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114 AND 116 Washington St. 
I 860. 


Entered, accordiug to Act of Congress, in the year 1860, by 


In the Clerk's OfBce of tlie District Court of tlio District of MasEtachusetts. 

• 4 ■ 




Wendell Phillips, Ralph Waldo Emerson, 
AND Henry D. Thoreau, 



§tVicntt i^ifl Wiotk 


"The Saint, whose fate yet hangs in suspense, but whose mar- 
tyrdom, if it shall be perfected, will make the gallows glorious like 
the Cross." — Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

•* He was one who recognized no unjust human laws, but resisted 
them as he was bid. No man in America has ever stood up so per- 
sistently for the dignity of human nature, knowing himself for man, 
and the equal of any and all governments. He could not have been 
tried by his peers, for his peers did not exist." — Renry D. Thoreau. 

«' God makes him the text, and all he asks of our comparatively 
cowardly lips is to preach the sermon, and say to the American people 
that, whether that old man succeeded in a worldly sense or not, he 
stood a representative of law, of government, of right, of justice, of 
religion, and they were pirates that gathered about him, and sought 
to wreak vengeance by taking his life. The banks of the Potomac, 
doubly dear now to History and to Man ! The dust of Washington 
rests there ; and History will see forever on that river side the brave 
old man on his pallet, whose dust, when God calls him hence, the 
Father of his Country would be proud to make room for beside his 
own." — Wendell Phillips. 

Publishers' Card. 

In presenting this work, the publishers deem it proper 
to congratulate themselves and the public on having 
secured as the biographer of Captain John Brown, a gen- 
tleman so well qualified, both by personal knowledge and 
literary ability, for the task, and whose previous life has 
been so identified in feeUng and character with the career 
of the sainted hero, as to enable him to do that justice to 
his motives and acts which a less friendly pen would fail 
to render. 

They would also call the attention of the public to 
the fact that a large percentage on each copy sold is 
secured by contract to the family of Captain John Brown, 
and every purchaser thereby becomes a contributor to a 
charitable object^ which appeals to all freemen with a 
force that is irresistible. 

The publishers would remind the public, and especially 
the press, that the work is copyrighted, and any reprint- 
ing of the Autobiography, or the chapter entitled " The 
Father of the Man," will be prosecuted as an infringe- 
ment, as it is the desire of the friends who contribute 
1* (5) 

6 Publifliers' Card. 

it that it should appear exclusively in this volume, for 
the benefit of the family. 

The work is published with the sanction and approval 
of the family of Captain Brown, as may be seen by the 
following letters : 

North Elba, Dec.> 1859. 
Jfessrs. Thayer & Eldridge. 

Dear Friends : I am satisfied that Mr. Redpath is 
THE man to write the life of my beloved husband, as he 
was personally acquainted with him, and I think will do 
him justice. ... I think that the portrait is a very 

good one. 

Yours respectfully, 

Mart A. Brown. 

NoETH Elba, Dec, 1859. 
Messrs. Thayer & Eldridge. 

Dear Sirs : I was somewhat acquainted with James 
Redpath in Kansas. I am also familiar with his writings, 
and I consider him an able biographer, and the man 
ABOVE ALL OTHERS to writc the life of my beloved father. 
I believe him to be a man of undoubted veracity, and 
fully believe he will do justice to the work he has under- 

Tours respectfully, 

Salmon Brown. 


"Whew the news of the arrest of John Brown reached 
Boston, I could neither work nor sleep; for I loved and 
reverenced the noble old man, and had perfect confidence 
in his plan of emancipation. I knew him to be one of 
earth's worthiest souls — the last of the Puritans; and yet 
I heard, on every side, people calling him a madman, and 
sneering at his " crazy scheme." Now, or never, was the 
time to defend my friend, when no voice, however faint, 
was heard to praise him. An opportunity offered ; I 
indorsed John Brown. A few years hence this will seem 
absurd ; as ridiculous, now, as an indorsement of Warren ; 
but necessary in October last — and pronounced insane I 
I heard of no one man who fully approved my doctrines 
or defence when my first article appeared ; but, before the 
series that I had contemplated was finished, I turned 
again to other work — for already the highest talent of 
the nation was marshalling to the rescue of the conquering 
prisoner of Charlestown Jail. Like Samson, in a single 
day, if not with the jawbone of an ass, yet with the help 
of that of a Member of Congress, the mighty man of valor 
had smitten his enemies, hip and thigh, " from Dan even 
unto Beersheba, and all the region round about." Now 


8 Preface. 

tliat the most skilful trained soldiers of Freedom were 
in tho field to encounter the reserve forces of the enemy, 
I withdrew myself from the conflict for a time — for, a 
guerilla skirmisher only, unfitted both by habit and na 
ture for a place in any regular army, I did not care to 
fight under any General, or to fire except where I wanted 

to iOll. ,j^ irif*'i'^-*n'->rf ■■■■'tT 'f.,-. nn.iA'if ftfif sj jyitls 

A publisher of New York asked me to write a Life of 
John Brown. He wanted it as a Republican campaign 
document. I declined. I would not help to light cigars 
from the fire above the altar. The publishers of this 
book made a nobler request; they believed in John 
Brown ; they wished to do him justice ; and they desired 
to assist his destitute family. This volume is the result 
of their request. 

I have written this book, because I could not resist it. 
Equally at war with the cant of conservatism, of politics, 
and of non-resistance, and a firm believer in the faith 
that made Bunker Hill classic, I think that John Brown 
did right in invading Virginia and attempting to liberate 
her slaves. I hold God in infinitely greater reverence 
than Congress, and His holy laws than its enactments. 
I would as soon think of vindicating Washington for 
resisting the British Government to the death, as to apol- 
ogize for John Brown in assailing the Slave Power with 
the only weapons that it fears. • 

Therefore, reader, if you think that white makes right, 
or might makes right, or if the opposite doctrine is abhor- 
rent to you, lay this volume aside at once, for I will not 
promise that I shall try to avoid giving you ofience. 

Preface. 9 

I have no apology to make for this book ; not because I 
am unconscious of its defects, but because it is the best that 
I could write in the allotted time, and because nowhere 
else can so correct a biography of John Brown be found. 
It is compiled from hundreds of sources — newspapers, 
books, correspondence, and conversations. Much of it, 
also, is the record of my personal knowledge. Materials 
came to me from all quarters; and not always in the 
order of time. Thus, the third chapter of the first book 
was written two weeks after the account of his execution ; 
the history of his Kansas exploits before I obtained the 
autobiographical sketch of his childhood and youth. 
Hence, if there be occasional repetitions, whether of fact 
or idea, the just or generous reader will overlook this 
defect. I do not think that there are such iterations ; but 
it is a possibility that I desire to explain in advance. 

Writing in this way, the volume grew faster than I 
foresaw. I had intended to write the Life of John Brown, 
private and public, and biographies of his men, also. But 
Kansas, and Harper's Ferry, and Charlestown, and an un- 
expected gift of materials from North Elba, compelled me 
to defer the biographies of John Brown's men, as well as 
a minuter record of his own private life and correspond- 
ence. For, on the return of my wife from the home of 
John Brown, I found' myself in possession, in trust, of 
hundreds of private letters, — every one that has been 
preserved, — written during the long and active career of 
the illustrious Liberator, which exhibit his daily life in its 
every relation, and the exceeding beauty of the religion 
which inspired its actions. These records, with other 

iq Preface. 

memorials of him, will be published, in due time, in a sup- 
plementary volume. 

The latest telegraphic news makes one correction 
necessary. I have spoken of Richard Realf as dead. I 
thought that he died a natural death on the ocean. It 
appears that he still lives in the body ; but dead to honor, 
the voice of conscience, and the cries of the poor. He 
has chosen the part of Judas, and promises to play it well. 

I am indebted to several friends for valuable aid in the 
preparation of this volume — first, to every one whom I 
have mentioned, in the notes, or text, or whose letters I 
have quoted ; and to Dr. Thomas H. Webb, of Boston, 
Richard J. Hinton, of Kansas, and, lastly, but not least 
among them, to "a nearer one still and a dearer one" for 
her visit to North Elba and its results. 

I still desire information, (whether anecdotes, letters, 
or conversational remarks,) respecting John Brown and 
his heroic associates, and will be gi*eatly obliged for all 
such contributions. 

How unworthy soever this book may be, I shall not 
regard it as a useless work, if, in the minds of its destined 
readers, it shall arouse the inquiries : 

How far, as men, have we strayed from the Mount 
where Jesus taught ? and 

How far, as citizens, have we wandered from the Hill 
where Warren fell ? 

Malden, Mass., December 25, 1859. 

^oofi Jfirst 


1 1 . And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children ? And 
ne said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and behold he kcepeth the 
sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch hun ; for we will 
not sit down till he come hither. 

12. And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and 
withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the 
Lord said. Arise, anoint him : for this is he. — / Sanmcl, Chapter xvi. 


The Child and his Ancestors. 

December 2, 1859. 

HOW, worthily, write the Life of worthy John 
Brown ? The task is as difficult as the man was 
heroic. In every part and phase of it, numerous and 
serious obstacles present themselves. For to-day 
John Brown was hanged by a semi-barbarous Com- 
monwealth, as a traitor, murderer, and robber, and 
fifteen despotic States are rejoicing at his death ; while, 
in the free North, every noble heart is sighing at his 
fate, or admiring his devotion to the principles of jus- 
tice, or cursing the executioners of their warrior-saint. 
Thus opposite are the views men have of him ; and 
this is the first difficulty that confronts his biographer. 
But putting it aside, by utterly disregarding the 
opinions and denunciations of the mob, looking steadily 
at the old man only, and drawing him as he strove to 
be and was, — a warrior of the Lord and of Gideon : to 
satisfy the public expectation, and, at the same time, 
to do justice to the hero of their hearts, is a far more 
important, and a still more embarrassing task. For an 
immediate publication is demanded ; and it is impos- 
2 (13) 


14 The Child apd his Anceftors. 

sible, at once, to collate all the facts that should be toivi 
of him. But one alternative remains — to do the best 
that is possible for the present day, and, if a still more 
extended biography be demanded, to endeavor, at 
another time, to supply that want. 


Among the group of godly exiles who knelt at 
Plymouth Rock, on the 22d of December, 1620, and 
returned thanks to the Almighty for His goodness to 
them in preserving them from the dangers of the 
Deep, was an unmarried English Puritan, a carpenter 
by trade, of whose personal history all that now can 
be known is, that his name was Peter Brown. That 
he came over in the Mayflower, is evidence enough 
that he feared his God, respected himself, and 
strove prayerfully to obey the divine commands ; 
choosing ratlier to sacrifice the comforts of English 
civilization, and enjoy in the wilderness his inherent 
rights, than calmly contemplate the perpetration of 
wrong by sinners in bigh places, or to rest satisfied * 
with the sophistical belief, tliat, by the philosophy of 
an enlightened selfishness, or the diffusion of correct 
principles of political economy, all the evils of the age 
would peacefully be rectified — in a century or two ! 
He died in 1633. 

Peter Brown, the second, was born in 1632. A 
monument in the churchyard of Windsor, Connecti- 
cut, is his only biography. It tells us that he mar- 
ried Mary Gillett in 1658, and died October 16, 1692. 

He had four boys : the second-born named John 
Brown ; wlio, in his turn, married Elizabeth Loomis in 

The Child and his Anceftors. i^ 

1692, had eight daughters and three sons, the eldest of 
whom, was his namesake. 

John, the second, had seven girls and two boys, of 
whom the first-born son became the third of the name 
In the family. He died iu 1790, at the age of ninety, 
having been the husband of Mary Eggleston, (who pre- 
ceded him twelve months to the spirit world,) for the 
long period of sixty-five years. Mary, the eldest child 
of this marriage, remained a spinster till her death at 
the age of one hundred. 

John, the third, was born November 4, 1728; mar- 
ried Hannah Owen in 1758 ; * was the father of John, 
Frederick, Owen, and Abiel Brown ; and the honored 
grandfather of Captain John Brown, the hero of Kan- 
sas and Harper's Ferry. John Brown, the third, at 
the outbreak of the revolutionary war, was chosen 
Captain of the West Simsbury (now Canton f) train- 
band ; and, in the spring of 1776, joined the forces 
of the continental army at New York. His commis- 
sion from Governor Trumbull is dated May 23, 1776. 
After a service of two months' duration, he fell a 
victim to the prevailing epidemic of the camp, at tho 
age of forty-eight years. :j: He died in a barn, attended 
only by a faithful subordinate, a few miles north of 

* John Owen, the ancestor of Hannah, was a native of Wales. 
He was among the first settlers of Windsor, where he was married 
in 1650. 

t In 1806, West Simsbury, with a narrow strip of New Hartford, 
was incorporated, by act of legislature, into a township named 

X He served under Colonel Jonathau Pettibone. 

ll6 The Child and his Anceltors. 

New York City, where the continental army was at 

that time encamped. His body was buried on the 

Highlands, near the wcbtern banks of the East River. 

On a marble monument in the graveyard of Canton 

Centre, this inscription may be seen : — 

" In memory of Captain John Brown, who died in the revolution- 
ary army, at New York, September 3, 1776. He was of the fourth 
generation, in regular descent, from Peter Brown, one of the Pilgrim 
Fathers, who landed from the Mayflower, at Plymouth, Massachu- 
setts, December 22, 1620." 

Thus far we see that same spirit of resistance to 
wrong, which, recently, — nay, at this very hour, — 
men are branding as insane ! Why did Captain John 
Brown, " of the fourth generation, in regular descent," 
risk his life — " throw it away," as our politicians 
phrase it — by opposing it to the hitherto resistless 
strength of a mighty empire ? Why not wait until, by 
the aid of a " constitutional republican party," the evils 
then endured should have been peacefully abolished ? 
What was he to Massachusetts, or Massachusetts to 
him, that he should leave his family and fight her bat- 
tles ? Personal liberty he had ; his house was his cas- 
tle ; no power on earth dared molest his property, or 
wife, or children. It was only a petty question of tax- 
ation that called him to the field, but in it there lay 
embodied a political right ; and, rather than submit to 
an infringement of it, he resolved to throw " his life 
away," if need be. We now honor him for it ; for we 
^ee in it the spirit of the first Peter Brown, who would 
not wait for the convenient season of corrupt and 
. heartless demagogue.-, but chose rather to abandon his 

The Child and his Ancertors. 


native land, and enjoy his liberty at once. But it is 
far nobler than the first Peter's conduct; for it is 
not solely for himself, as in the Puritan's case, that he 
abandons home and friends. It is for a neighboring 
colony, and the rights of his race, rather than for his 
personal immunities. Only one step further was pos- 
sible in the ladder of disinterested benevolence — to 
fight for a race, poor, despised, friendless, and inferior ; 
and this crowning glory to the family of Peter Brown, 
the Puritan, was reserved for the grandson of the 
revolutionary captain. 

Captain John Brown, the third, left a widow and 
eleven children, of whom the eldest daughter was ' 
eighteen years of age, and the first son nine years only. 
" Tiiey were reared by his widow, with singular tact 
and judgment, to habits of industry and principles of 
virtue, and all became distinguished citizens in the 
communities in which they resided. One of the sons 
became a judge in one of the courts of Ohio. One of 
the dauglitcrs had the honor of giving to one of our 
most flourishing New England colleges a president for 
twenty years, in the person of her son." * 

" She was a woman of great energy and economy," 
writes a descendant, f " the economy being a needful 

• My authority is William H. Hallock, of Canton Centre. The 
preceding fects were chiefly furnished by Lancet Foote, Selden H. 
Brown, of the same place, and by a pamphlet, now out of print, 
entitled, "Genealogical History, with Short Sketches and Family 
Records of the Early Settlers of West Simsbury, &c,, by Abiel 
Brown," an uncle of the liberator. 

t Professor C. F. Hudson, a distinguished tbeologic»l author. 


i8 The Child and his Anceftors. 

virtue. I have heard my grandfather tell of her cook- 
ing always just what the children needed, and no more, 
and they always 'Ucked their trenchers,' when they 
iiad done with knife and fork. They all grew up to 
respectability. Their average age was considerable, 
that of five of them being seventy years, and I forget 
how much more." 

Of the sons of thes^ parents, John — afterwards 
known as Deacon Brown — lived many years in New 
Hartford, and died there. Abiel lived and died on the 
old homestead in Canton, Connecticut, while Frederick 
and Owen both lie buried in tlie State of Ohio. 


. Owen Brown, the last named of these sons, and the 
father of Captain John Brown, the greatest and most 
heroic of the race, married the daughter of Gideon 
Mills, " who was himself an officer in the revolutionary 
army, and was intrusted with the command who had 
in charge a large portion of the prisoners comprising 
Burgoyne's army : thus proving that John Brown 
inherits his military spirit through a patriotic an- 

A very brief record of John Brown's maternal an- 
cestry, (all that it is now possible to write,) will prove 
that his descent was as honorable and patriotic by his 
.mother's family, as from Peter Brown, the Puritan of 
the Mayflower. 

■ Peter Miles was an emigrant from Holland, who 
settled at Bloomfield, Connecticut, near the confines of 
Windsor Plain. He had seven sons, was a tailor by 
trade, and died in 1754, at the age of eighty-eight. 

The Child and his Anceftors. 19 

Of these seven sons, Jedediah graduated at Yale 
College in 1722, and was a clergyman and theological 
author of considerable note. Pelatiah was a useful 
citizen, and an able attorney at law. John was the 
father of two clergymen. Peter had a numerous off- 
spring, one of whom was the first minister of East 
Granby. Of two other and younger sons no record 
exists ; of Return, a daughter, all that is told is the 
date of her death, 1689. 

Gideon, the seventh son, and the great grandfather 
of John Brown, the liberator, married Elizabeth Hig- 
ley, a cousin of the first Governor Trumbull, of Leb- 
anon. He was the minister at Old Simsbury about ten 
years previous to 1755 ; and, after living and preaching 
one or two years at West Simsbury, was installed in 
1759, and died there in 1772. His character may be 
judged by the following interesting incident of his life : 

•• At the time of his ministry in West Simsbury, he lived two and a 
half miles from the meeting house, over a very hilly, cold, and uneven 
road, which would now be called a hard Sabbath-day's journey for a 
clergyman or a layman. This road he travelled weekly, and some- 
times much oftcner. One incident respecting the Rev. Gideon Mills 
js thought worthy of notice. He was habitually fond of sacred music, 
and would request others that could sing to join with him, and he 
retained his relish for singing even to his dying moments. He died 
of a cancer in the face, which kept him in great suffering for many of 
the last weeks of his life. He dwelt much on the sentiments ex- 
pressed in the thirth-eighth psalm, (Watts,) 'Amidst thy wrath 
remember love,' &c. ; also, the thirty-ninth — < God of my life, look 
gently do-wn.' Just before he expired, he requested the friends in 
attendance to sing the thirty-eighth psalm — 'Amidst thy wrath 
remember love,' — and attempted to join with them, but when the fore 
part of the psalm was sung he expired ; so that it was said by Mr. 
Hallock, on a certain occasion, that he died singing the thirty-eighth 

20 The Child and his Aiiceftors. 

This stout-hearted Puritan left three sons and three 
daughters. Elizabeth and Faithe were married twice, 
and Anna was the third wife of the Reverend William 
Robinson. The biography of Jedediah is brief enough : 
" Born in 1755-6 — married Miss Wells." 

Rev. Samuel Mills, second son of the Rev. Gideon 
Mills, graduated at Yale College in 1776, " with a 
view to the gospel ministry." 

" Being full of the patriotism prevalent at that time, he entered the 
American army as lieutenant in the cavalry. In one of those actions 
which took place in 1777, this young officer received a wound from a 
horseman's sword in the forehead, was taken prisoner, and conveyed 
into Philadelphia with a deep and dangerous wound, the scar of which 
he carried through the remainder of his life. The sick and wounded 
prisoners in Philadelphia experienced far different treatment from that 
which those unfortunate American prisoners received from the British 
and tories in New York in 1776. A kind Providence furnished a 
goodly number of ministering angels, (if the expression may be allow- 
able,) in the persons of some of the most accomplished ladies of Phil- 
adelphia. Those of superior rank and refinement took it upon them 
to visit and minister to the wants of the suffering prisoners. Among 
those worthy ladies was Miss Sarah Gilpin, a person of high refine- 
ment and accomplishments. Her labors of benevolence brought her 
and Lieutenant Samuel to an acquaintance which eventuated in his 
obtaining her hand and heart. He pursued and finished his theologi- 
cal (Studies, and was married to Miss Gilpin, and was settled pastor 
over the church and society of Chester, then a part of Saybrook." 

Gideon, the eldest son of the Rev. Gideon Mills, and 
the grandfather of John Brown, the liberator, was also 
a lieutenant in the American army, and died in 1813, 
at Barkhamsted, Connecticut, at the age of sixty-four. 
He left two sons and four daughters, of whom Ruth, 
the eldest child, married Owen Brown, the father of 
our hero. 

The Child and his Anceftors. 2i 


The town records of Torringtoii supply these dates : 

" Owen Brown, now of Torrington, late of Simsbury, was married 
at Simsbury, on the 11th day of February, A, D. 1793. 

" Anna Ruth Brown, daughter of Owen and Ruth Brown, was 
bom in the town of Norfolk, the 6th day of July, 1798. 

" John Braum, son of Owen and Ruth Brown, was bom in Torringtoti, 
the 9th day of May, 1800. 

'< Salmon Brown, son of Owen and Ruth Bro^^Ti, was bom on the 
30th day of April, 1802. 

*' Oliver Owen Brown, son of Owen and Ruth Brown, was bom 
the 26th day of October, A. D. 1804." 

John Brown, therefore, was born in the year 1800, 
at Torrington, Connecticut, where he lived, " about a 
mile north-west of the meeting house," until the age 
of five, when his father emigrated to Hudson, Ohio ; 
where, we are told, " he became one of the principal 
pioneer settlers of that then new town, ever respected 
for his probity and decision of character ; " was " com- 
monly called 'Squire Brown, and was one of the Board 
of Trustees of Oberlin College ; " was " endowed with 
energy and enterprise, and went down to his grave 
honored and respected, about the year 1.852 or 1853, 
at the age of eighty-seven." 


The Father of the Man. 

TRULY says the poet, that the child is fatlier of the 
man. This is why every incident of the childhood 
of great men is so eagerly sought and cherished by 
their friends and admirers. When the fruit is glorious, 
we desire to see the blossom, too. Happily, in the case 
of Captain John Brown, this desire can be amply grati- 
fied — and in a way, and by the pen, of all others the 
best fitted to do justice to it. Gladly I here step aside 
for the old hero ; to permit him, in his own inimitable 
style, to narrate the history of his infancy, and early 

All that it becomes me to write, by way of preface, 
is a brief statement of the story of this autobiography. 

When John Brown was in Boston, in the winter of 
1857, among other noble friends of freedom here, he 
made the acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Stearns, of 
Medford ; who, recognizing him at once as an historic 
character, — although clad in a plain suit of clothes 
only, and with a leathern strap for a neck-tie, — received 
him at their hospitable home with all the honor justly 
due to a hero and a saint. Their children soon learned 


The Father of the Man. 23 

to love the old warrior ; for, like all godlike men, he 
loved little children ; and, like all young souls, they 
[nstinctively recognized the true hero. One of them 
asked him many questions about his childhood, and he 
recounted, with great interest, the incidents of his 
infancy and boyish days. When the old man was pre- 
paring to return to Kansas, Master Henry (to whom 
the letter is addressed) asked his father's permission 
to give all his pocket money to Captain Brown. The 
permission was readily given, and the old hero received 
the money. He promised, at the same time, — if he 
should ever find the leisure for it, — to write out for 
his young friend an account of his own early life. 

When crossing the State of Iowa, with military sup- 
plies, in the month of July following, — he himself 
driving a team, — he was detained for some time by 
the failure of certain parties to fulfil their promises to 
send him money. He then fulfilled his promise, and 
wrote this autobiographical sketch. I have copied it 
with the fidelity of a Chinese artist : Italics, punctua- 
tion, orthography, and omissions. I add a few notes 
only, and divide it into paragraphs. It fills six pages 
of letter paper in the original manuscript, which is 
very closely written, and contains two paragraphs only 
— the letter and the postscript. 

It is hardly necessary for me to say that the internal 
evidences of its perfect fidelity are overwhelming : for 
we see throughout it the same grand traits in the bare- 
footed, bareheaded boy, clad in "buckskin breeches, 
suspended often with one leather strap and sometimes 
with two ; " who idolized the " bobtail squirrel," and 

24 The Father of the Man. 

had " a mourning season " at its death ; and who, at 
the age of twelve, swore eternal war against slavery ; 
which, when in the jail and the Court room and on the 
gallows of Charlestown, Virginia, astonished and de- 
lighted the world. 
This is the letter : 

Red Eock, Iowa, 15th July, 1857. 

Mr Henry L. Stearns 

My Dear Young Friend 

I have not forgotten my promise to write you ; but 
my constant care, & anxiety have obliged me put it 
off a long time. I do not flatter myself that I can 
•write any thing that will very much interest you : but 
have concluded to send you a short story of a certain 
boy of my acquaintance : & for convenience and short- 
ness of name, I will call him John. His story will be 
mainly a naration of follies and errors ; which it is 
to be hoped pou may avoid; but there is one thing 
connected with it, which will be calculated to encour- 
age any young person to persevering effort : & that 
is the degree of success in accomplishing his objects 
which to a great extent marked the course of this boy 
throughout my entire acquaintance with him ; notwith- 
standing his moderate capacity; &, still more mod- 
erate acquirements. 

John was born May 9th 1800, at Torrington, Litch- 
field Co, Connecticut ; of poor but respectable parents : 
a decendant on the side of his father of one of the com- 
pany of the Mayflower who landed at Plymouth 1620. 
His mother was decended from a man who came at an 
early period to New England from Amsterdam, in Hoi- 

The Father of the Man. 25 

land. Botli his Father's & his Mother's Fathers served 
in the war of the revolution: His Father's Father; 
died in a barn at New York while in the service, in 

I cannot tell you of any thing in the first Four years 
of John's life worth mentioning save that at that early 
a^e he was tempted by Three large Brass Pins belong- 
ing to a girl who lived, in the family & stole them. 
Ir. this he was detected by his Mother ; & after having 
a full day to think of the wrong : received from her a 
thorough whipping. When he was Five years old his 
Father * moved to Ohio ; then a wilderness filled with 
wild beasts, & Indians. During the long journey which 
was performed in part or mostly with an ox team ; he 
was called on by turns to assist a boy Five years older 
(who had been adopted by his Father & Mother) & 
learned to think he could accomplish smart things in 
driving the Cows ; and riding the horses. Sometimes he 
met with Rattle Snakes which were very large ; & which 
some of the company generally managed to kill. After 
getting to Ohio in 1805 he was for some time rather 

* A correspondent tlins writes of .John Brown's father : " My recollections of John 
Brown begin in the winter of ]8i)C-7. I was then five years old. My father's family 
lived that winter at Hudson, Ohio, which was then one of the reniotest of the settle- 
ments Qiadc by Connecticut people on their Western Reserve. One of our nearest neigh- 
bors there was Mr. Owen Brown, who had removed to Hudson, not long before, from 
Connecticut. I reniornber him very distinctly, and that he was very much respected 
and esteemed by my father. Ho was an earnestly deTOUt and religions man, of the 
old Connecticut fashion ; and one peculiarity of his impressed his name and person 
indelibly upon my memory. He was on inveterate and most painful stammerer — the 
first specimen of that infirmity that I hnd evr seen, and, according to my recollection, 
the worst that I had ever known to this day ; consequently, though we removed from 
Hudson to another settlement early in the snmmer of 1807, and returned to Connectl 
cut in 1S12, so that I rarely saw any of that family afterwards, I have never to this 
day seen a man struggling and half strangled with a word ftucl< in his throat, without 
remembering good Mr. Owen Brown, who could not speak without stammering, e2<xf4 
in prayer." 

26 The Father of the Man. 

afraid of the Indians, & of their Rifles ; but this soon 
wore off: & he used to hang about them quite as much 
as was consistent with good manners; & learned a 
trifle of their talk. His Father learned to dress Deer 
Skins, <fe at 6 years old John was installed a young 
Buck Skin — He was perhaps rather observing as he 
ever after remembered the entire process of Deer Skin 
dressing'; so that he could at any time dress his own 
leather such as Squirel, Raccoon, Cat, Wolf or Dog 
Skins ; & also learned to make Whip Lashes : which 
brought him some change at times ; & was of con- 
siderable service in many ways. — At Six years old 
John began to be quite a rambler in the wild new 
country finding birds & Squirels, & sometimes a wild 
Turkey's nest. But about this period he was placed 
in the school of adversity : which my young friend was 
a most necessary part of his early training. You may 
laugh when you come to read about it ; but these were 
sore trials to John : whose earthly treasures were very 
few & small. These were the beginning of a severe 
but much needed course of discipline which he after- 
wards was to pass through ; & which it is to be hoped 
has learned him before this time that the Heavenly 
Father sees it best to take all the little things out of his 
hands which he has ever placed in them. When John 
was in his Sixth year a poor Indian boy gave him a 
Yellow Marble the first he had ever seen. This he 
thought a great deal of ; & kept it a good while ; but 
at last he lost it beyond recovery. It took years to heai 
the wound ; & I tldnk he cried at times about it. About 
Five months after this he caught a young Squirrel 

The Father of the Man. iy 

tearnif^ off his tail in doing it ; & getting si verely bit- 
ten at the same time himself. He however held on to 
the little bob tail Squirrel ; & finally got him perfectly 
tamed, so that he almost idolized his pet. This too he 
lost; by its wandering away; or by getting killed : & 
for a year or Two John was in mourning-; and looking 
at all the Squirrels he could see to try & discover 
Bob tail, if possible. I must not neglect to tell you of 
a very bad Sf foolish babbit to which John was some- 
what addicted. I mean telling' lies : generally to screen 
himself from blame ; or from punishment. He could 
not well endure to be reproached ; & I now think had 
he been oftener encouraged to be entirely frank ; by 
making frankness a kind of atonement for some of his 
faults ; he would not have been so often guilty of this 
fault ; nor have been obliged to struggle so long in 
after life with so mean a habit. John was never quar- 
elsome ; but was excessively fond of the hardest Sf 
roughest kind of plays ; <fe could never get enough [of] 

Indeed when for a short time he was sometimes sent 
to School the opportunity it afforded to wrestle & 
Snow ball & run & jump & knock off old seedy wool 
hats ; offered to him almost the only compensation 
for the confinement, k restraints of school. I need 
not tell you that with such a feeling <fe but little 
chance of going to school at all : he did not become 
much of a schollar.* He would always choose to stay 

* " Ho did not go to Harvard. IIo was not fed on the pap that Is there fur- 
nished. As lio xihrasod It, 'I know no more grammar than one of your r-nlves' But 
he went to the University of the West, where he studied the science of Liberty ; and, 
havitig taken his degrees, he finally commenced the public practice of humanity in 
Eansas. Such were his humanities — he would liave left a Greek accent slanting tha 
wrong way, and righted up a fUUiuK man." — IIenbt D. Thoreac. 

28 The Father of the Man. 

at home & work hard rather than be sent to school ; 
& during the warm season might generally be seen 
barefooted Sf bareheaded: with Buck skin Breeches 
suspended often with one leather strap over his shoulder 
but sometimes with Two. To be sent off through the 
wilderness alone to very considerable distances was par- 
ticularly his delight ; & in this he was often indulged so 
that by the time he was Twelve years old he was sent off 
more than a Hundred Miles with companies of cattle ; 
& he would have thought his character much injured 
had he been obliged to be helped in any such job. 
This was a boyish kind of feeling but characteristic 

At Eight years old John was left a Motherless 
boy which loss was complete & permanent, for not- 
withstanding his Father again married to a sensible, in- 
teligent, & on many accounts a very estimable wo- 
man: ]/et he never addopted her in feeling: but 
continued to pine after his own Mother for years. This 
opperated very unfavourably uppon him ; as he was 

• A friend, reforrin>; to a later period, thus writes of John Brown's woodinanship: 
"In his early manhood he had been a surveyor, and as such had traversed a laige part 
of Ohio and Pennsylvania and Western Virginia, and was thus in some degree familiar 
with the locality where, it would seem, he intended to operate. This life in the woods, 
to which he was trained from a boy, gave him the habits and the keen senses of a 
hunter or an Indian. He told me he had been remarkably clear-sighted and quick of 
ear, and that he had smelled the frying of doughnuts at five miles' distance ; but this 
was when extremely hungry. He knew all the devices of woodcraft ;- declared he 
could make a dinner for forty men out of the hide of one ox, and thought he under- 
stood how to provide for an army's subsistence." 

Last Spring, when in Boston, John Brown asked me where he could learn to '•' make 
crackers in a rough way," in ovens, to be burrowed out in hill-sides ; and whei'e, also, 
he could be taught how to manufacture beef-meal. lie had often found it inconven- 
ient, he said, to keep a herd of oxen, as they required too many men to tend them, 
and could not always be concealed. He wanted to know how to boil a herd down into 
a few barrels of beef-flour, so as to be ready for a speedy transportation, and to keep his 
men employed wben not engaged ia other duties. I believe he learned the process 
ere be loft ■ 

The Father of the Man. igi 

both naturally fond of females ; & withall extremely 
diffident ; & deprived him of a suitable connecting 
link between the different sexes ; the want of which 
might under some circumstances have proved his ruin. 

When the war broke out tvith England* his Father 
soon commenced furnishing the troops with beef cattle, 
the collecting & driving of which afforded him some . 
opportunity for the chase (on foot) of wild steers & 
other cattle through the woods. During this war he 
had some chance to form his own boyish judgment of 
men Sf measures : & to become somewhat familiarly 
acquainted with some who have figufed before the 
country since that time.f The effect of what he saw 
during the war was to so far disgust him with military 
affajrs that he would neither train, or c?n7/; but paid 
lines ; & got along like a Quaker untill his age finally 
has cleared him of Military duty. 

During the war with England a circumstance oc- 
curred that in the end made him a most determined 
Abolitionist : & led him to declare, or Sioear : Eter^ 
nal war with Slavery. He was staying for a short time 

* " He accompanied his fnther to tbo camp, and assisted him in his employment, fif«- 
Ing considerable of military life, more, perhaps, than if ho had been a soldier, for he 
was often present at the councils of the officers, lie learned by experience how 
armies are supplied and maintained in the field. He saw enough of military life to 
disgust him with it, and to excite in him a great abhorrence of U. Though tempted 
by the offer of some petty ofllce in the army, when about eighteen, he not enly declined 
to accept this, but refused to train, and was fined in consequence. lie then resolved 
that he woxild have nothing to do with any war unless it were a war for liberty." — 
Henrt D. TnoREAC. 

t A friend, in his "Reminiscences of John Brown," thus writes of this period: 
" As a boy he was present at Hull's surrender, in 1812, and overheard convevsation* 
between Cass, McArthnr, and other subordinate officers of that General, which, he said, 
If he could have reported them to the proper persons at Washington, would hav* 
branded them as mutineers. To their disorderly conduct he ascrlbcxl 'he surrender, 
and thought great injustice had been done to Hull, who, though an old mau, and unfit 
for such a command, was brave and honest." 

30 . The Father of the Man. 

with a very gentlemanly landlord once a United States 
Marshall who held a slave boy near his own age very 
active, intelligent and good feeling ; & to whom John 
was under considerable obligation for numerous little 
acts of kindness. The master made a great pet of 
John : brought him to table with his first company ; 
& friends ; called their attention to every little smart 
thing he said, or did: & to the fact of his being more 
than a hundred miles from home with a company of 
cattle alone ; while the negro boy (who was fully if 
not more than his equal *) was badly clothed, poorly 
fed; Sf lodged in cold vmather : & beaten before his 
eyes with Iron Shovels or any other thing that came 
first to hand. This brought John to reflect on the 
wretched ; hopeless condition, of Fatherless & Moth- 
erless slave children : for such children have neither 
Fathers nor Mothers to protect, & provide for them. 
He sometimes would raise the question is God their 
Father ? 

At the age of Ten years an old friend induced him 
to read a little history ; & ofiered him the free use of 
a good library ; by ; which he acquired some taste for 
reading : which formed the principle part of his early 
education : & diverted him in a great measure from 
bad company. He by this means grew to be very fond 
of the company, & conversation of old & intelligent 
persons. He never attempted to dance in his life ; nor 
did he ever learn to know one of a pack of cards from 
another. He learned nothing of Grammer; nor did 

• This early fact is as characteristic of his modesty as humanity : both distinguish- 
ing traits of his old ago. 

The Father of the Man. 31 

he get at school so much knowledge of common Arith- 
metic as the Four ground rules. This will give you 
some general idea of the first Fifteen years of his life ; 
during which time he became very strong & large of 
his age & ambitious to perform the full labour of a 
man ; at almost any kind of hard work. By reading 
the lives of great, wise & good men their sayings, 
and writings ; he grew to a dislike of vain & frivo- 
lous conversation ^ persons; & was often greatly 
obliged by the kind manner in which older & more 
intcligent persons treated him at their houses ; & in 
conversation ; which was a great relief on account of 
his extreme bashfulness.* 

He very early in life became ambitious to excel in 
doing any thing ho undertook to perform. This kind 
of feeling I would recommend to all young persons 
both male Sf female : as it will certainly tend to se- 
cure admission to the company of the more intcligent; 
& better portion of every community. By all means 
endeavor to excel in some laudable pursuit. 

I had like to have forgotten to tell you of one of 

John's misfortunes which set rather hard on him while 

a young boy. He had by some means perhaps by gift 

of his Father become the owner of a little Ewe Lamb 

i which did finely till it was about Two Thirds grown ; 

v& then sickened & died. This brought another pro- 

-, • " He told mo," writes a distant relative of John Brown, " that when a lad, say of 
fourteen, he had been at work on the road along with a man who should have been 
above mere trifling and nonsense, but who talked nothing else. Returning home at 
evening with the company in the ox-cart, as the convenient custom was, he dropped 
some expression of contempt for this man. This led my paternal grandfather to taka 

■ special notice of him as a thoughtful boy, and to Improve every opportunity to advin* 
and instruct him as he might." 

op. The Father of the Man. 

tracted mournitig season: not that he felt the pecu- 
niary loss so much : for that was never his disposi- 
tion : but so strong & earnest were his atachments. 

John had been taught from earliest childliood to 
"fear God & keep his commandments;" & though 
quite skeptical he had always by turns felt much seri- 
ous doubt as to his future well being ; & about this 
time became to some extent a convert to Christianity 
& ever after a firm believer in the divine authenticity 
of the Bible.* With this book he became very famil- 
iar, & possessed a most unusual memory of its entire 

Now some of the things I have been telling- of; were 
just such as I would recommend to you : & I w"* 
like to know that you had selected these out ; & 
adopted them as part of your own plan of life ; & 1 
wish you to have some definite plan. Many seem to 
have none ; & others never stick to any that they do 
form. This was not the case with John. He followed 
up witli tenacity whatever he set about so long as it 
answered his general purpose : & hence he rarely 
failed in some good degree to effect the things he 
undertook. This was so much the case that he habitun 
ally expected to succeed in his undertakings. With 
this feeling should be coupled; the consciousness that 
our plans are right in themselves. 

During the period I have named John had acquired 
a kind of ownership to certain animals of some little 

* He joined the Congregational chnrch In Hndaon, Ohio, at the age of sixteen. Ten 
years later, on moving to Pennsylvania, he transferred his membership to the Prwhy- 
terian «hureh, with which he remained connected till the day of his«iartyrdom. 

The Father of the Man. 33 

value biit as he had come to understand that the title 
of minors might be a little imperfect ; he had recourse 
to various means in order to secure a more independ- 
ant ; & perfect right of property. One of those means 
was to exchange with his Father for some thing of far 
less value. Another was by trading with other persons 
for something his Father had never owned. Older 
persons have some times found difficulty with titles. 

From Fifteen to Twenty years old, he spent most of 
his time working at the Tanner & Currier's trade keep- 
ing Bachelors hall ; & he officiating as Cook ; & for 
most of the time as forman of the establishment under 
his Father. During this period he found much trouble 
with some of the bad habits I have mentioned & with 
some that I have not told you off: his concience urging 
him forward with great power in this matter : but his 
close attention to business; & success in its manage- 
ment ; together with the way he got along with a com- 
pany of men, & boys ; made him quite a favorite with 
the serious & more inteligent portion of older persons. 
This was so much the case ; & secured for him so many 
little notices fittm those he esteemed ; that his vanity 
was very much fed by it : & ho came forward to man- 
hood quite full of self-conceit ; & self-confident ; not- 
withstanding his extreme bashfulness. A younger 
brother used sometimes to remind him of this : & to 
repeat to him this expression which you may somewhere 
find, " A King against whom there is no rising up." 
The habit so early formed of being obeyed rendered 
him in after life too much disposed to speak in an 
imperious & dictating way. From Fifteen years & 

J4 The Father of the Man. 

upward he felt a good deal of anxiety to learn ; but 
could only read & studdy a little ; both for want of 
time ; & on account of inflammation of the eyes. He 
however managed by the help of books to make himself 
tolerably well acquainted with common arithmetic ; & 
Surveying: which he practiced more or less after he 
was Twenty years old. 

At a little past Twenty years led by his own incli- 
nation Sf prompted also by his Father, he married a 
remarkably plain ; but neat industrious & economical 
girl ; of excellent character ; earnest piety ; & good 
practical common sense ; about one year younger than 
himself. This woman by her mild, frank, & more than 
all else : by her very consistent conduct ; acquired & 
ever while she lived maintained a most powerful ; & 
good influence over him. Her plain but kind admoni- 
tions generally had the right effect ; without arousing 
his haughty obstinate temper. John began early in life 
to discover a great liking to fine Cattle, Horses, Sheep, 
<fe Swine : & as soon as circumstances would enable him 
he began to be a practical Shepherd : it being a calling 
for which in early life he had a kind of enthusiastic 
long-ing- : * together with the idea that as a business it 
bid fair to afford him the means of carrying out his 
greatest or principle object. I have now given you a 
kind of general idea of the early life of this boy ; & if 
I believed it would be worth the trouble : or afford 

• A friend writes: " So keen was his observation, tliat, as was told nie, lie knew 
when a strange sheep had got into his flock of two or three thousand head, lie was a 
great lover of good stock of all kinds — cattle, sheep, swine, and horses, and cared ten^ 
derly for all the beasts he owned or used." 

The Father of the Man. 35 

much interest to any good feeling person : I might be 
tempted to tell you something of his course in after life ; 
or manhood. I do not say that I will do it. 

You will discover that in using up my half sheets to 
save paper ; I have written Two pages, so that one docs 
not follow the other as it should. I have no time to 
write it over ; <fe but for unavoidable hindrances in 
traveling I can hardly say when I should have written 
what I have. With an honest desire for your best 
good, I subscribe myself, Your Friend 

J. Brown. 

P. S. I had like to have forgotten to acknowledge 
your contribution in aid of the cause in which I serve. 
God Allmighty bless you; my son. J. B. 


To this autobiographical sketch, there is one impor 
tant incident of John Brown's early life to be added. 
" At the age of eighteen or twenty," writes a reliable 
authority, " he left Hudson, Ohio, and came East, with 
the design of acquiring a liberal education through 
some of our New England colleges. His ultimate 
design was the gospel ministry. In pursuance of this 
object he consulted and conferred with the Rev. Jere- 
miah Hallock, then clergyman at Canton, Connecticut, 
and in accordance with advice there obtained, proceeded 
to Plainfield, Massachusetts, where, under the instruc- 
tion of the late Rev. Moses Hallock, he was fitted or 
nearly fitted for college." 

The youngest brother of this clergyman thus de- 
scribes John Brown : 


The Father of the Man. 

" He -was a tall, sedate, dignified yoxing man. He had been a tan- 
ner, and relinquished a prosperous business for the purpose of intel- 
lectual improvement, but with what ultimate end I do not now know. 
He brought with him a piece of sole leather, about a foot square, which 
he had himself tanned for seven years to resole his boots. He had 
also a piece of sheepskin which he had tanned, and of which he cut some 
strips about an eighth of an inch wide for other students to pull upon. 
Father took one string, and, winding it around his fingers, said, 'I 
shall snap it.' The very marked, yet kind unmovableness of the 
young man's face on seeing father's defeat — father's own look, and the 
position of the people and things in the old kitchen — somehow gave 
me a fixed recollection of this little incident. How long John Brown 
lived at our house, or at what period, I do not know. I think it must 
have been in 1819 or 1820. I have the name John Brown on my list 
of father's students. It is said that he was a relative of uncle Jer- 
emiah Hallock's wife, and that uncle J. directed him to Plainfield." 

"While pursuing his studies," says the first writer: 

" He was attacked with inflammation of the eyes, which ultimately 
became chronic, and precluded him from the possibility of the further 
pursuit of his studies, when he returned to Ohio. Had not this in- 
flammation supervened John Brown would not have died a Virginia 
culprit on a Virginia gallows, but in all probability would have died 
on a feather bed with D. D. affixed to his name." 

God had higher work for tliis sedate, dignified young 
man than to write and dehver sermons to a parish. He 
was raising him up as a dehverer of captives and a 
teacher of righteousness to a nation ; as the conserver 
of the hght of true Christianity, when it was threatened 
with extinction, under the rubbish of creeds and con- 
stitutions, and iniquities enacted into laws. 


The Man. 

I DO NOT propose, in the present volume, to minute- 
ly trace the life of John Brown from the date of his 
first marriage in 1821, up to the time of his removal to 
Massachusetts, in 1846. Although this period embraces 
twenty-five years, its incidents do not form an essential 
part of his public career ; nor is a knowledge of them 
requisite to correctly comprehend the illustrious ac- 
tions of his later age. Every record of this quarter of 
a century, let it suffice for me to state, exhibits to us 
the same earnest, pious, and heroic character, which, 
by its unusual manifestations during the last two 
months, has thrilled the pulses of sixteen States. The 
keeper of sheep, the humble farmer and tanner, ap- 
pears, by the writings he has left behind him, and the 
testimony of all who knew him, equally as courageous 
and devout a personage as the Liberator of Kansas, the 
Invader of Virginia, and the Prisoner of the Jail of 

The last chapter, indeed, is a prophecy of what his 
future life would be, too faithful in its outline, and too 
minute in its details, to render any record of its fulfil- 
4 (37) 

38 The Man. 

ment, in every varying phase of his business career, 
essential to a just conception of his character. It 
wo)ild be easy and safe enough to pass over these 
twenty-five years, without looking at a solitary inci- 
dent of them, and yet to know that he would, and 
how he would, pour them full to the brim of the living 
waters of earnest deeds. Given : a stern inflexibility 
of purpose, and an earnestness of nature so intense 
that it did not seem to exist, — as wheels that revolve 
with the velocity of lightning, hardly seem to the look- 
er-on to be moving at all ; adding to them an infinite 
faith in God, and man, and freedom, growing out of a 
soul of the utmost integrity, self-reliance, modesty, and 
almost child-like simplicity, transfused with the teach- 
ings of Jesus Christ, and inspired by the examples of 
the Old Testament; putting this rare creation into 
the walks of lowly life, at the head of a loyal and patri- 
archal household, and in a nation wiiich, in its eager 
hunt after gold, too often extinguishes the Holy Lamp 
placed by the hand of Deity in the human soul ; and 
one can readily foresee how, wherever it shall move, 
common men at times must stand aghast at it — smil- 
ing sometimes in derision — oftener speaking in a pity 
begotten of involuntary admiration for the poor " mon- 
omaniac," who is so erratic as to follow his Heaven- 
implanted instincts, "no matter how ridiculous" in 
the eyes of fools they may be, " or how inconvenient to 
himself;" and " without the intellect to comprehend 
the necessities, the nature, and the obligations arising 
out of civil society." * To understand John Brown, the 

• These phrases are quoted from conservative Eepiibliean journals. I spare the 
•ditors the misfortune of their names. 

The Man. 39 

first tiling needed is, to know what earnest sincerity 
means. Do you believe in God ? Do you believe the 
Bible ? John Brown believed in Jehovah and His Word. 
Sincerely, for nothing was permitted to stand between 
the commandments of Jehovah and his obedience to 
them ; sincerely, for while our scribes and pharisees 
derided him, he translated his belief into earnest deeds, 
and thereby proved how vain and false were their loud 
professions. He was the last of the old Puritan type 
of Christians. Gideon to him, and Joshua, and Moses, 
were not interesting historic characters merely, — as, 
judging from their acts, modern Christians regard 
them, but holy examples set before us, by Deity him- 
self, for our imitation and our guidance. Is the Bible 
true ? Yes, say many modern Christians, never doubt- 
ing their own sincerity, and then denounce any forci- 
ble emancipation of God's enslaved poor. If the Bible 
is the true Word, it follows that it is right to slay 
God's enemies, if it be necessary thus to deliver God's 
persecuted people. In John Brown's eyes, what Josh- 
ua did, and Jehovah sanctioned, could not be wrong. 
And so with every doctrine. Between the command 
of the Lord of Hosts and implicit obedience to it, he 
permitted neither Creed nor Platform, Constitution nor 
Law, to intervene. Did the Fathers of the RepubMc 
intend to tolerate slavery ? He might admit the his- 
toric fact ; but still would he obey the divine command 
— and interfere with slavery. Most men have a Third 
Heaven of Abstract Theories, while their civil actions 
form the pillars of a Hell. John Brown's acts were 
in harmony with his God-inspired creed. 

40 The Man. 

It was thus in every relation of his private Hfe, dur- 
ing this long period of twenty-five years, over which 
we will now hurriedly pass, in order that we may the 
sooner come to those gigantic cameras — Harper's Fer- 
ry, and the Jail of Charlestown — in which, for forty 
days, every line and lineament of the old Puritan's 
noble soul were drawn with the unvarying fidelity 
of Nature. 


John Brown was married to his first wife, Dianthe 
Lusk, June 21, 1820, at Hudson, in Ohio. In order 
to make no interruptions in the narrative, or confusion 
of dates, I subjoin here the family record as it stood at 
John Brown's death. 

By his first wife, John Brown had seven children : 

John Brown, junior, July 25, 1821, at Hudson, Ohio; married 
Wealthy C. Hotchkiss, July, 1847. He now lives in Ashtabula County, 
Ohio ; now fully recovered from his once dangerous malady. 

Jason Brown, January 19, 1823, Hudson, Ohio ; married Ellen 
Sherboudy, July, 1847. 

Owen Brown, November 4, 1824, Hudson, Ohio ; he escaped from 
Harper's Ferry. 

Frederick Brown, (1st,) January 9, 1827, Richmond, Pennsyl- 
vania ; died March 31, 1831. 

Ruth Brown, February 18, 1829, Richmond, Pennsylvania; mar- 
ried Henry Thompson, September 26, 1850. 

Frederick Brown, (2d,) December 21, 1830, Richmond, Pennsyl- 
vania ; murdered at Osawatomie by Rev. Martin "White, August 30, 

An Infant Son, bom August 7, 1832, was buried with his mother 
three days after his birth. ■ ' 

By his second wife, Mary A. Day, to whom he was 
married at Meadville, Pennsylvania, (while lie was 
living at Richmond, in Crawford County,) he had 
thirteen children : 

Sarah Brown, born May 11, 1834, at Richmond, Pennsylvania; 
dieJ September 23, 1843. 

The Man. 41 

Watsox Browx, October 7, 1835, Franklin, Ohio ; married Isa- 
oella M. Thompson, September, 1856 ; wounded at Harper's Ferry, 
October 17, while bearing a flag of truce; died October 19, 1859. 

Salmon Brown, October 2, 1836, Hudson, Ohio ; married Abbie C, 
Hinckley, October 15, 1856 ; lives at North Elba. 

