds for paying Messrs. Chilton 
Griswold, as counsel, $1,000 each, with the expenses for copying 
records, etc., were probably raised through John A. Andrews and 
Judge Thomas Russell. Mr. Le Barnes's original purpose was 
probably never known to either of these gentlemen. Hoyt's first 
letter to Le Barnes set this forth most plainly, and it was, of 
course, scrupulously obeyed. Mr. Le Barnes writes: " There 
was a letter from Hoyt, written after he had seen (the night of the 
28th of October) and talked with Brown, in which he gave the 
information desired in respect to the situation at Charlestown, the 
defenses, etc., and which inclosed a diagram of the jail, showing 
Brown's cell, the approaches, etc., etc., and in which he stated 
that Brozun positively refused his consent to any movement looking 
to a rescue." 


raised and reserved as exceptions, by Mr. Chilton, on which 
subsequently sound (as to treason, but useless as to prejudices) 
appeal to the State Supreme Court was made, Mr. Hoyt goes 
on — ' Providentially, things have been conserved to obtain 
delay. It certainly was most fortunate for Brown that I was 
with him when he dismissed Botts and Green. In justice to 
them I must say that their management of the case was as 
good for him as the circumstances of ' tlieir position permitted. 
You must be told that the morning of my arrival I was visited 
by them and informed, that they had decided not to be associ- 
ated with anybody in the defense, so if I then went into the 
case they would wholly withdraw. Of course, my only alterna- 
tive was to remain passive and wait for developments. I was 
not permitted to see Brown until that night (October 28th), 
when the case was thrown upon me. I never offered a sincerer 
thanksgiving, than when the morning light brought to us the 
eminent gentlemen now conducting the case. Here let me 
say, as it is unnecessary for me to explain the exact condition 
of the case — the very fine report of the Associated Press agent 
being minute and particular — that Brown is well pleased with 
what has transpired; is perfectly satisfied, and more than all 
the rest, seems to be inspired with a truly noble resignation. 

" This morning, Mr. Chilton, Mr. Griswold, and myself were 
closeted with him three or four hours. I confess, I did not 
know which most to admire, the thorough honor and admi- 
rable qualities of the brave, old border soldier, or the uncon- 
taminated simplicity of the man. My friend John Brown is 
an astonishing character. The people about here, while deter- 
mined to have him die for his alleged offenses, generally con- 
cede and applaud the conscientiousness, the honor, and the 
supreme bravery of this man. His fate is sealed, undoubtedly. 
Whether he will in the course of further judicial proceedings 
be condemned and executed upon a Virginia scaffold, or 
whether he will die by the rough hand of violence, I do not 
decide in my own mind. . . . There is no chance of his 
ultimate escape. There is nothing but the most unmitigated 
failure and the saddest consequence which it is possible to 

3 68 


conjure up to ensue upon an attempt at rescue. The country, 
all aroused, is guarded by armed patrols and a large body of 
troops are constantly under arms. If you hear anything about 
such an attempt, for Heaven's sake do not fail to restrain the 

Under date of the 31st, Mr. Hoyt again writes, 
acknowledging receipt of a small draft, and stating 
that he had been sending for witnesses, and in the 
incidental payments due thereon, says he is regarded 
by all the lawyers, and indeed by everybody else, as 
representing an infinitely rich somebody in Boston." 
He explained the facts, of course, to Messrs. Chilton 
and Griswold, assuring them, however, that their 
fees, etc. will be duly met, until the writ of error t< 
be filed before the Supreme Court is decided upon. 
He then adds: 

" In regard to the other prisoners, Coppoc is now on trial 
Griswold and I are counsel, and Green and Stevens are yet to 
be tried. Cook (who was brought from Pennsylvania on the 
28th) is making a confession. Griswold and I accidentally 
found that out. . . . Stevens is in the same cell with 
Brown. I have frequent talks with him. He is in a most piti- 
able condition physically, his wounds being of the most pain- 
ful and dangerous character. He has four bullets in his body, 
two or three being about the head and neck. He bears his 
sufferings with grim and silent fortitude, never complaining 
and absolutely without hope. He is a splendid-looking young 
fellow. Brown says it was a great mistake, and Stevens agrees 
that it was a great mistake, chaffering, to save the lives and 
shedding of the blood of men. They might have got away into 
the mountains, where no body of men could have captured 
them, had it not been for this mistake. Brown says — he 
doubts not it is all right in the providence of God and is re- 
signed to his fate. ... I am assured by everybody that 
there is no danger of violence to these men. I am not so much 


of a fool, however, that I cannot read a devilish countenance 
when I see it face to face, and I tell you there have been too 
many silent people about this courthouse to-day, and I am 
quite sure there are a few . . . who want no better pre- 
text than a delay, such as we are endeavoring and hope to 
obtain to set the assassin's hand upon our brave, old friend. 
John Brown is too good to live among men. I never imagined 
it possible for a man to be so desperately cool and calm under 
such terrible circumstances. It may be he has fulfilled his 
appointed mission on earth (if there be such a thing). . . . 
I don't believe that John Brown will ever leave this town a live 
man." (Hoyt had described the lawyers' hopes of having their 
writs of error sustained and a new trial ordered, all of which 
proved fallacious.) "There is a disposition." he continues, " in 
a measure, to prevent it being said, that he had no formal trial, 
but the people are bound he shall die. Beckham, one of the 
killed at the Ferry, . . was a relative of Hunter, and 
mayor of that town. H. Turner, another of them, was a 
respectable and highly connected citizen, and they (the citizens) 
are bound to have the blood of this entire lot of prisoners." 

In another letter (November 2d), Mr. Hoyt refers 
to the defense of Coppoc by Mr. Griswold and him- 
self,, and then states that Mr. George Sennott, of 
Boston, who had been sent down, a volunteer, to de- 
fend Stevens and the colored prisoners, " had fought 
with extraordinary pluck and most astonishing zeal 
the cases of Copeland and Green." Mr. Hoyt urged 
on Boston friends the necessity' of engaging Mr. 
Chilton to prepare and carry appeals to Richmond 
in all the other cases, declaring that it would never 
do to have one case better cared for legally than the 
others. " Brown will protest against it, and so will 
the entire North. Brown wants (he says) to share 
everything with the others." 

Commenting further on the state of feeling, Mr. 


Hoyt wrote about the ioth of November, after his 
return from Philadelphia, that he expects " to get a 
notice to quit" owing to excitement aroused by the 
Northern press, especially the letters of Mr. House 
in the New York Tribune. The feeling had grown 
so abnormal that Hoyt had difficulty in seeing Cap- 
tain Brown, but in the presence of the " kind-hearted 
jailer, Captain Avis," contrived to have a long inter- 
view with Brown. "They allege," he writes, " fears 
that poison or some other means of death will be 
conveyed to the old hero. They need not fear suicide 
from him! " 

Mr. Hoyt was kept busy at Baltimore, Philadel- 
phia, and Washington, in such duties as junior coun- 
sel usually perform in cases of the magnitude of that 
of John Brown. He was also serving and making 
that first, as the personal friend of the Captain in 
gathering the property and belongings of the Cap- 
tain for the benefit of Mrs. Brown. The Boston 
friends were desirous of having all that could be 
rescued brought there for sale as " relics." Sheriff 
Campbell, aided all he could in getting the material 
together. The money taken from Captain Brown's 
person after capture by the Marines, had been held 
for some time in the custody of the United States 
Army Superintendent at Harper's Ferry, but was 
finally paid over to aid in defraying expenses of the 
defense. Foulke, the hotel proprietor, levied upon 
the wagon and mule found at the Kennedy Farm, to 
pay for the food which Captain Brown impressed 
from him, chiefly for the feeding of his forty prison- 
ers. A Virginia law, Mr. Hoyt found out, carried 
judgment for costs against the property of a convic- 


ted prisoner. He thought the sheriff was not aware 
of it, and that Judge Parker would not speak of it. 
In all this, however, he reckoned without Andrew 
Hunter, who was bound to have not only the pound 
of flesh, but all the surroundings and belongings, 
thereto. Boston got none of the relics, and Mrs. 
Brown received liule or nothing from property found 
in Virginia. The order to quit that Counselor Hoyt 
expected, came on the 12th of November, and he 
writes on the 13th from Baltimore that he, with Mr. 
Jewett, Frank Leslie's artist, whom he writes of "as 
a gentleman and a deuced good fellow," was "com- 
pelled to leave the town of Charlestown. . . 
We got a polite, but decidedly peremptory notice to 
quit, which, considering that the town was in a state 
of wild excitement with barns and wheat stacks 
burning, 1 and the lynching of these prisoners as well 
as tar and feathers imminent (for us), we concluded 
to deny ourselves the pleasure of facing a mob and 
make discretion the better part of valor. ... It 
was the merest suspicion that set them on to us." 

Under date of Washington, November 14th and 
16th, whither he had gone on the appeal business, 
Hoyt sends very interesting letters, showing the 
opinions of important persons and why certain action 
was taken. He writes: 

. . . Found Chilton had crossed over to Alexandria where 
he had cases to be postponed in order to go to Richmond. (In 
another note, Mr. Chilton's explanation is given.) Sought and 
found Montgomery Blair ; . . . his judgment in this matter 

1 These fires must have been made by the slaves ; there was no 
one else to do it. The Virginians, of course, declared that it was 
the work of Northern emissaries. 


is the best possible. Hoyt was very earnest as to securing for 
the men as good and complete legal service as given to Captain 
Brown. " The expense," he writes, "must be shouldered. How 
will the world and especially John Brown regard an omission 
to secure to the same last extremity, the rights of the associates 
of the captive chief ? . . . Certainly it is expected to make 
a clean fight in this matter. ... I have had a long talk 
with Mr. Blair and have got his ideas pretty thoroughly in my 
mind. In regard to this, Hoyt's going to Richmond, he waited 
on learning whether 'John A. Andrews is going' as had been 
discussed. No statement can, therefore, be made by him, as 
the ' expulsion from Charlestown ' by the Mayor's order and 
under threats of mob violence " until it is settled that he, Hoyt, 
is to go to Richmond or not." ..." Mr. Blair thinks," con- 
tinues Mr. Hoyt, " a demonstration of Brown's insanity might 
please Wise. He says he has seen something in the Richmond 
Inquirer (Examiner) — probably the statement he exhibited to 
Andrews — which looks like an invitation. . . . Mr. Blair 
is very anxious that all those persons who have any reason to 
suppose that Wise has any reason to summon them down to 
this Federal Court (and he will soon have some, as number one 
detectives are hunting them up) should quit the country." 
(About this time Dr. Howe and Frederick Douglass left for 
Canada and England ; no one else retired except to the Western 
Reserve and Kansas.) " He says they are sure to be outraged 
and insulted by the usual programme of ' tar and feathers,' if 
they are not killed, and he thinks they are likely to meet the 
other treatment. I want you, Le Barnes, to see that Sanborn 
and the rest are put on guard, and if possible are either ' hived 
up' or sent away, for they are surely to be summoned. . . . 
Mr. Blair thinks that Mason and Company are bound to stir up 
disruption out of this affair, and that they will go to every ex- 
tremity to do it, He is confident of a Republican victory in '60, 
and says disunion must be avoided. I agree mainly with this 
doctrine, provided victory is sure in i860. But I feel like a 
frantic disunionist. I cannot help saying — I hate with all my 
heart the detestable despotism into which I cannot venture to 


set foot for an honest purpose without suffering violence. 
I suppose Mr. Blair has inferred that I am very bitter in my 
heart toward the South, for he has kindly entered into an expo- 
sition of the plan of the Republican party for the future. It is 
a most persuasive and inspiring thing. ... I think that 
Mr. Blair, senior, is a man who understands the people of the 
South better than we at the North, and his emancipation theory 
is great ! Under date of the 16th, Mr. Hoyt says that Mr. Blair 
deems it unsafe for him (H.) to go to Richmond, denounced as 
he had been ' as the agent of the Boston abolitionists.' Mr, 
Chilton has been arranged with ' to look after other appeals.' 
The article in Wise's Richmond organ, the Examiner, is con- 
sidered by Mr. Blair ' as an invitation to make a demonstra- 
tion.' Hoyt was, therefore, to proceed and gather affidavits 

On the matter of insanity affidavits, Governor Wise 
evidently felt himself obliged, after Brown's execu- 
tion, to make some sort of a case. In a message to 
the Legislature, under date of December 13th, he 
said that "no insanity was feigned, even the prisoner, 
Brown, spurned it. Since his sentence, Samuel 
Chilton, Esq. (of counsel), has filed with me a number 
of affidavits for delay, in order to show such alleged 
insanity." Mr. Hoyt's letter, already quoted, explains 
this, and Mr. Chilton, in a letter published December 
18th, in the National Intelligencer, states that he had 
no hand in the preparation or presentation of such 
affidavits; that Mr. Hoyt had pro forma only attached 
his name (Chilton's) to a petition for a hearing, mak- 
ing himself the affidavit required of counsel, and that 
he, Hoyt, was undoubtedly led into such procedure 
by a statement, made in the Richmond Examiner 
(credited with being Governor Wise's organ), that it 
" was not too late to have the question of insanity 


upon an issue, and relief afforded, if it was found to 
exist." The statement was misleading, as only the 
Legislature could have acted. 

An undated letter from Philadelphia gives an 
account of Mrs. Brown there, and must have been 
Written about the 8th of November. Mr. Hoyt says, 
11 I found Mrs. Brown at the house of Wm. Still, on 
Locust street. . . . She was stopped at Baltimore 
(on her way to Harper's Ferry and Charlestown) by 
my dispatch (due to a conviction that it was not safe 
for her then to go to Charlestown) to Mr. Fulton (of 
the American). . . . We have this p.m., heard 
news, which seems to demand instant action. It has 
been explained by Mr. McKim to Mr. Webb. There 
are three refugees now in the mountains. They must be 
Tidd, Owen Brown, and Coppoc (brother of the 
prisoner). . . . We telegraphed for Redpath. It 
is important that funds should be placed in Mr. 
McKim's hands to assist them — poor fellows! (Owen, 
who was the leader, took care that no one approached 
them till they reached western Pennsylvania. I tried 
it from Harrisburg, Redpath and colored men from 
Chambersburg, but it was of no avail.) ... I 
think it prudent, if the cases of Cook and Stevens 
(which was discussed) be turned over to the Federal 
Courts, that those parties who feel they are likely to 
be summoned as witnesses, keep out of the way of 
all United States processes. I hope there is pluck enough 
and ammunition enough in Massachusetts to prevent 
the forcible attachment of any Massachusetts man — 
in this regard. ... I wish* I could describe my 
interview with Mrs. Brown. 'Tell my husband, I can 
spare him for the sake of the cause ! ' . . . 'I can 


resign him to God, sure that it is His hand that strikes 
the blow ! ' Every word she utters breathes the spirit 
of trust and resignation. When I bade her good-bye, 
the lips quivered, the voice trembled, and the tears 
flowed freely, but the words were firmly spoken and 
were worthy the wife of John Brown." 

Captain Brown had discouraged the visit of Mary, 
his wife, at this time, as, owing to the local anger 
and excitement, due in large degree to the successful 
defeat of the plan to try and execute on an " emer- 
gency " plea, there was really personal danger to all 
visitors, especially, he feared, of any of his family. It 
was the energy also of J. E. Cook's defense, as well as 
the personal feeling against him, that re-aroused at 
this time the bitter hostility and mob-feeling in the 
town and vicinage. " The shadow of an unconquer- 
able terror" still hung over the people. Evidence of 
the feeling was found in the exclusion of Lawyer 
Sennott from the jail at this time, and the wild, almost 
unappeasable fury which arose, over the arrival of a 
kindly Quaker lady from Eagleswood, New York, 
who, expecting to find Lydia Maria Child also at 
Charlestown, had come to aid in caring for the pris- 

Edwin Coppoc, defended by Messrs. Griswold, 
Green, and Hoyt, was soon disposed of, having been 
put on trial at the afternoon session of November 1st, 
and convicted late on the 2nd inst. Brown was 
brought in and sentenced on that day. Hunter's 
" latter-day pamphlet," stated that he was not sen- 
tenced till the appeal on the writ of error was decided 
adversely, November 1 6 1 1 1 . Shields Green and John 
A. Copeland were placed on trial November 3d, and 



convicted the next day, and sentenced to be hung on 
the same day as Coppoc, December 16th. Mr. 
Sennott fought vigorously for these men, and went 
the length of justifying them in their resistance to 
the enslavement of their race. The State Attorney, 
Hunter, was almost ferocious in his philippics against 
Shields Green, whose boldly careless bearing had 
aroused all the brutal malignity that slave ownership 
and race prejudice necessarily produced. Cook's 
trial began immediately after, and was hotly con- 
tested until its close on the 9th, when at nine in the 
evening the jury brought in a verdict of guilty on the 
same charges that Brown was convicted upon. The 
trial was remarkable on the part of the defense for 
its ingenuity and ability. Cook's brother-in-law, 
Lieutenant-Governor Willard, led the array of coun- 
sel. Besides himself, from Indiana were other two 
lawyers, Daniel W. Voorhees being most prominent. 
Botts and Green were also retained. The debates 
were " very keen," and sometimes "very severe." 
Hunter " vigorously repelled these attacks, and some- 
times turned them to his own advantage." 

Just before this came, the visit of Judge Thomas 
Russell and his wife, of Boston, had excited a great 
fury. Mr. Hoyt in one of his letters to Le Barnes 
refers graphically to them, wondering how she 
managed to get away unhurt. He himself fell under 
greater suspicion because of leaving Charlestown 
with the Judge. Hunter, it is stated, would have 
arrested the lady, except for her sex, on a charge of 
" treason." Mrs. Spring was at first refused admis- 
sion to the jail, but Judge Parker interfered, took her 
himself to the jail, accompanied by a guard, and 


for her protection waited till the interview was closed. 
Captain Brown himself was greatly disturbed by 
these ill-timed, though well-meaning visits. Mr. 
Hoyt, on the 13th of November, writes to Mr. Le 
Barnes, from Baltimore: 

" Do not allow Mrs. Child to visit B. He does not wish it 
because the infuriated populace will have new suspicions 
aroused, and great excitement and injurious results are cer- 
tain. He is comfortable and has all his wants supplied kindly, 
and is not sick enough to be nursed. He don't want women 
there to weaken his heroic determination to maintain a firm 
and consistent composure. Keep Mrs. Child away at all 
hazards. Brown and his associates will certainly be lynched 
if she goes there. This ought to be shown Mr. Andrews and 
others, but let no public exhibition be made." 

One of the curious incidents in the legal proceed- 
ings, which at the time and since has escaped notice, 
was reserved from trial by the State authorities until 
early in February, i860. Up to that date Stevens was 
retained, it was understood, as a Federal prisoner 
under indictment by a Federal Grand Jury, sitting 
for the Western District of Virginia, in the County 
jail at Charlestovvn. No record is at hand as how 
this was brought about, nor, by what process he was 
transferred to the State for a judicial slaying. The 
object, however, is self-evident. Andrew Hunter gave 
it away in writing in 1887, that Governor Wise and 
himself came to the conclusion "that this Brown raid 
was the beginning of a great conflict between the 
North and the South, and had better be regarded ac- 
cordingly," and he adds significantly, that " it was 
not alone for the protection of the jail and the repel- 
ling" of rescuing parties who were " not," in spite of 


his declarations otherwise, organizing for the " rescu- 
ing of Brown and the prisoners, but it was for the pur- 
pose of preparing for coming events." Part of that prep- 
aration was to involve the Federal government favor- 
ably to the South, hence the Federal indictment 
against Stevens, the sending of troops to Harper's 
Ferry as a posse eo/nitatus, the proposed making by 
Federal court and United States Senate Committee 
of drag-nets, into which to bring all sorts of promi- 
nent personages in the North, and the deliberate 
threat made by Wise of invading Northern States in 
" alleged " emergencies, existing mainly in his " mind's 
eye," coupled with a demand that the general govern- 
ment act with Virginia against other neighboring 
States upon these frantic declarations of an envenomed 
Governor. In tracing the "roads" leading from 
Harper's Ferry as well as to it, it is seen most clearly 
that in the evolutionary providence of events the 
wrath of the slaveholders was made to serve the cause 
of Union and Freedom. The common sense of the 
North soon perceived the truth; that while there was 
a great sentiment and a growing force of reason acting 
steadily against the aggressive spirit and acts of 
slavery, that also there never was any inclination 
amounting to serious danger, of a desire to put the 
institution down by force. The right or wrong of 
such a situation need not be debated. It is essential 
here and only to understand the situation. There 
never was at any time from 1840 till John Brown's 
pendent shadow clouded the December sunshine, 
more than one hundred men who had any positive or 
direct knowledge and affiliation at any one time with 
John Brown's plans and purposes. At the time of the 


raid there certainly were less than that number 
in all, counting in every delegate who sat in the 
Convention at Chatham, Canada West, May 10, 1859. 
it was the South which made of the raid a conspiracy 
against the Union ! John Brown's action was indeed 
startling. Nobody denies that. Dealt with accord- 
ing to the accepted legalities, it would have failed of 
the aims its commander had in view. But Virginia 
fanned it into a greater success, because moral and 
righteous in character, than could have resulted from 
even its partial trial as a test of conflict. John 
Brown saw the possibility of this when he laid a 
wounded captive under Wise's examination. How 
aptly then could the young and now eminent Ohio 
poet, himself nurtured with anti-slavery ideas and 
convictions, say as he did: — 

Perhaps in no better way can a more suggestive 
conception be given of the state of alarm in which 
the people of the Virginia Valley had lashed them- 


selves than by summarizing a few of the statements 
made by Mr. Andrew Hunter in the notable paper to 
which several references have already been made. It 
cannot be said to be unfair. The prisoners, when cap- 
tured, says Mr. Hunter, were to be, by railroad, sent 
to Charlestown from Harper's Ferry, via Winchester. 
Hunter told Governor Wise this would not do, as 
the militia company (Captain Rowan's), to be sent as 
a guard, " will massacre them before they reach the 
jail." He then advised Wise to go himself, accom- 
panied by a party of United States marines, taking 
the highway from Harper's Ferry for the trip. This 
was done, and Mr. Hunter, telling the story twenty- 
eight years 'after, cannot see the awful irony involved 
therein. The attorney says that he told John Brown 
that " anything he wanted, consistent with his con- 
dition as a prisoner, he should have"; yet he states 
that he himself retained (in the name of the State, of 
course) some, at least, of the money which friendly 
persons were sending the prisoner in letters from the 
North. All letters to the prisoners, by " his " direc- 
tion, were placed by the postmaster, a United States 
officer, in the box of the State Prosecutor, not 
delivered at the jail, as was the postmaster's duty. 
It was, of course, within the power of the State, after 
the letters were delivered to the jail, actually or con- 
structively to examine and read the same. Hunter 
retained those that he pleased, " between seventy 
and eighty in all," he stated. Many letters contained 
small sums, generally one-dollar gold pieces. He 
seems to believe it was generous to allow these small 
amounts to reach the condemned men, while retain- 
ing others of larger value. There was a letter from 


a Mrs. Russell, of Boston, mentioned as sent to 
Governor Wise by Mr. Hoyt, which evidently never 
reached John Brown. In the matter of the arms and 
other property, some of it wholly personal, which had 
been captured by Virginia, it would seem, in the face 
of all the evidence obtainable, that every State officer 
but Hunter was willing that the barbarous State law 
which sequestrated the property of convicted per- 
sons, and which had long been practically unen- 
forced, should remain in that status, so far as John 
Brown was concerned. Hunter led the Captain to 
believe, even to drafting for him a second will, on 
the day of his execution, that he might dispose of his 
property as he wished; none of it, however, seems to 
have got out of Virginia, that the State's Attorney 
could trace. Mr. Sennott, a Boston Democrat, in 
defending the colored prisoners, spoke of slavery as 
" illogical and absurd," and was, as a result, for a 
time, denied admission to his clients within the jail. 
Among the strangest of half confessions which let in 
unconsciously the light upon the character it illumi- 
nated is one resulting from Hunter's quoting approv- 
ingly, twenty-eight years after date, from a New Haven 
Doughface paper, which hopefully suggested that if 
"any other party * ever ' invades the territory of 
Virginia . . . they may be caught and, without 
judge or jury, burned alive in a fire made of green 
faggots." Funny, to quote this, for both the " respect- 
able " Connecticut paper and the old Virginia lawyer, 
in the light of the vast invasions that came so soon 
upon the kibes of John Brown's execution. Funnier 
still, however, is the attorney's recollections of the 
projected invasions and rescue plots which did not 


materialize, and which yet, even as late as 1887, this 
venerable " survival " actually believed had an exist- 
ence. Hunter " chuckled " almost audibly in his 
New Orleans article over the " adroitness " with 
which he imagines he met these men in buckram. 
He sustains his claims by telling of an alleged fire at 
a neighbor's house, which local papers afterwards 
said, so the despatches state, was the result of a 
smoky chimney, and by describing how he and his 
son Henry (the unblushing butcher of the unarmed 
prisoner, William Thompson) heard a great clamor 
on the road adjoining their house, and, seizing the 
Sharpe's rifles " conveyed " to them from Brown's 
stores, went out, to find some drunken men from 
Harper's Ferry riding wildly by. It would be cruel 
to repeat these senile reminiscences, but for the fact 
that the incidents were first used in aid of breeding 
civil war, and were later repeated to justify it and to 
show the " chivalry and courage " of a slave-rearing 
oligarchy. By means, as he alleges, of Brown's " in- 
tercepted " correspondence, and other sources, such 
as the paid detective, it is presumed, who falsely 
reported, for example, being with John Brown, Jr., 
at Oberlin, while plotting a rescue of his father. Mr. 
Brown did not leave the county of Jefferson, and 
seldom his home at Dorset there, for many months. 
All the plots he was connected with were simply as a 
defense against attempts, by kidnapping, to carry 
him to Virginia, or, later, to make him appear as a 
witness before the Harper's Ferry United States 
Senate Committee. When Owen Brown and Barclay 
Coppoc found refuge on the Western Reserve, the 
best people joined in a movement to warn them and 


to prevent efforts to get hold of them without due 
process of law, as was done in Pennsylvania in both 
Cook's and Hazlett's cases. The same was true in 
Iowa, to which Barclay Coppoc went later, and in 
Boston, with relation to the effort to secure F. B. 
Sanborn as a witness at Washington. All the rest, 
so far as Hunter's story of John Brown's "rescue 
plots " are concerned, is mere sensation. It is true, 
probably, that many letters were sent to John Brown, 
expressing a wish for his release, by force or other- 
wise; and it is certain, also, that huge jokes were 
perpetrated at the expense of Virginia's frightened 
officials. James Redpath and myself were respon- 
sible for filling one credulous detective, who called on 
us in Boston, having a forged letter of introduction, 
with a most exciting yarn of our scheme to get John 
Brown out of jail. It was so Munchausen in style 
that we hardly dared to hope for its being retailed. 
But it was, and Hunter sent for 500 more troops at 
once, while Wise appealed solemnly to the President, 
Mr. Buchanan, for aid. Hunter tells (1887), as sober 
truth, a lot of stuff about men " drilling " in Hunting- 
ton County, Penn.; about an organization at Oberlin 
and Bellaire, Ohio, which involved the seizure of 
trains in Ohio; also of an alleged movement from 
Kentucky, of all places in the world, and under 
charge of a man named " Day from Missouri." This, 
probably, had some blundering reference to Dr. Doy, 
of Kansas, who had been stolen by force from Kansas 
and imprisoned in jail at St. Joseph, Mo., from which 
he was afterwards rescued. Dr. Doy was lecturing 
on his adventures, in Michigan or Massachusetts, 
and, being apt to talk with a loose mouth, doubtless 


filled another of Wise's detectives with a mare's nest. 
The only direct tale Hunter reported in 1887 related 
to information received by him from Pennsylvania. 
It had, however, nothing to do with John Brown, for 
he had been executed two months before. Hunter 
was warned of " rescue " movements designed on behalf 
of Stevens a?id Hazlett, the last two victims. This 
incident will be told in its proper place, and cor- 
rectly, too, as the writer was an active organizer 
thereof. Now, as a matter of fact, and this is said 
with the fullest possible knowledge, the most serious 
attention was paid, and immediately, too, to the 
desire, nay, demand, of Captain John Brown that no 
such attempt should be thought of or prepared for. 
Stevens and Hazlett also made the same declaration, 
and, like John Brown, said that even if any prospects 
of success could be shown, the result could not be 
achieved without the slaying of Captain Avis, the 
jailer, and to that none of them would agree. All 
three assumed that they would be most useful to the 
cause they loved as sacrifices. 

Governor Wise, under date of November 25, stated 
to the President, that " a conspiracy, of formidable 
extent in means and numbers (was) formed in Ohio, 
Pennsylvania, New York, and other States, to rescue 
John Brown and his associates," was a simple absurd- 
ity. The barn and hayrick fires, few probably in 
number, were made by the negroes, naturally aroused 
and cognizant of events about them. Governor Wise 
says that he has 1,000 men under arms, "and, if 
necessary, shall call out the whole available force of 
the State." He declared that " places in Maryland, 
Ohio, and Pennsylvania have been occupied as depots 


and rendezvous by (these) desperadoes, unobstructed 
by guards, or otherwise intend to invade " Virginia, 
and he then proceeds to declare, that while his " pur- 
pose is peaceful," that " if another invasion " occurs, 
he " will pursue the invaders wherever they may go, 
into any territory, and punish them wherever arms 
can reach them." The President was called upon to 
"take steps to preserve peace betivcc?i tJic States." The 
words " between the States " and " Confederate," as 
political terms, seem to be extensively introduced by 
Wise at this time. A copy of this rodomontade was 
sent to the executives of Maryland, Ohio, and Penn- 
sylvania. Mr. Buchanan replied on the 28th of Nov- 
ember to Wise, reminding him that he " did not com- 
municate the facts " on which his charges " are 
founded." He could not conceive of such "atrocious 
wickedness," and expressed the conviction that Vir- 
ginia was "abundantly able and willing to carry her 
own laws into execution." To protect United States 
property and to act as a posse comilatus to the United 
States marshal for western Virginia, who still held 
Stevens in custody, "charged with the crime of 
high treason against the United States," ' Mr. Bu- 
chanan announces that two companies of artillery have 
been ordered "to proceed immediately from Fortress 
Monroe to Harper's Ferry." Mr. Buchanan, in further 
reply to the Virginian's demand to " take steps to 
preserve peace between the States," proceeds to lay 

1 No other of the raiders was proceeded against by the Federal 
authorities. Stevens, then, was the only man indicted for treason 
against the United States. He was held until early in 1S60, and 
then tried by the Slate of Virginia as a conspirator and homicide. 



down that doctrine of imbecility upon which he acted 
when " the States " went into " rebellion " and pre- 
pared for the real " invasion " of other States, on a 
large scale. It was the duty, he said, of the several 
States themselves to prevent such invasions as Wise 
feared, and that if " the Federal executive, however, 
were to enter these States and perform this duty for 
them, it would be a manifest usurpation of their 
rights. Were I thus to act, it would be a palpable 
invasion of State sovereignty, and, as a precedent, 
might prove highly dangerous." 

Mr. Lincoln would certainly have found it a bar 
to earlier Union preparations. Governor Wise may 
have brought himself into the frenzy of fright 
which his preparations indicate his being in, but 
a more reasonable hypothesis, based at least upon 
his acknowledged possession of considerable ability, 
and the certainty that he had quite correctly gauged 
the inside facts as to the extent and character of the 
support John Brown had received, is found in the con- 
ception that a plot against the Union was in process 
of realization. The same purpose that gave the most 
vigorous direction to the pro-slavery attacks on 
Kansas, was enlarging the opportunity in Virginia. 
Memory is often at fault, but sometimes even its senil- 
ity may serve to clinch a condition. Reference has 
already been made to Andrew Hunter's late-in-the- 
day defense of Virginian justice in connection with 
John Brown and his men. The Hunter paper of 
September 5, 1887, gives as reason for not sparing the 
lives of the raiders, "that in the coming war they 
would be found to the South ugly customers, and," 
he writes, " I have no doubt that if Brown, particu- 


larly, had survived the result of this raid the most 
dangerous military leaders would have been found in 
him and some of his associates." 

The replies of Governors Hicks/Maryland ; Packer, 
Pennsylvania ; and Chase, Ohio, to the terrified 
" squeal " of Governor Wise, are characteristic. The 
Marylander will " cooperate " ; the Pennsylvanian 
says that Wise's statement as to that State will "be 
found, in the sequel, utterly and entirely without 
foundation," and that in " all circumstances " Penn- 
sylvania will see " that her honor is fully vindicated." 
Governor Salmon P. Chase, like Governor Packer, 
resented the tone of the Wise letter, and notified 
him that, while "unlawful combinations" against 
Virginia or any other State would be broken up, the 
State of Ohio would " not consent, however, to the 
invasion of her territory by armed bodies from other 
States, even for the pursuing and arresting of fugi- 
tives from justice." John Brown's action placed large 
issues in the scales. Governor Wise and his fellow 
conspirators on behalf of the " war between the 
States" worked the "Invasion" issue for all it was 
worth for their aims — in the South, while their im- 
potent demands on States to so act upon the personal 
showing of Wise, " that their confederate duty " be 
performed, had just a contrary effect on the States 
that were addressed. Even Maryland was held to her 
fealty when the time came and Governor Hicks aided. 

Events moved forward to the taking of life on the 
second and sixteenth days of December. Albert 
Hazlett, under the name of " William Harrison," 
was, early in November, brought from Carlisle, 
Pennsylvania, having been sent to execution in Vif- 

3 88 


ginia by a United States Commissioner, upon evidence 
that certainly did not fully identify him with the 
Harper's Ferry raid. Application for his extradition 
as Albert Hazlett was made; his identity as such 
was not shown even before the Court that con- 
demned him to death; only one witness actually testi- 
fying to his presence at the Ferry, and he was shaken 
by Mr. Sennott's cross-examination. Of course, no 
moral doubt of his connection ever existed ; but it 
remains true that the legal evidence was imperfect. 
For this reason, Captain Brown always refused to 
recognize Hazlett as one of his men, and wrote of 
him to " Aunt Fanny " (Mrs. Mary A. Gage) the 2d of 
November, as being among those reported as killed. 
The tally of the raiders was now complete. Five had 
been tried and convicted, and were now awaiting exe- 
cution ; two were in prison as yet untried; five had 
escaped, and were known to be in safety, and ten 
had been slain. Seventeen other men, colored, also 
fighting on the side of liberty, have been reported 
killed in the Harper's Ferry struggle. The North 
was arousing, the South was on fire; while the prison- 
ers, all of them, inspired by the calmness and courage 
of their leader, awaited death in simple and manly 
fashion. That fact, no record blackens, and no advo- 
cate can deny. John Brown's correspondence went 
forth ; each letter as it was published, became as a 
winged fire in the testimony it bore. This is not the 
time nor place to reproduce them. The days moved 
onward with austere tread. The calm man in the 
prison cell steadily replies to his correspondents. On 
the 1st of December, Mary, his wife, came, surrounded 
by an armed guard, and compelled to leave the 


friends, Messrs. Miller McKim and Hector Tyndale, 
who had escorted her from Philadelphia, behind at 
Harper's Ferry. One of them was afterwards Briga- 
dier-General Tyndale, of the Union Army, and com- 
manded for a time the Union forces in the upper 
valley, with headquarters at Harper's Ferry. 

The narrative of Andrew Hunter of the execution 
of John Brown (see New Orleans Times-Democrat, 
Sept. 5, 1887) may be accepted as generally accurate. 
Its cool and cynical recognition of the prisoner's for- 
titude and courage is in itself a tribute worthy of 
more enduring preservation than a newspaper file. 
He says: 

" On the morning of the 2d of December, a messenger from 
Brown came to me to my office in Charlestown, saying that 
Captain Brown wanted to see me at the jail. Though extremely 
busy making arrangements for the execution that day, I 
dropped everything and went at once to the jail. There, to my 
surprise, I learned from Brown that he wanted me to draw his 
will. He had been previously advised by me, that as to any 
real estate he had, the disposition of it would be governed by 
the laws of the State where it was situated, as to which, of 
course, I could not advise him, but as to any personal property 
he possessed, he could dispose of it here in Virginia. He ac- 
cordingly asked me to draw his will. I said to him, 'Captain, 
you wield a ready pen, take it, and I will dictate to you such a 
testament as to this personal property in Virginia as will hold 
good. It will be what is called a '* holographic will " ; being 
written and signed by yourself, it will need no witnesses.' He 
replied, ' Yes, but I am so busy now answering my correspond- 
ence of yesterday, and this being the day of my execution, I 
haven't time and will be obliged if you will write it.' There- 
upon, I sat down with pen and ink to draw the will, and did 
draw it according to his dictation. After the body of the will 
had been drawn, he made suggestions which led to drawing 


the codicil. It was drawn as he suggested it, and both the 
will and the codicil are attested by John Avis and myself, and 
was probated in Jefferson County. 1 This all occurred a short 

1 The first will was a holographic one, made by John Brown 
and prepared the day before. It reads like him: 

Charlestown, Jefferson County. Va., Dec. i, 1859. 

I give to my son John Brown, Jr., my surveyor's compass and 
other surveyor's articles, if found; also, my old granite monument, 
now at North Elba, N. Y., to receive upon its two sides a further 
inscription, as I will hereafter direct; said stone monument, how- 
ever, to remain at North Elba so long as any of my children and 
my wife may remain there as residents. . 

I give to my son John Brown, Jr., my silver watch, with my 
name engraved on the inner case. 

I give to my son Owen Brown my double spring opera-glass, 
and my rifle-gun (if found), presented to me at Worcester, Mass. 
It is globe-sighted and new. I give, also, to the same son $50 in 
cash, to be paid him from the proceeds of my wife's estate, in con- 
sideration of his terrible suffering in Kansas and his crippled con- 
dition from his childhood. 

I give to my son Salmon Brown $50 in cash, to be paid to him 
from my father's estate, as an offset to the first two cases above 

I give to my daughter Ruth Thompson my large old Bible, con- 
taining the family record. 

I give to each of my sons, and to each of my daughters, my 
son-in-law, Henry Thompson, and to each of my daughters-in- 
law, as good a copy of the Bible as can be purchased at some book- 
store in New York or Boston, at a cost of $5 each in cash, to be 
paid out of the proceeds of my father's estate. 

I give to each of my grandchildren that may be living when my 
father's estate is settled, as good a copy of the Bible as can be 
purchased (as above) at a cost of $3 each. 

I desire to have $50 each paid out of the final proceeds of my 
father's estate to the following named persons, to wit : To Allen 
Hammond, Esq., of Rockville, Tolland County, Conn., or to 
George Kellogg, Esq., former agent to the New England Company 


time before the officers came to take Brown out to execution. 
As evidence of his coolness and firmness, while I was drawing 
the will he was answering letters with a cool and steady hand. 
I saw no signs of tremor or giving away in him at all. He 
wrote his letters, each one of which was handed to me before 
it went out, while I was drawing the will, so as to get done by 

at that place, for the use and benefit of that company. Also $50 
to Silas Havens, formerly of Lewisburg, Summit County, Ohio, if 
he can be found. Also, $50 to a man of Stark County, Ohio, at 
Canton, who sued my father in his lifetime, through Judge Hum- 
phrey and Mr. Upson, of Akron, to be paid by J. R. Brown to the 
man in person, if he can be found ; his name I cannot remember. 
My father made a compromise with the man by taking our house 
and lot at Munroeville. I desire that any remaining balance that 
may become due from my father's estate may be paid in equal 
amounis to my wife and to each of my children, and to the widows 
of Watson and Oliver Brown, by my brother. 

John Avis, Witness. John Brown. 

To this document he added the following " codicil" next morn- 
ing early, and as will be seen, mailed to his wife. 

Charlestown, Jefferson County, Va., Dec. 2, 1859. 

It is my desire that my- wife have all my personal property not 
previously disposed of by me ; and the entire use of all my landed 
property during her natural life ; and that, after her death, the 
proceeds of such land be equally divided between all my then liv- 
ing children ; and that what would be a child's share be given to 
the children of each of my two sons who fell at Harper's Ferry ; 
and that a child's share be divided among the children of my now 
living children who may die before their mother (my present be- 
loved wife). No formal will can be of use when my expressed 
wishes are made known to my dutiful and beloved family. 