Charles Brown, November 3, 1837, Hudson, Ohio ; died Sep- 
tember 11, 1843. 

Oliver Brown, March 9, 1839, Franklin, Ohio ; married ^lartha 
E. Brewster, April 17, 1858; killed at Harper's Ferry, October 17, 

Peter Brown, December 7, 1840, Hudson, Ohio ; died September 
22, 1843. 

Austin Brown, September 14, 1842, Richfield, Ohio ; died Sep- 
tember 27, 1843. 

Anne Brown, December 23, 1843, Richfield, Ohio. 

Amelia Brown, June 22, 1845, Akron, Ohio ; died October 30, 

Sarah Brown, (2d,) September 11, 1846, Akron, Ohio. 

Ellen Brown, (1st,) May 20, 1848, Springfield, Massachusetts; 
died April 30, 1849. 

Infant Son, April 26, 1852, Akron, Ohio; died May 17, aged 
21 days. 

Ellen Brown, (2d,) September 25, 1854, Akron, Ohio. 

Thus, eight children now survive ; four by each wife. 


From his twenty-first to his twenty-sixth year, John 
Brown was engaged in the tanning business, and as a 
farmer, in Ohio. 

In 1826, he went to Richmond, Eichland township, 
Crawford County, Pennsylvania, where he carried on 
the old business till 1835. One of his apprentices at 
this period informs us that he was characterized for 
singular probity of life, and by his strong and " eccen- 
tric " benevolent impulses. He would refuse to sell 
leather until the last drop of moisture had been dried 
from it, " lest he should sell his customers watery and 
reap the gain.^^ 


4.2 The Man. 

" He is said to have caused a man to be arrested, or 
rearrested, for some small offence, not easily substan- 
tiated to a jury, or who had already passed a prelimi- 
nary examination without effect, although he had sus- 
tained no personal injury, but simply because he 
thought the crime should be punished ; and his benev- 
olence induced him to supply the wants of the offender 
out of his private means, and to provide for the family 
until the trial."* 

That stern old English sense of justice ; that grand 
Puritan spirit of inflexible integrity — how beautifully 
do they bloom out, thus early, in the life of this illus- 
trious man ! Evidently, in honor of this bright trait, 
history will place John Brown, in her American Pan- 
theon, not among Virginia's culprits, but as high, at 
least, as Virginia's greatest chief, whose best sayings 
and achievements that young man just, was afterwards 
to be slaughtered by Washington's native State, for 
attempting to carry out to their legitimate results. 


In 1835, he removed to Franklin Mills, Portage 
County, Ohio, where, until 1841, he was engaged in the 
tanning trade, and speculating in real estate. He made 
several unfortunate investments, and lost a considera- 
ble amount of money. 

In March, 1839, he started from Ohio for Connecti- 
cut, with a drove of cattle. He returned in July of 
the same year, and brought back with him a few sheep, 
his first purchases in that business, in which he after- 
wards was so largely interested. 

* This incident is related by a citizen of Warren, Pennsylvania, who knew him well| 
«ii(l jegarded him at that time as an exemplary and highly Christian man. 

The Man. 43 

In 1840, he went to Hudson, Ohio, and engaged in 
the wool business with Mr. Oviatt, of Richfield ; to which 
place, in 1842, John Brown removed, and remained 
two years, when he entered into a partnership with 
Colonel Perkins. During his residence in Richfield, 
he lost four children, all of them within eleven days ; 
and three were carried out together and interred in 
the same grave. " From boyhood," writes Mr. Oviatt, 
" I have known him through manhood ; and through 
life he has been distinguished for his truthfulness and 
integrity ; he has ever been esteemed, by those who 
have known him, as a very conscientious man." 

It was in 1839 that he conceived the idea of becom- 
ing a Liberator of the Southern slaves. He had seen, 
during the twenty-five years that had elapsed since he 
became an Abolitionist, every right of human nature, 
and of the Northern States, ruthlessly trodden under 
the feet of the tyrannical Slave Power. He saw it 
blighting and blasting the manhood of the nation ; and 
he listened to " the voice of the poor that cried." He 
heard Lafayette loudly praised ; but he saw no helper 
of the bondman. He saw the people building the sep- 
ulchres of the fathers of '76, but lynching and murderiiig 
the prophets that were sent unto them. He believed that, 

«'\Vho would be free, themselves must strike the blow." 

But the slaves, scattered ; closely watched ; prevented 
from assembling to conspire ; without arms ; apparently 
overpowered ; at the mercy of every traitor ; knowing 
the white man only as their foe ; seeing, every where 
and always, that (as the Haytian proverb pithily ex- 

44 The Man. 

presses it,) "Zie blanc, bouille negues " — the eyes of 
the whites burn up the negroes — in order to arise and 
strike a blow for liberty, needed a positive sign that 
they had friends among the dominant race, who sym- 
pathized with them, believed in tlieir right to freedom, 
and were ready to aid them in their attempt to obtain 
it. John Brown determined to let them know that 
they had friends, and prepared himself to lead them to 
liberty. From the moment that he formed this resolu- 
tion, he engaged in no commercial speculations, which 
he could not, without loss to his friends and family, 
wind up in fourteen days. He waited patiently. 
" Learn to Wait : I have waited twenty years," he 
often said to the young men of principle and talent, 
who loved and flocked around him when in Kansas. 

In 1844, John Brown removed to Akron, Ohio ; in 
1846, he went to Springfield, Massachusetts ; where, 
in the following year, his family joined him. 

A few life notes now arc all that can be given here. 

JOHN brown's favorite BOOKS, TEXTS, AND HYMNS. 

" My dear father's favorite books, of an historical char- 
acter," writes a daughter, " were Rollin's Ancient Histo- 
ry,' Josephus's Works, Napoleon and his Marshals, and 
the Life of Oliver Cromwell. Of religious books : Bax- 
ter's Saints' Rest, (in speaking of this work, at one time, 
he said he could not see how any person could read it 
through carefully without becoming a Christian,) the 
Pilgrim's Progress, Henry on Meekness ; but above all 
others, the Bible was his favorite volume, and he had 
such a perfect knowledge of it, that when any person was 
reading it, he would correct the least mistake. His favor- 
iie passages we]>e these, as nearly as I can remember ; 

The Man. 45 

" ' Remember them that are in bonds as bound with them. 

" ' Whoso stoppeth his ear at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry 
himself, but shall not be heard. 

•' ' He that hath a bountifiJ eye shaU be blessed ; for he giveth his 
bread to the poor. 

•' ' A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving 
favor rather than silver and gold. 

<« ' WTioso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker, and he that is 
glad at calamities shall not be unpunished. 

" ' He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord, and that 
which he hath given will he pay him again. 

" ' Give to him that asketh of thee, and from him that would borrow 
of thee turn not thou away. 

'• ' A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast; but the tender 
mercies of the wicked are cruel. 

•* « "Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the 
povv'er of thine hand to do it. 

•' ' Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it ; 
except the Lord keep the city, the watchman walkcth in vain. 

'« ' I hate vain thoughts, but thy law do I love.' 

"The last chapter of Ecclesiasticus was a favorite 
one, and on Fast days and Thanksgivings he used very 
often to read the fifty^eighth chapter of Isaiah. 

"When he would come home at night, tired out 
with labor, he would, before going to bed, ask some of 
the family to read chapters, (as was his usual course 
night and morning,) and would most always say, Read 
one of David's Psalms. 

" His favorite hymns (Watts's) were these -r- 1 give 
the first lines only : 

" ' Blow ye the trumpet, blow.' 

•• • Sweet is Thy work, my God, my King.' 

" ' I'll praise my Maker with my breath.' 

'« « O, happy is the man who hears.' 

(( « "Why should we start, and fear to die.' 

" ' With songs and honors sounding loud.' 

" ' Ah, lovely appearance of death.' " 

He was a great admirer of Oliver Cromwell. Of 

46 The Man. 

colored heroes, Nat Turner and Cinques stood first in 
his esteem. " How often," writes a daughter, " have I 
heard him speak in admiration of Cinques' character 
and management in carrying his points with so httle 
bloodshed ! " Of American writings, he chiefly admired 
the sayings of Franklin, and the Farewell Address of 

I do not see how any one could draw the character 
of John Brown better than by referring the reader to 
his favorite books. The Bible, first and above all other 
volumes, inspired every action of his life. He searched 
it continually to find there the words of eternal life. 
Nay, years hence, Christendom will recognize in John 
Brown a translation of the Old Testament, not into 
English words, but American flesh and blood. 

As a father he was tenderly austere ; as a husband 
devotedly faithful and kind. 

He brought up his family as the Hebrew patriarchs 
reared their children. The law of God was their ear- 
liest and most constant study ; unbounded and willing 
obedience to it, their first and chief lesson. They 
bended their knees every morning and evening at God's 
altar ; daily read the sacred volume, and sung psalms 
and hymns, and spiritual songs. Grace before and after 
meat sanctified their board. The patriarchal principle 
of filial reverence was in this family a distinguishing 
trait. Self-sacrifice was their idea of eartlily life. 

" The Puritan idea," — here it was out-lived ; no- 
where else was the grandest thing brought over in 
the Mayflower so sacredly preserved. Some descend- 
ants of the passengers in that classic ship have chairs, 

The Man. 4.7 

and tables, and other material evidences of her voyage 
to America ; but this great family had the Idea that she 
p 3r5onifies, not pompously displayed in parlors or muse- 
ums, but modestly, unconsciously, in their daily lives. 

The sayings of Franklin, as will be seen in another 
c lapter, were exhibited in daily life in the household of 
J^hn Brown. And the Declaration of Independence 
— we will see how it was incarnated when we find the 
Oj d man and his sons in Kansas and Virginia. 

" One of his favorite verses was," says a daughter, 

«< Count that ^aj' lost whose low-descending sun 
Views from thy hand no worthy action done." 

Here, although in advance of the time, two incidents 
may be related, which show how the ideas of the Bible 
in tcrpenetrated his whole being. 

" I asked him," says a child, " how he felt when he 
le 't the eleven slaves, taken from Missouri, safe in Can- 
ac a ? His answer was, ' " Lord, permit now thy ser- 
V{ nt to depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy 
salvation." I could not brook the idea that any ill 
si ould befall them, or they be taken back to slavery. 
T le arm of Jehovah protected us.' " 

The next anecdote, related since the old man's cap 
tr ity, by a distinguished citizen of Pennsylvania, is no 
le s characteristic : 

' He has elements of character, which, under circumstances favor- 
ab 2 to their proper development and right direction, would have made 
hii I one of the great men of the world. Napoleon himself had no 
m( re blind and trusting confidence in his o>vn destiny and resources ; 
his iron will and unbending purpose were equal to that of any man, 
liv ng or dead ; his religious enthusiasm and sense of duty (exagger- 
ate 1 and false though it was) were yet earnest and sincere, and not 
eX' died by that of Oliver Cromwell or any of his followers ; while no 

48 The Man. 

danger could for a moment alarm or disturb him. Though doubtless 
his whole nature "was subject to, and almost constantly, for the last 
three or four years, pervaded by the deepest excitement, his exterior 
•was always calm and cool. His manner, though conveying the idea 
of a stern and self-sustaining man, was yet gentle and courteous, and 
marked by frequent and decided manifestations of kindness ; and it 
can probably be said of him, with truth, that, amid all his provoca- 
tions, he never perpetrated an act of wanton or unnecessary cruelty. 
He was scrupulously honest, moral, and temperate, and never gave 
utterance to a boast. Upon one occasion, when one of the ex- Govern- 
ors of Kansas said to him that he was a marked man, and that the 
Missourians were determined, sooner or later, to take his scalp, the 
old man straightened himself up, with a glance of enthusiasm and 
defiance in his gray eye, ' Sir,' said he, ♦ the angel of the Lord will camp 
round about me.' " 

His self-sacrificing spirit, his devotion to the Ameri- 
can idea, — in its spirit "which giveth life," not in its 
letter "which is death," — may be clearly seen in a 
single sentence from one of his family : 

" On leaving us the first time that he went to Kansas, 
he said, ' If it is so painful for us to part, with the hope 
of meeting again, how dreadful must be the separation 
for life of hundreds of poor slaves ! ' " 

He inspired every one of his family with this heroic 
Christianity. His sons were all young fathers ; John 
Browns, junior, every one. His son-in-law, also, was 
touched with the holy fire from the altar of the old 
man's soul. 

" When William Thompson,"* writes a sister-in-law, 
" talked of going to Harper's Ferry, his wife begged of 
him not to go, telling him that she was afraid he would 
be murdered : he said, ' Mary, you do not think of 
any thing but self ! What is my life in comparison to 
thousands of poor slaves in bondage ? '" 

* He whom the " party of Virginia gentlemen " murdered in cold blood. 

The Man. 49 

For John Brown's habits a few words will suffice. 
He was a very early riser, and a very hard worker. 
His dress was extremely plain ; never in the fashion, 
vnd never made of fine cloth. But he was always scru- 
pulously clean and tidy in his personal appearance. 
vVhen first I saw him in his camp at Kansas, although 
:iis clothing was patched and old, and he was almost 
barefooted, he was as tidy, both in person and dress, 
!is any gentleman of Boston. He was noted for his 
orderly and methodic business habits. His account 
l)Ooks and correspondence (which have been sacredly 
])reserved) are models of systematic arrangement. 
j]ven to the day of his death, he regularly filed his 
letters, writing the name of the correspondent, and the 
■'srord " Answered," or " Not time to read," or " No an- 
swer needed," on every one of them. His food was 
{ Iways plain and simple. He never used tobacco in 
{ ny form, or wine or spirits on any pretence whatever. 
""Vhen at home, he drank milk, or water only. It was 
1 ot till within a few years before his death, that he 
( ver tasted tea or cofiee. He relinquished this habit 
( nly from the desire to give no trouble to others ; for 
1 e found that in travelling, it sometimes annoyed good 
} eople to see their guests drink water instead of tea. 
He never ate cheese or butter. "When a little boy, 
t in years of age, he was sent of an errand, where a 
.1 idy gave him a piece of bread and butter. He was so 
\ ashful, that he did not dare to tell .her he never ate 
1 utter ; and as soon as he got out of the house, he ran 
I s fast as he could for a long distance, and then threw 
t ic gift out of sight " 

3*0 The Man. 

Mr. Doolittle, of Ohio, Mr. Weeks and Mr. Hallock, 
of Connecticut, were his favorite pastors. Although a 
rigid Puritan, he loved Theodore Parker. " I am free 
to say," he once told me, " that I do not agree with 
Mr. Parker in religious matters ; I think he is mistaken 
in most of his views j but I like him, sir ; he is a good 

" Captain Brown," writes a friend, " was extremely 
fond of music. I once saw him sit listening with the 
most rapt attention to Schubert's Serenade, played by 
a mutual friend, and, when the music ceased, tears 
were in the old man's eyes. He was indeed most 
tender-hearted — fond of children and pet creatures, 
and always enlisted on the weaker side. The last 
time I saw him in Boston, he had been greatly annoyed 
by overhearing in the street some rude language ad- 
dressed to a black girl, who, he said, would never have 
been insulted if she had been white. To him might 
well be applied the words of the old Scotch ballad : 

" ' O Douglas, Douglas, tender and true.' " 

Of the different members of John Brown's family I 
cannot write now ; but, on another occasion, I shall try 
to do justice to the old hero as a father. I think, from 
what I know of him, that John Brown by his wife's chair 
and the cradle of his children, was even a greater man 
than John Brown at Osawatomie, and on the scaffold 
of Charlestown. . 

Mrs. Brown, the present widow, was a fit mate for 
her husband. Is it necessary to say more ? If it be, I 
cannot write it. His first wife's character he himself 
has drawn, and the reader has seen the portrait. 

The Man. 51 

I have a few testimonials of John Brown's character 
luring this long period, from men who knew him well. 
Vlr. Baldwin, of Ohio, who has known him from 1814, 
'' considered him a man of rigid integrity and of ardent 
emperament." Mr. George Leech, who knew him from 
oarly boyhood, says that he "always appeared strictly 
(ionscientious and honest, bnt of strong impulses and 
{.tron-g religious feelings." Mr. William S. C. Otis writes, 
" I became acquainted with John Brown about the year 
'..8S6 ; soon after my removal to Akron, he became a 
client of mine ; subsequently a resident of the town- 
fhip in which the town of Akron is situated ; and, dur- 
i ng a portion of the latter time, a member of a Bible 
(lass taught by me. In these relations which I sus- 
tained to Mr. Brown, I had a good opportunity to be- 
( ome acquainted with his mental, moral, and religious 
< haracter. I always regarded him as a man of more 
Ihan ordinary mental capacity, of very ardent and 
( xcitable temperament, of unblemished moral charao- 
1 er ; a kind neighbor, a good Christian, deeply imbued 
■< /ith religious feelings and sympathies. In a business 
] 'oint of view, his ardent and excitable temperament 
1 3d him into pecuniary difficulties ; but I never knew 
] is integrity questioned by any person whatever." 

Since the foregoing chapter was stereotyped, I have found among 
1 le North Elba manuscripts the following "Phrenological Descrip- 
I on of John Brown, as given by O. S. Fowler." It is dated New 
■ 'ork, February 27, 1847 : 


" You have a brain of good size, and a physical organization of much more than 

rdinary strength to sustain it. I should judge that you were from a long-lived ance«- 

( y, and that you yourself have Inherited such a constitution as vrould enable yon, 

I nder ordinary circumstances, to live to a good old age. Your mind did not matnra 


The Man. 

as early as the majority of persons, but it is of the kind that is continually expanding 
and improving, and will continue to augment in power to a more advanced age than that 
of most persons. You are very active, both physically s>-:;l mentally — are positive in 
your likes and dislikes, 'go the whole figure or nothing,' and want others to do the 
same. Your first ideas and impressions are your best; and, as a general thing, you 
will find them a more safe guide than your after deliberations. You have the faculty 
to take in all the various conditions of a thing at once, and hence the reason fur the 
correctness of your first impressions. You are quick and clear in your perceptions, 
have good judgment of the quality and value of property, are a great observer, and 
want to see. Y'ou are more known for your practical off-hand talent than for depth 
and profundity of comprehension — have a discriminating mind, are quick to draw in- 
ferences, and are quite disposed to criticise. Y'ou reason more by analogy than from ab- 
stract principles, and are more practical than theoretical. You have a remarkable mem- 
ory of faces and places, but poorof names and dates. You can measure well by your eye, 
and are annoyed if you see any thing otit of proportion, or not exactly plumb — have an 
excellent memory of shape, outline, and size of whatever you see — are a systematic, 
methodical man : like to have a place for things, and things in their places. Your ability 
to rec"kon figures mentally is naturally good — you have a great deal of mechanical inge- 
nuity, are just the man to set others at work, to make bargains, and do up the out-door 
business. You have a pretty good opinion of j'ourself — would rather lead than be led 
.— have great sense of honor, and would sccrn to do any thing mean or disgraceful. 
In making up your mind you are careful and judicious, but are firm as the hills when 
once decided. You might be persuaded, but to drive you would be impossible. You 
like to have your own way, and to think and act for yourself — are quite independent 
and dignified, yet candid, open, and plain ; say just what you think, and most heartily 
despise hypocrisy and artificiality ; yet you value the good opinion of others, though 
you would not stoop to gain applause. You are quite cautious and prudent, and gen- 
erally look out for breakers ahead, and realize quite as much as you expect. It would 
be an advantage to you if you had a little more hope, and would allow yourself to 
look more on the bright side of things. As a religious man, you would be more in- 
clined to deal justly and love mercy than to pay much regard to forms and ceremonies. 
You have not enough devotional feeling, nor of what wo term spirituality of mind, 
to give harmony and balance to the moral sentiments. They should be cultivated. 
You believe what can be incontestably proved, and nothing else. You like to do busi- 
ness on a large scale, and can make money better than save it — yon want it for its 
uses, in one form or another, rather than for its own sake. Your ability to read tho 
characters of others is excellent, but you have little tact in adapting yourself to them. 
You are too blunt and free-spoken — you often find that your motives are not under- 
stood, and that you give offence when yon do not intend to. When you criticise, you 
are apt to do it in such a plain, pointed manner that it does not produce so good an 
effect as it would if you should do it in a more bland and affable w.iy. You have 
strong domestic feelings, are very fond of children, home, and friends ; you may be 
irritable, but are not contentious. You do not like to plod over one subject for a lengtih 
of time; but, on the contrary, like variety and change. Your thoughts and feelings 
are more rapid and lasting. In your character and actions ynu are more original than 
imitative, and have more taste for the useful than the beautiful and ornamental." 


Perkins and Brown, Wool Factors. 

JOHN BROWN went to Springfield, Massachusetts, 
in 1846. The following extract from a private 
letter by an eminent citizen of that place, to whom, 
when in prison, he wrote for legal assistance, will show 
the estimation in which he was held by the conservit- 
tive men with wliom he came in contact in his business 
relations there. 

«« Your letter asking for such information as I am able to give you 
respecting John Brown is received, and in order to enable me to 
answer it more fully than I could otherwise have done, I have called 
upon a man who was his bookkeeper when he lived here. This person 
Informs me that he came here from Akron, Ohio, in the spring of 
1846, and engaged in the business of wool-dealing. He was after- 
wards associated in business with a Mr. Perkins, of Ohio, and their 
firm was Perkins and Brown. They sold large quantities of wool on 
commission ; most of it was for farmers living in Western Pennsyl- 
vania. Mr. Brown left here in 1850 or 1851, and removed with his 
family to North Elba, Essex County, New York. This person says 
Gcrritt Smith gave him a large tract of land there. He says he knows 
it because he saw the deed. . . . Mr. Bro^vn's integrity was never 
doubted, and he was honorable in all his dealings, but peculiar in 
many of his notions, and adhering to them with great obstinacy. Mr. 
Brown was a quiet and peaceable citizen, and a religious man. Rev. 
Mr. Conklin, who was settled here in the North Congregational 
Church, and who separated himself in a great measure from other min- 

5» (5«) 

54 Perkins and Brown, Wool Factors. 


isters because he thought them culpably indifferent to the sin of 
slavery, was intimate with Mr, Brown, and they sympathized in their 
anti-slavery ideas. Mr. Brown used to talk much on the subject, and 
had the reputation of beiiag quite ultra. His bookkeeper tells me 
that he and his eldest son used to discuss slavery by the hour in his 
counting room, and that he used to say that it was right for slaves to 
kill their masters and escape, and thought slaveholders were guilty of 
a very great wickedness. He says Brown had lived in . Ohio forty 
years, and had been out there from Connecticut several times on foot; 
that he was familiar with the region about Harper's Ferry, and knew 
the Avool growers in all that part of the country. 

" Since Brown went to Kansas he has been in town several times. 
I have seen him repeatedly. Once he called on me to inquire whether 
the Emigrant Aid Company would assist him to purchase arms for the 
protection of himself and his neighbors. I told him he could get no 
aid from them. I understood he afterwards solicited subscriptions 
from individuals. I never knew how he succeeded. He was here 
again last summer, and called on me, and told me what he had been 
doing in Kansas. His story was such that I told him I did not think 
he had done wrong. He professed to have acted solely for the protec- 
tion of himself and his neighbors, and said he went to Missouri to help 
the slaves escape, merely to frighten the Missourians, and keep them 
from going to Kansas to disturb the people, and that he was successful 
in it. I cannot learn that he spoke to any one in this region of his 
Harper's Ferry enterprise, and do not believe that he did. A lady 
here asked him if he was not going to lead a quiet life hereafter, and 
he replied that he should unless he had a call from the Lord." 

A local journalist thus writes of John Brown's char- 
acter in Springfield : 

"AVhile a resident of this city Brown was respected by all who 
knew him for his perfect integrity of character. . . . He is so con- 
stituted that when he gets possessed of an idea he carries it out Avith 
unflinching fidelity to all its logical consequences, as they seem to him, 
hesitating at no absurdity, and deterred by no unpleasant consequences 
to himself.* . . Brown was here about a year ago, and spent several days. 
Ho talked freely with his friends in respect to his running off slaves from 
Missouri. He seemed to feel that he had a special mission in respect 
to slavery, and he justified the running off of slaves, not on the ground 
of personal vengeance for the bitter wrongs he had received, but as an 

* This statement was adyanced as a proof that John Brown was a monomaniac ! 1 
think it is the bitterest satire on the ago that I have ever read — an unconscious and 
uuintentioual; but no less resplendent eulogium on the character of my friend. 

Perkins and Brown, Wool Factors. ^^ 

ifFective mode of operation against the institution itself. His theory 
vas then, and it was the secret of his Harper's Ferry movement, that 
lis mission was to make the institution insecure, to increase the gen- 
ial feeling of its insecurity at the South, and thus to act upon the 
:'ear and prudence of the slaveholders. In all this he was deliberate, 
calm, and conscientious. Doubtless his personal wrongs had con- 
1 ributed to the establishment of this fixed purpose of his life ; but his 
■> -engeance was directed not against slaveholders, but against the insti- 
1 ution itself. It was a matter of religion with him. He is a Presby- 
lerian in his faith, and feels that it is for this very purpose that God 
laised him up."* 


There are conflicting accounts of the reasons that 
i iiduced John Brown to remove to Springfield. The best 
i uthenticated records, thus far produced, go to show 
it was the result of that same spirit of resistance to 
( rganized wrong which had distinguished itself in his 
( wn history and the history of his ancestry. A half- 
1 'iendly writer says : 

" John Brown initiated the system of grading wools — a system at 
t] is day universally adopted, and with perfect success ; but the New 
L iffland manufacturers combined against him. He had at Springfield, 
A assachusetts, a large deposit of graded Western wools, and he warred 
a: ainst the combination of New England manufacturers, who, having 

» A correspondent who visited Springfield in 1S47, and saw John Brown there, thus 
re ords an incident illustrative of his great strcngtii of memory : 

•lu the summer of 1847, it happened to me that I spent a Sunday at the Ameriran 
II nse, in Springfield, Mass. A stranger who had seen my name on tlio register of the 
he el, came to my room and claimed acquaintance with mo. He was a plain man, 
in elligent in his appearance, with something of tliat independent air which so natu* 
rn ly characterizes Western men, his head beginning to be whitened, (if I remember 
CO rectly,) but his upright frame still perfectly firm and sinewy. As I was quite unable 
to ecoguize him, he told me ho was John Brown, and made mo remember, at last, that 
W( \/eTs schoolfellows more than fifty years before, when I was one of the least of the 
pu lils in thelittle log-cabin school at Hudson. I cannot recollect distinctly what he 
tol I me about his residence, his occupation, or his history ; but I remember clearly the 
im iression tliat lie was an earnestly religious man, with somewhat more of the old 
Pu itan sternness than is common in these days, and with some tendency to that 
ec( 'ntricity of opinion and of action which in modern phrase is cnlled 'ultraism.' I 
an not sure that slavery was spoken of between us ; but it was evident that his men- 
tal ind moral idiosyncrasy would place him among men to whom extreme opinions on 
«ui 1 a aubjcct are most uiiturul." 

56 Perkins and Brown, Wool Factors. 

had the wool buj'ing all their own way, did not fancy that a party 
shovild step in between them and the producers to show the latter what 
was for their interest, and to prevent the practice of imposition upon 
them. The combination was successful, and Brown, impetuous and 
indignant, shipped his wools to England, to find out that the price in 
Massachusetts was better than in Europe." 

Another writer says : 

"In 1848 we find him in a large woollen warehouse in Springfield, 
Massachusetts, where he was knoAvn as a quiet, modest man, of un- 
swerving integrity. Indeed, hundreds of wool-growers in Northern 
Ohio consigned their stock to him to be sold at discretion. A com- 
bination of Eastern manufacturers, who wished to have no such stern 
and unflinching man between themselves and the wool-growers, formed 
in league against him, and forced him to send his wool to Europe for 
a market, which resulted in a second disaster, and Brown was again 
reduced to poverty." 

The amount thus taken to Europe was two hundred 
thousand pounds, which was sold in London for half 
its value, and then reshipped to Boston. 


Of John Brown's travels in Europe, the only record 
in existence, as far as the writer can ascertain, is the 
following extract from reminiscences of conversations 
with him (already quoted) by a noted friend of freedom 
in Massachusetts : 

" I heard from him an account of his travels in Europe, and his expe- 
rience as a wool-grower. He had chiefly noticed in Europe the agri- 
cultural and military equipment of the several countries he visited. 
He watched reviews of the French, English, and German armies, and 
made his own comments on their military systems. He thought a 
standing army the greatest curse to a country, because it drained oiF 
the best of the young men and left farming and the industrial arts to be 
managed by inferior men. The German armies he thought slow and 
unwieldy ; the German farming was bad husbandry, because there the 
farmers did not live on their land, but in towns, and so wasted the 
natural manures which should go back to the soil. England he 
thought the best cultivated country he had ever seen, but the seats of 
the English gentry he thought inferior to those of the wealthy among 
us. He visited several of tlje famous battle grounds of Napoleon, 
whose career he had followed with great interest ; but he thought him 

Perkins and Brown, Wool Factors. 57 

vrong in several points of strategy, particularly in his choice of 
.'jTOund for a strong position ; which Captain Brown maintained should 
be a ravine rather than a hill top. In riding with him in an adjoining 
I ounty, he pointed out several such ravines, which, he said, could be 
3 leld by a few men against a large force, adding that he had acted on 
1 his principle in Kansas, and never suffered from it. He ascribed his 
•■ winning the battle of Black Jack to his choice of ground.* He thought 
no American could visit Europe without coming home more in love 
•vith our own country, for which he had a most ardent affection, wlxile 
Je so cordially hated its greatest curse — Slavery. 

" He was noted for his skill in testing and recognizing different 
( ualities of wool. Give him two samples of wool, one grown in Ohio 
! nd the other in Vermont, and he would distinguish each of them in 
ihe dark. I have heard this story told of him while in England, where 
] e went to consult wool-merchants and wool-growers. One evening, 
i 1 company with several of these persons, each of whom had brought 
tamples of wool in his pocket, Captain Brown was giving his opinion 
t s to the best use to be made of certain varieties of wool, when one of 
i as party, wishing to play a trick on the Yankee former, handed him 
f sample, and asked him what he would do with such wool as that ? 
] [is eyes and fingers were then so good, that he had only to touch it 
t ■) know that it had not the minute hooks by which the fibres of wool 
t re attached to each other. « Gentlemen,' said be, ' if you have any 
I lachinery that will work up dog's hair, I would advise you to put this 
i ito it.' The jocose Briton had sheared a poodle and brought the hair 
i 1 his pocket, but the laugh went against him ; and Captain Brown, in 
t pite of some peculiarities of dress and manner, soon won the respect 
( f all whom he met." 

When in England at this time, John Brown di- 
A ulged his plan of liberation to several prominent 
{ uti-slavery men ; but there, as elsewhere, while they 
1 3lt and professed an unbounded sympathy for the 
i lave, they neither countenanced nor approved of the 
■< ery earnest scheme of this dreadfully-in-earnest ab- 
( litionist. The Peters had but little sympathy with 
1 lie Richards — the Heralds of Freedom, although an 
( arnest people, looked with suspicion and distrust on 
1 he equally earnest Crusaders. Singular, that the 

♦ John Brown had undoubtedly groat skill in choosing his ground and in creating 
1 ide fortifications.' Many of thorn Btill exist in Southern Kan«as. 

58 Perkins and Brown, Wool Factors. 

preachers of the word should only half welcome the 
actors of it ! Both are noble, and needed, and God- 
commissioned ; but the greatest of the Heralds,!^ 
think, was not worthy to untie the latchet of Joha 
Brown's shoes. 


In the course of the partnership of Perkins and 
Brown, a lawsuit arose, which is thus described by a 
correspondent at Yernon, near Utica : 

"During the years 1852, '3, and '4, Mr. Brown was one of the 
firm of Perkins & Brown, doing a large wool trade, buying and selling, 
in Ohio, New York, and Massachusetts. The sale of a large quantity 
of wool to parties in Troy, N. Y,, brought on a lawsuit between 
Perkins & Brown and those parties. Mr. Brown's counsel resided in 
Vernon, and he was here many times during those years. He prose- 
cuted that suit Avith all the vigor and pertinacity which he is said tO 
have since displayed in other matters. He obtained a verdict in his 
favor, just before the Anthony Burns affair in Boston — I think in 
1853. The Trojans appealed from their verdict, and Brown then 
spent some weeks here in looking over the testimony with his counsel, 
and preparing an answer. 

"The morning after the news of the Bums affair reached here, 
Brown went at his work immediately after breakfast ; but in a few 
minutes started up from his chair, walked rapidly across the room 
several times, then suddenly turned to his counsel, and said, 'I am 
going to Boston.' « Going to Boston ! ' said the astonished lawyer. 
« Why do you want to go to Boston ? ' Old Brown continued walk- 
ing vigorously, and replied, ' Anthony Burns must be released, or I 
will die in the attempt.' The counsel dropped his pen in consterna- 
tion. Then he began to remonstrate ; told him the suit had been in 
progi-ess a long time, and a verdict just gained. It was appealed from, 
and that appeal must be answered in so many days, or the whole labor 
would be lost ; and no one was sufficiently familiar with the whole 
case except himself. I took a long and earnest talk with Old Brown 
to persuade him to remain. His memory and acufeness in that long 
and tedious lawsuit — not yet ended, I am told — often astonished his 
counsel. While here he wore an entire suit of snuff-colored cloth, 
the coat of a decidedly Quakerish cut in collar and skirt. He wore 
no beard, and was a clean-shaven, scrupulously neat, well-dressed, 
quiet old gentleman. He was, however, notably resolute in all that 
he did." 


North Elba. 

JOHN BROWN and his familj removed to North 
Elba, in Essex County, New York, in 1849. It 
was about this time that Mr. Gerritt Smith, the emi- 
nent philanthropist, offered to colored settlers his wild 
lands in that district of the Adirondack wilderness. 
Many of them accepted the offer, and went there to 
make the experiment. 

" At this period," writes a friend, " John Brown appeared one day 
at Peterboro', and said to Mr. Smith : « I see, by the newspapers, 
that you have offered so many acres of wild land to each of the col- 
ored men, on condition that they cultivate them. Now, they are 
mostly inexperienced in this kind of work, and unused to the climate, 
while I am familiar with both. I propose, therefore, to take a farm 
there myself, clear it and plant it, showing the negroes how such 
work should be done. I will also employ some of them on my land, 
and will look after them in all ways, and will be a kind of father to 
them.' Mr. Smith accepted the generous proposal, gave John Brown 
the land, and allowed him to make the experiment, although he had 
never before seen him." 

So far as the negroes were concerned, this proved a 
failure, but through no fault of John Brown's. He 
did his part faithfully by them. 

<< Captain Brown had a higher notion of the capacity of the negro 
race than most white men. I have often heard him dwell on this sub- 
ject, and mention instances of their fitness to take care of themselves, 


6o North Elba. 

saj'^ing, in his quaint way, that ' they behaved so much like folJis that 
he almost thought they were so.' Ho thought that perhaps a forcible 
separation of the cotmection between master and slave was necessary to 
educate the blacks for self -government ; * but this he threw out as a sug- 
gestion merely." 

The home of John Brown, and tlie romantic region 
around it, have been visited by a scholar worthy of the 
original, whose translation of their grandeur, physical 
and moral, into the English language, makes the jour- 
ney henceforward unnecessary, — save only for "in- 
struction in godliness." We see both the glory of the 
mountains, and the grandeur of the faitli that animates 
its greatest family, in the vivid and touching descri|> 
tion of a visit to the home of John Brown, herewith 
subjoined, — from the true and worthy pen of Thomas 
Wentworth Higginson. No woman can read it without 
being deeply moved ; and if there be a man who can 
do so — God pity him. 

"The traveller into the enchanted land of the Adirondack has his. 
choice of two routes from Keeseville to the Lower Saranac Lake, 
where his out-door life is to begin. The one least frequented and 
most difficult should be selected, for it has the grandest mountain 
pass that the Northern States can show. After driving twenty-two 
miles of mountain road from Keeseville, past wild summits bristling 
with stumps, and through villages where every other man is black 
from the hon foundery, and every alternate one black from the char- 
coal pit, your pathway makes a turn at the little hamlet of Wilming- 
ton, and you soon find yourself facing a wall of mountain, with only 
glimpses of one wild gap through which you must penetrate. In two 
miles more you have passed the last house this side the Notch, and 
you then drive on over a rugged way, constantly ascending, with no 
companion but the stream which ripples and roars below. Soon the 
last charcoal clearing is past, and thick woods of cedar and birch 

* There is a terrible truth wrapped up in this suggestion. To clitain a recognition 
of their equality in countries where negro slavery has existed, the blacks must either 
fight the whites and defeat thvm, or seek to establish a separate nationality elsewhei-e. 

North Elba. 61 

close around you — the high mountain on your right comes nearer 
and nearer, and close beside, upon your left, are glimpses of a wall, 
black and bare as iron, rising sheer for four hundred feet above your 
head. Coming from the soft marble country of Vermont, and from 
the pale granite of Massachusetts, there seems something weird and 
forbidding in this utter blackness. On your left the giant wall now 
appears nearer — now retreats again ; on your right foams the merry 
stream, breaking into graceful cascades — and across it the great moun- 
tain Whiteface, seamed with slides. Now the woods upon your left 
are displaced by the iron wall, almost touching the road-side ; against 
its steep abruptness scarcely a shrub can cling, scarcely a fern flutter ; 
it takes yotir breath away ; but five miles of perilous driving conduct 
you through it ; and beyond this stern passway, this cave of iron, lie 
the lovely lakes and mountains of the Adirondack, and the homestead 
of John Browx. 


" The Notch seems beyond the world, North Elba and its half dozen 
houses are beyond the Notch, and there is a wilder little mountain 
road which rises beyond North Elba. But the house we seek is not 
3ven on that road, but behind it and beyond it ; you ride a mile or two, 
:hen take down a pair of bars ; bej'ond the bars, faith takes you across 
I half-cleared field, through the most difficult of wood-paths, and after 
lalf a mile of forest you come out upon a clearing. There is a little 
'rame house, impainted, set in a girdle of black stumps, and with all 
jeaven about it for a wider girdle ; on a high hill-side, forests on 
lorth and west, — the glorious line of the Adirondacks on the east, 
ind on the south one slender road leading off to Westport, a road so 
itraight that you could sight a United States marshal for five miles. 

"There stands the little house, with no ornament nor relief about 
t — it needs none with the setting of mountain horizon. Yes, there 
s one decoration which at once takes the eye, and which, stern and 
nisplaced as it would seem elsewhere, seems appropriate here. It is a 
;trange thing to see any thing so old, where all the works of man are 
lew ! but it is an old, mossy, time worn tombstone — not marking any 
p:ave, not set in the ground — but resting against the house as if its 
ime were either past or not yet come. Both are true — it has a past 
luty and a future one. It bears the name of Captain John Bro\>-n, 
vho died during the Revolution, eighty-three years ago ; it was his 
ombstone brought hither by his grandson bearing the same name and 
itle ; the latter caused to be inscribed upon it, also, the name of hia 
on Frederick, ' murdered at Osawatomie for his adherence to the 
ause of freedom,' (so reads the inscription ;) and he himself ha* 
aid, for years, that no other tombstone should mark his grave. 


62 North Elba. 

"For two years, now, that stone has stood there — no oath has 
been taken upon it, no curses been invoked upon it — it marks the 
abode of a race who do not curse. But morning and noon, as the 
sons have gone out to their w-ork on that upland farm, they have 
passed by it ; the early light over the Adirondacks has gilded it, the 
red reflection of sunset has glowed back upon it ; its silent appeal has 
perpetually strengthened and sanctified that home — and as the two 
lately wedded sons went forth joj'fully on their father's call to keep 
their last pledge at Harper's Ferry, they issued from that doorway 
between their weeping wives on the one side and that ancestral stone 
upon the other. 


"The farm is a wild place ; cold and bleak. It is too cold to raise 
corn there ; they can scarcely, in the most favorable seasons, obtain 
a few ears for roasting. Stock must be wintered there nearly six 
months in every year. I was there on the first of N(j^vember ; the 
ground was snowy, and winter had apparently begun — and it would 
last till the middle of May. They never raise any thing to sell off 
that farm, except sometimes a few fleeces. It was well, they said, 
if they raised their own provisions, and could spin their own wool for 

"Do you ask why they lived in such a bleak spot? With John 
Brown and his family there is a reason for every thing, and it is always 
the same reason. Strike into their lives any where, and you find the 
same firm purpose at bottom, and to the widest questioning the same 
prompt answer comes ringing back, — the very motto of the tomb- 
stone — 'For adherence to the cause of freedom.' The same purpose, 
nay, the selfsame project that sent John Brown to Harjier's Ferry, 
sent him to the Adirondack. 

" Twenty years ago, John Brown made up his mind that there was 
an irrepressible conflict between Freedom and Slavery, and that in 
that conflict he must take his share. He saw at a glance, moreover, 
what the rest of us are only beginning to see, even now — that Slavery 
must be met, first or last, on its own ground. The time has come to 
tell the whole truth now — that John Brown's whole Kansas life was 
the result of this self-imposed mission, not the cause of it. Let us do 
this man justice ; he was not a vindictive guerilla, nor a maddened 
Indian ; nor was he of so shallow a nature that it took the death of 
a sort to convince him that right was right, and wrong was wrong. 
He had long before made up his mind to sacrifice every son he ever 
had, if necessary, in fighting Slavery. If it was John Brown against 
the world, no matter ; for, as his friend Frederick Douglass had truly 
Baidj "In the right, one is a majority." On this conviction, therefore, 



North Elba. 63 

le deliberately determined, twenty years ago this summer, that at 
some future period he would organize an armed party, go into a Slave 
State, and liberate a large number of slaves. Soon after, surveying 
)rofessionally in the mountains of Virginia, he chose the very ground 
or his purpose. Visiting Europe afterwards, he studied military 
trategy for this purpose, even making designs (which I have seen) 
or a new style of forest fortification, simple and ingenious, to be used 
)y parties of fugitive slaves when brought to bay. He knew the 
; jround, he knew his plans, he knew himself ; but where should he find 
. lis men ? He came to the Adirondack to look for them. 

" Ten years ago, Gerritt Smith gave to a number of colored men 
■ racts of ground in the Adirondack Mountains. The emigrants were 
: jrossly defrauded by a cheating surveyor, who, being in advance of 
] lis age, practically anticipated Judge Taney's opinion, that black men 
) lave no rights which white men are bound to respect. By his vil- 
] any the colony was almost ruined in advance ; nor did it ever recover 
itself; thougfa some of the best farms M'hich I have seen in that region 
I re still in the hands of colored men. John Brown heard of this ; he 
) imself was a surveyor, and he would have gone to the Adirondack, 
( r any where else, merely to right this wrong. But he had another 
< bject ; he thought that among these men he should find coadjutors in 
1 is cherished plan. He was not wholly wrong, and yet he afterwards 
] jarned something more. Such men as he needed are not to he found 
( rdinarily ; they must be reared. John Brown did not merely look 
i )r men, therefore ; he reared them in his sons. During long years of 
•< .-aiting and postponement, he found others ; but his sons and their 
1 -lends (the Thompsons) formed the nucleus of his force in all his 
( titerprises. What services the females of his family may have ren- 
( ered, it is not yet time to tell ; but it is a satisfaction to think that he 
A 'as repaid for his early friendship to these New York colored men, 
1 y some valuable aid from freed slaves and fugitive slaves at Harper's 
] erry ; especially from Dangerfield Newby, who, poor fellow ! had a 
£ avc wife and nine slave children to fight for, all within thiity miles 
c f that town. 

" To appreciate the character of the family, it is necessary to know 
t lese things ; to understand that they have all been trained from child- 
1 3od on this one principle, and for this one special project ; taught to 
\ ^lieve in it as they believed in their God or their father. It has given 
t lem a wider perspective than the Adirondacks. Yive years before, 
A hen they first went to Kansas, the father and sons had a plan of 
i .ling to Louisiana, trying this same project, and then retreating into 
■j exas with the liberated slaves. Nurtured on it so long, for years 
» crificing to it all the other objects of life, the thought of its failure 


North Elba. 

never crossed their minds ; and it is an extraordinary fact that when 
the disastrous neAvs first came to North Elba, the family utterly •v*>fused 
to believe it, and were saved from suffering by that incredulity till the 
arrival of the next weekly mail." 


" I had left the world outside, to raise the latch of this humble door 
amid the mountains ; and now my pen falters on the threshold, as my 
steps did then. This house is a home of sacred sorrow. How shall 
we enter it ? Its inmates are bereft and ruined men and women, as the 
world reckons ; what can we say to them ? Do not shrink ; you are 
not near the world ; you are near John Brown's household. ' In the 
world ye shall have tribulation ; but be of good cheer : they have 
overcome the world.' 

' ' It had been my privilege to live in the best society all my life — 
namely, that of abolitionists and fugitive slaves. I had seen the most 
eminent persons of the age : several men on whose heads tens of thou- 
sands of dollars had been set ; a black woman, who, after escaping 
from slavery herself, had gone back secretly eight times into the jaws 
of death to bring out persons whom she had never seen ; and a white 
man, who, after assisting away fugitives by the thousand, had twice 
been stripped of every dollar of his property in fines, and when 
taunted by the Court, had mildly said, ' Friend, if thee knows any 
poor fugitive in need of a breakfast, send him to Thomas Garrett's 
door.' I had known these, and such as these ; but I had not known 
the Browns. Nothing short of knowing them can be called a liberal 
education. Lord Byron could not help clinging to Shelley, because he 
said he was the only person in whom he saw any thing like disinter- 
ested benevolence. He really believed that that man would give his life 
for another. Poor Byron ! he might well have exchanged his wealth, 
his peerage, and his genius for a brief training at North Elba. 

" Let me pause a moment, and enumerate the members of the fam- 
ily. John Brown was born in 1800, and his wife in 1816, though both 
might have been supposed older than the ages thus indicated. He 
has had in all twenty children — seven being the offspring of his first 
wife, thirteen of his second. Eour of each race are living — eight in 
all. The elder division of the surviving family are John and Jason, 
both married, and living in Ohio ; Owen, unmarried, who escaped from 
Harper's Ferry, and Ruth, the wife of Henry Thompson, who lives 
on an adjoining farm at North Elba, an intelligent and noble woman. 
The younger division consists of Salmon, aged twenty-three, who 
resides with his young wife in his mother's house, and three unmar- 
ried daughters, Anne, (sixteen,) Sarah, (thirteen,) and Ellen, (five.) 

North Elba. 65' 

] n the same house dwell also the widows of the two slain sons — 
'oung girls, aged but sixteen and twenty. The latter is the sister of 
Henry Thompson, and of the two Thompsons who were killed at 

I larper's Ferry ; they also lived in the same vicinity, and one of them 
t Iso has left a widoAV. Thus complicated and intertangled is this 
J enealogy of sorrow. 

» ' All these young men went deliberately from. North Elba for no 
c ther purpose than to join in this enterprise. ' They could not,' 
t ley told their mother and their wives, * live for themselves alone;.' 
end so they went. One young wife, less submissive than the others, 
J revailed on her husband to remain ; and this is the only reason why 
Salmon Brown survives. • Oliver Brown, the youngest son, only 
tventy, wrote back to his wife from Harper's Ferry in a sort of pre- 

II lonition of what was coming, ' If I can do a single good action, my 
1; fe will not have been all a failure.' " 


*' Having had the honor of Captain Brown's acquaintance for some 
y .'ars, I was admitted into the confidence of the family, though I could 
B c them observing me somewhat suspiciously as I approached the 
d )or. Every thing that was said of the absent father and husband 
b )re testimony to the same simple, upright character. Though they 
h id been much separated from him for the last few years, they all felt it 
t< ' be a necessary absence, and had not only no complaint to make, but 
c )rdially approved it. Mrs. Brown had been always the sharer of his 
p ans. ' Her husband always believed,' she said, • that he was to be 
a 1 instrument in the hands of Providence, and she believed it too.' 
• This plan had occupied his thoughts and prayers for twenty years.' 
« Many a night he had lain awake, and prayed concerning it.' ' Even 
n )w,' she did not doubt, ' he felt satisfied, because he thought it would 
b ! overruled by Providence for the best.' • For herself,' she said, 
' ihe had always prayed that her husband might be killed in fight 
r ther than fall alive into the hands of slaveholders ; but she could 
n )t regret it now, in view of the noble words of freedom which it had 
b 'cn his privilege to utter.' When, the next day, on the railway, I 

V as compelled to put into her hands the newspaper containing the 
d ath warrant of her husband, I felt no fears of her exposing herself 
ti observation by any undue excitement. She read it, and then the 
ti 11, strong woman bent her head for a few minutes on the seat before 
13 1 ; then she raised it, and spoke calmly as before. 

"I thought that I had learned the lesson once for all in Kansas, 

V hich no one ever learns from books of history alone, of the read- 
i: ess with which danger and death fit into '•he ordinary grooves of 
d lily life, so that on the day of a battle, for instance, all may go on as 


66 North Elba. 

usual ; breakfast and dinner are provided, children cared for, and all-», 
external existence has the same smoothness that one observes at Niag- 
ara, just above the American Fall ; but it impressed me anew on visit- 
ing this household at this time. Here was a family out of which four 
noble young men had, within a fortnight, been killed. I say nothing 
of a father under sentence of death, and a brother fleeing for his life, 
but only speak of those killed. Now that word killed is a word which 
one hardly cares to mention in a mourning household circle, even under 
all mitigating circumstances, when sad unavailing kisses and tender 
funeral rites have softened the last memories ; how much less here, 
then, where it suggested not merely wounds, and terror, and agony, 
but also coffinless graves in a hostile land, and the last ignominy of 
the dissecting room. 

" Yet there was not one of that family who could not pronounce 
that awful word with perfect quietness ; never, of course, lightly, but 
always quietly. For instance, as I sat that evening, with the women 
busily sewing around me, preparing the mother for her sudden de- 
parture with me on the morrow, some daguerreotypes were brought 
out to show me, and some one said, ' This is Oliver, one of those who 
were killed at Harper's Ferry.' I glanced up sidelong at the young, 
fair-haired girl, who sat near me by the little table — a wife at fifteen, 
a widow at sixteen ; and this was her husband, and he was killed. 
As the words were spoken in her hearing, not a muscle quivered, and 
her finger did not tremble as she drew the thread. For her life had 
become too real to leave room for wincing at mere words. She had 
lived through, beyond the Avord, to the sterner fact, and having con- 
fronted that, language was an empty shell. To the Erowns, killing 
means simply dying — nothing more ; one gate into heaven, and that 
one a good deal frequented by their family ; that is all. 

"There was no hardness about all this, no mere stoicism of will; 
only God had inured them to the realities of things. They were not 
supported by any notions of worldly honor or applause, nor by that 
chilly reflection of it, the hope of future fame. In conversing with 
the difi'erent members of this family, I cannot recall a single instance of ._ 
m\\ heroics of that description. There, in that secluded home among 
the mountains, what have they to do with the world's opinion, even, 
now. still less next century ? You remember Carlyle and his French- 
man, to whom he was endeavoring to expound the Scottish Covenant- 
ers. ' These poor, persecuted people,' said Carlyle, — ' they made 
their appeal.' ' Yes,' interrupted the Frenchman, ' they appealed 
to posterity, no doubt.' ' Not a bit of it,' quoth Carlyle ; ' they 
appealed to the Eternal God ! ' So with these whom I visited, I waa; 
die first person who had penetrated their solitude from the outer 

I North Elba. 67 

W( rid since the thunderbolt had fallen. Do not imagine that they 
as ied, What is the world saying of us ? Will justice be done to the 
mi mory of our martyrs ? Will men build the tombs of the prophets ? 
W 11 the great thinkers of the age affirm that our father ' makes the 
ga lows glorious, like the cross ' ? * Not at all ; they asked but one 
qvi estion after I had told them how little hope there was of acquittal 
or rescue. Does it seem as if freedom were to gain or lose by thist 
Tl at was all. Their mother spoke the spirit of them all to aie, next 
daf, when she said, 'I have had thirteen children, and only four are 
lei t ; but if I am to see the ruin of my house, I cannot but hope that 
Pi ovidence may bring out of it some benefit to the poor slaves.' 

" No ; this family work for a higher price than fame. You know 
it is said that in all Wellington's despatches you never meet with the 
wiTd Glory ; it is always Duty. In Napoleon's you never meet with 
tho word Duty; it is always Glory. The race of John Brown is of 
th' '■ Wellington type. Principle is the word I brought away with me 
as most familiar in their vocabulary. That is their standard of classi- 
fic ition. A man may be brave, ardent, generous ; no matter — if he is 
no t all this from principle, it is nothing. The daughters, who knew 
al] the- Harper's Ferry men, had no confidence in Cook, because • he 
Wi s not a man of principle.' They would trust Stevens round the 
W( rid, because * he was a man of principle.' • He tries the hardest to 
be good,' said Annie Brown, in her simple way, • of any man I ever 
sa V.' 

•It is pleasant to add that this same brave-hearted girl, who had 
kr own most of her father's associates, recognized them all but Cook 
as being men of principle. ' People are surprised,' she said, ' at 
fa her's daring to invade Virginia with only twenty-three men ; but I 
th nk if they knew what sort of men they were, there would be less 
Bu -prise. / never saw such men.' f 

•' And it pleases me to remember that since this visit, on the day of 
63 Bcution, while our Worcester bells were tolhng their melancholy 
re rain, I took from the post office a letter from this same young girl, 
e> pressing pity and sorrow for the recreant Cook, and uttering the 
h( pe that allowances might be made for his conduct, • though 5he 
cc aid not justify it.' And on the same day I read that infuriated let- 
te of Mrs. Mahala Doyle — a letter which common charity bids us 

It was Emorson who uttered this truth of John Brown's death. J. R. 

It was 80 in Kansas " I never saw such men " outside of John Brown's camp aa 
1 1 iw when in it. When the old hero was last In Boston, I said of Cook : " lie is brave, 
ge lerous, but too tallcative, and without discretion ; he has no moral foundation for hi« 
bi very." " You've hit the uail, exactly, sir," he said. " That's just ray opinion of 
hi J." J. R. 

68 North Elba. 

suppose a forgery, uttering fiendish revenge in regard to a man, 
against whom, by her own showing, there is not one particle of eV' 
idence to identify him with her wrongs. Nothing impressed me mote 
in my visit to the Brown family, and in subsequent correspondenne 
with them, than the utter absence of the slightest vindictive spim, 
even in words." 


•' The children spoke of their father as a person of absolute rectitude, 
thoughtful kindness, unfailing foresight, and inexhaustible activity. 
On his flying visits to the farm, every moment was used ; he was ' up 
at three, A. M., seeing to every thing himself,' providing for every 
thing, and giving heed to the minutest points. It was evident that 
some of the older ones had stood a little in awe of him in their childish 
years. ' We boys felt a little pleased sometimes, after all,' said the 
son, ' when father left the farm for a few days.' ♦ We girls never 
did,' said the married daughter, reproachfully, the tears gushing to 
her eyes. ' Well,' said the brother, repenting, < we were always 
glad to see the old man come back again ; for if we did get more holi- 
days in his absence, we always missed him.' 

"Those dramatic points of character in him, which will of course 
make him the favorite hero of all American romance hereafter, are 
nowhere appreciated more fully than, in his own family. In the midst 
of all their sorrow, their strong and healthy hearts could enjoy the 
record of his conversations with the Virginians, and applaud the keen, 
wise, simple answers which I read to them, selecting here and there 
from the ample file of newspapers I carried with me. When, for in- 
stance, I read the inquiry, ' Did you go out under the auspices of the 
Emigrant Aid Society ? ' and the answer, ' No, sir ; I went out under 
the auspices of John Brown,' three voices eagerly burst in with, 
'That's true,' and 'That's so.' And when it was related that the 
young Virginia volunteer taxed him with want of military foresight in 
bringing so small a party to conquer Virginia, and the veteran imper- 
turbably informed the young man that probably their views on mili- 
tary matters would materially differ, there was a general delighted 
chorus of, ' That sounds just like father.' And his subliraer expres- 
sions of faith and self-devotion produced no excitement or surprise 
aming them — since they knew in advance all which we now know of 
him — and these things only elicited, at times, a half-stifled sigh as 
they reflected that they might never hear that beloved voice again. 

"References to their father were constant. This book he brought 
them ; the one sitting room had been plastered with the last money ho 
sent ; that desk, that gun, were his ; this was his daguerreotype ; and 
at last the rosy little Ellen brought me, Avith reverend hands, her prima 

North Elba. 69 

t: easure. It was a morocco case, enclosing a small Bible ; and in the 
b ;giiining, written in the plain, legible hand I knew so well, the fol- 
ic wing inscription, which would alone (in its touching simplicity) 
h ive been worthy the pilgrimage to North Elba to see. 

'♦ ' This Bible, presented to my dearly beloved daughter Ellen Brown, 
if- not intended for common use, but to be carefully preserved for her 
ai id by her, in remembrance of her father, (of whose care and atten- 
ti )ns she was deprived in her infancy,) he being absent in the Territory 
0: Kansas from the summer of 1855. 

" ' May the Holy Spirit of God incline your heart, in earliest child- 
h'od, "to receive the truth in the love of it," and to form your 
tl oughts, words, and actions by its wise and holy precepts, is my best 
tc'sh and most earnest prayer to Him in whose care I leave you. 
^ men. From your affectionate father, 

" 'April 2, 1857. John Brown.' 

«« This is dated two years ago ; but the principles which dictated it 
W3re permanent. Almost on the eve of his last battle, October 1, 
l! 59, he wrote home to his daughter Anne, in a letter which I saw, 
♦ . V.nne, I want you first of all to become a sincere, humble, and con- 
si stent Christian — and then [this is characteristic] to acquire good 
ai d efficient business habits. Save this, to remember your father by, 
A nne. God Almighty bless and save you all.' " 

JOHN brown's orthodoxy. 

" John Brown is almost the only radical abolitionist I have ever 
k lown Avho was not more or less radical in religious matters also. 
13 is theology was Puritan, like his practice ; and accustomed as we 
n iw are to see Puritan doctrines and Puritan virtues separately exhib- 
it d, it seems quite strange to behold them combined in one person 
a; ain. He and his wife were regular communicants of the Presby- 
ti ian church ; but it tried his soul to see the juvenile clerical gen- 
tl men who came into the pulpits up that way, and dared to call 
tl emsclves Presbyterians — preachers of the gospel with all the hard 
a] plications left out. Since they had lived in North Elba, his wife 
S( id but twice had the slave been mentioned in the Sunday services, and 
si e had great doubts about the propriety of taking part in such wor- 
sl ip as that. But when the head of the family made his visits home 
fi )m Kansas, he commonly held a Sunday meeting in the little church, 
' nder the auspices of John Brown,' and the Lord heard the slave 
n _'ntioned pretty freely then. 

" In speaking of religious opinions, Mrs. Brown mentioned two 

70 North Elba. 

preachers whose sermons her sons liked to read, and ' whose anti- 
slavery principles she enjoyed, though she could not agree with all 
their doctrines.' She seemed to regard their positions as essentially 
the same. I need not say who the two are — the thunders of Brook- 
IjTi and of Boston acquire much the same sound as they roll up among 
the echoes of the Adirondacks." 

«'In respect to politics, Mrs. Brown told me that her husband had 
taken little interest in them since the election of Jackson, because he 
thought that politics merely followed the condition of public sentiment 
on the slavery question, and that this public sentiment was mainly 
created by actual collisions between slavery and freedom. Such, at- 
least, was the view which I was led to attribute to him, by combining 
this fact which she mentioned with my own personal knowledge of 
his opinions. He had an almost exaggerated aversion to words and 
speeches, and a profound conviction of the importance of bringing all 
questions to a direct issue, and subjecting every theory to the test of 
practical application." 

"I did not, of course, insult Mrs. Brown by any reference to that 
most shallow charge of insanity against her husband, which some even 
of his friends have, with what seems most cruel kindness, encouraged, 
— thereby doing their best to degrade one of the age's prime heroes 
into a mere monomaniac, — but it may be well to record that she 
spoke of it with surprise, and said that if her husband were insane, he 
had been consistent in his insanity from the first moment she knew 

"Now that all is over, and we appear to have decided, for the present, 
not to employ any carnal v/eapons, such as steel or iron, for the rescue 
of John Brown, but only to use the safer metals of gold and silver for 
the aid of his family, it may be natural for those who read this narra- 
tive to ask. What is the pecuniary condition of this household ? It is 
hard to answer, because the whole standard is different, as to such 
matters, in North Elba and in Massachusetts. The ordinary condition 
of the BroAvn family may be stated as follows : They own the farm, 
such as it is, without incumbrance, except so far as unfelled forest 
constitutes one. They have ordinarily enough to eat of what the farm 
yields, namely, bread and potatoes, pork and mutton — not any great 
abundance of these, but ordinarily enough. They have ordinarily 
enougJ'' to wear, at least of woollen clothing, spun by themselves. 

North Elba. yt 

Ai ,d they have no money. When I say this I do not merely mean 
th: ,t they have no superfluous cash to go shopping with, but I mean 
ah lost literally that they have none. For nearly a whole winter, Mra. 
Bi Dwn said, they had no money with which to pay postage, except a 
diiy treasury which the younger girls had earned for that express 
ob ect, during the previous siunmer, by picking berries for a neighbor 
th] ee miles off. 

'The reason of these privations simply was, that it cose money to live 
in Kansas in ♦ adherence to the cause of freedom,' (see the tombstone 
in.' cription again,) but not so much to live at North Elba ; and there- 
foie the women must stint themselves that the men might continue 
thi ir Kansas work. But when the father came upon his visits, he 
ne 'er came empty-handed, but brought a little money, some plain 
ho isehold stores, flour, sugar, rice, salt fish ; tea and cofiee they do 
no ; use. But what their standand of expense is may be seen from 
th : fact that Mrs. Brown seemed to speak as if her youngest widowed 
da ightcr were not totally and absolutely destitute, because her hus- 
ba id had left a property of five sheep, which would belong to her. 
Tl ese sheep, I found on inquiry, were worth, at that place and season, 
tw 3 dollars apiece : a child of sixteen, left a widow in the world, with an 
esl ite amounting to ten dollars ! The immediate financial anxieties of 
M: s. Brown herself seemed chiefly to relate to a certain formidable tax 
bil I, due at New Year's time ; if they could only weather that, all was 
cl( it for the immediate future. How much was it, I asked, rather sur- 
pr sed that that wild country should produce a high rate of taxation. 
It tvas from eight to ten dollars, she gravely said ; and she had put by 
tei dollars for the purpose, but had had occasion to lend most of it to a 
po )r black woman, with no great hope of repayment. And one of the 
fir t thmgs done by her husband, on recovering his money in Virginia, 
•Wi 3 to send her, through me, fifteen dollars, to make sure of that 
ta; bill. 

' I see, on looking back, how bare and inexpressive this hasty narra- 
ti\ ) is ; but I could not bear to sufier such a privilege as this visit to 
pa s away unrecorded. I spent but one night at the house, and drove 
a\\ ay with Mrs. Brown, in the early frosty morning, from that breezy 
m< untain home, which her husband loved (as one of them told me) 
• b (cause he seemed to think there was something romantic in tliat 
ki) d of scenery.' There was, indeed, always a sort of thrill in John 
Bi )wn's voice when he spoke of mountains. I never shall forget the 
qt et way in which he once told me that • God had established the 
A" eghany Mountains from the foundation of the world that they 
m ?ht one day be a refuge for fugitive slaves.' I did not then know 
th t his own home was among the Adirondacks. 

72 North Elba. 

" Just before we went, I remember, I said something or cAher to 
Salmon Brown about the sacrifices of their family ; and he looked up 
in a quiet, manly way, which I shall never forget, and said briefly, ' I 
sometimes think that is what we came into the world for — to make 
sacrifices.' And I know that the murmuring echo of those words 
went with me all that day, as we came down from the mountains, and 
out through the iron gorge ; and it seemed to me that any one must be 
very unworthy the society Avhich I had been permitted to enter who 
did not come forth from it a wiser and a better man." 

From the family we learn that : 

"In 1851 John Brown and his family returned to Akron, Ohio, 
where he managed Itlr. Perkins's farm, and carried on the wool busi- 
ness. In 1855, on starting for Kansas, he again moved his house- 
hold to North Elba, where they still reside, and where his body lies 

At the Agricultural Fair of Essex County, for 1850, a great sensation was created by 
the unlooked-for appearance on the grounds of a beautiful herd of Devon cattle. They 
were the first that had been exhibited at the county festival, and every one was sur- 
prised and delighted at the incident. The inquiry was universal, Whose are these 
cattle, and from whence do they come? The surprise and excitement were not dimin- 
ished when it was understood that a certain John Brown was the owner, and that he 
resided in the town of North Elba. The report of the society for that year contains the 
following reference to that event : " The appearance upon the grounds of a number 
of very choice and beautiful Devons, from the herd of Mr. John Brown, residing in one 
of our most remote and secluded towns, attracted great attention, and added much to 
the interest of the fair. The interest and admiration they excited have attracted public 
attention to the subject, and have already resulted in the introduction of several choice 
animals into this region. We have no doubt that this influence upon the character 
of the stock of our county will be permanent and decisive." (Trans. 1850, page 229.) 

The writer of this article soon after opened a correspondence with Brown in relation 
to these cattle. His reply is now before me. The letter is written in a strong and 
vigorous hand, and by it« orthography, accurate punctuation, aud careful arrangement 
of paragraphs, evinces far more than ordinary taste and scholarship. I consider it 
remarkable, not only for the force and precision of the language, for a business letter, 
and for the distinctness of its statements, but equally for its sound sense and honesty 
of representation. I think I am not wrong in the impression that an extract will 
interest your readers, as illustrating the former habits and pursuits of a man who has 
impressed an ill-omened episode upon our national history. 

" Your favor of the 30th of September came on seasonably ; but it was during my 
absence in Ohio, so that I could not reply sooner. In the first place, none of ray 
cattle are pure Devons, but are a mixture of that and a particular favorite stock from 
Connecticut, a cross of which I much prefer to any pure English cattle after many 
years' experience of different breeds of imported cattle. « * * i was several 
months in England last season, and saw no one stock on any farm that would average 
better than my own, and would like to have you see them all together."— Correspon- 
dence of the JWw York Observer, 

^O0k BttaA 


26. And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, . . . 
Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of 
the living God ? 

32. And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of 
him ; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine. 

42. And when the Philistine looked about and saw David, he dis- 
dained him. 

43. And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 

44. And the Philistine said to David, Come to me and I will give 
thy flesh unto the fowls of the air and to the beasts of the field. 

45. Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a 
sWord, and with a spear, and with a shield ; but I come to thee in the 
name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom 
thou hast defied. 

46. This day will the Lord deliver thee into my hands : and I will 
smite thee, and take thine head from thee ; and I will give the car- 
casses of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the ail 
and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that 
there is a God in Israel. 

60. Thereupon David ran and stood upon the Philistine, and took 
his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut 
off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their cham- 
pion was dead, they fled. — I Samuel, Chapter xvii. 


The Lord's First Call. 

fPHE 25th day of May, 1854, was a day of great 
.L sorrow, and of the wildest exultation at Wash- 
i igton. An infamous statute had been still more 
i ifamously repealed. Thirty-four years before this 
t le passage of the Kansas-Nebraska act, — the repre- 
sjntatives of the nation, in Congress assembled, for 
t le first time in our history, and in defiance of the 
iioral sentiment of Cliristendom, as well as in opposi- 
t on to the noblest instincts of human nature, and, 
r 3sting on them, the spirit of the Federal Constitution, 
E )lemnly — as they phrased it — and forever prohibited 
t le existence of slavery " in all that territory which 
1 es north of thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes ; " 
\ ut, by the same law, as a " compromise " with the 
i outh, established and legalized her organized and 
( istinguishing crime in that portion of the Union now 
1 nown as Missouri. Triumphant crime is never satis- 
1 ed with temporary advantages. Missouri now se* 
( ured, the South coveted Kansas, the most fertile por- 
1 ion of the remaining territory. By the pliancy of 
! Northern politicians, the compromise was repealed, and 


76 The Lord's Firft Call. 

Kansas and Nebraska thrown open for settlement. 
The vital and moral question of the extension of sla- 
very, it was pretended, in justice to " the people," 
should be settled solely, and could only constitutionally 
be determined by the first inhabitants themselves. 
This atrocious doctrine, so revolting to every Christian 
or manly heart, was euphoniously designated, in the 
act of repeal and organization, the right to " form 
their domestic institutions in their own way, subject 
only to the constitution of the United States." Thus 
the nation solemnly repudiated the validity of the will 
of God, disregarded the principles of the Revolutionary 
Fathers, and ignored the venerated maxim of the com- 
mon law, that all immoral statutes are void. The 
enslaving of God's poor children ; the traffic in human 
souls and bodies ; the forced, frequent, and final sep- 
aration of families ; the violation of all marital obliga- 
tions — all the crimes of which slavery is the source, 
and by which it is supported : the expansion and per- 
petuation of the sum of all villanies, were questions, 
this instrument declared, which should be settled by 
the squatters alone, " subject only to the constitution 
of the United States." For, that the authors of the 
bill intended nothing else or more, was admitted in all 
their subsequent discussions ; by the President in his 
message ; and by the South and the Government, in all 
their actions. Non-intervention was the order of the 
day. Great and undisguised was the rejoicing at the 
South ; for they thought that Kansas was now secured 
to them forever. 

But, in the North, the indignation of the people, 

The Lord's Firft Call. 77 

thus treacherously defrauded of the territorial bribe 
that had been tendered long ago for the surrender of 
Missouri, was organized into societies for the en- 
'iouragement of emigration, and it was every where 
determined, that, if the pioneers or first denizens of 
!iansas should pronounce the doom of slavery there, 
1 he Free States should have a voice and a vote in the 
folemn and momentous decision. 

J J, Emigration flowed rapidly into Kansas, both from 
the North and South. But, for a long time, all the 
{ dvantages were on the side of slavery. Missouri, — 
1 er borders on Kansas peopled with semi-barbarous 
1 uffians, — was the jealous guardian of the interests, 
£ nd a fit representative of the Southern States. Every 
c bstacle was soon thrown in the way of the Northern 
€ migrants. They were driven back ; they were tarred 
a ad feathered ; their claims were seized ; their cabins 
V ere burned down ; they were often ordered, by com- 
E littees of Southern emigrants, or the Missouri rabble, 
t > leave the Territory at once, under penalty of death. 
i single paragraph from a single speech by one of the 
a sknowlcdged champions of the South, will better 
i] lustrate their early career in Kansas, than even an 
e :tended account of their outrages. It is from a 
s; 'eech delivered at St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1854, by 
G eneral Stringfellow,* a prominent citizen of that van- 
d il state : 

j« '« I tell you to mark every scoundrel among you who is the least 
ta nted with abolitionism, or free soilism, and exterminate him. Nei- 
tl !r give nor take quarter from the d — d rascals. To those who have 

» This is an assumed titl« ; he had no right to it ; he proved him- 
•e f a great coward. 

7 * 

78 ^ tbS's Firit Call. 

qualms of conscience as to violating laws, state or national, say, the 
time has come when such impositions must be disregarded, as your 
rights and property are in danger. I advise you, one and all, to enter 
every election district in Kansas, in defiance of Reeder and his myr- 
midons, and vote at the point of the bowie knife and revolver. Nei- 
ther take nor give quarter, as the cause demands it. It is enough that 
the slaveholding interest wills it, from which there is no appeal." 

This advice, reiterated by every paper and politician 
in the Platte Purchase, — which vras preeminently the 
border ruffian region, — was translated into action on 
the 29th of November, 1854, at the first election ever 
held in Kansas for a delegate to Congress. Seventeen 
hundred men from Missouri marched over the border 
and voted in the Territory for the pro-slavery can^ 

The news of this crime against republican institu- 
tions excited the renewed indignation of the North. 
Liberty-loving hearts were every where moved by it. 
Instead of deterring, it incited emigration. Among 
the brave pulses thus stirred were those of the family 
of old John Brown. '^^ ^aoiiobg : 

" In 1854, the four eldest sons of John Brown,* 
named John, Jr., Jason, Owen, and Frederick, all chil- 
dren by a first wife, then living in Ohio, determined to 
remove to Kansas. John, Jr., sold his place, a very 
desirable little property near Akron, in Summit County. 
The other two sons held no landed property, but both 
were possessed of some valuable stock, (as were also 
the two first named,) derived from that of their father, 
which had been often noticed by liberal premiums, 
both in the State of New York and also of Ohio. 

* This is a quotation from a manuscript in John Brown's hand- 
writing, foimd at his house near Harper's Ferry. 

The Lord's Firft Call. 79 

>^j " Jason Brown had a yery valuable collection of 
grape vines, and also of choice fruit trees, which he 
took up and shipped in boxes at a heavy cost. The 
two first named, John and Jason, had both families. 
Owen had none. Frederick was engaged to be married, 
and was to return with his wife. In consequence of 
an extreme dearth in 1854, the crops in Northern Ohio 
were almost an entire failure, and it was decided by 
the four brothers that the two youngest should take 
the teams and entire stock, cattle and horses, and move 
them to South-Western Illinois to winter, and to have 
them on early in the spring of 1855. This was done 
at very considerable expense, and with some loss of 
stock to John, Jr., some of his best stock having been 
.^»len on the way. 

(ft - « The wintering of the animals was attended with 
great expense, and with no little suffering to the two 
youngest brothers, one of whom, Owen, being to some 
extent a cripple from childhood, by an injury of the 
right arm, and Frederick, though a very stout man, 
was subject to periodical sickness for many years, 
attended with insanity. It has been publicly stated 
that he was idiotic ; nothing could be more false. He 
had subjected himself to a most dreadful surgical 
operation but a short time before starting for Kansas, 
which had well nigh cost him his life ; and was but 
just through with his confinement when he started on 
his journey, pale and weak. They were obliged to 
husk corn all winter, out of doors, in order to obtain 
fodder for their animals. 

"Solomon Brown, a very strong minor sou of the 

8o The Lord's Firft Call. 

family, eighteen years of age, was sent forward early 
in 1855, to assist the two last named, and all three 
arrived in Kansas early in the spring. During this 
slow journey with their stock across the entire width 
of Missouri, they heard much from her people of tlie 
stores of wrath and vengeance which were then and 
there gathering for the free state men and abolitionists 
gone or going to Kansas, and were themselves often 
admonished, in no very mild language, to stop ere 4% 
should be ' too late.' " 

They settled near the Pottawattomie, a little stream 
in Southern Kansas, in Lykins County, about eight 
miles distant from the site of Ossawattomie, which 
their father subsequently converted into classic ground. 
Of the hardships they endured, and the outrages in- 
jQicted on them by the champions of slavery, their 
father, in the paper above quoted, gave a detailed 
account ; but as to have published it would have dam- 
aged the democratic party in the elections then pend- 
ing, we are told that " a portion of the manuscript was 
lost," and that " the history was of considerable length, 
but did not further possess special interest." 

" The brothers," writes a friend of the family, 
" were all free state men in opinion ; but, removing 
thither with the intention of settling there, went with- 
out arms. They were harassed, plundered, threat- 
ened, and insulted by gangs of marauding border ruf- 
fians, with whom the prime object was plunder ; and 
noisy pro-slavery partizanship was equivalent to a free 
charter to do so with impunity. The sons wrote to 
their father, requesting him to procure such arms as 

The Lord's Firft Call. 8l 

night enable them, in some degree, to protect ihem- 
s ilves, and personally to bring them to Kansas." 

It was not in the nature of John Brown to resist this 
petition. He undoubtedly regarded it as a call from 
t le Almighty to gird up his loins and go forth to do 
battle " as the warrior of the Lord," as " the warrior 
of the Lord against the mighty," in behalf of His de- 
s oised poor and His downtrodden people. The moment 
1 )ng waited for had at length arrived ; the sign he had 
j: atiently expected had been given ; and the brave old 
s )ldier of the God of Battles prepared at once to obey 
t le summons. 

A meeting of abolitionists was held in a county 
adjoining Essex, New York, in the summer of 1855. 
' When in session, John Brown appeared in that con- 
vention, and made a very fiery speech, during which 
\ e said he had four sons in Kansas, and had three 
ethers who were desirous of going there, to aid in 
f ghting the battles of freedom. He could not consent 
t ) go unless he could go armed, and he would like to 
e rm all his sons ; but his poverty prevented him from 
c oing so. Funds were contributed on the spot ; prin-, 
•( ipally by Gerritt Smith." 

He had only two objects in going to Kansas : first, 
1 ) begin the work for which, as he believed, he had 
I een set apart, by so acting as to acquire the confidence 
( f the friends of freedom, who might thereby subse- 
( uently aid him; and, secondly, because, to use his 
( wn language, " with the exposure, privations, hard-- 
i hips, and wants of pioneer life, he was familiar, and 
1 liought he could benefit his children, and the new 

82 The Lord's Firlt Gall. 

beginners from the older parts of the country, and 
help them to shift and contrive in their new home." 

John Brown did not go to Kansas to settle there. 
Already, elsewhere, I have made this statement ; and 
have seen it doubted by men who are friendly to him 
— not from knowledge of his motives, but the dictates 
of policy — because democratic journals and pro-slavery 
politicians have sought to create a prejudice against 
him for having voluntarily gone to Kansas, and solely 
to fight the battles of freedom : as if it had been a 
crime or a disgrace, instead of an illustrious, patriotic, 
and Christian act for a Northern man to defend North- 
ern rights ; for an anti-slavery champion to oppose by 
the sword the armed propagandists of slavery ; for a 
believer in the Bible to emulate "the examples of Moses, 
Joshua, and Gideon, and obey the solemn utterances 
of the Most High God. Believing God to be a Being 
infallible and unchangeable ; believing that He once 
had ordered His enemies to be smitten hip and thigh ; 
believing that the Ever Just had commanded liberty 
to be proclaimed " throughout all the land, unto all 
the inhabitants thereof;" John Brown did not dare 
to remain tending sheep at North Elba when the 
American Goliath and his hosts were in the field, 
defying the little armies of the living Lord, and sowing 
desolation and great sorrow on the soil set apart 
for his chosen people. Either Freedom has no rights, 
and the Bible is a lie, or John Brown, in thus acting, 
was a patriot and a consistent Christian. 


The Work Begun. 

BEFORE John Brown reached Kansas, the South 
had thrown off its flimsy disguises. Its hyp- 
ocritical pretence of enabling the people to determine 
the nature of " their own domestic institutions " — 
that is to say, in honest English, to establish or pro- 
hibit the cowardly crime of American slavery — was 
finally abandoned in the month, and on the fourth, of 
March, 1856 ; when, instead of permitting the inhabit- 
ints of the Territory " freely '' to vote for the members 
Df their legislature, four thousand nine hundred and 
3ight non-residents, citizens of Missouri, invaded Kan- 
sas, and controlled the elections at every precinct save 
)ne.* They elected several men who did not live in 
Kansas ; who never intended to settle there ; who are 
citizens of Missouri still. The writer was present at 
:he first session of the legislature thus chosen, and saw 
t pass laws establishing human slavery, and punishing 

* Manhattan. It was distant a hundred miles, and more, from Mis- 
iouri ; and the company elected to control it remained at home, u; 
)rder to watch the movements of Colonel Park, imtil it was too 
ate to go to their appointed post. 


84 The Work Begun. 

" offences " against it — such as Hberating negroes — 
with the penalty of death ; prohibiting, by incarceration 
in the penitentiary, the exercise of the rights of free 
speech and a free press ; excluding Northern (if anti- 
slavery) men from the bar, the bench, the ballot box, 
and the jury chamber ; and many other statutes, 
transcribed from Southern codes, of equal moral 
atrocity and despotic character. 

The Free State men declared that they would never 
recognize the code thus compiled, or obey the executive 
officers, whom, by an unprecedented usurpation, this 
legislature had chosen to enforce its statutes. 

During the last week of November, 1855, an inci- 
dent occurred to test the sincerity of the Free State 
men. A cowardly murder was committed by a person 
named Coleman, a pro-slavery settler, on Mr. Dow, a 
quiet New England emigrant. The authorities, instead 
of arresting the assassin, leagued themselves with him ; 
and seized an innocent Free State squatter, in order to 
have him rescued in Lawrence — the Boston of the 
prairies — that, thereby, they might have a plausible 
excuse for calling on Missouri to destroy the town, 
under the pretence of enforcing the territorial laws. 
The prisoner was unexpectedly rescued several miles 
from Lawrence ; but, despite of this accident, the 
"territorial militia" — as the rabble from Missouri 
was officially styled — were called to arms; and, in 
December, Lawrence was invested by a force of fifteen 
hundred armed men. 

Not more than seventy-five, at any time, were resi- 
dents of Kansas " Missouri," confessed Governor 

The Work Begun. 85 

^^hannon, " sent not only her young men, but her gray- 
1 aired citizens were there ; the man of seventy winters 
stood shoulder to shoulder with the youth of sixteen." 

The writer and three companions were taken pris- 
oners at this period, a few miles from Lawrence, by a 
c )mpany of eighteen men, who were presently joined 
by a still larger number ; and not one of them, as their 
h ader confessed, was, or had ever been, a resident of 
B ansas, or had any social or pecuniary interest in its 
p 'esent or future prosperity. 

To Lawrence at once repaired the fighting men from 
e ^ery district of the Territory. Five hundred Free State 
n en were soon gathered there, drilled daily, and pre- 
pired to defend the town to a " bloody issue." The 
S )uthern invaders, although three to one, and armed 
with United States muskets, — although furnished with 
li !avy artillery, and liavmg horsemen in great num-fi) 
bi I's, were afraid to altack the free men of the North 
ir Lawrence assembled. Governor Shannon, alarmed . 
ai the tempest he had raised but could not control^ f 
h istened up from the Shawnee Mission to effect a com- 
p omise with the leaders of the rebels. He saw hun- 
d eds of ruffians around Lawrence armed with guns, 
w lich they acknowledged to have stolen from a 
L nited States arsenal in Missouri ; yet he never com- 
p ained of them, and none of them have ever been 
ii dieted or arrested, although the affidavits attesting 
tl e fact of the robbery are in the archives of Govern- 
n ent, and the perpetrators of it are well-known per 
s< ns, men of influence and position in the border 
d stricts. 

86 The Work Begun. 

This army encamped around Lawrence nearly two 
weeks. The Free State boys were impatient for a 
fight. But it was the policy of the leaders to avoid 
a collision, if possible ; or, at least, to compel the 
enemy to commence the conflict. 

" When the siege was pending," writes an eye 
witness, " the old man, John Brown, and his four sons, 
arrived in Lawrence. The balance he reported sick. 
As they drove up in front of the Free State hotel, they 
were all standing in a small lumber wagon. To each 
of their persons was strapped a short, heavy broad- 
sword. Each was supplied with a goodly number of 
fire-arms and navy revolvers, and poles were standing 
endwise around the wagon box, with fixed bayonets 
pointing upwards. They looked really formidable, and 
were received with great eclat. A small military com- 
pany was organized at once, and the command was 
given to Old Brown. From that moment, he com- 
menced fomenting difficulties in camp, disregarding 
the command of superior officers, and trying to induce 
the men to go down to Franklin, and make an attack 
upon tlie pro-slavery forces encamped there. The Com- 
mittee of Public Safety were called upon several times 
to head off his wild adventure, as the people of Law- 
rence had planted themselves on the law, claiming that 
they had not been guilty of its infraction, and that no 
armed body of men should enter the town for any pur- 
pose whatever, and that they would not go out of town 
to attack any such body. Peace was established, and 
Old Brown retired in disgust." 

I have quoted this passage rather to contrast it 

The Work Begun. 87 

'dth the ideas of John Brown than for the facts that it 
contains, and to show the timid spirit of politicians as 
<;onipared with the undaunted bearing of earnest, truth- 
devoted men. The Free State party, when it first met, 
resolved unanimously and with unbounded enthusiasm 
i resist the enforcement of the invader's code : if need 
]>e — "to a bloody issue." Now that the test came, 
ihe people were armed and ready to translate their res- 
( lution into revolution ; to repeat their acclamations 
(f that brave determination through the muzzles of 
their rifles and with the edges of their swords. But 
the politicians quibbled ; sought other grounds to stand 
( n ; " planted themselves on the law ; " restrained the 
f rdor of the people which sought to drive the ruffians 
1 omeward or to the grave ; saw the good Thomas Bar- 
l er murdered in the open day for the crime of liaving 
■\ isited their town ; and yet, with hundreds of invaders 
c f their soil within sight, who were sacking their cabins 
t nd robbing and imprisoning their citizens, they calmly 
* urged them not to allow the daily outrages to drive 
t lem to commence hostilities ! " * 

The leading military man made frequent fierce 
B )eeches ; but, as the Kansas phrase is, " they all fizzled 
c at" — in urging inaction. He loved to have the citi- 
z nis under arms, for in tumults he was king ; while 
t le leading politician dreaded war for the sake of the 
r spublican party. 

John Brown was not of this spirit. Slavery to him 
\ as a heinous crime, and its propagandists the enemie? 

• See Conquest of Kansas, by William Phillips, p. 214. 

88 The Work Begun. 

of his God ; and with hosts of such men embattled 
and in view, who added to their championship of sla- 
very the additional crime of invading the soil set apart 
for freedom, he did not hesitate to express his contempt 
for the "Committee of Safety" — most of them ox- 
intellects, vainly striving to fill an office fit for lion- 
hearts only — and to denounce the political preachers 
of peace as recreant to their recent and loudly-vaunted 
resolutions. He went out once with a dozen men to 
meet the Missouri invaders — " to draw a little blood," 
as he styled it — but, at the earnest entreaties of Gen- 
eral Lane, he returned to the town without doing it. 

Lane sent for him to attend a council of war. The 
reply was characteristic of the brave old man, who 
despised all manner of assumptions with no fact be- 
hind them to give them vitality and a title to respect. 

" Tell the General," he said, " that when he wants 
me to fight, to say so : but that is the only order I will 
ever obey." * 

Governor Shannon soon arrived in Lawrence, and 
was duly made drunk by the sagacious Free State 
leaders. While in this condition, or approaching it, he 

* To better understand John Bro^vn's reasons for despising the 
commands of these so-called " superior officers," it may be necessary 
for some minds to know his opinions of the two chief leaders : 

•♦ I am sorry for friend Lane," he remarked, as we were speaking of 
his blustering style of oratory; "I am afraid he does not respect 

Of the other prominent leader, Dr. Robinson, as some radicals were 
speaking of his subsequent conservatism, he said, "What a pity it is, 
that men when they begin life, should not get hold of some fixed 
principle-* — make up their minds that they are right, and then hold 
on t(. them ! He did not do that. That is his fault." 

The Work Begun. 89 

iiade a treaty with General Lane and Dr. Robinson, in 
)ehalf of the "abohtion rebels;" and, after giiaran- 
eeing that he would disperse the Missourians, or 
lake from them, at least, the cover of legality, he au- 
ihorized these gentlemen to " take such measures, and 
use the enrolled force under their command in such 
manner, for the preservation of the peace, and protcc- 
1 ion of the persons and property of the people of Law- 
1 ence and vicinity, as, in their judgment, should be§t 
fecure that end." * 

This negotiation undoubtedly exhibited both diplo- 
iiatic tact and Yankee ingenuity; but John Brown, a 
] rophet by virtue of his purity of life and devotion to 
i leas, foresaw that it was in fact a coming victory to 
the South. For what was this enrolment of the Free 
S: tate men but a tacit acknowledgment of Southern 
t surpation ? 

Governor Shannon, on recovering from his drunken- 
1 ess, made a speech to the people assembled in Law- 
1 3nce. He said, — 

"There was a part of the people of this Territory, who denied the 
t ilidity of the laws of the' Territorial Legislature. He was not there 
t urge that validity, but these laws should be submitted to until a 
1 gal tribunal set them aside. He did not see how there was any 
c lurse but such submission to them, and it certainly was not his part, 
a an executive officer, to set them aside or disregard them. He Avas 
h ippy to announce that, after having an interview with the officers of 
t] eir Committee of Safety, he had induced thera thus far to respect 
^ ose laws, they being willing to see them enforced, provided they had 
tl e reserved right of testing and escaping from them legally. He 

* Kansas, Its Interior and Exterior Life, &c., by Mrs. Sara T. I/, 
f )binBon, p. 154. 

go The Work Begun. » 

was happy to announce that all difficulties were settled. (Fuint 
cheers.) There was a perfect understanding between the Executive 
and the Committee." 

Lane uttered a few fiery sentences, "which were 
cheered heartily," when Dr. Robinson was called for ; 
who is reported as having " nothing to say but that 
tliey had taken an honorable position." 

I now quote the book of Mr. William Phillips, the 
most trustworthy historian of Kansas as to facts : 
"There was an evident suspicion among the people 
that the negotiations had been closed too easily, and 
that their leaders had concealed something. 

" Captain Brown got up to address the people ; but 
a desire was manifested to prevent his speaking". Amid 
some little disturbance, he demanded to know what the 
terms were. If he understood Governor Shannon's 
speech, something had been conceded, and he conveyed 
the idea that the Territorial laws were to be observed. 
Those laws they denounced and spit upon, and would 
never obey — no ! 

" Here the speaker was interrupted by the almost 
universal cry. No, no ! Down with the bogus laws. 
Lead us down to fight first ! 

" Seeing a young revolution on the tapis, the influ- 
ential men assured the people that there had been no 
concession. They had yielded nothing. They had 
siirrendered nothing to the usurping Legislature. 
"With these assurances the people were satisfied and 
withdrew. At that time it was determined to keep the 
treaty secret, but before many days it was suflSciently 

The Work Begun. 91 

iiiitiTlie politicians feared the old man, knowing that 
neither cunning nor duplicity would please him. 
Hence their desire to prevent his speaking ; hence 
their determination to keep the Treaty secret ; hence 
their unblushing announcement that nothing had been 

This Treaty, when published, justified the old man's 
mspicions. By an adroit but dishonest use of the 
Dhrases, " legal process " and " the laws," the Treaty 
was susceptible of a double interpretation ; the most 
)bvious and honest one, construing them to refer to 
Territorial enactments and Territorial legal instru- 
nents ; while the other, or the Free State translation, 
•endered it Federal laws and Federal processes only. 

John Brown ever afterwards regretted that he re- 
iurned at General Lane's request, and maintained 
hat this Treaty, and the policy which led to it, only 
served to postpone the inevitable conflict then rapidly 
ipproaching, and to demoralize the spirit of the Free 
State party. It occasioned, he thought, the death of 
nany Northern men, whom, encouraged by this com- 
Dromising action, the marauders, on their return, mur- 
iered in cold blood or in desultory warfare. 

" I have often heard him lament," says an able cor- 
respondent of the New York Tribune, " the loss of this 
ihance, with the most earnest sincerity. The odds of 
ive to one he accounted as nothing. ' What are fiye 
one ? ' said he, ' when our men would be fighting for 
iheir wives, their children, their homes and their liber- 
ies against a party, one half of whom were mercenary 
vagabonds, who enlisted for a mere frolic, lured on by 

92 The Work Begun. 

the whiskey and the bacon, and a large portion of the 
others had gone under the compulsion of opinion and 
proscription, and because they feared being denounced 
as abolitionists if they refused ? '" 

The politicians * called John Brown an " impractica- 
ble man," but their own subsequent history, and the 
history of Lawrence, afford an ample vindication of his 
conduct at this crisis. His predictions, in less than a 
year, were historical facts. 744 i >iK*i 

* The following amusing paragraph occurs in a Life of John Brown, 
written by a Republican politician, and published in the New York 
Herald. To spare an old acquaintance from ridicule, I omit a few 
words only. 

"In December, 1855, during the ' Shannon war,' Brown first made 
his appearance among the Free State men at Lawrence. His entrance 
into the place at once attracted the attention of the people towards him. 
He brought a wagon load of cavalry sabres, and was accompanied by 
twelve men, seven of whom were his own sons. He first exhibited his 
qualities at the time the Free State and pro-slavery parties, under the 
lead of Governor Robinson on one side, and Governor Shannon on the 
other, met to make a treaty of peace. After Governor Robinson had 
stated to the people who were gathered around the hotel the terms of 
the peace. Brown took the stand uninvited, and opposed the terms of 
the treaty. He was in favor of ignoring all treaties, and such leading 
men as Robinson, Lane, &c., and, proceeding at once against the bor- 
der ruffian invaders, drive them from the soil, or hang them if taken. 
The chairman of the Committee of Safety ordered Brown under arrest. 
The latter made no physical resistance, but it teas soon discovered that 
he was alto ff ether too combustible a person to retain as a prisoner, and a 
compromise was made with him by the Free State men, and he was re- 
leased. He was informed by the leaders of that party that his remarks 
were intended to undo what they were trying to accomplish by means 
of the treaty ; that he was a stranger in Lawrence and Kansas, and 
ought not, by his rash remarks, to compromise the people of Law- 
rence, until he had known them longer and knew them better." 


"Southern Rights to All." 

rnHE siege of Lawrence raised, the ruffians, on re 
.L turning homeward, on the 15th of December, 1855, 
destroyed the Free State ballot box at Leavenworth; 
a ad, on the 20tli, threw the press and types of the Ter- 
ritorial Register^ the political organ of the author of 
t le Kansas-Nebraska act, into the muddy streets of tlie 
1 ttle town, and the still muddier bed of the Missouri 
J iver. The leaders of the riot did the writer of this 
T olume the honor to say that the outrage was occa- 
8 oned by an offensive paragraph emanating from his 
J en, and expressed themselves exceedingly solicitous to 
E;e him dangling in the air — for daring " freely " to 
exercise the rights of a free press ! This was my first 
J ablic honor ; a good beginning, I hoped, for a friend 
( f the slave ; and one which, ever since, I have striven 
t ) deserve. 

The election, thus riotously interrupted by the ruf 
f ans at Leavenworth, was held under the auspices of a 
> oluntary political organization ; and the question sub- 
] litted was — Shall the Topeka Constitution be re- 
j 5cted or sustained ? 


94 "Southern Rights to All." . 

The Topeka Constitution, ever intrinsically value- 
less, but sacred as the rallying standard of the Free 
State men, was an instrument which originated in the 
ostensible and vaunted principles of the Organic Act — 
the right of a people, inhabiting a Territory, to form 
their own domestic institutions in their own way ; among 
which, if there had been any honesty in the framers of the 
Bill, or the advocates of the doctrine, the right of choos- 
ing a Governor, Judges, Legislators, Executive State 
officers and ' municipal functionaries must inevitably 
have been included. Assuming the good faith of the 
framers of the Act, the Free State men proceeded to 
carry out its principles — first, by repudiating the code 
of enactments compiled by the invaders, and deny- 
ing the authority of the officers they had elected and 
appointed to execute them ; and, secondly, by calling 
on the pioneers to choose representatives to a Conven- 
tion to be held at Topeka, for the purpose of forming a 
State Constitution. The squatters did so ; the Topeka 
Constitution was adopted ; and, on the 15th of January, 
1856, an election under it, for State officers and legis- 
lators, was held throughout the Territory. 

The pro-slavery Mayor at Leavenworth forbade an 
election being held there. But there was one man, — 
Captain R. P. Brown, — as brave a hero as his venera- 
ble namesake — who determined to resist this tyranny ; 
and, on the adjournment of the polls to a neighboring 
town, went out there with a few friends to defend the 
rights of free men. The Kickapoo Rangers, a ruffianly 
gang of Southern desperadoes, marched out there also ; 
a skirmish ensued ; they were successfully resisted and 

"Southern Rights to All." g^ 

t riven back ; but Captain Brown, on the following day, 
i I returning home, was surrounded by an overwhelm- 
i ig force ; and, at the earnest entreaty of his compan- 
ions, although against his own judgment, surrendered 
I nder a promise that theirpersons should be safe. 

" But the moment this was complied with," writes 
^[r. Phillips, whose every statement I know to be cor- 

•'The terms were violated. One yoTing man -vpas knocked down, 
a id a ruffian was going to cut him with his hatchet, (the Kickapoo 
I angers carried hatchets,) but was prevented by the Captain of the 
C ompany. The prisoners were taken back to Easton ; but Brown was 
B' parated from them, and put in an adjoining building. A rope was 
p irchased at the store, and was shown to the prisoners, with the inti- 
n ation that they should be hanged with it. ... It was fiercely dis- 
c issed for hours what should be done Avith them ; and meanwhile 
li |uor was drank pretty freely ; and they who were brutal enough 
V ithout any thing to make them more so, became ungovernably fierce. 
t nwilling that all of these men should be murdered, the Captain 
a lowed the other prisoners to escape. One of them hastened to Fort 
I savenworth, in hopes of getting some troops to go and rescue Brown ; 
b it it was a vain attempt — such protection was refused. Then fol- 
ic wed a scene of atrocity and horror. Captain Brown had surrendered 
h s arms, and was helpless. His enemies, who dared not face him the 
n ght before, though they had a superior force, now crowded round 
h m. When they began to strike him, he rose to his feet, and asked to 
b permitted to fight any one of them. He challenged them to pit hinw 
a ainst their best man — he would fight for his life ; but not one of the 
c wards dared thus to give the prisoners a chance. Then he volun- 
t( ?red to fight two, and then three ; but it was in vain. . . . These 
n 3n, or rather demons, rushed around Brown, and literally hacked him 
ti death with their hatchets. One of the rangers, a large, coarse-look- 
ii 5 wretch named Gibson, inflicted the fatal blow — a large hatchet 
g sh in the side of the head, which penetrated the skull and brain many 
ii ches. The gallant Brown fell, and his remorseless enemies jumped 
1. him, while thus prostrate, or kicked him. Desperately wounded 

96 *^ Southern Rights to All." 

though he was, he still hved ; and, as they kicked him, he said, < Don't 
abuse me ; it is useless ; i am dying.' It was a vain appeal. One of 
the wretches {stTice a United States Deputy Marshal] stooped over the 
prostrate man, and, with a refinement of cruelty exceeding the rudest 
savage, spit tobacco juice in his eyes. Satiated brutality at last went 
back to its carousals, and it was then that a few of their nimiber, whom 
a little spark of conscience or a fear of punishment had animated, raised 
the dying man, still groaning, and, placing him in a wagon, his gaping 
wo\mds but poorly sheltered from the bitter cold of that winter's day, 
drove him to the grocery, where they went through the farce of dress- 
ing his wounds ; but, seeing the hopelesaiesa of his case, took him 
home to his wife. . . . The pulse of life was ebbing out. She asked 
him what was the matter, and how he came thus. • I have been mur- 
dered by a gang of cowards, in cold blood, without any cause ! ' he said. 
And, as the poor wife stooped over the body of her gallant husband, 
he expired." 

And, as she thus stooped, with a fiendishness truly 
Southern, one of the ruffians dared to offer her an in- 

No notice has ever been taken of this atrocious mur- 
der by the powers that be ; never once did they inter- 
fere to preserve the purity of the ballot box or the right 
of free spee'ch. The polls were not permitted to be 
opened either at Kickapoo, or Atchison, or the other 
pro-slavery villages; and a clergyman, who, at Atchison, 
said in a private conversation, that he was a Free State 
*iman, was tarred and feathered, and sent down the river 
on a raft — Federal officeholders leading and encour- 
aging the rioters. 

John Brown, Junior, was elected a member of the 
Topeka Legislature. 

In the month of February, the President, in an offi- 
cial proclamation, denounced the Topeka Legislature 
as an illegal assembly ; endorsed the code of the in- 

"Southern Rights to AH." 97 

vaders as the laws of Kansas ; and ordered the Federal 
troops to aid the Territorial oflficers in the execution 
of these infamous enactments. With the opening of 
navigation on the river came hordes of Southern high- 
vvaymen from Georgia, the Carolinas, and Alabama, with 
the avowed intention of exterminating or banishing the 
Free State men. Organizing into guerilla companies, 
;hey soon scattered desolation throughout the Terri- 
ory ; but first were enrolled as Territorial militia, by 
■jrovernor Shannon, and armed with United States mus- 
kets, the more effectually to enable them to carry out 
"heir purpose. An excuse was needed to march against 
.jawrence, in order to destroy it; for while it stood,u 
1 hey could hardly hope to succeed in their nefarious 
laission. A pretext was soon afforded. Sham writs 
^ ^■ere issued for the arrest of its citizens ; United States 
i roops entered Lawrence to enforce them. To Federal 
i uthority no opposition was made ; for the sentiment 
( f devotion to the Union, notwithstanding that to Kan- 
€ IS the Union was a curse, was in almost every breast 
8 u uncradicable prejudice. Tlie Sheriff, thus protected 
a iid unopposed, in order to incite the people to resist 
1 im, encami5ed with bis prisoners in Lawrence over 
r ight, and, in coarse and filthy language, abused the # 
J orthern citizens and his captives. Tired of the cowr , 
a 'dice of the politicians, and exasperated by the out- 
r iges daily committed by the Southern marauders, one 
b -ave but wayward boy, on hearing the abusive lan- 
g lage of the Sheriff, swore that he would bring matters 
t' a crisis forthwith ; and, in the evening, ho and twi) 
c jmpanions, half drui;k, apd -yvholly inpenspd, fired a|» ^ 

gS "Southern Rights to All" 

and wounded the insolent officeholder as he stood at 
the entrance of his tent. 

He was not dangerously wounded ; but, to subserve 
the interests of the South, it was reported that he was 
dead. Missouri, again appealed to, invaded the Terri- 
tory ; the far Southern marauders assembled at Le- 
compton ; and now, in order that they might march 
together on devoted Lawrence, " under the shadow of 
the wings of the Federal eagle," it was determined to 
arrest Governor Reeder, then the leader of the party, 
under the pretence of needing him as a witness at 
Tecumseh. Mr. Reeder, dismissed from his office as 
Federal Governor, in consequence of his refusal to be 
the passive instrument of the ruffians, was elected as 
the Free State delegate to Washington, and was now in 
Kansas, with the Congressional Committee of Investiga- 
tion, collecting evidence to sustain his claim to a seat 
in the National House of Representatives. 

Governor Reeder, of course, refused to go, — for to 
have gone would have interrupted his duties, and have 
forfeited his life. He knew nothing of the case, in 
which, it was pretended, he was needed as a witness. 
This refusal was instantly made the pretext for march- 
ing on Lawrence, under the authority of a United 
States Marshal. 

The news spread rapidly, that Lawrence was to be 

John Brown, Junior, at the head of sixty men, or 
piore,* niarched from Ossawattomie, and offered to 

♦ My personal recollection is, that there were one hundred and 
twenty men in his company ; but, as I cannot recall my authority, I 
give the lowest number stated by others. 

"Southern Rights to All." 99 

I lefend the town ; but the Committee of Safety, now so 
(idions that it was ironically styled the Safety Valve, 
while valiantly declaring that " they would fight first," 
1 ather than submit to ignominious terms, and receiv- 
iiig from Governor Shannon the very courteous and 
latriotic ansWTSr, "Then war it is, by God!" — took 
1 efficient measures for defence, and determined to 
cfFer no resistance. John Brown, Junior, marched 
I ack to Ossawattomie ; but ere he reached it and dis- 
i anded, his father, with a company of seven men, left 
\ is camp, and began in right earnest the war of 
1 berty. 