John Brown. 

My Dear Wife — I have time to enclose the within and the 
above, which I forgot yesterday, and to bid you another farewell. 
" Be of good cheer," and God Almighty bless, save, comfort, 
guide, and keep you to the end. 

Your affectionate husband, John Brown. 


the time the officers came to take him out. When they finally 
came to take him he grasped me by the hand and thanked me 
in the warmest terms for the kindness I had shown to him from 
the beginning down to that time. 

" I left the jail about ten o'clock and stood at the corner 
above the jail until the procession went out. The military was 
drawn up, he was received out of the jail into a spring wagon, 
and the procession moved around the corner of the jail and out 
George street to the field. I saw everything from beginning to 
end of that morning's operations, and preceded the procession 
by a few minutes in getting out to the field. That whole 
story about his kissing a negro child as he went out of the jail 
is utterly and absolutely false from beginning to end. There 
is not a word of truth in it. Nothing of the kind occurred — 
nothing of the sort could have occurred. He was surrounded 
by soldiers, and no negro could get access to him. 

" I had a party, called my suite, of some fifteen or twenty on 
that day, and David H. Strother ("Porte Crayon," of Harper 's 
Weekly) was among the number. We were standing near the 
scaffold, or immediately under it, when the drop fell. When 
Brown was led forward and placed on the drop, and Campbell, 
the sheriff, and Avis, the jailer, had stepped back, I distinctly 
heard him say in a plaintive tone, ' I hope they will not keep 
me standing here any longer than necessary.' Immediately 
upon hearing which, the signal was given to cut the rope that 
supported the drop, which was done, and that ended John 
Brown's career. I did not hear him say ' be quick,' as men- 
tioned by Captain Avis, though I have no doubt it occurred as 
he has narrated it. At the time the order was given to cut 
the rope, the military had not completed their dispositions 
around the scaffold., but I promptly determined that Brown, 
according to his wish, should not be kept longer in this state 
of painful suspense. Though very close to Brown (we had 
gotten there to see how he bore himself) we could see nothing 
of tremor ; his hands were clinched, and he was as cool and as 
firm as any human being I ever saw under such circumstances. 

" While the body was hanging, Strother slipped up, raised 


the cap from his face and took a sketch of him hanging. He 
said that the celebrated Maria Lydia Child had published that 
she wanted to have a portrait or likeness of Brown in every 
condition of life to hang in her room, and that he had taken 
this sketch to send her, that ' she might have him, too, when 
he was finished.' If he sent it, she has the best portrait of 
Brown ever taken. 

"After Brown had hung some eight or ten minutes the 
doctors began to go upon the scaffold, Dr. Mason, the jail 
physician, first. He examined the body and pronounced him 
dead. Some ten or fifteen other physicians then went up, 
examined the body and concurred that he was dead. The 
body was then cut down, placed in the coffin box prepared for 
it, and returned to the jail. It remained there until toward the 
close of the afternoon, when it was sent to the depot and 
transmitted to his wife and friends at Harper's Ferry to be 
carried North." 

The will drawn by Mr. Hunter is as follows; 

I, John Brown, a prisoner in the prison of Charlestown, Jef- 
ferson County, Va., do hereby make and ordain this as my own 
true last will and testament. I will and direct that all my 
property, being personal property, which is scattered about in 
the States of Virginia and Maryland, should be carefully 
gathered up by my executor, hereinafter appointed, and dis- 
posed of to the best advantage, and the proceeds thereof paid 
over to my beloved wife, Mary A. Brown. 

Many of these articles are not of a warlike character, and I 
trust as to such, and all other property that I may be entitled 
to, that my rights and the rights of my family may be re- 

And lastly, I hereby appoint Sheriff James W. Campbell, 
executor of this, my true last will, hereby revoking all others. 

Witness my hand and seal this 2d clay of December, 1859. 

John Browx. [seal.] 

Signed, sealed, and declared to be the true last will of John 


Brown, in our presence, who attested the same at his request, 
in his presence, and in the presence of each other. 

John Avis. 

Andrew Hunter. 

Codicil — I wish my friends, James W. Campbell, sheriff, and 
John Avis, jailer, as a return for their kindness, each to have a 
Sharpe's rifle of those belonging to me, or, if no rifle can be 
had, then each a pistol. 

Witness my hand and seal this second day of December, 1859. 

John Brown. [seal.] 

Signed, sealed, and declared to be a codicil to the last will and 
testament of John Brown, in our presence, who attested the 
same at his request, in his presence, and in the presence of each 
other. Andrew Hunter, 

John Avis. 

This will was written on a plain white quarter sheet of 
paper, with the usual faint blue lines, but with no side-rulings 
or other customary incidentals of a legal document. The seals 
were merely pen-scrawls inclosing a small circular space in 
which was placed the word "seal." The black ink in which 
the body of the paper was indited has turned brown with age, 
and the edges of the folds are much worn and tawny in color. 
Across the back of the main fold are these indorsements: 


John Brown's will and codicil. 1859, Dec. 19th. Will and 
codicil proved by the oaths of John Avis and Andrew Hunter, 
and ordered to be recorded. Teste : 

F. A. Moore, C. C. 

Recorded Will Book No. 16, page 143. 

This document is now in the City of Washington. 
It was " of record " for years at Charlestown, West 
Virginia, but when the county seat was removed to 
Shephardstown, temporary accommodations were 
rented. Having but a limited space at his disposal, 
the then clerk of the court exercised his own discre- 


tion in the premises, and threw out what he con- 
sidered to be " unnecessary and unclaimed " papers. 
Among the rest was this original will. It was 
promptly rescued by a prominent citizen, who recog- 
nized its historical value, and afterward by bequest 
it came into possession of relatives at the Federal 
City. It has been carefully examined, signatures 
authenticated, and the document was then photo- 
graphed. Copies of this fac-simile are in my posses- 
sion. Mr. Andrew Hunter testified before the Senate 
Committee on "The Harper's Ferry Invasion" in 
reply to a question of Jefferson Davis, that John 
Brown " sent for me to write his will." 

" Did you write it ? " was the next question. 

"Yes, sir," answered Mr. Hunter, "about an hour 
and a half before his execution.'" 

One of the correspondents of the New York Herald, 
a Mr. Gallagher, 1 cousin of the editor of The Democrat, 
a weekly published at Charlestown, was allowed about 
the jail during the last week of John Brown's im- 
prisonment. In order to see the last of the tragedy, 
Mr. Gallaher drove the undertaker's wagon in 
which a coffin was placed. On this John Brown and 
the undertaker were seated. The latter said : "Cap- 
tain Brown, you are in better spirits to-day than I." 

" I have good cause to be," was the quiet response. 

1 New Yoik Herald, Dec. 3, 1S59. Mr. Gallagher, who died at 
Washington in 1893, confirmed this account to me personally. He 
left behind him a number of interesting relics, among them being 
a copy of a paper containing a sermon of Henry Ward Beecher, 
sharply critical of John Brown. The latter covered the margins 
with tart replies. This document is doubtless in possession of the 
old reporter's son, who is employed, I believe, in the library of 
the United States Geological Survey. 


At the scaffold, while standing waiting Talliaferro's 
fussy maneuvers, using, according to Hunter, a 
" criminal " execution as a field for training men to 
thereafter seek the "execution" of the American 
Union. Sheriff Campbell said in a kind, low tone to 
his prisoner, " Are you not tired?" 

" Not tired," was the reply, " but don't let them 
make me wait longer than is absolutely necessary." 

Three thousand Virginian uniformed militia in- 
closed the scaffold, a hollow square. According to 
Mr. Hunter they were only trying to get into forma- 
tion when he gave the signal for the drop to fall. 
One Northern man, at least, saw the execution. 
Correspondent Olcott, of the New York Tribune, who, 
in order to be present, took another's place in the 
ranks of a cadet company from Richmond. Another 
young man was there with pallid, handsome face, and 
lithe well-moulded form, whose name has since be- 
come almost as widely infamous as that of the man 
whose death he then gloated over has become re- 
nowned. John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham 
Lincoln, served as a volunteer in the ranks of the 
Jefferson Guards. In all probability, too, a Kansas 
man — one of John Brown's men — was in the same 
file with him. Charles Lenhart, a printer, before 
mentioned in this volume, is known to have left his 
home in Kansas some time before, and there is good 
reason to believe that he went to Virginia, passing 
himself off as a pro-slavery Missourian. As he pos- 
sessed the sign, etc., of the secret Blue Lodge Society, 
and was thoroughly informed, Lenhart could have 
done this. Of course he told a good story of John 
Brown outrages, and then was enabled to obtain work 


at Charlestown, where lie remained till after the exe- 
cution of Cook on the 16th inst. They were close 
friends and comrades, and Lenhart desired to aid 
him, if possible. The printer died in the Union Army 
in 1862. For miles around the rugged-looking coun- 
try town, every road was crowded with scouts and 
pickets, so it would have been impossible for North- 
ern men, as Mr. Hunter asserted was the case, to have 
left the railroad before reaching Harper's Ferry, 
which was under strong guard of both Federal and 
State troops, while Maryland had troops on guard at 
approaching stations and towns, and crossed Loudon 
County for the purpose of being present at the exe- 
cution. Several cannon were drawn up and pointed 
at the scaffold, and not until the quivering form of 
the brave old man ceased its muscular action, did the 
shivering commonwealth recover even its bragga- 
docio. It had forgotten before in its wild terrors, to 
do that. William Jackson Armstrong (of California), 
writer and lecturer, standing years after on the small 
rounded knoll upon which the rude scaffold had 
stood, thus described the landscape : 

" The beauty of the earth, as on that fair, soft December noon 
it shone in on his sight over the Blue Ridge mists, might have 
unmanned, at the last moment, any man who had had lower 
than a martyr's purpose for his deed. But John Brown's was 
not an unfledged fancy, and his imagination had only lent it- 
self to human sentiments. He said to his jailer as he mounted 
this hill: 'This is a beautiful country. I have never noticed it 
before.' From the spot of the scaffold, on the ridge of a 
plowed field, the country clips away into a valley of superb 
picture — a sweep of wild fields, broken into vistas by ribs of 
mountain here and there pitched up through the soil and heat- 
ing fringes of forest. On the edge of this landscape, live miles 



away, glides the Shenandoah River, and around that lifts and 
sweeps the magnificent crescent of the Blue Ridge, closing the 
vision under thirty miles of eastern sky. That vision, beyond 
the gaudy military parade at his feet, caught at last John 
Brown's eye before he dropped from the scaffold." 

His last written words, penned in the jail-room as 
he was about to leave it for ever, were a prophecy. His 
last spoken words were those of calm and pleasant re- 
signation. The last writing was in chirography clear, 
firm, strong; in sentiment solemn, prescient, majestic: 
Charlestown, Va., 2d December, 1859. 

I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this 
guilty land: will never be purged away; but with Blood. I 
had as I now think vainly flattered myself that without very 
much bloodshed; it might be done. 

Truly could it be said and sung — 

Y#JUf >W^CX- 7 £.Co^a-0 £*X~- O-^- 9%X. yJi-UxJ:. frSLy 



Between the second and fifteenth of December there 
was little of interest in Virginia, at least. The people 
of Charlestown and vicinity managed, however, to 
keep up the abnormal excitement on which they had 
been feeding. At the North, the effects of John 
Brown's execution was not all pleasant to the gentle- 
men of Virginia who had made use of it as a means 
of training their cohorts for an attack on the United 
States itself in the near future. Some demonstra- 
tions may have been satisfactory to them, such, for 
example, as the breaking up by a Boston " mob in 
broadcloth " of a sympathy meeting in Tremont 
Temple. But, as a rule, the rising tide of opinion 
expressed nothing but sympathetic opinion, not at 
the " raid " made by John Brown, but at the cruelty 
and cowardice the slaveholders had shown. The 
body of the Liberator had been carried in solemn sor- 
row from Harper's Ferry to North Elba and there 
laid beside the grand granite boulder, which now, 
in monumental letters, boldly chisseled, bears the 
words : 


" Marvelous old man !" said Wendell Phillips at the side of 
his grave. 1 " We have hardly said it when the loved form of 
his sons, in the bloom of young devotion, encircled him. We 
remember he is not alone, only the majestic center of a group. 
. . . How resolute each looked into the face of Virginia, 
how loyally each stood at his forlorn post, meeting death 
cheerfully, till that master-voice said, ' It is enough.' And 
these weeping children and widows so lifted up and conse- 
crated by long, single-hearted devotion to his great purpose, 

1 From speech delivered at the grave of John Brown, North 
Elba, December 8, 1S59. 


that we dare, even at this moment, to remind them how blessed 
they are in the privilege of thinking that in the last throbs of 
those brave, young hearts, . . . thoughts of them mingled 
with love to God and hope for the slave. He has abolished 
slavery in Virginia. You may think this is too much. Our 
neighbors are the last men we know. The hours that pass us 
are the ones we appreciate the least. . . . History will 
date Virginian Emancipation from Harper's Ferry. True, the 
slave is still there. So, when the tempest uproots a pine „ . c 
it looks green for months, — a year or two. John Brown has 
loosened the roots of the slave system; it only breathes, — it 
does not live, — hereafter. ... I feel honored to stand 
under such a roof. . . . Thank God for such a master. 
. . . What lessons shall these lips teach us ? . . „ His 
words, they are stronger even than his rifles. These crushed 
a State. Those have changed the thoughts of millions, and 
will yet crush slavery. . . . God make us all worthier of 
him whose dust we lay among these hills he loved. Here he 
girded himself and went forth to battle. Fuller success than 
his heart ever dreamed God granted him. He sleeps in the 
blessings of the crushed and the poor, and men believe more 
firmly in virtue, now that such a man has lived." 

A movement was made to secure a commutation of 
Edwin Coppoc's sentence. Governor Wise seems to 
have entered frankly into this, and it went so far that 
a committee of the State Legislature were in favor 
of making his sentence one of " imprisonment for 
life." Edwin's family were Quakers, and the great 
influence of that sect was brought to bear in his 
favor. It was, however, rejected by the Legislature. 
Wise could not, under the law, commute the sen- 
tences of any of the men convicted of treason, he 
was able, therefore, to shield himself behind the 
Legislature. At Charlestown, the relatives of Cook 
and Coppoc were permitted to see them. The latter's 


grandfather and uncle, from Salem, Ohio, and Cook's 
sister and husband, Mr. and Mrs. Willard, with Miss 
Hughes, a cousin, were prolonging their farewells. 
In the town was a Kansas man, Charles Lenhart, who 
under disguise, had secured a position where he was 
striving to be of service. On the night of the 14th of 
December, Lenhart was on guard and at the angle of 
the jail wall where, the next night, the spectacle of 
their heads above its edge created the alarm of a 
faithful pro-slavery sentinel. The attempt was not 
made on the 14th, because Mr. and Mrs. Willard were 
still in the town. They had bade their brother fare- 
well and were expected to leave so as to reach an 
evening train to the West, but at the last moment 
Mrs. Willard broke down and was obliged to remain 
till the next day. Knowledge of this compelled the 
two prisoners to postpone their attempt until the 
next night, when they failed. The Associated Press 
report states*. 

•'The sentinel stationed near the jail reported that at 8.15 
o'clock he observed a man on the jail wall. He challenged 
him, and, receiving no answer, fired at him. Another head 
was also seen above the wall, but it disappeared as soon as the 
first one had been fired at. The man on the top of the wall 
seemed at first determined to jump down, but the sentinel de- 
clared his intention of impaling him on his bayonet, and he 
then retreated into the jail-yard with Coppoc, and both gave 
themselves up without further resistance. Cook afterwards 
remarked that if he could have got over and throttled the 
guard, he would have made his escape. The Shenandoah 
Mountains are within ten minutes' run of the jail wall, and had 
he reached them, with his thorough knowledge of the moun- 
tains, his arrest would have been difficult — especially as but 
few of the military could have followed him during the night. 


They acknowledged that they had been at work a whole week 
In making the aperture in the wall. Their cell being on the 
first floor, the aperture was not more than five feet above the 
pavement of the yard, and when freed of their shackles their 
access to the yard was quite easy. Here, however, there was 
a smooth brick wall, about fifteen feet high, to scale. This diffi- 
culty was, however, soon overcome with the aid of the timbers 
of the scaffold on which Captain Brown was hung,, and which 
was intended also for their own execution. They placed these 
against the wall and soon succeeded in reaching the top, from 
which they could have easily dropped to the other side, had 
not the vigilance of the sentinel on duty so quickly checked 
their movements." 

The account written on the morning of the execu- 
tion by John E. Cook differs slightly from that of the 
Associated Press. It is as follows : 

" Having been called upon to make a fair statement in regard 
to the ways and means of our breaking jail, I have agreed to do 
so from a sense of duty to the sheriff of the county, our jailer, 
and the jail guard. We do not wish that any one should be 
unjustly censured on our account. The principal implements 
with which we opened a passage through the wall of the jail 
were a barlow knife and a screw which we took out of the 

" The knife was borrowed from one of the jail guards to cut 
a lemon with. We did not return it to him. He had no idea 
of any intention on our part to break out, neither did the 
sheriff, jailer, or any of the guard, have any knowledge of our 

" We received no aid from any person or persons whatever. 
We had, as we supposed, removed all the brick except the last 
tier, several days ago, but on the evening previous to our break- 
ing out, we found our mistake in regard to that matter. 

" We had intended to go out on the evening that my sister 
and brother-in-law were here, but I knew that it would reflect 


on them, and we postponed it — but I urged Coppoc to go and I 
would remain, but he refused. We then concluded to wait. 

" I got a knife blade from Shields Green, and with that made 
some teeth in the barlow knife, with which we sawed off our 
shackles. We had them all off the night previous to our getting 
out. Coppoc went out first and I followed. We then got up on 
the wall, when I was discovered and shot at. The guard out- 
side the wall immediately came up to the wall, 

" We saw there was no chance to escape, and as it was dis- 
covered that we had broken jail, we walked in deliberately 
and gave ourselves up to the sheriff, Captain Avis, and the 
jail guard. There was no person or persons who aided us in 
our escape. This is true, so help us God. 

John E. Cook 
Edwin Coppoc. 

The regular Press reports are drawn upon for an 
account of the excitement following the attempted 
escape and of the proceeding at the double execu- 
tions of the following day. 

"At daybreak this morning the reveille was sounded from 
the various barracks, announcing the dawn of the day of 
execution, and soon the whole community was astir. The 
weather was bright and beautiful, and much milder than for 
several preceding days. At nine o'clock the entire military 
force in attendance was formed on Main street, and the officers 
reported ready for duty at headquarters. Those companies 
detailed for field duty around the gallows immediately took up 
the line of march, and at 9.30 o'clock were in the positions 
assigned them in the field. Those companies detailed for 
escort duty took up their positions in front of the jail, awaiting 

"At 10.30 o'clock General Taliaferro, with his staff, number- 
ing about twenty-five officers, having given orders to prepare 
the two negro prisoners, Shields Green and John Copeland, for 
execution, took their departure to join the main body of the 
•troops on the field. The military then formed in a hollow 


around the jail, and an open wagon, containing the coffins of 
the prisoners, drew up in front, with a carriage to convey 
Sheriff Campbell and his deputies. The crowd of citizens and 
strangers was very great — at least five times as numerous as 
on the occasion of Brown's execution — most of whom were 
already on the field, while others wanted to see the prisoners 
come out." 

Religious services were performed in the prisoners' 
cell, and at a quarter to eleven their departure was 
made. According to the report, 

" Copeland and Green seemed downcast and wore none of 
that calm and cheerful spirit evinced by Brown under similar 
circumstances. They were helped into the wagon and took 
their seats on their coffins without scarcely looking to the right 
or left. . . . They mounted the scaffold with a firm step, 
and were immediately joined by Sheriff Campbell. . . . 

" Green died very easy, his neck being broken by the fall. 
The motion of his body was very slight. Copeland seemed 
to suffer very much, and his body writhed in violent contor- 
tions for several minutes. The bodies were placed in poplar 
coffins and carried back to jail. They will be interred to-mor- 
row on the spot where the gallows stands, but there is a party 
of medical students here from Winchester who will doubtless 
not allow them to remain there long." 

John Edwin Cook and Edwin Coppoc were caMed 
from their cells at half past twelve, the religious 
services having closed. The report says that- — 

" They were reserved and rather quiet. Cook gave direc- 
tions in regard to one or two articles : one, a breast-pin, he 
did not want taken off, then, nor at the scaffold. He wished 
it given to his wife, or to his boy if he lived. Within 
his shirt-bosom, on the left side, was a daguerreotype and 
lock of his son's hair, which he wished given to his wife. 
During these proceedings, Coppoc was struggling to keep 


down his emotion and Cook was striving to be calm. The 
Quaker gentleman remarked that 'it was hard to die,' to which 
Coppoc responded, ' It is the parting from friends, not the 
dread of death, that moves us.' On the way down stairs they 
were allowed to advance to the cell of Stevens and Hazlett, and 
bid them farewell. They shook hands cordially, and Cook 
said to Stevens, ' My friend, good-by.' Stevens said, ' Good 
by, cheer up ; give my love to my friends in the other world.' 
Coppoc also made a remark to Stevens, which was unheard by 
the crowd, but Stevens replied, ' Never mind.' Both then 
shook hands with Hazlett, and bade him ' good-by,' but did 
not call him by name. On emerging from jail, Cook recog- 
nized several gentlemen and bowed politely. 

" After the cap had been placed on their heads, Coppoc 
turned toward Cook, and stretched forth his hand as far as 
possible. At the same time Cook said, ' Stop a minute — where 
is Edwin's hand ? ' They then shook hands cordially, and Cook 
said, 'God bless you.' The calm and collected manner of 
both was very marked. On approaching the scaffold, Cook 
shook hands with a large number of persons, and bowed 
politely to Mayor Green. . . . They both exhibited the most 
unflinching firmness, saying nothing, with the exception of 
bidding farewell to the ministers and sheriff. After the rope 
was adjusted, Cook exclaimed, ' Be quick — as quick as pos- 
sible,' which was also repeated by Coppoc. After hanging for 
about half an hour, both bodies were taken down and placed 
in black walnut coffins, prepared for them. That of Cook was 
placed in a poplar box, labeled and directed as follows: ' Ash- 
bell P. Willard and Robert Crowley, No. 104 William street, 
New York, care of Adams's Express.' Coppoc's body was 
placed in a similar box, to be forwarded to his relatives in 
Salem, Ohio." 

From the 16th of December, 1859, until the 26. of 
February, i860, when Aaron D wight Stevens and 
Albert Hazlett were arraigned, little transpired at 
Charlestown of any moment. From a constant 


parade of from 1,000 to 3,000 armed militia (the first 
named force were, it seems, necessary to secure the 
peaceful execution of Green, Copeland, Cook and 
Coppoc, the latter number that of John Brown) the 
guard had diminished, first to two companies, and 
finally to one of about sixty men. Judge Parker 
being too reluctant to continue the task, another 
district judge, Mr. Kenny, took his place on the 
bench. Andrew Hunter represented the State; George 
Sennott, of Boston, with undiminished energy, de- 
fended the prisoners. Before the proceedings fairly 
begun, Mr. Sennott read a letter he had addressed to 
President Buchanan, with the reply thereto. 1 

1 To His Excellency James Buchanan, President of the United 

The undersigned respectfully invites the attention of the Presi- 
dent to the case of Aaron D. Stevens, whose counsel he is. 

Mr. Stevens was arrested in the armory grounds at Harper's 
Ferry, during the late disturbances there. He was committed for 
examination under the authority of the United States. After- 
wards, and before any such examination was made, he was indicted 
for treason and other capital offenses, in and against the Common- 
wealth of Virginia. He was forced to plead; but he was so dread- 
fully wounded as to be in a dying condition, and the humanity of 
the court would not urge his trial, which was indefinitely post- 

Contrary to expectations, however, he did not die of his five 
desperate and all but mortal wounds, and it was thought fit to try 
him. The people, who had shown little sympathy for the oilier 
prisoners, were deeply moved when this young man was brought 
in on a bed and laid on the courthouse floor. A jury was partly 
empaneled, and the undersigned, who had asked for delay without 
success, was present and ready to proceed wilh the trial. All at 
once, without any consultation with the defendant, proceedings 
Were suspended, and a dispatch, said to be from the Governor cf 


In his reply to a demand of Governor Wise, dated 
Nov. 25, 1859, for use of United States troops to pre- 

Virginia, recommending the defendant to be given up to the 
authorities of the United Slates, was read in open court. In this 
arrangement the defendant, being asked to do so by the counsel 
conducting the case for the Commonwealth, acquiesced, and con- 
sented to the suspending of the trial with the understanding that 
he was to be delivered into the custody of the United States, and 
to be tried in their courts. 

But now, from private advices and fron t-he public acts of the 
Legislature of Virginia, we learn that the Commonwealth is about 
to retract its own proposition, made to and accepted by Mr. 
Stevens in good faith on his part, and without any, the slightest 
shadow, of constraint upon the part of the Commonwealth, Mr. 
Stevens is to be again taken from the marshal's custody, and a 
special session of the Circuit Court of Jefferson County is pro- 
posed to try him, though the regular session comes on as early as 

Such, according to the best of his information and belief, being 
the facts, the undersigned, as it was his duty to do, respectfully 
inquires of the President what action, if any, the authorities of the 
United States have taken, or propose to take, in the case of Aaron 
D. Stevens. The forlorn and desperate condition of the man, and 
his uncomplaining fortitude, appeal for an answer to the well- 
known humanity of the President much more strongly than any 
claim which the undersigned imagines he has to be answered. 
The answer is plainly of the last importance to the defendant, and 
is awaited with great anxiety and respect by his counsel, the 
President's humble, obedient servant. Geo. Sennott. 

Washington, Dec. 16, 1S59. 
Dear Sir — I have received your favor of the 13th instant, and 
immediately telegraphed to Andrew Hunter, Esq., to ascertain 
whether Mr. Stevens had been actually delivered to the United 
Stales authorities according to the current report His answer, 
dated to-day, is as follows: ft Stevens has not been delivered to 
the authorities of the United Stales. Undecided as yet whether 
he will be tried here. He is still in the Charlestown jail." Yours 
very respectfully, James Buchanan. 


vent alleged "invasions" of the State of Virginia, 
from Pennsylvania and Ohio, Mr. Buchanan said that 

..." There is one measure which, on the presumption 
that your information is well founded, it is both my right and 
my duty to adopt: that is, to reinforce the guard already at 
Harper's Ferry." This is necessary, he wrote, to protect pub- 
lic property as well as to prevent " insurgents " from " seizing 
arms," and he adds, " Besides it is possible the additional 
troops may be required to act as posse comitatus on the requi- 
sition of the marshal of the United States for the western 
district of Virginia, to prevent the rescue of Stevens, now in 
his custody, charged with thecriine of high treason." 

When, however^ the question is that of Stevens's 
trial and execution by Virginia, the President who 
could send troops to keep him as a Federal prisoner, 
transmits his counsel the baldfaced acknowledg- 
ment of legal fraud in the form of a dispatch from 
the United States marshal to the effect, that " Stevens 
has not been delivered to the authorities of the United 
States:' A curious dilemma this to be impaled upon. 

Mr. Sennott moved for Stevens's discharge on the 
ground that the Commonwealth had offered a trial 
in the United States Court, and that the offer had 
been accepted. Hunter denied that such a proposi- 
tion had ever been made in court. Governor Wise 
had recommended it to be done, "in order to reach 
Brown's confederates." He withdrew that, however, 
on the appointment of the Mason Committee by the 
United States Senate. Harding, the inebriated and 
snubbed county attorney, took the occasion to say 
that Hunter had proposed the same thing as Governor 
Wise, and that he, Harding, did then and would have 
resisted in court the carrying out of any such con- 


tract. Sennott's motion was overruled and the trial 
proceeded rapidly to conviction and sentence. 1 

1 A copy of the first count of the indictment against Stevens is 
given below with a statement of the other two counts. It will be 
seen that the charges of treason and murder were abandoned in 
his case, as also in that of Albert Hazlett. They were presented 
" for advising" certain "slaves" to "rebel and make insurrec- 
tion," as per the first count here given, of " conspiring " to do the 
same thing in the other two. The quaint phraseology is of interest, 
and the historical significance of the document warrants the quot- 
ing of this count: 

Virginia, to wit: In the Circuit Court of Jefferson county, 
Thirteenth Judicial Circuit of Virginia, Jefferson county, to wit: 

First count — The Jurors of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in 
and for the body of the county of Jefferson, duly etnpanneled and 
attending upon said Court, upon their oaths present, that Aaron D. 
Stevens, being a free person, on the sixteenth and seventeenth 
days of the month of October, in the year eighteen hundred and 
fifty-nine, and on divers other days before and after that time, in 
the county of Jefferson and the Commonwealth of Virginia afore- 
said, and within the jurisdiction of that Court, not having the fear 
of God before his eyes, but moved and seduced by the instigations 
of the devil, did maliciously, willfully, and feloniously, advise cer- 
tain slaves of the county and Commonwealth aforesaid, to wit: 
slaves called Jim, Sam. Mason, and Catesby, the slaves of Lewis 
W. Washington, and slaves called Henry, Levi, Ben, Jerry, Phil, 
George, and Bill, the slaves of John H. Allstadt, and each of said 
slaves severally, to rebel and make insurrection against their said 
masters respectively, and against the authority of the constitution 
and laws of the said Commonwealth of Virginia, to the evil exam- 
ple of all others in like case offending against the form of the sta- 
tute in that case provided, and against the peace and dignity of 
the Commonwealth. 


Lewis W. Washington, Alexander Kelly, William D. Copeland, 
John McClelland, Jesse Grimes, Benjamin F. Beall, Lewis P. 
Stary, and George H. Furtney — witnesses sworn in open court 


It will be observed that the fact of " slaves " assist- 
ing the raiders is herein judicially and historically 
acknowledged. Virginian authorities at that time 
endeavored to minimize the sympathetic position 
of the enslaved people. Ten slaves are named as 
being "advised" with, but, in the third count, the 
indictment for conspiracy runs against those already 
named and divers other slaves to the jurors unknown, 
The trial of Albert Hazlett, as " William Harrison, 
alias Albert Hazlett " was opened on the 8th of Febru- 
ary. There was really, as before stated, but little direct 
proof of his connection with the Harper's Ferry raid. 
Except in the case of one witness, who identified Haz- 
lett as the raider by whom he was captured and treated 
well, even to risking himself to prevent injury to the 
prisoner, the chief testimony was of the flimziest cir- 
cumstantial character. Another point which told 
for identification was the fact that when captured, 
Albert Hazlett carried a Sharpe's rifle, pistol, and 
cartridge-belt and box. It is safe to say that had 
Hazlett's arrest occurred in Ohio, he would not have 
been surrendered to Virginia by that State, and upon 
the evidence offered. At a later date a test was given 
in the case of Francis J. Merriam, whose surrender 
was demanded. Governor Chase replied that no evi- 
dence was offered that Merriam had even been in Vir- 
ginia. He never had, except as a passenger on a rail- 

this first day of February, i860, to give evidence to the Grand Jury 
upon the bill of indictment. 

Robt. T. Brown, 
Clerk of the Circuit Court of Jefferson County. 
Robt. T. Brown, County Clerk. 


road train. Nor was there any proof of Hazlett's 
presence in Virginia submitted to the examining 
officer at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, showing that the 
arrested man had ever been in the State demanding 
his surrender. All this, however, passed for nothing. 
Virginia demanded her victim and got him. All the 
idle talk of Governor Wise's " merciful " desires, 
which were rife in the sad and tragic panorama, be- 
tween the 19th of October, 1859, and the 16th day of 
February, i860, are blown away like thistledown in 
the breeze, when the execution of Stevens and Haz- 
lett is recalled. It was a piece of pure savagery, de- 
manded only by the merciless voracity of slavehold- 
ing fury. Stevens or Hazlett never became parties 
to any appeals for mercy. They neither expected or 
asked it. Their able and energetic counsel, Mr, Sen- 
not, did all that he could; all that any lawyer might, 
but against the inexorable maw of public opinion, 
excited by dread of attack on "property" in human 
beings, and excited to fury by the exaggerations of 
political conspirators seeking to rend apart the 
Federal Union, nothing but death could be the out- 
come. And these young men, handsome, gallant, 
unflinching, and true in their manly fortitude, with 
" malice towards none and charity for all," went to 
the gallows on the 16th of March, i860, with a 
debonair courage befitting their years and a dignity 
of mien and manner that exalted the cause for which 
they, with the others, had so ungrudgingly lived and 

So John Brown and his men battered the citadel 
wall — a forlorn hope, which perished in the doing. 
Lo! the wall was rent in twain, revealing all the 


creeping, slimy horrors that oppression creates in the 
hearts and brains of the oppressors themselves! We 
learned, as never before, the truth of Lamartine's 
saying that man never fastens a chain around the 
heel of his fellow man, but what God fastens the 
other end around the neck of the oppressor ! 



John Brown, the farmer — His characteristics — The 
father and teacher — Business illustrates integrity — 
Leader of the slave — How he 'reasoned — /;/ prison 
and his cheerfulness — Religious philosophy — A mod- 
em Franklin — The North Elba home — How the 
family bore it — Oliver's and Watson* s wives. 

They held themselves "as the Lord's free people, 
to walk in all His ways made known, or to be made 
known to them, according to their best endeavors, 


This was a part of the covenant which Peter Brown, 
the carpenter, nearly two hundred and fifty years 
before his sixth descendant, John Brown, swung 
from a Virginian gallows for the "crime " of seeking 
to overthrow chattel slavery, signed in the cabin of 
the Mayflower, one December morning in the seven- 
teenth century. Oliver Wendell Holmes, in "Elsie 
Venner," writes of a man's brain and body as being 
an omnibus, filled with his ancestors. Surely, John 
Brown's Pilgrim progenitor drove the vehicle that 
rumbled to the scaffold at Charlestown, while the 
revolutionary grandfather must have served as its 
conductor. If a man ever obeyed the law of heredity, 


it was John Brown ! If a citizen ever made an apo- 
theosis of such loftier civic duties, as came to him, it 
was John Brown ! And all that led thereto was as 
but part of his daily life and hourly walk. To him it 
was not necessary to exalt the horn of righteousness; 
yet every note or blast thereof fell on ears attuned 
to understand. There is not in American historical 
literature more quaint, sincere materials from which 
to weave, as a living fabric, the life of an American 
and New England family — such a life as was con- 
stantly lived within the first six decades of this cen- 
tury, than can be found in the published letters, or 
mass of unpublished reminiscences and manuscripts 
still existing, written by John Brown, or by members 
of his family to him and to others. The homely 
details of a severe and Spartan life are, however, 
gilded therein by a frank simplicity of spirit. The 
animating forces of noble, redemptive subjectivity of 
soul, always active and informing, touches each seem- 
ingly severe detail into that clearness of outline 
which heat brings back to an incrusted and battered 
die or medallion. Every line glows, and the beauty 
of true endeavor burns from the inner life to the 
outer environment. It is not designed to give John 
Brown's letters and papers here — the important ones 
may be found in the Appendix — but enough may be 
quoted from himself, his " most familiar acquaint- 
ances — his family," as he once quaintly expressed it, 
and his immediate neighbors and friends, to show in 
truth what manner of man it was that American slavery 
thought fit to hang with such awesome pomp and 
fearsome ceremony. Hung as a lawbreaker, of course, 
and according to " law," but no defense of the great 


lawbreakers, from Moses to Washington, can be 
made that will not count John Brown as a saint 
among them all. Let us see, then, what manner of 
man he was, apart from the deeds that sent his soul 
" marching on." 

His boyhood and its conditions have been described 
in the Stearns autobiographical paper, and by his 
father, Owen Brown, in an autobiography which first 
saw the light in Mr. Sanborn's volume. 1 So, at twenty- 
four, of simple ways, 2 one of the neatest of men, and 
very particular as to personal cleanliness, he would 
never wear expensive clothing, however, for the reason 
that their cost was a useless waste of money which 
might be given to the poor. Often jocose and mirth- 
ful in speech he was hotly resentful to all vulgar 
words and profane talk. Helpful to his neighbors, 
and anxious to assist new settlers, but suspicious of 
those whose standards differed from his own. Active 
in favor of free schools, abstemious in food, never 
using tobacco or intoxicating liquor, which custom 
then made common and deemed no offense. He was 
masterful in disposition, but open to reason; dislik- 
ing to be accused of unfairness or harsh judgment, 
but argumentative, somewhat set and disputatious. 
He never, however, respected those who always agreed 
with hirm He knew the Bible thoroughly and could 
use it with more aptness of illustration than any of 
those about him — lay or clerical. Rigid and unbend- 
ing in his religious views, he was kind and friendly 

1 See " Life and Letters of John Brown." 

2 This characterization of earlier life and habits in Western 
Pennsylvania are condensed from a lengthy letter from W. C. Neff, 
of Bradford, Pa., written in the winter of 1859-60. 


in all his personal conduct and intercourse. In local 
affairs he was always an active organizer of good 
roads and free schools, a stern opponent of Sabbath- 
breaking, and a liberal supporter of the church he be- 
longed to; always foremost in good citizenship. He 
was then a Presbyterian — a better and more ready 
theologian, too, than most of the preachers known in 
those years. Anti-slavery to the core — as then under- 
stood; in politics he was a supporter of John Quincy 
Adams, and, therefore, a Northern Whig. He would 
not vote for Henry Clay, because he defended slavery 
and had fought a duel. He early refused to do mili- 
tary duty and paid a fine in preference. Becoming a 
Mason in his younger manhood, he soon abandoned 
the fraternity, and after the Morgan excitement be- 
came strongly anti-secret society in his views. In 
business affairs he was shrewd and energetic, but 
rigidly upright and honest, "no trader" said a later 
friend. He made good leather, and would not allow 
a single pound to leave the tanyard until there could 
by no means be any more water squeezed from it. 
His customers were often compelled to submit to 
return without their goods, as he would take no pay 
until the hides were completely dry. An excellent 
judge of timber — he owned five hundred acres of 
hemlock — and a good surveyor, he was in constant 
demand in timber lot purchases. Even then he was 
noted for terse, epigrammatic speech, and a quaint 
humor which was no respecter of persons. Having a 
public theological dispute with a Baptist clergyman, 
on the doctrine of predestination, in which John Brown 
was an earnest believer, he afterwards criticised his 
clerical opponent with considerable plainness of 


speech. The clergyman, who was one that magnified 
his office and exacted all the deference that in those 
days was generally tendered thereto, was quite in- 
dignant at the tanner's presumption, and called to 
ask if Brown had said that he, the minister, had not 
behaved in a gentlemanly manner? "I did say you 
were no gentleman. I said more than that, sir," was 
the slow response. 

"What did you say?" queried the indignant cleric. 

"I said, sir, it would take as many men like you to 
make a gentleman as it would take hens to make a 
cock turkey." 

The Baptist preacher felt compelled to give the 
Presbyterian farmer another chance to debate. The 
complaint made of the preceding discussion was that 
the clergyman talked too fast, overrode his slower 
antagonist, and agreed to no rules. In the second 
debate, twenty-four questions were propounded, a 
moderator chosen, and both sides kept down to strict 
time and methods. John Brown was considered suc- 
cessful on this occasion.. 

In the early 'thirties it was a common saying in 
Crawford County (Pa.), when speaking of a man who 
won the respect of the people, that he was as honest 
as John Brown and as good to his country; no higher 
praise could be given. 

It is told of him, by Mr. Neff, and the incident is 
one he vouched for, that a journeyman working in 
Brown's tanyard was suspected, and, after quiet in- 
vestigation, proven to be guilty of stealing a calfskin 
hide. Orders were issued to say nothing. After 
some time, however, the brother of the delinquent 
was known to have offered the stolen goods for sale, 


John Brown called the two men into his barn and 
there told them of his knowledge, convicting the thief 
so clearly, that he confessed. John Brown's punish- 
ment was to tell him to go to work again, be honest 
in all his actions, and nothing should ever be said of 
it. He charged his household with silence. The 
young man became foreman in the tanyard and the 
early fact was unknown until years after he told it 
himself to the honor of his benefactor. Incidents of 
charity are many, extended alike to those whom he 
held under suspicion. To a debtor whom he had 
relieved in distress, and who was unable, at the time 
set, to discharge the debt of thirty dollars, he said: 
" Return home and take care of your family and let 
me hear no more of this debt. It is part of my relig- 
ion to assist those in distress and comfort those who 

A man stole a cow and John Brown was among the 
more active in bringing him to trial and punishment, 
yet all through the following winter the tanner trav- 
eled regularly through the heavy snow to furnish the 
imprisoned man's family with sufficient supplies for 
their needs. 

He was never interested in hunting or fishing, 
though active in other athletic sports, being an ex- 
cellent wrestler and a fair horseman. He loved good 
stock ; sheep, cattle, and horses. After tie moved to 
Ohio he bred fine horses, two of them becoming 
noted racers. This pursuit, however, he abandoned, 
because of the doubtful associations of racing and 
horse-trading. He was not a graceful rider, but 
knew how to manage a horse and could not be easily 
thrown. He loved the land and all work upon the 


soil, once congratulating his sons, John, Jason, and 
Frederick, on following the " pursuit of the patri- 
archs." He loved the mountains, and was "enam- 
oured of all out-o'-doors." Music delighted him, 
and he felt the strains of Schubert as well as the 
spur of martial playing. Just before his death, his 
old friend, Mr. Lowry, of Pennsylvania (afterwards 
a Representative in Congress), was permitted to see 
him. While conversing in his cell, the strains of a 
military band were heard, Governor Wise being en- 
gaged in reviewing the garrison. The Captain was 
asked if it did not disturb him. " Not at all," was the 
reply, "it is inspiring." His favorite hymn was 
"Blow ye the Trumpet, Blow." "He sung us to 
sleep by it," wrote one of his daughters, "when we 
were little ones." The Psalms of David and the 
Prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah, with the poetic 
grandeur of Job, fed with their splendid fervor his 
own winged imagination. The night with its planetary 
display, was a constant study and delight. His fail- 
ure, in 1842, was due to buying land in that way, and 
though legally relieved by bankruptcy proceedings 
from his liabilities, he was seeking always to the day 
of his death to meet the obligations then incurred. 
In his will he directed §50 to be paid on that account. 
While unable to fall in successfully as a merchant 
with the conditions of competitive traffic, every one 
with whom he came in contact during his thirty-five 
years of such activities testifies to his integrity and 
uprightness. It has taken the latter-day politicians, 
who benefited by his struggles for free Kansas, to 
suggest a want of veracity in speech and honesty 
in purpose. Even the New England editor who ad- 

420 . JOHN BROWN. 

duced as proof of insanity the statement that if John 
Brown as a wool merchant believed a thing was 
right, he would wreck all his affairs in the effort to 
do the same, declared that, at the banks John 
Brown's word was as good as another man's note. 
An old associate, Mr. Baldwin, of Ohio, who had busi- 
ness and personal relations with him for years, wrote 
of him as a " man of rigid integrity." George Leach, 
another of his earlier friends, declared he was 
" strictly conscientious and honest, but of ardent im- 
pulses and strong religious feelings." Mr. Otis, of 
Akron, Ohio, wrote in 1859 that "I always regarded 
him (John Brown) as a man of more than ordinary 
mental capacity, a kind neighbor, a good Christian, 
deeply imbued with religious feelings and sympa- 
thies. ... I never knew his integrity to be 
questioned by any one." A former chief-justice of 
Massachusetts, Judge Rufus Chapman, was Brown's 
counsel at Springfield, and his characterization of his 
famous client is a good one: He was "a quiet and 
peaceable citizen and a religious man," whose "in- 
tegrity was never doubted; honorable in all his deal- 
ings," he was "peculiar" and possessed of "great 
obstinacy." Mr. E. C. Leonard, who knew him well 
in the Springfield wool-dealing years (1847 et at), 
says that " Uncle John was no trader; he waited until 
his wools were graded and then fixed a price; if this 
suited the manufacturers, they took the fleeces; if 
not, they bought elsewhere, and Uncle John had to 
submit finally to a much lower price than he could 
have got. Yet he was a scrupulously honest and up- 
right man — hard and inflexible, but everybody had 
just what belonged to them." There is no need of 


inquiring further why John Brown was not a suc- 
cessful "trader." He emphasized in business, it 
seems, what he advised his daughter Ruth when a 
young girl, that is, " to be all that to-day, which she 
intends to be to-morrow." In his connection with 
the litigation, which arose over this wool business, a 
gentleman connected with the New York law firm 
(Vernon near Utica) that served as his counsel said that 
his " memory and acuteness often astonished " them. 
He was then 54 years of age, " a clean-shaven, scrupu- 
lously neat, well-dressed old gentleman." Is it any 
wonder, then, that John Brown could write to his son 
John, that " It is a source of the utmost comfort to 
feel that I retain a warm place in the sympathies, 
affections, and confidence of my own most familiar 
acquaintances, my family j a man can hardly get into 
difficulties too big to be surmounted if he has a firm 
foothold at home. Remember that." 

Indeed, John Brown had strange conceptions of 
business and was not in harmony with its more 
ordinary precepts. All his troubles, he said, arose 
from trying to do business on credit. In 1847, ne 
wrote that " to get a little property together to leave, 
. . . is really a low mark to be firing at through 
life. . . . Running into debt includes so much 
evil," he declares, " that I hope my children will shun 
it as they would a pestilence. . . . Regular out- 
of-doors labor I believe to be one of the best medi- 
cines of all that God has yet provided, ... A 
world of pleasure and success," he writes John, " is 
the sure and constant attendant upon early rising. 
It makes all the business of the day go off with pecu- 
liar cheerfulness, while the effects of the contrary 


course are a great and constant draft upon one's 

" On our first visit to the Adirondack^," writes 
Ruth, ''Father wanted us to notice how fragrant the 
air was, filled with the perfume of the spruce, hem- 
locks, and balsams. Soon after we had settled there, 
he one day called us together and asked if he should 
spend a little money he had to spare in furnishing 
the parlor, or spend it in paying for clothing for the 
colored people, who may need help in North Elba 
another year. We all said (the older ones present), 
' Save the money.' " Once, when asked by Ruth to 
write a long letter of " good advice," he wrote a short 
one, saying, " Would you believe that the long story 
would be that ye sin not, that you form no foolish 
attachments, and that you be not a companion of 
fools." Another time he writes, that "God is carry- 
ing out His eternal purpose in them all." And he 
hopes to his sons, " that entire leanness of soul may 
not attend any little success in business." His letters 
are full of aphorisms like these: "Who can tell or 
comprehend the vast results for good or evil that are 
to follow the saying of one little word." " Every- 
thing worthy of being done at all is worthy of being 
done in good earnest, and in the best possible man- 
ner." . . . Of the little house at Elba, on taking 
possession, he remarked, " It is very small, but 
the main thing is, that we all keep good natured." 
Writing his wife from Springfield, he declares that 
" It is my growing resolution to promote my own 
happiness by doing what I can to render those about 
me happier." Mingling husbandry with faith, he says, 
"Sheep and cattle are doing well; and I would be 


most happy to add that in wisdom and good morals 
we are all improving." Of his first visit (1840) to the 
Virginia Alleghanies, in the interest of Oberlin Col- 
lege, Ohio, has already been mentioned. He wrote 
his wife from Ripley, that "Were the inhabitants as 
resolute and industrious as the Northern people, and 
did they understand how to manage as well, they 
would become rich, but they are not generally so. 
. . . By comparing them with the people of other 
parts of the country, I can see new and abundant 
proofs that knowledge is power. I think we might 
be very useful to them on many accounts, were we so 

How vividly and forceful comes his words as the 
period of probation shortens and the days of action 
begin. From Kansas he writes, in 1856, that " We 
have, like David of old, had our dwellings with the 
serpents of the rocks and wild beasts of the wilder- 
ness, being obliged to hide away from our enemies. 
We were not disheartened, though nearly destitute of 
food, clothing, and money. God, who has not given 
over to the will of our enemies, but has moreover 
delivered them into our hands, will, we humbly trust, 
still keep and deliver us. We feel assured that He, 
who sees not as men see, does not lay the guilt of 
innocent blood to our charge." To his wife, after 
the Osawatomie fight, he says : " I was struck by a 
partly spent grape, canister, or rifle shot, which 
bruised me some, but did not injure me seriously. 
Hitherto the Lord has helped me, notwithstanding 
my afflictions." He saw the issues plainly, writing 
home that " The slaveholders are neither disheartened 
as yet, nor indifferent, nor inactive. . . . They 


are gathering assurance and determination. They 
see the magnitude of the issue; ... a prominent 
Missourian declared that, to prevent Kansas from 
becoming a free State, Missouri should pour half her 
population ' temporarily, at least,' into the Territory. 
. . . We are in the midst of a revolution, as you 
will see by the papers. How we shall come out of 
the furnace, God only knows. That we have got to 
enter it, some of us, there is no doubt; but we are 
ready to be offered." 

After the second sacking of Lawrence, Kansas, in 
May, 1856, Captain Brown's comment was, that 
" Their leading men had (as I think) decided in a 
very cowardly manner not to resist any process hav- 
ing any government official to serve it." Before the 
Massachusetts Legislature, on the 18th of February, 
1857, he remarked tersely, "We want men who fear 
God too much to fear anything human." To Mr. 
Stearns, and other gentlemen met at Medford, Mass., 
he declared, " I believe in the Golden Rule, sir, and 
the Declaration of Independence. I think they both 
mean the same thing; and it is better that a whole 
generation should pass off the face of the earth — 
men, women, and children — by a violent death than 
that one jot of either should fail in this country. I 
mean exactly so, sir." 

He was emphatic when occasion arose, in saying, 
"Do not allow any one to say I acted from revenge. 
It is a feeling that does not enter my heart. What I 
do, I do for the cause of human liberty, and because 
I regard it as necessary." To William A. Phillips, in 
Kansas, when the colonel pointed out danger in a 
conflict with the United States troops, the stern and 


uncompromising old man replied: "And why not? 
The people of Kansas are doing nothing here but 
what they have a right to do as American citizens. 
If the regular army interferes, they have no right to 
do it. It is the act of a blackguard, whoever does it; 
and if a blackguard, doing a blackguard's business, 
should happen to desecrate the United States livery, 
we cannot help it. It is our duty to protect our 
rights." Some mention being made of farcial judicial 
proceedings, common to early Kansas history, Cap- 
tain Brown grimly said to Mr. Stearns that " If the 
Lord had delivered Judge Lecompte into my hands, 
I think it would have required the Lord to have 
taken him out again." When first invited to call at 
Medford on "his business," it being Sunday, defer- 
ence was paid to his views. But, on being asked, he 
said, " Mr. Stearns, I have a poor little ewe that has 
fallen into the ditch, and I think the Sabbath is as 
good a day as any to help her out. I will come." 
There was a grim directness in his suggestion to the 
National Kansas Aid Committee, in February, 1857: 
" Gentlemen, we had rather have one rifle without 
contingencies than two hundred with them." 

John Brown thought " a standing army the greatest 
curse to a country, because it drained off the best of 
the young men and left farming and the industrial 
arts to be managed by inferior men." " Give a slave 
a pike, and you make him a man. . . . Deprive 
him of the means of resistance, and you keep him 
down." To colored men organized to resist arrest as 
fugitive slaves, he advised that they "Do not delay 
one moment after you are ready; you will lose all 
your resolution, if you do. . . . No jury can be 


found in the Northern States that would convict a 
man for defending his rights to the last extremity. 
. . . Your plans must be known only to yourself, 
and with the understanding that all traitors must 
die, wherever caught and proven to be guilty. . . . 
Collect quietly, so as to outnumber the adversaries 
who are taking an active part against you; make 
clear work of all such, and be sure you meddle not 
with any other. . . . Stand by one another and 
by your friends while a drop of blood remains, and 
be hanged, if you must, but tell no tales out of 
school; make no confessions" And he required them 
to pledge that " We will ever be true to the flag of 
our beloved country, always acting under it." He 
told Mr. Sanborn, early in their friendship, that he 
"had much considered the matter, and had about 
concluded that the forcible separation of the connec- 
tion between master and slave was necessary to fit 
the blacks for self-government. . . . When the 
slaves stand like men, the nation will respect them; 
it is necessary to teach them this." " Negroes behaved 
so much like folks, he almost thought they were so." 
" A few men in the right, and knowing that they are 
right, can overturn a mighty king. Fifty men, 
twenty men, in the Alleghenies would break slavery 
to pieces in two years. . . . The mountains and 
swamps of the South were intended by God as a 
refuge for the slave, and a defense against his 
master. . . . Slavery, being maintained by force 
must be overthrown by force." To Judge Russell, of 
Boston, he said, " It would be better that a whole 
generation should perish from the earth than that 
one truth in the Sermon on the Mount or the 


Declaration of Independence should be forgotten 
among men." Also, when it was reported that an 
attempt might be made to arrest him, he said, very 
quietly, to Mrs. Russell, "I should hate to spoil your 
carpets, but, you know, I cannot be taken alive." In 
his eyes, as he declared " the slaves were prisoners of 
war"; their masters had taken them by force, that is 
by " the sword, and must perish by it." " Tell General 
Lane " — during the Kansas days in 1856 — " that when 
he wants me to fight, to say so; that is the only order 
I will obey." Writing on " The Duty of the Soldier," 
he declared that the test of " Legitimate Authority is 
right, and to maintain that authority soldiers are not 
required to be mere living machines." When it 
was suggested that he should fight the fellows who 
killed Frederick, as long as he lived, Captain Brown 
replied, " That is not a Christian spirit. If I had 
one bit of that spirit I would not lift my hand. I do 
not make war on slaveholders, but on slavery." In 
conversation with James Redpath, after the Black 
Jack fight, he said, " It's a mistake, sir, that our people 
make when they think that bullies are our best 
fighters. Give me men of good principles, God- 
fearing men, men who respect themselves, and with 
a dozen of them I will oppose any hundred such men 
as these Buford ruffians." To Henry Clay Pate, com- 
manding the border ruffians, who was trying to parley 
with John Brown, the reply was : " Captain, I under- 
stand exactly what you are, and do not want to hear 
more about it. Have you any proposition to make 
tome?" "Well, no; that is—" " Very well, Cap- 
tain, I have one to make to you — your unconditional 


His courage is shown when he writes: " Things 
now look more favorable than they have, but I may 
still be disappointed. We must all try to trust in 
Him who is very gracious and full of compassion as 
almighty power; for those that do will not be made 
ashamed." His practical view was shown when he 
wrote to a New England friend: " I was told that the 
newspapers in a certain city were dressed in mourn- 
ing on hearing that I was killed and scalped in Kansas, 
but I did not know of it until I reached the place. 
Much good it did me. In the same place I met a 
more cool reception than in any other place w T here I 
have stopped. If my friends will hold up my hands, 
while I live, I will freely absolve them from any 
expense over me when I am dead." 

In a letter from Brown to his men, written on the 
18th of May, 1858, he advises them to keep up their 
courage, seek out farms, and say they were traveling, 
got out of money, etc., wanted work, offer to do it 
for board, and thus save in that way, and adds: " I 
and three others were in exactly such a fix in the 
spring of 181 7, between the seaside and Ohio, in a 
time of extreme scarcity, not only of money, but of 
the greatest distress for want of provisions. . . . 
It was the next year after the * cold summer,' as it 
was called, and would you believe it, some of the 
company are on their legs yet." 

This bit of cheerful philosophy will bear quoting: 
" I have often passed under the rod of Him whom I 
call my Father; and certainly no son ever needed it 
oftener; and yet I have enjoyed much of life, as I 
was enabled to discover the secret of this somewhat 
early. It has been in making the prosperity and 


happiness of others my own; so that really I had a 
good deal of prosperity. I am very prosperous still." 
John Brown, while certainly not without a due 
sense of his possible place in history, had no vanity 
to favor. Mrs. Stearns was very anxious to have a 
cast or drawing made from which the sculptor 
Brackett could work. He told the artist over and 
over again, "Its nonsense! All nonsense! Better give 
the money to the poor. It is of no consequence to 
posterity how I looked. Give the money to the 
poor." He only yielded when convinced that his 
doing would be a pleasure to Mrs. Stearns. He wrote 
Mrs. Child not to come to Charlestown, but if she 
wished to be of real aid, to start a fund, asking fifty 
cents from each for the benefit of his wife and children. 
In the movement made in 1857 to pay $1,000 for the 
North Elba homestead, in order to make his wife 
secure, he wrote Frank B. Sanborn that, if attempted 
the amount should be promptly raised ; adding — 
" This, I think, much the cheapest and most proper way 
to provide for them (his family), and far less humilia- 
ting to my wife, who, though not above getting her 
bread over the washtub, will never tell her trials or 
wants to the world. This I know by the experiences 
of the past two years, while I was absent; but I would 
never utter a word in regard to it were I not con- 
scious that I am performing that service which is 
equally the duty of millions, who need not forego a 
single hearty meal by the efforts they are called on 
to make." He was not unmindful of what he regarded 
as due to his name in all these matters, as is shown. 
by his removal of the Torrington, Conn., gravestone 
to North Elba, and the inscriptions placed thereon. 


In a letter dated Hudson, Ohio, May, 1857, he writes 
his wife: 

" If I should never return, it is my particular request that 
no other monument be used to keep me in remembrance than 
the same plain old one that records the death of my grand- 
father and son ; and that short story, like those already on it, 
be told of John Brown the fifth, under that of grandfather. 
. . . I would be glad that my posterity should not only 
remember their parentage, but also the cause they labored in." 

When Governor Henry A. Wise, in his last visit to 
Charlestown, warned him to prepare for eternity, 
John Brown replied: "Governor, I have from all 
appearances not more than fifteen or twenty years 
the start of you in that eternity of which you kindly 
warn me; and whether my term here shall be fifteen 
months, or fifteen days, or fifteen hours, I am equally 
prepared to go. There is an eternity behind, and an 
eternity before, and the little spec in the center, how- 
ever long, is but comparatively a minute. You all 
(referring to slaveholders) have all of you a heavy 
responsibility, and it behooves you to prepare more 
than it does me." 

John Brown repudiated the ministrations of all the 
local clergymen, whenever they showed a desire to 
defend chattelism. To one who declared he would 
not fight for or aid in freeing the slaves, the stern 
Puritan said: " I will thank you to leave me alone; 
your prayers would be an abomination to my God." 
A preacher who argued that slavery was a " Chris- 
tian institution " was told that he knew nothing 
about Christianity; " you," he said, " will have to learn 
its A, B, C; I find you quite ignorant of what the 
word Christianity means." Seeing that his visitor 


was disconcerted, John Brown added, " I respect you 
as a gentleman, of course, but it is as a heathen 
gentleman." " There are no ministers of Christ 
here," he wrote. " These ministers, who profess to 
be Christians, and hold slaves, or advocate slavery, I 
cannot abide them." In a letter found by Mrs. 
Brown after his death, he wrote: "I have asked to be 
spared from having any mock or hypocritical prayers 
made over me when I am publicly murdered;" and 
to Mrs. Spring he said during her prison visit: "I do 
not believe I shall deny my Lord and Master, Jesus 
Christ, as I should if I denied my principles against 
slavery. Why, I preach against it all the time; Cap- 
tain Avis knows I do;" referring to the kindly 
humored jailer who was present He told another 
Methodist that he " would not insult God by bowing 
down in prayer with any one who had the blood of 
the slave on his skirts," 

In a letter to the Rev. H. L. Vail, his old school- 
master, dated during the middle of November, he 
said: "You will not, therefore, feel surprised when 
I tell you I am joyful in all my tribulations ; that I 
do not feel condemned of Him whose judgment is 
just, nor of my own conscience. . . . As to both 
the time and manner of my death — I have but very 
little trouble on that score, and am able to be of 
good cheer." To his excellent friend, Judge Russell, 
of Boston, he declared: "I have no kind of fault to 
find about the manner of my death. The disgrace of 
hanging does not trouble me in the least. In fact, I 
know that the very errors by which my scheme was 
marred were decreed before the world was made." 
His cousin, the Rev. Luther Humphrey, was told 


that — " The fact, that a man dies under the hand of 
an executioner (or otherwise) has but little to do 
with his true character, as I suppose. ... I 
should be sixty years old were I to live to May 9, 
i860. I have enjoyed much of life as it is, and have 
been remarkably prosperous; having early learned to 
regard the welfare and prosperity of others as my 
own. I have never, since I can remember, required a 
great amount of sleep; so that I conclude that I have 
already fully enjoyed an average number of working 
hours with those who reach their threescore years 
and ten. I have not yet been driven to the use of 
glasses, but can see to read and write quite comfort- 
ably. But more than that, I have generally enjoyed 1 
remarkably good health. I might go on to recount 
unnumbered and unmerited blessings, among which 
would be some very severe afflictions, — and those the 
most needed blessings of all. And now, when I think 
how easily I might be left to spoil all I have done or 
suffered in the cause of freedom, I hardly dare wish 
another voyage, even if I had the opportunity." 

He considered himself, he declared, " worth incon- 
ceivably more to be hung in this cause," than to be 
used in any other way. He could wait the hour 
. . . with great composure of mind and cheerful- 
ness. In no other possible manner could he be used 
to so much advantage to the cause of God and 
humanity. . . . "I expect nothing but to endure 
hardship, but I expect to achieve a great victory, 
even though it be like the last victory of Samson." 
In a last letter to Mr. Vail, he wrote, " The Captain 
of my salvation, who is also a Captain of liberty, has 
taken away my sword of steel, and put into my hands 


a sword of Spirit"; — and that, " As I believe most 
firmly that God reigns, I cannot believe that any- 
thing that I have done, suffered, or may yet suffer, 
will be lost to the cause of God or humanity. And 
before I begun my work at Harper's Ferry, I felt as- 
sured that in the worst event it would certainly pay." 
Henry Ward Beecher preached in Plymouth Church 
on Sunday morning, October 30th, 1859, twelve days 
after the attack begun on Harper's Ferry, from Jere- 
miah vi: 12-19, using the text as a basis for a remark- 
able sermon on John Brown, his movement, and 
character. This sermon was widely published and 
commented on, more or less caustically all over the 
land. It did not suit the grim old covenanter when 
it reached through the pages of a spiritualist weekly, 
The Telegraph. Captain Brown wrote a series of run- 
ning comments on the margin, and this paper passed 
into the possession (with certificates of its genuine- 
ness from Captain Avis, A. D. Stevens, and Sheriff 
Campbell) of W. W. B. Gallaher, one of XhzNew York 
Herald's correspondents, 1 who was serving also as a 

1 " Charlestown, Dec. 10, '59. 
" I hereby certify that W. W. B. Gallaher sent to Captain John 
Brown a copy of some newspaper with a request that he would 
give his opinion of a sermon therein published of the Rev. H. 
Ward Beecher; that Captain Brown did make comments upon the 
same, in his own handwriting upon the margin, and other blank 
places of said paper. 

" I also certify that I heard Captain Brown deny that his com- 
ments were correctly printed in the New York Herald. 

'* I also certify that the certificate of A. D. Stevens was signed 
in my presence. 

[Test] J. W. Gallaher, Jail Guard. 

John Avis, Jailer. 


"Jail Guard." Mr. Beecher's opening references to 
the attack and characterization of John Brown him- 
self, is quietly sat upon by the latter with the remark 
that it is "mere rhetoric," and Mr. Beecher is "not 
well posted." To the references to Kansas and the 
Federal treatment of the free state men there, as 
compared with President Buchanan's eager display 
of troops against John Brown, the latter's marginal 
note with an admiration point, is "Truth!" but to 
the remark that he (Brown) "received his impulse" 
from Kansas, the quiet comment is, " He does not 
understand his subject." When Mr. Beecher begins 
to deal in causistry, and says that for the negro "reas- 
onable liberty is required, possessed with the consent 
of the master," and that freedom sometimes "is a 
mischief," while vague insurrection speech is a great 
and cruel wrong to them " — the slaves, — John Brown 
appreciates the point involved in the latter remark, 
but adds "it is not strictly true." The right way to 
deal with "the African," said Mr. Beecher, is to 
"begin at home" — make him fit for freedom. On 
that " I am willing to be weighed in an even balance 
on this score," commented Captain Brown, as indeed 
he might well be, but added — " His remark is, how- 
ever, true." When Mr. Beecher commented sharply 
on the inconsistent treatment of the negro in the 

" Charlestown Jail, Dec. 10, 1859. 
" I hereby certify that Captain Brown wrote, with his own hand, 
comments upon H. W. Beecher's sermon published in the Spirit- 
ual Telegraph. 

A. D. Stevens, W. B. Gallaher, Witness. 
Copied in my presence, read, and found correct. 

Thos. Featherstonhaugh." 


North, with its comments on slavery in the South, 
John Brown underscored the passage and wrote 
marginally that, " these are truthful remarks, but 
were never applicable to my case. God is my witness 
on this point." Beecher said the "air must be made 
vital with love of liberty," and the Captain under- 
scored "Truth! very well," three times, and then 
added, " my own practice has been correct in this 
matter." When the Plymouth preacher suggests that 
"the shot that struck his child, crazed the father's 
brain." John Brown wrote he "is mistaken in the 
individual." Captain Brown wrote "Good" on the 
margin, after underscoring the words that follow: 
"Let no man pray that John Brown be spared! Let 
Virginia make him a martyr! Now, he has only 
blundered. His soul was noble; his work miserable. 
But a cord and a gibbet would redeem all that, and 
wind up Brown's failure with a heroic success." The 
sentences next marked do not meet with as hearty an 
approval. The preacher declares " that men who 
tamper with slaves and incite them are not themselves 
to be trusted . . . conspirators, the world over, are 
bad men" . . . wouldn't trust "such men with 
money " nor " place any confidence in them " — they 
must crafty and "unreliable." Such a statement, 
wrote Captain Brown, is "an utterly false assumption 
as applied to this case. . . . It is a boastful and 
false insinuation" if directed "tome." When Mr. 
Beecher declared that he would help the fugitive 
who came to his door, Brown waxed sarcastic and 
wrote, a " very brave man " this ; " must be a very good 
man, too; glad to know it." To a remark of Beecher's 
that "breeding discontent is not good for the slaves 


themselves," — Captain Brown savagely indites — 
" Another vile assumption," and underscores the re- 
mark. When Beecher talked against " insurrection," 
Brown writes, "I never counseled it." "The right of 
a people to revolt in order to achieve liberty," said 
Beecher, must ''conform" in "its use" "to reason 
and to the benefits" to be achieved. Captain Brown 
notes this as a "false assumption," but marks as 
"Truth " the further remark, that " a man who leads 
a people has no right to incite that people to rise, 
unless there is a reasonable prospect that they will 
conquer." To the optimism of Beecher, which said: 
There is "a nobler spirit" rising; a "fearless asser- 
tion of truth " to the South, and a declaration to them 
that we "love you; we hate your slavery"; Captain 
Brown writes, "so say I !" To a remark on Paul's 
direction to servants and masters, Brown writes — 
" Why don't Beecher come South to preach ? " When 
the preacher said, that the establishment of " a few 
virtues" among the slaves, "houshold love," "per- 
sonal chastity," "the right of parents to their 
children," would revolutionize the moral conditions 
of "both masters and slaves"; John Brown wrote — 
" This is true, but is there any progress making in 
this direction?" There follows a number of eloquent 
sentences on this subject, to which John Brown's 
comments give pungency. " Let the champion come 
here to preach ! " " Good, if spoken here ! " " How 
can he stay away?" When Mr. Beecher, referring 
to the slave mart, said — "It is no use to preach a 
gospel without protection to the family," Brown 
cynically remarks, " Come on, Beecher." To a series of 
other sentences in relation to practice and principles, 


Brown wrote that they " were truth and error inter- 
mingled "; that they were also "sophistical," and in 
the nature of " a plea in avoidance." " No relief," said 
Beecher, " could come from inciting or organizing " 
slaves "to run away " or " abscond," and Brown sar- 
castically writes, " a great man may be mistaken — 
he's very wise, indeed." To the Plymouth orator's 
declaration that — " Emancipation, when it comes, 
will come either by revolution or by a change of pub- 
lic opinion in the whole community," Brown under- 
scored the whole sentence and writes, " Truth ! " and 
when the great preacher closed with the hope — " that 
bondsmen may become free, that the ignorant may 
become wise, that the master and slave may respect 
each other, so that at length we may bean evangelized 
and Christian people! May God in His own way and 
time speed the Day ! " — John Brown heavily under- 
scored the words, and added: "Amen ! So says old 
Brown; Amen ! " 

John Brown was not a dreamer, nor an enthusiast; 
nor was he visionary or fanatical. That he miscalcu- 
lated his forces is doubtless true, from the limited or 
immediate point of view. But who will deny that he 
was a man of clear mentality and spiritual insight, 
when we recall with what distinct and non-personal 
sagacity he built, from his own errors of command, a 
strategy of peaceful victory, which laid bare the 
weakness of his enemy and made marvelously clear 
the lucidity of purpose and the idealistic rarefication 
of atmosphere in which he breathed. He was never 
a schemer, but yet he manifested intellectual craft, 
while always simple in aim and action. He was an 
idealist with a human intent. As Henry O. Thoreau 


said, he would have " left a Greek accent slanting 
the wrong way and slanted up a falling man." He 
probably never thought of the cynical saying, that 
" no man is a hero with his valet," because he dreamed 
not of being a hero and never would have accepted a 
Valet. If his simplicity of action made him the vic- 
tim of inadequate means, the grandeur of his pur- 
pose served him to a loftier realization. In the first 
family letter, he wrote after defeat, he expressed this 
when he wrote: 

" Under all these terrible calamities, I feel quite 
cheerful in the assurance that God reigns, and will 
overrule all for His glory and the best possible good. 
I feel no consciousness of guilt in this matter, and I 
feel perfectly assured that very soon no member of 
my family will feel any possible disposition to blush 
on my account." 

And this was written after describing the death of 
Oliver, the mortal wounding and subsequent death 
of Watson, the massacre of William Thompson, the 
slight wounding on the first day and the killing of 
Dauphin, his young brother, on the second, while he 
himself became a prisoner, saber cuts on his head and 
bayonet wounds in his body. He could tell his wife 
and children to " never forget the poor, nor think 
anything you may bestow on them to be lost to you," 
and ask them, after being sentenced to death, " not to 
grieve on my account"; adding, 4 ' I am still quite 
cheerful, God bless you ! " Nor was he seeking to 
blame any one but himself for apparent failure: " It 
is solely my own fault . . . that we met with 
disaster ... I mean, that I mingled with our 
prisoners and so far sympathized with them and 


their families, that I neglected my duty in other 
respects." In an appeal to Mrs. Child and others to 
aid in raising funds for the wives and children made 
widowed and fatherless at North Elba, his object was 
to secure means to "supply themselves and children 
with bread and very plain clothing, and to enable all 
the children to receive a common English education." 
He pleaded with his wife Mary not to come on to 
Virginia, because it would use up the little money 
she had, and because there was but little more of the 
romantic in helping poor widows than there is about 
trying to relieve the poor negroes. Indeed, he believed 
that more generous sympathy would flow out to 
them all by their staying at home. " There is," he 
wrote, " no night so dark as to have hindered the 
coming day, nor any storm so furious or dreadful as 
to prevent the return of warm sunshine and a cloud- 
less sky." " God will surely attend," he declared, 
" to His own cause in the best possible way and time, 
and He will not forget the work of His own hand." 
"Jesus of Nazareth suffered a most excruciating 
death on the cross as a felon," he tells his wife, 
" under the most aggravating circumstances. Think, 
also, of the prophets, and apostles, and Christians of 
former days, who went through greater tribulations 
than you or I, and try to be reconciled. May God 
Almighty comfort all your hearts and soon wipe 
away all tears from your eyes ! To Him be endless 
praise ! Think, too, of the crushed millions who 
have no comforter. I charge you all to never, in 
your trials, to forget the griefs 'of the poor who cry, 
and of those who have none to help them.' ' And 
that last letter to iiis household at North Elba, how 


full of faith and sincerity of devotion; with what 
simpleness in wants and singleness of purpose does 
he advise with his children. The courage is unfalter- 
ing; indeed, it is something more than courage, for 
it practically takes no account of death, only as such 
result may affect others. No wonder that his young 
men murmured not; that his wife and children 
accepted unflinchingly ! 

Charlestown Prison, Jefferson County, Va., 
November 30, 1859. 

My Dear Beloved Wife, Sons, and Daughters, 
Every One — As I now begin probably what is the last letter 
I shall ever write to any of you, I conclude to write to all at 
the same time. I will mention some little matters particularly 
applicable to little property concerns in another place. 

I recently received a letter from my wife, from near Phila- 
delphia, dated November 22, by which it would seem that she 
was about giving up the idea of seeing me again. I had written 
to her to come on if she felt equal to the undertaking, but I do 
not know that she will get my letter in time. It was on her own 
account, chiefly, that I asked her to stay back. At first I had 
a most strong desire to see her again, but there appeared to be 
very serious objections; and should we never meet in this life, 
I trust that she will in the end be satisfied it was for the best 
at least, if not most for her comfort. 

I am waiting the hour of my public murder with great com- 
posure of mind and cheerfulness; feeling the strong assurance 
that in no other possible way could I be used to so much ad- 
vantage to the cause of God and of humanity, and that nothing 
that either I or all my family have sacrificed or suffered will be 
lost. The reflection that a wise and merciful as well as just 
and holy God rules not only the affairs of this world but of all 
worlds, is a rock to set our feet upon under all circumstances, — 
even those more severely trying ones in which our own feelings 
and wrongs have placed us. I have no doubt but that our 


seeming disaster will ultimately result in the most glorious suc- 
cess. So, my clear shattered and broken family, be of good 
cheer, and believe and trust in God with all your heart and with 
all your soul ; for He doeth all things well. Do not feel ashamed 
on my account, nor for one moment despair of the cause or 
grow weary of well-doing. I bless God I never felt stronger 
confidence in the certain and near approach of a bright morning 
and glorious day than I have felt, and do now feel, since my 
confinement here. I am endeavoring to return, like a poor 
prodigal as I am, to my Father, against whom I have always 
sinned, in the hope that He may kindly and forgivingly meet me, 
though a very great way off. 

Oh, my dear wife and children, would to God you could know 
how I have been travailing in birth for you all, that no one of 
you may fail of the grace of God through Jesus Christ ; that no 
one of you may be blind to the truth and the glorious light of 
His Word, in which life and immortality are brought to light. 
I beseech you, every one, to make the Bible your daily and 
nightly study, with a childlike, honest, candid, teachable spirit 
of love and respect for your husband and father. And I beseech 
the God of my fathers to open all your eyes to the discovery of 
the truth. You cannot imagine how much you may soon need 
the consolations of the Christian religion. Circumstances like 
my own for more than a month past have convinced me, 
beyond all doubt, of my own great need of some theories 
treasured up, when our prejudices are excited, our vanity worked 
up to the highest pitch. Oh, do not trust your eternal all 
upon the boisterous ocean, without even a helm or compass 
to aid you in steering. I do not ask of you to throw away 
your reason ; I only ask you to make a candid, sober use of 
your reason. 

My dear young children, will you listen to this last poor 
admonition of one who can only love you ? Oh, be determined 
at once to give your whole heart to God, and let nothing shake 
or alter that resolution. You need have no fears of regretting 
it. Do not be vain and thoughtless, but sober-minded; and let 
me entreat you all to love the whole remnant of our once great 


family. Try and build up again your broken walls, and to 
make the utmost of every stone that is left. Nothing can so 
tend to make life a blessing as the consciousness that your life 
and example may bless and leave others stronger. Still, it is 
ground for the utmost comfort to my mind to know that so 
many of you as have had the opportunity have given some 
proof of your fidelity to the great family of men. Be faithful 
unto death; from the exercise of habitual love to man it can- 
not be very hard to love his Maker. 

I must yet insert the reason for my firm belief in the divine 
inspiration of the Bible, notwithstanding I am, perhaps, 
naturally skeptical — certainly not credulous. I wish all to con- 
sider it most thoroughly when you read that blessed book, and 
see whether you cannot discover such evidence yourselves. It 
is the purity of heart, filling our minds as well as work and 
actions, which is everywhere insisted on, that distinguishes it 
from all the other teachings, that commends it to my con- 
science. Whether my heart be willing and obedient or not, 
the inducement that it holds out is another reason of my con- 
viction of its truth and genuineness ; but I do not here omit 
this; my last argument on the Bible, that eternal life is what 
my soul is panting after this moment. I mention this as a 
reason for endeavoring to leave a valuable copy of the Bible, to 
be carefully preserved in remembrance of me, to so many of 
my posterity, instead of some other book at equal cost. 

I beseech you all to live in habitual contentment with 
moderate circumstances and gains of worldly store, and 
earnestly to teach this to your children and children's children 
after you, by example as well as precept. Be determined to 
know by experience, as soon as may be, whether Bible instruc- 
tion is of divine origin or not. Be sure to owe no man any- 
thing, but to love one another. John Rogers wrote to his chil- 
dren : "Abhor that arrant whore of Rome." John Brown 
writes to abhor, with undying hatred also, that sum of all 
villanies, Slavery. Remember, " that he that is slow to anger 
is better than the mighty," and " he that ruleth his spirit than 
he that taketh a city." Remember, also, that " they being 


wise shall shine, and they that turn many to righteousness, as 
the stars for ever and ever." 

And now, dearly beloved family, to God and the work of 
His grace I commend you all. 

Your affectionate husband and father, 

John Brown. 