Meanwhile, Messrs. Reeder, Robinson, and others, 
I rged to it by the Congressional Committee, had fled ; 
I ut, excepting Reeder, were overtaken, arrested, and 
i nprisoned on a charge of high treason. Their crime 
c )nsisted in accepting office under the Free State Con- 
s itution ; save one, an editor, whose offence was tlio 
I ublication of a Free State journal.* 

On the 5th of May, the two Free State papers in Law- 
r 5nce, and a hotel erected by the Emigrant Aid Com- 
I iny ; as, also, a bridge over a stream to the south of 
I awrence, which had been built by a Free State man ; 
\ ere each indicted by a jury, under the instructions of 
t le Federal Judge, Lecompte, as a public nuiscmce, and 
-ders for their destruction were issued by the Court. 

On the 11th of the same month, the United States 
J arshal issued a proclamation assembling the " mili- 
t a ; " and from that time, as the writer personally 

* He subsequently sold himself to the Federal Administration. 

lOO "Southern Rights to All." 

knows, till the 20tli instant, in the words of a demo- 
cratic author,* " preparations were going forward, ana 
vigorously prosecuted, for the sacking of Lawrence. 
The pro-slavery people were to wipe out this ill-fated 
town, under authority of law. They had received the 
countenance of the President, the approbation of the 
Chief Justice, the favorable presentment of the Grand 
Jury, the concurrence of the Governor, the order of the 
Marshal, and were prepared to consummate their pur- 
pose with the arms of the Government, in the hands of 
a militia force gathered from the remotest sections of 
the Union. They concentrated their troops in largo 
numbers around the doomed city, stealing, or, as they 
termed it, ' pressing into the service ' all the horses 
they could find belonging to Free State men ; whose 
cattle were also slaughtered, without remuneration, to 
feed the Marshal's forces ; and their stores and dwell- 
ings broken open and robbed of arms, provisions, 
blankets, and clothing. And all this under the pre- 
tence of ' law and order,' and in the name and under 
the sanction of the government of the United States." 

These, and -vyorse outrages, the murdering of the 
young boys Stewart and Jones, and the ravishing of 
a mother and a daughter among them, were speedy 
and infallible illustrations of the spirit of the South ; 
convincing proofs to every man who would look with 
his own eyes, instead of using the false mirror of a con- 
servative education, that the American Union is not 
a Nation, but an unnatural joining of two hostile 

* Gihon. 

"Southern Rights to All." lOl 

I eoples — of a free, progressive, tolerant, enlightened, 
1 iw-loving race, on the one hand ; and, on the other, 
cf lawless organized bands of despots, with able but 
V uprincipled leaders, and with a lower class only slight- 
1/ in advance of our barbarous semi-civilized Indian 
t -ibes of the West. 

On the 20th of May, the United States Marshal, at 
t le head of eight hundred men, entered the town of 
I awrence, and made arrests ; and then, with an inge- 
n uity worthy of the South, or Austria, or any other 
p Dwcr Satanic, dismissed his immense force within the 
h mits of the corporation. Had the army then com- 
n itted any lawless.act, how could the Democracy have 
b 3en held responsible ? The posse comitatus was now 
a mob. But the shot Sheriff, who so lately had been 
li mcnted as dead, stepped forward at this juncture ; 
rt organized the force as his official staff; and then, 
fi ling the streets with these Southern marauders, de- 
si royed the presses and offices of the two Northern 
p ipers, battered at with cannon, and finally burned 
d )wu, the recently finished and splendid hotel. In the 
e; es of the Government, they were " public nuisances." 
T lis mob was lieaded by an ex-Senator and ex-Vice 
P -esident of the United States ! 

Among the brave young men who saw these out 
K ges committed, were Charley Lenhart and John E. 
C )ok. Next day they left the town, to commence 
r( prisals. Nearly two hundred thousand dollars worth 
o1 property had been stolen or destroyed, without reck- 
oi ing, in tbis amount, nearly two hundred horses that 
h: d been " pressed into the. service " of the South. 

102 "Southern Rights to All." 

North of the Kansas River, the conquest of the Terri- 
tory was complete ; and, south of it, several Free State 
districts had submitted to the power of the invaders. 
All the towns on the Missouri River were in their 
hands ; Lawrence had been sacked, its prosperity 
checked, and its prestige broken ; while Tecumseh, 
and Lecompton, Fort Scott, and the far Southern re- 
gion, had always been faithful to the traffic in human 
souls. On a flag that waved in the ranks of the lawless 
sheriff's southern force, on that memorable 20th of 
May, was printed the Goliath-like boast of the embattled 
propagandists of oppression : 

'< You Yankees tremble, and Abolitionists fall ; 
Our motto is, Southern Rights to All." 

The cause of God, and his servants, and despised 
poor, looked gloomy ; but there were many hearts, 
fully conscious that, armed with justice and Sharpe's 
rifles, the right would come uppermost ere long. And 
among them, encamped in the woods of Southern Kan- 
sas, was a stern old man, whose cold blue eye lighted 
up with a holy lustre, as he read in the Sacred Book, 
written by the finger of his God and Father : 

"Be strong and courageous; be not afraid nor dismayed for the 
king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him : for there 
be more with us ^.han with him ; 

" With him is an arm of flesh ; but with us is tie Lord our God, to 
help us, and to fight our battles." 


In Caucus and Camp. 

in caucus. 
f pHE first time that I heard of Old Brown was in 
. L connection with a caucus at the town of Ossawat- 
t )mie.* It was shortly after his arrival in the Tcrri- 
t )ry. The politicians of the neighborhood were care- 
f illy pruning resolutions so as to suit every variety 
f anti-slavery extensionists ; and more especially that 
c ass of persons whose opposition to slavery was founded 
1 expediency — the selfishness of race, and caste, and 
i) iterest : men who were desirous that Kansas should 
b ) consecrated to free white labor only, not to free- 
D )M for all and above all. The resolution that aroused 
i. le old man's anger declared that Kansas should be a 
■€j ee white State, thereby favoring the exclusion of 
n igroes and mulattoes, whether slave or free. He 
r ise to speak, and soon alarmed and disgusted the 
p )liticians by asserting the manhood of the negro race, 
a id expressing his earnest, anti-slavery convictions with 
a force and vehemence little likely to suit the hybrids 

* I had no personal kncnvledge of his opposition to the Trcati 
o Peace. 


104 ^^ Caucus and Camp. 

then known as Free State Democrats. There were a 
number of emigrants from Indiana, I was told, whom 
his speech so shocked that they went over and remained 
in the pro-slavery party. This was John Brown's first 
and last appearance in a public meeting in Kansas. 
Like most men of action, he underrated discussion. 
He secretly despised even the ablest anti-slavery orators. 
He could see " no use in this talking," he said. " Talk 
is a national institution, but it does no manner of good 
to the slave." He thought it an excuse very well 
adapted for weak men, with tender consciences. Many 
abolitionists, too cowardly to fight, and yet too honest 
to be silent, deceived themselves with the belief that 
they faithfully discharged their duties to the slave 
by fiercely denouncing his oppressors. His ideas of 
duty were far different. The slaves, in his eyes, were 
prisoners of war ; their tyrants, he held, had taken the 
sword, and must perish by it. 


Here let me speak of his political affinities. It has 
been asserted that he was a member of the Republican 
party. It is false. He despised the Republican party. 
It is true that, like every abolitionist, he was opposed 
to the extension of slavery ; and, like the majority of 
anti-slavery men, in favor, also, of organized political 
action against it. But he was too earnest a man, and 
too devout a Christian, to rest satisfied with the only 
action against slavery consistent with one's duty as a 
citizen, according to the usual Republican interpreta- 
tion of the Federal Constitution. It teaches us that we 
must content ourselves with resisting the extension of 

In Caucus and Camp. 105 

slavery. Where the Republicans said, Halt ! John 
Brown shouted, Forward ! to the rescue ! He was an 
ibolitionist of the Bunker Hill school. He followed 
leither Garrison nor Seward, Gerritt Smith nor Wen- 
dell Phillips : but the Golden Rule, and the Declara- 
ion of Independence, in the spirit of the Hebrew war- 
•iors, and in the God-applauded mode that they 
jidopted. " The Bible story of Gideon," records a 
man who betrayed him, "had manifestly a great in- 
lluence on his actions." He believed in human 
1 )rotherhood and in the God of Battles ; he admired 
Nat Turner, the negro patriot, equally with George 
"Washington, the white American deliverer. He could 
J lot see that it was heroic to fight against a petty tax 
( n tea, and war seven long years for a political prin- 
( iple ;. yet wrong to restore,'by force of arms, to an 
( utraged race, the rights with which their Maker 
1 ad endowed them, but of which the South, for two 
: enturies, had robbed them. The old man distrusted 
t he republican leaders. He thought that their success, 
i 1 1860, would be a serious check to the anti-slavery 
( ause.* His reason was, that the people had confidence 
i 1 these leaders, and would believe that by their action 
i 1 Congress they would peacefully and speedily abolish 
i avery. That the people would be deceived ; that the 
] 'epublicans would become as conservative of slavery as 
1 le Democrats themselves, he sincerely and prophetically 
I elieved. Apathy to the welfare of the slave would 

*<« The Republicans of 1858 will be the Democrats of I860" — a 
I thy prophecy found among the manuscripts at Harper's Ferry, — is 
a brief and clear statement of John Brown's ideas. 

Io6 In Caucus and Oamp. 

follow; and hence, to* avert this moral and national 
calamity, he hurried on to Harper's Ferry. 

He was no politician. He despised that class with all 
the energy of his earnest and determined nature. He 
wag too large a man to stand on any party platform. 
He planted his feet on the Rock of Ages — the Eternal 
Truth — and was therefore never shaken in his policy 
or principles. 


A few days after the sacking of Lawrence, a startling 
rumor reached us. A messenger from Lecompton 
stated that a Southern squatter from Pottawattomie 
had arrived there with despatches for the Governor, 
which announced that five pro-slavery settlers had been 
murdered, at midnight, and their bodies shockingly 
disfigured and mutilated, by a party of Free State 
men. He brought a request for a body of troops to 
protect the pro-slavery people there ; who, up to this 
time, had ruled that region with a rod of iron. This 
fact caused every one to doubt the truth of the report. 
It was regarded as a pretext for hurrying down the 
troops to arrest Captain John Brown, Junior, and the 
Free State force that he commanded. While the 
people of Lawrence were discussing the news, a body 
of troops from Lecompton passed the town, and it was 
discovered that they were destined for Osawatomie. 
Not a moment was to be lost if John Brown, the 
younger, and his boys, were to be warned of their com- 
ing and design. I was urged to go down and inform 
him of the approach of the troops. A horse was hired 
for me, and I started on the mission at once. Already 
the troops were several milef ahead, and I was not 

In Caucus and Camp. lo) 

fjimiliar with the road ; for this was my first journey 
to the country south of the "Wakarusa. 

My first object was to overtake the troops ; the sec- 
cad, to pass them, and defeat their design. Of every 
oae whom I met I inquired if, and where, they had 
S' 5en the soldiery. Just at twihght I rode up a hill ; 
a ad, on the opposite side of the brush, heard the noise 
of the tramp of horses. I rode through it, and found 
Diyself in camp. The dragoons were preparing to dis- 
mount and remain there for the night. There were 
tvo or three civilians of the rufiian-breed along with 
t lem, who, after eyeing me with fierce looks, went and 
B )oke to the captain. He, like the majority of tho 
army officers in Kansas, was an ultra pro-slavery man. 
I [e looked steadily at me, and I returned tlie stare ; 
lut, knowing his character, I did not salute him. 
"\7ithout speaking to any one, I rode out of camp. In 
f ve minutes, it was already dark ; and I had not gone 
1 alf a mile ere I heard two men riding up behind me. 
I stopped my horse at once ; turned ofif the road ; and, 
•\ ith my pistol ready for service, halted till they came 
T p to me. They also were heavily armed ; but their 
] istols were in. their belts. I inquired of them the 
-< ay to Prairie City ; one, in giving directions, tried to 
1 ide outside of me. It was no time, I felt, for too ten- 
( er a regard for the forms of etiquette ; so I rode still 
i u*ther out, slightly raising my pistol as I did so. "We 
1 nderstood each other at once. I rode with them a 
1 ttle distance ; and then, they having separated, I 
] alted Tintil both were out of sight. Prairie City 
i ccording to their directions, was to be reached by an 

io8 In Caucus and Camp. 

Indian trail, which, difficult enough to trace in the 
daylight, it was impossible for a stranger to find or fol- 
low at night. I rode on to a hamlet of half a do/.en 
log houses, dignified with the name of the City of Pal- 
myra ; and there, at the cabin of a moderate pro-slavery 
man, rested till the following morning, when I found 
that my horge had been stolen, and tliat ray host had 
suffered with me in the loss of an Indian pony. H. 
Clay Pate and his friend Coleman, the murderer, were 
supposed to be encamped in the neighborhood, and were 
with reason suspected of having committed this theft. 
After the battle of Black Jack, and not till then, the 
horses were discovered and returned. 

I walked over to Prairie City, — a municipality which 
consisted of two log cabins and a well, — and from 
there, having told my errand, a messenger was in- 
stantly despatched to inform John Brown, Junior, of the 
approach and supposed design of the Federal troops. 
I remained in Prairie City several days, to ascertain 
and describe the condition of the country. 

I found that, in this region, when men went out to 
plough, they always took their rifles with them, and 
always tilled in companies of from five to ten ; for, 
whenever they attempted to perform their work sepa- 
rately, the Georgia and Alabama bandits, who were 
constantly hovering about, were sure to make a sudden 
descent on them, and carry off their horses and oxen. 
Every man went armed to the teeth. Guard was kept 
night and day. Whenever t-wo men approached each 
other, they came up, pistol in hand, and the first salu- 
tation invariably was : Free State or Pro-Slave ? or its 

In Caucus aim Camp. loo 

3quivaleut in intent : Whar ye from ? It not unfre- 
luently liappened that the next sound was the report 
5f a pistol. People who wished to travel without such 
joUisions, avoided the necessity of meeting any one, by 
making a circuit or running away on the first indica- 
ion of pursuit. 

And why this condition of things ? Because the 
S'orth had consented to compromise with the deadly 
ijpime of Southern slavery; because it had been taught 
'hat this stupendous and organized iniquity could \\a.y(i 
!iny other right than to be crushed under the feet of 
Christian freemen. 


On the afternoon of my first day at Prairie City, I 
vas sitting reading a book at the door of the cabin, 
Then, unexpectedly, I saw a company of the dragoons 
i ,pproaching. They were riding, in double file, up to 
• 7hero I sat ; but I did not look at them again until 
1 he horse of the captain was about to tread on me. 1 
]:new that it was designed, in revenge for my indiffer- 
( nee, on the captain's part ; and to anger him still 
laore, as soon as I stepped aside, instead of saluting 
] lim or looking at his men, I reopened my book and re- 
< ommenced my reading. 

In a voice of stifled anger, he asked me if my name 
' ras Redpath ? 

I told him that it was. 

" Then, sir, you are my prisoner ! " he said. 

" Indeed ! " I responded. " Why ? Where is your 
" /•arrant? " 

" I have none," he answered angrily. 

10 X 

no in Caucus and Camp. 

" Then how can you arrest me ? This is said to be 
a country of law." 

" We won't discuss that, sir," he said, savagely ; 
" but you must go with me to my camp. If you are 
not guilty, you need have nothing to fear." 

" I don't fear, Captain," I interrupted ; " I know 
enough of law to know that Federal troops dare not 
punish citizens." 

His eyes snapped. I had been trying to provoke 
him, without giving him an excuse for violence, and I 
saw that I had thus far been successful in hitting the 
most sensitive part of dragoon pride — the superiority 
of the civil Bench over the military Saddle. 

" But what is my offence ? " I asked. 

" You are suspected of stealing horses ! You came 
into our camp last night, acted very strangely, never 
spoke to any one, and, half an hour after you were 
gone, two of our best horses were missing." 

I angered the vain dragoon still more by laughing 
heartily at the accusation, and explaining my reason 
for sympathizing with him, as well as my willingness to 
go to his camp, if only to have so good a chance to 
write an amusing letter. This intimation did not re- 
store him to good humor. 

" Well, sir, I hope you are innocent," he said, and 
then put his men into marching order. 

I found that the strongest evidence against me was 
the fact they had discovered, that, on the previous even- 
ing, I had anxiously asked of every one where the 
soldiers were ! Such is circumstantial evidence ! 

fleturning in less than half an hour from the camp 

In Caucus and Camp. in 

of the soldiery, to which the horses, traced by a squat- 
ter, had been returned, I sat down and wrote a descripn 
tion of the adventure, which I entitled the Confessions 
of a Horse Thief. Now, how to send it ? The mails 
were not safe ; the country was covered with guerillas ; 
Leavenworth was in the hands of the ruffians ; to send 
it from Lawrence was impossible. I heard of an old 
preacher, who lived a few miles off, and who was going 
to Kansas City in Missouri. I went to find him. His 
house was situated on the southern side of a creek, 
which is two or three miles from Prairie City. I was 
idvised to seek the cabin of Captain Carpenter ; and 
:here, where armed men were constantly on guard, 
:hcy would lead me to " Old Moore, the minister." 


The creeks of Kansas are all fringed with wood. I 

ost my way, or got off the path that crosses the 

;reek above alluded to, when, suddenly, thirty paces 

)cfore me, I saw a wild-looking man, of fine propor- 

ions, with half a dozen pistols of various sizes stuck in 

lis belt, and a large Arkansas bowie-knife prominent 

; ,mong them. His head was uncovered ; his hair was 

mcombed ; his face had not been shaved for many 

: Qonths. We were similarly dressed — with red-topped 

'' lOots worn over the pantaloons, a coarse blue shirt, 

: nd a pistol belt. This was the usual fashion of the 

■ imes. 

" Hullo ! " he cried, " you're in our camp ! " 
He had nothing in his right hand — he carried a 
/ater-pail in his left ; but, before he could speak again, 
had drawn and cocked my eight-inch Colt. 

112 In Caucus and Camp. 

*" I only answered, in emphatic tones, " Halt ! or I'll 
fire ! " 

He stopped, and said that he knew me ; that he had 
seen me in Lawrence, and that I was true ; that he was 
Frederick Brown, the son of old John Brown; and 
that I was now within the limits of their camp. After 
a parley of a few minutes, I was satisfied that I was 
among my friends, put up my pistol, and shook hands 
with Frederick. 

He talked wildly, as he walked before me, turning 
round every minute, as he spoke of the then recent 
affair of Pottawattomie. His family, he said, had been 
accused of it ; he denied it indignantly, with the wild 
air of a maniac. His excitement was so great that he 
repeatedly recrossed the creek, until, getting anxious 
to reach the camp, I refused to listen to him until he 
took me to his father. He then quietly filled his pail 
with water ; and, after many strange turnings, led me 
into camp. As we approached it, we were twice chal- 
lenged by sentries, who suddenly appeared before trees, 
and as suddenly disappeared behind them. 

I shall not soon forget the scene that here opened to 
my view. Near the edge of the creek a dozen horses 
were tied, all ready saddled for a ride for life, or a 
hunt after Southern invaders. A dozen rifles and 
sabres were stacked against the trees. In an open 
space, amid the shady and lofty woods, there was a 
great blazing fire with a pot on it ; a woman, bare- 
headed, with an honest, sun-burnt face, was picking 
blackberries from the bushes ; three or four armed men 
were lying on red and blue blankets on the grass ; and 

In Caucus and Camp. 113 

two fine-looking youths were standing, leaning on their 
arms, on guard near by. One of them was the young- 
est son of Old Brown, and the other was " Charley," 
the brave Hungarian, who was subsequently murdered 
at Ossawatomie. Old Brown himself stood near the 
fire, with his shirt-sleeves rolled up, and a large piece 
Df pork in his hand. He was cooking a pig. He was 
poorly clad, and his toes protruded from his boots. 
The old man received me with great cordiality, and the 
little band gathered about me. But it was for a mo- 
3ient only ; for the Captain ordered them to renew 
:heir work. He respectfully but firmly forbade con- 
versation on the Pottawattomie affair ; and said that, if 
[ desired any information from the company in relation 
,0 their conduct or intentions, he, as their Captain, 
vould answer for them whatever it was proper to com- 

In this camp no manner of profane language was per- 
nittcd ; no man of immoral character was allowed to 
;tay, excepting as a prisoner of war. He made prayers 
n which all the company united, every morning and 
ivening ; and no food was ever tasted by his men until 
he Divine blessing had been asked on it. After every 
neal, thanks were returned to the Bountiful Giver. 
)ften, I was told, the old man would retire to the 
lensest solitudes,- to wrestle with his God in secret 
)rayer. One of his company subsequently informed 
ne that, after these retirings, he would say that the 
jord had directed him in visions what to do ; that, for 
limself, he did not love warfare, but peace, — only act- 
iig in obedience to the will of the Lord, and fighting 
Jod's battles for His children's sake. 

114 ^^ Caucus and Camp. 

It was at this time that the old man said to me : "I 
would rather have the small-pox, yellow fever, and 
cholera all together in my camp, than a man without 
principles. It's a mistake, sir," he continued, " that 
our people make, when they think that bullies are the 
best fighters, or that they are the men fit to oppose 
these Southerners. 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." 

I remained in the camp about an hour. Never be- 
fore had I met such a band of men. They were not 
earnest, but earnestness incarnate. Six of them were 
John Brown's sons. 

I left this sacred spot with a far higher respect for 
the Great Struggle than ever I had felt before, and 
with a renewed and increased faith in noble and disin- 
terested champions of the right ; of whose existence — 
since I had seen so much of paltry jealousy, selfishness, 
and unprincipled ambition among the Free State politi- 
cians — I was beginning to doubt, and to regard as a 
pleasant illusion of my youth. I went away, thought- 
ful, and hopeful for the cause ; for I had seen, for the 
first time, the spirit of the Ironsides armed and en- 
camped. And I said, also, and thought, that I had seen 
the predestined leader of the second and the holies* 
American Revolution. 



[HAVE spoken of the rumors of midnight murder 
in the Pottawattomie region, and stated that Cap- 
1 ain Brown was accused by the invaders of having done 
1 he deed. The charge is false. It was first made by 
] lis enemies, who feared him, and desired to drive him 
( ut of the district, and subsequently repeated by a rec- 
1 eant Free State journalist, who sold himself to the 
] 'ederal Administration for the paltry bribe of the pub- 
1 ic printing. 

The killing of the ruffians of Pottawattomie was one 
( f those stern acts of summary justice with which the 
1 istory of the West and of every civil war abounds. 
] iyncli law is one of tire early necessities of far-western 
{ ommunities ; and the terrors of it form the only effi- 
( lent guarantee of the peaceful citizen from the ruf- 
f anism which distinguishes and curses every new Ter- 
1 itory. The true story of Pottawattomie is briefly told. 

In all that region, ever since the opening of the 
' "erritory for settlement, the pro-slavery party had 
I een brutally tyrannical. Free State men were daily 
I )bbed, beaten, and killed ; their property was stolen, 
( penly, before their eyes ; and yet they did not dare to 


li6 ' Pottawattomie. 

resist the outrages. One or two families alone were 
occasionally exempted, by their character for des- 
perate courage, from these daring and unwarrantable 
assaults. Among them were the sons and son-in-law 
of Old John Brown; and even they had repeatedly 
suffered from the conduct of the ruffians, until the 
arrival of their father in the autumn, with arms. Then, 
until the months of April and May, a season of peace 
was allowed them. But when, in fulfilment of the 
plan of the Missouri secret lodges, the Territory wgis to 
be conquered for slavery, it at once became a question 
of life, death, or immediate banishment to the settlers 
in Southern Kansas how they should act against the 
invading pro-slavery party and their allies among the 
squatters. Men who have passed their lives in the quiet 
of New England's valleys, or in Eastern cities, can never 
know what it is to be in earnest on what is seemingly 
a mere question of political right or constitutional in- 
terpretation. Hence this chapter may shock them ; 
but it is my duty, nevertheless, to write it. 

The pro-slavery party, in all the region around Pot- 
tawattomie, renewed their system of aggressions on the 
Free State men. John Brown began to stir himself 
and prepare for the defence of his neighborhood. Witli 
two sons or friends he went out into the prairies where 
a number of invaders were encamped, and, pretending 
to survey the country, drove his imaginary lines 
through the middle of their camp. All the Govern- 
ment officers in Kansas, from the Governor down to the 
humblest workmen, were at this time, and for long 
afterwards, ultra pro-slavery men ; many of them pro- 

Pottawattomie. 117 

fessed Secessionists who publicly cursed the Union as a 
3urden to the South. John Brown frequently adopted 
this plan of entering tlie camp of the invading forces, 
md not only never was suspected, but was never asked 
.vhat his political opinions were. Never doubting that 
le was a Government surveyor, the Southrons never 
loubtcd his political orthodoxy. 

The men in this camp freely told him their plans. 
There was an old man of the name of Brown, they 
! aidj who had several sons here, whom it was necessary 
i get out of the way, as, if they were driven out or 
Idlled, the other settlers would be afraid to offer any 
lurther resistance. They told him how Wilkinson, the 
' )oyles, and a Dutchman named Sherman had recently 
I >een in Missouri, and succeeded in securing forces to 
drive out the Browns, and that it was determined to 
1 ;ill them in the latter part of May. They mentioned 
f everal other prominent Free State men who were to 
f hare this fate. 

John Brown left their camp, and at once notified the 
i ettlers who had been marked out for destruction, of 
1 he murderous designs of the Missourians. A meeting 
( f the intended victims was held ; and it was deter- 
1 lined that on the first indication of the massacre, the 
] )oylcs, — a father and two sons, — Wilkinson, and Sher- 
1 lan should be seized, tried by Lynch law, and srim- 
1 larily killed. 

On the 23d of May, John Brown left the camp of his 
i )n, at Osawatomie, with seven or eight men, and 
1 -om that moment began his guerilla warfare in Soutli- 
( rn Kansas. He ordered them to the vicinity of hi«i 

li8 Pottawattomie. 

home, to be ready for the Missourians when they came. 
He himself went in a different direction, for the pur- 
pose of obtaining further aid. 

On the night of the 25th of May, the Doyles, Wil- 
kinson, and Sherman were seized, tried, and slain. 
This act was precipitated by a brutal assault com- 
mitted during the forenoon on a Free State man at 
the store of Sherman, in which the Doyles were the 
principal and most ruffianly participators. These 
wretches, on the same day, called at the houses of the 
Browns ; and, both in words and by acts, offered the 
grossest indignities to a daughter and daughter-in-law 
of the old man. As they went away, they said, " Tell 
your men that if they don't leave right off, we'll come 
back to-morrow and kill them." They added, in lan- 
guage too gross for publication, that the women would 
then suffer still worse indignities. 

What redress could the husbands of these women 
have received, had they asked the protection of the 
law ? They would have been obliged to seek it from 
Wilkinson, one of these ruffians, who was the magis- 
trate of the Pottawattomie District ! This instance had 
hundreds of parallels. 

I do not know whether New England people will be 
able to vindicate the summary punishment inflicted on 
these wretches ; but I do know that nearly every Free 
State man then in Kansas, when he came to know the 
cause, privately endorsed it as a righteous act, although 
many of them, " to save the party," publicly repudiated 
and condemned it. 

These facts I derived from two squatters who aided 

Pottawattomie. 119 

in the execution, and who were not ashamed of the part 
ihey took in it. Neither of them was a son of John 
!3rown. They were settlers in the neighborhood. 

John Brown himself subsequently corroborated their 
statements, without knowing that they had made them, 

I >y his account of the affair and denial of any participa- 
lion in it. " But, remember," he added, " I do not say 
this to exculpate myself; for, although I took no hand 
ia it, I would have advised it had I known the circum- 
ftances ; and I endorsed it as it was." 

" Time and the honest verdict of posterity," he said, 

I I his Virginia cell, " will approve of every act of 
nine." I think it will also endorse all the acts that 
I e endorsed ; and among them this righteous slaughter 
c f the ruffians at Pottawattomie. John Brown did not 
1 now that these men were killed until the following 
c ay ; for, with one of his sons, he was twenty-five miles 
d istant at the time. He was at Middle Creek. This 
f ict can be prov-ed by living witnesses. It is false, also, 
t lat the ruffians were cruelly killed. They were tried, 
nade confession, allowed time to pray, and then slain 
iii a second. 

The effi3ct of this act was highly beneficial to the 
s curity of the Free State men. It gave, indeed, to a 
p -cconcerted invasion, an excuse for entering the Ter- 
r tory ; but, by the terror which it inspired, by teach- 
i] g the Missourians that the sword of civil war had a. 
d mble edge, it saved the lives of hundreds who other- 
v ise would have fallen the victims of Southern aggres. 
s on. Every one in Kansas at the time admitted that 
f; ct, although many of them deny it now. 


H. Clay Pate. 

AMONG the unhappy men whom Old John Brown 
has dragged into an exceedingly undesirable im- 
mortality is H. Clay Pate, author, journalist, and war- 
rior, alike unfortunate in each of these capacities, and 
in every thing that he has tried and lied and done or 
hoped for. A man-butterfly, whom no one would have 
ever thought of disturbing, with the vanity of the fa- 
bled frog he aspired to equal John Brown, and flew 
against his soul of fire — but only to be scorched for 
his pains, and pinned to a page of history by the stern 
old Puritan, and then placed, as a curious study, in the 
cabinet of human imbecilities forevermore. 

By way of a contrast, if for no other reason, he de- 
serves a separate chapter here — does H. Clay Pate, of 
Black Jack and Virginia. 

Pate, by birth a Virginian, first sought to find fame 
and fortune in the city of Cincinnati. He published 
" a thin volume of collegiate sketches," and " several 
pointless, bombastically written stories," which, we are 
told, " was embellished with the author's portrait and 
autograph." He, failed to get readers^ or even favorable 

— 120 

H. Clay Pate. 121 

1 eviewei's, altnough he sought to make genial critics by 
entering into sanctums " armed with a cowhide and 
levolver." Not even by his next effort, "a large en- 
graved portrait of himself," could the hungerer after 
1 terary reputation find satisfaction. 

He then sought fame as a journalist, and again was 
J reemiiiently unsuccessful. As the parasite of the Prot- 
estant demagogue, Gavazzi, he gained in pocket, but 
1 e lost in caste ; and what he earned in purse he again 
squandered in publication — in a new and equally fruit- 
1 !ss effort to win a literary reputation without the intel- 
1 )ct to found it on, or the moral character to dignify 
a nd support it. " He had a signboard on his door, 
i iscribed, H. Clay Pate, Author;" but as Heaven had 
r ot written this inscription on his forehead, the sign in 
cue time disappeared, and " the author" with it. 

He hurried to the borders to* seek notoriety as a 
c lampion of the South. He determined at first to be 
distinguished by his pen ; but, surpassed on every hand 
a i a journalist and writer, he next sought the ever- 
t ying phantom of fame with sword in hand, and in 
t le tented field. 

At Lawrence, when the town was sacked, we are in- 
f irmcd, " he distinguished himself chiefly by riding 
a 3out on a fine horse, he being decorated with ribbons." 

What a contrast was this vain Virginian to the stern 
d Puritan, wlio always dressed in the plainest cloth- 
i ig, regarding the purchase of fine apparel as a robbery 
c ' the poor — who, only to gratify his most intimate 
a ;quaintances, would consent, and then unwillingly, to 
s t for a daguerreotype ; and who, when an admiring 

122 H. Clay Pate. 

friend, without his permission, inscribed a vohime to 
him, regretted it, lest it should seem to be courting 
notoriety, which he said, with simple honesty, is " not 
in my way." 

The vain, shallow, boasting pro-slavery propagandist, 
and the n>odest, thoughtful, humble warrior of the 
Lord, were destined soon to meet as foes. 

Mr. Pate set out from Westport, Missouri, about the 
end of May, with the avowed intention of arresting Old 
Brown, whom the pro-slavery men had charged with the 
slaughter of the ruifians of Pottawattomie, and for 
whom already they had a salutary and daily increasing 
dread. His only fear, he said, was, that he might not 
find him ! 

Captain Pate's achievements, from the day he left 
Westport until " Old Moore, the minister," started for 
Missouri, with my letters from Prairie City, are tlms 
narrated by my friend, Mr. Phillips, in his Conquest of 
Kansas : — 

"While near Osawatomie, he contrived to seize two of the old 
man's sons — Captain John Brown, Jr., and Mr. Jason BroAvn. These 
were taken while quietly engaged in their avocations. Captain Brown, 
Jr., had been up with his company at Lawrence, immediately after the 
sacking of the place, and at the time the men at Pottawattomie were 
killed. He had returned home when he saw he could not aid Law- 
lence, and quietly went to work. He and his brother Jason were 
taken by Pate, charged with murder, kept in irons in their camp, and 
treated with the greatest indignity and inhumanity. While Pate was 
thus taking people prisoners without any legal authority or writs, he 
was joined by Captain Wood's company of Dragoons, who, so fai 
from putting a stop to his violent career, aided him in it, and took 
from him, at his desire, the two prisoners, keeping them under guard 
in their camp, heavily ironed and harshly treated. While these com- 
panies were thus travelling close to each other. Captain Pate's com- 
wany burned th« store of a man named Winer, a, German ; the home 

H. Clay Pate. 123 

jt John Brown, Jr., in which, amongst a variety of household articles, 
a valuable library was consumed ; and also the house of another of 
he Browns — for the old man had six grown sons; and also searched 
houses, men, and Free State settlers, and acted in a violent and lawless 
manner generally. Not being able to find Captain Brown, senior, at 
Osawatamie, Pate's company and the troops started back for the 
Santa F6 road. In the long march that intervened, under a hot sun, 
the two Browns, now in charge of the Dragoons, and held without 
even the pretence of bogus law, were driven before the Dragoons, 
chained like beasts. For twenty-five miles they thus suffered under 
this outrageous inhumanity. Nor was this all. John Brown, Jr., who 
bad been excited by the wild stories of murder told against his father, 
by their enemies, and who was of a sensitive mind, was unable to bear 
ap against this and his treatment during the march, and afterwards, 
(vhile confined in camp, startled his remorseless captors by the wild 
•avings of a maniac, while he lashed his chains in fury till the dull iron 
ihone like polished steel.* To rescue his two sons from their captors 
)ecame the determination of Captain Brown. Like a wolf robbed of 
ts young, he stealthily but resolutely watched for his foes, while he 
kirted through the thickets of the Marais des Cygnes and Ottawa 
yreeks. Perhaps it was a lurking dread of Captain Brown's rescu- 
ng the prisoners, that made Captain Pate deliver them to the United 
kates Dragoons. The Dragoons, with their prisoners, encamped on 
>Iiddle Ottawa Creek, while Pate went on with his men to the Santa 
'^fe road, near Hickory Point. On the evening of Saturday, the 31st 
t f May, he encamped on the head of a small branch or ravine, called 
Jlack Jack, from the kind of timber growing there." 

• Mrs. Robinson, whose husband was detnined at Lecompton on a charge of high 
I -eason, thus describes the arrival of John Brown, Jr., In their camp: — "On the 23d 
une, the prisoners received an accession to tlieir numbers in the persons of Captain 
. :)hn Brown, Jr., and H. II. Williams, likewise dignified with the name of traitors. 
' he former was still insane from the ill-treatment received while in charge of the 
t oops. . . . Captain Brown had a rope tied around his arms so tightly, and drawn 
) .-hind him, that he will for years bear the marks of the ropes where they wore into 
] is flesh. lie was then ob4iged to hold one end of a rope, the other end being carried 
I r one of the Dragoons ; and for eight miles, in a burning sun, he was driven before 
1 icm, compelled to go fast enough to keep from being trampled on by the horses. On 
1 ung taken to Tecumseh, they were chained two and two, with a common trace chain, 
I id padlock at each end. It was so fixed as to clasp tightly around the ankle. On* 
« ly they were driven thirty miles, with no food from early morning until night. TL 
j urney, in a hot June day, was most torturing to them. Their chains wore upon 
t eir ankles until one of them, unable to go farther, was placed upon a horse." 

This son was detained in camp till the 10th September, although he was never even 
1 dieted I 

124 H. Clay Pate. 

As soon as Captain Pate had reached the giound 
that was destined to witness his failure as a military 
man, and, at the same time, with a humor almost puri- 
tanic in its grimness, to satisfy his longing^s for ex- 
tended fame — although, possibly, not the kind of it 
he most desired — his friend Mr. Coleman, the mur- 
derer, and others of his company, marched on Palmyra, 
sacked a free state store there, and then blew it up 
with a keg of gunpowder. I heard of this robbery and 
outrage, and wrote an account of it ; which, with my 
" Confessions," and a note to a lady, I handed to " Old 
Moore, the minister." I advised him, if he were pur- 
sued, to destroy the large letters, which were intended 
for publication ; but to preserve the other, the note, 
as there was nothing in it that could implicate him 
with pro-slavery men. 

He had not gone many miles before he was seen, 
and pursued by Clay Pate's scouts. In his excitement 
he forgot my directions - — preserved the "incendiary 
documents," and destroyed the harmless billet-doux I 
He was captured, and brought to the camp of the 
marauders. Pate ordered the letters to be opened, as 
soon as he learned that they were mine, and appointed 
Coleman, the murderer whom I had denounced, to read 
my productions to his men ! 

First, came my humorous " Confessions of a Horse 
Thief." Captain Wood, the United States officer who 
arrested me, was spared the ridicule I had endeavored 
to tlirow on him ; for Pate threw the letter into the 

Next, came my description of the sacking of Pal- 

H. Clay Pate. 125 

myra, and the Saxon names for Pate and his company. 
Old Moore declared afterwards, that he felt uneasy for 
his safety when he saw the rage which my letters 
aroused. It was universally admitted that I ought to 
be hanged ; and they swore that they would do it, too — 
when the cat was belled. Pate's revenge was charac- 
teristic. He wrote to the Missouri Republican an 
iccount of the arrest of Mr. Moore, by his company, 
ind stated that a number of my incendiary documents 
lad been found on this person. This Redpath, he 
lidded, as if parenthetically, Was arrested a few days 
i go by Captain Wood, of the United States army, on a 
« harge of horse stealing ; and was not released until 
1 he horses were produced ! This was strictly and lit- 
( rally true, and yet, in its inference, such a splendid 
1 e, that I should have admired the highwayman for 

I is ingenuity, and given him credit for it, if he had 
J ot shown, by the sentence following, that the con- 
s Tuction of the words was accidental only : " He was 
ciily released," he added, "because Captain Wood could 
r ot find a magistrate to indict him ! " 

This was his revenge on me ; on Mr. Moore it was 
D'Ore brutal and cowardly, and still more character- 
is tic. Some of Pate's company had known the old 

II an in Missouri, and knew that he was strictly tem- 
p irate in his habits and his principles. They therefore 
s< ized him, and, putting a tin funnel in his mouth, 
p >ured liquor down his throat — the ruffians swearing 
tl at they would make the old minister drunk. 

These were the men whom John Brown was foUow- 
ii g to fight. 



Battle of Black Jack. 

A FEW days after I left the camp of Old Brown, and 
returned to my post at Lawrence, he had his 
long-looked-for fight with Captain Pate's marauders. 
A friend has so faithfully narrated this action, that 
I prefer to transcribe his account of it, rather than 
describe the fight from my own recollections of the 
event. I make a few additions and corrections only. 
A sabbath gathering. 
After dinner on Sunday, Pate's men wanted to go 
over to Prairie City and plunder it. Fancying that it 
would be easily taken, and that no resistance would be 
offered, six of Pate's men started on the expedition. 
At the time this party approached Prairie City, the 
people of that place and vicinity were congregated in 
the house of Dr. Graham to hear preaching, the doctor 
himself being a prisoner in the camp at Black Jack. 
They could watch as well as pray, however. There 
were some twenty men present, and most of them, 
after the old Revolutionary pattern, had gone to church 
with their guns on their shoulders. It was one of those 
primitive meetings, whieh may often be found in the 


Battle of Black Jack. 127 

West, with the slight addition of its military aspects : 
simple and unostentatious garb ; easy and primitive 
manners ; a log house, the ribbed timbers of wliich 
^ave a rough-cast look to the simple scene, with here 
and there the heavy octagon barrel of a long Western 
rifle, or the smooth barrel of a shot gun, were visible 
where they leaned against the wall, ready for action. 
The worshippers were nearly through their devotions, 
md the closing psalm was echoing through the timbers 
Df that log house to one of those quaint old melodies 
to be found in the Missouri Harmony, when the sacred 
strain was snapped by another Missouri harmony. A 
vvatcher entered, saying, 
" The Missourians ! They are coming- ! " 
Never was a congregation dismissed on shorter no- 
ice. The lioly man forgot the benediction in remem- 
bering his rifle. The six ruffians had galloped up ; 
vhcn the congregation, suddenly rushing out, sur- 
•ounded them. Two of the number, who were a little 
)ack, wheeled their horses and galloped off", more than 
)ne bullet going whizzing after them ; but, thanks to 
heir fleet steeds, or their enemy's hurried shooting, 
hey got off" scathless, and got back to tell a frightful 
;tory to Pate about the other men being killed — hor- 
ibly ! &c. Their less lucky companions were merely 
aken prisoners of war. One of them, however, had 
!ome very near getting his quietus. A son of Dr. 
Iraham, a boy of about eleven years, seized his father's 
louble-barrelled gun at the first alarm, and hurried out 
.0 the fence, the Missourians, who were all thus taken 
iback, being immediately outside of it. The daring 

128 Battle of Black Jack: 

boy, with his Kansas blood up, went within three 
rods of him, and, poking his gun over the fence, took 
deliberate aim at one of the men, and would have fired 
th«: next moment, — for " Bub " was not enlightened 
in the mysterious "articles of war," — when a Free 
State man put aside his gun, and said, 

" Bub, what are you doing ? " 

" Going to shoot that fellow." 

" You must n't." 

Bub sbook his head, and began to put up his gun 
again, muttering, 

" He's on pap's horse."* 


Through the whole of that Sunday night did Cap- 
tain Brown and Shore's united company hunt for 
Captain Pate ; but their search was unsuccessful. As 
the gray dawn of Monday morning, June 2d, glim- 
mered in, they had returned to Prairie City, when 
two scouts brought the tidings that the enemy was 
encamped on Black Jack, some four or five miles off. 
A small party was left to guard the four prisoners, and 
the remainder immediately took iip their line of march 
for the enemy. Of those who thus left Prairie City, 
Captain Shore's company numbered twenty men, him- 
self included ; and Captain Brown had nine men be- 
sides himself. They rode towards the Black Jack. 

* A similar incident, illustrating the warlike spirit of the children, 
during the Kansas conflict, can.e under my own notice at the same 
house, a few days only before this occurrence. A scout came in and 
said that a pro-slavery guerilla band was approaching. 

«'0," shouted a little girl of five summers, don't I wish I could 
Bhoot one of them ! " 

Battle of Black Jack. 129 

ilrrived within a mile of it, they left their horses, and 
two of their men to guard them. They despatched 
two other messengers to distant points for additional 
i ssistance, if it should be needed. The remainder, — 
t wenty-six men, all told, — in two divisions, each cap- 
t lin having his own men, marched quietly forward on 
t!ie enemy. 

On Sunday night, there were sixty men in the pro- 
Siavery camp on the Black Jack. Three or four 
■vagons had been drawn up in a line, as a sort of 
Ireastwork, several rods out on the prairie from the 
rxvine, and one of the tents was there. Such was the 
s;ate of affairs when the outer picket-guard, about 
6)ven o'clock in the morning, galloped in and re- 
ported, " The abolitionists are coming ! " " Where — 
Low many?" There was a hurrying to and fro, and 
s sizing of arms. " Across the prairie — there's a hun- 
drcd of them," cried the frightened border ruffians, 
A\hose fears had multiplied the approaching force by 
f< ur, and who probably had never stopped to examine 
c irefully or to count, but had galloped off as soon as 
h ) caught the first glimpse of them. 


Captain Pate's position at Black Jack was a very 
s rong one. It afforded shelter for his men, and, 
e :cept by a force coming Tip the ravine or stream from 
t- a timber at Hickory Point, had to be approached over 
a I open prairie, sloping up from the place where the 
]!i issourians were posted. When the alarm was 
B< unded. Captain Pate drew up his men in line behind 
tl e breastwork of wagons. 


Battle of Black Jack. 

When they neared the enemy's position, Capiaiii 
Brown wished Shore to go to the left and get into the 
ravine below them, while he, with his force, would got 
into the upper or prairie part of the ravine, in the bot- 
tom of which was long grass. As the ravine made a 
bend, they would thus have got in range of the enemy 
on both sides, and had them in cross fire, without 
being in their own Captain Brown, with his nine 
men, accordingly went to the right. Captain Shore, 
with more bravery than military skill, approached the 
foe over the hill, to the west of their camp, marching 
over the prairie up within good range, fully exposed, 
and with no means of shelter near them. 

" Who comes there ? What do you want ? " cried 
Captain Pate. 

" When I get my men in line, I'll show you," 
cried the gallant Captain Shore ; and, true to his 
word, without waiting for or wanting any humbug par- 
ley, the gallant band poured in a volley on the Missou- 
rians, who were drawn up behind the wagons : the 
latter instantly returning it. 

Yolley after volley pealed through the air, and 
echoed through the ravine at Black Jack, away up to 
the dense timber of Hickory Point. 

Meanwhile, Captain Brown had hurried into the 
ravine on the right of Captain Shore ; and posting his 
men well, began to discourse the music of the spheres 
from that quarter. 

" We're whipped ! we're whipped ! " yelled the Mis- 
sourians, before the battle had lasted ten minutes ; and, 
breaking from the wagon, they retreated to the ravine, 

Battle of Black Jack, 131 

ind concealed themselves there, some seven or eight of 
:hem being wounded. One was shot through the 
nouth by a Sharpe's rifle bullet. He had been squat- 
ed behind the wagon wheel ; the ball hit one of the 
f pokes, shivering it, and the border ruffian, in trying 
ilie juggler's feat of catching it in his mouth, got it 
lodged somewhere away about the root of the tongue 
(>v the back of his neck. Another, was shot in the 
upper part of the breast, or the lower part of his neck, 
the bullet descending and lodging in his back. An- 
( ther, a citizen of Westport, as he was galloping off, 
leceived a very severe wound in the groin. He, 
^ dth several others, who were also wounded, left their 
camp by the eastern side and escaped. 

After Pate's men retreated to the ravine, he en- 
c eavored to rally them, and a fire was kept up from the 
B )ot where they lay concealed, although the bullets 
V ere whistling over their heads at a fearful rate. And 
s )on the position of Captain Shore was found to be 
h azardous and critical : fully exposed to an enemy who 
c mid shoot at his men almost without running risk, 
t ley began to give way ; and soon they had nearly all 
r itreated some two hundred yards up the slope, to the 
h gli ground, where they were out of range. Captain 
S lore, however, and two or three of his men, went 
er and joined Brown, where the force lay in the long 
g -ass, firing down the ravine. While this firing was 
g )ing on, to little purpose on either side, Captain 
f rown went after the boys on the hill. Some few of 
tl em had gone off after ammunition ; one or two 
' them were sitting in the grass, fixing their guns. 

132 Battle of Black Jack. 

Finding that they could not be brought up again to a 
charge, he led them rather nearer the enemy, and in- 
duced them to shoot at their horses, which were over 
the ravine, at long shot. This he did to get up their 
spirits — as most of them were mere boys — and to 
intimidate the enemy. He returned to the ravine ; the 
firing was still kept up. It is proper to state that 
Brown and Shore's men had but four guns of long 
range ; there were only three or four Sharpe's rifles in 
both companies. 

pate's prisoners and the wounded. 
While the firing was going on, one of Pate's men 
got up and swore he would see to the prisoners. A 
guard had been statioiied to watch the three Free State 
prisoners, the tent in which they were being the most 
exposed of the camp. This guard was in great trepi- 
dation. The prisoners had thrown themselves on the 
ground, and the trembling guard also lay down, taking 
care to get the person of Dr. Graham between his own 
precious carcass and the enemy. So matters were, 
when the ruffian to whom I have alluded went to the 
tent with fierce oaths. Dr. Graham saw him approach 
with ferocious expression, and, just at that moment, the 
ruffian raised his pistol, aiming at the Doctor, who gave 
a spring just as the piece went off, the ball hitting him 
in the side, and inflicting a flesh wound. Graham 
sprang into the ditch of the ravine ; and, as he did so, 
received another ball in his hip. He broke from the 
camp and fled, fifteen pistol shots being fired after him 
by the person who first attacked him, assisted by the 
guard. He got off without further injury, and joined 
his friends on the hill. 

Battle of Black Jack, 133 

Tlio firing had lasted .three hours. Only two Free 
State men were wounded. One of them was shot in 
th3 arn., in the early part of the engagement. The 
other, a young man, with a great exuberance of spirits, 
kept springing up in the grass, shouting and firing his 
gun, when, on one of these occasions, he was struck by 
a ball in the side. Luckily it glanced ofi" the ribs, or 
it would have killed him ; as it was, it inflicted a severe 
wound, and two of his friends had to take him off the 
field. There were now only nine Free State men in 
the ravine keeping u)) a fire ; and about as many more 
on the hill, three hundred yards from the enemy, who 
kept firing at the horses and occasionally making a 
sally, but never near enough to do much mischief. 


At this juncture, Frederick Brown, wlio had been left 
in charge of the horses, becoming excited by the pro- 
longed firing on both sides, suddenly appeared on the 
:op of the hill, midway between the two divisions of 
,he Free State force, and in full view of the enemy ; 
md, brandishing a sword, shouting, " Come on — come 
m ; I have cut off all communication : the sword of 
he Lord and of Gideon ! " and other wild expressions, 
truck the ranks of the marauders with panic. 

The Missourians in the ravine were getting discour- 
. ged ; they did not dare to venture out of their shelter ; 
: nd the bullets of the Free State men were making it a 
^ lecidedly uncomfortable shelter. They began to drop 
' ff, one by one, by gliding down the ravine till they 
• ;^erc out of range, running to where their horses were 
■ led, and then galloping away. As the Free State men 

134 Battle 6f Black Jack. 

had no cavalry force in tliB field, and no men to spare, 
this prudential policy was very successful. 

At last Captain Pate sent out his lieutenant and a 
prisoner with a flag of truce. They walked up the 
slope together to where the Free State men were ; who, 
seeing them and their flag, ceased their fire. When 
they reached Captain Brown, he demanded of the Lieu- 
tenant whether he was the Captain of the Company ? 

" No," said the Lieutenant. 

"Then," said the old man, "you stay here with me, 
and let your companion go and bring him out. I will 
talk with him." 

Thus summoned, Captain Pate came out ; and as he 
approached Captain Brown, began to say that he was 
an officer under the United States Marshal, and that he 
wanted to explain this fact ; as, he supposed, the Free 
State men would not continue to fight against him, if 
they were aware of that circumstance. He was run- 
ning on in this way, when the old man cut him short : 

" Captain, I understand exactly what you are ; and 
do not want to hear more about it. Have you a propo- 
sition to make to me ? " 

" Well, no — that is — 

" Yery well. Captain," interrupted the old man, " 1 
have one to make to you: your imconditional sur- 

There was no evading this demand, and just as little 
chance to deceive Old Brown; who, pistol in hand, re- 
turned with Pate and his Lieutenant to their camp in 
the ravine, where he repeated his demand for the 
unconditional surrender of the whole company. They 

Battle of Black Jack. 135 

surrendered forthwith ; although there were only nine 
Free State men in the ravine, or in sight, when the 
demand was made ; and four of them, by Brown's 
orders, had remained where they were stationed. Five 
heroes, therefore, of whom John Brown was one, 
received the surrender of the arms and persons of 
twenty-one men, exclusive, too, of the wounded ma- 
rauders. A large number of arms were obtained, many 
of which had been taken from Lawrence and Palmyra ; 
twenty-three horses and mules, many of them recently 
stolen from the Northern squatters ; a portion of the 
goods plundered at the sacking of the Free State store, 
two days before ; as well as wagons, ammunition, camp- 
equipage, and provisions for the men. The wagons 
were all injured by the bullets. 