And that lonely mountain home at North Elba. 
The somber beauty of its surroundings were harmo- 
nious with the solemn moods and sad thoughts that 
dwelt therein. How slow were the hours and how 
infrequent the communication they necessarily had 
with all that animating life, laden with a quickening 
sympathy and regard, wherewith their father's life 
and acts had endowed the world. We may sneer in 
cold blood at the fanatics. We may deride those who 
give that others may live, but in the presence of one 
flaming deed all mankind are kin. " When souls 
reach," said Emerson, " a certain clearness of percep- 
tion, they accept a knowledge and motive above self- 
ishness. . . . It is the air which all intellects in- 
hale and exhale, and it is the wind which blows the 
world into order and orbit." Character is a weapon 
for the accomplishment of great deeds, but the forg- 
ing of the weapon is done in the furnace of environ- 
ment, and the home-life of John Brown was a large 
part of his character. Moulded by him, mother 
and children — older ones and younger, too — also 
moulded and uplifted this Cromwellian soul unto the 
hour of his and their supreme sacrifice! " Does it 
seem as if freedom were to gain or lose b} r this ? " 
This was the wife's expression — the mother's question: 
" I have had thirteen children, and only four are left; 
but if I am to see ruin of my house, I cannot but hope 
that Providence may bring out of it some benefit to 


the poor slave." And in this atmosphere and hope 
they had lived for thirty years. John Brown said to 
Frank B. Sanborn, early in that last, fateful year of his 
life: "I always told them that when the time came to 
fight against slavery, that conflict would be the signal 
of our separation. Mary made up her mind to have 
me go along before this; and when I did go, she got 
ready bandages and medicines for the wounded." 
The wife and mother who " got ready bandages and 
medicines," wrote her husband, as he lay under sen- 
tence of death (on the 15th of October, 1859): "I 
have often thought that I would rather hear you were 
dead than fallen into the hands of your enemies: but 
I don't think so now. The good that is growing out of 
it is wonderful. If you had preached in the pulpit ten 
such lives as you have lived, you could not have done 
so much good as you have done, in that one speech 
to the Court." It was Salmon Brown who said, " I 
sometimes think that's what we came into the world 
for — to make sacrifices," and it was his eldest daugh- 
ter, Ruth, who had once given up her beloved hus- 
band to the field and saw brought home to her, 
bleeding, upon " his shield," who wrote her father in 
May of that last year: 

" Dear Father — You have asked me rather a hard ques- 
tion. I want to answer you wisely, but hardly know how. I 
cannot bear the thought of Henry leaving me again, but I feel 
that I am selfish, when I think of my poor, despised sisters, 
that are deprived of both husband and children, I feel deeply 
for them ; and were it not for my little children, I would go 
most anywhere with Henry, if by going I could do them any 
good. ... I should be very glad to be with him, if it 
would not be more expense then what good we could do. I 
say we; could I not do something for the cause ? " 


There were others, too, who suffered, and from whom 
no murmurs came. In the many letters from all direc- 
tions, faulty in grammar, halting in expression and 
awkward in chirography, the writer of this volume 
has received from those who survived their sons, 
brothers, and lovers, were as true in unselfish and un- 
regretting love and remembrance, as the plain farmer 
families at North Elba who suffered so much and lost 
so largely. For it was not one family, but four that 
mourned amid the Adirondacks. Anne Brown illu- 
minates the life of the household, and describes the 
bearing of the members when she writes: 

" You ask me to tell you how the family at North Elba 
received the news of the Harper's Ferry affair. That is a time 
that I do not like to think of or speak of. We only had a 
weekly mail at that time. I do not now remember whether we 
had heard any rumors before, but I think we had. It was the 
Tuesday evening that the mail usually came, when a young 
man, a neighbor, brought us a paper (the New York Times) 
with a full account in it, some one said ' Let Annie read it, 
for she can read faster than any of us can ' ; so I read that 
long account from beginning to end, aloud, without faltering. 
I was stunned, and my senses so benumbed that I did not 
comprehend the meaning of the words I pronounced. There 
was very little ' weeping or wailing ' or loud demonstration 
on the part of our brave household ; we were most of us struck 
dumb, horrorstricken with a grief too deep and hard to rind 
expression in words or even tears. I do not think I have ever 
fully recovered from the mental shock I received then. 
Mother, Salmon's wife, and I were all down sick shortly after 
that, and Martha patiently did the work and cared for us, until 
she became ill herself. I never saw her smile but twice after 
that, once when she same upstairs in the morning to see me 
while I was sick, and I told her that an ' angel came in the night 
with a bright light and gave me some water,' and showed her 


a bowl of water beside the bed to prove it ; she smiled and 
said she was 'my angel.' The other time was the night after 
her baby was born, when she told me to ' write to Tidd and 
tell him he had a little sister.' C. P. Tidd used to call Martha 
and Oliver ' Mother and Father,' to tease them, while we were 
at Kennedy Farm. The only time after that I ever saw her 
shed a tear was when I held her little dead baby at her bed- 
side, for her to take a last look at it before they put it into the 
coffin; a few great scalding drops fell on its little, waxen 

Anne Brown (Mrs. Adams) unconsciously illustrates 
her own sincere self and shows how with what true 
courage they all walked within the valley of shadows. 
Martha Evelin Brewster was born in 1842, and died 
in March, i860, being, therefore, but eighteen years of 
age. Wife, widow, and mother, within two years. 
She married Oliver on the 17th of April, 1858, of 
medium height, well formed, with regular features, 
hair of a pale gold brown, and blue-gray eyes, she was 
a very woman, sedate and dignified in manners, full 
of character, writes Mrs. Adams, even as a little 
child. " I remember," writes Mrs. Adams, " William 
Thompson telling me, that one day soon after her 
father moved on to the farm adjoining the Thomp- 
sons' home, he was going by the house and saw three 
little girls on the fence by the roadside; he stopped 
and talked to them inquiring their names; the little 
Martha after telling her name added, ' I'm Mom's 
lady.' He said, ' I think she is Mom's lady still,' and 
so she always continued to be. As her father was an 
easygoing, thriftless man, with a large family poorly 
provided for, she preferred to work for the farmers' 
wives around, where by her own labor she could pro- 
cure better clothing and in most places a more con- 


genial home." Oliver married her while waiting for 
his father's next movement towards Harper's Ferry, 
"so that she might," writes his sister, "have a legal 
right to a home with his family during his absence, 
as most of her relatives were rabidly pro-slavery and 
opposed to us politically," though not personally. 
It was as characteristic of the Essex county neighbors 
as elsewhere, that John Brown and his family were 
held in the highest respect for their good qualities. 
There was a considerable modicum of the pro-south- 
ern, hardshell Democracy among its men, and John 
Brown was counted as a " crazy Abolitionist," but 
always esteemed as a good citizen and excellent 

Isabella Thompson, the widowed wife of Watson 
Brown, lived with her parents — the Thompson family 
which furnished two fighters for Kansas and two vic- 
tims of Harper's Ferry— the sons, William and 
Dauphin. Henry, the eldest brother, is the husband 
of Ruth, John Brown's eldest daughter. They are 
both still living at Pasadena, California. A child was 
born to Watson and Bella, but two weeks before the 
young husband started in June, 1859, for the Kennedy 
Farm. " Freddie," the little one, lived four years. 
William Thompson's widow, Mary Brown, lived close 
by. Though of the same name she was no relative. 
A young, good-looking, brave-minded woman of about 
twenty years, she bore her part well and murmured 
not. Death's harvest had not spared that lonely 
mountain section — four widows, and six fatherless 
children, with other parents, relatives, and grand- 
children in mourning. Yet, with what fortitude it was 
all borne, and but for the profound regard that the 


land fastened upon those stricken homes, no word or 
wail would have ever floated beyond the Au-Sable 

And so John Brown passed beyond. And so was 
the tidings borne, and these were the manner of 
persons that wore their robe of sorrow with a quiet 
dignity that exalted. They were not unknowing of 
the sacrifices. To them their dead was sacred. To 
the cause they gave, if not joyfully, yet with a sober, 
sweet earnestness, that added grace to their deep 
sorrow. Nor have they thrust themselves ever into 
the world's notice, but lived their lives; hardworking, 
honorable men, loving, motherly women; all an 
honor to the name they bear and the strong life of 
which they are a part. Was he not, indeed, the larg- 
est of "Connecticut schoolmasters," as Wendell Phil- 
lips said, and did he not withal prove himself a " great 
commander," as Richard Realf affirmed before the 
Senate Committee of investigation ? Northern or 
Kansas defamers may malign and deride, but as 
against the hero-life and the martyr's crown, their 
venomous spittle is blown back but to scorch their 
own names and fames. We may say with D. W. 
Wilder, of Kansas, and there is no more competent 
critic: "Common men live for years in despair, with 
only ordinary bad luck to contend with; but here is 
a man absolutely alone, exiled from family, among 
hostile strangers, where barbarism is made popular by 
law and fashion, — yet never in despair. Why this 
contrast ? He believed in God and Justice, and in 
nothing else; we believe in everything else, but not 
in God." 



Their rightful place in history — Kagi, philosopher ana 
scholar — Cook, ardent, poetic, and generous — Stevens* 
soldier a fid hero — Hazlett, simple and brave — Osborne 
P. Anderson, the faithful colored leader — Danger- 
field Netvby, the Virginian freeman, fighting for 
family and race — Copeland, Leary, Shields Green, 
resisting like men, dying as heroes — Arrests and ren- 
ditions of Cook and Hazlett — Col. A. K. McClure's 
account — Travesty of justice at Carlisle — Story of 
an attempt at rescue. 

Twenty-one men marched with John Brown on 
the night of October 16, 1859. That was the fighting 
array with which he invaded the "sacred soil" of 
Virginia, and begun a "sympathetic strike" against 
the " chattel slavery " which enthralled labor, while 
threatening the peace of the Republic and the safety 
of the Union. Sixteen of these men were of the 
master race; five of the one that was in bondage, two 
only of whom had, however, been born slaves. Three 
of the white men were sons of the leader; two were 
related by marriage and years of close and neigh- 
borly friendship. They were all Northern and anti- 
slavery by association and training; positive in such 


opinion by the force and blending of serious condi- 
tions and experiences. All but two of them were 
country born and bred. All who participated were 
"native and to the manner born." Anna Brown, 
one of the two brave girls from the family, who 
walked, worked, and watched with her comrades in 
the "valley of shadows" at the Kennedy Farm, says 
of them collectively, and she knew all but one of the 
white men, F. J. Merriam, and four also out of the 
five men of color, that—" taking them all together, I 
think they would compare well (she is speaking of 
manners, etc.) with the same number of men in any 
station of life I have ever met";— and her experience 
compasses the homes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and 
George Luther Stearns, as well as that of her father's 
household and the wholesome dignity of her own 
abode. All of her comrades possessed more than 
the average of intelligence and character. Some of 
them would have made a broad place for themselves 
in the stirring drama to which their sacrifice was the 
tragic overture. In telling, as I shall try very briefly 
to do, from whence these men came — wc know where 
they went — I shall hope to work in the spirit sug- 
gested by Anna Brown (Mrs. Adams), in writing 
me: " I have always had a feeling that I wished some 
one would write of these men who felt like a friend 
and companion; who was in sympathy with them, 
and did not condescend to look down from a high 
pedestal of culture at such common mortals as they 
were. ... It takes very much more of school 
education to write of the lives of good people, than 
it did for them to live those lives. Some of the best, 
noblest, and most heroic people I have ever known 


were men and women who could neither read nor 
write, and still they lived beautiful lives. The young- 
men of these days do not know that there is some 
good bread that is not college bred." The homely 
pun may be forgiven for the wholesome lesson it 

The youngest of the whites was not yet nineteen; 
the oldest had just reached twenty-eight, when, after 
an imprisonment of 169 days, Virginia sent his nobly 
equipped life and soul into eternity. Of the colored 
men the youngest was barely twenty-one and only one 
had passed his twenty-fourth year. That was Danger- 
field Newby, who fought for his family as well as race. 
Captain Brown and he were the two men of mature 
years in the fateful band. This group of devoted 
men in any other of our modern lands (except, 
perhaps, Russia) would have been embalmed long 
ere this in historical record. Practically, they have 
remained unknown for a third of a century and may 
remain so during the passing of time. As an im- 
mediate result this was due to the pervading per- 
sonality and record of their Captain. But as a per- 
manent condition it is due most directly to the strange 
fact that their lives were given for the negro; that 
they fought for those who were then the poorest and 
most wretched of all Americans. That in itself is an 
hostility to the canons of good taste and an offense 
against a spirit which worships success — even in 

" We will endure the shadow of dishonor but not 
the stain of guilt." These words of John Henri Kagi 
express the spirit of John Brown's men and, in an 


especial sense, the character of the young and brill- 
iant man who fell riddled with bullets into the 
waters of the Shenandoah. Thirty miles below, the 
blood-tinged stream flowed through the lands of his 
father's family. Kagi was related to Virginia by 
more than one hundred years of American progeni- 
tors. One of the same family 1 writes: 

" The first Kagy of whom I have authentic record in this 
country was one John R. Kagy. who came to this country from 
Switzerland in 171 5, with others who suffered persecution in 
the fatherland on account of their religious faith, they being 
followers of the great reformer Men no Simon. My ancestor 
was among the first settlers in Lancaster Co., Pa., having 
settled on the Conestogue, in the township of Conestogue, 
then a vast wilderness inhabited by wild beasts and Indians. 
Here in the primitive forest, Hanse Kagy reared his family of 
four sons and three daughters. One of his sons, Henry, born 
1728, went to Virginia in 176S, and located on Smith Creek, 
in the county of Shenandoah. He raised seven sons and three 
daughters, one of these sons was named Abraham, and he 
had sons, one also named Abraham, who was the father of 
the subject of this' sketch by John Henri Kagi. The descend- 
ants of Hanse, or John R. Kagy, are numbered by hundreds 
and are to be found in all the States of this Union and in 
Canada. I never knew but two instances of the Kagys owning 
slaves, one in Pennsylvania, the other in Virginia. A large 
number of our people belong to the German Baptist and 
Methodist Churches." 

John Brown's adjutant-general had just passed 
the seventh month of his twenty-fourth year when 
slain at Harper's Ferry. He was tall and somewhat 
angular, with a slight stoop in the shoulders, about 

1 Franklin H. Keagy, Chambersburg, Pa. 

john brown's men: who they were. 453 

five feet eleven inches in height, and weighing one 
hundred and fifty pounds. The insufficient portrait 
that has been the only one obtainable was taken in 
1854, at an age when thoughtful young men are apt to 
look older than they really are. At the time of his 
death, Kagi wore a short, full, dark-brown beard; his 
face was thin and worn-looking, complexion pallid 
but healthy, hair thin and dark brown. His cousin 
Franklin, who got well acquainted with him in the 
ten or eleven w r eeks of his life spent at Chambers- 
burg, but without then knowing the relationship 
between them, writes that he "had more the appear- 
ance of a divinity student than a warrior. His manner 
was reserved almost to bashful ness, but when ad- 
dressed or engaged in conversation he spoke freely 
and fluently, commanding attention. His language 
was elegant, his deportment unassailable, his habits 
strictly temperate, kind in his feelings to every one, 
especially to children, whose confidence he acquired 
at first acquaintance." It was John Henri Kagi 
whom John Brown permitted to tell me fully in the 
summer of 1858, as to his startling design, and who 
replied to me when I involuntarily exclaimed that all 
would " be killed"; "Yes, I know it, Hinton, but the 
result will be worth the sacrifice" I recall my friend 
as a man of personal beauty, with a fine, well-shaped 
head, a voice of quiet, sweet tones, that could be pene- 
trating and cutting, too, almost to sharpness. The 
eves were remarkable- large, full, well-set beneath 
strongly arched brows. Ordinarily they wore a veiled 
look, reminding me of a slow-burning fire of heated 
coals, hidden behind a mica door. Hazel-gray in 
color, irridescent in light and effect. The face 


gave you confidence in the character that had already 
wrought it into a stern gravity beyond its years. One 
would trust or turn away at once, according to the 
purpose sought. Kagi was not a man of expressed 
enthusiasms; on the contrary, he was cold in manner, 
and his conclusions were stamped with the approval 
of his intellect. Mentally, he was the ablest of those 
who followed John Brown to Harper's Ferry. In the 
best sense, too, he was the most scholarly and cul- 
tured. .George B. Gill, who was closely associated 
with him for twelve months, writes: 

" That he was a logician of more than ordinary ability. In 
speaking or debating, he would stand slightly bent with his 
hands behind his back. To a superficial listener perhaps he 
would not have been very attractive, but the thinking, thought- 
ful listener would not tire of him. In mental fields he possessed 
abundant and ingenious resources. He was full of a wonderful, 
enduring vitality. Disappointment gave him just as results as 
a successful termination. All things were fit food for his 
brain. No road was so lonely that he did not see hope beckon- 
ing in the distance ; somewhere seethe sun peering through the 
clouds. . . . He was an agnostic of the most pronounced 
type, so grounded in his convictions that he gave but little 
thought to what he considered useless problems. His disposi- 
tion was a model one. No strain or stress could shake his 
unruffled serenity. His fertility of resources made him a tower 
of strength to John Brown." 

Osborne Perry Anderson, the colored annalist of 
the Harper's Ferry party, 1 writes that: 

" Kagi was indifferent to personal appearance, he went about 
with slouched hat, only one leg of his pantaloons properly ad- 

1 " A Voice from Harper's Ferry," p. 15. 


justed, and the other partly tucked into His high boot-top; un- 
brushed, unshaven, and in utter disregard of the 'latest style,' 
but to his companions and acquaintances a verification of 
'Burns' man' in the clothes. He had improved his time; for 
he discoursed elegantly and fluently, wrote ably, and could 
occupy the platform with greater ability than many a man 
known to the American people as famous in these respects." 

Realf once described Kagi as the " Horace Gree- 
ley " of the John Brown party. 

Kagi was an only son, born March 15, 1835, at 
Bristol, Trumbull County, Ohio, where his father, 
Abraham Neff Kagy, had moved some years before 
from Shenandoah County, Virginia. Abraham was 
born in iSo7,and died in Kansas about 1890. His son 
John was fifth in descent from Hanse Kagy, who, with 
other Swiss Mennonites, settled in 17 15 on Paquea 
Creek, Conestoga township, Lancaster County, Penn- 
sylvania. It was the grandson of this emigrant that 
moved to Virginia. The root of this life, like John 
Brown's, ran deep it will be seen into the volcanic 
soil of struggle for liberty of conscience and civic free- 
dom. The father was a blacksmith, all of the earlier 
Kagys were farmers and mechanics; good stock to 
be citizens of a great nationality, the whole of whose 
stirring history, made and making, has sprung from 
the shaping hands of industry; fuses only in the 
heated crucible of toil and its correlative issues. 
Kagi's mother was Anna Fansler, born in Virginia, 
and to them four children were born. This mother 
died when he was three years old. John went to 
the district school, and became an example for his 
assiduity in study. So marked was his devotion that 
his uncle Jackson Neff sent him to an academy in 


Virginia. He commenced teaching in that State be- 
fore he was seventeen and remained till he was nine- 
teen, when his quietly outspoken dislike of slavery- 
put him under the ban. He was a good mathema- 
tician and English scholar, and knew his Latin well 
enough to teach it. He taught himself phonography 
and French, and had commenced the study of Ger- 
man, when he found it conducive to physical safety 
to retire from the " Old Dominion." On his return 
to Bristol he taught in the neighborhood, began the 
study of law, made a practise of attending the 
country lyceum and debating clubs, and worked also 
at his reporting. His father went to California late 
in 1850, and returned East in 1853, settling at last in 
southern Nebraska, at Otoe, on Camp Creek. John 
had to keep hard at work. During this period he was 
at Lexington, Kentucky, reporting the State Con- 
stitutional Convention. It was excellent drill and 
made of him a proficient verbatim reporter. Kagi 
was admitted to the bar somewhere in the West in 
the early part of 1856 at the age of twenty-one. He 
grew firmer and sterner in his anti-slavery convictions, 
identifying himself in 1854 with the local free-soil 
agitation of southern Ohio. 

Arriving at Topeka, Kansas, on the fourth day of 
July, 1856, he was a deeply interested observer of the 
disposal by the United States Dragoons, under the 
command of Colonel Sumner (who was afterward 
killed in command of the Sixth Army Corps, in Vir- 
ginia), of the body known in free-state annals as the 
" Topeka Legislature." It will be worth while to 
briefly re-indicate here the historical relation of that 
body : After Missouri and its Southern allies had 


violated the so-called " squatter sovereignty," or 
home-rule dogma of the Territorial organic act, by 
invading Kansas, electing citizens of Missouri as a 
Legislature and then passing the draconian slave- 
code, known as the " bogus laws," the free-state citi- 
zens, who were six to one of all other bona-fide resi- 
dents, framed through a constitutional convention a 
free-state constitution and form of government. It 
had asked for admission as such into the Union. 
That was pending, and to prevent the " constructive 
treason," for which Judge Lecompte indicted, when 
the Legislature met pro forma, under orders (subse- 
quently repudiated), the gallant Massachusetts soldier 
who commanded the United States troops, was 
obliged to disperse by a show of force. Kagi's future, 
his life, and death, were fixed by that event. He at 
once actively identified himself with the free-state 
party, joining Company " B," of what was known 
as the Second Regiment of the Free-State Volunteers, 
under command of Colonel " Charles Whipple " — 
afterwards hung at Charlestown, Virginia, as Aaron 
D. Stevens, March 16, i860, for participation in the 
Harper's Ferry raid. In all subsequent details of the 
Topeka movement, Kagi was one of the most active, 
serving as its reporter, writing appeals to the Ameri- 
can people on Kansas affairs, and to the Topeka 
Legislature, urging the members to assemble and 
maintain, as will be seen, that policy to the last. 

Kagi became, in every sense, active in free-state 
warfare. He served for one year in the Whipple regi- 
ment, and was a prisoner at Lecompton for a period 
of four months, half starved and abused all the time. 
He was beaten with a club and wounded by a pistol 


for writings he sent to Eastern journals. He was the 
regular correspondent of the National Era, Dr. 
Bailey's paper, at Washington, and of the New York 
Evening Post, the latter over the signature of " Kent." 
He was a writer for the Kansas Tribune, at Topeka, 
and the Republican, Lawrence, Kan., from 1857 to the 
early spring of 1859. He wrote a good deal also for 
the Chicago Tribune, Cleveland Leader, and the New 
York Tribune. As such writer, he possessed the faculty 
of knowing what was news and stating the same 
clearly and forcibly. A small volume might readily 
be made interesting from the materials in my hands 
— school compositions, drafts of lectures, essays, in- 
cluding one in which he outlines the theory that all 
forms of matter are the result of ether in motion; 
in other words the alleged law of vibration. In his 
early Kansas life, like all the free-state correspond- 
ents, he was a shining target for pro-slavery persecu- 
tion It was not an uncommon thing, in those 
days, for the Territorial Grand Juries to be manip- 
ulated into rendering indictments against them under 
their pen names. Kagi was once indicted by the 
name of "Kent." Hugh Young had a charge made 
against him as " Potter," that being the signature he 
used in the New York Tribune. I also had the honor 
of being so served. Against Kagi, indictments for 
highway robbery, arson, etc., were found. His arrest 
was achieved by a rather disgraceful trick, under 
cover of Gov. Geary's presence, at Topeka. It was 
published early in October, 1856, that the Governor 
would address the free-state men of Topeka in the 
interests of peace. Kagi attended to report his 
speech and was arrested while so engaged on account 


of his alleged participation, early in August, in an 
attack upon a fortified position held by Titus, the 
border ruffian, near Lecompton. The purpose of 
the arrest was evidently to stop li is pen. But it 
only increased its usefulness, for prison letters 
bitterly incisive in their exposure of brutal cruelty, 
were of great value in the creation of Northern 
public opinion. The man whose alleged buildings 
he was said to have aided in burning, was the 
jailer in charge of such accused prisoners. Kagi 
resorted to all sorts of ingenious expedients to get his 
letters out of prison and properly mailed. In Janu- 
ary, his health failing him rapidly, he procured 
bondsmen and was admitted to $5,000 bail. Judge 
Lecompte was glad to get rid of him. When the 
pro-slavery Constitutional Convention assembled 
soon after, in February 1857, Kagi came down to 
Lecompton to report its proceedings, and was almost 
immediately rearrested; giving this time bonds of 
$8,000. All these charges were frauds, and were never 
brought to trial. Such persecution not only shaped 
his early ended career, but prevented attention to his 
own interests and that of his father and sisters. 
There are many family letters of the period showing 
this, and also illustrating Kagi's sincere and affection- 
ate character. He notifies his father in Nebraska of 
his intended home-coming, and of the necessity of 
returning in April, the date set for his trial. He 
asks that his projected return by way of the Missouri 
River be kept " perfectly quiet," as his life would not 
be safe. " I shall be compelled," he says, "to go 
under an assumed name " as I am otherwise known 
all along the border and pro-slavery men " would 


not hesitate to assassinate me." While in the Lecomp- 
ton prison he wrote to his sister, that — 

" Our friends will take us out the moment I say so. A 
regiment, the same in which I was lieutenant, will come to our 
rescue any night I give the order. I hesitate only because we 
may get out some other way, and a forcible rescue would 
bring on a fearful winter war, which I do not wish to see. Be 
cheerful ! " 

In March, 1857, an incident occurred of great 
moment to Kagi. Tecumseh was a pro-slavery town, 
which the border-ruffian Legislature had made the 
county seat of Shawnee. Topeka is in the same 
county, and it was almost wholly free State. Constant 
disturbances occurred at Tecumseh. Free-state men 
were not safe in it alone. One of its residents was 
robbed by a pro-slavery townsman. An appeal for 
protection was made to friends at Topeka. The law 
of force was the only one that was respected on either 
side. The Topeka boys arrived and proposed arbi- 
tration. A committee was appointed, consisting of 
the accuser and the accused, with Rush Elmore, a 
lawyer from Alabama, who had served a brief period 
as one of the United States Judges. The free-state 
man proved the loss of his goods and traced them 
into the other man's hands. Of this latter there was 
no doubt, for the goods were afterwards seized and 
restored to the rightful owner by free-state men, 
who announced their responsibility for the act. The 
burden of deciding fell on the ex-Judge, and he 
avoided by declaring that he " could not tell." In 
his letter, describing the farce, Kagi said that — 

" President Pierce need not have sought a pretext for dis- 
missing Elmore, on account of his extra-judicial investments, 

john brown's men: who they were. 461 

as it was self-evident that a person who could not decide a case 
when the clearest evidence was given, whether a convicted 
robber should return stolen goods or retain them, was hardly 
qualified for a seat on the supreme bench of the Territory." 

Shortly after the receipt of this publication in 
Kansas, Kagi had occasion with a few others to visit 
Tecumseh, in order to attend the United States Court 
in session there. Elmore approached him armed 
with bludgeon and revolver. Kagi did not know the 
ruffian personally and when spoken to as to his 
identity politely responded. Elmore immediately 
struck him a savage blow over the head, and, dodging 
behind a pillar, commenced firing on Kagi. One ball 
struck him in the breast, passing through a heavy 
memorandum book, and glancing made a severe 
wound in his left arm. The blood streaming from 
the wound in his head, half blinded Kagi, who never- 
theless, revolver in hand, advanced steadily on the 
burly and fugacious Alabamian, dodging round the 
pillar and firing wildly at his antagonist until the 
latter's only shot, penetrating the groin, laid him low. 
The lawyer lived, but the house of Elmore was ended 
by this incident. Kagi, however, never quite re- 
covered from the effects of the blow on his head. Mr. 
Gill, in his recollections, says he required watching at 
times, especially when suffering from fever. Becoming 
melancholic and moody for brief spells, his comrades 
would deem it necessary to hide his weapons and 
otherwise care for his safety. But this was never 
serious, and resulted more from the effects of priva- 
tion than any cerebral difficulty. 

The lasting contact with John Brown did not 
occur till October, 1857, when these two met at To- 

, 462 JOHN BROWN. 

peka. Aaron D. Stevens also entered that service at 
the time. The party was formed which went to 
school at Springdale, Iowa, to Chatham, Canada, back 
to southern Kansas, thence to Pennsylvania, Mary- 
land, Virginia — and Death. Other chapters have 
sketched in outline the events which moved along 
this route, and have indicated the part John Henri 
Kagi played therein. A memorandum found in the 
carpet-bag of papers seized by the Virginian authori- 
ties had the following written thereon by Kagi. 
Evidently this was intended as the basis of a fuller 
paper or lecture. It shows the working of his mind, 
the spirit in which he acted: "Slavery," the paper 
declares, " must be abolished by war. Peaceful aboli- 
tion would result in a war of races. Slaves will grow 
in war and fit themselves for (civic) equality. A re- 
public cannot abolish it. Slavery and its increase is 
a bribe " to the politicians. The suggestion as to the 
incapacity of a republic to the task he had in mind is 
not without incisive vigor, when the subsequent 
course of civic suppression and ballot-box inanity 
pursued "down South," is duly considered. Writing 
to William A. Phillips, of Kansas, in 1S59, but a few- 
weeks before his death, he showed the intensity of 
his sympathetic hostility to chattelism, by declaring, 

" I shall long remember that your house was one of the only 
two in Lawrence into which I dared, and that in the night 
only, to enter ; and solely because I was opposed to theft, rob- 
bery, murder — for slavery is all of these. It steals babes in 
the cradle ; I might say in the mother's womb. It robs women 
of their chastity and men of their wives. It kills, with sorrow, 
uncheered labor and the various forms of cruelty, more slowly, 
surely, but more in number than the sword." 

john brown's men: who they were. 463 

In all the twenty-four months of close intimacy 
that followed the meeting of John Brown and John 
Henri Kagi, there is not one discordant note. It is a 
tribute to his closest associate, that from the first the 
old Captain trusted him to the uttermost. It was 
not Kagi that ever murmured or opposed. It was 
Kagi that planned, worked, conceived, fought, and 
obeyed, without question. He was the best of coun- 
selors and showed it in his last communication with 
the leader at Harper's Ferry, when in the noon hour 
of the 17th of October, he sent " Jerry " Anderson 
from Hall's Rifle Works, half a mile distant, to John 
Brown at the Armory Yard, urging a uniting of all 
their small force, with a view to fighting their way 
out of the trap they were in. It could have then 
been successfully done and have carried out also 
fifteen or twenty of the pluckier men of color. The 
fatal glamor of judgment which made John Brown 
place, at the moment, more importance on the fair 
impression he tried to, but never made, on such 
brains as those of Lewis Washington, Alstadt, Burns, 
et a/., than he did upon gaining a vigorous foothold 
for the partisan warfare he had started, induced him 
to urge another hour's delay on Kagi's suggestion. 

With some manuscript letters of Kagi, filed by 
the late Col. William A. Phillips, of Kansas, in the 
State Historical Society's Library, there was attached 
a note in which he describes briefly Kagi's fate, and 
says that "he was not hopeful of the result of the 
attack, but accompanied Brown." There is no justi- 
fication for the remark in any extant letter or writing 
left by John Henri Kagi. On the contrary, he always 
wrote hopefully, cheering every one addressed. On 


September 23, 1858, he wrote his father and unmar- 
ried sister, who had met Captain Brown and others, 
and knew, in a general way, that their purpose was 
to attack slavery in its own domain, that — 

" I believe there are better times dawning, to my sight at 
least. I am not now laboring and waiting without present 
reward for myself alone; it is for a future reward for man- 
kind, and for you all. There can be no doubt of the reward in 
the end, or of the drawing very near of the success of a great 
cause which is to earn it. Few of my age have toiled harder 
or suffered more in the cause than I, yet I regret nothing that 
I have done, nor am I in any discouragement at the future. 
It is bright and good, and treads on to meet the hopeful with 
rapid strides. Things are now quiet. I am collecting arms, 
etc., belonging to J. B., so that he may command them at any 

From Tabor, Iowa, on the 7th of February, 1859, 
he writes " expecting to get actively to work by 
July," and from Cleveland, Ohio, under date of June 
8th, he says: " I now expect to leave here next week 
and go into my business in earnest ; " — and he also 
advises his sister that she should " always keep in 
good spirits and hopeful, believing that all is for the 
best and not thinking that you were singled out by 
Fate from living chessmen in his game of horror and 
of death. Follow this and you will never regret 
being alive." 

Under date of Cleveland, Ohio, March 18, 1859, he 
wrote the following: 

Dear Hinton — I have to-day written Redpath and Mer- 
riam respecting our proposed Nicaragua emigration, and wish- 
ing them to meet me in Boston at an early day. The careless 
action of our government and the evident backing down in 

john brown's men: who they were. 465 

view of the virtual European interference seem to offer advan- 
tages never possessed by Walker. I wrote to them in care of 
Francis Jackson. I need not say that I would like to see you 
also at that time, which I am now unable to name. Will you 
see that Redpath and Merriam get the word ? " 

But the letter which most expressed confidence was 
the last one written to his home in Otoe, Nebraska, 
bearing date, Chambersburg, Pa., September 24, 1859, ' 
twenty-two days before the little party started down 
the dim moonlit road from the Kennedy Farm to 
Harper's Ferry. Kagi writes: 

" My business is progressing finely. I could not ask for 
better prospects. My parttiers are all about sixty miles this 
side of Uncle Jacob's, and enough of them to put the business 
through in the best of style. Our freight is all on the ground 
with them in safety, and we are now only waiting &few days 
more for two or three hands, not so much because we want 
them, but because they want a share themselves. So that in a 
very few days we shall commence. You may even hear of it 
before you get this letter. Things could not be more cheerful 
and more certain of success than they are. We have worked 
hard and suffered much, but the hardest is down now, and a 
glorious success is in sight. I will say — can say — only one 
word more. I will write soon after we commence work. When 
you write, give me all the news — for I shall hereafter have 
only three correspondents in all — Mr. Dana (Charles A., then 
managing editor) of the Tribune, and Mr. Win, A. Phillips, 
of Lawrence (Kansas), so that I shall look to you for all news 
about our friends and acquaintances. Direct the letters like 
this: H. K., and put them into another envelope and direct it 
as follows : ,Mrs. Mary W. Ritner, Chambersburg, Pa. But 
don't let no one else know how you send them. Be cheerful. 
Don't imagine dangers. All will be well." 

He remained at his post, fighting and dying in the 
same lofty temper which made him declare to me the 



year preceding that, whatever it was, life or death — 
"the result would be worth the sacrifice." No word 
of surrender came from his lips. Pierced with bul- 
lets, his riddled body lay in the Shenandoah till late 
in the afternoon of the nineteenth, when it was pitched 
with others in a shallow trench dug on the east bank, 
to be afterwards carried off for dissection by the Win- 
chester medical students. No braver man or more 
unselfish soul ever blessed the earth than John Henri 

John Edwin Cook was in his twenty-ninth year 
when hung by Virginia, having been born in the 
summer of 1830, at Haddam, Connecticut. The family 
were well-to-do, cultivated people, of old Puritan 
stock, and John was the favorite boy-child among a 
family of handsome sisters. He was well educated, 
and was early admitted to Yale. It remains uncertain 
to the writer whether he graduated, but he studied 
law in Williamsburgh, with a Mr. Stearns, and resided 
in the home of his elder sister Mrs. Crowley, the wife 
of a prosperous Englishman, acting as agent in this 
country for a famous English make of needles. He 
afterwards served as a clerk in the office of Ogden 
Hoffman, a famous New York lawyer of that day. 
But his love of adventure was irresistible, and when 
the Kansas excitement broke out, he could not be 
persuaded to pursue his profession further. Of his 
life as law student, the Rev. Elder J. Porter, editor of 
the Christian Intelligencer writes that — 

" He was, a few years ago, a member of the congregation of 
which the writer is the pastor. He was then a law student in 
Williamsburgh, and a young man of blameless morals and in- 
dustrious habits. As an attendant at church, and a teacher in 

john brown's men: who they were. 467 

a then mission Sabbath-school, he displayed tendencies of dis- 
position at once amicable and admirable. When the Kansas 
war broke out, when preachers and politicians strove together 
to inflame the public mind with diabolical resentments, Cook, 
young, sentimental, visionary, and adventurous, emigrated to 

Cook was about five feet, seven inches in height, 
slender but strong in frame, active in movement, 
quick, impetuous of speech, even sometimes stammer- 
ing a little through his vocal, nervous haste. His 
appearance was always attractive. Memory recalls 
him as he rode up to a campfire near Fall City, Ne- 
braska, about the 20th of July, 1856, accompanied by 
Charles Lenhart, his devoted comrade, a young, 
curly, and blonde haired, fresh-faced, intensely blue- 
eyed boy, for he looked not to be over twenty years 
of age, though five years older, with a good horse, 
handsome clothing, and a brilliant array of weapons 
on his person. He captured all present at once. Even 
Ira Stewart (afterwards the organizer of the New Eng- 
land Eight-Hour League), our cynical and somewhat 
depressing critic, gave way to the spell that Cook pos- 
sessed. For myself, we became friends at once, and 
this was constant until we parted in the early No- 
vember days of 1857. Cook was ingenuous, fervid, 
passionate, eloquent; always cheerful and sentimental, 
because affectionate and tender to a fine degree. He 
would talk and rattle on about himself. After all, it 
will be difficult to recall that he ever really talked of 
any one's opinion or purposes but his own. This, 
however, was an indiscretion at times and under the 
conditions in which John Brown's men were placed. 
Anna Brown doubtless expresses the facts, when she 


writes, that — " Cook favored the plan of taking the 
town (Harper's Ferry), government buildings, visited 
them and obtained a good deal of valuable informa- 
tion. The idea of taking Colonel Washington and his 
r 'lies was his, and he called on that gentleman and 
found out where he kept thern. Cook wanted to go 
among the plantation negroes and give them vague 
hints of what was coming. This father positively for- 
bade him doing, and he lived in constant fear all that 
summer that Cook would make a confidant of some 
one. who would betray us. He never doubted his 
bravery, honesty, or good intentions, but considered 
him impulsive and indiscreet." 

It is unnecessary to follow the details of his life, 
from the early summer of 1856 to the early winter day 
of 1859, when he was done to death on a Virginia 
scaffold. His course has generally been outlined in 
tracing the roads followed from Kansas to Harper's 
Ferry. In Springdale, Iowa, as in Kansas, he was 
a good comrade to all men; beloved of all women, — 
mothers as well as maidens. He had a good deal of 
poetic fancy and excellent taste in rhyming. From a 
forgotten Kansas newspaper I rescue one little lyric, 
written in reply to one sent from Boston, demanding 
that we " Don't give up " the free-state cause. One 
of Richard Realf's stirring free-state lyrics was 
penned in reply, and John E. Cook responded with — 


From the bleak New England hills, 
From the forest, dark and old. 
From the side of murm'ring rills, 
Came the hardy and the bold — 

john brown's men: who they were. 469 

Came they here to seek a home, 
On the prairies' boundless plain. 
Here, to Kansas, they have come, 
Found a home — and will remain. 

Rest they here ; though clouds may lower, 

O'er Freedom's glowing sky, 

Fear not they the tyrant's power, 

Nor the Ruffian's battle-cry. 

If the storm should o'er them roll — 

Battles' lightnings round them glow, 

Still, with firm, undaunted soul, 

They will meet the coming blow. 

Meet it, as the sons of sires, 
Who, in bye-gone days of yore, 
Stood where Bunker's awful fires 
Strewed the field with crimson gore. 
Sires, who died that Freedom's light 
Here might glow with undimm'd ray, 
Freedom theirs; and truth and right 
Hallows tombs where now they lay. 

This our home ; and Kansas sod 
Free from slavery's stain shall be. 
Here the tyrant's chast'ning rod, 
Bows no neck, nor bends no knee. 
This our home ; and we'll never 
Leave a land we so much love. 
Till life's ties shall sever, 
And we seek a home above. 

Here, on Kansas' wide-spread plains, 
We shall dwell, through weal and woe ; 
Keep it pure from slavery's stains, 
Till life's fountains cease to flow 


Leave it — never ! nevermore, 
While the blue sky bends above, 
Woods and plains, and valleys o'er, 
Are our home — the home we love. 

Lawrence, Dec. 17, '56. 

His letters, and many have been in my poseession, 
are all clean, sweet, and manly, filled with a poetic 
sentimentality, but never one embraces a sentence 
unworthy of light, or detracting from the strong, 
manly quality of bis character. Writing, after the 
Chatham Convention, to Iowa friends, be says: 

" I came as a stranger ; I was treated as a friend and brother, 
and in return you have my undying gratitude and affection. 
. . . Higher, holier duties called me and I left you, prob- 
ably for ever. But wherever I may roam, through all the 
changing scenes of life, and in that hour when the scenes of 
life are closing, I shall think of you and shall love you with a 
brother's love. And may I not hope that the golden links of 
the chain that thus unites us will remain unbroken in life and 
grow brighter in eternity. Then only can you know me as I 
am. And when upon your bended knees, ' Oh ! if at no other 
time you think of me, do not forget me then. Alone, before 
your God, in the stillness of your chamber, I would most wish 
to be remembered,' till I left you that there was so much sel- 
fishness in my nature ; that there would be so great a struggle 
between the desires of a selfish heart and my manifest duty. 
But, so it is. We do not know ourselves until we are tested 
in the great crucible of time and circumstances. . . . The 
prospects of our cause are growing brighter and brighter. 
Through the dark gloom of the future I almost fancy I can see 
the dawning light of freedom breaking through the midnight 
darkness of foul wrong and oppression. That I can almost 
hear the swelling -anthem of Liberty rising from the millions 
who have but just cast aside the fetters and shackles that 


bound them But ere that day arrives I fear that we shall 
hear the crash of the battle shock and see the red glare of the 
cannon's lightning'. . . . Inclosed you will find a few 
flowers that I gathered in my rambles about town. They are 
the earliest flowers that blossom in this region. Accept this 
with my best wishes for your earthly and eternal bloom." 1 

In another letter of the same period he writes: 

" I am in the worst situation I ever was in in my life. I am 
here among strangers, and, what is strange, have no wish to 
make acquaintances. I also wish to write to my parents, sis- 
ters, and brother, but dare not at present on account of future 
plans. For, should they know that I was stopping here, it 
would awaken suspicion as to the cause of it. And then, 
beside, Mr. B. says he rather we would not until we leave here ; 
for which request he has good reasons. . . . Time hangs 
heavily on my hands while waiting, and there is but one thing 
that keeps me from being absolutely unhappy, and that is the 
consciousness that I am in the path of duty. I long for the 
10th of May to come (this was the date set for the Chatham 
Convention to meet). I am anxious to have my mind occupied 
with the great work of our missions, for amid the bustling, 
busy scenes of the camp, I should be less lonely and therefore 
more happy than at present." 

His Spring-dale friendships were maintained to the 
last hour of his life, and on the morning' of his execu- 
tion he wrote to Mr. and Mrs. Townsend there, 
before he indited the farewell letter to his wife and 
child. On the 3d of July, 1859. he writes: 

. . . I shall start up among the mountains to gaze upon 
the grand and beautiful. . . . God's blessed air sweeps 
over them, and the winds, as it were, breathe a mournful song 
of Liberty. . . . Time passes slowly ... as I idle 

1 To Miss Ella F. Lewis, of SpringJale, Iowa. 


thus. Heart and soul are all absorbed in the thought of what 
I owe my country and my God. . . . To-morrow is the 
Fourth ! the glorious day which saw our Freedom's birth, but 
left sad hearts beneath the slave lash and clanking chain. 
. . . I feel self-condemned whenever I think of it. . . . 
The contents of the cup may be bitter, but, if it is our duty 
let us drain it to the very dregs. 