The prisoners, being now disarmed, were ranged in 
lie by the slender band of captors. The boys on the 
lill were induced to come in, thereby swelling the Free 
state force to sixteen persons. Captain Brown marched 
jvith the prisoners and a large portion of the spoils to 
lis own camp. The wounded men were carefully cared 
or ; and, on their recovery, admonished to do better 
n the future, and sent home to Missouri. 



The Conquest of Kansas Complete. 

WHEN the news of the defeat of Clay Pate reached 
Missouri, a force of twenty-one hundred mounted 
men, not one of them a citizen of Kansas, set out from 
the border village of Westport, under the lead fif the 
Territorial delegate to Congress, with the triple pft'rpose 
of rescuing their brother-highwaymen, seizing Old 
Brown, and completing the conquest of the disputed 

A few days before this invasion they had sent on 
supplies of provisions to the town of Franklin, with 
cannon and ammunition for their coming forces ; and 
there the Georgians began to concentrate, and com- 
mitted robberies and other outrages on the persons and 
property of the Free State men. To defeat the design 
of the Missourians, we marched upon Franklin on the 
night of the 2d of June, — only a few days after the 
fight at Black Jack, — and, after two or three hours of 
firing, chiefly in the dark, drove the ruffians cut and 
captured their provisions. We then retired to Hickory 
Point, and there concentrated to oppose the invading 
force; which, although doubling us in numbers, we 


The Conquest of Kanfas Complete. 137 

Baw with great dehght, on the 5th of June, in battle 
array on the prairies near Palmyra. Every one in our 
camp was exultant at the prospect of obliterating and 
ivenging the disgrace of Lawrence. But the Federal 
troops hastened down, and induced the Missourians to 
^etire ; which, knowing our readiness to fight, they 
s^illingly consented to do ; but not until, in cold blood, 
hey had murdered seven Free State men, not one of 
vhom was armed, when they were taken prisoners by 
he invading forces. Mr. Cantroll was murdered by a 
•uffian named Forman, one of Captain Pate's men, 
dio wa* wounded at Black Jack, carefully nursed at 
.'rairie City, and dismissed by his captors uninjured. 
< )f such were the Southern companies. 

The Captain of the dragoons, when near Prairie 
City, heard that Old John Brown was in the neighbor- 
1 ood, and sent a messenger to him, requesting to have 
{ n interview. The old man came in response to the 
( all, and voluntarily offered to give up his prisoners, in 
( rder that they might be tried for their highway rob- 
1 eries. But the dragoons insisted that they should be 
1 nconditionally surrendered ; as, whatever their offences 
I light be, there was no warrant out against tliem ; and 
t ) receive them as prisoners, as the old man proposed, 
■\ ould be tacitly to admit that civil war existed, which, 
8 ^ a Federal officer, he could not acknowledge. 

John Brown had voluntarily entered the camp of 
t le dragoons, who never could have discovered or 
c ired to penetrate his hiding place ; for, as a Kansas 
a ithor has truly said, " so carefully could he conceal 
\ is quarters, that when you wished to find him, when 

138 The Conqueft of Kanfas Complete. 

he does not wish it, you might as well hnnt for a nee- 
dle in a haystack. He was astonished and indignant 
when the Federal officer informed him that he must 
consider himself a prisoner, as a civil functionary, who 
accompanied the troops, had a warrant out for him 
which he was there to serve. " Take my advice," said 
the officer, "and make no resistance." Captain Brown 
answered that if any territorial official dared to serve a 
writ on him, he would shoot him dead on the spot ; 
and, fixing his stern glance on the Marshal, convinced 
that trembling official that tlie presence of a company 
of soldiers would not save him from the fate, the old 
man threatened. 


" Colonel S ordered him to stand by his stirrup and lead him 

into camp. Under these circumstances, the dragoons went into the 
camp of Old Brown. So rapidly and unexpectedly did the thing 
occur^ that there was no opportunity to secure the arms and horses 
taken at Black Jack. Only fifteen of Brown's men were in the camp 

at the moment they entered it; * but that camp, Colonel S , who 

was astonished at it, afterwards said, a small garrison could have held 
against a thousand men, as, from the peculiar nature of the ground, 
artillery cotild not be brought to bear on it. It is not wonderful that 
both Colonel S and the Deputy Sheriff should come to the con- 
clusion that the handful of Free State men they saw, with nearly 
twice their own number of prisoners, were only a part of Brown's 
force. They believed that a hundred rifleipen must be concealed in 
the thickets around it ; consequently the tone of these gallant officers 

and gentlemen grew more urbane and polite. Colonel S asked 

the Deputy Sheriff if he had not some writs of arrest. Deputy looked 
carefully around him, fixed his timid, irresolute eyes on the prisoners, 
and the small band Captain Brown had with him, and at the dense and 
mysterious looking thickets around him, and said, in a hesitating 

*' < Well, I believe I don't see any body here against whom I have 
any writ.' 

* Among them was John E. Cook, who, a few days before, after Lenharf s camp wa» 
broken up by the Dragoons, went and jolrred Old Blown for a time. 

The Conqueft of Kanfas Complete. 139 

"•You don't!' said Colonel S -, indignantly. 'What did you 

tell me you had for ? What did you mean by getting my help to make 
arrests, if you have none ? ' 

" » Well,' faltered the hesitating D6puty, «I don't think there is any 
body here I want to arrest I ' 

" Colonel S , who is rather blunt and off-handed, and not miich 

of a believer in humbug, gave the Deputy an objurgatory piece of hia 
mind, which I need not inflict on the reader. lie then liberated Cap- 
tain Pate and the other prisoners. These men had been treated ex- 
ceedingly well by Captain Brown. They were allowed to use their 
own blankets and camp equipage, which were much better than any 
thing Brown had ; they also were fed, while thus held captive, much 
better than Brown was able to feed his own soldiers. Not only did 
the prisoners get their liberty, but their horses, arms, equipage, and 
stores ; nearly all that had been taken, and all except what Brown 
had given to those who came the day of the battle to help, or was in 
the hands of some others who had been there, and who were not now 
here. The guns these men had were United States arms. 

"'Whore did you get these arms?' asked Colonel S of Cap- 
tain Pate. 
" " 'We got them from a friend,' was the replyi* 

" ' A friend ! ' growled S . • What friend had a right, or couM 

give you United States arms ? ' 

"In this dilemma. Captain Pate did as many a wise man has done 
before him — evaded the question when he did not feel it advisable to 
inswer it. The arms in question were the public Territorial arms, 
;iven in charge of the Federal officers of the Territory, for the use of 
he Territory, and by them given to the Missourians. This not being 
ixactly a fit story to tell, Pate entered into a disquisition on the gen- 

!ral subject of his imprisonment, and told S that he he was acting 

mder orders of Governor Shannon ; and that his being taken prisoner 
vas an outrage. 

"'That is false, sir ! ' said Colonel S .sternly; 'I had a cor.- 

ersation with Governor Shannon about your particular case, and he 
Icclared that you had no authority for going about the country with 
n armed force.' 
" There was no replying to this ; and the enraged and silenced Pate 

it his lip. Colonel S went on and denounced him for his con- 

uct in language more pointed and succinct than complimentary. 
'. le wound up his remarks, however, by allowing Pate to take every 

• A more truthful answer was never given by man. The Government of tlie United 
i tates was the friend of every Missouri highwayman and &r-Soutbern assassin, horso- 
< lief, or burglar, who at this period infested Kansas. 

140 The Conqueit of Kanfas Complete. 

tiling his company had — even the public arms. Captain Brown and 
his company were then ordered to disperse." • 

This was the first instance in which the Missourians 
were officially reprimanded ; and for this rebuke, Co- 
lonel Sumner, a relative of the distinguished Massa- 
chusetts Senator, was immediately superseded in com- 
mand ! 


The force" under Whitfield, although they had given 
their word of honor to disperse, committed numerous 
and brutal depredations and outrages ; and on the 7th 
of June, one division of it entered the town of Osawat- 
omie without resistance. Lest I should be supposed 
to be a partisan historian, I will transcribe an account 
of their proceedings there, as written by a National 
Democrat, then a Federal officeholder : 

" On the 7th, Reid, with one hundred and seventy men, marched 
into Osaw atomic, and, without resistance, entered each house, rob- 
bing it of every thing of value. There were but few men in the town, 
and the women and children were treated with the utmost brutality. 
Stores and dwellings were alike entered and pillaged. Trunks, boxes, 
and desks were broken open, and their contents appropriated or 
destroyed. Even rings were rudely pulled from the ears and fingers 
of the women, and some of the apparel from their persons. The liquor 
found was freely drank, and served to incite the plunderers to in- 
creased violence in the prosecution of their mischievous work. Hav- 
ing completely stripped the town, they set fire to several houses, and 
then beat a rapid retreat, carrying off a number of horses, and loudly 
urging each other to greater haste, as ' the d — d abolitionists were 
coming ! ' There are hundreds of well-authenticated accounts of the 
cruelties practised by this horde of rufiians ; some of them too shock- 
ing and disgusting to relate, or to be accredited if told. The tears 
and shrieks of terrified women, folded in their foul embrace, failed to 
touch a chord of mercy in their brutal hearts ; and the mutilated 

• Mr. Phillips, to whom I am indebted for this narrative, received the facts from 
Oaptadn Brown, Cook, and oth«r witnesses of the scene. 

The Conqueft of Kanfas Complete. 141 

t odies of murdered men, hanging upon the trees, or left to rot upon 
t lie prairies, or in the deep ravines, or furnish food for vultures and 
\dld beasts, told frightful stories of brutal ferocity, from which the 
A 'ildest savages might have shrunk with horror." * 

And why ? Because the North had consented to 
bague and compromise with the hideous crime of 
IE outhern slavery. 


Every movement made by the Free State men to 
defeat and punish the crimes of these organized ma- 
r luders, was thwarted by the Federal troops, who, in 
ai oflScial proclamation, were ordered to disperse "all 
p )rsons belonging to military companies, unauthorized 
b r law ; " in which were not included the banded 
S Duthern invaders, for they, as soon as they crossed 

'er the border, were organized into Territorial militia. 

1 he face of Freedom was gloomy ; every where the 
S )uth was triumphant, or had conquered ; only one 
a' Iditional indignity remained to be inflicted. Topeka 
h id hitherto escaped.the ravages of the ruffians. There, 
C )lonel Aaron C. Stevens, a man afterwards destined 
t( be immortally associated in fame with John Brown, 
h d a company of Free State boys, who were ever on 
tl e alert to defeat the designs of the invaders, and 
a] ways ready, at call, to march out against them. 

Up to this time, also, the Free State Constitution 
hi d preserved its vitality. On the 4th of July, 1856, 
tl 3 crowning victory of the South was gained — not 
b} their own cowardly forces, whom Black Jack, Frank- 
lii , and a scries of successful guerilla fights had in-. 

• Geary in Kansas. By John H. Gihon, p. 91. 

142 The Conqueft of Kanfas Complete. 

spired witli a salutary aversion to battles, but by com- 
panies of artillery and dragoons of the United States 
army, led on by a Federal officer. On that day, when, 
elsewhere, Americans were celebrating the birth-day 
of their liberty, the Free State Legislature was broken 
up by force, and by the command of the Federal 

This was the last drop of bitterness in the Free State 
cup ; and this was, also, the culmination of Southern 
success ; the date, at once, of the death and the resur- 
rection of Freedom in Kansas. 

The Missouri River was closed against Northern em- 
igration ; " the roads were literally strewed with dead 
bodies;"* the entire Free State population of Leav- 
enworth had been driven from their homes ; almost 
every part of Kansas was in the power of the invaders ; 
the army, and the Government, Federal and Territo- 
rial, the Bench and the Jury box were in the hands of 
the oppressor ; and our State Organization had been 
destroyed by the Dragoons ; but this assemblage of eight 
hundred men at Topeka, on the 4th of July, inspired a 
feeling of unity and power never known before ; and, 
slowly coming to the Territory, with a little army, but 
a mightier influence of inspiring rude men with furi- 
ous passions, was General " Jim Lane ; " while, in the 
woods near the town, lay John Brown encamped, who 
did not despair, but was ready to release the prisoners 
at Lecompton, or attack the Dragoons if the party 
would advise it. They did not ; and he left the town. 

* Declaration of Governor Shannon. 


Battle of Osawatomie. 

pAPTAIN BROWN, after the fourth of July, re- 
V^ turned to Lawrence. Early in the month of 
August, General Lane entered Kansas by the way of 
N 3braska Territory. The confidence that the fighting 
men felt in his military ability, made his return an 
e^ent of historical importance. Several revolting 
at rocities — the mutilation of Major Hoyt, for exam- 
pi 3, the scalping of Mr. Hopps, and a dastardly out- 
ra^e on a Northern lady* — aroused once more the 
m litary ardor of the Free State men. Aggressive hos- 
tilities began. The cowardice that the Southerners, 
n( w vigorously assailed, displayed at every point, has 
nc VQT probably been equalled in American history : 

'< On the following morning, a young lady of Bloomington Mas 
dr; 5ged from her home by a party of merciless wretches, and carried a 
mi J or two into the country, when her tongue was pulled as far as 
po sible from her mouth, and tied with a cord. Her arms were then 
sec irely pinioned, and, despite her violent and convulsive struggles — 
Bu . let the reader imagine, if possible, the savage brutality that fol- 
lo\ cd. She had been guilty of the terrible offence of speaking 
ad ersely of the institution of slavery." — Gilson's Geary in Kan- 
tOi p. 98. 

144 Battle of Ofawatomie. 

excepting receiitly, indeed, in the very valiant and ven- 
erable State of Virginia. 

Hitherto, the Republican leaders in the East, by 
every mail and numerous messengers, had earnestly 
and successfully counselled peace — urging the Free 
State men, for party purposes, to submit to outrage 
rather than strike an offensive blovr. The insult of the 
Fourth of July, followed up, on the 13th of August, by 
the Governor's proclamation, — which practically called 
on the Missourians to make a new invasion, — ex 
hausted the patience of the Northern settlers, and, in 
a rapid series of surprises, they soon, and with un- 
exampled precipitation, drove the Southern invaders 
from all their inland strongholds. 

Let us follow John Brown during this eventful 
period. From the 4th of July till the 30th of August, 
he was neither idle nor inactive. With a wounded 
son-in-law, who had been shot at the battle of Black 
Jack, he leftTopeka about the end of July ; and, on 
the 5th of August, entered the camp of the organized 
Northern companies, then known as Jim Lane's army, 
at a place four miles from the northern boundary line, 
which the emigrants had named Plymouth, in honor 
of the Puritans, — who had crossed the sea for the 
same purpose that they were now crossing the prairie : 

" To make tlie West as they the East, 
The Homestead of the Free." 

A brother of John Brown's wounded son-in-law, on 
learning of the casualties of Black Jack, at once left 
North Elba, and joined the second Massachusetts Com- 
pany at Buffalo. Tin old man rode into camp, and 

Battle of Ofawatomie. 145 

inquired if Wm. Thompson * was there. He found him, 
and they left the camp together. The Captain was 
riding a splendid horse, and was dressed in plain white 
jummer clothing. He wore a large straw hat, and 
,7as closely shaven ; every thing about him was scru- 
Dulously clean. He made a great impression, by his 
ippearance, on several of the company; who, without 
mowing him, at once declared that he must be a " re- 
:narkable man" in disguise. The old hero and his 
])arty then proceeded to Nebraska City, or Tabor, in 
'. owa, and left the wounded man and his brother there. 
General Lane was not with his army, but came down 
Tith a few friends, — among them Captain Brown, — 
] cached Topeka on the night of the 10th of August ; 
s ,nd at once took command of the Free State forces. 
]Ie immediately started for Lawrence, and, on arriv- 
iig there, found that the Northern boys were pre- 
] aring to attack the Georgians, then at Franklin. He 
I nd Captain Brown were both present at that skirmish. 
^. 'hey proceeded on the same night to Rock Creek, for 
t le purpose of seizing the murderers of Major Hoyt ; 
£ nd Captain Brown there assumed the command of a 
s nail company of cavalry. They encamped near Rock 
( reek ; the disfigured body of Major Hoyt was discov- 
e .'ed, and decently buried ; and, in the morning, they 
8 arted for Fort Sanders, on Washington Creek, to find 
t lat the Missourians had fled. It is probable that the 
c d man was also at the capture of Fort Titus ; and it 
i; certain that, on the 26th of August, his company 
i 9 as at Middle Creek, at a point now called Battle 

• He fell at Harper's Ferry. 


146 Battle of Olawatomie. 

Mound, eight miles from Osawatomie, where there was 
a camp of one hundred and sixty Southern invaders. 
The Free State forces, consisting of sixty men, — the 
united companies of John Brown, Captain Shore, and 
Preacher Steward,* — surprised and attacked these 
marauders at noon, and utterly routed them in a few 
minutes, killing two of them, and capturing thirteen 
prisoners, and twenty-nine horses, three wagon loads 
of provisions, and one hundred stand of arms. 

On the same night, a detachment of this Free State 
force travelled to a point on the Sugar Creek, fifteen 
miles distant, and captured over sixty head of cattle, 
which the Southern marauders had brought into the 
Territory, or stolen from the settlers. 


On the 17th of August, the Missourians, alarmed at 
the threatening aspect of affairs in the Territory, is- 
sued, at Lexington, an inflammatory appeal for another 
grand and overwhelming expedition against the North- 
ern men in Kansas. It is so characteristic of the times 
and the spirit of the Slave States, and indicates so 
clearly the terror which Old Brown had inspired in 
Missouri, that I subjoin it with a few rhetorical omis- 
sions only : 

To TifE Citizens of Lafayette County : 

It becomes our painful duty to inform you that civil war has again 
commenced in Kansas. Four hundred abolitionists, under Lane, have 
actually come into the Territorj'', and commenced a "vvar of extermina- 
tion upon the pro-slavery settlers. 

* This gentleman was even more expert -vvltli the sword of Gideon than with the 
«word of tlie Spirit. lie has been in more fights and liberated more slaves than any 
other man F'>7f in Kansas. lie has won the honorable title of the Fighting Preacher. 
He " still lives." 

Battle of Ofawatomie. 147 

On the 6th of August, the notorious Brown, with a party of three 
hundred abolitionists, made an attack upon a colony of Georgians, 
numbering about two hundred and twenty-five souls, one hundred 
and seventy-five of whom were women, children, and slaves. Their 
houses were burned to the ground, all their property stolen, — horses, 
3attlc, clothing, money, provisions, all taken away from them, — 
lud their ploughs burned to ashes. This colony came from Georgia 
;o settle peaceably in Kansas, and were quietly cultivating the soil, 
md disturbing no one. They did not even have arms for defence. 
They are now driven from the territory, with nothing left but their 
;lothes on their backs — indeed, they even took the boots off the men's 
eet, and put them on their own. Captain Cook, who has charge of 
he colony, is now here asking for arms and men to aid his colony to 
ettlc again in the Territory.* 

August 12. — At night three hundred abolitionists, under tliis same 
'. Jrown, attacked the town of Franklin, robbed, plundered, and burnt, 
• 00k all the arms in town, broke open and destroyed the post office, 
( arricd away the old cannon " Sacramento," which our gallant Missou- 
3 ians captured in Mexico, and are now turning its mouth against our 
i riends. Six men were killed, and Mrs. Crane knocked down by an 
! bolitionist. [All false.] 

The same day a Mr. Williams, a settler near St. Bernard, was shot 
1 y an abolitionist, who sneaked upon him while he was quietly maul- 
i ig rails on his claim. f 

August 13. — About fifty abolitionists attacked the house of Mr. 
"■ Vliite, J in Lykins County, robbed him of every thing, and drove him 

* This " peaceable colony of Qeorgia men, women, children, and slaves," was really 
c imposed of about one hundred and sixty orBuford's Southron invaders, the Georgia 
c utingent of that marauding force. About the beginning of July, they camped near 
I ittersville, a village of the Wea Indians, on the Reserve belonging to that natinn. 
1 lis place is about eight miles south-cast of Osawatomie. Tliey made no improve- 
B ents, or took any steps toward a settlement, the fact of camping on the Wea lands 
I ing sufficient proof that they had no such intention, for they were not open to set- 
t sment. They lived there in tents, sold whiskey to the Weas and Miamis, with whon\ 
t ey pretended to form some sort of treaty, and plundered and annoyed the Free State 
e- ttlers. About the second of August, they took prisoner Preacher Stewart, robbed 
b m of his horse, and stated that they intended to hang him. Preparatory to the 
e ecution of this murderous threat, he was left in charge of two drunken Miami 
I dians. Stewart, not being desirous of a " suspension," made his escape, and reached 
1 wrence as speedily as possible. He immediately raised a company of ninety Free 
S vte men, and started for the Southern camp. Tliey heard of his approach, and left 
li haste. When the Lawrence " boys " arrived at Battersville, they found some whiskey 
» d a broken wagon. Captain Brown was on the northern boundary lino ut the time, 
P eachor Stewart and Captain Cutler were in command of the Free State men. 

)• Mr. Williams was a quiet, peaceable man. lie was murdered by a pro-slavery 
r ffian named McBride, for the crime of being a Missourian and Free State. 

; Preacher White, the murderer of Frederick Brown. Tliis statement also is faUo. 


Battle of Ofawatomie. 

into ^Missouri. He is a Free State man, but sustains the laws of the 

August 15. —Brown, with four hundred abolitionists, mostlj' Lane's 
men, mounted and armed, attacked Treadwell's settlement, in D(.uglas3 
County, numbering about thirty men. 

They planted the old cannon •' Sacramento " towards the colony, 
and surrounded them. They, being so largely overpowered, attempted 
to escape ; but as they were on foot, it is feared they have all been 
taken and murdered. 

* * * m 

Meet at Lexington on "Wednesday, August 20, at 12 o'clock. 
Bring your horses, your guns, and your clothing — all ready to 
go on to Kansas. Let every man who can possibly leave home, go 
now to save the lives of our friends. Let those who cannot go hitch 
up their wagons and throw in a few provisions, and get more as they 
come along by their neighbors, and bring them to Lexington ou 
Wednesday. Let others bring horses and mules, and saddles and guns, 

— all to come in on Wednesday. We must go immediately. There 
is no time to spare, and no one must hold back. Let us all do a little, 
and the job will be light. We want two hundred to three hundred 
men from this county. Jackson, Johnson, Platte, Clay, Ray, Saline, 
Carroll, and other counties are now acting in this matter. All of them 
will send up a company of men, and there will be a concert of action. 
New Santa Fe, Jackson County, will be the' place of rendezvous for 
the whole crowd, and our motto this time loill be, "No quarter." 
Come up, then, on Wednesday, and let us have concert of action. 
Let no one stay away. We need the old men to advise, the yoimg meti to 
execute. We confidently look for eight hundred to one thousand citi- 
zens to be present. 

At the same time a similar address, more general in 
its character, was issued from Westport, and dated 
August 16. It was signed by David R. Atchison, W. 
H. Russell, A. G. Boone, and B. P. Stringfellow. 

Thus appealed to, a force of two thousand men as- 
sembled at the village of Santa F6, on the border ; and, 
after entering the Territory, divided into two forces 

— one division, led by Senator Atchison, marching to 
Bull Creek, and the other wing, under General Reid, 
advancing to Osawatomie. 

Battle of Ofawatomie. J 49 

The force under Atchison fled precipitately on the 
Horning of August 31, on the approach of General 
Lane, and after a slight skirmish between the advance 
;;uards of the Northern and Southern " armies," which 
occurred about sunset on the previous evening. Tliey 
1 led in company with the division that had just returned 
Jrom Osawatomie. 

The reception of this force at Osawatomie by Captain 
I ohn Brown is one of the most brilliant episodes of 
] Kansas history. They were between four and five 
1 undred strong, — armed with United States muskets, 
I ayonets, and revolvers, with several pieces of cannon 
a nd a large supply of ammunition. When John Brown 
s iw them coming, he resolved, to use his own modest 
I hrase, to " annoy them." 

This is his own account of the way in which he 
did it: 


" Early in the morning of the 30th of August, the 
e icmy's scouts approached to within one mile and a 
h ilf of the western boundary of the town of Osawat- 
o nie. At this place my son Frederick K. (who was 
n )t attached to my force) had lodged, with some four 
her young men from Lawrence, and a young man 
n imed Garrison, from Middle Creek. 

" The scouts, led by a pro-slavery preacher named 
"V^ hite, shot my son dead in the road, whilst he — as I 
h; ve since ascertained — supposed them to be friendly. 
A - the same time they butchered Mr. Garrison, and 
bi dly mangled one of the young men from Lawrence, 
w 10 came with my son, leaving hiui for dead. 

i^o Battle of Ofawatomie. 

" This was not far from sunrise. I had stopped dur- 
ing the night about two and one half miles from them, 
and nearly one mile from Osawatomie. I had no 
organized force, but only some twelve or fifteen new 
recruits, who were ordered to leave their preparations 
for breakfast, and follow me into the town as soon as 
tliis news was brought to me. 

" As I had no means of learning correctly the force 
of the enemy, I placed twelve of the recruits in a log 
house, hoping we might be able to defend the town. I 
then gathered some fifteen more men together, whom 
we armed with guns ; and we started in the direction 
of the enemy. After going a few rods, we could see 
them approaching the town in line of battle, about one 
half a mile off, upon a hill west of the village. I then 
gave up all idea of doing more than to annoy, from the 
timber near the town, into which we were all retreated, 
and which was filled with a thick growth of under- 
brush, but had no time to recall the twelve men in the 
log house, and so lost their assistance in the fight. 

" At the point above named, I met with Captain 
Cline, a very active young man, who had with him 
some twelve or fifteen mounted men, and persuaded 
him to go with us into the timber, on the southern 
shore of the Osage, or Marais-des-Cygnes, a little to the 
north-west from the village. Here the men, numbering 
not more than thirty in all, were directed to scatter 
and secrete themselves as well as they could, and await 
the approach of the enemy. This was done in full 
view of them, (who must have seen the whole move- 
ment,) and had to be done in the utmost haste. I 

Battle of Ofawatomie. 15'! 

Delieve Captain Cline and some of his men were not 
jven dismounted in the fight, but cannot assert posi- 
;ively. When the left wing of the enemy had ap- 
proached to within common rifle shot, we commenced 
liring ; and very soon threw the northern branch of 
1 he enemy's line into disorder. This continued some 
lifteen or twenty minutes, which gave us an uncom- 
mon opportunity to annoy them. Captain Cline and 
his men soon got out of ammunition, and retired 
i cross the river. 

" After the enemy rallied, we kept up our fire ; 
until, by the leaving of one and another, we had but 
six or seven left. We then retired across the river. 

" We had one man killed — a Mr. Powers, from 
Captain Cline's company — in the 'fight. One of my 
I len — a Mr. Partridge — was shot in crossing the 
river. Two or three of the party, who took part la 
it le fight, are yet missing, and may be lost or taken 
prisoners. Two were wounded, viz.. Dr. Updegraff 
aid a Mr. Collis. 

" I cannot speak in too high terms of them, and of 
B any others I have not now time to mention. 

" One of my best men, together with myself, was 
8 ruck with a partially spent ball from the enemy, in the 
c »mmencement of the fight, but we were only bruised. 
1 lie loss I refer to is one of my missing men. The 
1( ss of the enemy, as we learn by the different state- 
n ents of our own, as well as their people, was some 
tl irty-one or two killed, and from forty to fifty wounded. 
A fter burning the town to ashes, and killing a Mr. 
T illiams they had taken, whom neither party claimed, 

1^2 Battle of Ofawatomie. 

they took a hasty leave, carrying their dead and 
wounded with them. They did not attempt to cress 
the river, nor to search for us, and have not since 
returned to look over their work. 

" I give this in great haste, in the midst of constant 
interruptions. My second son was with me in the 
fight, and escaped unharmed. This I mention for the 
benefit of his friends. 

" Old preacher White, I hear, boasts ofhavijiff killed 
my son. Of course he is a lion. 

"John Brown. 

" Lawrence, Kansas, September 7, 1856." 

The brilliancy of this exploit can only faintly be 
traced in the old hero's modest and characteristic ac- 
count of it. Nearly five hundred men, as the Mis- 
sourians subsequently admitted, — and all of them 
heavily armed, — were arrested in their march of des- 
olation by a little band of sixteen heroes, imperfectly 
equipped ; for the company of Captain Cline, after 
firing a few shots, retired from the conflict, in conse- 
quence of being out of ammunition ; and there was 
only one Sharpe's rifle in Captain Brown's command. 
The old man stood near a " sapling," which is still 
pointed out, during the whole of this memorable en- 
gagement, quietly giving directions to his men, and 
"annoying the enemy" with his own steady rifle, 
indifferent to the grape shots and balls which whizzed 
around him, and hewed down the limbs, scattered the 
foliage, and peeled off" the bark from the trees on every 
side. When the writer visited the site, many months 
after this event, the wood still bore the marks of that 

Battle of Ofawatomie. i3'3 

glorious conflict. The General of the invading army 
afterwards admitted that if Brown had been provided 
vitli Sharpe's rifles, nothing could have prevented his 
rien from making an ignominious retreat. 

The fearful slaughter was occasioned by the lawless 
c'laracter of the invading force. Alarmed at being 
fired at, they refused to obey orders, and foolishly hud- 
dled around the dead and wounded, instead of standing 
ill their ranks and "closing up." Into these panic- 
si ricken groups Old Brown poured a deadly fire ; and, 
b ;fore the officers of the enemy could restore order in 
tl cir companies, thirty-two men lay dead, and more 
tl an fifty wounded. The brave band of Captain Brown 
s£ w the whites of the enemy's eyes, ere the old man 
gi ,ve' the order to retreat. 

The invaders, true to the Southern instinct, mur- 
d( red a wounded prisoner who fell into their hands, 
ai rested and killed a Mr. Williams, who was " claimed 
b^ neither party," and who took no part in this or any 
ot ler conflict ; and, on the following morning, offered 
" Jharley," the Hungarian, a chance for his life, if he 
sbDuld escape their fire — a cowardly excuse, as the 
fcwrless boy told them, for riddling him with balls. 
Tl ey fired a volley into him, as he faced them de- 
fit ntly. 

Erroneously siipposing that they had shot Captain 
Bi own, they returned to Missouri, and boasted of their 
8u ;cess ; but the large number of corpses and wounded 
mi n whom they brought from Osawatomie, and a 
ki) )wledge of the insignificant force of abolitionists 
tb: t had opposed them, created a feeling of terror in 

i^^ Battle of Ofawatomle. 

the State, from which the Missourians never fully re- 
covered. They never afterwards thought, and seldom 
said, that the Yankees would not fight. Captain Brown 
first created a dread of the North and her men in the 
minds of the Missourians ; which, more than any other 
terror, prevented them from proceeding vigorously witli 
the project of re-conquering Kansas. For General 
Lane, in the North, with hardly any loss of life, had 
done what Captain Brown, with this salutary slaughter, 
had effected in the South of Kansas — made it necessary 
to effect a re-subjugation of the Territory, or to give it 
up to freedom. Lane frightened the Southern in- 
vaders ; but Brown struck terror into the centre of 
their souls. 


Old Preacher White, who shot Frederick Brown 
through the heart, — although his victim was quietly 
walking along on the road unsuspecting and unarmed, 
— and afterwards, as the corpse lay stiff and bloody on 
the ground, discharged a loaded pistol into its open 
mouth, was a " National " Divine, of " the Church 
South," of course, whose fate deserves a passing notice 

In order to make capital against the Northern cor- 
respondents in the Territory, by throwing discredit on 
their statements of Southern outrage, a pro-slavery man 
of Westport, Missouri, wrote an account of the recent 
murder of a person whom he called " Poor Martin 
White, a Free State preaclier of the Gospel." It 
served its purpose — for it was originally published in 
a Republican paper and widely copied ; when — as had 

Battle of Ofawatomie. 155* 

been arranged — Martin White re-appeared, denied the 
ftoTy of his death, and ridiculed tlie Republicans for 
1 lelieviug such stories. For a long time afterwards, the 
jiro-slavery papers, whenever an outrage was recorded, 
A^ould sneeringly allude to " Poor Martin "White." 

For his services in furthering this stratagem, and as 
8 reward for the murder of Frederick Brown, " Poor 
Martin White" was elected a member of the Territorial 
Legislature which assembled at Lecompton. During 
t le course of the session he gave a graphic account of 
t le killing of Frederick ; laughingly described how, 
■\\ hen shot, he " toppled over " — the honorable mem- 
bers roared at this Southern-Christian phrase — and 
a )used my friend Phillips, author of " The Conquest 
' Kansas," for having spoken of the act as a murder ; 
■when, said the assassin-preacher, calmly, " I was acting 
a ; a part of the law and order militia." 

Poor Martin White, when the session was finished, 
p oceeded to his home. But he never reached it. " Ho 
w 3nt to his own place," indeed ; for his corpse was 
fc und stiff and cold on the prairie — with a rifle ball 
ii; it. Poor Martin White ! 

Brown's Address to his Men. 

They are coming — men, make ready ; 

See their ensigns — hear their drum ; 
See them march with steps unsteady : 

Onward to their graves they come. 

God of Freedom ! ere to-morrow, 

Slavers' corpses Thou shalt see ; 
Georgia maids shall wail in sorrow, 

For my sacrifice to Thee ! 

156 Battle of Ofawatomie. 

Philistines shall fall — the river 
That meanders through this wood 

Shall be red with blood that never 
Throbbed for outraged -womanhood ; 

Blood of men, who, when their brothers 
Traffic human flesh for gold, 

Laugh, like arch fiends, as poor mothers' 
Heartstrings break for daughters sold ; 

Men who scoff at higher statutes 
Than their codes of legal wrong ; 

Men whom only tyrant- rule suits ; 
Men whom Hell would blush to own : 

I will lay them as on altars. 

Prairies ! on your grasses green : 

Curs6d be the man who falters — 
Better had he never been. 

Brothers ! we are God-appointed 
Soldiers in these holy wars ; 

Set apart, sealed and anointed 
Children of a Heavenly Mars ! 

Weakness we need not dissemble — 
But Jehovah leads us on : 

Who is he that dares to tremble, 
Led by God of Gideon ? 

Let them laugh in mad derision 
At our little feeble band — 

God has told me in a vision 
We shall liberate the land. 

Bise, then, brothers ; do not doubt me ; 

I can feel his presence now, 
Feel his promises about me. 

Like a helmet on my brow. 

We must conquer, we must slaughter ; 

We are God's rod, and his ire 
Wills their blood shall flow like water : 

In Jehovah's dread name — Fire ! 

i Battle of Ofawatomie. 157 


Since the foregoing chapter was stereotyped, an 
mfriendly Kansas paper has related the following inci- 
dent of the Battle of Osawatomie : 

" We have no disposition to extenuate the crimes 
] ecently committed by this noted man. But there is 
iio reason why the acts of kindness and charity whicli 
1 e was wont to perform should be forgotten, now that 
1 e is about to suffer the doom of a felon. 

" An instance of this sort fell under our personal 
cbservation. At the sacking of Osawatomie, one of 
t le most bitter pro-slavery men in Lykins County was 
t illed. His name was Ed. Timmons. Some time after- 
V ards, Brown stopped at the log house where Timmons 
h ad lived. His widow and children were there, and in 
g^eat destitution. He inquired into their wants, re- 
liaved their distresses, and supported them until her 
fi lends in Missouri, informed through Brown of the 
cmdition of Mrs. Timmons, had time to come to her 
a id carry her to her former home. Mrs. Timmons 
fi lly appreciated the great kindness thus shown her, 
b it never learned that Captain John Brown was her 
b' nefactor." 


Il£is .^jmm^m^Myhhtt-yii'^^^ 

1. - 

John Brown's Defence of Lawrence. 

WE next find our hero in the town of Lawrence, 
at the most perilous crisis of its history. His 
defence of it is still remembered with gratitude by all 
the brave men who witnessed and participated in it. 
The writer at that time was in Iowa, in charge of a train 
of provisions, clothing, and military supplies, furnished 
for the free state men by the patriotism and philanthropy 
of the generous North. He has, therefore, no personal 
knowledge of John Brown's conduct at that eventful 
period of the history of Lawrence ; but from a friend 
who was an eye witness, and a brave actor in it under 
the command of " the mighty man of valor," he has 
been furnished with the following faithful and grapliio 
narration. Brave like his captain, but, like the old 
man, modest also, we are not permitted to announce 
his name. 

On the 13th day of September, 1856, Jim Lane, 
with an army of some seventy-five or eighty men, pur- 
sued a number of the " enemy," and compelled tliem 
to take shelter in some log houses at Hickory Point. 
These were so situated on a high, rolling prairie as to 


Defence of Lawrence. 


command a view of the whole country about it ; and 
being well fortified in them, the besieged considered 
themselves safe even from the destructive effects of 
Sharpe's rifles ; and knowing that the besiegers were 
destitute of cannon, they ran up from the top of their 
main building a black flag — " No Surrender." This 
was too much for the besiegers, for they were the de- 
5cendants of those brave-hearted men who had once 
ntrusted their lives and their fortunes to the May- 
lower and to their God. Immediately despatching a 
nessenger to Lawrence for reenforcements and a small 
lix-pound howitzer, with directions to come vfa Topeka, 
^^ane withdrew his men a few miles to the west, and 
( ncamped for the night near a spring, where he found 
J. copy of the inaugural of Governor Geary, whoso 
J rrival in the territory had been announced only a 
1 3W days before. Upon reading this document. Lane 
i t once became satisfied of the good intentions of 
( leary towards the people of Kansas, and thereupon 
( isbanded his men ; and after having sent another 
I lessenger, also by the way of Topeka, to countermand 
1 is previous order for reenforcements, he proceeded 
i I person to the north line of the territory. But 
( olonel Harvey, to whom this message was sent, in- 
6 ead of going by Topeka, commenced his march 
c irectly for Hickory Point, on Saturday night, about 
t M o'clock, with about one hundred and fifty men, and 
c le piece of cannon. He arrived there about two 
clock on Sunday afternoon ; and being unable to 
a free upon any terms with the besieged, immediately 
c iinmenced a cannonade upon their fortresses, and ere 

l6o Defence of Lawrence. 

the sun set on that Sabbath eve, that black flag was 
taken down, and a white one nin up in its place. 
The vanquished came to terms, and agreed to leave 
the territory if Colonel Harvey would graciously per- 
mit them to do so ; which reasonable request, it is 
hardly necessary to say, was granted. 

But during this transaction, another scene in the 
Kansas drama was enacted at Lawrence. Brown, who 
had been up to Topeka, was on his way home, and 
remained in Lawrence over Sunday. His little army 
— which consisted of some eighteen or twenty men, 
and probably never exceeded thirty at one time — was 
at Osawattamie, where he lived. This was an inde- 
pendent company — so independent, indeed, that they 
trusted alone for victory to their Sharpe's rifles and to 
the God of battles. With these brave and resolute 
men, six of whom were Brown's own sons, he carried 
on a guerilla warfare ; and whatever may be said of 
his movements at Harper's Ferry, whether they mili- 
tate against his sanity or his loyalty to our govern- 
ment, his efforts in behalf of free Kansas will not 
soon be forgotten by those who witnessed them. 

I was up early on Sunday morning, and went down 
to the river and bathed, and came back to my tent, 
which was on the west side of Lawrence, and busied 
myself in the forenoon in writing letters home, and in 
writing in my journal the proceedings of the last 
weel^, for I had been absent that length of time, and 
my journal had necessarily been neglected. The num- 
ber of men in town on that day was considerably less 
than was usual ; for, besides those at Hickory Point and 


Defence of Lawrence. 161 

Osawattamie, there were several other companies in 
different parts of the territory, leaving Lawrence un- 
protected by a single company. The number of avail- 
able men — citizens, parts of companies, and stran- 
gers — that were in town that day, would not, when 
all told, amount to more than two hundred ; so that it 
would not have been a very difficult job for a thousand 
well-armed and well-disciplined troops to have marched 
into the heart of the city, and burned it, as was par- 
tially done in the month of May previous, by federal 
authority. It was not, therefore, a very desirable piece 
of information, on this Sabbath morning, when the 
church bells should have been tolling the hour for the 
worship of Almighty God, an hour that is made holy by 
the long-remembered associations of aged pastors and 
Sabbath school teachers, whose frail forms are now fast 
fading from our view — the announcement that *' twenty- 
eight hundred Missourians were marching down 
upon Lawrence, with drums beating, and with eagles 
upon their banners." Yet such was actually the case. 
Such an announcement was actually made, with the 
expectation that we would believe it. But we did not ; 
for we considered it, as we had become accustomed 
to consider all of like character,- only rumors, and 
gave them no consideration until we should become 
convinced of their truth. We continued our several 
occupations, whatever they happened to be, whether 
reading, writing, cooking, moulding bullets, or clean- 
ng guns, and paid but little attention to rumors, hav- 
ng found by experience that a large majority of them 
Afere false alarms. Yet, notwithstanding this seeming 

i62 Defence of Lawrence. 

indifference to danger, messenger after messengor 
arrived in town during the day, each one bringhig 
additional news of the invading army, and corrob- 
orating the statements of those who had preceded him, 
viz., that Atchison and Reid were at the head of a 
large force of Missourians, variously estimated at from 
fifteen hundred to three thousand, and that Lawrence 
would be the object of their attack tliat afternoon. 
- At about four o'clock in the afternoon of tlie same 
day, we were compelled to give credence to these 
rumors, for we had almost ocular demonstration of 
tiieir truth; for we saw the smoke of Franklin, a 
little town five miles south-east of Lawrence, curling 
up towards heaven, and mingling with the clouds. 
There were dwellings, under whose roofs were clus- 
tered many little ones ; the domicile in whose sanctuary 
are liolily kept all the sacred household gods, that 
receptacle for man's happiness here below, which, by 
the principles of the great common law, is termed the 
freeman's castle, was crumbling to ashes before his 
eyes — the work of a horde of incendiaries, who are 
urged on to their deeds of darkness and death by the 
influence of that missionary system which a northern 
contemporary gravely terms " a southern economical 
interest of paramount magnitude." Then there was 
" hurrying to and fro," but not in " hot haste," and 
with " tremblings and tears of distress," but with the 
cool and determined resolution to repel the invaders, 
if there was enough virtue in powder to do so. 

I believe it is the first impulse of an unorganized 
populace, during the impending of. such danger as now 

Defence of Lawrence. 163 

threatened us, to desire a leader or commander, and to,, 
obey his orders. At least, it was so in the present 
instance ; for it was very evident, that without a con- 
cert of action, and a combination of the different 
forces that were in town, there would be but little 
safety in that immediate vicinity. Tlie inquiry was 
next. Who shall be that leader ? Who can so arrange 
the effective force of the place as to defend it to the 
best advantage ? It was no sooner known that Cap- 
tain Brown was in town, than he was unanimously 
voted general-in-chief for the day. The principal por- 
tion of the people had assembled in Main Street, oppo- 
site the post office ; and Captain Brown, standing upon 
a dry-goods box in their midst, addressed them some- 
what as follows : — 

"Gentlemen, it is said there are twenty-five hun- 
dred Missourians down at Franklin, and that they will 
be here in two hours. You can see for yourselves the 
5moke they are making by setting fire to the houses in 
that town. Now is probably the last opportunity you 
vvill have of seeing a fight ; so that you had better do 
/our best. If they should come up and attack us, 
lon't yell and make a great noise, but remain perfexitly 
dlent and still. Wait till they get within twenty-five 
ards of you ; get a good object ; be sure you see the 
lind sight of your gun : then fire. A great deal of 
)owder and lead, and very precious time, is wasted by 
hooting too high. You had better aim at their legs 
ban at their heads. In either case, be sure of the 
lind sights of your guns. It is from this reason that I 
tiyself have so many times escaped ; for, if all the bul- 


164 Defence of Lawrence. 

lets which have ever been aimed at me had hit me, I 
would have been as full of holes as a riddle." 

Having thus taught them in the arts of war, he 
commenced his preparations for defence. There were 
several forts and breastworks, and also one or two un- 
finished churches in the south, south-west, and south- 
cast sides of the town : these were all manned with as 
many soldiers as could be spared for them. On the 
north of the town ran the Kansas River ; on the west was 
a ravine ; and the enemy were looked for on the south. 
As for myself, I occupied, with some fifteen or twenty 
others, a breastwork thrown across the south end of 
Massachusetts Street — a precaution which had been 
found necessary in the early part of the season. 

Captain Brown was always on the alert, visiting 
every portion of the town, and all the fortifications, in 
person, giving directions, and exhorting every man to 
keep cool, and do his duty, and his reward would be 
an approving conscience. Among other preparations 
for a vigorous defence, a number of merchants went 
into their stores and brought out a large lot of pitch- 
forks ; and every man who was not provided with a 
bayonet on his gun was furnished with a fork, which . 
certainly would be no mean weapon, if dexterously 

In the mean time, the invading army had left Frank- 
lin, and were marching towards Lawrence ; and about 
five o'clock in the afternoon, their advance guard, con- 
sisting of four hundred horsemen, crossed the Wake- 
rusa, and presented themselves in sight of town, about 
two miles off, when they halted, and arrayed them- 

Defence of Lawrence. 165 

selves for battle, fearing, perhaps, to come within too 
close range of Sharpe's rifle balls. Brown's movement 
now was a little on the offensive order ; for he ordered 
out all the Sharpe's riflemen from every part of town, 
— in all not more than forty or fifty, — marched them 
a half mile into the prairie, and arranged them three 
paces apart, in a line parallel with that of the enemy ; 
and then they lay down upon their faces in the grass, 
awaiting the order to fire. While occupying this posi- 
tion, a gallant trooper from the enemy's side rode up 
about half a mile in advance of his comrades to re- 
connoitre ; halting upon a little rise in the road, and 
while feasting his eyes with a sight of " Lane's Ban- 
ditti," a full mile off, one of them, not having the 
fear of the Missourians before his eyes, drew a bead on 
him, and fired at him, waiting with breathless anxiety 
to see what came of it. Li two or three seconds, the 
ball struck in the road, immediately at the horse's feet, 
and the rider, satisfied with this demonstration, imme- 
diately wheeled about, and putting spurs to his horse, 
was soon out of the reach of even Sharpe's rifle balls. 

Brown now changed the position of his men to a 
rising piece of ground, about a quarter of a mile to 
the left, which overlooked a small cornfield of eight 
or ten acres, and there stationed them as before, with 
their faces to the ground. A simultaneous movement 
on the part of the enemy brought the two armies face 
to face, about half a mile apart, and with the cornfield 
between them. 

It was now just approaching dusk. The shades of 
3vening were fast settling upon all Kansas ; and in- 

i66 Defence of Lawrence. 

stead of there being a Joshua there, to charter a little 
more of the light of day, the sun, in anticipation of a 
fratricidal strife, went rapidly down behind the moun- 
tains ; there was no light, even of the moon and stars, 
for the intervening clouds; and Night — the good 
angel that she was — came and spread her dark man- 
tle over the earth, and concealed the further shedding 
of blood from those who would weep at sight of it. 
But during this cover, there were those among us who 
were to depart and be no more with us forever. They 
were to 

"lie down 
With pati'iarchs of the infant world — with kings, 
The powerful of the earth," 

in that grand receptacle for the dead, " the distant 
Aidenn," on the confines of whose shores there are 
doubtless worthier and " better " soldiers, as well as 
" elder." 

The distance now between the contending armies 
was such as to give to Sharpe's rifle balls, that were 
fired with precision, a deadly effect ; as was evinced by 
the fact that several horses were found riderless. In a 
few moments, the firing became general ; and in the 
darkness, and otherwise stillness of the night, the con- 
tinual flash, flash, flash of those engines of death along 
that line of living fire, presented a scene the appear- 
ance of which was at once not only terrible, but sub- 
limely beautiful. For fear that the few men detailed 
to meet the enemy would be surrounded in the dark- 
ness by the superior number of horsemen, and cut to 
pieces, a twelve-pound brass piece, under guard of 


Defence of Lawrence. 167 

twelve men, was sent to their assistance ; but before it 
liad arrived upon the ground, the foe had become 
Danic-stricken and fled. The sons of chivahy and of 
:he sunny South, four hundred strong, well armed and 
nounted, precipitately fled before thirty or forty 

That night, T. and I took our blankets and lay 
iown immediately within the breastwork before men- 
ioned, with a stone for a pillow and the clouds for 
I covering. "We had been here for a few moments 
)nly, when Captain Brown came along, and said, 
' With your permission, I will be the third one to 
lid in defending this fortification to-night." "Wo 
•eadily granted his request, and he then lay down by 
)ur side, and told us of the trials and the wars he 
lad passed through ; that he had settled in Kansas 
Tith a large family, having with him six full-grown 
1 ons ; that he had taken a claim in Lykins county, and 
vas attending peacefully to the duties of husbandry, 
vhen the hordes of wild men came over from Missouri 
md took possession of all the ballot-boxes, destroyed 
lis corn, stole his horses, and shot down his cattle, and 
heep, and hogs, and repeatedly threatened to shoot 
lim, hang him, or burn him, if he did not leave the 
erritory ; and as many times endeavored to put their 
hreats in force, but were as often prevented by his 
' eternal vigilance," which he found to be the price of 
lis life, and of those of his family ; that they after- 
wards did kill and murder one of his sons, in cold 
>lood, in his own hearing, and almost in his own sight; 
,nd all, forsooth, because he hated slavery ! "When he 

i68 Defence of Lawrence. 

told me that he held that promising son in his arms as 
he drew his last breath, and thought of the resem- 
blance he bore to his mother, I thought, in the indig- 
nation of the moment, that had that been my son, I 
would have sworn, by the blood that crimsoned his 
face, forever to raise my voice and my arm against the 
measures and the men who had thus hunted him to an 
untimely death. 

Another eye witness and participator in this mem- 
orable action, who was posted with Major Bickerton 
on Mount Oread, afterwards published a poetical 
account of it; which, as the writer — Richard Realf — 
had engaged to be at Harper's Perry, but died on his 
passage from England as he was coming over for that 
purpose, I subjoin, as well as on account of its histor- 
ical accuracy, literary merit, and an indication of the 
range of intellect which the brave old hero gathered 
around him. 

The Defence of Lawrence. 

All night, upon the guarded hill, 

Until the stars were low, 
Wrapped round as with Jehovah's will, 

We waited for the foe ; 
All night the silent sentinels 

Moved by like gliding ghosts ; 
All night the fancied warning bella 

Held all men to their posts. 

We heard the sleeping prairies breathe. 

The forest's hiunan moans, 
The hungry gnashing of the teeth 

Of wolves on bleaching bones ; 

Defence of Lawrence. i69 

We marked the roar of rushing fires, 

The neigh of frighted steeds, 
And voices as of far-off lyres 

Among the river reeds. 

We •« ere but thirty-nine who lay 

Beside our rifles then ; 
We were but thirty-nine, and they 

Were twenty hundred men. 
Our lean limbs shook and reeled about, 

Our feet were gashed and bare, 
And all the breezes shredded out 

Our garments in the air. 

Sick, sick, at all the woes which spring 

Where falls the Southron's rod, 
Our very souls had learned to cling 

To Freedom as to God ; 
And so we never thought of fear, 

In all those stormy hours. 
For every mother's son stood near 

The awful, unseen powers. 

And twenty h'mdred men had met, 

And swore an oath of hell 
That, ere the morrow's sun might set, 

Our smoking homes should tell 
A tale of ruin and of wrath, 

And damning hate in store, 
To bar the freeman's western path 

Against him evermore. 

They came : the blessed Sabbath day, 

That soothed our swollen veins, 
Like God's sweet benediction, lay 

On all the singing plains ; 
The valleys shouted to the sun. 

The great woods clapped their hands, 


lyo Defence of Lawrence. 

And joy and glory seemed to run 
Like rivers through the lands. 

They came : our daughters and our •wives. 

And men whose heads were white, 
Kose sudden into kingly lives, 

And walked forth to the fight ; 
And we drew aim along our guns, 

And calmed our quickening breath ; 
Then, as is meet for Freedom's sons, 

Shook loving hands with Death. 

And when three hundred of the foe 

Rode up in scorn and pride, 
Whoso had watched us then might know 

That God was on our side ; 
Por all at once, a mighty thrill 

Of grandeur through us swept, 
And strong and swiftly down the hill 

Like Gideons we leapt. 

> vd all throughout that Sabbath day 

A wall of fire we stood, 
And held the baffled foe at bay, 

And streaked the ground with blood ; 
And when the sun was very low, 

They wheeled their stricken ranks, 
And passed on, wearily and slow, 

Beyond the river banks. 

Beneath the everlasting stars, 

We bended child-like knees. 
And thanked God for the shining scars 

Of his large victories ; 
And some, who lingered, said they heard 

Such wondrous music pass, 
As though a seraph's voice had stirred 

The pulses of the grass. 


Return to the East. 

AS soon as the Missourians retreated from Franklin, 
John Brown, with four sons, left Lawrence for 
the East, by the way of Nebraska Territory. When at 
Topeka he found a fugitive slave, whom, covering up 
.1 his wagon, he carried along with him. 

He was sick, and travelled slowly. Northern squat- 
ters, at this time, were constantly leaving the Territory 
in large niimbers. In coming down with a train of 
emigrants, in October, I met two or three hundred of 
these voluntary exiles — all of them having terrible 
stories of Southern cruelty to tell. 

Not contented with having closed the Missouri River 
against Northern emigration, the South, through the 
Government, determined, also, to arrest the emigration 
from the Free States by the Nebraska route. It- was 
intended to stop and disarm my train ; but a few forced 
marches defeated that design. It was known that 
another large party was coming in after me : this train 
several companies of cavalry and artillery marched 
nortliward to arrest. John Brown went up with them, 
and camped with them every night, although the Mar- 


172 Return to the Eaft. 

shal, who led the force, had a writ for his arrest ! " He 
was then acting in the capacity of a surveyor — or ap- 
peared as such to them. He had a Hght wagon and a 
cow tied behind it. His surveyor's instruments were 
in the wagon in full sight." * 

As soon as the military supplies had been stored, I 
left Topeka in company with a friend, and overtook the 
troops a few miles from Lexington, a town site on the 
prairie, thus named by the Massachusetts companies. 
Passing them, and travelling twelve miles farther, I 
found, lying sick in bed, at the solitary log hut at 
Plymouth, the venerable hero of Osawatomie and Law- 
rence. My companion was a physician, wlio at once 
prescribed remedies for his fever. I urged the old man 
to move on, as the troops were approaching, not know- 
ing that he had recently encamped with tiicm. I told 
him that they intended to remain at Plymouth until 
the train should arrive there ; and that, as many of the 
people here knew his name, he might, without inten- 
tional treachery, be discovered and arrested. Ho 
thanked me for the advice, and promised to follow it. 
Leaving the house he remained at, I saw the camp of 
his little company — five men in all, and four of them 
his sons. I urged on them, also, the importance of 
moving on. 

A few hours before we overtook the troops, a young 
man joined us, and reported that he had recently 
escaped from the ruffians at Leavenworth. Not sus- 
pecting or doubting his story, as we rode along I ex- 
pressed, in enthusiastic terms, my admiration of the 

* Letter from Joel Grover, of Lawrence. 

Return to the Eaft. 173 

character of Old Brown. Our new acquaintance sud- 
denly pretended to be sick, and as he was, withal, 
rather a bore to us, we advised him to return to Ply- 
mouth. He seemed to follow our advice, but rode back 
to the dragoons, who had encamped for the night, and 
informed them where Old Brown lay sick. A detach- 
ment of the soldiery was instantly sent on to arrest 
him. Fortunately for the cause of the slave and 
American honor, they arrived too late. The old man 
had crossed the Nebraska line, and the officer in com- 
mand did not dare to assume the responsibility of fol- 
lowing him. 

At Tabor, in Iowa, — a little village of true friends 
of freedom, — the old man and his sons remained two 
or three weeks. This village was a colony from Ober- 
liii, in Ohio, and contributed more money and provis- 
ions, in proportion to its population, than any other 
.community in the Union. 

c About the end of November, John Browu reached 
Chicago, and appeared before the National Kansas Com- 
mittee, from whom, however, the only aid he obtained 
was a suit of clothes, wliich, although of the plainest 
cut and most common material, he did not like, be- 
cause they were too fine, and not strong enough for a 
man of his simple habits and tastes. In December he 
was at Albany, urging on the leading friends of Kan- 
sas the necessity of more efficient action against the 
Southern marauders. 

When on his way to New York, he staid for a few 
days at Cleveland. The Herald, of that city, recently 
said of this visit : 


174 * Return to the Eaft. 

"He was so demented as to suppose he could raise a regiment of 
men in Ohio to march into Missouri to make reprisals against the 
Slave forces, and even asked a friend if the power of the State couid 
not be enlisted in that matter. He was then told by many that he 
was a madman, and the poor man left sorrowing that there was no 
sjTnpathy here for the oppressed." 

How very demented ! The whole North was shout- 
mg itself hoarse in execrating the Southern invaders of 
Kansas ; and yet, when an earnest old man proposed 
to organize this resentment into an effective system of 
aggressive action, " he was told by many that he was 
a madman ! " 

His half brother, Jeremiah, seems to have been one 
of those unfortunate men with whom earnest heroism 
is synonymous with insanity. When the illustrious 
old man, who redeemed his name and family from the 
obscurity of an excessive familiarity, -^ and made the 
name of John Bkown, hitherto a generic title for the 
Saxon race, mean the highest Christian military hero- 
ism, — this relative, under oath, declared: 

•' My brother John, from my earliest recollection, has been an hon- 
est, conscientious man ; and this was his reputation among all vho 
knew him in that section of the country. Since the trouble growing 
out of the settlement of Kansas Territory, I have observed a marked 
change in brother John. Previous to this, he devoted himself entirely 
to business ; but since these troubles he has abandoned all business, 
and has become wholly absorbed by the subject of Slavery. He had 
property left him by his father, and of which I had the agency. He 
has never taken a dollar of it for the benefit of his family, but has 
called for a portion of it to be expended in what he called the Service. 
After his return to Kansas he called on me, and I urged him to go 
home to his family and attend to his private affairs ; that I feared his 
course would prove his destruction and that of his boys. This was 
about two years ago. He replied that he was sorry that I did not 
sympathize with him ; that he knew he was in the line of his duty, 
and he must pursue it, though it should destroy him and his family. 
He stated to me that he was satisfied that he was a chosen iiistrument 

, Return to the Eaft. 175 

in the hands of God to -war against Slavery. From his manner and 
from his conversation at this time, I had no doubt he had become in- 
sane upon the subject of Slavery, and gave him to understand this was 
my opinion of him ! " 

With such insane men are the highest heavens peo- 
pled ; and of such are the angels who minister at God's 


Speech to the Massachusetts Legislature. 

JOHN BROWN arrived in Boston in January, 1857. 
At that period there was an effort made, by the 
friends of freedom in the Commonwealth, to induce 
the legislature of Massachusetts to vote an appropria- 
tion of ten thousand dollars, for the purpose of pro- 
tecting the interests of the North, and the rights of 
her citizens in Kansas, if the Territory should be 
again invaded by organized marauders from the 
Southern States. 

A Joint Committee was appointed by the General 
Court to consider tlie petitions in favor of a State ap- 
propriation. It held its sittings publicly. Eminent 
champions of freedom in Massachusetts, and men who 
had distinguished themselves during the conflict in 
Kansas, were invited to address the Committee. 
Among the Kansas men was Captain John Brown, 
who, on the 18th of February, appeared at the capitol 
to make a statement of his views. 

The writer was present at this sitting, and reported 
the old man's speech. 

Captain Brown ^ as he stepped forward, was received 


Speech to the Maflachufetts Legiflature. lyy 

with applause. He said he intended to speak exchi- 
sively of matters of which he was personally cogni- 
zant ; and, therefore, the committee must excuse him 
if he should refer more particularly to himself and 
family tlian he otherwise would do. 

He then read the following statement in a clear, 
ringing tone : 


" I saw, while in Missouri, in the fall of 1855, largo 
numbers of men going to Kansas to vote, and also 
returning after they had so done : as they said. 

" Later in the year, I, with four of my sons, was 
called out, and travelled, mostly on foot and during 
the night, to help defend Lawrence, a distance of 
thirty-five miles ; where we were detained, with some 
five hundred others, or thereabouts, from five to ten 
days — say an average of ten days— -at a cost of not 
less than a dollar and a half per day, as wages ; to say 
notliing of the actual loss and suffering occasioned to 
many of them, by leaving thoir families sick, tiieir 
crops not secured, their houses unprepared for winter, 
and many without houses at all. This was the case 
with myself and sons, who could not get houses built 
after returning. Wages alone would amount to seven 
thousand five hundred dollars ; loss and suffering can- 
ttot be estimated. 

Q- " I saw, at that time, the body of the murdered Bar- 
ber, and was present to witness his wife and other 
friends brought in to sec him with his clothes on, just 
as he was when killed.* 

*^ • By a federal office-holder, who was afterwards promoted to a more 
lucratiye post. 

lyS Speech to the Maffachufetts Legiflature. 

" I, with six sons and a son-in-law, was called out, 
and travelled, most of the way on foot, to try and save 
Lawrence, May 20 and 21, and much of the way in 
the night. From that date, neither I nor my sons, 
nor my son-in-law, could do any work about our 
homes, but lost our whole time until we left, in Oc- 
tober ; except one of my sons, who had a few weeks 
to devote to the care of his own and his brother's 
family, who were then without a home. 

" From about the 20th of May, hundreds of men, 
like ourselves, lost their whole time, and entirely failed 
of securing any kind of crop whatever. I believe it 
safe to say, that five hundred free state men lost eacli 
one hundred and twenty days, which, at one dollar and 
a half per day, would be — to say nothing of attendant 
losses — ninety thousand dollars. 

" On or about the 30th of May, two of my sons, with 
several others, were imprisoned without other crime 
than opposition to bogus legislation, and most barba- 
rously treated for a time, one being held about one 
month, and the other about four months. Both had 
their families on the ground. After this, both of them 
had their houses burned, and all their goods consumed 
by the Missourians. In this burning all the eight suf 
fered. One had his oxen stolen, in addition." 

The Captain, laying aside his paper, here said that he 
had now at his hotel, and would exhibit to the Com- 
mittee, ii they so desired, the chains which one of his 
sons had worn, when he was driven, beneath a burning 
sun, by fedci-al troops, to a distant jnnson, on a charge 
of treason. The cruelties he there ^idured, added to 

Speech to the Matfachufetts Legiflature. 179 

the anxieties and suiferings incident to his position, 
had rendered him, the old man said, as his eye flashed 
and his voice grew sterner, " a maniac — yes, a 


He paused a few seconds, wiped a tear from his eye, 
ind continued his narration : 

" At Black Jack, the invading Missourians wounded 
/liroe free state men, one of them my son-in-law ; and, 
I few days afterwards, one of my sons was so wounded 
hat he will be a cripple for life. 

" In August, I was present and saw the mangled and 
disfigured body of the murdered Hoyt, of Deerfield, 
Massachusetts, brought into our camp. I knew him 

" I saw the ruins of many free state men's houses in 
< liffcrent parts of the Territory, together with grain in 
ihe stack, burning, and wasted in other ways, to the 
{ mount, at least, of fifty thousand dollars. 

" I saw several other free state men, besides those I 
1 ave named, during the summer, who were badly 
\ 'ounded by the invaders of the Territory. 

" I know that for much of the time during tlie sum- 
t icr, the travel over portions of the Territory was 
( iitirely cut oflf, and that none but bodies of armed 
1 len dared to move at all, 

" I know that for a considerable time the mails on 
c ifferent routes were entirely stopped ; and notwith- 
p auding there were abundant troops in the Territory 
t > escort the mails, I know that such escorts were not 
f irnished, as they ought to have been, 

" I saw while it was standing, and afterwards saw 

i8o Speech to the Maffachufetts Legiflature. 

the ruins, of a most valuable house, the property of a 
highly civilized, intelligent, and exemplary Christian 
Indian, which was burned to the ground by the ruf- 
fians, because its owner was suspected of favoring the 
free state men. lie is known as Ottawa Jones, or John 
T. Jones. 

' "In September last, I visited a' beautiful little free 
state town called Staunton, on the north side of the 
Osage, (or Marais-des-Cygnes, as it is sometimes called,) 
from which every inhabitant had fled for fear of their 
lives, even after having built a strong log hotise, or 
wooden fort, at a heavy expense, for their protection. 
Many of them had left their effects liable to be de- 
stroyed or carried off, not being able to remove them. 
This was to me a most gloomy scene, and like a visit 
to a sepulchre. 

" Deserted houses and cornfields were to be found in 
almost every direction south of the Kansas Kiver. 

" I have not yet told all I saw in Kansas. 

" I once saw three mangled bodies, two of which 
were dead, and one alive, but with twenty bullet and 
buck shot holes in him, after the two murdered men 
hud lain on the ground, to be worked at by flies, for 
some eighteen hours. One of these young men was 
my own son." 

The stern old man faltered. He struggled long 
to suppress all exhibition of his feelings ; and soon, 
but with a subdued, and in a faltering tone, continued : 

" I saw Mr. Parker, whom I well know, all bruised 
about the head, and with his throat partly cut, after he 
had been dragged^ sick, from the house of Ottawa 


Speech to the Maffachufetts Legiflature. 181 

Joues, and thrown over the banli^of the Ottawa Creek 
for dead. 

" About the first of September, I, and five sick and 
wounded sons, and a son-in-law, were obhged to he on 
the ground, without shelter, for a considerable time, 
and at times almost. in a state of starvation, and de- 
pendent on the charity of the Christian Indian I have 
before named, and his wife. 

" I saw Dr. Graham, of Prairie City, who was a 
prisoner with the ruffians on the 2d of June, and was 
present when they wounded him, in an attempt to kill 
him, 513 he was trying to save himself from being mur- 
dered by them during the fight at Black Jack. 
atj " I know that numerous other persons, whose names 
I cannot now remember, suffered like hardships and 
exposures to those I have mentioned. 

" I know well that on or about the 14th of Sep- 
tember, 1856, a large force of Missourians and other 
ruffians, said by Governor Geary to be twenty-seven 
hundred in number, invaded the Territory, burned 
Franklin, and, while the smoke of that place was going 
up behind them, they, on the same day, made their 
appearance in full view of, and within about a mile of 
Lawrence ; and I know of no reason why they did not 
attack that place, except that about one hundred free 
state men volunteered to go out, and did go out on the 
open plain before the town, and give them the ofter of 
a fight ; which, after getting scattering shots from our 
men, they declined, and retreated back towards Frank- 
lin. I saw that whole thing. The government troops, 
at this tim^, were at Lecompton, a distance of twelve 

l82 Speech to the Maffachiifetts Legiflature. 

miles only fi-om Lawrence, with Governor Geary ; and 
yet, notwithstanding runners had been despatched to 
advise him, in good time, of the approach and setting 
out of the enemy, (who had to march some forty miles 
to reach Lawrence.) he did not, on that memorable 
occasion, get a single soldier on the ground until after 
the enemy had retreated to Franklin, and been gone 
for more than five hours. This is the way he saved 
Lawrence. (Laughter.) And it is just the kind of 
protection the free state men have received from the 
Administration from the first." 

These things the old man saw in Kansas. 

He concluded his remarks by denouncing the traitors 
to freedom, wlio, when a question of this kind was 
raised, cried out, " Save the people's money ; the dear 
people's money ! " He made a detailed estimate of 
how much the National Government had expended in 
endeavoring to fasten Slavery on Kansas ; and asked 
why these politicians had never cried out, " Save the 
people's money ! " when it was expended to trample 
under the foot of the " peculiar " crime of the south, 
the rights, lives, and property of the Northern squat- 
ters. They were silent then." (Applause.) 

The Chairman — Captain Brown, I wish to ask you 
regarding Buford's men,* Did you ever mingle with 
them ? And if so, what did you see or hear ? 

Captain Brown replied, that he saw a great deal of 

* Colonel Buford was the leader- of several companies of Georgia 
and Alabama bandits, who came to Kansas, in the spring of 1856, 
with the avowed intentif^n of expelling or exterminating the emi- 
grants from the North ^ 

Speech to the Maffachufetts Legiftature. 183 

diem at first ; that they spoke without hesitation before 
liim, because he employed himself as a surveyor ; and, 
as nearly all the surveyors were pro-slavery men, they 
probably thought he was " sound on the goose. " * 
They told him all their plans ; what they intended to 
do ; how they were determined to drive off the free 
state men, and possess themselves of the Territory, and 
make it a Slave State at all hazards : cost what it might. 
Tiiey said that • the Yankees could not be whipped, 
coaxed, nor driven into a fight, and that one pro-slavery 
man could whip a dozen abolitionists. They said that 
Kansas must be a Slave State to save Missouri from 
abolition ; that both must stand or fall together. They 
did not hesitate to threaten that they would burn, kill, 
scalp, and drive out the entire free state population of 
the Territory, if it was necessary to do so to accomplish 
their object. 

The Chairman then asked who commanded the free 
state men at Lawrence ? 

, His answer was characteristic of the man, whose 
courage was only equalled by his modesty and worth. 
jHe explained how bravely our boys acted — gave every 
one the credit but himself. When again asked who 
commanded them, he said — no one ; that he was asked 
^ take the command, but refused, and only acted as 
their adviser! 

I The Captain spoke, in conclusion, about the emi- 
grants needed for Kansas. 

"We want," he said, "good men, industrious men, 

♦ Western phrase : equivalent to, a reliable Mend of slavery. 

184 Speech to the Maffachufetts Legiftature. 

men who respect themselves ; who act only from the 
dictates of conscience ; men ivho fear God too much to 
fear any thing human.''^ 

The Chairman — What is your opinion as to the 
probability of a renewal of hostilities in Kansas — of 
another invasion ; and what do you think would be the 
effect, on the free state men, of an appropriation by 
Massachusetts ? 

Captain Brown — Whenever we heard, out in 
Kansas, that the North was doing any thing for us, we 
were encouraged and strengthened to struggle on. As 
to the probability of another invasion, I do not know. 
We ought to be prepared for the worst. Things do 
not look one iota more encouraging now, than they did 
last year at this time. You ought to remember that, 
from the date of the Shannon treaty till May last, there 
was perfect quiet in Kansas ; no fear of a renewal of 
hostilities ; no violence offered to our citizens in Mis- 
souri. I frequently went there myself; was known 
there ; yet treated with the greatest kindness." 

' Ci" 

■ &i: 


^floli l^jjir'iJ. 




12. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him and said, The 
Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor. 

14. And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, 
and thou shalt save Israel from the hands of the Midianites : have not 
I sent thee ? 

16. And the Lord said unto him. Surely I will be with thee, and 
thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man. 

27. Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the Lord 
had said unto him : and so it was . . . that he did it by night. 

28. And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, be- 
hold, the altar of Baal was cast down. 

29. And they said one to another, "Who hath done this thing ? And 
when they inquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath 
done this thing. (Chapter -vi.) 

21. And all the host ran, and cried, and fled. — Book of Judges, 
Chapter vii. 


Whetting the Sword. 

rHUS far John Brown's action has been exclusively 
defensive ; even according to the usual but unjust 
definition of the word. He had never struck a blow 
hut in defence of a threatened party. He had fought 
against the invadefs of Free Soil, but never yet in- 
vaded a slave country. 

We are now to see him acting as an aggressor — if 
ve accept the popular interpretation of the phrase. 
1 lather, in truth, we are now to see him as a defender 
( f the faith delivered to the fathers. For error is 
i Iways an innovator — ever an aggression. It has 
supplanted and fills the place that God intended for 
t le truth. Hence the radical reformer is the only 
( Dnservative ; and the monomaniac is the man who sup- 
j orts any untrue thing, whether creed, party, church, 
c r civil institution. 

The North says that slavery is a wrong. Why not, 
t len, destroy it ? The Constitution, the Union, Fed- 
e *al laws. State rights, it answers ; refusing to believe 
t lat no real good can be gained by nourishing a gigan- 
t c wrong. 


1 88 Whetting the Sword. 

When John Brown walked, he neither turned to the 
right nor left. With a solemn, earnest countenance, 
he moved straight on, and every one he met made 
way for him. So in his ideas. He felt that he was 
sent here, into this earnest world of ours, not to eat, 
and sleep, and dress, and die merely, but for a divinely 
pre-appointed purpose — to see justice done, to help the 
defenceless, to clear God's earth of the Devil's lies, in 
the shortest time and at any cost. 

He looked over the American field, and saw a huge 
embodied falsehood there ; a magazine of all manner 
of ungodliness — the sum of all villanies. He heard 
people call it slavery, and regret its existence ; others 
style it the peculiar institution, and hope that it might 
finally disappear. Others he heard loudly cursing it , 
but not one grappling with it. He was amazed at what 
he saw and heard ; and, when he said so, people called 
him a monomaniac. He saw some afraid to assail it, 
because it was guarded by two lions in the way — 
called the Union, and the Constitution ; while others, 
seeing the cotton that it belched from its mouth, were 
so pleased with that performance, that they would not 
look behind the bales. Some he saw bound with tho 
chains of policy, and others with the manacles of non- 
resistance. But not one living, dreadfully-in-earnest 
foe among them all ! 

That is what he saw, or thought he saw. Perhaps, 
had he seen the hidden mines that some men were 
digging, he would have changed his opinion of the 
value of their labor ; but even had he known it, as he 
was not a miner, but a fighter on the earth, he still 

Whetting the Sword. 189 

would have acted as he did act. He marched straight 
ahead, trampHng under foot the rotten stubble of unjust 
laws and constitutions, that stood between him and his 
foe. It is true that he finally fell among them ; but 
not before he proved how very powerless they are to 
resist a man. 

JOHN brown's scheme. 

John Brown returned to Kansas in the month of 
November, 1857. 

What had he been doing since January, when we 
reported him in Boston ? Whetting- his sword. And 
low ? In our free Republic, with its barbaric South- 
ern rulers, it would not be here safe to say how. Only 
jrief traces of his movements, therefore, can, in justice 
;o his noble friends, be recorded at this time. 

It should be stated, first, that at this period there 

vas every prospect of renewed disturbances in Kansas. 

Our need of officers had been greatly felt in the recent 

lonflict there. One hundred mounted men, well armed 

md officered, would at any time have swept the invar 

lers from the Territory. John Brown fully appreciated 

his necessity, and the terror that his own name had 

: nspired, arose from the dread, ho modestly thought, 

)f his military knowledge, as much as from the victo- 

; ies lie had gained. Hence he desired to have funds 

equip a sufficient force for the protection of the 

1 quatters, as well as to drill a select number of the 

oung men of Kansas, who had proved themselves 
. lithful to principle. 

He well knew, from his power over men, that, 
1 hould the Kansas difficulties cease, the youths thus 

19P Whetting the Sword. 

drilled would follow him to Harper's Ferry, which, 
for many years, he had selected as the grand point of 
attack on slavery. 


I met John Brown in Boston in January, 1857 ; and 
many of the facts of this volume he told me at that 
period. To a gentleman of note in Massachusetts, who 
made his acquaintance at that time, I am indebted for 
the reminiscences that follow : 

"He brought me a letter of introduction in January, 1857. His 
business was to raise money for the purpose of further protecting the 
Free State men of Kansas ; and for this purpose he desired to equip 
one hundred mounted men. His son Owen accompanied him. He 
immediately impressed me as a person of no common order, and every 
day that I saw him strengthened this impression. . . . His brown coat 
of the fashion of ten years before, his waistcoat buttoning nearly to 
the throat, and his wide trousers, gave him the look of a well-to-do 
farmer in his Sunday dress ; while his patent leather stock, gray 
surtout, and fur cap, added a military air to his figure. At this time 
he wore no beard.* 

<«I found him frank and decided in his conversation ; expressing his 
opinions of men and things with a modest firmness, but often in the 
most striking manner. I think it was in his second call on me that 
he used the language, ' I believe in the Goldeti Rule, sir, and the Decla- 
ration of Indepefidence. I think they both mean the same thing ; ajid 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 ccmntry. I mean exactly so, sir.' I have twice or 
thrice heard him repeat this sentiment, which I particularly noticed at 
the time. He staid but a short time in Boston ; but returned in Feb- 
ruary, and soon after appeared before a committee of the Massachu- 
setts Legislature, ... In March he visited Concord, and spoke at a 
public meeting in the Town Hall, where, I am told, he exhibited the 
chain worn by his son John in Kansas, and, with a gesture and voice 
never to be forgotten by those who heard him, denounced the admin- 

* The steel engraving which embelh'slies this volume is from a daguerreotype taken 
at that time, and presented to me by the old hero as a token of friendship. 


Whetting the Sword. 191 

istration and the South for their -work in Kansas. He spent several 
days in Concord, and made the acquaintance of many of its citizens ; 
among others, of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry D. Thoreau, 
who have testified so clearly to his nohility of character. 

"Near the end of March, 1857, being on my way to Washington, I 
met Capt. Brown in New York City, and spent a night with him at 
the Metropolitan Hotel. Capt. Brown objected to the show and ex- 
travagance of such an establishment, and said he preferred a plain 
tavern, where drovers and fanners lodged in a plain way. We went 
on to Philadelphia, and while there I was taken unwell, and could 
scarcely sit up. Capt. Brown nursed me as much as I had need of, 
and showed great skill and tenderness. In May he set out for Kan- 
sas, and I lost sight of him for nearly a year." 

Emerson is reported at this time to have said that 
John Brown was the truest hero-man he had ever met. 
Theodore Parker, also, said to a friend of mine, who 
spoke of Captain Montgomery as a man of more har- 
monious and cultivated intellect than John Brown, 
" Do you know what you say, sir ? John Brown is 
one of the most extraordinary men of this age and 
nation." Henry D. Thoreau styled him a " true tran- 

Mr. Stearns, an active and generous friend of Kan- 
sas, tells two incidents of John Brown's visit to Boston 
at this time, which are exceedingly characteristic of 
the old Puritan. 

" . Shortly after his introduction to him, Mr. Stearns 
?aid, one day, half jestingly, " I suppose, Captain 
Brown, that if Judge Lecompte had fallen into your 
lands, he would have fared rather hard." 

The old man turned round in his chair, and, in 
he most earnest tones, said, " If the Lord had deliv- 
!rcd Judge Lecompte into my hands, I think it would 
lave required the Lord to have taken him out again." 

1^ Whetting the Sword. 

A meeting of prominent friends of freedom in Kan- 
sas, was to be held on the Sabbath, as no other day 
could a full attendance be obtained. Mr. Stearns, not 
knowing hoV the old Puritan might regard this use of 
the day of rest, — to him and to us a very holy use of ■ 
it, — inquired if it would be consistent with his religious, 
conviction to give his attendance. 

"Mr. Stearns," said the Old man, "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." 


The winter and spring of 1857 John Brown spent 
in travelling. He visited North Elba once. He spoke 
at different cities, and employed all his energies in col- 
lecting money. I believe that a large sum was voted 
for his use by the National Kansas Committee ; but I 
know that — it is said through the dishonesty of an 
agent — he received only a very trifling portion of it. 
He published, also, the following appeal, which was 
widely copied by the press, and undoubtedly liberally 
responded to : 

To the Friends of Freedom : 

The undersigned, whose individual means were exceedingly limited 
when he first engaged in the struggle for liberty in Kansas, being now 
still more destitute, and no less anxious than in times past to con- 
tinue his efforts to sustain that cause, is induced to make this earnest 
appeal to the friends of freedom throughout the United States, in the 
firm belief that his call will not go unheeded. 

I ask all honest lovers of liberty and human rights, both male and 
female, to hold up my hands by contributions of pecuniary aid, either 
as counties, cities, towns, villages, societies, churches, or individuals. 

I will endeavor to make a judicious and faithful application of all 
Buch means as I may be supplied with. Contributions may be sent, 

Whetting the Sword. 193 

n drafts, to W. II. D. Calender, Cashier State Bank, Hartfoid, Conn. 
-t IS niy intention to visit as many places as I can during my stay in 
he States, provided I am informed of the disposition of the inhab- 
itants to aid me in my efforts, as well as to receive my visit. Infor- 
1 nation may be communicated to me, (care of Massasoit House,) at 
.' Ipringfield, Mass. "Will editors of newspapers, friendly to the cause, 
lindly second the measure, and also give this some half dozen inser- 
1 ions ? Will either gentlemen or ladies, or both, volunteer to take up 
t he business ? It is with no little sacrifice of pet sonal feeling I appear 
ii this manner before the public. John Bbowk. 

Ill February, when in CoUinsville, Connecticut, he 

(•rdered the manufacture of his pikes. I remember 

Ihat, when in Boston, he spoke with great contempt of 

Sharpe's rifles as a weapon for inexperienced men, and 

taid that with a pike, or bow and arrows, he could arm 

1 ocruits more formidably than with patent guns. How 

1 3 ordered the pikes is thus stated by the maker of 

liieni : 

" In the latter part of February, or the early part of March, 1857, 
( 'Id Brown, as he is familiarly called, came to CoUinsville to visit his 
1 .'latives, and by invitation addressed the inhabitants at a public meet- 
i ig. At the close of it, or on the following day, he exhibited some 
•\ capons which he claimed to have taken from Capt. H, C. Pate, at 
t le battle of Black Jack. Among others w'as a bowic knife or dirk, 
1 iving a blade about eight inches long. Brown remarked that such 
i 1 instrument, fixed to the end of a pole about six feet long, would be 
I capital weapon to place in the hands of the settlers in Kansas, to 
1 2cp in their cabins to defend themselves against ' border ruffians or 
A ild beasts,' and asked me what it would be worth to make one 
1 lousand. I replied that I would make them for one dollar each, not 
t linking that it would lead to a contract, or that such an instrument 
■> ould ever be wanted or put to use in any way, if made ; but, to my 
i uprise, he drew up a contract for one thousand, to be completed 
A ithin three months, he agreeing to pay me five hundred dollars in 
t lirty days, and the balance within thirty days thereafter." * 

'*' Having failed to raise the necessary money, the pikes were left unfinished at 
t is time ; but, in the following year, in the month of June, .John Brown was again 
i ColliiiHville,aud completed the contract, and in AuRust, under the name of J. Smith 
t id Sons, ordered them to be forwarded to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, upon which 
t ey were transported across the country to Harper's Ferry. 


194 Whetting the Sword. 

In March and April, Captain Brown made an agree- 
ment with a drill-master, named Hugh Forbes, au Eng- 
lishman, and a Revolutionary exile, to instruct a num- 
her of young Kaijsas men in military science. Forbes 
engaged to be at Tabor, in Iowa, in June, to mecjt John 
Brown and his men there. 

In May, John Brown set out for Kansas, but was 
delayed in the Central States for some time. Here js 
an incident of his travels, recently published to prove 
his insanity, by a citizen of Ohio : 

«' During the summer of 1857, I met John Brown in the cars be- 
tween Cleveland and Columbus. He was about to return to Kansas. 
I. sought to gather some information respecting the probable advantage 
of wool growing in that section ; but found his mind was very restless 
on wool and sheep husbandry, and soon began to talk with great 
earnestness of the evil of Slavery, on which he soon became enthu- 
siastic, and claimed that any course, whether stealing or coaxing 
niggers to run away from their masters, was honorable ; at wliich I 
attempted to point out a more conservative course, remarking very 
kindly to him that Kentucky, in my opinion, would have been a free 
State ere this, had it not been for the excitement and prejudices engen- 
dered by ultra abolitionists of Ohio. At this remark, he rose to his 
feet with clinched fist, eyes rolling like an insane man, (as he most 
assuredly was,) and remarked that the South would become free within 
one year were it not that there were too many such scoundrels as my- 
self to rivet the chains of Slavery. ... I mvist, though, in justice to 
Mr. Brown, state that, when not under excitement or mental derange- 
ment, he has ever manifested to me a kind, benevolent, and humane 
disposition, as a man of strict integrity, moral and religious worth." * 

Another person, who also met John Brown in the 
cars at this time, subsequently said that he regarded 
him as a monomaniac ; and his chief reason was, that 
the old man " spoke of the Eastern people generally as 
criminally lukewarm on the subject and sin of slavery, 
and manifested a very great deal of warmth on the 
subject " ! 

That it is true that John Brown was not fully satis 
fied with the results of his trip to the east, may be seen 

* Affidavit of S. N. CkKKlale, of CleTaland, Ohio. 

Whetting the Sword. 195 

by the following characteristic note, which was found 
in his own handwriting among the papers left at the 
homestead of North Elba. It is entitled : 

Old Brown's Farewell 

To the Plytnouth Rocks, Bunker Hill Monuments, Charter Oaks, aiid 

Uncle Thorn's Cabbins. 

He has left for Kansas. Has been trying since he came out of the 
Territory to secure an outfit, or in other words, the jncans of arming 
and thoroughly equipping his regular minuet men, who are mixed up 
tcith the people of Kansas, and he leaves the States, with a feeling op 
DEErEST sadness : that after having exhausted his oton small means, 
and with his family and his brave men ; suffered hunger, cold, naked- 
ness and some of them sickness, wounds, imprisonment in Irons ; with 
extreme cruel treatment, and others death: that after lying on the 
ground for months in the most sickly, unwholesome, and uncom- 
fortable places ; some of the time with sick and wounded destitute of any 
shelter ; and hunted like wolves ; sustained in part by Indians : that 
after all this ; in order to sustain a cause which every citizen of this 
" gloriotis Re2ntblic" is under equal moral obligations to do: and ^or 
the neglect of tchich, he will be held accountable by God: a cause in which 
every man, women, and child; of the e7itire human family has a deep 
and AWFUL interest ; that when no wages are asked ; or expected ; he 
cannot secure, amidst all the wealth, luxury and extravagance of this 
"Heaven exalted" people; even the necessary supplies of the common 
soldier. " How are the mighty fallen ? " 

Boston, April, A. D. 1857. 

. The diary of one of the old man's sons, which was 
found among the papers at the Kennedy Farm, gives 
an outline of his movements after starting for the 


The journal, which opens on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 1857, is contained 
ill an ordinary-sized account book, upon the fly-leaf of which is im- 
pressed a circular stamp, inscribed "Tabor, Fremont County, Iowa," 
and around the rim the name of " Jason Jones, Notary Public." 

The first entry, of Aug. 25, states that the writer started at a certain 
late in June for Tabor, from Akron to Hudson ; got goods at Hen- 
ichs, &c. ; harness ; bought red mail stage at Jerries ; next day went 
o Cleveland ; shipped chest by express ; staid at Bennett's Temper- 
mce House ; next day went to church through the day and evening. 

July 4, the entry is, " Father left for Iowa City," where he WM 

196 Whetting the Sword. 

joined by Jason, on the 5th, who records a meeting with Dr. Ilowcn, 
Mrs. Bowen, and Jessie and Eliza Ilorton. 

The entries until the 10th record the purchases of ■wood for spears, 
staples, chains for mules, and canvas for wa^on cover. A horse and 
buggy was swapped for two horses on the 13th ; on the 14th tents and 
tent poles were carefully packed in the wagons, and additional blan- 
kets purchased. 

July 15, the entry is, "The party crossed Iowa River," (Fort des 
Moines lliver at Red Rock, from which the autobiography is dated,) 
" stopped at noon on the stream beyond Six Mile House." 

The entry of Aug. 9 records the "arrival of Col. Forbes," (at 
Tabor,) who from the frequent mention made of that work, the defer- 
ence which the entries betray for the military judgment of the Colonel, 
and from the fact of the discovery of several copies of his work among 
the effects of Old Brown, we suppose to be Hugh Forbes, author of a 
Manual of the Patriotic Volunteer, the reading of which was the daily 
occupation of the writer, varied with the "cleaning of rifles and 
revolvers," and " fired twelve shots, drilled, cleaned guns and loaded, 
received letters from J. and G. Smith." 

September 23, the record acknowledges the receipt of letters from 
Redpath and G. Smith ; on the 30th the writer finishes " reading G. 
Smith's speech," and states that " efforts were made to raise a fund to 
send cannon and arms to Lane," but adds that they proved a failure. 
On the 1st of October the journalist visits Nebraska City with "]\Ir. 
Jones and Carpenter." 

October 3d proves a lucky date to the writer, who records the 
receipt then of "seventy-two dollars from friend Sanborn." The 
succeeding day (Sunday) our journalist improves his leisure by perus- 
ing " speech of Judge Curtis, delivered before the students of Union 
College, New Jersey,, and of Dartmouth College, and at the Normal 
School Convention, Westfield, Mass., and at Brown University, 
R. I. ;" the entry of the same date continues, " Read of the awf\jl dis- 
aster to the Central America, formerly the George Law ; read answer 
of the Connecticut men to Buchanan, and had to shed a few tears 
over it." 

On Nov. 4, the journalist rose at "ten minutes before four o'clock," 
elate with the remembrance that he is " thirty- three years old this day." 

John Brown reached Tabor on the 7th of August, 
and Colonel Forbes, two days after liira. They were 
obliged to remain there, inactive, till the 2d of Novem- 
ber, in consequence of being out of funds. 

"During this interval of suspense," writes Col. Forbes, "Captain 
Brown advocated the adoption of his plan, and I supported mine of 
stampedes. The conclusion arrived at was, that he renounctd Ido 
Harper's Ferry project, and I consented to cooperate in stampedes in 
Virginia and Maryland instead of the part of the country I indicatt'd 
as the most suitable. I perceived, however, that hi<i n-.ind constaii*ly 
wandered back to Harper's Ferry, and it was not till it had b 'cn def- 
initely settled that neither of us should do any thing unless undvr the 

Whetting the Sword. 197 

diriA.tion or with the consent of a committee, that I felt easy in my 
mind respecting his curious notions of Harper's Ferry. He was very 
pious, and had been deeply impressed for many years with the Bible 
Story of Gideon, believing that he with a handful of men could strike 
down Slavery." 

On the 2d of November, Colonel Forbes took steam- 
er at Nebraska City for the East, and Captain Brown 
went down to Kansas by the emigrants' road, in a 
wagon driven by one of his sons. He left two others 
at Tabor. 

Here Cook's Confession (which, although^ false in 
certain particulars, is mainly a correct statement of 
facts) becomes an authority of historical interest to 
the biographer of John Brown : 

"... I did not see him again until the fall of 1857, when I met 
him at the house of E. B. Whitman, about four miles from Lawrence, 
K. T., which, I think, was about the 1st of November following. I 
was told that he intended to organize a company for the purpose of 
putting a stop to the aggressions of the pro-slavery men. I agreed to 
join him, and was asked if' I knew of any other young men, who 
were perfectly reliable, who, I thought, would join also. I recom- 
mended llichard Kcalf, L. F. Parsons, and R. J. Hinton. I received 
a note on the next Sunday morning, while at breakfast in the Whit- 
ney House, from Captain Brown, requesting me to come up that day, 
and to bring Realf, Parsons, and Hinton with me. Realf and Hinton 
were not in town, and therefore I could not extend to them the invita- 
tion. Parsons and myself went, and had a long talk with Captain 
Brown. A few days afterwards I received another note from Captain 
Brown, which read, as near as I can recollect, as follows : 

Date . 

Captaiv Coox. Dear Sir : You will please get every thing 
ready to join me at Topeka by Monday night next. Come to Mrs. 
Sheridan's, two miles south of Topeka, and bring your arms, ammu- 
lition, clothing, and other articles you may require. Bring Parsons 
vith you if he can get ready in time. Please keep very quiet about 
he matter. Yours, &c., John Bkown. 

"I made all my arrangements for starting at the time appointed, 
'arsoas, llealf, and Hinton could not get ready. I left them at 
ence, and started in a carriage for Topeka. Stopped at the hotel over 
light, and loft earlj' the next morning for Mrs. Sheridan's, to meet 
'aptain Brown. Staid a day and a half at Mrs. Sheridan's — then h ft 
or Ttipeka, at which place we were joined by Stephens, MofRtt, and 
Cagi. Left Topeka for Nebraska City, and camped at night on tlie 
irairie north-cast of Topeka. Hero, for the first, I learned that we 
/ere to leave Kansas to attend a military school during the winter. It 


igS Whetting the Sw-jd. 

•was the intention of the party to go to Ashtabula County, Oliio 
Next morning I was sent back to Lawrence to get a draft of eight}' 
dollars cashed, and to get Parsons, Rcalf, and Ilinton to go back 
with me. I got the draft cashed. Captain Brown had given me 
orders to take boat to St. Joseph, Mo., and stage from there to Tabor, 
Iowa, where he would remain for a few days. I had to wait for 
Kealf for three or four days ; Hinten, could not leave at that time. I 
started with Realf and Parsons on a stage for LeavenAvorth. The 
l)oats had stopped running on account of the ice. Staid one day in 
Leavcn"^'orth, and then left for Weston, where we took stage for St. 
Joseph, and from thence to Tabor. I found C. P. Tidd and Le.enian 
at Tabor. Our party now consisted of Captain John Brown, Owen 
Brown, A. D. Stephens, Charles Moffitt, C. P. Tidd, Richard Robert- 
son, Col. Richard Realf, L. F. Parsons, William Lecman, and myself. 
We stopped some days at Tabor, making preparations to start. Here 
tee found that Captain Brotcn's ultimate destination teas the State of Vir- 
ginia. Some warm words passed beween him and myself in regard to 
the plan, which I had supposed was to be confined entirely to Kansas 
and Missouri. Realf and Parsons were of the same opinion with me. 
After a good deal of wrangling we consented to go on, as we had not the 
means to return, and the rest of the party were so anxious that we 
should go with them. At Tabor we procured teams for the transpor- 
tation of about two hundred Sharpe's rifles, which had boon taken on 
as far as Tabor, one year before, at which place they had been left, 
awaiting the order of Captain Brown. There were, also, other 
stores, consisting of blankets, clothing, boots, ammunition, and about 
two hundred revolvers of the Massachusetts Arms patent, all of which 
we transported across the State of Iowa to Springdale, and from there 
to Liberty, at which place they were shipped for Ashtabula County, 
Ohio, where they remained till brought to Chambersburg, Pa., and 
were from there transported to a house in Washington County, Md., 
which Captain Brown had rented for six months, and which was 
situated about five miles from Harper's Ferry. It was the intention 
of Captain Brown to sell his teams in Springdale, and, with the pro- 
ceeds, to go on with the rest of the company to some place in Ashta- 
bula County, Ohio, Avhere we were to have a good military instructor 
during the winter ; but he was disappointed in the sale. As he conld 
not get cash for the teams, it was decided we should remain in the 
neighborhood of Springdale, and that our instructor. Col. 11. Forbes, 
should be sent on. We stopped in Pedee, low^a, over winter, at Mr. 
Maxson's, where we pursued a course of military studies. Col. H. 
Forbes and Captain Brown had some words, and he (Col. F.) did not 
come on ; consequently, A. D. Stephens was our drill-master. The 
people of the neighborhood did not know of our purpose. We re- 
mained at Pedee till about the middle of April, when we left for Chat- 
ham, Canada, via Chicago and Detroit." 

In this extract there are two false statements ; that 
" some warm words passed " between Cook and Brown ; 
and that there was a " good deal of wrangling " be- 
t-ween the Captain, and Parsons, and Realf. 

- II. 

ft' Some Shadows Before. 

WE were at snppcr, on the 25th of June, 1858, at 
a hotel in Lawrence, Kansas. A stately old man, 
witli a flowing white beard, entered the room and took 
a seat at the public table. I immediately recognized 
in the stranger, John Brown. Yet many persons 
who had previously known him did not penetrate his 
patriarchal disguise. A phrenologist, who was convers- 
ing with me, having noticed him, suddenly turned and 
asked if I knew that man ? Such a head, such devel- 
opments, he said, were infallible indications of " a most 
remarkable person." 

I had several long conversations with the venerable 
hero, but do not deem it prudent to disclose their na- 
ture. Instead of relating, tlierefore, what I heard liim 
viy at this time, I subjoin some reminiscences by a 
friend, who was fully in his confidence, and fully worthy 
Df it. These notes distinctly foreshadow the Libera- 
tor's plans ; and, as they have been so grossly misrep- 
■uscnted, it is due to him, I think, that they should 
low be published, as far as prudence permits. 

After premising that all the young men of prinfciplc 


200 Some Shadows Before. 

in Kansas, by the law of attraction or mental atfinity, 
were the devoted friends and admirers of John Brown ; 
and mentioning that, in November, 1857, Cook, Realf, 
and Kagi left the Territory for Tabor, in Iowa, in his 
company ; and recording his arrival in Lawrence under 
the name of Captain Morgan, on the 25th of June, 
1858, he thus continues : 


"On Sunday I held a very interesting conversation with Captain 
Brown, which lasted nearly the whole afternoon. The purport of it 
was, on his part, inquiries as to various public men in the Territory, 
and the condition of political affairs. lie was very particular in his 
inquiries as to the movements and character of Captain Montgomery* 
The massacre of the Marais-des-Cygnes was then fresh in the mhids of 
the people. I remember an expression which he used. Warmly 
giving utterance to my detestation of 'slavery and its minions, and im- 
patiently wishing for some effectual means of injuring it, Captain 
Brown said, most impressively : 

" ' Young men must learn to wait. Patience is the hardest lesson to learn, 
I have waited for tioenty years to aceo?nplish my ])urpose,' 

»' In the course of the conversation he reminded me of a message that 
I had sent him in 1857,* and said, ' he hoped I meant what I said, for 
he should ask the fulfilment of that promise, and that perhaps very 
soon ; ' and further added, ' he wanted to caution me against rash 
promises. Young men were too apt to make them, and should be 
very careful. The promise given was of great importance, and I 
must be prepared to stand by it or disavow it now.' My answer 
need not be stated. 

"In this conversation he gave me no definite idea of his plans, but 
seemed generally bent on ascertaining the opinions and characters of ' 
our men of anti-slavery reputations. 

"Kdgi, at the same time, gave me to understand that their visit to 
Kansas was caused by the betrayal of their plans, by a Colonel Forbes, 
to the Administration, and that they wished to give a different impres- 
sion from what these disclosures had, by coming to the West. Both 
stated they intended to stay some time, and that night (Sunday) 

* This messa?re was an oxprpssion of regret, in a letter given to Richard Kealf for John 
Brown, that tlie writer could not then join him, in consequence of other engage- 
ments; bi't piomisiu^, at any futuit) liuic, to be ready to obey his call. 


Some Shadows Before. 2oi 

Captain Brown announced they should go South in the morning to 
Bee Captain Montgomery, and visit his relatives. The Rev. Mr. 
Adair's vfiie is the half- sister of Captain Brown. They live near 

•' Captain Brown started for Southern Kansas, on Monday morning, 
June 26. I did not see him again until the middle of Septcmh?r, when 
I met him at Mr. Adair's. Both the Captain and Kagi wore sick with 
the fever and ague, and had been for some time. In the interim, Cap- 
tain Brown had been in Linn and Bourbon Counties, and also visited 
other parts of Southern Kansas. One of his first acts, after arriving 
South, was to negotiate with Synder, the . blacksmith, upon whose 
claim the terrible massacre of the Marais-des-Cygncs occurred, for its 
purchase. This claim is situated about a half mile from the State line. 
The buildings are located in an admirable position for defence. John 
Brown saw both the ratiral and material advantages of the position, 
uid was desirous of obtaining possession. It will be remembered that 
Synder successfully resisted Hamilton's gang on the day of the mas- 
sacre. Captain Brown stated his object in wishing to obtain posses- 
ion of the land, and Synder agreed to sell. But though a brave, he 
was not specially an upright man, and, soon after making a bargain 
*^ith John Brown, having a better offer, he broke the contract. The 
Uaptain had, in the interval, with the assistance of Kagi, Tidd, 
Stephens, Leeman, and another member of his company, prepared a 
y-ery strong fortification, where they could have successfully resisted a 
arge force. In my journey through the Southern border counties, I 
bund that a general feeling of confidence prevailed among our friends, 
wcause John Brown was near. Over the border the Missourians were 
•omarkably quiet from June until October, from the belief that the 
)ld hero was in their vicinity. By the bad faith of Synder the farm 
vas abandoned, and Captain Brown and Kagi came to Mr. Adair's, 
vhcre I met them. The others were living ui Linn and Anderson 
younties. I called at the house about ten in the morning, and re- 
uained until past three in the afternoon." 

"Captain Brown had been quite unwell, and was then somewhat 
Qore impatient and nervous in his manner than I had before observed. 
lOon after my arrival, he again engagL-d in conversation as to various 
)ublic men in the Territory. Captain Montgomery's name was intro 
luced, and I inquired how Mr. Brown liked him. The Captain was 
[uite enthusiastic in praise of him, avowing a most perfect confl- 
lence in his integrity and purposes. ' Captain ^Montgomery,' he 

?02 Some Shadows Before. 

eaid, • is the only soldier I have met among the prominont Kansas 
men. He understands my system of warfare exactly. He is a natural 
chieftain, and knows how to lead.' The Captain spoke of General 
Lane, and alluded to the recent slaying of Gains Jenkins. He said, 
« he would not say one word against Lane in his misfortunes. His 
only comment was what he told the General himself — that he was his 
own worst enemy.' Of his own early treatment at the hands of am- 
bitious ♦ leaders,' to which I had alluded in bitter terms, he said : 

"'Thej' acted up to their instincts. As politicians, they thovight 
every man wanted to lead, and therefore supposed I might be in the 
way of their schemes. "While they had this feeling, of course they op- 
posed me. Many men did not like the manner in which I conducted 
warfare, and they too opposed me. Committees and coimcils could 
not control my movements, therefore they did not like me. But i)ol- 
iticians and leaders soon found that I had different purposes, and for- 
got their jealousy. They have all been kind to me since.' 

"Further conversation ensued relative to the Free State struggle, in 
which I, criticising the management of it from an anti-slavery point of 
view, pronounced it ' an abortion.' Captain Brown looked at me 
with a peculiar expression in the eyes, as if struck by the Avord, and in 
a musing manner remarked, < Abortion ! -r- yes, that's the word.' 

"He then spoke of Governor Robinson's actions as being of a 
* weather-cock character,' and asked if it was true that Colonel Phil- 
lips had written his first two messages to the Topeka Legislature. I 
told him my reasons for believing the truth of the statement, among 
other things mentioning tliat the first draft of the message sent to the 
Legislature at Topeka, in June, 18o7, as placed in the hands of the 
printers, was in Phillips' handwriting. At this John Brown grew 
angry — the only time I ever saw him so. He denounced the act 
severely, declaring it * a deception to which no one should lend him- 
self.' I replied that Phillips had done for the best without doubt ; 
that the Free State men had placed llobinson in the position, and that 
they must sustain him in it. 

" The Captain answered shortly, ' All nonsense. No man has a right 
to lend himself to a deception. Phillips had no business to write the 
messages. llobinson must be a perfect old woman. John Brown, sir, 
would, if he was Governor, write his own documents, if they contained 
but six lines.' Kagi interposed, and made some remarks, which calmed 
down the Captain, and the conversation became more general. 