On the ioth of August he writes to the Lewis 
family that: 

"A light is breaking in the Southern sky, and my glad eyes are 
gazing on its beams, for well I know that they are heralds fair 
of the bright glories of the coming day. My hours of watching 
and waiting now are over, and my glad heart is thrilled with 
the joy which the morning light has brought. My spirit seems 
to drink the inspiration of the scene, and I scarcely feel the 
weakness of my body. I am ready, waiting for my task. / 
shall not have long to ivait. The harvest is ripe, and the 
husbandman is almost ready. He has gazed over the field, 
and found that all was good. I but await his mandate. How 
I want to see you now. I have no words to tell my yearning 
after friends and home. Oh, I would love to gaze upon them 
now ; to hear the tones that taught my infant lips to utter 
father, mother, sister, brother. But this may not be. God be 
with and bless them." 

In this letter he sent the following stanzas: 

We see the gathering tempest in the sky, 
We see the black clouds as along they roll, 
We see from out the gloom the lightnings fly, 
O'erthrowing all who would their course control ! 

We see their flashes as they light' the gloom, 
Which o'er the morning's deep-blue sky was cast ; 
We hear the deep thunder's echoing boom, 
That tells the Death-descending bolt has past. 

john brown's men: who they were. 475 

We see the sunlight pierce the gloom of night, 
Which those dark clouds o'er mornings had cast, 
And roll them back upon their rapid flight, 
That we may hail the rainbow's beam at last. 

John E. Cook left Captain Brown at Cleveland, 
Ohio, in the latter part of May, 1858, proposing to 
him to go to Harper's Ferry, or neighborhood, procure 
employment, and make investigations. John Brown 
consented, a little reluctantly at first, as Cook's indis- 
creet speech always disturbed him. But there is no 
doubt that his hearty consent was finally given. Gill, 
Tidd, Parsons, Realf, have all agreed to that. Andrew 
Hunter, examining the correspondence in the cap- 
tured carpet-bag, found two or three letters, one 
being written by Richard Realf, criticising Cook for 
indiscreet talking, and, with the craft of the petty 
prosecutor, thought he had lighted on evidence of a 
divided feeling. He set himself to work it up, hoping to, 
in some way, find one of his prisoners weak enough to 
fall into the shallow trap he set. It was given out that 
Copeland had confessed and Edwin Coppoc adjured 
his Captain, while Cook's statement, wrung from him 
by the desire to see his wife and babe again, but more 
through the pleadings of his sister and cousin, Mrs. 
Willard and Miss Hughes, of Indiana, was heralded 
as a " confession" of importance. How little signifi- 
cance it had is apparent by the comments of the 
New York Tribune's correspondent (Nov. 10, 1859). 
when it was sensationally introduced into court. 
The Captain's daughter writes relative to these mat- 

1 The spectators had begun to withdraw, expecting no continu- 
ance of the interest, when, suddenly, all attention was arrested by 
Mr. Hunter's announcement that he had a confession rendered uy 


ters, that both Cook and Coppoc were a warm- 
hearted and impulsive, willing to work for the cause, 
but would rather not die for it, unless forced to." 

Arriving in Virginia early in June, 1858, Cook 
Stopped at Martinsburg, boarding with Mrs. Kennedy, 
whose daughter Virginia he soon after married. 
He taught district school, and also gave writing les- 
sons. He peddled maps and traveled as a book 
agent in the Valley of Virginia. He kept in touch 
with his Captain, who wisely destroyed the letters as 
they came. Hence there were none found in the car- 
pet-bag. For some time he kept the canal lock at the 
north end of the United States grounds. He was 
often in the armory and gathered considerable infor- 
mation. Cook formed the plan for capturing Lewis 
Washington and obtaining his historical relics. He 
also advocated the seizure of Harper's Ferry, wanted 
to burn the buildings and railroad bridges, carrying 
off such United States arms as their means of trans- 
portation would allow. He was a favorite with his 

Cook, which he was about to read. The intelligence soon spread 
'about, and the courtroom was speedily crowded again. All hoped 
for a complete and satisfactory revelation. . . . but all were 
disappointed. For the confession, which occupied some twenty 
large pages of manuscript, and was not read in less than half an 
hour, was very little beside a record of some of Cook's experi- 
ences in Kansas, Iowa, Ohio, Canada, and elsewhere, in which, 
to be sure, Brown was concerned all through, but which, except- 
ing the latter portions, bore very remotely upon the Harper's 
Ferry question. . . . Beyond the interest that attaches to an 
ostensible full avowal from one of Brown's party, his confession 
nas none. It is thought by the court that Cook has played a 
double game in preparing it — that he has pretended to reveal to 
the authorities in good faith all that he is able to, and at the 
same time attempted to preserve his fidelity to his old master. 

John brown's men: who they were. 475 

neighbors, and was well treated and warned of danger 
by the people along the canal, when, on the afternoon 
of the 17th of October, he was the only one of the 
band not in the Ferry, who risked his life to aid his 
Comrades that were fighting there. Mr. Boteler, 
then in Congress from that district, has told of the close 
call he received from a bullet sent by Cook from the 
side of Maryland Heights. The mark is still seen, made 
as he fell fifteen feet that afternoon, when a shot from 
one of the militia cut a small tree branch to which he 
was clinging. Cook never lacked the courage which 
Napoleon termed the " three o'clock in the morning" 
tvpe. In Ralph Keeler's account, from Owen Brown's 
notes and statement, of the final escape of Owen, 
Barclay Coppoc, and F. J. Merriam, the earlier pages 
are of interest as illustrating the influences that acted 
upon Cook in his fatal move at the Mount Alto or 
" old " furnace. 

The counsel of John Edwin Cook, at Chambers- 
burg, is a man honored in his native State and 
esteemed throughout the nation. In a recent volume 1 
the editor of the Philadelphia Times, Hon. Alexan- 
der K. McClure, has written an account of his con- 
nection with my beloved comrade and friend. It is a 
pathetic story, having the great merit of personal 
knowledge by one whose word will not be gainsaid, 
and it embodies a real tribute to a brilliant, brave, 
erratic but earnest manhood. I condense: 

When Hazlett was captured near Shippenburg 

1 " Abraham Lincoln and Men of War Times." By A. K. 
McClure, LL.D., Philadelphia. The Times Publishing Company, 
lSy2 " An Episode of the John Brown Raid," pp. 307-326. 


and taken to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, he was believed 
to be Captain Cook. A reward of $1,000 was offered 
for the latter's capture, and of $2,000 for Owen Brown, 
Charles Plummer Tidd, Barclay Coppoc, and Francis 
J. Merriam. Attached to the proclamation was a 
fair description of each of the fugitives. A requisi- 
tion was obtained from Richmond for the rendition 
of Cook. When the mistake was discovered, the 
Cook requisition was retained in a sheriff's hands, 
thirty miles from Chambersburg. This proximity 
cost Cook his life. Thus, as a matter of fact, he was 
practically sacrificed; the arrest of Hazlett being one 
direct cause, and the rather quarrelsome disposition 
of Tidd being the other, though unintentional, force 
which, with hunger, induced or drove Cook down from 
the. mountains. Col. A. K. McClure says: "I was the 
counsel of John E. Cook at Chambersburg, and the 
only person entirely familiar with the inner history 
of his capture and the plans of escape." 

The hunters, slave or otherwise, of the "South 
Mountain" region, had seen that the line of retreat 
must be in that direction. " Cook was known as a man 
of desperate courage," " reckless," and " expert " in the 
use of weapons, and " his capture alive was not ex- 
pected." He was, however, arrested on the 24th of 
October, and, says Col. McClure, he " walked into the 
hands of the only man in Franklin County who com- 
bined with the courage and skill the purpose to cap- 
ture him. The Logans were mountaineers, Southern 
in sympathy, " natural-born detectives," accustomed 
to the hunting of fugitive slaves. Daniel Logan, the 
capturer of Cook, lived at Lancaster, until 1892. He 
is described as a man who " did not believe that either 


slavery or freedom was worth dying for. " His brother 
Hugh went South and joined the Confederate Army, 
dying at last in its ranks from wounds. Daniel, pos- 
sessing " the highest measure of courage," was a man 
of complete " physical strength," having clean-cut 
features and a symmetrical form. "A born detective, 
silent, cunning, tireless, and resolute," without a con- 
viction, he was just the man for the act. Captain 
Cook, in his wanderings in search of food, found 
himself suddenly in an "open space" and "within 
fifty yards of a number of workmen." He boldly de- 
clared himself to be a hunter. Cleggett Fitzhugh, 
manager of the Mount Alto Furnace, where Cook 
was first seen, was a man of Southern birth and sym- 
pathies. He is reported in the newspapers of the 
period as a nephew, by marriage, of Gerrit Smith, 
John Brown's friend and supporter. Logan was con- 
versing with him, when Cook emerged from the 
thickets. He quietly said: "That's Captain Cook; 
we must arrest him; the reward is $1,000." Cook 
advanced carelessly, stated he had been hunting and 
wanted to " replenish his stock of bread and bacon." 
Logan heartily invited Cook to go to " his store " for 
supplies. Without noticing how he was flanked, with 
his gun carelessly on his shoulder, Cook was suddenly 
seized. After a brief and hopeless struggle he asked 
"why?" "Because you are Captain Cook," replied 
Logan. No answer was made to this. Afterwards, the 
captor said all he wanted was the reward or its equiv- 
alent. " Cook's naturally bright face beamed at once 
with hope." He told Logan that the amount and 
more was not to be a consideration, for his brother- 
in-law, Willard, of Indiana, and Crowley, of New 


York, could raise the same on learning the condi- 
tions. The statements were of course distrusted by 
such a man, but Logan named Col. McClure as a 
Republican and lawyer who would act as counsel 
and might otherwise aid. They went to Chambers- 
burg, put up at a small hotel and started to find the 
now famous editor. He could not be found easily, 
and Logan, fearing for his reward, took his prisoner, 
about dark, to Justice Reisher. Mr. McClure was 
passing and, seeing a gathering crowd, stepped into 
the office. Logan whispered, " with a betrayal of 
excitement," unusual in him: " My God, Col. McClure! 
where have you been ? I have been hunting you 
for more than an hour. That's Captain Cook, and 
I had agreed to bring him to you. Can't you get 
him yet ?" Logan had promised Cook to take 
McClure's word for the reward or its equivalent. 
There was, of course, nothing to be done, but let 
Cook be committed. Everybody, says the editor, 
would have been content if Cook had " been able to 
bounce through a window and escape . . . Logan 
repented . . . when he saw he had surrendered 
a life for a price," and as they passed out he said: 
" Get Cook away, reward or no reward." McClure 
was counsel for the sheriff, who would also have been 
glad to have his prisoner escape. Cook, however, 
agreed not to try until the next night. At the next 
noon, the sheriff rushed to McClure's office " wild 
with excitement and his eyes dimmed with tears," 
exclaiming, " Cook's taken away." A requisition had 
arrived from Carlisle, in the hands of the sheriff of 
Cumberland County. The officer accompanied by a 
Mr. Kimball, Judge Jeremiah G. Black's brother-in- 

john brown's men: who they were. 479 

law, arrived in town on the morning train, accom- 
panied, as press reports state, by a Virginian lawyer 
named Douglass. A presiding judge (State) happen- 
ing to be in town, was called upon, instant delivery 
demanded, and acceded to. The papers being 
regular, Cook was at once turned over to the Virgin- 
ian. The whole transaction was finished in twenty 
minutes. He was borne away before his lawyer even 
knew of the action taken, loaded with irons, placed in 
a wagon and driven to the station. Gov. Willard 
had been notified and was already on his way from 
Indiana to Chambersburg. 

Here is Col. McClure's description of his famous 

*• When the lawless little captain had got comfortably 
seated in his cell, I had my first opportunity to note his 
appearance and quality. His long silken blonde hair curled 
carelessly about his neck ; his deep blue eyes were gentle 
in expression as a woman's, and his slightly bronzed com- 
plexion did not conceal the soft, effeminate skin that 
would have well befitted the gentler sex. He was small in 
stature, . . . nervous, and impatient. He spoke in quick, 
impulsive sentences, but with little directness save in repeat- 
ing that he must escape from prison." 

It was pointed out that it would be dangerous to 
all for him to try that night — no one knew of the 
waiting requisition, and time seemed to be unpress- 
ing. The next night it was decided that the attempt 
should be made. A conference was then held by the 
lawyer and his partner as to the best means of delay- 
ing or fighting a requisition. At ten o'clock McClure 
returned to the jail and had his last interview with 
Cook. "As he never dreamed of a requisition reach- 


ing him before the second day," and felt confident of 
escape, Cook " threw off the cloud of despair that 
shadowed him in the early part of the evening, and 
startled me with the eloquence and elegance of his 
conversation," making "one forget that he was in a 
chilly prison cell, and imagine that he was in the 
library of some romantic lover of literature and the 
fine arts. . . . He was evidently a man of much 
more than common intellectual qualities, and thor- 
oughly poetic in tastes and temperament, with a 
jarring mixture of wild, romantic love of the heroic." 
He talked of Kansas and his adventures, while "his 
soul," writes McClure, " seemed to be absorbed in 
avenging the Kansas slavery crusades by revolution- 
ary emancipation in the slave States. When asked 
whether he would not abandon this, 'when he 
escaped,' his large, soft eyes flashed with the fire of 
defiance, as he answered, with an emphasis that un- 
strung every nerve in his body, l No ! the battle must 
be fought to the bitter end, and we must triumph, or 
God is not just.' " 

Col. McClure states that Cook, at any time that 
night, could have escaped within thirty minutes, but 
refrained from action " for it would have com- 
promised both the sheriff and counsel." Arriving at 
home at eleven o'clock, Mrs. McClure and Miss Vir- 
ginia Reilley, a devoted friend, were found prepared 
with a bundle of female apparei, and ready to go to 
the jail, admission to which would not be denied 
them. There they proposed that Cook should 
assume the garb, and while one remained in his 
place he should walk out with the other. It 
took more than persuasion to prevent their doing 

JOHN brown's men: who they were. 481 

this, and they have since then many times " re- 
proached themselves for not acting upon their 
woman's intuition." 

Justice Reisher, before whom Logan brought Cook, 
said: "In the short time I was with him, I thought 
him a gentleman. There was a good deal of candor 
about him. He is evidently a very brave man." In 
conversation, Cook spoke of his own companions in 
the mountains, except Merriam, but gave no clue to 
their whereabouts. He denied all knowledge of the 
Bostonian, who had luckily got on the train five 
miles from Chambersburg and was then in safety. 
He also refused to talk of Hazlett, of whom he said he 
had no knowledge, either as " Harrison," or by his own 
name. He did not mention him in his so-called con- 
fession and the only vexatious admission therein was 
the use of this writer's name. Realf was at the time 
believed among the John Brown party to be dead, and 
when I had left Boston, the spring before, I had 
designedly stated my intention to join Gen. Frederick 
Landers, on a United States wagon road expedition 
to Oregon. So that in no way did Cook ever design- 
edly mention the name of anyone not already known 
to the Virginian authorities as in some way or fashion 
contributing to the John Brown movement. Mr. 
Franklin Keagy writes, that " in the early part of 
October, 1892, Daniel Logan was struck by an engine 
on the Pennsylvania railroad at Lancaster City, and 
had his right leg so badly mangled that it had to be 
amputated, and the shock killed him. It is but justice 
to Mr. Logan to say, that he greatly regretted he 
had arrested John C. Cook." Mr. Keagy describes 
the arrival of Mrs. Cook at Chambersburg, she hav- 
3 1 


ing been brought in Brown's covered wagon from the 
Kennedy Farm. He writes that: 

" Mrs. Cook was assigned a room in the rear of the parlor 
on the first floor. She was under the impression that a party 
from here were going West, of which she was to be a part. 
They were to start in a few days. . . . When Mrs. Cook 
learned of the outbreak at Harper's Ferry, and her husband's 
connection with it, she was terribly distressed and frenzied 
with grief. Her situation was pitiable in the extreme. She 
was a total stranger, with a young babe, and not a dollar to 
pay her boarding or assist her to go away. In this extremity 
she appealed to the writer hereof for advice. She desired to 
go back to Harper's Ferry. I thought it best she should not 
go there at that time. The intense excitement and possibility 
of her being arrested, harassed, or insulted, was pointed out to 
her. She feared, too, to go there. On inquiry I learned from 
her that she had an uncle residing at Brooklyn, N, Y., and I 
advised her to go there. It was then I was informed that she 
was penniless. I told her if she wished to go the means would 
be furnished her. I appealed to Capt. Thomas G. Cochran 
for assistance, and in a few hours had more than enough to 
defray her expenses. I shall never forget the look of speech- 
less gratitude when I placed the money in her hands. I started 
to leave the room. She awoke as it were from a dream, and 
breaking out in a flood of tears, with clenched hands raised 
above her head, she exclaimed : ' Oh, sir, how can I thank you 
for your kindness to me. God bless you.' At her further 
request I ordered the 'bus to call for her the next morning, 
and she started for Brooklyn, N. Y. Late in the afternoon of 
that same day her uncle arrived here with the purpose of look- 
ing after her. They had passed each other on the road." 

Mrs. Ritner, in whose house " Dr. Smith," John 
Henri, Watson, Owen, and Oliver, Merriam, and Tidd 
had boarded for varying periods, was the widow of a 

john brown's men: who they were. 483 

Mr. Ritner, son of the famous farmer-governor of 
Pennsylvania, who secured, about 1830, the first laws 
for a free school system, which he inaugurated. He 
was a warm personal friend of Thaddeus Stevens, 
and therefore of the old political free-soil stock. 
Mrs. Ritner and her daughter live in Bridgeport, 
Connecticut, where also resides, as a merchant and a 
man of family, the son of John E. Cook. Mrs. Cook 
remained for some time in Williamsburg, but early in 
the spring of i860 went to Boston, working for a 
time at " the case" in James Redpath's office, until 
she finally decided to take her son and return to her 
mother at Martinsburg, Virginia. This she did, and, 
though it was not a pleasant experience that beset 
her in unneighborly ill will, she bravely remained 
through the war period, marrying, in 1864, an officer 
of Illinois volunteers, named Johnson, with whom 
she removed to Bloomington, and now resides in 
Chicago. Virginia Kennedy Cook was an attractive 
young woman, large, regular featured, blonde 
in complexion, modest, quiet in manner, blame- 
less in life, devoted to her husband's memory, 
possessed a reserve of will and character that well 
befitted her sad position. Mrs. Willard still lives in 
Indianapolis, and Mrs. Robert Crowley in New York, 
both widows. Another married sister, Mrs. Carpen- 
ter, and an unmarried one reside in Connecticut, the 
latter at Haddam, the family home. Cook's counsel 
were Daniel W. Voorhees and J. E. "McDonald, botli of 
whom have served as United States Senators, and his 
brother-in-law, Governor Willard, of Indiana. Messrs. 
Bott & Green were also engaged. One of the most 
frequently repeated stories about the relations of 


Captain Brown and John E. Cook is that of a slight 
put upon the latter as the former was going to his 
execution. On the 9th of December, Cook set that 
at rest, in a letter, given below, which is of interest 
for other reasons: 

" The statements that have been made in regard to my com- 
panions and myself are totally false. There has not been one 
single instance in which I have felt or shown any signs of fear 
or nervousness since I have been here. Neither has my com- 
rade, Coppoc, since he has occupied the cell with me, shown 
any such weakness or dread of death. We dislike the mode 
of death to which we have been doomed, But, notwithstand- 
ing, we are cheerfully and calmly awaiting our fate, and trust 
we shall meet it like men. I will frankly admit that on one or 
two occasions I have been agitated by the reception of touch- 
ing letters from my wife and other relatives, whose happiness 
are dearer to me than my life. The doom that awaits me has 
not in the least affected my appetite, nor has it occasioned any 
loss of rest. I sleep as calmly here as I would if in my 
boyhood home." 

As to the farewell interview, Cook wrote: 

" Captain Brown came in smiling, and shook both Coppoc 
and myself warmly by the hand. He asked kindly after our 
health. He then said to me that he was very sorry that I had 
made a statement that was not true, as I would only gain con- 
tempt by it. I asked him what I had said that was untrue. 
He told that it was the statement which I had made. ' that he 
had sent me to the Ferry.' I told him he most certainly did 
tell me to go there. He said he had no recollection of any- 
thing of the kind, but that he remembered distinctly of telling 
me not to go there. I replied that I had a good memory, and 
had not the slightest recollection of anything of the kind. He 
remarked that he thought that my memory must be treacher- 
ous then, but it would do no good to talk about that ; but that 

john brown's men: who they were. 485 

if we had got to die, to meet our fate like men, that we had 
gone into a good cause, and not to deny it now. He then 
turned to Coppoc, and said that he had heard that he had 
made some false statements, but was glad to learn that those 
reports were untrue. He then asked if he could do anything 
for us. We answered in the negative. He then pressed our 
hands warmly, and bade us a last farewell. There was no one 
present except Captain Avis, Captain Brown, Coppoc, and 
myself. Captain Avis will, I think, vouch for the truth of this 
statement, as will Mr. Coppoc." 

Among the papers left by Cook are a number of 
musical and pathetic lyrics, written during his im- 
prisonment. One of them, written in pencil, on a 
leaf of his note-book, was brought to me by George 
Henry Hoyt. Another was received by the Lewis 
family at Springdale, Iowa, and in his exquisite fare- 
well letter to "wife and child," penned on'the morn- 
ing of his execution, was enclosed some stanzas ex- 
pressive of both affection and religious resignation. 
Virginia had a spasmodic generosity and allowed his 
body to be taken North by his relatives. The cowardice 
and.doughfacism, then too prevalent, culminated in 
insulting refusals to permit public funeral services 
over the dead soldier's body. The consistory of Dr. 
Porter's church refused to allow funeral services 
therein over Cook's body. Mr. Robert Crowley and 
his wife were members of the church. So also did 
the consistory of Dr. Tompkins's church (the New 
England). A Baptist Congregation offered the use 
of their small chapel, but the funeral services were 
finally held in Mr. Crowley r 's dwelling, where Virginia 
Cook by the coffin of her husband for the first time 
met any of her relatives. He was buried in the 
Cypress Hills Cemetery. 



Loving their heroic relative though they did, some 

of John Edwin Cook's " respectable " kin, undertook 

JOHN brown's men: who they were. 487 

to do a considerable amount of explaining for him. 
Richard Realf, in a letter dated from Washington in 
i860, responded to this spirit in words of tribute, 
which are gladly adopted here: "You will, I am 
sure," he wrote, " pardon me for saying that- in rela- 
tion to 'John Edwin Cook' I cannot consent to adopt 
as my own the sentiments with which you appear to 
regard him. I cannot, that is, consent to call him un- 
fortunate. . . . We have been friends. Permit 
me to say of him that his faults were such as belong 
to a warm, impulsive, chivalrous nature. He was 
quickhearted, swift-blooded, brave unto recklessness, 
generous unto prodigality. We have been together 
on the stump, in the solitude of the far prairies, in the 
social circle, in the retirement of our own homes, and 
I never knew him other than that which I have 
stated." Here let it be added, that knowing Cook 
closely in personal relations, and critically scanning 
for years everything to be found written by or about 
him, this writer regards his errors or rather his 
mistakes, as matters of temperament; his qualities 
were those of a noble soul, an aspiring, abiding brain, 
a vivid and hopeful imagination. He was a man of 
deep convictions; a genuine comrade; more than 
brave, for he had often shown himself ready in the 
faithfulness that abides even into death for its 
higher ideals. 

Quakers are esteemed to be good fighters when 
the paradox is illustrated of their being engaged in 
fighting. Edwin Coppoc was Quaker bred, and 
showed it in his grave, quiet, reserved, even rustic, 
ways. But he was faithful in fight and unflinching 
before death. A letter written by him to friends in 


Iowa illustrates his character. It bears date No- 
vember 22d, and deserves this place in the record. 
It is valuable, too, as a simple, succinct statement of 
personal knowledge. It reads in part: 

" And with them are the forms and faces of those that, to me, 
were more than comrades, who fell in a fearful struggle. Eleven 
of our little band are sleeping now in their bloody garments 
with the cold earth above them. Braver men never lived ; truer 
men to the plighted word never banded together. Five of 
them fell while righting in self-defense for the cause for which 
they had enlisted ; three on the afternoon of the 17th ; the first 
a negro by the name of Dangerfield Newby; he fell on the 
street by my side, whilst we were running to the aid of some 
of our friends who were surrounded by the enemy. Two men, 
Steward Taylor and Oliver Brown, fell by the engine-house. 
Taylor lived about three hours after he was shot ; he suffered 
very much and begged of us to kill him. Oliver died in about 
fifteen minutes after he was shot ; he said nothing. During 
these last moments we could not administer to their wants 
such as they deserved, for we were surrounded by the troops 
who were firing volley after volley, so that we had to keep up 
a brisk fire in return to keep them from charging upon us. Two 
more fell in the engine-house on the morning of the 1 8th, when 
the last charge was made — Jeremiah Anderson and Dolph. 

"They both had surrendered after the first charge, which was 
repulsed, but, owing to the noise and confusion, they were not 
heard. Captain Brown and I were the only ones that fought 
to the last. The negro Green, after I had stationed him behind 
one of the engines, the safest place in the house, laid down 
his rifle and pulled off his cartridge-box, and passed himself off 
for one of the prisoners. He and I were the only ones not 

" Watson Brown was wounded about 10 o'clock on Monday 
at the same time Stevens was, while passing along the street 
with a flag of truce, but was not so badly wounded but he got 

JOHN brown's men: who thev were. 489 

back in the engine-house. During the fight in the afternoon he 
fought as brave as ever any man fought, but as soon as the 
fight was over he got worse. When we were taken in the 
morning he was just able to walk. He and Green and myself 
were put in the watch-house. Watson kept getting worse from 
then until about three o'clock Wednesday morning when he died. 
I did everything in my power to make him comfortable. He 
begged hard for a bed, but could not get one, so I pulled off my 
coat and put it under him, and placed his head in my lap, and 
in that position he died. 

"Cook and Tidd had left the Ferry early in the morning, by 
order of Captain Brown, to cross the river for the purpose of 
taking some prisoners and to convey the arms to a schoolhouse 
about one and a half miles from the Ferry, there to guard them 
until the Captain came, but, hearing a heavy firing. Cook went 
down to learn the cause. On gaining the side of the river 
opposite the Ferry, he found we were surrounded, so he as- 
cended the mountain in order to get a better view ; while there 
he saw parties firing on us. In order to relieve us he fired on 
them and in doing so he drew the fire on himself, the result of 
which was the cutting of a limb and giving him a fall of about 
fifteen feet down the mountain side, tearing his clothes, and 
lacerating his flesh. There were thirty or forty men in the first 
party he fired on who after the second shot were taken with a 
sudden leaving, having no doubt important business elsewhere. 
The Virginians who were present give him the credit of being 
a splendid shot at a long range, as they admit they made a very 
near acquaintance with some of his bullets. 

" But enough of this. Whatever may be our fate, rest as- 
sured we shall not shame our dead companions by a shrinking 
fear. They lived and died like brave men. We, I trust, shall 
do the same. And our souls with no sin of intention on their 
robes will gaze unmoved upon the scaffold and the tomb. We 
were deceived in some things. Even Captain Brown acknowl- 
edges that ; but all is over now, so let it pass. There are true 
and brave men in Virginia who deeply sympathize with us in 
our misfortune. I suppose within the last two days from eight 


hundred to one thousand persons have visited us, some through 
sympathy, but more through animosity. 

" Among those who called to-day were three young ladies 
from Harper's Ferry, friends and acquaintances of Cook. 
They stood and gazed on us for a moment with deep earnest- 
ness and then burst into tears. One of them told Cook that 
all of his friends and acquaintances at the Ferry, had formed 
the highest opinion of him and regretted he should have gone 
into such a scheme. They parted from us with tear-dimmed 
eyes and the deepest expression of sympathy for us in our sad 
position. . . . I have not seen the Captain or Stevens since 
our trials, but the jailer tells me they are doing well, their 
wounds will soon be healed. J. E. Cook sends his love to all." 

Edwin Coppoc's days before the early part of 1859 
were uneventful. Born near Salem, Columbiana 
County, Ohio, June 30, 1835, he was, when hung by 
Virginia on the 16th of December, 1859, twenty-four 
years, four months, and sixteen days old. He was 
reared by his grandfather, having lost his father early 
in childhood, going to district school and working on 
the farm. As pupil, studious; as a boy, industrious; 
as a youth, enterprising, with good business traits. 
Mr. Gill, who knew him intimately, writes of Edwin 
as a young man of force and decision of character, 
accompanied by winning manners and most amiable 
ways. He was brave, persistent, active, and athletic, 
intelligent, " honorable, loyal, and true ;" full, too, of 
" pleasant mirthfulness," a " magnetic person," and 
a " capital chum." Edwin Coppoc, says Anne Brown, 
was of fair skin, had a well-balanced, large head, 
dark brown hair and eyes, short beard, "quite 
simple and fascinating in his ways." He was "a 
rare young fellow; caring for and fearing nothing, 
he yet possessed great social traits and no better 


comrade have lever met." His mother was a woman 
of uncommon intelligence. Barclay was killed in 
the Civil War. Two sisters and another brother 
died of consumption. The Rev. Joseph Coppoc, 
a Baptist preacher, resident in Iowa, is the only 
living brother. He was a major in a colored 
infantry regiment during the Civil War. Edwin's 
brief record begun when John Brown went through 
Iowa, early in 1859, with his band of rescued slaves 
from Missouri. He and his brother Barclay bade 
their mother farewell in the early summer, and at 
their own cost went to Chambersburg and reported 
for service. A quaint incident, characteristic of the 
Captain's care for details, is told as occurring on the 
morning of his execution. Barclay Coppoc spent 
about forty dollars in the '* cause," and this amount 
John Brown considered as due him. He handed 
Edwin fifty cents — all the change that remained to 
him as he was leaving the jail, recalling, as he did so, 
the amount Barclay had expended. The latter never 
considered it as a debt, however. It is unnecessary 
to recount again the story of Edwin's attempt with 
Cook to escape, or of his quiet, manly farewells. " It 
is not the manner of death that troubles, it is the 
leaving of dear friends," and with these words, and 
hand clasped in Cook's, this young life went gallantly 
into the unknown. 

" What happiness there is in thinking or knowing 
that we are doing the best we can for the good of 
humanity, although we meet hardships on our jour- 
ney." Thus wrote Aaron D wight Stevens in a letter 
from " Post of Duty " (Kennedy Farm), dated Septem- 
ber 9, 1859, and directed to Miss Jennie Dunbar, at 


West Andover, Ohio. When a condemned prisoner, 
he said to a Virginian who railed at him: "I am a 
poor man myself, but I never yet saw the day when I 
would have exchanged liberty for riches." Anne 
Brown wrote of Stevens: " He tries the hardest to be 
good;" and he himself declared, after conviction and 
sentence, that " I am cheerful and happy, ready to 
die at a moment's warning, although I would like to 
live as long as anybody." The young man who 
wrote thus of duty, liberty, riches, and death, was 
born at Lisbon, New London County, Connecticut, 
March 15, 1S31, and was hung on March 16, 
i860, at Charlestown, Virginia, for the " crime " of 
attacking chattel slavery. Stevens was also of the best 
New England stock, and of ancestral strains that go 
deep into the roots of the struggle for liberty of con- 
science and civic freedom. His great-grandfather, 
Moses Stevens, was a revolutionary officer, and his 
grandfather served in the war of 181 2. The record 
goes back to early colonial da}^, when his progeni- 
tors were always found with the people's cause and 
against the aggressions or arrogance of the crown. 
The paths of heredity, as well as the roads of action, 
moulded tendencies and created forces, leading direct 
to Harper's Ferry and a Virginian gallows-tree. 

The boy was father of the man. Taught till four- 
teen in the common school, he early went to work to 
maintain himself. Handsome and active as a young 
Greek gladiator, overflowing with abundant life, 
impetuous, passionate, generous, warm-hearted, and 
hasty, it is not surprising that this boy found his 
daily life monotonous, and that during the first years 
of war with Mexico he enlisted and served until its 


close. He was honorably discharged, and remained 
at home until 185 1, when he enlisted as a bugler in a 
United States dragoon regiment, commanded by Col. 
Sumner, being drafted to the West at once. He 
became the colonel's bugler-orderly. He served in 
Western Kansas and Nebraska, in Wyoming, Colo- 
rado, and New Mexico. Stevens was hard to disci- 
pline, and could seldom restrain his disposition to 
resist the daily tyrannies. One who knew the cir- 
cumstances attending his desertion, has told that, 
after a considerable period in New Mexico, watching, 
and sometimes fighting Navajo and Apache, the 
command, early in 1855, was ordered into Fort 
Leavenworth. Soon after the march commenced, a 
soldier disobeyed some petty order and was inhumanly 
punished therefor by order of the major in command. 
Maddened by the outrage, Stevens fell upon the major, 
and, beating his bugle out of shape over his head, 
chastised him, as he richly deserved, within an inch 
of his life. For this performance he was marched 
across the plains, with a ball and chain attached to 
his ankle, to Fort Leavenworth, where he was court- 
martialed, and sentenced to be shot. On application 
of some of the officers at the fort to the President, \f 
his sentence was commuted to three years' hard labor 
in the guardhouse or the shop, with the ball and 
chain to his ankle. He served the government in 
this way till early in January, 1856, when he deserted, 
and concealed himself among the Delaware Indians 
on the Kaw River. He remained with them till about 
the 1st of March following, when he made his appear- 
ance in Topeka. Stevens at once identified himself 
with the Free State cause, assuming his mother's name 


and being known as "Charles Whipple." He filed a 
preemption claim on a quarter section of land in 
Shawnee County. 

It was of course soon apparent that he had had a 
military training, and this was accounted for by his 
acknowledgment of having served in the Mexican 
War. Whipple became useful at once, and during 
the spring of 1856, organized several mounted com- 
panies which were formed into the Second Regiment 
of Free-State Volunteers. This was not disbanded 
until the next summer, when, being in possession of 
the Territorial Legislature, the free-state people 
authorized the creation of a militia of which James 
H. Lane was made major-general in command, Stev- 
ens being offered a brigadier-general's commission. 
Under Col. "Whipple," the Second Free-State Regi- 
ment did service at Indianola, Tecumseh, Osawkee, 
the Titus Fort, Lecompton, and other points. These, 
as already explained, were armed camps of Buford's 
men, or towns controlled by and serving as rallying 
points for the Missouri invaders. Whipple himself 
was exceedingly serviceable also in keeping open the 
Northern emigrant route to Nebraska. When Col. 
Sumner with dragoons was in Topeka, on the 4th 
of July, and later with Governor Geary in the fol- 
lowing December and January, the free-state colonel 
always found a convenient excuse for being absent. 
They would 'nave hardly recognized however, in the 
stalwart man, "bearded like a pard," the down- 
bedewed cheeks of the daring youth who had served 
as orderly among the Rocky Mountains. 

In describing the roads to Harper's Ferry, the 
actions of Aaron D. Stevens and his general charac- 

john brown's men: who they were. 495 

teristics have been sufficiently outlined to make of 
him a distinct figure. The Baltimore Americans 
special correspondent, under date of October 18th, 
1859, thus writes of Stevens, then a prisoner, with 
six bullet wounds in various parts of his body: 

" He is the only one of the lot that I have seen, excepting, 
of course, the negroes, who has not light hair. His hair and 
long beard are of a fine black (it was really a dark brown) ; 
his face partakes of the handsome and noble ; his eye, though 
restless, has a sharp brilliancy; and he, too, is a six-footer. 
A stout, strong man, whose condition, lying upon the floor, 
obedient to the last to the command of ' my Captain,' as he called 
him, wounded with three or four buckshot wounds — two in the 
head and one in the breast, certain of death — I could not but pity. 
He, too, showed a marvelous courage. Ever and anon, groan- 
ing with excessive pain, he did not. however, forget himself for 
an instant, but calmly, although in such pain, listened to the 
conversation as it progressed. Both men seemed prepared for 
death, seemed to court it rather, perhaps under the idea that 
they will be acknowledged martyrs, but more possibly under 
the conviction of having performed a sacred duty. However 
much the writer hereof may differ from them, there must arise 
a feeling of respect for them in their bold rashness." 

Stevens stood six feet two inches in his stocking- 
feet, was a perfectly proportioned man, with hands 
and feet that were small for stature and bulk, a long 
arm, having remarkable skill in the use of a sabre, — he 
was a perfect drillmaster for cavalry and irregular 
warfare. His head was large, round, with full, high 
forehead, well proportioned, good features, and re- 
markably brilliant, clear, speaking eyes. He had 
decidedly soldierly qualities and would have won 
place and fame if he had lived and occasion arose 
before him. He wrote fairly and read much in Eng- 


lish, and coming of a decidedly musical family, with 
a magnificent baritone voice, was, of course, fond of 
singing. His father and elder brothers both taught 
music, and all the family were choir members. To 
Mrs. Spring, replying to that lady's proposal to bury 
both himself and Hazlett at Eagleswood, he wrote: 

" I have a dear father, a very kind, benevolent man. I have 
also a stepmother, my own mother's sister, and I have also 
two sisters, and two brothers, all very near and dear to me. 
They are somewhat different from me — more quiet and steady 
than me. My oldest brother is a music teacher — in fact, we 
all understand music, more or less. My father has led a choir 
ever since he was sixteen — he is now over sixty. I have 
written him to know if he will want to claim my body, if I am 
sent to the spiritland through the kindness of Virginia. It 
makes very little difference to me what becomes of the body 
after the spirit has left it. My father is a poor man ; I do not 
know as he will be able to come on here and get it. I wrote 
him, telling him he had better give up his right to you, and 
that he could come to your place, if he chose, and see me 
buried. I hope he will comply ; if not, please accept my 
thanks for your kind offer." 

Nothing can give a better conception of Stevens — 
bold, brave, full of courage and passionate vigor as 
he was — than some brief sentences from the numer- 
ous letters at my command; enough, in fact, to fill a 
small volume. To his sister he said: 

" I am glad that I did not die of my wounds ; for I believe 
that my execution upon the gallows will be a better testimony 
for truth and liberty." 

In reply to a question why he went to Harper's 
Ferry with John Brown, the reply was: 

" It was to help my fellow men out of bondage. You know 
nothing of slavery — / know a great deal. It is the crime of 


crimes. I hate it more and more the longer I live. Even 
since I have been lying in this cell, I have heard the cryings of 
slave-children torn from their parents." 

11 We are in the right, and will resist the universe," 
was the answer thundered back at a Kansas sheriff 
in the fall of 1858, when arrests were to be attempted 
for resistance to pro-slavery murderers and robbers. 
"There is so much happiness," he said, " in trying to 
make others happy." To Mrs. Spring, with whom he 
maintained a long and remarkable correspondence, 
he wrote, at different dates: 

" I wish you a long life and a happy one, and in your last 
days the thought of having helped the world forward instead 
of back. . . . The bouquet you sent me is very beautiful. 
I have hung it up south of the window, over the little table I 
have to write upon. It always has a smile of love and kind- 
ness. . . . My trial comes on to-morrow. I shall soon 
know my destiny. I have not much hope short of anything 
but the better land. ... I hope your soul is so strong that 
sorrow cannot find a lodging there. I am cheerful and happy, 
patiently awaiting the fate of man — death. ... I could 
bear all the sorrow of the world, if I had it on my shoulders. 
. . . It makes my soul overflow with sorrow to see men 
with great talents use them in defending what is both a curse 
to themselves and to all mankind. ... I hope you will 
always, as you love yourself, as you love woman, as you love 
man, as you love God, work with hands, head, and heart 
for the happiness of all mankind. . . . I am glad I did not 
die of my wounds ; for I believe my execution upon the gallows 
will be a better testimony for truth and liberty. . . . Give 
those little children my love and thanks for their bounteous- 
ness; tell them I hope they will live to be an ornament to the 
world, and lovers of freedom and justice to all the human 
family. . . . Mr. Sennott (his lawyer) left here this morn- 
ing ; I suppose you will see him before you get this. He has 



done all a man could for me, for which I am very thankfitL 
. . . I hope you will not hesitate a moment about speaking 
to me of death, for it gives me no more pain than it would to 
talk about living. It would give me much more pain to have 
you tell of some poor human being trodden down by some 
tyrant. Death has no terrors for me; at the same time, I 
should like to live as long as I can do any good." 

To Anne Brown, in closing a letter, he said: " Give 
my love to all good people — to all who love the 
truth." Again he writes, eight days before his execu- 
tion, that: 

" It is hard to look back on those that are gone ; but, thank 
God, they died for liberty, and ere the 17th of March I expect 
to meet them in the spirit land. I am very cheerful and happy, 
and never felt more so in my life. . . . My comrade, Mr. 
Harrison, is getting along nicely." 

He tells Wealthy Brown that he cannot " laugh " 
because of his facial paralysis, owing to a wound, and 
that it is impossible to sing, which is the worst of all. 
He read much and was amply supplied with books. 
Gerald Massey's poems and "Abou Ben Adhem," by 
Leigh Hunt, were among his favorites. Copies of 
verses in Stevens's neat handwriting are quite plentiful. 
His songs seem to have been ''The Messenger Bird," 
a lyric often sung in spiritualist meetings, "Just as I 
Am," " Come to Me," " The Eden Shore," and others. 
Ellen Francis Watkins Harper, a colored woman of 
poetical and oratorical ability, then living in Phila- 
delphia, was a constant and cheering correspondent, 
and sent him several very pretty lyrics of her own. 

When Captain Brown was bidding a final farewell 
to his young comrade, he wrote the following: 

" Charlestown Prison, 2d December, 1859. 
"John Brown to Aaron D. Stevens. ' He that is slow to anger 

joiin brown's men: who they were. 499 

is better than the mighty ; and lie that ruleth his spirit, than 
he that taketh a city.' — Solomon." 

Stevens added: 

"This was given me an hour or two before he was exe- 
cuted. A. D. S." 

Unlike Captain Brown, his gallant soldier associate 
did not affect the faith of a Christian. He was a 
devoted spiritualist, however, and died believing 
absolutely in the immortality of life. To Mrs. Spring 
he wrote: 

"I suppose you have heard before this, that I am not a be- 
liever in the Christian religion, and I never judge a person by 
their belief. The Christian religion never looked consistent to 
me, and therefore I had to look elsewhere for religion, and found 
it in the great Bible of Nature. Christians think, as a general 
thing, that a person that believes that way never has the feel- 
ing that comes over a person when they experience religion ; 
but that is not so. That feeling' will come upon every one who 
will put away the great self, and try to do unto others as they 
would have others do unto them ; then they will feel happy and 
ready to die at any time. There is a natural feeling to live in 
the bosom of all as long as they can, but I mean they will have 
no fears of going into the hands of the Supreme Being, or 
Ruling Power of the universe." Of his prison life, under 
date of January 14, i860, he says : " I have many letters to write 
to many dear friends which employ a good part of my time, 
and the rest is taken up in sleeping, exercise, and reading. 
The chain only gives me room to take a half step, so you will 
see I cannot walk very fast, but I get some exercise that way, 
which gives rne rest from sitting or lying." After regretting 
his inability to write freely, he goes on: " Without going into 
the mysteries of death, what a field of thought and action there 
is here to find out how to live and Juno to do our duty to our 
brothers and sisters, or to everything that lives. How little 


can we learn in the few years we spend here of the truth found 
in the infinite ocean of mind and matter." He then mentions 
the books sent him by friends as having been read with pleas- 
ure ■ in the snug home," wherein he was confined. 

The trial of Stevens and Hazlett begun on the 2d 
of February, i860. The indefatigable and faithful 
Boston lawyer, Mr. Sennott, was on hand, able and 
untiring in his unpaid and volunteer labors. He 
harried the prosecutor Hunter a good deal over the 
pretense of having transferred Stevens's case to the 
Federal Court, and endeavored to secure from Judge 
Kenny an order permitting such choice on the pris- 
oner's part. It was all useless, of course. Stevens 
was in prison one hundred and sixty-nine days and 
then executed ; Hazlett was held for one hundred 
and fifty; Coppoc, Copeland, and Green for fifty-nine 
each; Cook for forty-eight, and John Brown for forty- 
five days. 

In his brief address, when sentence was pro- 
nounced, he denied that he ever proposed the burn- 
ing of Harper's Ferry, as had been sworn to, and 
closed by saying: "When I think of my brothers 
slaughtered and my sisters outraged, my conscience 
does not reprove me for my actions. I shall meet my 
fate manfully." The coolness of these men is shown 
by an incident. Captain Avis tells of finding Hazlett 
and Stevens engaged the day after their sentences, 
in "chucking" pennies. As the jailer stood there 
Stevens tossed the coin again and called out: " Head 
or tail?" "Tail!" shouted Hazlett. "It's head— 
I've won ! " exclaimed Stevens, as he went over and 
picked up the coin. "What have you won ?" asked 
the jailer. " The privilege of selecting you to put the 

john brown's men: who they were. 501 

hangman's noose around my neck ! " was the cool 

The jailer's kindness had made a deep impression 
on both men, and they had discussed the question as 
to which should be the first to be noosed by his 
hands. Stevens had won, and as they mounted the 
gallows in company he whispered to the jailer: "Cap- 
tain, remember that I won the first choice! " 

Of course, the inevitable military parade was had, 
though the pompous General Taleifiero had departed 
and Col. John Gibson was in command of the six 
companies of State militia, it was thought necessary 
to " call out" to see executed two men who deemed 
their deaths better for freedom than their lives could 
possibly be. During the middle of February a secret 
message was received by the prisoners and a reply 
returned. An intoxicated man was arrested in Char- 
lestown on a Saturday evening and locked up over 
Sunday in jail. To all appearances he was a jolly, 
devil-may-care young Irish laborer, in whom whisky 
left nothing but boisterous fun. As he sobered up, he 
became a delight to the jailer's family by his funny 
songs and witty words. Discipline had relaxed, 
vigilance nodded, and the careless Irishman was en- 
abled to communicate with Stevens and Hazlett. He 
made himself known and told them that their com- 
rades, James Montgomery, Richard J. Hinton, Joseph 
Gardner, " Preacher" Steward, and six other Kansas 
men, with Thomas Wentworth Higginson, J. W. Le 
Barnes, and W. W. Thayer, of Boston, assisted by 
some New York German-Americans, were ready at 
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to make a move through 
the South Mountain section of that State, into Virginia, 


and attempt their rescue. They were told that Mont- 
gomery was even then in the adjacent mountains, 
making a reconnaissance as to practicability. Both were 
deeply affected, but without hesitation declared it to 
be impossible. Stevens emphatically asserted that 
the attempt could not be made without causing other 
deaths, especially that of the jailer, Mr. Avis, who 
would resist to the last. He would not take his 
liberty at such a cost. The constant armed force con- 
sisted of eighty men, and, while it was possible to get 
away if Montgomery could reach and attack the place 
suddenly, yet the lives to be sacrificed would not 
warrant the saving of their own. Hazlett sent a per- 
sonal message to the writer of this volume, who had 
been deeply stirred by the fact that his comrade was 
tried and condemned under a name himself assumed 
in writing to Kagi. There was nothing to be done. 
The daring young Kansan, who had so successfully 
used his powers of mimicry, was discharged next day 
by an unsuspecting justice of the peace and made his 
way out of Virginia as rapidly as he dared. Montgomery 
had already returned to Harrisburg and his associate 
rejoined him in Boston, bearing there his message to 

Mrs. Pierce, Stevens's sister, and Miss Jennie Dun- 
bar, of Ohio, visited the prisoners the day before 
the execution; the latter having just returned from a 
visit to Richmond, where she pleaded wkh Governor 
Letcher (Wise retired at the close of 1859) for the 
Mves of Stevens and " Harrison." In a letter, still 
unpublished I believe, Miss Dunbar tells how she 
arrived at Richmond on the 14th. Mr. Sennott had 
already left, having unsuccessfully been on the same 

JOHN brown's men: who they were. 503 

mission. Miss Dunbar was received, she wrote, with 
wliat the Governor called " civility," but which she 
thought might have had a harsher name. After read- 
ing Mrs. Spring's letter — the servant being gone from 
the room — Letcher said in substance that Stevens was 
the worst of the Harper's Ferry insurrectionists; that 
at the trial he saw that he was " reckless, hardened, 
and dangerous to society" ; that he (Letcher) felt it 
to be a duty to rid the world of him. In short, that 
Stevens " should not be pardoned." Miss Dunbar 
describes her reception by the friend she had 
sought to succor. He expressed regret that she had 
pleaded with the Governor, whose hardness as one 
with the slave-power he had fully expected. He soon 
became calm and cheerful; "quite himself," writes 
the young lady, " talking and laughing as he had 
done under other and happier circumstances." On 
the last morning they all breakfasted together. Miss 
Dunbar writes, that he was dressed in fresh clothing, 
his chains had been removed, and " I had never seen 
him looking better; he seemed fitter to live than 
ever on the morning of his execution." His sister 
was quite overcome, and had to leave the table 
to recover herself. Tears welled from Miss Dun- 
bar's eyes. "You must not give up here," said the 
brave brother and friend; "wait until you reach Mrs. 
Spring, you can weep upon her bosom." They all 
grew calmer. He packed a little trunk, designating 
various gifts for different persons, chatted as if he 
were going soon to meet us again, polished his shoes 
and brushed his clothes, saying " I wish to look well 
when I go upon the scaffold." Miss Dunbar, in tak- 
ing her last farewell, said: "You have done a great 


deal for me, inasmuch as you have shown me that 
the moralist's faith will do to die by." 

"Oh! yes," he quickly replied, " I am perfectly 
confirmed in the belief that God is over all and that 
He is too loving a God to make His creatures unhap- 
pier than they make themselves." Miss Dunbar tells 
that a minister called on Stevens a few days before 
the execution, saying he " was not going to help him 
out of the trouble in this life, but wished to help him 
to security in the next" Stevens told him, he " re- 
quired no help after leaving the body; that, if the 
minister could not help him then, he did not wish his 
services at all." At half-past eight they left, to wait 
at Harper's Ferry for the remains of the two brave 
young soldiers of liberty. They embraced and kissed 
on the scaffold, were unattended by any one but the 
officers, bore themselves both bravely, but evidently 
died hardly. Lawbreakers! yes; but more to be com- 
mended in spirit and purpose, or character either, 
than the makers and administrators of the laws they 

The colored men who are known to have borne 
their part in the raid at Harper's Ferry, were Osborne 
Perry Anderson, born free in Pennsylvania, a printer 
by trade, working at Chatham, Canada West, where 
he first became connected with John Brown; Shields 
Green, a fugitive slave from Charlestown, S. C, who 
came with Frederick Douglass to Chambersburg, Pa., 
on the 19th of August preceding the outbreak, and 
entered the party at Kennedy Farm as in sort a rep- 
resentative of Mr. Douglass; Dangerfield Newby, a 
freeman of the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia; John A. 
Copeland and Lewis Sherrard Leary, both born in 

john brown's men: who they were. 505 

Raleigh, N. C, but reared from childhood at Oberlin, 
Ohio. Copeland was free born; Leary was a fugitive 
slave. Newby and Leary were married men, the first 
had a wife and seven children, the second a wife and 
one child. Green had left a boy in slavery; his wife 
dying before he made his escape. Copeland was un- 
married. Newby was about thirty years of age, 
Green twenty-four, Anderson twenty-four, and the 
Oberlin men were twenty-two and twenty-four years 
of age. Green was a full-blooded black; Newby 
"was a tall, well-built mulatto, aged about thirty, 
with a pleasing face." ] Anderson and Copeland 
were good-looking, bright, mulatto in color, the latter 
having bushy head and nearly straight hair, while 
Leary was nearly or quite a quadroon. They were all 
intelligent, Green looking the least so, though pos- 
sessed of considerable natural ability, vigor of charac- 
ter, and a courage which showed that if better trained 
he might have become a marked man Anderson was 
well educated, a man of natural dignity, modest, 
simple in character and manners. He wrote a very 
interesting pamphlet account of the raid, after his 
escape, served during the latter part of the Civil 
War in the Union Army, and died in Washington, 
in 187 1. Anne Brown writes that his treatment was 
not altogether creditable to the people of his own 
race, upon whom he was compelled to call for aid, 
when escaping. He gives very few particulars in his 
own account, and they are in acknowledgment of 
favors received. In the early summer of i860, he 
visited North Elba, entering the door yard and stop- 

1 Barry's "Annals of Harper's Ferry." 


ping at the grave of the Captain, where he appeared 
to the friendly eyes watching him from the house to 
be weeping and praying. At last, as he turned to 
leave, Watson's widow, Belle, suggested he might be 
a fugitive, and Anne Brown, looking again, declared 
that perhaps she knew him. On going out, his iden- 
tity was established. He expressed himself as de- 
lighted to meet her, asked after all the family, and 
then with a " God bless you, you dear girl," he started 
to go. Anne insisted on his coming into the house, 
seeing Watson's boy, Freddie, and meeting her mother. 
" I might not be welcome; I have seen you and the 
Captain's grave, and now I'll go." The harsh man- 
ner in which, among others, some of his own relatives 
had received him, threatening even his arrest in their 
selfish and cowardly alarm, had made the refined and 
sensitive man timid even of this hospitality. How- 
ever, he staid, and for a number of days, being pres- 
ent at the Fourth-of-July celebration held at John 
Brown's grave, in i860, at which F. J. Merriam and 
Barclay Coppoc were also present, while Thaddeus 
Hyatt, James Red path, and R. J. Hinton were active, 
papers and letters being read, by the latter, from 
Wendell Phillips, Frederick Douglass, and Henry D. 
Thoreau. When Anderson was leaving the modest 
but very hospitable " House of the Gods," which had 
received him so cordially, he told Anne, in explana- 
tion of his strange behavior, how he had been treated, 
and that he had hardly had a kind word spoken to 
him until he came to their lrouse. He apologized, 
she writes, " for staying so long and said he dreaded 
to go back and into the world where he would be so 
friendless and alone. He was a dignified and sensible 

John brown's men: who they were. 507 

man, modest, and unassuming in his conversation, a 
printer by trade. At the Kennedy Farm, the night 
before we were leaving for home (Martha and Anne), 
he came downstairs to listen to the 'Emperor's' 
(Shields Green) farewell speech, as he called it. This 
was the greatest conglomeration of big words that 
was ever pil^d up. Some one asked Anderson 'if he 
understood it,' and he replied, ' No, God Himself 
could not understand that.'" 

But the negro man with Congo face, big, mis- 
placed words, and huge feet, knew instinctively what 
courageous manhood meant and how devotion acted. 
Frederick Douglass tells how, when he turned to 
leave the Chambersburg quarry, where his last inter- 
view with John Brown was had, that, on telling 
Green he could return with him to Rochester, New 
York, the latter had turned and looked at the strong 
but bowed figure of John Brown, weighted with the 
pain of Douglass's refusal to aid him in, as he termed 
it, " hiving the bees," and then asked: " Is he going to 
stay ?" An affirmative answer being made, he looked 
again at the old leader, and slowly said, "Well, I 
guess I's goes wid de old man." When, a short time 
after O. P. Anderson and Albert Hazlett had decided 
the resistance then making to be hopeless, Green 
came, under fire, with some message, over to their 
station at the arsenal on the Potomac. Anderson told 
him he'd better go with them. He turned and looked 
toward the engine-house, before the door of which 
stood its few defenders, and asked: "You think der's 
no chance, Osborne?" "Not one," was the reply. 
"And de old Captain can't get away?" "No," said 
both the men. " Well," with a long look and slow 

5 o8 


utterance, " I guess I'll go back to de old man." In 
the prison, Green, with Copeland and Leary, were 
constantly sending messages of regard to Captain 
Brown and Stevens, and on the morning of John 
Brown's execution he sent him word that he was glad 
he came, and that he waited willingly for his own 

Lewis Sherrard Leary was a bright, and quite well- 
educated young man Leary was the first Oberlin 
recruit, and introduced Copeland 
to Kagi. In an alleged " confes- 
sion," which was merely statements 
that Mr. Hunter, by adroit exam- 
ination, got out of Copeland, it 
appears that Ralph and Samuel 
Plumb, of Oberlin College, gave 
them fifteen dollars to defray their 
expenses to Chambersburg; that 
they came by way of Cleveland, 
stopping with Mrs. Isaac Sturte- 
vant, a distant relative of C. W. Mof- 
fet, meeting Charles H. Langston 
there, and from thence coming on 
to Chambersburg, where they were 
received by James Watson, a col- 
ored man. Andrew Hunter spent a good deal of 
time in the effort to get some one of the pris- 
oners to tell something they did not know, but 
he utterly failed. Letters of Copeland, written from 
the jail, to his father and mother at Oberlin, are as 
notable for cheerfulness and religious resignation as 
any of John Brown's correspondence. He wrote, 
shortly before the execution of December 16th, that: 



john brown's men: who they were. 509 

" I am not terrified by the gallows, which I see staring me 
in the face, and upon which I am soon to stand and suffer 
death for doing what George Washington was made a hero for 
doing." . . . " While, for having lent my aid to a general 
no less brave, and engaged in a cause no less honorable and 
glorious, I am to suffer death. Washington entered the field 
to fight for the freedom of the American people — not for the 
white man alone, but for both black and white. Nor were they 
white men alone who fought for the freedom of this country. 
The blood of black men flowed as freely as that of white men. 
. . And some of the very last blood shed was that of black 
men. . . . It was a sense of the wrongs which we have suf- 
fered that prompted the noble but unfortunate Captain Brown 
and his associates to attempt to give freedom to a small number, 
at least, of those who are now held by cruel and unjust laws, 
and by no less cruel and unjust men. . . . And now, dear 
brother, could I die in a more noble cause ? Could I die in a 
manner and for a cause which would induce true and honest 
men more to honor me, and the angels more ready to receive 
me to their happy home of everlasting joy above ? I imagine 
that I hear you, and all of you, mother, father, sisters, and 
brothers, say — ' No, there is not a cause for which we, with 
less sorrow, could see you die.' Believe me when I tell you, 
that though shut up in prison and under sentence of death, I 
have spent more very happy hours here, and were it not 
that I know that the hearts of those to whom I am attached 
. . . will be filled with sorrow, I would almost as lief die 
now as at any time, for I feel that I am now prepared to meet 
my Maker. . . . You may think I have been treated very 
harshly since I have been here, but it is not so. I have been 
treated exceedingly well. ... My jailer, Captain John 
Avis, is a gentleman who has a heart in his bosom as brave as 
any other. He met us at Harper's Ferry, and fought us as a 
brave man would do. But since we have been in his power, 
he has protected us from insult and abuse which cowards 
would have heaped upon us. He has done as a brave man and 
gentleman would do. Also one of his aids, Mr. John Sheats, 


has been very kind to us, and has done all he could to serve 
us. And now, Henry, if fortune should ever throw either of them 
in your way, and you can confer the least favor on them, do it 
for my sake." 

On the morning of the execution he wrote a long 
letter to his family at Oberlin, from which the follow- 
ing may well be quoted: 

" I am well both in body and in mind. And now, dear ones, 
if it were not for those feelings I have for you — if it were not 
that I know your hearts will be filled with sorrow at my fate, I 
could pass from this earth without regret. Why should you sor- 
row ? Why should your hearts be racked with grief ? Have 
I not everything to gain, and nothing to lose by the change ? 
I fully believe that not only myself, but also all three of my 
poor comrades who are to ascend the same scaffold (a scaffold 
already made sacred to the cause of freedom by the death of 
that great champion of human freedom, Captain John Brown), 
are prepared to meet our God. ... I pray daily and 
hourly that I may be fitted to have my home with them, and 
that you, one and all, may prepare your souls to meet your God ; 
that so, in the end, though we meet no more on earth, we shall 
meet in heaven, where we shall not be parted by the demands 
of the cruel and unjust monster, slavery. But think not that I 
am complaining, for I feel reconciled to meet my fate. I pray 
God that His will be done, not mine. Let me tell you that it 
is not the mere fact of having to meet death which I should 
regret (if I should express regret, I mean), but that such an 
unjust institution should exist as the one which demands my 
life, and not my life only, but the lives of those to whom my 
life bears but the relative value of zero to the infinite. I beg 
of you. one and all, that you will not grieve about me, but that 
you will thank God that He spared me to make my peace with 

" And now, dear ones, attach no blame to any one for my 
coming here, for not any person but myself is to blame. I 

john brown's men: who they \vl:..e. 511 

have no antipathy against any one. I have freed my mind of 
all hard feelings against every living being, and I ask all who 
have anything against me to do the same." 

Virginia's cruel hostility to the negro, even when 
imprisoned and dead, is shown by Hunter's attack in 
court on Shields Green, and more than all by the 
petty maliciousness of Governor Wise's refusal to 
give up the dead bodies unless " white men came 
after them." Andrew Hunter says, Copeland " died 
with unwavering fortitude and perfect composure." 
Professor Munroe, of Oberlin, who secured admission 
to the prisoners, declares that Green was " patient, 
manly, and enduring." Copeland was sent with 
Leary under Kagi's command to the Hall Rifle Works, 
half a mile distant from the armory and engine- 
house. Leary was riddled to pieces in Shenandoah 
River about two o'clock on the 18th of October. Cope- 
land was compelled to surrender, and his life was 
saved for the scaffold through the interposition of 
Congressman Boteler. Newby was in the thickest of 
the early fighting at the armory gate, shooting, it ap- 
pears, both Turner and Boerly, being himself shot by 
Armorer Boerly from an upper window of a dwelling 
on the corner of High and Stevenson streets. The gun 
was loaded with a spike or shot bolt, which entered into 
Newby's neck, inflicting a frightful wound and killing 
him instantly. Boerly was himself slain by a bul- 
let from a Sharpe's rifle, fired by an old slaveman of the 
neighborhood, who distinguished himself by reckless 
courage. He was probably killed soon after. "Jim," 
Colonel Washington's coachman, also fought, says O. 
P. Anderson, " like a tiger." Anderson and Green 
went with Stevens to Washington, and Newby, from 


there with Cook to Alstadt and Burns. Anderson 
and Hazlett were sent to the arsenal and ordered to 
hold it. After they crossed the river, late on the 17th, 
they had quite a sharp skirmish with some of the 
militia; a proceeding which led the Virginians ever 
since to write of the "reinforcements" that sought 
to aid John Brown. Osborne P. Anderson deserves a 
fuller account, but, after all, the record, though 
meager, is sufficient to insure his place among the 
heroes of mankind. He possessed, among other quali- 
ties, good literary ability. It may speak well for 
shrewdness and sagacity, but not for the " higher 
power " which Emerson says, is " the wind that blows 
the world into orbit and order," that amid the forty 
or fifty more or less representative men of color, 
cognizant of John Brown's plans; the unassuming 
Anderson, the young Oberlin recruits, the negro 
fugitive slave from South Carolina and " clothes 
cleaner " from Rochester, were the only ones that 
answered the call. Even Richardson failed in Canada, 
and Thomas kept still at Springfield. 

Albert Hazlett, returned to death by his native 
State of Pennsylvania, without justifiable and legal 
identification, was hung by Virginia on the 16th of 
March, i860, after being held more than 140 days in 
jail and on trial, never clearly shown to have been at 
Harper's Ferry. Even his name was never clearly 
established, for he was tried as " William Harrison, 
alias Albert Hazlett," the first being the name given 
by him when arrested between Chambersburg and 
Carlisle, on the 21st of October. The writer of this 
volume was sympathetically drawn more closely to 
tli is young man than to any other of the John Brown 

john brown's men: who they were. 513 

party, a number of whom were his personal friends 
as well as anti-slavery associates, by reason of the 
fact in using the name "William Harrison," he took 
that which this writer had signed for prudential 
reasons to letters sent during 1858 and 1859, to John 
H. Kagi. It may have been but an accidental coin- 
cidence, but it influenced the writer to the organiza- 
tion of the only definite attempt made towards rescu- 
ing any of the Harper's Ferry raiders. 1 

Albert Hazlett was born at Indiana, Pennsylvania, 
September 21st, 1837. At the date of his death, 
therefore, he was in his twenty-fourth year, that is 
twenty-three years, six months, and eleven days old. 
He went to Southern Kansas very early in 1857, and 

1 In referring to the " Harrison " letters to Kagi, it may not be 
improper for me to say that Henry A Wise told me, in 1867, at 
the Spottswoode Hotel, Richmond, that three of these letters 
were found, giving an account of a trip through the Indian Terri- 
tory, with especial reference to the slaves found among the Chero- 
kees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Creeks, as well as to the de- 
scendants of the "marooned" negroes among the Seminoles, 
both in the territory and in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. There 
were also extended details of slave conditions in northeastern 
Texas, northern Louisiana, western and central Arkansas. The 
topography of all this region was referred to with reference to a 
plan of attack on slavery therein. This was vigorously outlined in 
one of the " William Harrison" letters. Part of them were in 
stenographic (not phonographic) signs, arranged between Kagi 
and myself, and were never deciphered by Wise, Hunter & Co. 
It would have caused some loss of life had they been able to read 
the names and places such signs referred to. Gov. Wise informed 
me these letters had been taken from the famous John Brown 
carpet-bag with the consent of Senator Mason, privately litho- 
graphed, and carefully circulated in tlie South, as an illustration of 
the extent of the "abolition" conspiracy. The authorship of 



soon became actively identified, on the free-state 
side, with the troubles there. In the latter part of 
1858 he joined John Brown's company, was with him 
on the Christmas-Eve raid into Missouri, and aided 
in escorting the rescued slaves to Canada. After 
this was done, Hazlett staid a short time in 
northern Ohio and then returned to his home in 
western Pennsylvania, where he remained at his 
brother William's doing such work as he could obtain 
until the early part of September, 1859, when he 
joined the party at Kennedy Farm, reporting first to 
Kagi at Mrs. Ritner's, Chambersburg. In the latter 
part of May (21st) he wrote: "I wish it would come 
off soon, for I am tired of doing nothing; " and 

these letters was a matter of uncertainty to the Virginian authori- 
ties, and when Hazlett first gave the name "Harrison" they 
hoped »o have secured the writer. From other reference, and a 
comparison with letters, signed by my own name, they reached 
the conclusion that I was the author of those they deemed import- 
ant enough to keep secret and use as a breeder of future civil war. 
Recently, on a visit to South Carolina, I found a curious pamphlet 
allusion to these letters, and to a subsequent plan of insurrection 
which was prepared and sent out from Boston during the fall of 
i860, more as a scare or means of agitation than anything else. 
In the library of a Northern gentleman, who has resided and done 
business in the Palmetto State ever since the surrender of Lee, and 
who has collected a large amount of Civil-War matter, especially 
Southern, I found a pamphlet printed in Charleston, which 
quotes from the Boston plan and refers mysteriously to the carpet- 
bag letters under consideration. General Albert L. Lee and other 
officers of the 7th Kansas Cavalry, who served in northern Louisi- 
ana, told me also of finding several partially mutilated copies of 
the lithograph letters in places that were raided. Their attention 
was first called to them because of Kansas places and dates, — 
R. J. H, 


again, July 14th, he wrote: " I will be ready when 
you want me, if nothing happens." Mrs. Adams 
(Anne Brown) writes of him, that he was "a bright, 
kindly, obliging young man," not, perhaps, as 
" refined " in manners as the others, but always frank 
and willing. Mr. Gill writes of him in the same 
vein, suggesting mildly, as also of Leeman, that he 
was one who did not impress you as especially 
striving to " climb the golden stairs." And yet he did 
his " dering do," with the same modest and chival- 
rous acceptance that characterized all the party, and 
not less unflinchingly than did their wonderful old 
leader. He was tall, quite five feet eleven in height; 
slender, small, well-shaped head, with marked oval 
face, very fair complexion, blonde, curly hair, open 
expression, genial in ways, truthful, and brave to the 
last degree. Hazlett was busy under Captain Brown's 
direct orders all of the 17th, until after a large num- 
ber of the Virginian militia were driven to the 
Potomac bridge, falling back to the other side. Haz- 
lett, with O. P. Anderson and Shields Green, were 
directed to hold the arsenal, it being the Captain's 
obvious purpose, at the time, to effect a retreat that 
way. The arrival of other militia prevented this by 
compelling Captain Brown to retire into the engine- 
house. Green returned to him, and the other two 
made their way, by a culvert, into the stream and 
then across the same to the Maryland side. Osborne 
P. Anderson, in "A Voice From Harper's Ferry," 
stated that: 

" Hazlett and I crossed over to the Maryland side after the 
skirmish with the troops about nightfall. When we descended 
from the rocks, we passed through the back part of the Ferry 


on the hill, clown to the railroad, proceeding as far as the saw- 
mill on the Virginia side, where we came upon an old boat, 
tied up to the shore, which we cast off and crossed the Poto- 
mac. The Maryland shore once gained, we passed along the 
tow-path of the canal for some distance, when we came to an 
arch which led through under the canal, and thence we went 
to the Kennedy Farm, hoping to find something to eat and to 
meet the men who had been stationed on that side. But the 
old house had been ransacked and deserted, and the provisions 
taken away. . . . Thinking that we should fare better at 
the schoolhouse, we bent our ways in that direction. The 
night was dark and rainy, and after tramping for an hour and 
a half we reached it about two in the morning. The school- 
house was packed with things moved there by the party the 
previous day, but we searched in vain, after lighting a match, 
for food, our great necessity. . . . Thinking it unsafe to 
remain . . . from fear of oversleeping ourselves, we climbed 
up the mountain in the rear of it, to lie down till daylight. It 
was after sunrise when we awoke. Hearing . . . shooting 
at the Ferry, Hazlett thought it must be Owen Brown and his 
men, trying to force their way into the town, as they had been 
informed that a number of us were taken prisoners. When we 
got in sight of the Ferry, troops were firing across the river to 
the Maryland side, . . . and to our surprise we saw that 
they were firing upon a few colored men who had been armed 
the day before by our men at the Kennedy Farm, and stationed 
at the schoolhouse by C. P. Tidd. One of the colored men 
came toward us; we hailed him and inquired the particulars. 
He said that one of his comrades had been shot and was lying 
on the side of the mountain ; that they thought the men who 
had armed them the day before must be in the Ferry. We 
told him ' no,' and asked him to join us in hunting up the rest 
of the party, but he refused. 

" While in this part of the mountains we could see the troops 
take possession of the schoolhouse. Our shelter was gone and 
we had no hope of meeting our companions. We then con^ 
eluded to make our escape North, and started at once. Hav^ 


ing eaten nothing for forty-eight hours, our appetites were 
exceedingly keen. So, under cover of the night, we sought a 
cornfield, gathered some of the ears and, having matches, 
struck fire and roasted and feasted. As a result of our hard 
journey and poor diet we became nearly famished and very 
much reduced in strength. Poor Hazlett could not endure as 
much as I could. With his feet blistered and sore, he gave out 
at last ten miles below Chambersburg. He declared he could 
go no further, and begged me to go on as we should be more 
in danger if seen together in the vicinity of the towns, that 
after resting that night he would throw away his rifle and go 
to Chambersburg, where we agreed to meet again. The poor, 
young man's face was wet with tears when we parted." 

Anderson found it impossible to retrace his steps, 
and was barely able to get away in safety from the 
colored man's dwelling where he had obtained 
food. He felt compelled to make his way out of the 
town northward, and was therefore able to move with 
less suspicion. It was the fourth day before this 
occurred, after Anderson had left him, Hazlett en- 
deavored also to reach Chambersburg. This was on 
the 21st of October. The reward of $1,000 offered by 
the State of Virginia for the capture of Cook, had 
aroused the cupidity of all the fugitive kidnappers 
and thief-catchers of the border counties of Pennsyl- 
vania. An experience had, three months later, 
enabled the writer to assert that even the armed 
bands of western Missouri, arrayed at that period 
for the business of capturing fugitives, or kidnapping 
free men of color sheltering or living in Kansas, 
were no more brutal in their cupidity^ and zeal, if 
more courageous in the exercise of those amiable 
qualities, than were some of the kidnappers on the Vir- 
ginian border. Hazlett took the railroad, believing, 


doubtless, that, as he was in a " free " State, the 
chances were in his favor. It was the vigilance 
aroused at the appearance of Hazlett that aided 
materially in the capture of Cook on the 24th. Haz- 
lett, arrested near Newville, having followed the 
Cumberland Valley railroad, was turned over to the 
sheriff of Cumberland County, and by him taken to 
Carlisle. He was first carried to a justice court, 
and then arraigned before a United States commis- 
sioner. The stories are all incorrect to the effect that 
Mrs. Cook or Mrs. Ritner saw and warned Hazlett, 
or that any other of the fugitives were endeavoring 
to rescue Cook. The pursuit against them was too 
hot for any such action on their part. Hazlett gave 
the name of William Harrison. It was quickly found 
that he was not " Captain Cook." Douglass and 
other attorneys of Virginia and Pennsylvania, found 
themselves at fault. Their witnesses could not 
identify the prisoner as one of the raiders. They 
never did. A requisition for him as Albert Hazlett 
would not hold. On the 29th inst. a writ of habeas 
corpus was returned, and " the court," says a dispatch 
of that date, " took the ground that the requisi- 
tion is legally and formally right, but there is no 
evidence that we have any man in our custody 
named Hazlett whom we can deliver on this requisi- 
tion. We are satisfied that a monstrous crime has 
been committed, and that the prisoner was there and 
participated, and therefore recommit him to await a 
requisition from the Governor of Virginia." 

He had been in prison then for eight days, and the 
jail officials are believed to have pointed him out to 
a man named Copeland from Virginia, who swore to 

john brown's men: who they were. 519 

seeing him at Harper's Ferry in the act of firing a 
rifle. On the trial at Charlestown this fellow's evi- 
dence was discredited and abandoned by the prose- 
cution itself. Yet Hazlett was held long enough to 
secure a requisition for " William Harrison," and, after 
two weeks of effort, he was sent back by a judge in 
his native State, without a single direct or even cir- 
cumstantial proof of his ever having been in Virginia. 
He escaped on the 18th of October, was arrested on 
the 22d, extradited on the 5th of November, and 
reached Charlestown on the 8th, the day that the trial 
of Cook and Coppoc begun before Judge Parker. 

His own trial, or the farce so called, begun on the 
2d of February following. Mr. Sennott contested 
strongly for the defense, and it was the 14th of the 
month before sentence was passed. In receiving it, 
Hazlett said: 

'• I have a few words to say. I am innocent of the charge 
on which I have been convicted. I deny ever having committed 
murder, or ever having contemplated murder, or ever having 
associated with any one having such intentions. Some of the 
witnesses here have sworn to things which I deny, and which 
were positively false. But I forgive them all. I have been 
treated kindly." . . . He thanked officers and his Virginia 
counsel, and closed by saying : " I repeat, I am innocent of mur- 
der, but I am prepared to meet my fate." 

The spiteful brutality of Virginia is forcibly illus- 
trated by the execution of this young man. In law 
there was more than a reasonable doubt of his 
identity, and in any event his part in the raid was 
comparatively unimportant. Governor Letcher was 
as savage but less politic, than his predecessor Henry 
A. Wise. 


Mrs. Rebecca B. Spring, the good woman who 
visited "those in bonds" at Charlestown, writes that 
the delay in executing Stevens and Hazlett was be- 
cause of the former's wounds, and also from the fact 
that they " were not sure that Hazlett . . . was 
really one of John Brown's men." There never was 
any doubt by the officials of his participation in the 
raid; there was difficulty in procuring or manufactur- 
ing evidence thereof. The delay held out the hope 
of rescuing these two gallant men. 

The special reason for my desire in that regard has 
already been given. In Boston were a few persons 
who would have risked everything to have saved 
John Brown or any of his men. If I give as most 
active and earnest in this desire John W. Le Barnes, 
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, W. W. Thayer (of 
the publishing firm of Thayer & Eldridge), F. B. 
Sanborn, James Redpath, Dr. David Thayer, George 
Henry Hoyt, Brackett, the sculptor, and Richard J. 
Hinton, I shall cover not only those I am permitted 
to name, but all that were most actively inter- 
ested in any such conception. As to John Brown, 
that was ended by his message through Hoyt, from 
his prison cell. But knowing myself that in Kansas 
there were men brave enough to try the odds, when 
the relaxation of vigilance begun after the 16th of 
December, the desire to save Hazlett and Stevens 
grew into a hope, and from that into a plan, which 
was ably seconded by John W. Le Barnes and T. W. 
Higginson, as well as supported by Redpath and W. 
W. Thayer, was pushed thoroughly up to the point 
where an actual reconniassance proved it could not be 
accomplished. Money was raised, and about the 

john brown's men: who they were. 521 

middle of January I started for Kansas. For pruden- 
tial reasons I adopted in traveling my mothers 
name of Read, except, of course, in Kansas, where I 
was well known. Proceeding direct to the southern 
portion of the Territory, I consulted with Captain 
James Montgomery, laying before him topographical 
maps of the section, plans of the jail, with the railroad 
and country highways. Careful inquiry had been 
made as to possible " underground railway " routes 
and stations, and as to the trust that could be reposed 
in the latter. It was very slight, indeed. Messrs. 
Higginson, Le Barnes, and publisher Thayer were to 
look after the pecuniary part of the plan. By the sale 
of Redpath's " Life of John Brown " a small fund for 
the benefit of the families had been obtained. With 
Mrs. John Brown's consent, this fund might be used 
temporarily, and that was readily obtained. Sculptor 
Brackett promised $200; Mr. Le Barnes gave liberally 
and advanced more, and Mr. Higginson, who was 
treasurer, obtained other amounts and met the costs 
fully, with what, besides the men, was obtained in 
Kansas. From that section seven volunteers returned 
with me, including James Montgomery, Silas Soule, 
James Stewart, Joseph Gardner, Mr. Willis, and two 
others (from Lawrence) whose names have escaped 
me. 1 We reached Leavenworth early in February, 
and I found that money expected had not arrived. 

1 The omission of some of the names is due to the fact that one 
of my notebooks was loaned in 1880 and never returned, to a writer 
who prepared an article for the Philadelphia Times. It was pub- 
lished, but having no copy, I am writing mainly from memory, 
except some letters of Col. Higginson placed in my hands by Mr. 
Le Barnes, to whom they were addressed. 


Taking Col. Daniel R. Anthony 1 into my confidence 
he at once contributed the money needed, placing 
in Captain Montgomery's hand $150, and an equal, 
amount in mine. It was deemed best I should go by 
way of Weston, Missouri, direct to St. Joe, and that 
Montgomery and his associates should go by private 
teams to Elwood, Kansas, directly opposite that place, 
then the railroad terminus for the section. Hon. 
Edward Russell, now of Lawrence, Kansas, gives me 
a brief but interesting account of the party's arrival 
there and of the aid extended to them. 8 

1 Under date of January 31, 1893, he writes me as follows: 
•' You ask me about using my name in connection with the at- 
tempted rescue. Yes, of course, I always felt proud of my action 
in that case, but have forgotten much. I had forgotten to whom 
I paid the $150. My memory is that I paid it direct to Captain 
Montgomery when he stopped with me over night. You probably 
was the active agent managing the rescue, and I may have paid 
this sum to you, but I think I paid it to Captain Montgomery, and 
he left for the East via St. Joseph, Mo." 