"The conviction was expressed that trouble would break out agam 
in Southern Kansas. At this time I mentioned my intention of em- 
barking in a newspaper enterprise. Captain Brown, in an impressive 
raaniicr, reminded me of my promise to obey his call, and expressed a 

Some Shadows Befort. 203 

wish that I should not enter into any entangling engagements, refer- 
ring to my letter of 1857. He said • that he thought all engagements 
should be considered sacred, and liked my adhering to the one I had 
at the time. That was the reason he had not sent to me ; but now he 
hoped I would keep myself free.' In this connection he used words 
\vhich I have often thought of since. 

" 'For twenty years,' he said, 'I have never made any business 
arrangement which would prevent me at any time answering the 
call of the Lord. I have kept my business in such condition, that in 
two weeks I could always wind up my affairs, and be ready to obey 
the call. I have permitted nothing to be in the way of my duty, 
neither wife, children, nor worldly goods. Whenever the occasion 
offered, I was ready. The hour is very near at hand, and all who are 
willing to act should be ready.' 

" I was not at this time aware of the precise plans, but had a general 
jonception of his purpose, which, as it dawned upon me, filled my 
whole being with the radiance of its grandeur, as the July sunrise 
filleth the heavens with glory. All through that conversation I had 
the impression that those blue eyes, mild yet inflexible, and beaming 
with the steady light of a holy purpose, were searching my soul, and 
that my whole being was as transparent to him as the bosom of one 
jf his own Adirondack Lakes. I shall never forget the look or the 
ixpression with which he said : 

•''Young men should have a purpose in life, and adhere to it 
ihrough all trials. They would be sure to succeed if their purpose 
s such as to deserve the blessing of God.' 


**« After dinner, Kagi had some conversation with the Captain apart. 
He then asked me if I would walk down to the Marais-des-Cygnes, • as 
le was going to fish.' I acquiesced, and we started. About half way 
o the river we stopped, and sat on a fence. Kagi asked me what I 
upposed was the plan of Captain Brown ? My answer was, that I 
bought it had reference to the Indian Territory and the South- 
■Vestern States. He shook his head, and gradually unfolded the 
vhole of their plans, a portion of which only has been elucidated in 
he Harper's Ferry outbreak. 1 shall not, for obvious reasons, giv« 
he full details. A full account of the convention in Canada was made, 
s well as of the organization, its extent and objects, thereby ef- 
jcted. The mountains of Virginia were named as the place of refuge, 
nd as a country admirably adapted in which to carry on a guerilla 
.arfare. In the course of the conversation. Harper's Ferry was 
lentioned as a point to b« seiaed, but not held, — on account of 

204 Some Shadows Before. 

the Arsenal. The white members of the company were to act as offi- 
cers of different guerilla band.*, which, under the general command 
of John Brown, were to be composed of Canadian refugees, and the 
Virginia slaves who would join them. A different time of the year 
was mentioned for the commencement of the warfare from that which 
has lately been chosen. -It was not anticipated that the first movement 
would have any other appearance to the masters than a slave stampede, 
or local insurrection, at most. The planters would pursue their chat- 
tels and be defeated. The militia would then be called out, and 
would also be defeated. It was not intended that the movement 
should appear to be of large dimensions, but that, gradually increas- 
ing in magnitude, it should, as it opened, strike terror into the heart 
of the Slave States by the amount of organization it would exhibit, 
and the strength it gathered. They anticipated, after the first blow 
had been struck, that, by the aid of the free and Canadian negroes who 
would join them, they could inspire confidence in the slaves, and in- 
duce them to rally. No intention was expressed of gathering a large 
body of slaves, and removing them to Canada. On the contrary, 
Kagi clearly stated, in answer to my inquiries, that the design w-as to 
make the fight in the mountains of Virginia, extending it to North 
Carolina and Tennessee, and also to the swamps of South Carolina if 
possible. Their purpose was not the extradition of one or a thousand 
slaves, but their liberation in the States wherein they were born, and were 
now held in bondage. « The mountains and swamps of the South were 
intended by the Almighty,' said John Brown to me afterwards, ' for a 
refuge for the slave, and a defence against the oppressor.' Kagi spoke 
of having marked out a chain of counties extending continuously 
through South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. He had 
travelled over a large portion of the region indicated, and from his 
own personal knowledge, and with the assistance of Canadian negroes 
who had escaped from those States, they had arranged a general plan 
of attack. The counties he named were those which contained the 
largest proportion of slaves, and would, therefore, be the best in 
which to strike. The blow struck at Harper's Ferry was to be in 
the Spring, when the planters were busy, and the slaves most needed. 
The arms in the Arsenal were to be taken to the mountains, with such 
slaves as joined. The telegraph wires were to be cut, and the rail- 
road tracks torn up in all directions. As fast as possible other bands 
besides the original ones were to be formed, and a continuous chain 
of posts established in the mountains. They were to be supported by 
provisions taken from the farms of the oppressors. They expected 
to be speedily and constantly reinforced ; Jirst, by the arrival of those 
pi en, who, in Canada, were anxiously looking and praying for the time 

Some Shadows Before. 205* 

of deliverance, and then by the slaves themselves. The intention was 
to hold the egress to the Free States as long as possible, in order to 
retreat when that was advisable. Kagi, however, expected to retreat 
southward, not in the contrary direction. The slaves were to be armed 
with pikes, scythes, muskets, shot guns, and other simple instruments 
of defence ; the officers, white or black, and such of the men as Avere 
skilled and trustworthy, to have the use of the Sharpe's rifles and re- 
volvers. They anticipated procuring provisions enough for subsistence 
by forage, as also arms, horses, and ammunition. Kagi said one of 
the reasons that induced him to go into the enterprise was a full con- 
viction that at no very distant day forcible eff'orts for freedom would 
break out among the slaves, and that slavery might be more speedily 
abolished by such efforts than by any other means. He knew by ob- 
servation in the South, that in no point was the system so vulnerable 
as in its fear of a slave-rising. Believing that such a blow would soon 
be struck, he wanted to organize it so as to make it more effectual, and 
ilso, by directing and controlling the negroes, to prevent some of the 
itrocities that would necessarily arise from the sudden upheaval of 
5uch a mass as the Southern slaves. The Constitution adopted at 
Chatham was intended as the framework of organization among the 
emancipationists, to enable the leaders to effect a more complete con- 
rol of their forces. Ignorant men, in fact all men, were more easily 
nanaged by the forms of law and organization than without them. 
This was one of the purposes to be served by the Provisional Govern- 
ncnt. Another was to alarm the Oligarchy by discipline and the 
how of organization. In their terror they would imagine the whole 
"forth was upon them pell-mell, as well as all their slaves. Kagi said 
. ohn Brown anticipated that by a system of forbearance to non-slave- 
! ;olders many of them might be induced to join them." 

My friend here explains at great length an admirably 
< iovised plan of an extended insurrection in the South- 
( rn States ; but as its publication might prevent its 
t uccessful execution — and of that, or an attempt to 
1 iliil it, there is no doubt in my own mind — I deem it 
] lore prudent to suppress this portion of his narrative. 
J [c tluis continues the report of his conversation with 
J Ir. Kagi : 

" One thing I remember distinctly. In answer to an inquiry, 
] agi stated that ' no politician, in the Republican or any other party, 


2o6 Some Shadows Before. 

knew of their plans, and but few of the abolitionists. It was no use 
talking,' he said, ' of Anti-slavery action to Non-resistant Agitators.' 
That there were men who knew of John Brown's general idea is most 
true ; but, soicth of the Canadian Provinces and of North Elba, there 
were but few who were cognizant of the tnode by which he intended 
to mould those ideas into deeds." 


" After a long conversation, the substance of which I have given, 
we returned to the house. I had some further conversation with John 
BroANTi, mostly upon his movements, and the use of arms. The 
Captain expressed tersely his ideas of forcible emancipation. Of the 
terror inspired by the fear of slaves rising, he said : 

" « Nat Turner, with fifty men, held Virginia five weeks. The same 
number, well organized and armed, can shake the system out of the 

"I remember also these sentences : 

«' » Give a slave a pike, and you make him a man. Deprive him of 
the means of resistance, and you keep him down.' 

"'The land belongs to the bondman. He has enriched it, and 
been robbed of its fruits.' 

•' ' Any resistance, however bloodj', is better than the system which 
makes every seventh woman a concubine.' 

" ' I would not give Sharpe's rifles to more than ten men in a hun- 
dred, and then only when they have learned to use them. It is not 
every man who knows how to use a rifle. I had one man in my com- 
pany who was the bravest man and worst marksman I ever knew.' 

«' ' A ravine is better than a plain. Woods and mountain sides can 
be held by resolute men against ten times their force.' 

" ' A few men in the right, and knowing they are, can overturn a 
king. Twenty men in the Alleghanies could break Slavery to pieces 
in two years.' 

" ' When the bondmen stand like men, the nation will respect them. 
It is necessary to teach them this.' 

" Much more Avas said which I cannot recall. The afternoon had 
more than half passed before I left for my destination. I rode over 
the prairies till sunset ; and in the glory of the grand scheme, which 
had been opened to me, it seemed as if the whole earth had become 
l)roader, and the heavens more vast. Since that day, when I stood in 
the light of those searching eyes, I have known what John Brown 
meant when he said : 

" ' "i oung men should have a purpose in life, and adhere to it in all 
trials. They will be sure to succeed if their purpose is such as to 
deserve the blessing of God.' " 



» III. 

Fleshing the Sword. 

IN order to understand the reason of John Brown's 
movements during this his third visit to the Terri- 
;ory, it is first necessary briefly to review the history 
)f Kansas from September, 1856, when the old man 
md his sons left Lawrence, up to the date when tho 
: eminiscences of my friend report him at the village 
•f Osawatomie. 


In Northern Kansas there were no further disturb- 
{ nccs or outrages committed from the date of the re- 
Ireat of the Twenty-Seven Hundred Invaders, under 
( reneral Reid, who, on their return to Missouri, burned 
liie village of Franklin, a Free State hotel, and a nuin- 
l er of private houses, stole four hundred head of cat- 
1 lc, and sacked, plundered and devastated the Free 
' tatc settlements in every direction. Abandoning the 
1 5cncy of force in Northern Kansas, — for the immense 
( aiigration of the spring of 1857 placed the pro-slavery 
J irty there in a hopeless minority, — the South and the 
I edcral Administration directed their energies to the 
f 'rmation of a fraudulent Constitution, which, by va- 


2o8 Flefliing the Sword." 

rious devices, — excluding, for example, by test oallis, 
the majority of the people from voting, and using the 
names of the Cincinnati Directory for the purpose 
of increasing tlie vote in favor of slavery, — they pre- 
tended to adopt, and then carried up to Congress. 
Its history there is well known. In August, 1858, 
this Constitution, on being submitted to the vote of 
the people of Kansas, was voted down by an unprece- 
dented majority. From John Brown's defence of Law- 
rence, therefore, in the autumn of 1856, up to the 
present hour, the history of Northern Kansas lias 
been a mere record of political intrigues and counter- 
intrigues, and of a rapid progress in material wealth, 
population, and civilization. 


In Southern Kansas, also, there were no difficulties 
until the winter of 1857-8 — until sliortly after John 
Brown paid hig visit of three days to Lawrence for the 
purpose of bringing out his young followers to drill 

In the summer of 1856, the entire Free State popula- 
tion of Lynn and Bourbon Counties liad been driven 
from the cabins and claims by organized marauders 
from Arkansas and the Indian Territory, under the 
command of General Clarke, a Federal office-holder, and 
the murderer of Robert Barber. The emigrants thus 
expelled began to return to tlieir homes in the spring, 
summer, and autumn of 1857. They found their 
houses and farms occupied by tlie Southern ruffians. 
Instead of driving them out, or hanging them, as, in 
strict justice, by the squatter code, they would liave 

rielhing the Sword. 209 

been justified in doing, the Free State men built otlier 
cabins on their claims thus feloniously occupied, and 
avowed their willingness . to abide by the decision of 
tlie Land Office, of which the real chief was General 
Clarke, but from whose decision there was an appeal 
to Washington. Fort Scott, at this time, was the head- 
quarters of the ruffians in Southern Kansas ; among 
them, the Hamiltons, the Littles, and Brockett, all of 
whom had been members of the Lecompton Constitu- 
tional Convention ; Brockett, the Hamiltons, and Clarke 
having attested their devotion to slavery by murdering 
Free State citizens in cold blood. In the expectation 
that the Lecompton Constitution would be passed by 
Congress, and enforced by the hireling legions of 
the United States, these leaders formed the plan of re- 
newing the disturbances in Southern Kansas, for the 
purpose of securing to their Missouri friends the farms 
and cabins they had stolen, facilitating the reconquest 
Df the soil to slavery, and preventing the stream of 
STorthern emigration from overflowing into the Indian 
Territory. In November this plan was carried into 
)peration by organized bands of pro-slavery ruffians, 
vho, issuing from Fort Scott, stole cattle, arrested men 
inder false charges, and in other ways annoyed the 
>forthern settlers. A Free State Squatter's Court was 
brmed in November for the trial of these ruffians by 
he process of Lynch law. In order to inspire terror, 
he judge of this organization was called Old Brown ; 
■■ nd, although the Captain was in Iowa at i-'ie time, the 
» eception was not discovered for many months. It was 
i t this time that Captain James Montgomery, called on 

210 Flelhing the Sword. 

by the people, took the field. Little, one of the chief 
ruffians, acting as a deputy United States Marshal, at- 
tempted, with a posse of eighty well-armed men, to 
arrest this Court. Major Abbott,* with ten Sharpe's 
riflemen, drove them back in disgrace to Port Scott. 
The United States forces marched to their rescue ; Jim 
Lane went down to call out the Free State militia ; and 
between these hostile fires the cause of the ruffians 
fell temporarily to the ground. Neither force fought, 
but Lane's men frightened ; and the Missourians staid at 
home. General Lane returned ; but the United States 
troops remained, and then joined the ruffians. Many 
of the soldiers, dressed in civilians' clothes, participated 
in their midnight forays. Montgomery organized a 
force to resist them. Brockett, in one of these noctur- 
nal excursions, murdered two Free State men, and 
wounded two others. f These events occurred in Feb- 
ruary and March, 1858. The disturbances continued 

* The Major was a Bpiritjwlist an<l peace man when he came to Kansas, but soon 
took »p carnal weapons, and did heroic service in the cause. He deserves honorable 
luention in every history of Kansas. 

f On the night of the 27th of March, 1S58, the rnflRans of the fort made a drive on the 
Iree State settlements on the Little Osage, being informed by their spies that the river 
■was unguarded. They first rode up to the bouse of a Mr. Denton, — an inoffensive Free 
State man, — called liim out, anA after asking a few trifling questions, deliberately 
shot him. Some five shots were fired at him, two of which took effect. He expired in 
two hours. Before his death be charged his assassination to two men by the names of 
Brockett and Ilardwick. They then proceeded to the residence of a Mr. Davis, a 
neighbor of Mr. Denton's, and demanded entrance. Sn.«pecting them of l>eiDg enemies, 
Mr. Davis refused to open the door. The rntfians fired several times through the door ; 
one of their shots took effect in his hand, bnt he was not seriously injjvred by any of 
their discharges. The next place visited was tlie honse of a Mr. Hedrick. They ar- 
rived there about two o'clock. Mr. Uedrick was up, waiting on his sick wife. Th« 
attending physician was also present and up at the time. A call was made for admit- 
tance, and as soon as Mr. Uedrick opened the door and steppe<l into the opening, he was 
shot down, five back shot entering his side jnst below the breast. IIo never spoke, 
but fell dead upon the threshold of his dwelling. AH these dark deeds were con*- 
mitted in one nigtit. — Wujjam Tomlinsok's " Katuai in Eighteen Hundred and 

Flefhing the Sword. 211 

with varying success until the month of April, when 
Montgomeiy and his men were pursued by a force of 
forty dragoons, who were acting with the ruffians of 
Fort Scott. He had eight men only, but, posting them 
in a good position, resisted the charge of the soldieiy, 
and drove them back — killing one man, wounding 
four or five others, and leaving a number of liorses 
dead on the field. This was the first time in American 
history that the Federal troops were resisted by citizens. 
" Old Captain Brown," we are told by Montgomery's 
biographer, " when he learned the particulars of the 
engagement, said that the like had not happened before 
in the Territory, and that the manner of his availing 
himself of the strong position that offered, and the 
skill with which he conducted the engagement, stamped 
him as one of the first commanders of the age." 

The news of this engagement exasperated Denver, 
and he declared that Montgomery should be arrested. 
At this time one of Montgomery's men stopped a mes- 
senger from Fort Scott, and found a letter on his per- 
son addressed to the Governor. Montgomery opened 
t, found an account of the plans laid for his arrest, and 
hen enclosed in it a note to Denver, in which he stated 
hat if the Governor wanted him, he had only to do 
, ustice to the Free State men, and recall the troops 
rom Fort Scott. This double letter was then for- 
vrarded to Lecompton ! 

About this time Hamilton marched into the Terri- 
T ory at the head of twenty-five men, and committed the 
] ideous massacre of the Marais-des-Cygnes. This act 
i roused the most terrible passions. The whole Free 

212 Flelhing the Sword. 

State population took up arms. It needed only a leader 
and a provocation to create a revolution. The leader 
was there — the troops were coming. But, alarmed by 
these symptoms of a rebellion, Governor Denver recalled 
the soldiery; and, accompanied by a prominent Free 
State politician, went down and made a treaty with 
Montgomery. He agreed that all bygones should be 
forgotten, and that the troops and obnoxious civil offi- 
cers should be removed. This treaty restored peace. 


Up to the middle of September, the movements of 
John Brown have been given in the preceding chapter. 
At this time it was reported that he had left the coun- 
try, and the ruffians began to take courage. The vol- 
unteer militia company was dissolved. Now began a 
new disturbance, created by the Free State democrats ; 
who, jealous of Montgomery's political influence, de- 
sired to annoy him by prosecutions until he should 
leave the country. Up to this time, he had been 
quietly working on his farm ; but he was the real 
Governor of all the Southern country, nevertheless. 
On the 11th of October, a packed Grand Jury was im- 
panelled at Fort Scott — the Marshal and Prosecut- 
ing Attorney being bitter personal enemies of Mont- 
gomery. On the 21st, learning that he and a number 
of his men had been indicted, in violation of the treaty 
with Governor Denver, Montgomery visited Fort Scott 
with a small party, took the Court and Grand Jury 
prisoners, quietly adjourned it, and made a bonfire of 
the indictments ! John Brown was not present at this 
postponement, but " acted as an adviser." Several of 

Fleftiing the Sword. 213 

the men who fought at Harper's Ferry were there. 
This proceeding shocked the politicians in Northern 
Kansas, who were ever ready to indorse any wicked- 
ness if the words Free State preceded it. These men, 
who had sworn resistance " to a bloody isstie " with 
the Usurpation, but, as soon as they got offices under 
it, indorsed and defended it, were naturally indignant 
at this translation of their Big Spring resolutions into 
Fort Scott actions. 

Early in November, Montgomery's little cabin was 
surrounded and fired into by a party of marauders. 
The buck shot from their guns fell on the clothing of 
the bed in which Mrs. Montgomery was sleeping. She 
shouted, " 0, we're going to have a fight ! " The ma- 
rauders heard her, and, supposing from the expression 
:hat a number of men were inside, turned about and 
led — fired at, as they ran, by Kagi, who had been 
ying in another bed. 

During this period Captain Brown, expecting a re- 
icwal of disturbances, was busily engaged in building 
ortifications ; which may still be seen on the Little 
Osage and Little Sugar Creeks. One of them v; as a 
( abin near the Little Sugar Creek, in which tlie old 
1 lan and his followers lived. They show great mili- 
1 iry ability. 

Li the month of November, the politicians began 
1 ) exert themselves to incite a feeling of dissatisfaction 
I inong the people against Montgomery and Brown. On 
t le 25th of that month, a meeting for this purpose was 
1 3ld at Maplcton ; but the friends of the two chieftains 
u )peared in great force, and adjourned it to the 30th. 

214 Flefhing the Sword. 

On the same day one of Montgomery's men was ai'- 
rested, in violation of the treaty, taken to Fort Scott in 
chains, and imprisoned in a filthy cell. 


On the 29th, Captain Brown left his house for Osa- 
watomie, and Captain Montgomery for Osage City ; and, 
at the same time, the Sheriff called out a posse of pro- 
slavery settlers, Missourians and Free State Democrats, 
for the purpose of arresting the old man and his boys. 
On the 30th, the posse assembled at Paris, one hundred 
strong, and marched to the cabin of John Brown, on 
the Little Sugar Creek. Stevens and Kagi were its 
only occupants. As soon as it was known that thg 
posse was approaching, a messenger was sent for Mont- 
gomery, who arrived at midnight with thirteen nien. 
They liad previously been reenforced by thirteen neigh- 
bors. In the morning their number was still further 
increased, although they still numbered only thirty- 
four men. The Sheriff's posse approached within a 
quarter of a mile, about one hundred and twenty 
strong. Stevens and Kagi went out to meet the offi- 
cer, who had ridden up within a few rods of the cabin. 

They asked him what he wanted. 

He replied, " To disarm them and demolish their 

Kagi told him to produce his authority. 

" You are an illegal body, and it is my right to dis- 
perse you," said the Sheriff. " I have no writ, but I 
must disperse you, as you are more than five armed 
men ; and if I don't do it, I'll be covered with shame, 
and have to leave the country." 

riefliing th^ Sword. 215 

" We can't help that," retorted Kagi ; " it is no bus! 
ness of ours ; there is no use having any nonsense 
about this ; if Paris * wants peace, the whole Treaty, 
amnesty and all, must be observed ; if not, there must 
be war." 

At this time, the officer could not see more than five 
armed persons, not knowing that there were thirteen 
squatters in the cabin, or that Montgomery lay in. 
ambush in a ravine close by, covering the whole wing 
of the posse, with twenty-one picked men, who were 
eager for the fight. He was so placed, that, in ten 
minutes, he could have swept the entire posse from the 
face of the earth. 

" But you can't resist," said a politician, who ao 
companied the Sheriff; "look at our force opposed 
to you." 

Stevens stretched his manly form to its full height, 
ind, raising his right arm, with a defiant glance, in a 
•inging tone, gave a reply, every word of which the 
bllowers of the Sheriff heard, and which evidently 
uade a great impression on them : 

" But, believing we are right, before God, we will 
■esist if the whole Universe is against us ! " 

The posse retired without firing a shot ! On the same 
< ay, the Sheriff and his companion were disarmed by 
1 wo men who fell at Harper's Ferry. 
, " Do you know who we are ? " asked the Sheriff. 
* I am the High Sheriff of this county." 

" To the devil with the High Sheriff of Lynn Coun 
U ! " said Kagi. " Hand over that gun." 

* The lessor boad-quurters of the ruffians and PemocraU. 

2i6 Flefliing the Sword. 

John Brown returned from Osawatomie as soon as 
he heard of the attack on his house. The pro-slavery 
men, and Free State sycophants of the Federal Ad- 
ministration, had just again sent for United States 
troops ; for they now saw that it was impossible to 
subdue the earnest Republican squatters, or with im- 
punity break treaties made with anti-slavery men. 
John Brown and James Montgomery, foreseeing fur- 
ther trouble, prepared for a formidable defence ; being 
resolutely determined to fight all comers, whether 
troops, pro-slavery ruffians, invaders, or Free State 
Democrats, who should endeavor to " crush out " the 
defenders of freedom. John Brown resolved to invade 
Missouri, and stop at once the incursions from that 
State, which were now the sole reliance of the friends 
of Slavery in Kansas. 

Montgomery marched on Fort Scott, on the 15th of 
December, with one hundred and fifty men, officered 
by John Brown's followers, — Kagi, among others, and 
Anderson, — and rescued his friend whom the ruffians 
had incarcerated.* 

Governor Medary ordered down four companies of 

* Among tlie prisoners taken were Epapliroditus Kansom, a very portly Federal offi- 
cial, who had been a Governor of Michigan, and was now a dignitary in the Land 
Office. On hearing the noise, (it was early in the morning,) he came to the door in his 
drawers and night dress ; when a boy of seventeen years, carrying a musket longer 
than himself, shouted, " Come out here ; you're my prisoner." " What do you mean, 
sir?" said Kansom; "I am a Federal officer, sir." "Federal officer, eh?" said the 
boy; " who the devil cares ? Come out here ! " Bansom showed no willingness to do 
so; whereupon the boy cocked his musket, and the "Federal officer" came out. lie 
ordered him to march to the middle of the square, obliging him to walk — dressed as 
he was — at a sharp trot, in order to keep clear of the baj'onet, which the boy hold 
in dangerous proximity to his body. The wiggling gait of the portly dignitary, and 
the ludicrous contrast between captive and capturer, wore long afterwards de- 
scribed by all who saw them, as one nf the niost Indiorous of Kansas incidents. Whea 
Ransom reached the place appointed for him, "See what we sons of Freedom can do, 
old fellow 1 " said *!»■ V'oy 

Flefliing the Sword. 217 

United States dragoons ; called out four bodies of 
militia, consisting chiefly of invaders and pro-slavery 
settlers ; the Missourians began to assemble on the 
borders ; every thing gave promise of a renewed civil 
war ; when, unexpectedly, the aspect of affairs changed 
by the recall of the troops by order of the Cabinet, 
and the successful attack, on a Missouri force, by a 
party of Free State men, led by Captain Snyder, the 
blacksmith, whose name is inseparably associated with 
the history of the massacre of the Marais-des-Cygnes. 
Tliis cabin was the head-quarters of these ruffians. 
When- they saw the Free State men coming they offered 
fight ; a conflict ensued ; they refused to surrender ; 
the cabin was fired, and four of the murderers perished 
in its flames. 

At this time John Brown and his men were at Bain's 
jabin, in Bourbon County, preparing for any emergency 
,hat might demand their aid. Two hundred Missou- 
'ians had assembled at Fail's store, eight miles distant, 
11 Missouri, for the purpose of invading the Territory ; 
)ut, hearing that Old Brown was recruiting his forces 
attack them, they withdrew fifteen miles farther from 
1 lie borders. 
fiWhilc John Brown was stating his plan of following 
lem, and, by invading Mi^souri and carrying off slaves, 
ifiching the citizens of that State to attend to their own 
fife,irs, a negro man named Jim came over ; and, stating 
mt he and his family- and a friend were about to be 
jid South, implored assistance and deliverance. 
The poor that cried for deliverance from oppression 
jver appealed in vaiij to the heart of John Brown, 




JOHN BROWN, in January, 1859, wrote a letter in 
relation to his invasion of Missouri, -which, of 
course, should precede all other accounts of it. It 
became a celebrated document, and was known as : 

. JOHN brown's parallels. 

Trading Post, Kansas, January, 1859. 

Gentlemen : You will greatly oblige a humble friend by allowing 
the use of your columns while I briefly state two parallels, in my 
poor way. 

Not one year ago, eleven quiet citizens of this neighborhood, viz. : 
William Robertson, William Colpetzer, Amos Hall, Austin Hall, John 
Campbell, Asa Snyder, Thomas Stilwell, William Hairgrove, Asa 
Hairgrove, Patrick Ross, and B. L. Reed, were gathered up from their 
■work and their homes by an armed force under one Hamilton, and 
without trial or opportunity to speak in their own defence, were 
formed into line, and all but one shot — five killed and five wounded. 
One fell unharmed, pretending to be dead. All were left for dead. 
The only crime charged against them was that of being Free State* 
men. Now, I inquire, what action has ever, since the occurrence in 
May last, been taken by either the President of the United States, the; 
Governor of Missouri, the Governor of Kansas, or any of their tools,; 
or by any pro- slavery or administration man, to ferret out and punish 
the perpetrators of this crime ? 

Now for the other parallel. On Sim day, December 19, a negro 
man called Jim came over to the Osage settlement, from Missouri, and 
stated that he, together with his wife, two children, and another negro 
man, was to be sold within a day or two, and begged for help to get 


Exodus. 2 19 

away. On Monday (the following) night, two small companies were 
made up to go to Missouri and forcibly liberate the five slaves, together 
with other slaves. One of these companies I assumed to direct. We 
proceeded to the place, surrounded the buildings, liberated the slaves, 
and also took certain property supposed to belong to the estate. 

We, however, learned, before leaving, that a portion of the articles 
we had taken belonged to a man living on the plantation, as a tenant, 
and who was supposed to have no interest in the estate. We promptly 
returned to him all we had taken. We then went to another planta- 
tion, where we foimd five more slaves, took some property and two 
white men. We moved all slowly away into the Territory for some 
distance, and then sent the white men back, telling them to follow us 
IS soon as they chose to do so. The other company freed one female 
ilavc, took some property, and, as I am informed, killed one white 
nan, (the master,) who fought against the liberation. 

Now for a comparison. Eleven persons are forcibly restored to their 
latural and inalienable rights, with but one man killed, and all " hell 
s stirred fi'om beneath." It is currently reported that the Governor 
)f Missouri has made a requisition upon the Governor of Kansas for 
he delivery of all such as were concerned in the last-named " dread- 
: ul outrage." The Marshal of Kansas is said to be collecting a posse 
I f Missouri (not Kansas men) at West Point, in Missouri, a little 
1 own about ten miles distant, to " enforce the laws." All pro-slavery, 
I onservative free-state, and dougliface men, and Administration tools, 
I re filled with holy horror. 

Consider the two cases, and the action of the Administration party. 

l^. Respectfully yours, 

John Brown. 


Of these two parties of liberators John Brown and 

1 jigi were the Captains. The old man's force consisted 

f twelve men; Kagi's company of eight only. The 

aves were to have been removed to Texas on the fol- 

>wing day. Captain Brown went to the house of 

iicklan, the master of Jim, and liberated that negro 

id four others. He then proceeded to the house of 

aac Jarnd, another slaveholder, and released fivo 

ore. Jarn^ was taken prisoner and carried into the 

1 3rritory, to prevent an alarm being given. 

220 Exodus. 

John Brown was not merely an emancipationist, but 
a reparationist. He believed, not only that the crime 
of slavery should be abolished, but that reparation 
should be made for the wrongs that had been done to 
the slave. What he believed, he practised. On this 
occasion, after telling the slaves that they were free, he 
asked them how much their services had been worth,* 
and — having been answered — proceeded to take prop- 
erty to the amount thus due to the negroes. 

Kagi went on the southern side of the Little Osage, 
and called at several houses for the purpose of rescuing 
slaves. But he failed to find one, until he reached the 
residence of David Cruse. That robber of God's poor 
children, on learning the purpose of the party, raised 
ills rifle to fire at it, but was shot dead before ho pulled 
the trigger. He had one slave only — who immediately 
filled his place in the census of freemen. 

The two parties soon reunited. Jarnd was carried 
several miles into the Territory. One of his late female 
slaves attempted to console him ; but, like Rachael 
mourning for her children, he was not to be comforted ; 
upon which the sympathetic negress remarked : 

" Gosh ! massa's in a bad fix — hog no killed — corn 
no gathered — nigger run away : laws-a-me ! what '11 
massa do ? " 

Jim, Avho was driving an ox team, " supposed to be- 
long to the estate," asked one of the liberators, " How 
far is it to Canada ? " 

" Twenty-five hundred miles." • 

" Twenty-Jive hundred! Laws-a-massa ! Twenty- 
five hunclred miles ! No get dar 'fore spring ! " cried 

Exodus. 221 

Jim, as, raising his heavy whip and bringing it down 
on the ox's back, he shouted impatiently — " Whoa-ha, 
Buck, get up dar — g'lang. Bell ! " 

A little boy of the party grasped his father by the 
leg and asked : 
" Hows ye feel, fadder, when you's free ? " * 
These liberated slaves constituted four families': one 
man, his wife, and two children ; a widowed mother, 
two daughters, and a son ; a young man, a boy, and a 
woman who had been separated from her husband. 
They were taken by one party several miles into Kan- 
sas, and there they remained for two or three weeks. 


Captain Brown and Kagi returned to their fortified 
position — known as Bain's Fort — on the Little Osage, 
in which fifty men could have resisted five hundred. 

When the news of the invasion of Missouri spread, a 
wild panic went with it, which, in a few days, resulted 
in clearing Bates and Vernon Counties of their slaves. 
Large numbers were sold south; many ran into the 
Territory and escaped ; the others were removed farther 
inland. When John Brown made his invasion there 
were five hundred slaves in that district where there are 
not fifty negroes now. For a short time a dead calm- 
in the Territory followed this movement ; the public 
seemed to hold their breath in anxious expectation for 
the next step. The Governor of Missouri, appealed to 
by the Borderers, offered a reward of three thousand 
dollars for the arrest of John Brown, to which the Pres- 
ident added a further reward of two hundred and fifty 

* These iucidents were related by EagL 


222 Exodus. 

dollars. The politicians of Lawrence, of both parties, 
became alarmed at a movement which defied their 
jjusillanimous policy — and men who had only hypo- 
critically cursed when their territory was invaded, now 
worked in earnest to arrest the schemes of the brave 
retaliators. Some honest men, also, aided in this effort 
" to restore tranquillity ; " but it owed its embodiment 
into a law to the Free State sycophants of the South. 
That embodiment was the Amnesty Act, which par- 
doned all " political offences " up to that time, and 
which the Federal Governor was compelled, by the fear 
01 renewed disturbances, to approve, in order to induce 
Montgomery to disband his organization. 

Montgomery, sent for by the politicians, reached the 
town of Lawrence while John Brown was on his journey 
to it, for the purpose of arranging to carry off his ne- 
groes. To save Montgomery from the odium that his 
enemies had attempted to cast on him, for his supposed 
implication in the invasion of Missouri, the old man wrote 
his parallels from the " Trading Post " in Lynn County. 
During the absence of Montgomery and Brown, 
Kagi, who had been left in command, had two or three 
fights with the invaders. 


About the 20th of January, John Brown left Law- 
rence for Nebraska, with his emancipated slaves, who 
had been increased in number by the birth of a child 
at Osawatomie. It was. named. Captain John Brown. 

When at the third resting place of "Jim Lane's 
army," which had been named Concord, but which sub- 
sequent settlers called Hoi ton, a party of thirty pro- 

Exodus. 223 

slavery men, who had followed them from Lecomp- 
ton, approached so near that it was necessary to halt 
and make a defence. The old man had at this time 
four white companions and three negro men. The 
whites were Stevens, Tidd, and Anderson, (who fought 
at Harper's Ferry,) and another Kansas boy. The 
Captain took possession of two log cabins in the wood, 
which the pursuers surrounded — at a distance, — 
while they sent to Atchison and Lecompton for further 
aid. From Atchison twelve men arrived ; thus making 
a force of forty-two men opposed to eight only. They 
were preparing for the attack, when Captain Brown 
and his men issued from the woods for the purpose of 
offering fight. The Sheriff's Lecompton posse turned 
and fled ! Not a shot was fired, not a drum was 
heard, as, putting spurs to their horses, they ran panic- 
stricken across the prairie. Only four men — ashamed 
of the conduct of their comrades — stood their ground; 
and they were made prisoners forthwith. This inci- 
dent was ironically called the Battle of the Spurs, as 
those sharp instruments of torture were the only 
weapons used on the occasion. 

The old man caused them to dismount, and put the 
negroes on their horses. They swore. He ordered 
them to be silent, as he would permit no blasphemy in 
his presence. They swore again. 

" Kneel ! " said the old man, as, with stern earnest 

aess, he drew his pistol. 

B They knelt down, and he ordered them to pray.- lie 

letained them for five days, and compelled them to 

pray night and morning. They never swore again ia 

224 Exodus. 

the old man's presence. They returned to Atchison, 1 
was told, and one of them indiscreetly related the story: 
the ridicule that overwhelmed them compelled them to 
leave the town. 


Kagi, in the mean time, arrived at Topeka from 
the South, and found the town in a great commotion. 
News had just arrived that Old Brown was surrounded. 
As soon as he appeared, all the fighting boys flocked 
around him. At the head of forty mounted men, he 
started at once to rescue his old Captain. He came up 
just in time to see the last of the posse retreating across 
the prairie. He advocated the hanging of the captured 
slave-hunters, but the old man opposed it, and the kid* 
nappers were saved.* 

Seventeen of the " Topeka boys " escorted the party 
of liberators to Nebraska City. 

The kidnappers, on being released, asked the old man 
to restore their horses and weapons. 

" No," said John Brown, gravely ; " your legs will 
carry you as fast as you want to run ; you won't find 
any more Old Browns between this and Atchison." 

The party reached Tabor in the first week of Feb- 
ruary, and travelled slowly across the State of Iowa. 

As he was performing this journey, men panting for 
the price of blood closely followed him ; but the sight 
of his well-armed company prevented an attack on the 

* One of these men, since the capture of Captain Brown at Harper's Terry, has 
spoken of him with the greatest admiration; and said, that "although evidently^ 
monomaniac on the sulyect of slavery," he was an honest and brave man. On being 
jestingly advised to go into mourning for him, he said : he might go into black for matvy 
a worse "yn/l This testimony from a kidnapper is not without value. 

Exodus. 225 

band of liberators. He stopped at several villages, and 
was well received by the friends of freedom. From 
one of his hosts, we have the following letter, whioh was 
published at the time : 


" ' Old Captain Brown of Kansas ! ' I have set my eyes on this old 
heio. feared by Missouri invaders, and loved by the legions of liberty 
m Kansas as a father. He had a company of twelve colored people, 
(who I only r/uess were once slaves,) en route for Canada, where I trust 
they are safe. To me he is an historic character. In the family, simple- 
hearted as a cliild, he narrates stirruig scenes, placing himself in the 
background of the picture ; while an eye of the most determined ex- 
pression I ever saw at once supplies what the modesty of the narrator 
has withheld as personal. He is the impersonation of firmness. 
Among his company, white and black, with a long gray beard and 
a head frosted with sixty winters, he walks like a patriarch, if that 
early name implies leadership and devotion. 

" Captain Brown avows his philosophy to be the showing of Border 
Ruffians that they have enough to do in taking care of slavery in Mis- 
souri, without making a foray on the people of Kansas to establish 
slavery there against the votes tind wishes of the people. As God 
spares him, he says, he will ' deliver the poor that cry ; ' and does 
not conceal the fact that, in open day, he conducted out those who 
dreaded, next to death, a more Southern prison house. Two com- 
panies of slave-hunters, headed by a Marshal, looked upon them, but 
were not ready to lose their lives in a negro hunt. A reward of 
three thousand dollars by the Governor of Missouri, with the value 
of his company as chattels, has made him quite a lion through the 
State of Iowa. The ' dirt-eating ' Democracy covet the reward, but 
keep at a good distance from the cold lead, and have no desire to be 
awed into silence and shame by one glance from the old hero, who 
feels that ♦ God will cover his head in the day of battle.' Strangei' 
than fiction have been his escapes and exploits in Kansas. Combining 
the gentleness of a Christian, the love of a patriot, and the skill and 
boldness of a commander, whether ending his career in the quiet of 
home or in bloody strife, the freemen of Kansas will hallow his mem- 
ory, and history will name him the Cromwell of our Border "Wars. 

"IIoAV unlike the Old Brown sketched by fiendish hate is the man 
at your fireside ! — his mouth unpolluted with tobacco, strong drinks 
abjured, regimen plain, conversation grave, and occupied with pleas- 
ant memories of other days. He drops a tear of gratitude on ihe 

226 Exodus. 

mention of the practical kindness of to him in the hour ol 

extremity. He recurs to the solid principles and hearty affection of 
Dr. Osgood, of Springfield, on whose ministry he attended for many 
years. He had a lucrative occupation as wool grower and dealer in 
Ohio, and gained a medal as exhibitor of wool at the World's Fair ; and 
now finds himself in the ' wool business ' still, in a land where men find 
more dreaded foes than the young Hebrew shepherd found in the 
beasts that took a lamb out of the flock. I am well informed that 
the people at Grinnell took care of the company for two days, furnish- 
ing them food for their journey, and, on Sabbath evening, took up a 
collection for them as well as on Saturday evening." 

The same ■writer, in a letter published since the trial 
of John Brown, gives additional particulars of the old 
hero's talks when under liis roof: ; 

"Nothing seemed to so much excite him as an intimation that op- 
pression aroused a spirit of revenge. As he spoke in public there 
was no boasting, nor a display of himself. The wrongs of Kansas, 
and the atrocities of slavery, he pictured in a clear style, declaring : 

" That it teas ^notjiing to die in a good cause, but an eternal disgrace to 
sit still in the presence of the barbarities of Ainerican slavery.' 

"His logic, with all who were captious as to his course, was like a 
chain shot argument ; yet he courted no discussion, being then occupied 
with the safe escape of the eleven supposed chattels from Missouri. 

" 'Providence,' said he, ' has made me an actor, and Slavery an outlaw. 

" 'A price is on my head, and what is life to me? 

♦' 'An old man should have more care to end life well than to live long. 

*' ' Duty is the voice of God, and a man is neither woHhy of a good home 
here, or a heaven, that is not willing to be in peril for a good cause ! 

" < The loss of my family and the troubles hi Kansas have shattered my 
constitutimi, and I am nothing to the world but to defend the right, and 
that, by God's help, I have done, and will do.' 

"This, in substance, and much more, was said in reply to a wish, 
•which I expressed that he would not return to Kansas, but seek that 
quiet with his family which his health demanded. 

" He scouted the idea of rest while he held ' a commissioti direct from 
God Almighty to act against slavery ' 

"He claimed to be responsible for the wise exercises of his powers 
only, and not for the quality of certain acts. In taking slaves out of 
Missouri, he said that he would teach those ' living in glass houses 
not to throw stones,' and tney would have more than they could do 
to koipp slavery in Missouri, without extending it against the will of 

Exodus. 227 

Kansas. The battle of ' Black Jack ' and others, he was free to say, 
he thought had scared Missouri, and that was Gen. Lane's opinion. 
They did not report half the number killed, which they were ashamed 
to do, nor will it ever be known. I could repeat much that he said 
wliich showed a wonderful sagacity, and a bold, undaunted spixit. 
His whole demeanor was that of a well-bred gentleman, and his nar- 
ratives were given with child-like simplicity. He feared nothing, for 
said he, 

" ' Any icho will try to take me and my company are cowards, and one 
man in the right, ready to die, will chase a thousand. Not less than 
thii-ty guns have been discharged at me, but they only touched my hair. 

" 'A man dies when his time comes, and a man who fears is bom out of 

" . . . The nation was not worthy of him. Tyranny is relentless 
as the grave, and its tools want a victim. Cowardice will hang him, 
but humanity will stand appalled at the sacrifice of such a victim to the 
cruel Moloch." 

When ill Chicago, he sent his men in different direc- 
tions, retaining Kagi and Stevens with him. A gentle- 
man who conversed with him in that city thus writes 
to me : 

*' There is one thing he charged me to do when I last saw him. It 
was this : 

" < Do not allow any one to say I acted from revenge.,- I claim no 
man has a right to revenge myself. It is a feeling that does not enter 
into my heart. What I do, I do for the cause of human liberty, and 
because I regard it as necessary.' " 

The party reached Detroit on the 12th of March, and 
immediately crossed over to Canada. There, free chil- 
dren of the God of the oppressed, the old warrior of 
the Lord left the people he had snatched from the 
earthly hell of American slavery. Eight months after- 
wards, when their deliverer lay in prison for endeavor- 
ing to free others of the same despised race, we hear 
the sobbings of this little group, intermingled with 
prayers for their benefactor's safety, as they waft across 
the Lakes to the Southern jail. A Canadian corre- 
spondent thus writes : >» 

228 Exodus. 

JOHN brown's colony. 

Windsor, Upper Canada, Nov, 6, 1859. 
As every thing relative to " Old John Brown" is now interesting, 1 
■would inform your readers that I have spent a few hours in Windsor, 
Upper Canada, with seven of the twelve colored Missourians who arc 
now residing in that place. The other five are living about nine nules 
in the country. These make the twelve persons taken by Brown last 
January into Canada. As various reports are afloat concerning them, 
I wish to inform all parties that those living here are very industrious. 
Two of the seven are men. They "team," saw wood, and "job 
round." One, a boy about twelve, helps around generallj^ Two of 
the women, Avho were field hands in Missouri last spring, on arriving 
at Windsor, hired, for four dollars, an acre of land, and with a spade 
each, they actually spaded it, planted it with corn and potatoes, and 
attended it well; this crop would challenge any crop I e^^c-r saw in 
Missouri, and not often beaten even in Kansas, where soil and climate 
are superior to most portions of this world ; their potatoes are very 
fine — all dug and put up in a secure manner in the garden back of 
their house for winter ; the corn, of which I brought some away, is 
beautiful. One of their houses has a small garden attached ; they pay 
two dollars a month for this. In this little garden they have grown 
some very fine onions, carrots, parsnips, and some extraordinary cab- 
bages ; the cabbage are taken up, put together, and covered thick with 
fodder- or straw, rather neatly packed. They have amply sufficient 
corn, potatoes, &c., for winter. As to meat, they do without, till 
they have some fit to kill. They have three hogs growing finely, 
which they paid one dollar each for, and feed them on what they col- 
lect in swill from neighbors, &c. As to clothing, they are neat, with 
well-patched articles. They say they have twenty dollars salted down. 
They informed me that, after being here a short time, they were burned 
out, losing all, or nearly all, of the useful articles given them by 
friends on their way, while escorted by that man whom they venerate. 
While I read aloud the sentence of Brown, with his speech, from the 
paper, to them, O, how aiFecting to see their tears and hear their sobs' 
Two women declared, if it could be, they would willingly die instead of 
their liberator. A woman among them remarked, if the Bible was true, 
John Brown practised most of it here ; so he would be rewarded by 
"old blaster," up higher, with greater happiness. The father, mother, 
and three children in the country, work a farm on shares ; they have 
about sixteen acres of corn, potatoes, &c., part of which are theirs ; 
and they are all anticipating the day when they can get a piece of land 
of their own. 


Assembling to Conspire. 

IN the Canadian Provinces there are thousands of 
fugitive slaves. They are the picked men of the 
Southern States. Many of them are intelligent and 
rich ; and all of them are deadly enemies of the South. 
Five hundred of them, at least, annually visit the Slave 
States, passing from Florida to Harper's Ferry, on hero- 
ic errands of mercy and deliverance. They- have car- 
ried the Underground Railroad and the Underground 
Telegraph into nearly every Southern State. Hero, 
obviously, is a power of great importance for a war of 

Up to the period when the last chapter closes, John 
Brown, wherever he had lived, had acquired the repu- 
tation of a prudent man. In Kansas, although, by the 
Missourians, he was regarded as a reckless desperado, 
those who best knew him and his plans gave him credit 
for great caiition and foresight. Nothing that he did or 
tried, however seemingly insane, but, when examined, 
gave proofs of his prudence no less than his courage. 
Recently, the nation saw him undertake the conquest 
of Virginia, with a baud, seemingly, of twjnty-one fol- 
20 C229) 

230 Affembling to Confpire. 

lowers only. People called the attempt an insane one ; 
but they did not know that many hundreds of men, 
earnest haters ef the Slavery whose terrors they had 
known, and drilled for the service, were eagerly await- 
ing, in the Canadian Provinces, for the signal to be 
given at Harper's Ferry, to hasten southward and join 
the army of Immediate Emancipation. 

To conquer the South, a small band only is needed : 
but it must have backers in the North, who shall send 
down recruits from time to time. It is necessary, also, 
in order to prevent unnecessary bloodshed, for the lib- 
erated negroes to be held under strict control. John 
Brown knew all these facts. To inspire the Canadian 
fugitives with confidence in his plans, and, at the same 
time, to indicate his intentions in order to induce them 
to participate in it, he called a secret Convention of the 
friends of freedom at Chatham, in Canada. 

At this time he intended to attack Virginia within a 
very few months. Cook, in his Confession, thus writes 
of the Convention : 

""Wliile we -were in. Chatham, he called a Convention, the purpose 
of -which was to make a complete and thorough organization. He 
issued a written circular, which he sent to. various persons in the 
United States and Canada. The circular, as near as I can recollect, 

reads as follows : 

Chatham, May — , 1859. 
Mr. . Dear Sir : We have issued a call for a verj' quiet Con- 
vention at this place, to which we shall be happy to see any true friends 
of freedom, and to which you are most earnestly invited to give your 
attendance. Yours, respectfully, John Brown. 

" The names were left blank ; but as they were directed by Captain 
EroA\Ti or J. 11. Kagi, I do not know the parties to whom they were 
addressed. I do know, however, that they were sent to none save 
those whom Captain Brown knew to be radical Abolitionists. I think 
it was about ten days from the time the circulars were sent that the 

Afi'embling to Confpirc. 231 

Convention met. The place of meeting was in one of the negro 
churches in Chatham. The Convention, I think, Avas called to order 
by J. H. Kagi. Its object was then stated, which was to complete a 
thorough organization and the formation of a Constitution. The first 
business was to elect a President and Secretary. Elder Monroe, a 
colored minister, was elected President, and J. II. Kagi, Secretary. 
The next business was to form a Constitution. Captain Brown had 
already drawn up one, which, on motion, was read by the Secretary. 
On motion it was ordered that each article of the Constitution be 
taken up, and separately amended and passed, which was done. On 
motion, the Constitution was then adopted as a whole. The next 
business was to nominate a Commander-in-Chief, Secretary of War, 
and Secretary of State. Captain John Brown was unanimously 
elected Commander-in-Chief, J. H. Kagi, Secretary of War, and 
Richard Realf, Secretary of State. Elder Monroe was to act as Pres- 
ident until another was chosen. A. M. Chapman, I think, was to act 
as Vice-President. Dr. M. K. Delaney was one of the Correspond- 
ing Secretaries of the Organization. There were some others from the 
United States, whose names I do not now remember. Most of the 
delegates to the Convention were from Canada. After the Constitu- 
tion was adopted, the members took their oath to support it. It was 
then signed by all present. During the interval between the call for 
the Convention and its assembling, regular meetings were held at 
Barbour's Hotel, where we were stopping, by those who were known 
to be true to the cause, at which meetings plans were laid and dis- 
cussed. There were no white men at the Convention, save the mem- 
bers of our company. Me7i and money had both been promised from 
Chatham and other parts of Canada, When the Convention broke up, 
news was received that Colonel H. Forbes, who had joined in the 
movement, had given information to the Government. This, of 
course, delayed the time of attack. A day or two afterwards most of 
our party took the boat to Cleveland — J. H. Kagi, Richard Realf, 
William H. Leeman, Richard Robertson, and Captain Brown remain- 
ing. Captain Brown, however, started in a day or two for the East. 
Kagi, I think, went to some other town in Canada to set up the type, 
and to get the Constitution printed, which he completed before he re- 
turned to Cleveland. We remained in Cleveland for some weeks, at 
which p.ace, for the time being, the company disbanded." 

Another report, which was found among John 
Brown's papers at Harper's Ferry, gives some addi 
tional information respecting this assembly. The full 

232 Affembling to Confpire. 

reports, not only of this public Convention, but ol 
many secret meetings, which arc mentioned in Cook's 
Confession, and were written in phonography, and then 
translated into a secret cipher by Kagi, have happily 
not yet been discovered ; or, it is ^probable that the 
scheme with which John Brown's name is now forever 
inseparably united, would have perished with his 
earthly life at Charlestown. 

Chatham, Caxada West, I 
Saturday, May 8, 1858 — 10 A. 31. j 

The Convention met in junsuance of a call of Jolin Brown and others, and was 
called to order by Mr. Jackson, on whose motion Mr. Wni. C. Monroe was chosen Pres- 
ident; when, on motion of Mr. Brown, Mr. J. II. Kagi wtvs elected Secretary. 

On motion of Mr. Delany, Mr. Brown then proceeded to state the object of the Conven- 
tion at length, and then to explain the general features of the plan of action in exe- 
cution of the project in view by the Convention, iilr. Belany and others spoke in 
favor of tlie i)rojcct and plan, and both were agreed to by a general consent. 