2 Lawrence, Kansas, February 14, 1893: ... I have made 
some statements at a meeting of the Historical Society in connec- 
tion with the paper read by Major Abbott on the Doy rescue; but 
I never wrote out my recollections of this matter, so far as I now 
recall; at least, I did not for the State Historical Society. To save 
you a little bother and time, I will give you the facts as I recall 
them. One afternoon, just before dark, Captain Montgomery ap- 
peared in Elwood, Doniphan County, with letters to several of us 
living there from friends in Leavenworth, and probably in Lawrence, 
requesting any assistance upon our part which we could supply to 
enable the captain and his company to secure transportation over 
the Hannibal and St. Joseph railroad on their way to West Vir- 
ginia, for the purpose of rescuing John Brown or some of his 
party. Just how many men were with Montgomery I do not re- 
call; but I do know that when I had them loaded into a skiff, it 


On the way to Harrisburg, though traveling by the 
same train, the party were apparently unacquainted 
with each other. By the Higginson-Le Barnes letters 

sank into the water so that there was less than an inch of her gun- 
wale above the river. After a consultation it was found that there 
were three of us who held passes over the Hannibal and St. Joseph 
railroad, through our connection with the press in El wood, — D. 
W. Wilder, Albert L. Lee (afterwards brigadier-general), and my- 
self. We very cheerfully offered our passes to Montgomery, and 
wrote a note also to the station-agent in St. Joseph (Joseph 
Howatd), requesting him to help the party, if possible, over his 
line. He was in thorough sympathy with the free-state men of 
Kansas. We knew, also, that the men who owned and controlled 
the Hannibal and St. Joseph railroad and the general management 
thereof, were in sympathy with us and opposed to slavery. We 
trusted not a little to that; and, as I recall it, they secured transporta- 
tion upon our passes and also got additional passes, so that nearly 
or quite all of them were carried over the Hannibal and St. Joseph 
railroad, and without charge. They had reached El wood so late in 
the short winter evening, that due preparation could not be made 
for their crossing the river. The only skiffs convenient to be reached 
belonged to the gentleman, Mr. Ebenezer Blackiston, the Ferry 
owner. It was not safe for him to know anything about the pro- 
ceedings. Through his daughter (Mrs. Russell) I obtained posses- 
sion of the boathouse keys and also the oars, which were in his 
house, and between nine and ten o'clock that night (one of the 
darkest I ever knew), we proceeded to the river and loaded the 
company with their weapons. We furnished them two or three of 
the Sharpe's rifles which we had among us in Elvvood, and also 
some ammunition. After getting them loaded, and enjoining them 
to keep quiet lest the skiff should dip water and we should all 
be dumped out, I headed it for the opposite shore. There was a 
long pull and we reached there, but it was still so dark that we 
could not see the shore until we bumped against it, and came very 
near being swamped thereby. The company landed, bade me 
adieu, went upon their journey, and I returned to report prog- 


I find we arrived on February 17th. The men were 
housed as cattle-buyers and drovers at a little tavern 
in the outskirts. Higginson had been lecturing in 
Ohio and was awaiting our arrival, stopping, I believe, 
with Dr. Rutherford, a well-known Quaker aboli- 
tionist and physician. At his residence I know, how- 
ever, that all our conferences were held. The pro- 
spects were very dubious. At Pittsburg we had 
encountered a heavy snow-storm. Another storm 
occurred on the 18th. Arms (revolvers) had been 
obtained by Mr. Higginson as a loan, unless used. 
Arrangements were made for five or six men from 
New York, ex-German revolutionary soldiers, these. 
Le Barnes, with Higginson himself and " Read," they 
would have made sixteen " machines," as in our cor- 
respondence we were termed. Under date of the 
18th, " C. P. Carter" (Higginson) writes: 

" The machinist (Montgomery) is strong in hope, and he is a 
man to inspire infinite hope in others. Nothing stops him but 
the snow that now lies — that is a hopeless obstacle to the 
working of the machines, — but a few days will probably take it 
away, and he does not consider the season such an obstacle as 
T. (Thayer) did, and I believe it can be done." 

Captain Montgomery started from Harrisburg on 
a reconnaissance of the mountain section to the west 
of Harper's Ferry and Charlestown. Gardner, as 
having been a Pennsylvania Quaker, was sent to 
exploit the " underground " routes to see what aid 
could be secured in that way. He trusted his Quaker 
brethren too much, and, as a result, was threatened 
with exposure to Governor Parker, who had already 
made undue haste in returning Hazlett. It was from 
this source that Attorney Andrew Hunter received 


his only reliable " rescue" information. In his later 
years he misplaced the dates, and thought it related 
to John Brown himself. Silas Soule was sent into 
Virginia to find out what he could; the others were 
put at various details, and I went direct to New York 
and Massachusetts to see our German friends and 
also to hurry Publisher Thayer's arrival at Harris- 
burg. In New York, by Le Barnes's introduction 
and through an acquaintance with the late Dr. Adolph 
Douai, I met Frederick Kapp, the German historian, 
then editor of the New Yorker Demokrat, also Col. 
Richard Metternich, nephew of the famous diplomat 
(who afterwards fell in the Union army). The 
matter was discussed with both, and the latter was 
to arrange the military contingent. Rockets were 
purchased, arms and ammunition provided for, and 
also various other tools. All these things were pre- 
pared, but the reports from the field were of the 
worst. Heavy and frequent snows made all moun- 
tain movements impossible. At last, Thayer having 
arrived, and Higginson returned to Harrisburg from 
lecturing in Chicago, a conference was held at Dr. 
Rutherford's. It was purposely convened before my 
return, in order to relieve me of responsibility for the 
decision, which was entirely adverse to the attempt. 
In writing, about this date (February 25th), to Le 
Barnes, Higginson says: "Perhaps Read saw you; I 
sent him to New York to clench the Teutons, and for 
other objects. He has proved himself very efficient." 
Again, he writes that Montgomery " was the very 
man of all the world. Read could not have done 
better, both as to the whole or the parts." The cost 
of the expedition, of which Higginson writes Le 


Barnes that he was glad that an attempt had been 
made, is placed at about $1,800; of this, $300 was 
obtained in Kansas. Le Barnes advanced $200 in 
all; of which, $74 was returned to him. Higginson 
took $250 and W. W. Thayer $471 to Harrisburg, 
making in all, with $300 paid to me on starting for 
Kansas, $1,721. I have been a little precise in these 
details, because of a desire to settle for good the 
matter of " rescue " talks or attempts. This is the 
only effort made, and it was necessarily abandoned. 
In a few days after, Albert Hazlett also died on a 
Virginia scaffold. His brother visited him on the 15th 
of March, under the name of Harrison. A letter of 
that date to Mrs. Spring, who had promised to receive 
his body with that of Stevens, will illustrate the 
simple courage of the simple-hearted boy — for such 
he really was. 

" Charlestown, V A., -March 15, i860. 
" Dear Friend — Your letter gave me great comfort to 
know that my body would be taken from this land of chains. 
You spoke of my friends; I never wrote to them, but my 
brother has come to see me. He left the matter to me, and I 
thought it best to let you have my body. You wanted to know 
who was dear to me ; I say everybody that is good is dear to 
me. I am willing to die in the cause of liberty; if I had ten 
ihousand lives, I would willingly lay them all down for the 
same cause. My death will do more good than if I had lived. 
Farewell, my dear friend." • 

On the 1st of March he had written to Anne Brown 
at North Elba, in reply to a letter of hers. His letter 
deserves a place in this prison literature : 

"Charlestown Jail, Va., March 1. i860. 
"My Dear Frjend Anne — Your kind letter gave me 

• john brown's men: who they were. 527 

much pleasure to know there was some who had sympathy for 
me in my prison home. I am very thankful to you for your 
kind and cheering letter to me. Do not grieve about the past, 
but take all things for the best. I think, as you do. that my 
fate is hard and very unjust. But I shall try to meet it like a 
man. I do not see that my death will do them any good, hut 
1 the Lord s will, not mine be done.' I do not think the citi- 
zens here thirst for my blood ; they have treated me \ r ery kind 
and humane ; the ladies come in to see us most every day, and 
gentlemen also. Good-bye, Anne, I am your friend, 

"W. H. Harrison." 

On the 3d of the month he also sent to Wealthy, 
wife of John Brown, Jr., a copy of some simple but 
pathetic stanzas, headed " Harrison's Farewell." In 
them he bids his mother, sweetheart, and friends fare- 
well, saying: 

" Oh, do not mourn for me, 
Remember that I die 
In the cause of Liberty.' 

So feeling and so saying he went to his death, 
without regret, passion, or denunciation, and my tally 
of the gallows is complete! 



The North Elba families — Owen's mountain journey — 
Roswell Thompson and sons — Tidd, Barclay Cop- 
poc, Merriam — Owens devotion — The Boston boys 
escape — Deaths of J. G. Anderson, William H. 
Lee man, Steward Taylor, the two Thompsons — Oliver 
and Watson Brown — Who begun the war that ended 
slavery — The words of Frederick Douglass. 

North Elba gave ungrudgingly to the attack on 
slavery, made by John Brown and his men. One 
household lost father, two sons, the wife and child of 
one of these. Another household suffered almost as 
heavily; two sons slain and one daughter widowed. No 
one has heard from this one a word of complaint; a 
single demand for recognition. William and Dauphin 
Thompson were both slain — the first named having 
been brutally butchered. That act was done under 
the fierce passion of alarm and combat. But the 
boasting thereof was cold-blooded and ruffianly in 
the extreme. The younger brother was at least slain 
in combat. Their sister, Isabel, was the wife and 
widow of Watson Brown. Henry, the elder brother, 
is the husband of Ruth, John Brown's eldest daughter, 
and he, too, served his apprenticeship to freedom's 


There were twenty children born to Roswell 
Thompson and his wife Mary. There were four pair 
of twins, of whom William and Willard were one set. 
Only ten children lived to maturity, the others dying 
in infancy. William was born in August, 1833. 
Adolphus Dauphin Thompson, the youngest son, was 
in his twenty-second year when shot in the Harper's 
Ferry engine-house. He was born April 17, 1838. Bar- 
clay Coppoc was therefore the youngest member of 
the party. William married in the fall of 1858, Mary 
Brown, the daughter of a neighboring farmer, not re- 
lated to the historic family. She was eighteen years of 
age when married, was left bv her husband with his 
brother Henry and family. She was a quiet, brave, 
young woman, fortunately without any child, and 
left North Elba for the West in the next summer, 
where she remarried within a few years. Watson's 
widow lives in Wisconsin, having married Salmon 
Brown, a cousin of her first husband. William was a 
strong, bold, rustic-looking man, w r ith large features, 
ruddy complexion, very fair hair, bold but kindly 
blue eyes. Anne Brown writes that — 

•" William Thompson and his twin brother, Willard, were 
noted as boys for their mischievous pranks. No one could tell 
which one did the mischief, not even their own mother. Will- 
iam was a complete and successful mimic, imitating speech 
and gestures perfectly. He was lively and full of fun, but 
could be as sober and earnest as any man when occasion 
required. His brother Willard served in the Union army, was 
taken prisoner and sent to Andersonville, finding, on his 
return, his wife insane, his children scattered, and his mother 
mourning him as dead." 

William was " kind, generous-hearted, and helpful 


to others. Dauphin was," she writes, " very quiet, 
with a fair, thoughtful face, curly blonde hair, and 
baby-blue eyes. He always seemed like a very good 
girl," to her. The family came from Keene, New 
Hampshire, and Mr. Roswell Thompson was a nephew 
of Dr. " Lobelia " Thompson, as he was called, founder 
of the botanic school of medicine. 

William Thompson was assigned, with Oliver 
Brown, to the capture of the Potomac railroad bridge. 
By some accident a collision occurred with the watch- 
man, just about to go off duty, and that led to the un* 
successful attempt to capture Patrick Higgins, who is 
still watchman there. This brought the detention of 
the midnight train, and then, when it was allowed to 
go on, to the acceleration through the neighboring 
section of the alarm created by the attack. It was 
intended to evacuate the town and burn the bridges 
in doing so. At least, fire-balls were prepared of tow, 
placed on sticks, and saturated with oil. The two 
Thompsons were kept with Captain Brown in the 
armory grounds. Soon after noon William was cap- 
tured and taken to Foulke's hotel. Heywood, Tur- 
ner, and Boerly, of the Ferry, had been killed. 
About forty citizens were prisoners. Newby, "Jim " 
Washington, and another man of the raiding party 
were also slain, when the mayor, Fountaine Beck- 
ham was killed, having incautiously shown himself. 
This roused great anger. Henry Hunter, a grand- 
nephew of the dead mayor, headed a party and 
dragged the prisoner from the hotel. The land- 
lord's daughter, C. C. Foulke, who was reported as 
endeavoring to prevent the prisoner from being 
lynched, wrote, for a St. Louis daily, an apologetic 


account of her action. 1 He was dragged out, shot at 
and wounded almost before he was past the door- 
step, beaten as he was hauled to the bridge, where 
several guns were fired at his head and breast. He 
was then thrown over the bridge into the river, and 
again wounded as he struck the water. After a little 
while, he was discovered, still alive, clinging to the 
pier, when he was literally riddled with bullets. He 
lay in the river, face upward, until the next day, 
when his body was taken out and carried to Win- 
chester for dissection. His young brother was 
wounded slightly during the firing on the 17th, and 
retreated to the engine-house with the Captain, He 
was shot dead when the marines attacked the little 

In all movements, involving personal danger, there 
will some one be found with fateful forebodings. 
The Kennedy Farm party did not prove an excep- 

1 " While I was talking to Thompson several of the friends of 
Mr. Beckham, who were justly enraged at his cold-blooded 
murder, came in with the avowed determination to kill Thompson 
on the spot. As they appeared with leveled rifles I stood before 
T. and protected him, for three powerful reasons: first, my sister- 
in-law was lying in the adjoining room very ill under the influence 
of a nervous chill, from sheer fright, and if they had carried out 
their design it would have proved fatal to her, no doubt. In the 
second place, I considered it a great outrage to kill the man in the 
house, however much he deserved to die. Thirdly, I am emphati- 
cally a law-and-order woman, and wanted the self-condemned man 
to live that he might be disposed of by the law. I simply shielded 
the terribly frightened man, without touching him, until Col. 
Moor (I think it was) came in and assured me, on his honor, that 
he should not be shot in the house. That was all I desired. The 
result everybody knows," 


tion, for Steward Taylor, one of the younger mem- 
bers, was quite confident he would be the first man 
slain. Anne Brown tells how he was affected and 
with what cool equanimity he went forward with the 
"duty " he had assumed. She writes that — 

" Taylor somehow got the notion that he would he shot as 
soon as the party took possession of Harper's Ferry. We 
could not persuade him out of this. It did not seem to make 
him cowardly in the least, or act like flinching from what he 
considered his duty. He wrote farewell letters to his relatives 
and friends, and sent them off. Then he seemed as calm and 
content as ever, even laughing when one of the men found him 
writing one day, and called out : ' Boys, Steward is writing his 
will.' He was one who could never have betrayed a friend or 
deserted a post." 

Edwin Coppoc tells in a letter to Iowa friends just 
how and when Taylor fell. He was wounded in the 
afternoon fighting on the 17th inst., and died in the 
engine-house soon after. 

Steward Taylor's birthplace was a Canadian town, 
named Uxbridge, north of Toronto, and the date was 
October 29, 1836. At the time of death, then, he was 
within twelve days of his twenty-third birthday. His 
mother, Jane Taylor, married a Mr. Foote, while 
Steward was still a child. He received a fair English 
education and went to work in his youth, remaining 
in Canada with his grandfather, David Taylor, till 
his seventeenth year, when he started for the United 
States, intending to settle in Kansas. He did not 
enter that Territory, having been quite ill in Mis- 
souri, and upon his recovery, after visiting Arkansas, 
he returned north to Iowa, where, at West Liberty, 
Cedar County, he obtained employment in a wagon 


factory. He early became acquainted with George 
B. Gill, who, in the early spring of 1858, introduced 
him to the John Brown party, and to John Brown 
himself at the house of a Mr. Painter. He joined as 
Mr. Gill did and went to Chatham, Canada, to partici- 
pate in the convention held there. After that body 
adjourned, Steward Taylor found employment in 
Illinois, and remained until Kagi addressed him from 
Chambersburg, early in July, 1859, when he responded 
at once, bearing his own expenses and reporting for 
duty as soon as required. That he had deliberately 
engaged himself in the enterprise is shown by the 
fact, that for a year he had no communication with 
any of the party, yet he writes to an Iowa friend, in 
1859, that — 

" My condition seemed rather unfavorable. I expected 
momentarily I would be relieved of my doubts, which arose 
from my losing communication with my friends. I keep wait- 
ing day after day for word and at last gave it up. Then my 
hopes were partly crushed, I felt as though I was deprived of 
my chief object in life. I could imagine no other cause than 
want of ability or confidence. I believe that fate has decreed 
me for this undertaking. . . . Although at one time . . . 
I had given up being wanted, but all came right when neces- 
sary. It could not seem to be wrong, in spite of my trying to 
believe to the contrary. But truth will, if it has a chance, ap- 
pear to the sincere." 

In his reply from Illinois to Kagi under date of 
July 3d, he writes: 

" It is my chief desire to add fuel to the flame. The amount 
may be small but every little helps. My ardent passion for the 
gold fields is my thought by day and my dream by night. I 
often think that I am with you bringing it forth in masses that 
will surprise the world. Please let me know as soon as pos- 


sible, for if it is very sudden, I might be sore troubled to get 
my money." 

Taylor was of medium height, stout and stocky in 
form, quite strong and capable of physical endurance. 
His head was large, round, well balanced. In that 
respect he was of striking appearance. Very quiet 
in his ways, helpful, a good comrade, always even 
tempered. Complexion dark, reddish-brown hair, 
closely cropped, his eyes w T ere dark brown, large and 
full. He was smooth-faced and immature looking for 
even his age. He was given to day-dreaming and 
writing a great deal; phonographic shorthand espe- 
cially. Like Stevens, " Jerry " Anderson, Edwin Cop- 
poc, Taylor was strongly disposed to spiritualism, 
Out with Kagi, he leaned more to what may be 
termed ''rationalism." He was somewhat excitable 
on such questions, was always an "odd genius, " and 
would nowadays be branded " crank " by the flippant 
formalists. Very persistent in any purpose, he learned 
to play the violin quite fairly, though he had but 
little musical ability. He was a constant student 
and always had some book or study on hand. In dis- 
position, benevolent and affectionate — his brother 
says very tender, — he proved himself faithful to his 
convictions unto death. 

William Henry Leeman, slain at Hall's Rifle Works, 
was a native of Maine, where members of the family 
still reside. The youngest member of the party, 
born March 20, 1839, and therefore, when slain, but 
twenty years, seven months and three days old, his life 
had been for over three years as full of stirring adven- 
ture as his death was tragic. He was sent out of the 
Ferry in the early morning, under Tidd's command, 


to capture Terence Barns, and on returning took 
four of the rescued slaves with him to reinforce Kagi, 
who with Leary and Copeland had taken possession 
of Hall's Rifle Works. The eight men were trapped 
when the Virginia militia got ready to take a hand 
in the proceedings. A Harper's Ferry doctor, after 
the shooting of the railway porter, Heywood, had 
gotten out of town, and, riding hard, roused the 
country. By noon the Virginians begun to cross the 
Shenandoah, and the men in the Rifle Works were 
soon discovered. The four colored Virginians made 
their escape without fighting, and the other four held 
the untenable place for over an hour, until at last 
the quartet of anti-slavery fighters made a break 
from the back of the factory. They fell before the 
fire of a hundred rifles. Leeman lay on the gray 
rock dying with ten or twelve bullets in his body. 
A militiaman waded out, put a pistol against his face 
and firing blew half his head off. Cutting off the 
boy's coattails and cartridge-box and belt, he sat the 
mangled form against the rocks, and then with a 
grim humor of the pro-slavery type, spent, with others, 
the afternoon in target practice on the dead body. 
Captain Leeman thus completed a service begun for 
free Kansas in June, 1856. He became a fighter for 
freedom in the early part of his seventeenth year, and 
died in the seventh month of his twentieth year. 
Leeman was six feet in height, slender but well built, 
fair complexion, small featured, with good steady 
eyes, bluish gray in color, light brown hair, ingenious 
in the use of tools, quiet in manners, and always re- 
liable. He received a moderate degree of education 
in the common schools of Saco and Hallowell, and at 


the age of fourteen went to Haverhill, Mass., to work 
in a shoe factory. From earlier boyhood, as his 
letters show, he identified himself with anti-slavery 
politics and, in the spring of 1856, decided to go to 
Kansas. He left Massachusetts, in June of that year, 
with Dr. Cutler's party, and was with it when armed 
Missourians, at Lexington, turned the company back 
and down the Missouri River. Leeman found his 
way to Keokuk, Iowa, and there joined the second 
Massachusetts colony, under charge of Martin Stowell 
and Richard J. Hinton, entered Kansas with them, 
after marching afoot across the State from Iow r a City 
and through southern Nebraska to Fall City. He 
then pushed southward and was soon in the midst of 
the fighting, joining "John Brown's Regulars," ] as 
the record shows, September 9, 1856. He was at 
the third attack on Lawrence where we met again 
and for the last time. 

Leeman's life thereafter was a part of the record of 
John Brown. He was at the Springdale, Iowa, school, 
a member of the Chatham Convention, and his signa- 
ture was the fifteenth in order to the roll of the con- 
vention, and of the provisional constitution there 
adopted. He was also a member of the committee 
appointed to fill the offices under it. Letters to his 
parents and sisters have been in my possession, and 
many evidences are given by them of his adventurous 
disposition, as well as the underlying steadfastness of 
his character. His people were poor, struggling con- 
stantly, and naturally sought his assistance. Some 
touching letters were found from, them, showing 

1 See Appendix. 

Men who fought and fell, or escaped. 537 

their trouble at his absence as well as affection for 
the wandering son and brother. His replies were all 
as affectionate in tone, and there are proofs that he 
sent small amounts of money at different periods. 
He wrote of going to Utah, when he was about some 
dangerous movement for the Captain. Of his early 
Kansas experience he writes, early in November, 
1856, that after " we had cleaned out the border 
ruffians, the government troops got after us and I 
had to get away to Nebraska, where I shall work at 
my trade. (He was a bootmaker.) If Fremont is 
elected, there will be more trouble in the spring. 
You have heard how we whipped them at Osawa- 
tomie. We had thirty men and wounded thirty-two; 
they had 400, all mounted." There is no trouble in 
following the roads by which Leeman traveled to his 
death at Harper's Ferry. In 1858 and '59 there are 
several letters giving hints, more or less plain, of the 
purposes he was following. In one Ohio letter the 
youthful partisan says he ''can't tell till he hears 
from Kansas." This was in 1858, and then he adds: 

" I think a great deal of my mother and sisters, and I know 
they do of me, and it makes me unhappy to think that mother 
worries so much about me, but I feel myself amply repaid for 
denying myself the pleasure of seeing them by realizing that 
I have been engaged in a good cause — a noble cause. For the 
last year I have been engaged in the cause of freedom, and ere 
long it will be shown to the world. If we succeed in our 
undertaking, it will pay me for years of toil." 

The last letter sent from Harper's Ferry is dated 
October 2, 1859, and makes no disguise of his posi- 
tion. It reads: 

"DEAR MOTHER — I have not written vou for a long time, 


and have not heard from you for a longer one. I am well, and 
anxious to hear from you. I am now in a Southern slave State, 
and before I leave it, it will be a free State, and so will every 
other one in the South. Yes, mother, I am warring with 
slavery, the greatest curse that ever infested America. In 
explanation of my absence from you for so long, I would tell 
you that for three years I have been engaged in a secret asso- 
ciation of as gallent fellows as ever pulled a trigger, with the 
sole purpose of the extermination of slavery. We are now all 
privately gathered in a slave State, where we are determined 
to strike for freedom, incite the slaves to rebellion, and estab- 
lish a free government. With the help of God we will carry it 
through. Now you will see, mother, the reason why I have 
stayed away from you so long — why I have never helped you 
when I knew you was in want, and why I have not explained 
to you before. I dared not divulge it. Now we are about to 
commence, and it does not make any difference ; but, mother 
dear, I charge you not to divulge a word in this letter outside 
of the family, until you hear from me in actual service. I don't 
want you to worry yourself about me at all. I shall be in 
danger, of course, but that is natural to'me. I shall not get 
killed. I am in a good cause and I am not afraid. I know my 
mother will not object. You have a generous heart. I know 
you will sacrifice something for your fellow beings in bondage. 
I knew one lady in New York that bid her husband and four 
sons to take up arms in our cause, and they are here with us 

With what courage, then, these young men entered 
upon their tragic work is illustrated by such letters, 
scores of which testify to the purposes and devotion 
of their writers. They show also, however mistaken 
in their hopes, that no unworthy thoughts ever dwelt 
in their manly brains. Their paths were clean; their 
aim noble; their lives full of high bravery, and in 
their deaths were justified the sacrifice of their lives. 


Barclay Coppoc, brother of Edwin, one of the 
younger members of the party, was born at Salem, 
Ohio, January 4, 1839, an< ^ was, therefore, twenty-one 
years of age when left under Owen Brown's com- 
mand, with Merriam, to attend to the removal of the 
arms and tools from the Kennedy Farm to the 
little Virginia schoolhouse, where they were after- 
wards seized. In the fall of 1856, Barclay was in Kan- 
sas for a short time and there be- 
came possessed of the spirit of the 
free-state movement. He was a 
little taller and more slender than 
his brother Edwin, with the rest- 
lessness of one touched with con- 
sumption, full of an adventurous 
spirit, and more inclined to audac- 
ity. He had scant brown hair, bold 
large eyes, irregular features, a de- 
termined expression. During the 
perilous period of escaping, though 
frail in strength, Owen's narrative 
shows that the brave vouth bore his 
share without complaint, of the 
thirty-six days of hunger, cold, fatigue, and danger 
they passed in the rough laurel hills and semi-mountain 
areas from the neighborhood of Harper's Ferry to 
Center County, western Pennsylvania, where the three 
comrades — Owen Brown, Tidd, and the young Coppoc 
parted, November 24, 1859. Barclay made haste 
to reach Iowa. His presence there was concealed 
slightly, and the young men of Springdale, and 
Liberty township, in Cedar County, organized for 
his protection. George B. Gill and Charles W. 

&'& ' 



Moffett, two of the Chatham Convention delegates, 
were resident there also. Both were in some dan- 
ger. Virginia sent agents to secure Barclay Cop- 
poc's arrest, 1 but Governor Kirkwood (afterwards 
United States Senator and Secretary of the In- 
terior) had no desire to extradite the young 
adventurer. Arrangements were made, if not with 

1 The following letter illustrates the feelings and actions of the 

" Springdale, Cedar County, Iowa, Feb. 12, i860. 

"The object of thy anxious inquiry (Barclay Coppoc) has not 
been taken from Springdale, nor is it intended that he shall be 
taken. Springdale is in arms and is prepared at a half-hour's 
notice to give them a reception of 200 shots; and it will be neces- 
sary for the marshal to find him before he can be taken. There is 
a well-organized body here. They meet two or three evenings in 
each week to lay their plans and take the necessary steps to have 
them carried out incase of necessity, There are three of their 
number who always know of his whereabouts, and nobody else 
knows anything of him. He is never seen at night where he was 
during the day, and there are men on the watch at Davenport, 
Muscatine, Iowa City, Liberty, Tipton, and all around, and the 
first sign of an arrest in any quarter a messenger will be dispatched 
to Springdale, and larger companies than the Virginians can raise 
will follow immediately after them. Muscatine has offered to send 
400 men at the very shortest notice. But it is intended to baffle 
them in every possible way without bloodshed if possible. The 
marshal was at Des Moines City some two weeks for a requisition, 
and the Governor refused to grant it on account of informality, 
then swore they would take him by mob. The citizens dispatched 
a messenger immediately to this place. He rode four horses down 
on the way, and came through in two nights and a day, it being 
165 miles. We understand that the marshal has gone the second 
time to Des Moines for his requisition, and his return is looked 
for daily. But I have no doubt but he will be baffled in some way, 
for be assured Springdale is right on the goose. 

*' F. C. Galbraith." 


the ' rovernor's direct consent, not without his 
kno\* edge, to give Barclay's friends due notice 
of any legal action upon a requisition from Virginia 
that the Iowa Governor might feel himself formally 
bound to obey. As a matter of fact, he was never 
forced to such action. The Virginian sent to accom- 
plish the arrest proved to be worthless, drunken, and 
cowardly. He succeeded in getting arrested for debt 
on account of a board bill. After a visit East to Ohio, 
New York, and Massachusetts, in the early summer of 
i860, Barclay went to Kansas. In the fall of that 
year Coppoc aided to run off some Missouri slaves. 
Quantrile, afterward so infamous as a Missouri rebel 
guerilla (he was himself of Ohio birth), then known 
as " Charley Hart," and pretending to be in sympathy 
with the helpers of the fugitives, trapped the boy, 
two of his cousins, and four or five others, into 
a movement to help some Jackson County, Missouri, 
slaves. They were ambushed; Barclay and others of 
the party escaped, but two or three were killed. For 
several months after this he remained quiet, but, when 
the Civil War began, he at once entered the Union 
army, and was commissioned in June a second lieu- 
tenant in the Fourth Kansas Volunteer Infantry, 
commanded by Col. James Montgomery. Coppoc 
was sent to Iowa to collect as recruits some young 
men of Cedar County, who desired to serve in a 
Kansas regiment. On his return with them he met 
his death, on the 30th of August, on the Hannibal 
and St. Joseph Railroad, by the precipitation of a 
train eighty feet into the Platte River, owing to 
guerillas having burned away the timbers of the 
bridge across it. The rebel force had attacked and 


taken St. Joe, which they held for a few hours. It 
was supposed that a heavy train of Union troops was 
on the road; it had, however, fortunately been de- 
tained at Palmyra, but the trap set for them was 
filled by the ordinary passenger train. Barclay Cop- 
poc, with several others, were killed, and seventeen 
more were severely injured. His body was taken to 
Leavenworth, Kansas, and buried there in the Pilot 
Knob Cemetery. That of his brother Edwin was 
grudgingly surrendered to Quaker friends and buried 
at his birthplace, Salem, Ohio. The lives of these 
young brothers, with their comrades, were indeed 

'* Built of furtherance and pursuing, 
Not of great deeds, but of doing" 

Revolutionary blood was in the ascendancy in the 
John Brown party; as the Browns and Thompsons, 
Kagi, Cook, Stevens, "Jerry" Anderson, the Coppoc 
brothers, and Merriam, could all tell of progenitors 
serving in that and earlier fields of civic and religious 
freedom. Anderson, slain by a United States soldier 
after he had thrown down his rifle, was the great- 
o-randson of two soldiers of the American War for In- 
dependence. They were both Virginians. On his 
mother's side, Col. Jacob Westfall, of Tygert Valley, 
in the " Old Dominion," was a partisan commander of 
considerable local reputation. Soon after the war 
ceased he moved to Kentucky. He was a slaveholder, 
as was the other grandfather, Captain Anderson. 
John, his son, abjured slavery, and after his marriage 
moved first to the Territory of Black Hawk (Wiscon- 
sin), and then to that of Indiana, settling at the town 
of Indiana, Putnam County, where his son Jeremiah 


was born. April 17, 1833. "Jerry " was therefore in 
his twenty-seventh year when killed in the raid. The 
family, his father having died, then moved to Des 
Moines, Iowa. Jeremiah was fairly well educated, 
attending the district schools, and at Galesburg, 
Illinois, and Kossuth, Iowa, entering the academy or 
high school. Hon. James W. McDill, ex-Congressman 
from Iowa, and now a member of the Interstate 
Commerce Commission, writes that when, in 1854, he 
was teaching in the Kossuth Academy, " one of the 
students was Jeremiah G. Anderson. My recollection 
of him is quite distinct. He was a morose, eccentric 
young man, quiet and very studious." The morose- 
ness alluded to doubtless arose from the fact that 
Anderson found himself out of his element in a Pres- 
byterian seminary, where he had been placed with 
the idea of becoming a minister. He soon kicked 
over the theological traces, having, by an essay he 
wrote, declared himself a Universalist. At the time 
of his death he was accounted a Spiritualist. A score 
of essays and compositions, placed before me, show 
he was a thoughtful and industrious student. Leav- 
ing the academy, then, before graduation, owing to 
poor health, he took up an active out-of-door life, 
investing in a steam sawmill and working industri- 
ously therein. One brother studied medicine and 
graduated. He went to Kansas, was concerned in the 
Southern troubles of 1857-58. He now lives in Iowa. 
Harrison, another brother, went to California, after a 
short stay in Kansas. Jeremiah also moved there in 
the fall of 1857, purchasing a " claim " on the Little 
Osage. His youthful essays show a strong, free-soil 
bias, due, doubtless, to the teachings of his father. 


So, when the Fort Scott outbreaks were renewed, it 
was natural for the young man to range himself at 
once at the free-state side. He became active, was 
one of Montgomery and Bain's most trusted men, and 
got himself under arrest several times. He was in 
the fight of resistance with Montgomery against 
Captain Anderson, a dragoon officer, already referred 
to. In a letter to his brother in Iowa, Jeremiah 
writes, Camp near Luella, Kansas Territory, February 
17, 1858, as follows: 

. . . " There is considerable excitement here at the 
present time. A free- state man was robbed at Fort Scott some 
time ago. His name was Johnson, and he came here to see if 
he could get help to recover his property. Our company, 
under Capt. Bain, and the Sugar Creek company, under Capt. 
Montgomery, responded. We marched into the fort on the 
14th inst., met with no resistance, for the bloody villains 
had heard of our coming and fled into the State (Mo.) that 
night. . . . We have just now heard that a company left 
the fort to-day, and expect them to attack us to-night, but I 
don't think they will attempt it again, they got whipped so bad 
the other time. . . . We have so many alarms that I can- 
not get half a chance to work. ... It has been this way 
for three months or more, but not always so bad." 

Naturally, the young settler drifted into John 
Brown's camp, when, as "Shubel Morgan," he took 
position on the border near the "Trading Post," the 
scene of the " Marias du Cygne " massacre. He was 
with Captain Brown at Christmas, 1859, when the 
raid of freedom w r as made on Missouri slaveholders. 
Fr m Lawrence, on the 14th of January, 1859, he 
writes his brother that, after getting away from an 
arrest, attempted by the pro-slavery officials, he had: 

. . . "A call to go into the service, and went to Fort 


Scott to help relieve Benjamin Rice. We were fired upon by 
one John Little Blake, ex-deputy United States marshal. Our 
men fired back, 1 and a ball hit him in the forehead, which 
done him up just right. I was also engaged in liberating the 
Missouri slaves Captain Brown brought in." 

After giving a short account of the rescue, Anderson 

"I am now three miles from Lawrence with 'Old Brown,' 
as they call him. We are looking out a railroad route, estab- 
lishing depots, and finding watering-places. Our road is a 
long one, terminating in Canada. . . . Montgomery came 
out of Lawrence to stay with us to night, and has just told us 
of a plan laid to assassinate Brown and himself." 

Anderson did not leave the Territory in January, 
1859, but joined John Brown early in the spring, as 
he was with him in Rochester, Peterboro, and North 
Elba, New York, in the following March and April. 
He seldom left him afterwards, Captain Brown hav- 
ing evidently grown much attached to him. He said 
to Mr. Putman, of Peterboro, that Anderson "was 
more than a friend; he was as a brother and a son 
to him." To J. Q. Anderson, writing on the 29th of 
November, three days before his execution, Captain 
Brown states that his brother Jeremiah " was fight- 
ing bravely by my side, at Harper's Ferry, up to the 
moment when I fell wounded and took no further 
notice of what passed for a little time." Anderson 
was pierced with a death wound by the bayonet of 
a marine whose weapon first struck the buckle of a 
pistol belt and sliding off pierced his body through 
till he was pinned to the opposite wall. One of the 
prisoners described Anderson as turning completely 

1 I. II. Kngi fired that shot. 


over against the wall in his dying agony. He lived 
a short time, stretched on the brick walk without, 
where he was subjected to savage brutalities, being 
kicked in body and face, while one brute of an armed 
farmer spat a huge quid of tobacco from his vile jaws 
into the mouth of the dying man, which he first 
forced open. 

All the evidence shows Anderson to have been re- 
garded as singularly reliable; quiet, grave, and 
modest in manners and temper. He was about five 
feet nine inches in height, quite spare, of black com- 
plexion, quiet but penetrative dark eyes. His feat- 
ures were of the Abraham Lincoln type; one common 
to the Blue Range Scotch-Irish stock from which he 
came. George B. Gill writes of him: 

" I remember that he was considered quite a valuable aquisi- 
tion to the party, based mainly on his appearance and motions, 
and from his undoubted reliability, carrying, I think, his whole 
being into the cause. He was probably as earnest a member 
of the party as Brown had with him." 

He wrote good letters and just before the attack 
informed his brother in Iowa fully of the purposed 
assault. On the 5th of July he writes: 

" I am stopping (Sandy Hook) one mile from Harper's Ferry, 
in Maryland, on the Potomac. The railroad is one side, the 
house and the canal is on the other. This is a mountainous 
country and the scenery is very beautiful. Crops look well, 
especially wheat, of which there is a vast amount." He de- 
scribes the fruits, berries, etc., tells of cool weather, and says, 
" there was nothing going on for the Fourth but ' drinking, 
dancing, and fighting,' so he spent the day in ' berrying ' and 
long walks," and adds, " I am going to be on a farm about five 
miles from the Ferry engaged," he adds, "in agricultural pur- 


suits,' and then warns his brother not to write of the institu- 

A letter, bearing date September 28th, evidently 
written from the Kennedy Farm, says: 

"Our cooks (Anne Brown and Martha, wife of Oliver) are 
going- to start back to Essex County, New York, in the morn- 
ing (Sept. 29). They are the old man's daughter and 
daughter-in law. The old man (Osawatomie) has gone to 
Philadelphia for a few more hands and will be back in a few 
days, and then we will commence digging the precious metal 
sometime next week without doubt." 

He writes hopefully of a future visit to Iowa, and 
then adds, that: 

" At present I am bound by all that is honorable to continue 
in the same cause for which I left Kansas and all my relations, 
Millions of fellow beings require it of us; their cries for help 
go out to the universe daily and hourly. Whose duty is it to 
help them? Is it yours, is it mine? It is every man's ; but 
how few there are to help. But there are a few who dare to 
answer this call, and dare to answer it in a manner that will 
make this land of Liberty and Equality shake to the center. If 
my life is sacrificed, it can't be lost in a better cause. Our 
motto is, 'We go in to win at all hazards.' So if you should 
hear of a failure it will be after a desperate struggle and loss 
of capital on both sides. But that is the last of our thoughts; 
everything seems to work to our hands. . . . The old man 
has had this operation in view for twenty years and last winter 
was just a hint and a trial of what could be done." 

Anderson then refers to a picture which would 
seem to be a view of Harper's Ferry, as he writes: 

" It is not a large place, but a precious one to Uncle Sam, as 
he has great many tools there. I expect (when I start again 
traveling) to start at that place and go through the State of 
Virginia and on South, just as circumstances requiring mining, 
and prospecting, and carrying the ore along with us; you can 


just imagine while you are reading this what we are doing and 
see how near you guess the truth. ' Great excitement ! ' ' New 
gold discoveries in Virginia ! ' I judge the excitement will be 
so high that the slaveholders will have all the darkies out dig- 
ging gold for THEMSELVES. I believe a hint to the wise is suf- 
ficient. I suppose this is the last letter I shall write before 
there is something in the wind. . . . Farewell till you hear 
from or see me and hope for the best." 

The hopeful courage of all these young men, as 
manifested in these simple, unaffected home letters, 
is not the least remarkable fact the records show. It 
stands as proof alike of their intelligent fidelity to 
principle, and of the confidence their leader inspired 
them with. Anderson was one of the minority who 
in the debate at the Kennedy Farm sustained the pro- 
posed attack on Harper's Ferry. 

After the arrest of Cook and Hazlett, Governor 
Wise issued another proclamation. In these days he 
seems to have maintained a factory for their produc- 
tion : 

Two Thousand Dollars Reward — A Proclamation 
by the Governor of Virginia. — Information having been 
received by the Executive that Owen Brown, Barclay Coppoc, 
Francis J. Merriam, and Charles P. Tidd (who are severally 
charged with the crimes of treason, murder, and conspiring 
and advising with slaves to rebel in the county of Jefferson, in 
this commonwealth), have escaped from justice, and are now 
going at large, therefore I do hereby offer a reward of five 
hundred dollars to any person who shall arrest either of said 
fugitives and deliver him into the jail of said county of Jeffer- 
son, and I do, moreover, require all officers of this common- 
wealth, civil and military, and request the people generally, to 
use their best exertions to procure their arrest, that they may 
be brought to justice. 

Given under my hand as Governor, and under the Less seal 


of the commonwealth, at Richmond, this third day of Novem- 
ber, 1859. Henry A. Wise. 

The Richmond papers appended the following de- 
scriptions to the above: 

" Owen Brown is thirty-three or thirty-four years of age, 
about six feet in height, with fair complexion, though somewhat 
freckled — has red hair, and very heavy whiskers of the same 
color. He is a spare man, with regular features, and has deep 
blue eyes. 

" Barclay Coppoc is about twenty years of age ; is about five 
feet seven and a half inches in height with hazel eyes, and 
brown hair, wears a light mustache, and has a consumptive 

'Francis J. Merriam is about twenty-five years of age; is 
about five feet eight and a half inches in height, has black hair 
and eyes, and brown mustache. He has lost one eye — some- 
times wears a glass eye. His face is somewhat blotched. 
Complexion dark. 

" Charles P. Tidd stands five feet eleven inches ; has broad 
shoulders, and looks like a very muscular and active man ; has 
light hair, blue eyes, Grecian nose, and heavy brown whiskers; 
looks like a fighting man, and his looks in this respect are in 
no way deceptive." 

With John Edwin Cook, the other four men started 
on the morning of the 18th of October, across the 
South Mountain spur, to escape from the clutches of 
Virginia, and reach, if possible, the western part of 
Pennsylvania, where John Brown had married his 
wife, Mary Anne Day. It was natural, then, for 
Owen to make that section his objective point. Not 
only could they then reach the Ohio northwestern re- 
serve, where John, Jr., and Jason Brown lived and in 
which nearly all of the party had recently been staying, 
but in the western counties of the Keystone State 


there were prominent persons, like the Delameters, 
who had in earlier days avowed their sympathy with 
John Brown's acknowledged purpose. Three of the 
four proclaimed in Wise's proclamation never got a 
chance at the fighting; Tidd was actually in the 
Ferry between midnight and daylight of the 17th, 
and then went with a party to capture Terence 
Burns, a slaveholder of the neighborhood. He re- 
turned to the Ferry and was immediately sent out 
again with a four-horse wagon and a party of negroes 
to assist at the schoolhouse and protect the arms, 
etc., that Owen Brown's party was removing from 
the Kennedy Farm. He was the first to hear the 
news of failure. Owen declared, "We must not 
desert our friends," and started to arm with rifles the 
colored men, with them who had been brought from 
the Washington, Alstadt, Burns, and other planta- 
tions; take position as near the Ferry as possible, and 
open firing at long range, at least so as to enable the 
others to fight their way out. Tidd was hopeless, 
and the colored men soon showed they were unwill- 
ing. It was late in the afternoon; John Brown had 
been driven into the engine-house, and the report 
Tidd returned with, having volunteered to go as near 
the Ferry as possible and obtain news, was: "Your 
father was killed at four. Oliver and Watson are re- 
ported dead. Only two or three men are left alive." 
It appeared evident, then, that the only hope was in 
making their escape. They made up some provis- 
ions, Cook having joined them after his unsuccessful 
firing at the Virginians from a perch on the side of 
Maryland Heights. A negro man who had been left 
at the Kennedy Farm also appeared. The six men 


then went to the Maryland house, got supper, and 
immediately after took to the range. The negro was 
directed to let loose a horse he had. This he refused 
and that night he disappeared. "None of us," said 
Owen, in after days, " made much pretension to being 
scared." They were alarmed, however, at the negro's 
flight, and made on the 18th as good time as they 
could. Owen naturally assumed command, and de- 
clared that they must follow the mountains, making 
to the Northwest as steadily as possible. It was 
determined to keep out of sight and travel only by 
night. If the party had gone directly north from the 
Kennedy Farm, as Anderson and Hazlitt, they would 
probably have met the latter, been on ground the 
topopraphy of which they understood, and would in 
all probability have had a better chance of getting 
away. Anderson was in Chambersburg on the night 
of the 20th. Cook did not go down to the old forge in 
the Cumberland Valley, where he was captured, until 
the 24th inst. By Owen's directions, all traveled 
roads were shunned, except to cross them at night ; 
no fires were built, though the cold was bitter; at first 
they got along without getting food except a few ears 
of corn, eaten raw. After they were able to travel 
more directly west they succeeded in either raiding on 
farmyards or, preferably, in buying provisions. After 
finding, early in the morning, that the negro had fled, 
they crossed the nearest range. Cook, bold, fiery, 
quick-thinking, wanted all to go together on to the 
roads and then move, at night, as rapidly as possible. 
Tidd was severe in his criticisms of what he termed 
Cook's " braggadocio." It took all of Owen's genuine 
kindliness and tact to prevent open quarrels. Another 


difficulty supervened in the inability of Merriam to 
withstand the severe fatigue. " He never complained," 
Owen said in after years, though he avoided also 
telling how he carried the young Bostonian over 
streams and difficult places. Barclay Coppoc was 
not strong, being consumptive in tendency, but he 
had a brave, enduring spirit, had lived in the open air, 
worked at manual labor, as Merriam had not, and got 
through without serious drawbacks. After Cook's 
descent to the valley, and his capture within fifteen 
miles of Chambersburg, the others pushed on to that 
burg, hoping to get food and aid their unfortunate 
comrade. Another reason for venturing, as it were, 
into a trap, was to enable Merriam to get away by 
railroad, and in this they succeeded. Fortunately, 
he had retained some of the $600 drawn from his 
trustee and uncle, Mr. James Jackson, of Boston. He 
divided with his comrades, retaining only sufficient to 
reach a place of safety. Tidd and Coppoc left Owen 
and Merriam hidden nearby and made their way to 
Mrs. Ritner's dwelling. Mr. Franklin Keagy thus 
describes this adventure: 

" On the morning after Cook's capture and the day on which 
he was surrendered so hastily to Virginia, Tick! and Coppoc 
came to Mrs. Ritner's house , and awakened her by knocking 
at her bedroom window with a bean pole. Mrs. Ritner put her 
arm out and motioned them to leave. Tidd said, 'Don't you 
know me ? I am Tidd.' Mrs. Ritner whispered in a frightened 
manner, ' Leave, leave ! ' Tidd said, ' We are hungry,' to which 
Mrs. Ritner replied, ' I can't help you, if you were starving, 
leave! the house is guarded by armed men!' The men then 
hurriedly left and secreted themselves in a thicket on the out- 
skirt of the town ; there they remained all day, and that night 
they left their hiding-place and started northward. It is well 


they did, the next morning was Thanksgiving Day, and the 
country about town was alive with boys and men rabbit hunt- 
ing. The arms left by them were soon found, and it was sur- 
mised that there was some of the party in the town yet. Mer- 
riam left the party at Chambersburg, and, going on the railroad 
track as far as Scotland, distant five miles, took the early 
morning train east. The rest of the party, Owen Brown, Cop- 
poc, and Tidd, crossed the North Mountains and escaped cap- 

An account, published at the time in the New York 
Tribune, dated Chambersburg, says that the four men 
remained several days near that place. This and other 
statements are incorrect, as James Redpath met Mer- 
riam in Philadelphia on the 26th, and sent him north- 
ward, while also dispatching previously arranged for 
telegrams to his mother and uncle. A quiet, but well- 
organized and vigorouseffort vvasmadeto reach Owen's 
party at the time, and several times friends were 
within rifle shot. It was impossible, however, to com- 
municate with them even when the messengers were 
of the colored race. The same thing was true in the 
neighborhood of Harrisburg, where both Colonel 
Hoyt and myself conducted well-planned efforts. 
After leaving Chambersburg, which they did after 
learning in some way of Cook's return to Virginia at 
noon of the 25th, they were compelled to wander in 
more or less danger, and it was not until the 4th of 
November, twenty days after they had left the Ken- 
nedy Farm that they were able to obtain an old 
newspaper and learn that John Brown and Stevens, 
severely wounded, with Edwin Coppoc, Green, and 
Copeland had been captured and were on trial for 
their lives. It was Owen's birthday and he read the 
proclamation of Governor Wise offering rewards for 


their capture. Owen stated that Tidd got the paper, 
and he (Owen), " with a tremor in the voice, read the 
news aloud." At this time they adopted other names; 
Owen taking that of Edward Clark, Tidd becoming 
Charles Plummer, and Coppoc assuming to be George 
Barclay. They began to get among Quakers and 
farmers who asked no questions, gave them food and 
directed them on their way. On one occasion they 
were hotly pursued, and Benjamin Wakefield, near 
Fawnville, Crumford County, a Quaker, managed to 
put the pursuers off on a wrong road. He fed and cared 
for the fugitives, letting them understand he knew 
who they were, would take no money, and directed 
them to find a cousin, forty miles distant, at Half 
Moon. At Half Moon they were at first reluctantly 
received, but well treated after the household got 
over its fright. Here they bought large carpet bags 
and were thus enabled to hide their weapons. They 
reached Center County, Pennsylvania, where Owen 
had relatives, in the latter part of November, and then 
separated. Under date of November 28th, Hoyt 
wrote Mr. Le Barnes from Cleveland: " Coppoc passed 
this place this morning. Before this gets to Boston 
he will be safe enough in Canada. Owen Brown is 
in Ashtabula County and will soon be here en route. 
Where Tidd is I don't know, but he is safe." He was 
very careful about his address, and, as late as July, 
i860, his actual whereabouts — he being then in Mas- 
sachusetts — was withheld directly from all but mem- 
bers of the Brown family, Barclay Coppoc, and L. F. 
Parsons. Owen, who had gone to his brother at 
Dorset, did not leave Ohio for many years. On the 
8th of March, i860, Governor Letcher madeademand 


for Virginia on Governor Dennison, Ohio, for the sur- 
render of Owen Brown and Francis J. Merriam. The 
latter had been sojourning a brief period at Cleve- 
land, while passing to and from Chatham, Canada, 
where I find by O. P. Anderson's letters to me, he 
made his residence until the summer of i860. The 
attorney-general of Ohio, to whom Letcher's demand 
was referred, stated that no ^le- 
gal" demand had been made or 
proper papers submitted. He 
said: " In all these documents, 
from beginning to end, there is 
no word, no letter, from which 
human ingenuity can draw the 
vaguest hint that Owen Brown 
or Merriam had fled from Vir- 
ginia, nor was there any proper 
proof of either of the men being 
within the bounds of Ohio." 

Owen Brown showed in his 
conduct of the escape, as in his 
life in Kansas and elsewhere, the 
best qualities and the true stuff 
of which the Browns were all 

made. George B. Gill, who knew him well, writes a 
bit of analytical description. He says: 

1 "* ' ■" 


"Owen Brown came as near being a philosopher, in many 
ways, as I ever saw. A thorough optimist, too, often express- 
ing approbation of life by wishing that he could live a thousand 
years. Apparently organized like his father, yet having but 
few of the latter's severe peculiarities, every idea had to pass 
through the cynical test of logic. In contradistinction to his 
father's views, Owen was an avowed agnostic. He was moral 


and upright, very kind, and very willing- to sacrifice his per- 
sonal comforts, if by doing so he might benefit others. To 
induce me to quit the use of tobacco he offered to live upon 
two meals a day. Very firm, yet entirely free from vindictive- 
ness : the very soul of honor and honesty. The equanimity of 
his temper I have never seen equaled. 

" He must have been six feet in height and well propor- 
tioned, with red or sandy hair and full, long beard. He had 
been physically unfortunate, when younger, in the injury of an 
arm or shoulder, I think, through which lie had suffered so 
severely as to prematurely age him, and produced a trouble 
of some kind by which he was subject to drowsiness. This, as 
well as being crippled in his arm, rendered him incapable of 
any very hard labor. His father, in planning for him, was 
always taking this into consideration, and most likely had this 
in mind when leaving him in charge of the house and arms at 
the Kennedy Farm. He inherited from him a dislike for 
buttermilk and cheese. Owen became much attached to a 
young lady at Springdale, Iowa, but owing to the peculiar con- 
ditions, he considered that it would be dishonorable in him to 
make any advance. I have, however, understood that he 
retained for her an undiminished affection to the day of his 

Owen lived for several years at Gibraltar (Jay 
Cooke's residence) in Sandusky Bay, Lake Erie, John, 
Jr., and Jason residing at the same time on Put-in- 
Bay Island, nearby. John, with his wife, Wealthy, and 
their son and daughter, still live at the vineyard, 
whose planting was begun in i860. They are among 
the rarest of gentlefolks, well mannered, and culti- 
vated in the best sense, honored by all who know 
them, and beloved by those who are endowed with 
their friendship. Early in the 'eighties the Brown 
family removed to California, with the exception of 
John, Jr., and his family, who remain in their Island 


home, Lake Erie. A portion of Jason's family still 
live at Akron, Ohio. The North Elba homestead, 
purchased, raised through the energy of Kate Field, 
is now in the hands of trustees and in charge of a 
family related by marriage to the Browns. The un- 
married daughter, Sarah, lived in San Francisco, 
where the widowed mother died two years before 
Owen's death. Ruth, Jason, and Owen settled in, or 
near, South Pasadena; the two sons holding small 
ranches on Las Cacitas, a neighboring table-land. 
Ellen, with her husband, settled in the Santa Cruz 
Valley, where also Sarah now resides. Salmon, with 
his family, recently removed to Yakima Valley, 
Washington, from the neighborhood of Red Bluff, 
while Mrs. Anne Brown-Adams resides at Petralia, 
Humboldt County. Owen Brown died on the 9th of 
January, 1891, greatly beloved by all who knew him. 
His powers of description were marked and made his 
conversation very attractive. His memory of places, 
incidents, and scenes, though not of names or persons, 
remained vivid until his death. In July, i860, at 
North Elba, he wrote in an autograph album the 
following, and it is quoted here because it clearly 
illustrates his mental habits and his way of putting 
things : 

" How much better is defeat while struggling for the right 
than the greater success in an evil work. That nation which 
will rob and oppress its laboring citizens must experience all 
the horrors of a revolution. It is a necessary result of a war 
upon the natural and most sacred rights of man. I am sorry 
that any member of the human family should think so much of 
self, or have so tight a hold upon the great silver and golden 
god of the United States, that they cannot be just. From this 
source springs all oppression. The welfare of man is the first 


great law. Then let all, male and female, irrespective of nation 
or complexion, be governed by one and the same laws." 

A native of Maine, born at Palermo, Waldo County, 
in 1832, Charles Plummer Tidd was in his twenty- 
seventh year when he escaped from Virginia, Octo- 
ber 18th, 1859. Anne Brown-Adams writes that, 
after the discussion at the Kennedy Farm in Septem- 
ber, ending by the decision to follow John Brown's 
plans, Tidd was so dissatisfied that he left the farm- 
house and went to stay with Cook, and a week passed 
before he gave way to the general verdict. At this 
point, it may well be assumed that the real objection 
to the Harper's Ferry raid was against Captain 
Brown's desire to hold the place long enough to 
leave a startling impression on the country, and then 
by a disappearance, to be followed swiftly b} r raids 
elsewhere, add to the alarm that would exist. What 
John Brown seriously believed was, that slavery, 
being vulnerable in all directions, could be frightened 
quite as much as fought out of existence. I have 
found no evidence whatever that there was any 
difference of opinion among his men as to this, but 
evidently the experienced Kansas members of the 
party questioned the wisdom of the special demon- 
stration at Harper's Ferry, which Captain Brown 
projected, and which he finally failed to carry to a 
finish, as planned. I know, from conversation and 
correspondence with Kagi, and from constant exam- 
ination of all the facts since accessible, that the idea 
of raids from the Appalachian ranges into the farm 
and plantation regions below them was well under- 
stood and fully accepted by Tidd as well as the 
others. Cook's essentially dramatic way of putting 


things, as well as his minute knowledge of affairs 
at Harper's Ferry, had, doubtless, something to do 
with John Brown's adherence to his conception of 
the value of a blow well struck at the Ferry. Kagi 
never opposed, because he probably believed that a 
speedy evacuation of the place would follow. Tidd 
never gave a hearty consent to the attack, but would 
not, because of this difference, 
abandon the leader he and all of 
them personally trusted in so 

A man of sturdy frame, about 
five feet nine inches in height, 
with a large, well-shaped head, 
set well forward on broad shoul- 
ders, Charles Plummer Tidd had 
the look of a clever, handy me- 
chanic. His perceptives were 
active and dominant. Of bilious, 
nervous temperament, his com- 
plexion was dark, eyes, beard, 
and hair also, features strongly 
marked, expression grave, even 

stern. In temper, he was somewhat saturnine and 
dominant. A little overbearing, and fond of prac- 
tical jokes and sharp teasing. This led to quarel- 
ing at times. Stevens and Tidd were excellent friends, 
and depended greatly on each other, but Stevens was 
quick to wrath while Tidd was cool, provoking, and 
sarcastic. Yet he was faithful, a true comrade, 
courageous, and wholly trustworthy, with more than 
ordinary mental capacity. Somewhat reticent, not 
given to writing, and more apt to repress than to 



express, he has left little accessible matter behind 
him. A personal friend, writing in a Maine paper at 
the time of the raid, when it was believed he was one 
of the slain, says: 

" I have been privileged with looking over many letters to 
his mother and sisters, and if what a man says to his most in- 
timate and dearest friends, if the whole tenor of numerous 
letters to a mother, continued through a period of nearly four 
years, is an evidence of a man's motives, Chailes P. Tidcl de- 
serves a monument to his memory, rather than execration and 
reproach. He minutely relates the tragical scenes in which he 
was engaged in Kansas ; describes the sufferings which he 
endured from pro-slavery violence, and yet there is not in all 
his letters a single revengeful, vindictive, or cruel sentiment 
uttered relative to his enemies." 

Reference is made in the same article to the winter 
passed at Springdale, and to the regard entertained 
for the Varney family at that place, the maternal head 
of which was always called " mother " by Tidd and 
Stevens. He tells his family of a course of Bible- 
reading and of the abstinence from liquor and tobacco 
which the party had all agreed to. He declared that 
he had himself refrained from tea and coffee and 
used but little meat for the two years past. In the 
last few of these letters, Tidd hinted clearly that he 
was engaged in an undertaking which he could not 
divulge, but in every letter he assured his friends that 
it was one which they would heartily approve if they 
knew all the particulars. It was one, too, from which 
he could reap no personal benefit, but was all for the 
good of the oppressed and downtrodden, although 
it was fraught with danger to himself, yet he was 
willing to risk all for the good of others. In his last 
letter he informed his parents where what property 


he had would be found if any tiling should befall him, 
who had his miniatures, and closed by saying that, 
"this is perhaps the last letter you will ever receive 
from your son. The next time you hear from me, 
will probably be through the public prints. If we 
succeed the world will call us heroes; if we fail, we 
shall hang between the Heavens and the earth." 

He entered Kansas in August, 1856, having joined 
the Dr. Cutter party from Massachusetts, and he was 
with it when the Missourians blockaded the river at 
Lexington forcing his return to Chicago and thence 
overland through Iowa and Nebraska to Kansas. 
Tidd made the acquaintance of John Brown and his 
sons Owen and Oliver at Tabor, Iowa. He was trusted 
fully, and justly esteemed as one of the reliables. 
Having received a fair English education, he wrote 
well, had good business faculties, and would have 
been a successful man in ordinary circumstances. 
Owen Brown had a good deal to endure from the 
willfulness of both Tidd and Cook. The two younger 
men, Coppoc and Merriam, seem to have implicitly 
followed his directions and obeyed his requests. The 
presence of Mr. Cook at Chambersburg was the load- 
stone which, with hunger, drew my unfortunate friend 
from obeying Owen's more sagacious counsel. It 
was the latter's plan to avoid Chambersburg, but the 
other two insisted on their chance to get food there. 
Tidd seems to have been more than persistent — he 
was obstinate, even after the failure of Cook to return 
on the 24th inst. in his determination to call at Mrs. 
Ritner's house. Owen urged that the lady had 
doubtless denied knowledge of them all, and it would 
not be fair to bring her into trouble. One incident, 



graphically related to Mr. Keeler by Owen, well 
illustrated the trials and temptations of the trip. It 
was about the 21st or 22d of October, and they were 
keeping in the range. 

" Leaving Cook, Merriam, and Coppoc in the timber, I took 
Tidd and went to see if we could prudently cross that valley 
by daylight. We had gone on, Tidd and I, about a mile and 
a half, when we came in sight of a road with teams going and 
coming on it. Farther on we could see a farmhouse. While we 
were discussing the matter, and deciding that it would not be 
safe to cross the valley by daylight, there came wafted to our 
keen, hungry nostrils, from that farmhouse, at least forty rods 
away, the smell of something - like doughnuts cooking. . . . 
It was too much for Tidd's endurance. . . . We were both 
weak and faint enough to stagger. Tidd vowed he wouldn't 
go a step farther without food. 'You'll be all winter,' he said, 
' and never get through after all ; you'll starve and freeze to 
death. It is just as well to expose ourselves one way as an- 
other,' and he took a long breath of the distant frying. I had 
the two arguments to withstand, Tidd's and the lard-laden 
air. The latter was the more powerful, but I withstood them 
both. I promised him, as I had promised to others, that as 
soon we got three nights north of Chambersburg, I would steal 
all the chickens, milk, and apples we needed. It would not do, 
I contended, to go to buying or even stealing provisions now. 
I am not in the habit of stealing, by the bye. But anti-slavery 
men would have been glad to give what little we needed to the 
cause, and pro-slavery men certainly owed it that much. That 
was the way I argued. Tidd, however, clung to the delightful, 
maddening odor, and his determination to go and buy food. As 
a great favor, I at last prevailed upon him to go first with me 
back to the place where we had left the other boys. And every 
one but myself agreed with Tidd. I had a large red silk 
handkerchief with white spots in it, given me by Mrs. Gerrit 
Smith. Well, this, with the empty shot-bag for salt, mentioned 
before, I gave to Cook, and told him, if they insisted on hav- 


ing food bought he could wield the glibest tongue, and tell 
the best story; he should go. Still, I didn't want — and I feel 
just as agitated now, almost, when I tell it — I didn't want him 
to go. I needed food, I told them, as much as any of them ; 
and if they would go and get it, it would be foolish in me not 
to help eat it. So, as I had more funds than the rest, I made 
him take my money to pay for it, begging him to the last not 
to go. In Cook's confession, he says we sent him for food. 
That is the way it was. 

" Cook was gone two or three hours, perhaps. He came 
back with a couple of loaves of bread, some salt in the bag, 
some good boiled beef, and a pie. He had had a pleasant visit, 
he said. He had stayed to dinner — which happened to be a 
little late that day — with the people of the farmhouse ; had 
made himself very agreeable, and told them the story we had 
concocted beforehand about our being a hunting party, too far 
from home to get back to our dinners. If you have never been 
a great deal more than half starved, you can form no idea how 
marvelously good that feast was that day. I felt more or less 
gloomy about it at the time, keeping it to myself, though. But 
the shadow of the danger hanging over us did not seem to 
affect the other boys, who were exceedingly merry. And after 
dinner we all went to sleep for an hour or so." 

A bitter quarrel soon arose between Cook and 
Tidd, owing to the former insisting, after the pro- 
curement of this food, on firing off the Washington 
horse-pistol he had in order to keep up the pretense 
of being hunters. Tidd undertook to take the pistol 
away and fell upon Cook. It took all the efforts of the 
three to prevent a serious personal termination of 
this quarrel. 

The first detailed news the three received of the 
fighting, losses, and subsequent trials in Virginia, was 
obtained early in November, near Bellefonte, Pa., 
where a farmer sheltered them one night. He 


handed them his newly arrived weekly paper to read. 
In the Keeler narrative, Owen says: 

" Tidd's stoicism broke down first ; he arose and caught up 
the paper and began reading aloud. The first thing that 
caught his eye was the account of Cook's capture. You can 
imagine how eagerly Coppoc and I listened to the first we had 
heard of Cook since he had left us in the mountains. Our host 
interrupted the reading to assure me that one son of old Smith, 
who had proved to be old Brown of Kansas, had escaped with 
Cook and others, and was supposed to be still at large some- 
where. Old man Brown was not dead, as we had heard. No, 
he was just severely wounded ; it was not certain yet whether 
he would live to be hanged, for he had been tried and found 
guilty. To me, who had so long thought my father dead, this 
somehow had the effect of good news. In the meantime, Tidd 
had gone on, silently devouring the paper. I could see that he 
was much moved by what he read. He was probably reading 
how his friend Stevens was shot down while going on an 
errand of mercy and bearing a flag of truce." 

Upon separating from Owen Brown and Barclay 
Coppoc, Tidd, after a trip to Canada and Ohio, 
under the name of Charles Plummer, lived for awhile 
at Edinboro, Erie County, Pa., where he got inter- 
ested in the oil business and made then and subse- 
quently some money. In the summer of i860 he 
settled in Massachusetts and became intimate in the 
family of Dr. Cutter. In a letter to Owen Brown, 
dated Salem, Ohio, December 9, 1859, he writes that 
he didn't stay in Erie County at first, on account of 
the excitement, but went to Cleveland, where he re- 
mained but two days. 

" I met there," he writes, " a person as unexpected to me 
as that of the ' old man ' himself would have been. The first 
two letters of his name Al (as we used to call him) * Chatham 


Anderson.' He escaped from below with Hazlett but before 
the}' got to Chambersburg, 'AT gave out. and so Anderson 
had to leave him. He got through safe as his presence 
showed. From Windsor we went to Chatham together, where 
I also found Merriam, so there were three of the originals 
together. From there I went to Rochester, where I found Dr. 
Doy, of Kansas. He wanted me to go lecturing with him, but 
I had made other arrangements and could not break them/' 

He then tells of his return to Salem, sends his 
regards to " George Barclay " (Coppoc), says the 
" box is all right." They had shipped their arms to 
Salem, Ohio, after reaching Center, Pa. He adds, at 
the close, " I see that I have been arrested and am 
now in Charlestown jail." From Cleveland he wrote, 
before the execution of Captain Brown, a vigorous 
letter to the New York Tribune in response to an 
attack by the Observer, the Presbyterian weekly, 
which was especially severe on John Brown. The 
basis of this attack was an article from the Kansas 
Herald, written by the editor, George W. Brown. 
Tidd's Tribune letter, bold, well-put and keen, declared 
that the Kansas editor's animosity was due to John 
Brown's plain characterization of him as " cowardly " 
as well as an "old granny." He charged the editor 
with maintaining a secret correspondence with Mis- 
sourians and betraying Lawrence into border ruf- 
fians' hands. This charge is without foundation. I 
believe, except in so far that George W. Brown was 
always assailing, gossiping about, and backbiting 
every other prominent free-state man. 

During the early part of the Civil War, Tidd enlisted 
as Charles Plummer in Company " K,'' Twenty-first 
Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, and 
was soon made orderly sergeant. The regiment was 


detailed as a part of the Burnside expedition to 
North Carolina in the early months of 1862, and was 
shipped on the steamer Northerner with the expedi- 
tion. Walcott's " History of the Twenty-first Regi- 
ment " (p. 42) refers to him. The landing on Roanoke 
Island was successfully accomplished, and the author 

"On the 17th of February, soon after we left the North- 
erner, one of our men died on her who is worthy something 
more than a passing mention. His true name was Charles 
PlummerTidd. He had been a trusted comrade of John Brown 
in Kansas and Virginia, and was one of the four men who 
evaded the thousands of armed foes who blockaded every out- 
let of escape from the scene of that grand historic precursor of 
the War, at Harper's Ferry. He dropped his surname Tidd, 
and called himself Charles Plummer, to aid in escaping detec- 
tion. Following that staunch abolitionist, Dr. Cutter, our sur- 
geon, who was a father to him, he brought his fierce enthusiasm 
for freedom into the Twenty-first, and was made first sergeant 
of Company K. He was too marked a man to escape Colonel 
Maggi's vigilant eye, and was selected to command a band of 
sixty scouts, organized by the colonel while on the North- 
erner, whose duty it would be to scour the country around us 
after we were on hostile ground : every man of the sixty was a 
good shot, fearless and strong, and Tidd was the strongest and 
bravest of them all. Shortly before we landed he was pros- 
trated with inflammation of the bowels (enteritis), but could not 
reconcile himself to being left behind without a chance to fire 
a shot under the flag (perhaps at Governor Wise himself, com- 
mander of the rebel forces on the island), to avenge the death 
of his old leader and his own sufferings from hunger and cold 
during the terrible month when, hunted like a wolf, he pain- 
fully worked his way along the mountains of Maryland and 
Pennsylvania north from Harper's Ferry. Forced to remain in 
bed when the regiment entered the boats, every cannon shot 


excited and inflamed his mind beyond his shattered powers of 
physical endurance, and he died just after we landed, more 
from the fearful strain of his dee]) and bitter disappointment 
than from his disease. His eyes were closed by his true and 
loving friend, Miss Carrie E. Cutter, the Florence Nightingale 
of the Twenty-first, the delicate and accomplished daughter of 
our surgeon, who followed her father and the regiment to nurse 
our sick, until she, alas, so soon, shared the grave of her noble 
and admired friend." 

The men who escaped from Harper's Ferry, or 
who were immediately and perilously connected with 
the movement, will be found in line, when able, 
serving the Union cause when that issue came. 
Two of John Brown's living sons, John Brown, Jr., 
and Salmon, held commissions. John was captain 
of Company K, Seventh Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, 
until inflammatory rheumatism compelled his resig- 
nation. Salmon was a second lieutenant in a New 
York infantry regiment. O. P. Anderson served as a 
non-commissioned officer in a colored regiment. 
William, brother of John A. Copeland, was commis- 
sioned as second lieutenant in a colored light artillery 
company. Barclay Coppoc was killed in the service. 
Parsons, Moffett, and Realf, of the men who were with 
the Iowa party and at the Chatham Convention, were 
commissioned officers, and Realf, especially, had a 
notable career. Dr. Delany was a major of colored 
troops. A brother of J. G. Anderson was also major 
in the same service. Charles W. Leonhardt had the 
rank of lieutenant-colonel. Richard Metternich, who 
was to have gone with me to the rescue of Stevens and 
Hazlett, was killed in Texas, it is stated, as a lieu- 
tenant-colonel. F. J. Merriam was in the service in 


some capacity throughout the War. George W. 
Stearns aided materially in raising troops, spending 
large sums of money for that purpose. James Mont- 
gomery and Thomas Wentworth Higginson were 
both regimental commanders. George Henry Hoyt 
was a brilliant cavalry officer, retiring with a brevet 
as brigadier-general. John W. Le Barnes served also 
as lieutenant and captain. The list can be lengthened, 
but these will serve for illustrations of service and 

Francis Jackson Merriam, born November 17, 
1837, at Framingham, Mass., handsome, well-to- 
do, cultivated, and traveled, was in his twenty- 
second year when he made his escape. He was 
about five feet seven inches in height, slender 
in frame, having no pretension to possession of 
special powers of endurance, or even of courage. 
Yet Merriam was as absolutely fearless as he was 
personally unrestrained in his hostility to slavery 
and his determination to resist it, at all hazards, per- 
sonal, social, or civic. He was the child of the anti- 
slavery agitation, his grandfather being Francis 
Jackson, the president of the American Anti-Slavery 
Society, whose house in Hollis street was attacked on 
one occasion by a mob of Boston " Conservatives." 
There was a meeting of women, and his mother, not 
long married, was present. So, also, was the mother 
of Colonel Hoyt, and two men never existed within 
my range of acquaintance who scorned and assailed 
slaveholders so bitterly as young Merriam and Hoyt. 
Francis was educated in the public schools, attend- 
ing the " Brimmer," not entering college, but trav- 
eling in Europe and living in Paris for some time. 


His father, Charles, died when the boy was young, 
and the mother married again. The daughter, 
Sarah J. Eddy, resides in Providence. Merriam was 
decidedly good-looking, with dark, long, brown hair 
and beard, good features, somewhat disfigured by 
blotches, though; he had a thoughtful, rather dreamy 
look. I am primarily responsible for Merriam's 
recruitment, having informed him, as I did James 
Redpath (with Kagi's consent), during the winter of 
1858-59, of the general purpose and plan of John 
Brown. I spent that winter in Boston, leaving early 
in the spring for the West. Merriam's letter 1 to 
Captain Brown was sent to Lawrence, Kansas, by my 
direction. We were occupying the same rooms in 
Boston at the time, and Merriam proposed devoting 
his means to this work. He had already visited 
Kansas, where I first met him. 

In one of his Atlantic Monthly articles, Mr. Sanborn 
gives this interesting account of the meeting of Hay- 
den with Merriam. F. B. Sanborn suggests that 
Merriam had no direct knowledge of John Brown's 

1 " Boston, December 23, 1858. 
" Dear Sir — I have heard vaguely of your general purpose, 
and have been seeking definite information for some time past, 
and now Mr. Redpath and Mr. Hinton have told me of your con- 
templated action, in which I earnestly wish to join you to act in 
any capacity you wish to place me as far as my small capacities 
go. I am now about s'arting for Hayti with Mr. Redpath, to pass 
the winter there, and shall return in time for all movements. In 
case you should accept my services, I would return at any time 
you might wish me to, and in the spring at any rate. Is there 
anything it would be well for me to study meanwhi'e? Of course, 
I shall pay all my own expenses and shall acqirre the u<=e of the 
proper tools for the work which I have bought. Any letters 


movements until early in that month which witnessed 
the attempt at consummation: 

" One early day in October, Lewis Hayden got word at the 
State House in Boston, by a letter either from Chambersburg 
or from John Brown, Jr., in Ohio that Captain Brown's men 
were in need of more money, and could not begin their move- 
ments until it reached them. Going down from the State 
House to the post-office, which was then in State street, he 
met Merriam near the old Province House, and it occurred to 
him that here was a friend who would perhaps contribute 
something. He therefore accosted Merriam, and, after a few 
words, said. •' I want five hundred dollars and must have it" 
Merriam, startled at the manner of the request, replied, " If 
you have a good cause, you shall have it." Hayden then told 
Merriam briefly what he had learned from John Brown, Jr., 
that Captain Brown was at Chambersburg, or could be heard 
of there, that he was preparing to lead a party of liberators 
into Virginia, and that he needed money ; to which Merriam 
replied,." If you tell me John Brown is there, you can have my 
money and me along with it." For it was well known to Mer- 
riam that Brown had the general purpose of freeing the slaves^ 
by force, and he had even written to him the winter before, 
offering to join the party upon his return from Hayti in the 
spring. Being thus prepared in mind for Mr. Hayden's com- 
munication, he received it as a call from heaven, and prepared 
at once to obey. 

" Within a day or two — probably that same day — Merriam, 

addressed to the care of my grandfather, Francis Jackson, 31 Hollis 
street, Boston, will be safe, and will be forwarded to me. I 
already consider this the whole present business of my life. I am 
entirely free from any family ties which would impede my action. I 
was much disappointed in not meeting you in Kansas last winter, 
with a letter of recommendation from Wendell Phillips. Immedi- 
ately upon my return in the spring I should wish to be employed 
in any manner to be of service to yon; and, if convenient, to go 
through your system of training, which I propose studying." 


whom I had never seen before, made me an evening visit in 
Concord, where he spent the night. He came to say that he 
had learned something of Captain Brown's plans." 

Merriam was not without other direct information, 
however, as I had forwarded to the care of his grand- 
father two letters from Kagi, that reached me in the 
far West — one in May and the other during August of 
1859. I know the first was received, and have reason 
to suppose the second also, as Mr. Redpath wrote 
to that effect. Merriam's visit to Hayti, mentioned 
in the letter I give, was designed as a study of the 
effects of a struggle for freedom on the negro char- 

Merriam arrived at Chambersburg on the 9th of 
October; the date being fixed by notes afterwards 
found in Kagi's handwriting, and by own knowledge 
of John Brown's presence in Philadelphia from the 
10th to the 13th thereof. Col. A. K. McClure, in his 
book " Lincoln and Men of War Time " (page 309), 
writes that — 

" In the early part of October two persons, unknown to me, 
entered my office and asked to submit some legal matters in 
private. . . . The younger of the two, an intelligent and 
evidently positive man, gave his name as Francis Jackson Mer- 
riam, of Boston, and his companion gave his name as John 
Henri. This was Kagi. Merriam said that he was going on 
a journey South; that he had some property at home, and that 
he desired me to draw his will. I did so, and was not sur- 
prised that a young Boston traveler, after making a few special 
bequests, gave his property to the Abolition Society of his 
native State. There was nothing in his appearance, manner, 
or conversation to attract any special attention to his proceed- 
ing, and his will was duly executed, witnessed, and. in obedience 
to his orders, mailed to his executor in Boston. When I asked 


Merriam's companion to witness the will, he declined, saying 
that he was a traveler also, and that both the witnesses had 
better be in the same town." 

On the, nth Merriam was in Philadelphia; on the 
13th and 14th he was in Baltimore purchasing sup- 
plies, and on the 15th (Saturday) at the Wager 
House, Harper's Ferry. John Brown and Kagi 
arrived at the Kennedy Farm the night before, from 
Chambersburg. At Harper's Ferry Merriam sent 
the following telegram to Lewis Hayden in Boston: 
"Orders disobeyed; conditions broken. Pay S. 
(probably Sanborn) immediately balance of my 
money; allow no further expense; recall money 
advanced, if not spent." The only probable explana- 
tion of this is that finding John Brown designed 
moving at once he regarded prior Boston arrangements 
as " broken," or else he found that the " recruits," 
for whose expenses he had left in Hayden's hands a 
considerable sum, had not arrived as per " condi- 
tions." The latter seems the most likely explanation. 
One thing, however, is certain, that he did not break 
his own promise, but went to the farm early in the 
morning of the 16th to take his share of the work. 

The care required to bring Merriam through from 
the Virginia schoolhouse to the point five miles from 
Chambersburg, Pa., where he was able to take the 
Philadelphia train and so make good his escape, is 
clearly brought out in Ralph Keeler's narrative, 
though in it Owen seemed unconscious that he was 
making for himself a tribute to that good comrade- 
ship and devotion, to the exercise of which Merriam 
undoubtedly owed his final safety. At one time in 
their flight they were moving along a Cumberland 


Valley road and found themselves approaching a 
tollgate, from which, of course, they sheered at 

" The baying- of the hounds had not yet wholly ceased. A 
few moments after we were obliged to wade quite a large 
creek. We were hurrying on from that towards the mountains, 
when I happened to look back and found that Merriam was 
nowhere to be seen. Hurrying back to the steep bank of the 
creek we had crossed, I discovered him, poor fellow, unable to 
climb it. I tried to hold him up, but was too tired and weak. 
I called Tidd and he took hold of Merriam rather impatiently, 
and, in pulling him up together, we bruised him against a pro- 
jecting root," 

When within a few miles of Chambersburg, after 
Cook's arrest, Tidd and Coppoc announced their in- 
tention of leaving Owen and Merriam; the former 
having - declared he would not abandon his almost 
helpless comrade. They started off, arranging to re- 
turn to one of the two hiding-places Owen Brown 
had discovered on the road to Hagerstown when 
taking the colored men to the Kennedy Farm. Owen 
and Merriam followed steadily and kept within a 
short distance of the others till they reached the out- 
skirts of the town. Tidd and Coppoc entered and 
the former approached Mrs. Ritner's house, as has al- 
ready been stated. Thoroughly alarmed at their re- 
ception the two made their way back to where the 
others had concealed themselves. It was then decided 
that Merriam must be got away by rail and as quickly 
as possible. 

" They succeeded after a severe effort, during which Mer- 
riam had to be dragged along or supported, in concealing 
themselves in a thicket about daybreak." Owen describes how 
he mended Merriam's overcoat, which had been torn in the 


mountain travel, " to a state of what I considered suspicious 
shabbiness. I had a pair of scissors with my needles and 
thread; and so when the tempest got worse, and it was safe 
to sit up a little, I clipped off his beard as close as I could 
shingle it. What was especially fortunate for Merriam just 
then was the fact that he wore a glass eye ; and this glass eye 
fitted him so well that he could turn it, or at least seemed to 
turn it nearly as well as he did the other one. That and his 
beard gone, Merriam was pretty thoroughly disguised. We 
discussed Merriam's leaving, more or less, all day long. The 
poor fellow was so weak and worn that he couldn't have walked 
any further anyhow." 

They saw the train passing that conveyed Cook to 
his trial and death. In the briar patch where they 
were hidden, they concluded to leave Merriam's arms 
and ammunition, and their own Sharpe's carbines, all 
except the pistol that could be concealed on their per- 
sons. Owen tells of the final parting, saying that — 

" Merriam had furnished a good deal of money to the cause. 
He would take only five dollars from me