Mr. Brown then iireseuted a plan of organization, entitled Provisional Constitution 
and Ordinances for the People of the United States, and moved the reading of the 

Mr. Kinnard objected to the reading until an oath of secrecy bo taken 1)y each mem- 
ber of tlie Convention, whereupon Mr. Delany moved that the following parole of 
honor be taken by all members of the Convention : 

" I solemnly affirm that I will not, in any way, divulge any of the secrets of this 
Convention, except to the persons entitled to know the same, on the pain of forfeiting 
the respect and protection of this organization." 

Which motion was carried. 

The Pre.sident then proceeded to administer the obligation, after which the question 
was taken on reading of the plan proposed by Mr. Brown, and the same carried. 

The plan was then read by the Secretary, after wliicli, on motion of Mr. Whipple, it 
■was ordered that it be now read by articles fur consideration. 

The articles from 1 to 45 were then read and adopted. On reading of the 4Gth, 
Mr. Reynolds moved to strike out the same. Reynolds spoke m favor, and Brown, 
Monroe, Owen Brown, Delany, Realf, Kennard, and Page against striking out. The 
question was then taken and lost, there being but one vote in the aflirniative. The 
article was then adopted. The 47th and 48th articles, with tlie schedule, were then 
adopted in the same manner. It was then moved by Mr. Delanj' that tlie title and 
preamble stand !is read. Carried. 

On motion of Mr. Kagi, the Constitution, as a whole, was then unanimously adopted. 

Mr. Whipple nominated John Brown for Commander-in-Chief, who was, on the 
seconding of Delany, elected by acclamation. 

Mr. Realf nominated J. II. Kagi for Secretary of War, who was elected in the same 
manner. On motion of Mr. Brown, the Convention adjourned to nine V. M. of Mon- 
day, the 10th. 

Monday, May lOth, 1869 — 9^ P. M. — The Convention assembled and went into 
balloting for the election of Treasurer and Secretary of Treasury. Owen Bi'own 
was elected to the former office, and Geoige B. Gill to the latter. 

The following resolution was then introduced by Mr. Brown, and unanimously 

liesolved, That John Brown, J. II. Kagi, Richard Realf, L. F. Parsons, C. II. Tidd, 
C. Whipple, C. W. Moffit, John K. Cook, Owen Brown, Steward Taylor, Osborn An- 
derson, A. M. Ellsworth, Richard Richardson, W. H. Leeman, and John Lawrence, be, 
and are hereby, appointed a Committee, to whom is delegated the power of the Conven- 
tioi to till by election all offices specially named in the Provisional Constitution, 
which maj be vacant after the adjournment of the Convention. The Convention then 
adjourned sine rft'e. Signed, J. KAGI, Secretary of the Convention 

Affembling to Confpire. 233 

Barnes of the Members oftlie Convention, written by each Penon, 

Wui. Clinrle3 Monroe, President of tlio Convention; G. J. Re5-nol(ls, .T. C. Grant, 
A. .T. Sniitli, Jumes M. Jones, Geo. B. Gill, M. F. Bailey, Wm. Lambert, C. W. Moflitt, 
John J Jackson, J. Anderson, Alfred Whipple, James M. Bue, W. II. Lecnian, Alfred 
M. Ellsworth, John K. Cook, Stewart Taylor, James W. Piimell, Geo. Akin. Stephen 
Dettin, Thos. Ilickei-son, John Cannet, Robinson Alexander, Bic-hard Kealf, Thomas F. 
Cary, Richard Richardson, I. T. Parsons, Thos. M. Kinnard, J.' II. Delany, Robert 
Vanranker, Thomas IM. Stringer, Charles II. Tidd, John A. Thomas, C. AVhipplo, J. D. 
Shadd, Robert Newman, Owen Brown, John Brown, J. II, Harris, Charles Smith, 
Simon I'islin, Isaac IloUey, James Smith. 

Signed, J. II. KAGI, Secretary of the Convention, 

Memorandum — Offiees filled. 

Commander-in.Chief — John Brown. Secretary of War — J. II. Kaj^. Members of 
Congress — Alfred M. Kllswortli, Osborn Anderson. Treasurer — Owen Brown. Sec- 
retary of Treasury — Geo. B. Gill, Secretary of State — Richard Realf. 

Premising that the plan of the Liberators was not ex- 
tradition into the North, but emancipation in the South, 
— not to run off negroes to Canada, but to free them 
in Virginia, and to keep them there, — the Constitution 
adopted at this time is at once divested of the ridicule 
with which it has hitherto been clothed. Special at- 
tention should be paid, as indications of the design of 
the Liberators, to Article 1st, from 28 to 38, and from 
43 to 46, of as much of tlie Constitution as Virginia 
oermitted to be published. It will be seen that, even 
n this its fragmentary state, it organizes a Govern- 
nent eminently adapted to preserve order amongst iii- 
iurgent slaves, and to prevent unnecessary suffering and 
levastation. Tliey sought no offensive warfare against 
he South, but only to restore to tlie African Race its 
nherent rights, by enabling if to demand them of its 
•ppressors, with the power to enforce and maintain the 
laim. Not revolution, but justice ; not aggression, but 
• iefence ; not negro supremacy, but citizenship ; not 
/ar ag^ainst society, but for freedom : such were the 
leneficent objects which they designed to effect. 
The following document is the Constitution as mil 

ilated by tlie Virgihians : 


234 Affembling to Confpire. 

Provisional Constitution and Ordinances for the People of the United States. 

Preamblf.. — TVi'iercas. Slavery, throughout its entire existence in the United States, 
is none other th;in the most barbarous, unprovolced, and unjustifiable war of one por- 
tion of its citizens against another portion, the only conditions of which are perpetual 
imprisonment and hopeless servitude, or absolute extermination, in utter disregard 
and violation of those eternal and self-evident truths set forth in our Declaratioa ot 

Therefore, We, the citizens of the United States, and the oppressed people, who, by a 
recent decision of the Supreme Court, are declared to have no ri,ii;hts which the white 
man is bound to respect, together with all the other people degraded by the laws 
tliereof, do, for the time being, ordain and establish for ourselves the following Provis- 
ional Constitution and ordinances, the better to protect our people, property, lives, and 
liberties, and to govern our actions. 

Article I. ^qualifications of Membership. — All persons of mature age, whether pro- 
scribed, oppressed, and enslaved citizens, or of proscribed and oppressed races of the 
United States, who shall agree to sustain and enforce the Provisional Constitution and 
ordinances of organization, together with all minor children of such porsou.s, shall be 
held to be fully entitled to protection under the same. 

Art. II. Branches of Oovemment. — The Provisional Government of this organiza/- 
tion shall consist of three branches, viz.: the Legislative, the Kxecutive, and Judicial. 
, Art. III. The Legislature. — The Legislative Branch shall be a Congress or House 
of Representatives, composed of not less than five, nor more than ten members, who 
shall be elected by all the citizens of mature age and sound mind connected with 
this organization, and who shall remain in office for three years, unless sooner removed 
for misconduct, inability, or death. A majority of such members shall constitute a 

Art. IV. Executive. — The Executive Branch of the organization shall consist of a 
President and Vice-President, who shall be chosen by the citizens or members of this 
organization, and each of whom shall hold his office for three yearsj unless sooner re- 
moved by death, or for inability, or for misconduct. 

Art, V. Judicial. — The Judicial Branch consists of one Chief Justice of the Su- 
preme Court, and four Associate Judges of the said Court, each of them constituting a 
Circuit Court. They shall each be chosen in the same manner as the President, and 
shall continue in office until their places have been filled in the same manner by an 
election of citizens. 

Art. XIII. to XXV. provide for the trial of the President and other officers, and 
Members of Congress, the impeachment of Judges; the duties of the President and 
Vice-President, the punishment of crimes, Army appointments, salaries, &c., Ac. 
riiese articles are not of special interest, and are therefore omitted. 

Art. XXVI. Treaties of Peace. — Before any treaty of peace shall take full effect, it 
shall be signed by the President, Vice-President, Commander-in-Chief, a majority of the 
House of kepresentatives, a majority of the Supreme Court, and a majority of the gen- 
sral officers of the ainiy. 

Art. XXVII. Duty of the Military. — It shall be the duty of the Commander-in- 
Chief, and all the officers and soldiers of the army, to afford special protection, when 
needed, to Congress, or any member thereof, to the Supreme Court, or any member 
thereof, to the President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary of War, and to afford 
general protection to .all civil officers, or other persons having a right to the same. 

Art. XXVIII. Property. — All captured or confiscated property, and all the prop- 
erty the product of the labor of those belonging to this organization, and of their fam- 
ilies, shall be held as the property of the whole equally, without distinction, and may 
)je used for the common benefit, or disposed of for the same object. And any person, 
officer or otherwise, who shall improperly retain, secrete, use, or needlessly destroy 
such property, or property found, captured, or confiscated, belonging to the enemy, or 
shall wilfully neglect to render a full and fair .statement of such property by him so 
taken, or held, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, on conviction, shall be Funishec" 

Art. XXIX. Safety or Intelligence Fund. — 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 safety or intelligence 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 tliereof, shall be punished accordingly. The Treasurer shall 
furnish the Commander-in-Chief at all times with a full statement of the condition of 
such futid, and its nature. 

Art. XXX. The Conmander-in-Chirf and the Treasury. — The Commander-in- 
Chief shall have power t' draw from the Treasury the money and other property of the 
funa provided for in Art cle XXIX., but his orders shall be signed also by the Seaetary 

Affembling to Confpire. 235 

of War, who shall keep a strict account of the s;iinc, sulyfct to examination by any 
member of Congress or General Officer. 

Art. XXXI. Surplus of the Safety or Intelligence Funa. — It nhall be the duty of 
the Commander-in-Chief ti) advise the President of any surphis of the t'afcty or Intelli- 
gence Fund, and he shall have power to draw the same, his order being also signed by 
the Secretary of State, to enable him to carry on the provisions of Article XXII. 

Art. XXXII. Prisoners. — No person, after havinj? surrendered himself a prisoner, 
and who shall properly demean himself or hen^elf as such, to any officer or private con- 
nected with this organization, shall afterwards be put to death, or be subjected to any 
corporeal punishment, without first having had the benefit of a fair and impartial 
trial; nor shall any prisoner be treated with any kind of cruelty, disrespect, insult, or 
needless severity ; but it .ehall he the duty of all persons, male and female, connected 
herewith, at all times, and under all circumstances, to treat all such prisoners with 
every degree of respect and kindness that the nature of the circumstances will admit 
of, and insist on a like course of conduct from nil others, as iu fear of the Almighty 
God, to whose care and keeping we commit our cause. 

Art. XXXIII. Volunteers. — All persons who may come forward, and shall volun- 
tarily deliver up slaves, and have their names registered on the books of this organiza- 
tion, shall, 80 long as they continue at peace, be entitled to the fullest protection in per- 
son and property, though not connected with this organization, and shall be treated ai 
friends, and not merely as persons neutral. 

Art. XXXIV. JVeutraU. — The persons and property of all non-slaveholder* who 
shall remain absolutely neutral shall be respected so far as circumstances can allow of 
it, but they shall not Ije entitled to any active protection. 

Art. XXXV. JVo needless Waste. — The needless waste or destruction of any useful 
property or article by fire, throwing open of fences, fields, buildings, or needleu 
killing of animals, or injury of either, shall not be tolerated at any time or place, but 
shall be promptly and peremptorily pnnishtd. 

Art. XXXVI. Property confiscated. — The entire personal and real property of all 
persons known to be acting, either directly or indirectly, with or for the enemy, or found 
in arms with them, or found wilfully holding slaves, shall be confiscated and taken 
whenever and wherever it may be fuund, in either Free or Slave States. 

Art. XXXVII. Desertion. — Persons convicted, on impartial trial, of desertion to 
the enemy after becoming members, acting as spies, of treacherous surrender of prop- 
erty, arms, ammunition, provisions or supplies of any kind, roads, bridges, i>er8ous, or 
fortifications, shall be -put to death, and Hieir entire property conliscated. 

Art. XXXVIl I. Violation of Parole of Honor. — Persons provi'd to be guilty of taking 
up arms, after having been set at liberty on parole of honor, or after the same to have 
taken any active part with or for the enemy, direct or indirect, shall be put to death, 
and their entire property confiscated. 

Arts. XXXIX., XL., and XLI. require all labor for the general good, and prohibit 
immoral actions. 

Art. XLI I. Tite Marriage Relation — Schools — TTie Sabbath. — Marriage relations 
shall be at all times resi)ected, and families shall b(! kept together as far as possible, 
and broken families encouraged to reunite, and intelligence offices shall be established 
for that jjurpose. Schools and churches shall Ihj established as may be, for the purpose 
of religious and other instruction, and the first day of the week shall be regarded as » 
day of rest, and appropriated to moral and religious instruction and improvement, to 
the relief of the suffering, the instruction of the young and ignorant, and the encour- 
agement of personal ; nor shall any person be required on that day to per- 
form ordinary manual labor, unless In extremely urgent cases. 

Art. XLlil. To carry Jlrms openly. — All persons known to be of pood char- 
acter, and of sound mind and snilahle age, who are connected with this organization, 
whetlier male or female, shall be encouraged to carry arms openly. 

.Art. XLIV. JVo Persons to carry concealed Weapons. — No person within the 
limits of conquered territory, except regularly appointed policemen, express officers 
of army, mail carriers, or other fully accredited messengers of Congress, tlie President, 
Vice-President, members of the Supreme Court, or commissioned officers of the Army, 
and those under peculiar circumstances, shall bo allowed at any time to carry concealed 
weapons ; and any perison not specially authorized so to do, who shall bo found so doing, 
shall be deemed a suspicious person, and may at once be arrested by any officer, 
soldier, or citizen, without tlie formality of a complaint or warrant; and may at once 
l(e subjected to thorough search, and shall have his or her case thoroughly investi- 
gated, and he dealt with as circumstances on proof shall require. 

Art. XLV. Persons to^be seized. — Persons living within the limits of territory 
holdcn by this organization, and not connected with tins organization, having arms at 
all, concealed or otherwise, shall bo seized at once, or be taken in charge of by some 
vigilant officer, and their case thoroughly investigated ; and it shall be the duty of all 

236 Affembling to Confpire. 

citizens and soldiers, as well as officer?, to arrest such parties as are named in this and 
the preceding section or article, without formality of ct inplaint or warrant ; and they 
shall be jilaced in charpe of some proper officer for examination, or for safe keeping. 

Art. XLVX. TTiese Articles not for the Overthrow of Oovernment. — T><) foregoing 
articles shall not be construed so as in any way to encourage the overthrow of any 
State Government, or of the Geneial Government of the United States, and look to no 
dissolution of the Union, b\it simply to amendment and repeal, and our flag shall be 
the same that our fathers fought under in the Kevolution. 

Art. XLVII. JVo Plurality of Offices. — Ko two offices specially provided for by this 
instrument shall be filled by the same person, at the same time. 

Art. XLA'HI. Oath. — Every officer, civil or military, connected with this organ- 
ization, shall, hefore entering upon the duties of office, make a solemn oath or affirma- 
tion to abide by and support tlie Provisional Constitution and these ordinances. Also, 
every citizen and soldier, before being recognized as such, shall do the same. 

Schedule. — The President of this Convention shall convene, immediately on the 
adoption of this instrument, a Convention of all such jiersons as shall have given their 
adht;rence by signature to the Constitution, who shall proceed to fill by election all 
ofllces specially named in said Constitution — the President of this Convention pre- 
siding and issuing conimisi.sions to such officers elect; all such officers being hereafter 
elected in the manner provided in the body of this instrument. 

There are many things, not yet clear to the public, 
and sometimes quoted as proofs of insanity, but, 
rightly understood, giving evidence of a comprehen- 
sive and penetrating intellect, which it is impossible, at 
this time, fully to explain, in justice to the Cause for 
which John Brown died, and to the noble friends by 
whom he was supported. Among tliese mysteries must 
be placed some parts of the Constitution ; for, apart 
from the explanation already given, there are portions 
of it which still require a further elucidation. The or- 
ganization behind the letter of the Constitution cannot 
now be described. To persons familiar with it there 
is neither insanity nor inconsistency in the instrument ; 
but, on the contrary, every evidence of a judicious and 
humane statesmanship. The day will yet come when 
John Brown's name will stand first in the list of 
American statesmen. 

Why John Brown did not at once proceed to Har- 
per's Ferry, is thus stated by Cook in his Confession : 

" We staid about two weeks in Chatham — some of the party staid 
six or seven weeks. We left Chatham for Cleveland, and remained 
thtre tntil late in June. In the mean time, Captain Brown went East 

Affembling to Confpire. 237 

on business ; but, previous to his departure, he had learned that Col- 
onel Forbes had betrayed his plans to some extent. This, together 
with the scantiness of his funds, induced him. to delay the commence- 
ment of his work, and was the means, for the time being, of disband- 
ing the party. He had also received some information which called 
for his immediate attention in Kansas. I wished to go with him ; but 
he said that I was too well known there, and requested me and some 
others to go to Harper's Ferry, Va., to see how things were there, 
and to gain information. 

'< In his trip East, he did not realize the amount of money that he 
?xpected. The money had been promised honajide; but, owing to the 
dghtness of the money market, they failed to comply with his de- 
nands. The funds were necessary to the accomplishment of his 
)lans. I afterwards leayied that there was a lack of confidence in the 
success of his scheme. It was, therefore, necessary that a movement 
h'. d be made in another direction, to demonstrate the practicability 
)f his plan. This he made about a year ago by his invasion of Mis- 
ouri, and the taking of about a dozen slaves, together with horses, 
attle, &c., into Kansas, in defiance of the United States Marshal and 
! lis posse." 

The news of the massacre of the Marais-dcs-Cygnes 
"7as the immediate cause of John Brown's return to 
; Kansas ; although it is also true, that the action of 
' )olonel Forbes rendered it imperatively necessary to 
( ivert the attention of the Government from his origi- 
1 al plan. 


Making Ready. 

FROM the 16th of March, when 'John Brown was in 
Canada, up to the 16th of October, wlien he con- 
quered Yirginia, — a period of eight months, — it would 
neither be prudent nor just to trace his movements too 
minutely ; and I do not propose to do so now. From the 
20th to the 30th of March, he was at Cleveland, with 
^agi. An incident of this residence is thus related by 
Wendell Phillips : 

'* Prudence, skill, courage, thrift, knowledge of his time, knowledge 
of his opponents, undaunted daring in the face of the nation, — all 
these he had. He was the man who could leave Kansas and go into 
Missouri, and take eleven men and give them to liberty, and bring 
them off on the horses which he carried with him, and two which he 
took as tribute from their masters in order to facilitate escape. Then, 
■when he had passed his human protigis from the vulture of the United 
States to the safe shelter of the English lion, — this is the brave, 
Crank, and sublime truster in God's right and absolute justice, that 
entered his name, in the city of Cleveland, ' John Brown, of Kansas,' 
and advertised there two horses for sale, and stood in front of the 
auctioneer's stand, notifying all bidders of the defect in the title. But, 
he added, with nojichalance, when he told the story, ' They brought a 
very excellent price.' " 

At this time there was great excitement in Cleveland, 
in consequence of the arrest and imprisonment of 
number of prominent citizens of Oberlin, charged witl 


Making Ready. 239 

the manly virtue of liberating a fugitive slave, which, 
by the laws of the United States, is an indictable and 
penitentiary offence. On Tuesday, the 22d of March, 
1 large meeting was held at Cleveland, at which Kagi 
xnd John Brown were invited to speak. Kagi described 
;he scenes I have endeavored to depict in the chapter 
mtitled. Fleshing the Sword. John Brown was then 
' sailed on, and made a speech ; but the report preserved 
of it is exceedingly imperfect. Such as it is, here it is: 

JOHN brown's speech. 
" He prefaced his remarks by saying that he had called for an 
I dmission fee that he might use in place of money he had expended 
1 .pon the slaves on their way to Canada. He remarked that since liis 
] 1st return to Kansas he had had no fight with the pro-slavery ruffians, 
I Ithough he had been threatened abundantly. He wished to say that 
] e had never lifted a finger towards any one whom he did not know 
•• /as a violent persecutor of the Free State men. He had never killed 
I ny body ; although, on some occasions, he had shown the young men 
•\ ith him how some things might be done as well as others ; and tliey 
] ad done the business. He had never destroyed the value of an ear 
c f corn, and had never set fire to any pro-slavery man's house or 
1 roperty, and had never by his o^vn action driven out pro-slavery 
t len from the Territory ; but if occasion demanded it, he would drive 
t lem into the ground, like a fence stake, where they would remain 
I armanent settlers. Further, he had yet to learn of any pro-slavery 

ct en being arrested or punished [by the Territorial authorities] for ani/ 
c ime. He related the circumstance of the murder of his son at 
( sawatomie, who was shot down for the crime of being a Free State 
r. an. On the afternoon of the same day the Osawatomie fight oc- 
c irred. Mr. Brown remarked that he was an outlaw, the Governor 
c ' Missouri having offered a reward of $3000, and James Buchanan 
^ 250 more, for him. He quietly remarked, parenthetically, that 
J )hn Brown would give two dollars and fifty cents for the safe deliv- 
e y of the body of James Buchanan in any jail of the Free States. 
I e would never submit to an arrest, as he had nothing to gain from 
8 bmission ; but he should settle all questions on the spot if any 
8 tempt was made to take him. The liberation of those slaves was 
n eant as a direct blow to slavery, and he laid down his platform that 

"t .' considered it his duty to break th« fetterg from any slave when he 

240 Making Ready. 

had an opportunity. He was a thorough abolitionist. The remainder 
of his speech was a narration of Kansas affairs. 

"At the close of his remarks, the audience, by resolution, in- 
dorsed and approved of his course in Kansas, for which he heartily 
thanked them." 

In the beginning of April he was in .Ashtabula 
County, sick of the ague. On the 16th, he was at 
Westport, Essex County, New York — near home. On 
his journey there, he staid over at Peterboro', the 
residence of Gerritt Smith, and at Rochester, where he 
delivered a public speech and met the brave negro. 
Shields Green, or Emperor. In May he was in Boston, 
New York City, and Rochester. At Boston he learned 
how to manufacture crackers and beef meal. 

On the 3d of June he was at Collinsville, and con- 
cluded the contract for the pikes afterwards found on 
the Kennedy farm. On the 7th he was at Troy, from 
which he sent a draft of three hundred dollars to pay 
for the pikes. He then proceeded to Summit, Portage, 
and Ashtabula Counties, in Ohio. He went from Ohio to 
Chambersburg, stopping at Pittsburg City and Bedford. 
He remained at Chambersburg toward the close of 
June, for several days ; and, on the 30th, with two sons 
and Captain Anderson, left for Hagerstown, in Mary- 
land. Afl 

The next movements of the party are thus described 
by a resident of Hagerstown, a pro-slavery man, in a 
letter written after the arrest of Captain Brown at 
Harper's Ferry : .'iM 

*' John Brown, his two sons, and a Captain Anderson spent a night 
here, at the Washington House, in June, and were taken to Harper's 
Ferry next day in a hack. When here I was struck with the long 
beard of one of them, and called over to learn who they were and 

Making Ready. 241 

where they came from. Brown registered as ' Smith and two sons ' 
fiom Western New York, and told Mr. Singling, the landlord, that 
they had got tired of farming in that region ; that the frosts had taken 
.heir crops for two or three years ; that they were going to Virginia 
to look out a location for raising sheep and growing wool, &c. 
After looking around Harper's Ferry a few days, and prowling 
through the mountains in search of minerals, as they said, they came 
across a large farm with three unoccupied houses — the owner. Dr. 
Booth Kennedy, having died in the spring. These houses they rented 
from the family till next March, and paid the rent in advance, and 
also purchased a lot of hogs from the family for cash, and agreed 
to take care of the stock until a sale could be had ; and they did attend 
most faithfully to them, and have it all in first-rate order ; were gentle- 
men, and kind to every body. After living there a few weeks, others 
joined them, until as many as twelve were in these three houses, 
and every few days a stranger would appear and disappear again with- 
out creating the least surprise." 

A correspondent of a New York paper gives these 
additional particulars : 

" About five or six miles distant from Harper's Ferry, on the Mary- 
land side, is the Kennedy Farm, which John Brown hired in July at a 
rent of thirty-five dollars a year. ... A short time afterwards the party 
was increased by the arrival of two women, said to be his wife and daugh- 
ter ; and about three weeks ago three men arrived. The house is located 
n the midst of a thickly-settled neighborhood, five or six families liv- 
ng within hail, and the movements of the strangers were regarded 
A^ith much curiosity. They seemed to have no settled purpose ; but a 
arge number of boxes and packages were sent to them by railroad, 
vhich they carted home, and nearly every day one or more of them 
)aid a visit to the village. They paid for every thing they wanted in 
lard cash, and were sociable and friendly towards their neighbors. 
V. great deal of their time appeared to be passed in hunting in the 
aountains, although they never brought home any game.* On one 
ccasion a neighbor remarked to Mr. Smith (as Old Brown was called) 
hat he had observed twigs and branches bent down in a peculiar 
lanner, which Smith explained by stating that it was the habit of the 
ndians, in travelling through a strange cfountry, to mark their path in 
iiat way, so as to find their waj' back. He had no doubt, he said 
lat Indians passed over these mountains, unknown to the inhab- 


* "We Btrike at higher and wickeder game," said Mr. Ilunter — acted, Captain 


242 Making Ready. 

These statements of conversations with John Bi'i.wn 
must not be fully credited ; but the accounts of the 
hiring of the farm are substantially correct. " The 
greater part of the men," according to Cook's Confes- 
sion, " kept out of sight during the day, for fear of 
attracting attention. The arms, munitions, et cetera, 
were carted from Chambersburg to his rendezvous. 
The spear heads and guards came in strong boxes, and 
the shafts passed for fork handles. They were put 
together by our men at the house, where mcKt of them 
were afterwards found." 

" During his residence at the Kennedy Farm," writes 
one who lived with hhn, " the old man used often to 
take his Bible, sit down on a stool in the corner near 
the door, and read a chapter, and then make a prayer. 
He always did so in the morning. We never ate a 
meal at ' head-quarters,' until a blessing was asked 
on it." 

During the period that elapsed from the hiring of his 
farm till his invasion of Virginia, John Brown had 
occasion to revisit the North. On the 14th of October 
he is supposed to have been in Baltimore ; and on the 
16th he took occasion to report himself at Harper's 
Ferry. The announcement was made so loudly, that 
it reached every home in the North, and penetrated 
every cabin of the Southern plantations. 



The Blow Struck. 

IT was the original intention of Captain Brown to 
seize the Arsenal at Harper's Ferry on the niglit of 
he 24th of October, and to take the arms there depos- 
: ted to the neighboring mountains, with a number of 
• he wealthier citizens of the vicinity, as hostages, until 
1 hey should redeem themselves by liberating an equal 
1 lumber of their slaves. When at Baltimore, for satis- 
Jictory reasons, he determined to strike the blow that 
A ra,s to shake the Slave System to its foundations, on 
the night of the 17th. One of the men who fought at 
] [arper's Ferry gave me as the chief reason for the 
i recipitate movement, that there was a Judas whom 
t ley suspected in their midst. That the reasons were 
j ist and important, the prudence that John Brown 
had always hitherto manifested satisfactorily proves. 
I ut this decision, however necessary, was unfortunate; 
f r the men from Canada, Kansas, New England, and 
t le neighboring Free States, who had been told to be 
p -epared for the event on the 24th of October, and 
y^ ere ready to do their duty at Harper's Ferry at that 
ti ne, were unable to join their Captain at this earlier 
J) iriod. 


244 The Blow Struck. 

Many, who started to join the Liberators, halted half 
way ; for the blow had already been struck, and their 
Captain made a captive. Had there been no precipi- 
tation, the mountains of Virginia, to-day, would liave 
been peopled with free blacks, properly officered and 
ready for field action.* 

The negroes, also, in the neighboring counties, who 
had promised to be ready on the 24th of October, were 
confused by the precipitate attack ; and, before they 
could act in concert — which they can only do by 
secret nocturnal meetings — were watched, overpow- 
ered, and deprived of every chance to join their heroic 

Having sent off the women who lived at their cabins 
— Cook's wife and others — the neighbors began to 
talk about the singularity of the proceeding ; and il 
became necessary, on that account also, to precipitate 
an attack on Harper's Ferry. \r, msk,-'. 

On Saturday, a meeting of the Liberators was -held, 
and the plan of operations discussed. On Sunday 
evening, a council was again convened, and the pro- 
gramme of the Captain unanimously approved. " In 
closing," wrote Cook, " John Brown said : 

" And now, gentlemen, let me press this one thing on your minds. 
You all know how dear life is to you, and how dear your lives are 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 neces- 
sary to take life in order to save your own, then make sure work 
of it." 

* John Brown had engaged a competent military offircr to take charge of the lil>er- 
ated slaves as soon as it became necessary to descend from the mountains, and meet 
the militia forces iv. the field. 

The Blow Struck. 245 

^^' harper's ferry. 

" Feaiful and Exciting Intelligence ! Negro Insurrection at Harper's 
Ferrtj I Extensive Negro Conspiracy in Virginia and Maryland ! Seizure 
cf tlie United States Arsenal by the Insurrectionists ! Arms taken and 
sent into the Interior ! The Bridge fortified and defended by Cannon ! 
T.ains fired into and Stopped! Several Persons killed ! Telegraph Wires 
cut ! Co7itributions levied on the Citizens ! Troops despatched against the 
Insurgents from Washington and Baltimore ! " 

Such were the headings of the first telegraphic 
reports of John Brown's brave blow at American 

Before briefly describing the events that they fore- 
shadow, it is necessary to speak of the place where 
they occurred. The standard Virginia authority of 
the day thus writes : 

' ' Harper's Ferry is situated in Jefferson County, Virginia, at the 
confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, on a point just op- 
posite the gap through which the united streams pass the Blue Ridge on 
their way toward the ocean. The Ridge here is about twelve hundred 
feet in height, showing bare, precipitous cliffs on either side on the 
river, and exhibiting some of the most beautiful and imposing natural 
scenery to be found in the country. The town was originally built on 
two streets stretching along a narrow shelf between the base of the 
bluff and the rivers, meeting at the point at nearly a right angle, and 
named respectively Potomac and Shenandoah Streets. To accommo- 
date its increasing population, the town has straggled up the steep 
bluff, and, in detached villages and scattered residences, occupies the 
level ground above — about four hundred feet above the streams. 

'♦It has altogether a population of five thousand; is distant from 
Richmond one hundred and seventy-three miles ; from Washington 
3ity fifty-seven miles by turnpike road ; and from Baltimore eighty 
iiiles by rail. Here the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad crosses the Po- 
:omac by a magnificent covered bridge, nine hundred feet long, and 
lasses along Potomac Street westward, its track lying forty feet above 
he river. The Winchester and Harper's Ferry Railroad, lying along 
Shenandoah Street, connects with the Baltimore and Ohio at tie 
)ridge. Potomac Street is entirely occupied by the workshops «• d 
)ffices of the National Armory, and its entrance is enclosed by a h&- d- 
iome gate and iron railing. Nearly at the angle of junction are Jie 


24-6 The Blow Struck. 

old Arsenal buildings, where usually from one hundred thousand to two 
hundred thousand stand of arms are stored. The other buildings on 
the point, and nearer the bridge, arc railroad offices, hotels, eating 
houses, stores, shops, &e. Shenandoah Street contains stores and 
dvcUing houses for half a mile or more, when we come to Hall's 
riJ.e-works, situated on a small island in the Shenandoah River." 

Harper's Ferry, by the admission of mihtary men, 
was admirably chosen as the spot at which to begin a 
war of liberation. The neighboring mountains, with 
their inaccessible fastnesses, with every one of which, 
and every turning of their valleys, John Brown had 
been familiar for seventeen years, would afford to 
guerilla forces a protection the most favorable, and 
a thousand opportunities for a desperate defence or 
rapid retreats before overwhelming numbers of an 


The first movement of the Liberatoi's was to extin- 
guish the lights of the town, and take possession of 
the Armory buildings. This they did without opposi- 
tion, or exciting alarm ; although they took the three 
watchmen prisoners,' and locked them up in the Guard 
House. They were aided, it is believed, by friendly 
negroes. The number of Liberators in the tov/n was 
twenty-two only, of whom seventeen were whites, and 
five blacks and mixed bloods. But, outside of the 
town, there were others, (who afterwards succeeded in 
escaping,) to whom were assigned the duty, which 
they successfully performed, of cutting down the tele- 
graphic wires, and, after the train had passed, of tear- 
ing up the railroad track. 

At half past ten, the watchman at the Potomac 

The Blow Struck. 247 

Bridge was arrested and imprisoned. At midnight, 
his successor, who came down to take his place, was 
hailed by the sentinels placed there by Captain Brown ; 
but, supposing that they were robbers, he refused to 
surrender, and ran off: one shot being fired at him 
from the bridge. He gave the alarm at the hotel near 
by, but it produced no immediate action. The train 
eastward-bound arrived at a quarter past one o'clock, 
and the conductor was made aware of the possession 
of the bridge by armed men. The officers of the train, 
accompanied by some passengers, attempted to walk 
across the bridge, but presently saw the muzzles of 
four rifles resting on a railing, and prudently turned 
back. One man, refusing to surrender, was shot in 
the back and died next morning. It was found that 
he was a negro porter. At this time there were several 
shots exchanged between a clerk of the hotel and one 
or two of the Liberators. The passengers in the train 
went into the hotel, and remained there, in great alarm, 
for four or five hours. The conductor, although per- 
mission was granted to him, at three o'clock, to pass 
over with his train, refused to do so till he could see 
for himself that all was safe. 

" After taking the town," says Cook, "I was placed under Captain 
Stevens, who received orders to proceed to the house of Colonel 
licwis Washington, and to take him prisoner, and to bring his slaves, 
liorses, and arms ; and, as we came back, to take Mr. Alstadtt ar d his 
slaves, and to bring them all to Captain Brown at the Armory." 

This party of six arrived at the house of Colonel 
Washington shortly after midnight, took him prisoner, 
seized his arms, horses, and carriage, and liberated his 
slaves. " It is remarkable," said Governor Wise> 

248 The Blow Struck. 

speaking of this event, " that the only thing of mate- 
rial value which they took, besides his slaves, was the 
sword of Frederick the Great, which was sent to Gen- 
eral Washington. This was taken by Stevens to Brown, 
and the latter commanded his men with that sword in 
this fight against the peace and safety of Washington's 
native State ! " 

In returning to the Armory, Mr. Alstadtt and his 
sou were taken prisoners, and the slaves on their 
estate were freed. 

" On entering the Arniory," said Washington, "I found some eight 
,or ten persons, who recognized me. We were seated together and 
conversing, when the old man, whom we found by this time to bo 
Brown, after asking our names, said, ' It is now too dark to write, 
but when it is sufficiently light, if you have not paper and pens, I will 
furnish you, and I require that you shall each write to your friends to 
send a negro man apiece as a ransom.' " 

At daylight, every person who appeared in the street 
was taken prisoner, until they numbered between forty 
and fifty men. The train was also allowed to proceed. 
Captain Brown himself walking over the bridge with 
the conductor. Whenever the Virginians asked the 
object of their captors, the uniform answer was, " To 
free the slaves." Qjie of the workmen, we are told, on 
seeing an armed guard at the gate, asked by what 
authority they had taken possession of the public prem- 
ises. The guard replied, " By the authority of God 



^*A.r^ Sword in Hand. 

rPHE train that left Harper's Ferry carried a panic to 
JL Virginia, Maryland, and Washington with it. The 
passengers, taking all the paper they could find, wrote 
accounts of the Insurrection, which they threw from 
the windows as the train rushed onward. 

At daylight the news spread in Harper's Ferry that 
the town was in the hands of Abolitionists and the 
slaves. A terrible panic ensued. Report magnified 
the numbers of the Invaders forty-fold. The public 
buildings were already in the hands of the Liberators, 
and at the bridges, and the corners of the principal 
streets, armed sentinels, wrapped in Jalankets, were seen 
stationed, or walking up and down. Every man who 
appeared in the street was forthwith arrested and 
imprisoned in the Armory. Captain Brown and his 
sons Oliver and Watson, Stevens and two others, were 
stationed inside of the Armory grounds ; Kagi, Avith 
Leeraan, Stewart Taylor, Anderson, (black,) and Cope- 
land, (colored,) held the lower part of the town and 
the rifle works ; Cook, Owen Brown, Tidd, Merriam, 
and Barclay Coppoc were stationed at the cabins of 


2^0 ^ Sword in Hand. 

the Kennedy Farm and the school house ; w}:ile the 
remauider were posted as guards at the bridges and at 
the corners of the streets and the public buildings. 

Early in the morning Captain Brown sent an order 
to the Wager House for breakfast for forty-live men — 
his hostages and company. By eight o'clock the num- 
ber of Virginians thus held was over sixty persons. 

The first firing after daybreak was by a person 
named Turner, who fired at the guards as they were 
ordering two citizens to halt. Mr. Boerley, a grocer, 
fired the second shot. A bullet from a Sharpe's rifle 
instantly killed him. A number of Virginians then 
obtained possession of a room overlooking the Armory 
gates, and fired at a party of the sentinels. One of 
the Liberators fell dead, and another — Watson Brown 
— retired mortally wounded. 

The panic that these proceedings caused in the town 
is thus described by a Virginia panegyrist of the 
people : 

'• As the sun rose upon the scene, the reported outrages and the 
bodies of the murdered men showed that, from whatever source the 
movement came, it was of a serious nature. Sentinels, armed with 
rifles and pistols, were seen guarding all the public buildings, threat- 
ening death or firing at' all who questioned or interfered with them ; 
and the savage audacity with which they issued their orders gave 
assurance that the buildings were occupied by large bodies of men. 
Messages were despatched to all the neighboring towns for military 
assistance, while panic-stricken citizens seized such arras as they could 
find, and gathered in small bodies on the outskirts of the town, and at 
points remote from the works. All was confusion and mystery. Even 
the sight of several armed negroes among the strangers did not at 
once excite suspicion that it was an anti-slavery movement, and the 
report of one of the captured slaves, confirmatory of that fact, was re- 
ceived with doubt and incredulity. Indeed, so averse Avas the public 
mind to the acceptance of this belief, tliat the suggestion was every 
where received with derision, and every and any other explanation 
adopted in preference. Some supposed it was a strike among the dis- 
contented armorers, or the laborors on a government dam, who had 
taken this means to obtain redress for real or imaginary grievanceg. 

Sword in Hand. 251 

Others argued that it was a band of robbers organized in some of the 
cities for the purpose of robbing the pay-master's strong box, known 
to contain some thousands of public money ; that the armed negroes 
were whites in disguise ; that the idea of inciting a servile insurrection 
was a ruse, put forth to distract the public mind, and enable them to 
escape with their booty." 

During all the forenoon the Liberators had full pos- 
session of the town. There was a good deal of desultory 
firing, but no men were reported killed on either side. 
The prisoners were permitted frequently to visit their 
families, under guard, in order to quiet the apprehen- 
sion of their wives and children. Had John Brown car- 
ried out his original plan, he would now have retreated 
to the mountains. He could have done so unopposed. 
But two reasons seem to have induced him to delay : 
first, to prove to the people that the prisoners would 
suffer no cruelty while in his hands ; and, secondly — 
although this we infer only — the hope of being joined 
by the slaves when the night set in. 

The delay was fatal to his plans. For, half an hour 
after midday, the first detachment of militia, one hun- 
dred strong, arrived at Harper's Ferry from Charles- 
town. Their movements are thus described by their 
Colonel in command : 

" I proceeded on, with the few troops we had under arms, on foot 
to Harper's Ferry, where we arrived about twelve o'clock, I found 
the citizens in very great excitement. By this time the insurgents oc- 
cupied all the lower part of the town, had their sentinels posted on "all 
the different streets, and had shot one of our citizens and a negro man 
who had charge of the depot on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. 1 
here formed two companies of the citizens, and placed them under the 
command of Captain Lawson Botts and Captain John Avis. Th>it 
forces were variously estimated from three hundred to five hundrea 
strong, armed with Sharpe's rifles and revolvers. 

"I detached the Jefferson Guards, under the command of Captaii 
Rowan, and ordered them to cross the Potomac River in boats, about 
two miles above Harper's Ferry, and march down on tlie Maryland 
side, and take possession of the bridge, and permit no one to pass. 
This order was strictly executed. The command under Captain Botts 

2^2 Sword in Hand. 

■was ordered to pass down the hill below Jefferson's Rock and take 
possession of the Shenandoah Bridge, to leave a strong guard at that 
point, and to march down to the Gait House, in rear of the Arsenal 
building, in which we supposed their men were lodged. Captain 
Avis's command was ordered to take possession of the houses directly 
hi front of the Arsenal. Both of the above commands were promptly 
executed. By this movement we prevented any escape." 

The first attack was made by the Charlestown Guards 
at the Shenandoah Bridge. William Thompson was 
taken prisoner, imwounded, having just previously re- 
turned from the school house. A companion was 
killed at the same time. 

The rifle works were then attacked, and, as only five 
persons were stationed inside, the building was soon 
carried. Kagi and his men attempted to cross the 
river, and four of them succeeded in reaching the rock 
in the middle of it. As soon as they stood on the rock 
they renewed the fight, drawing on them the fire of 
two hundred Virginians, who shot at them from both 
sides of the river. Yet not one of these brave Libera- 
tors cried for quarter, or ceased to keep up the un- 
equal conflict, until the corpse of Kagi, riddled with 
balls, floated down the river, followed by one of his 
faithful black comrades, and Leary lay mortally wound- 
ed. Copeland, the unwounded survivor, seeing that 
the fight was over, yielded himself a prisoner, and, with 
Leary, who lingered twelve hours in agony, was taken 
to the town and imprisoned. 

About the same time, or just previous to the taking 
of the rifle works, William II. Leeman, having proba- 
bly been despatched by Kagi with a message to Captain 
Brown, was seen, pursued, and attempted to escape by 
swimming the river. He was the youngest of the 
party — only twenty-two years of age. A dozen shots 

Sword in Hand,- 253 

wore fired at him as he ran ; he partially fell, but rose 
again, threw away his gun, drew his pistols and tried 
to shoot, but both of them snapped. He then un- 
sheathed his bowie-knife, cut off his accoutrements, and 
plunged into the river. George Schoppart, one of the 
Virginia militia, waded in after him. Leeman turned 
round, threw up his hands, and said, '■'■Don't shoot ! " 
Unheeding this cry of surrender, the cowardly Virgin- 
ian fired his pistol in the young man's face, and blew 
it into bloody fragments. * He then cut off the coat- 
skirts of the corpse, and found in the pockets a Cap- 

^ tain's commission.* 

I Wliile the fight at the rifle works was going on, Cap- 
tain Avis and his company took possession of the houses 
around the Armory buildings. As they were doing so, 
Captain Turner, who had opened the fire in the morn- 
ing, was shot dead while in the act of raising his rifle. 
He was killed by a sentinel at the Arsenal gate. About 
the same time, Dangerfield Newby, a man of color, and 
a native of the neighborhood, who still had a wife and 
nine children in slavery in the vicinity, fell dead as he 
was bravely fighting for the freedom of his enslaved 
little ones and their mother. His courage was warmly 
oulogized by the Liberators who witnessed it. Jim, 
one of Washington's negroes, was also slain at this 
period — as he, also, was valiantly asserting his man- 

* Whereas:, W. II. Leeman has been nominated a Captain in the Army established 
under the Provisional Constitution ; now, therefore, in pursuance of the authoni,j 
vested in me by said Constitution, we do hereby appoint and commission tlie saiJ 
W. II. Leeman, Captain. 

Given at the office of the Secretary of War, the 15th day of October, 1859. 

JOHN BROWN, CommancUr-inrChief. 
J. U. KAGI, Secretary of War. 

22 "• ' t"-^^ 

254 Sword in Hand. 

hood through the muzzle of a rifle.* A free negro, his 
companion, who had lived on Washington's estate, was 
shot for the same virtue at the same hour. 

Shortly after the death of Captain Turner, a stray 
shot killed Mr. Beckman, the Mayor of the town, who 
foolishly came within range of the rifles, as the Liber- 
ators and Virginians were exchanging volleys. In the 
course of this fight, Oliver Brown was shot, retreated 
inside of the gate, " spoke no word, but yielded calmly 
to his fate," and died in a few seconds after his 

At the request of Mr. Kitzmiller, one of John Brown's 
hostages, Stevens went out of the Arsenal with liim, in 
order to enable him, if he could do so, to " accommo- 
date matters " for the benefit of the prisoners. Stevens 
carried a flag of truce ; but yet he was shot down, and 
seized by the ruffianly militia. 

Thompson was then ordered to prepare for death, 
by a number of young Virginia gentlemen, whose con- 
duct, on this occasion, is a vivid illustration of the 
effects of slavery on the manners of men. 

" In 1608, an Indian girl flung herself before her 
father's tomahawk, on the bosom of an English gentle- 
man, and the Indian refrained from touching the Eng- 
lish traveller, whom his daughter's affection protected. 
Pochahontas lives to-day, the ideal beauty of Virginia, 
and lier proudest names strive to trace their lineage to 
the brave Indian girl. That was Pagan Virginia, two 
centuries and a half ago." Far different is the Vir- 

* "He fought lilje a tiger," said an eye-witness; and of NewV) another suid, 
" lis foHght lilie the Terjr devil. ♦ Negrses can fight 

Sword in Hand, 255 

giaia of 1859. These Virginians tried to murder Mr. 
Thompson in the parlor where he was detained a pris- 
oner of war ; and were only prevented from doing so 
by a young lady throwing herself between their rifles 
and his body. They then dragged him to the bridge, 
where they killed him in cold blood. They shot him 
off the bridge ; shot him as he was falling the fearful 
height of forty feet ; and, some appearance of life still 
remaining, riddled him with balls as he was seen crawl- 
ing at the base of the pier. Contrast the Virginia 
savages of the olden time with the Virginia gentlemen 
of the present day. The contrast does not stop here. 
Miss Foulke, the modern Pochahontas, when asked 
why she shielded Mr. Thompson, replied, not that she 
loathed a murder, but that she " didn't want to have 
the carpet spoiled ! "* 

While these gallant young Virginiatis were murder- 
ing an unarmed prisoner, a party of men from Martins- 
burg arrived, and, led by a railroad conductor, attacked 
the Armory buildings in the rear. Another detachment 
of the same company attacked the buildings in front. 
Seeing them approach on both sides in overwhelming 
numbers. Captain Brown retreated to the engine house, 
after exchanging volleys with tlie advancing forces. 
The company that attacked the rear broke open scv- 

* Wendell Phillips, in his great speech recently delivered at New York, in which he 
BO successfully subdued tho satraps of Virginia who bad assembled to put him down, 
lelated another incident of tho fight at Ilnrf/er's Ferry, in which this Miss Foulke was 
a participator : 

-* When, in tho midst of the battle of Harper's Ferry, the Mayor's body lay withiu 
range of the rifles of those northern boys, his friends wanted to bring it off, but none 
of them would go. At last the porter of the hotel mid to a lady, if you will stand be- 
tween me an<l the rifles, I will go; and he went. lie know ho could trust the gentle 
sacrcdness of woman in the eyes of those brave northern boys. He went and placed 
the body in a carriage, and, sheltered by her presence, carried U back in safety. That 
U tho difference between Northern blood and Southern." 

256 Sword in Hand. 

eral windows, which enabled eighteen prisoners to es- 
cape. An attempt to carry the engine house was 
repulsed with the loss of two men killed and six 
wounded. The attacking party was fifty strong. 

During the day three trains had been detained out- 
side of the town ; reenforcements were constantly ar- 
riving from the surrounding counties ; tlio tclegrapli 
and railroad tracks were under repair ; and the Cabi- 
net at Washington, the Governor of Virginia, and the 
City of Baltimore, had ordered troops to hasten on to 
subdue the Liberators. 

The last militia force, under Captain Simms, from 
Maryland, arrived at five o'clock in the afternoon ; and 
with the other companies already there, completely 
surrounded the Armory buildings. He arrived in time 
to prevent another cowardly murder ; for the Virginia 
gentlemen, afraid to attack the engine house, and fresli 
from the murder of Thompson, were exhibiting the 
nature of their valor by yelling for the blood of the 
wounded Stevens. 

The united forces were placed under the command 
of Colonel Baylor. An offer made by Captain Brown 
to liberate the hostages, if his men were permitted to 
cross the bridge, was refused by him ; and by tliis time, 
as the night had fallen, the firing ceased on both sides. 

The result of the day's fight to the Liberators looked 
extremely gloomy. In the rivers floated the corpses of 
Kagi, Leeman, Stewart Taylor, and Wm. Thompson. 
Imprisoned, and near to death, lay Lewis Leary and 
Stevens. Copeland was a captive. On the street lay 
the dead bodies of Hazlitt and Nevvby. In the engine 

Sword in Hand. 


house were the remains of Oliver Brown, and Dauphin 
Thomjison ; while Watson, the Captain's son, lay with- 
out hope of recovery. The only unwounded survivors 
of the Liberators in the engine house were Captain 
Brown, Jerry Anderson, Edwin Coppoc, and Shields 
Green, the negro. Eight Virginia hostages, and a 
small number of armed negroes, were with them. 

Where were the others, and what had they beeu 
doing ? John E. Cook, in his Confession, thus stated 
their position : 

" When we returned from the capture of Washington, I staid a short 
time in the engine house to get warm, as I was chilled through. After 
I got warm, Captain Brown ordered me to go with C, P. Tidd, who 
was to take William H. Leeman, and I think four slaves with him, in 
Colonel Washington's large wagon across the river, and to take Ter- 
ence Burns and his brother and their slaves prisoners. My orders 
were to hold Burns and brother as prisoners at their own house, while 
Tidd and the slaves who accompanied him were to go to Captain 
Brown's house, and to load in the arms and bring them down to the 
school house, stopping for the Burnscs and their guard. William H. 
Leeman remained with me to guard the prisoners. On return of the 
wagon, in compliance with orders, we all started for the school house. 
When we got there, I was to remain, by Captain Brown's orders, with 
one of the slaves to guard the arms, while C. P. Tidd, with the other 
negroes, was to go back for the rest of the arms, and Burns was to be 
sent with William H. Leeman to Captain Brown at the Armory. It 
was at this time that William Thompson came up from the Ferry and 
reported that every thing was all right, and then hurried on to overtake 
William H. Leeman. A short time after the departure of Tidd, I 
neard a good deal of firing, and became anxious to know the cause ; 
out my oiders were strict to remain at the school house and guard the 
arms, and I obeyed the orders to the letter. About four o'clock in the 
evening C. P. Tidd came with the second load. I then took one of 
'.he negroes with me and started for the Ferry. I met a negro woman 
a short distance below the school house, who informed me they were 
Rghting hard at the Ferry. I hurried on till I came to the lock kept 
oy George Hardy, about a mile above the bridge, where I saw his wife 
md Mrs. Elizabeth Read, who told me that our men were hemmed in, 
md that several of them had been shot. I expressed my intention to 
ry to get to them, when Mrs. Hardy asked me to try to get her hus- 
jand released from the engine house. I told her I would. Mrs. Reed 
)egged of me not to go down to the Ferry. She said I would be shot. 
[ told her I must make an attempt to save my comrades, a- id passed 
m down the road. A short distance below the lock I met two boys 
A'hom I knew, and they told me that our me* were all hemmed in by 



Sword in Hand. 

txoops from Charlestown, Martinsburg, Hagerstown, and Shepherds- 
town. The negro who was with me had been very much frightened al 
the first report we received, and as the boys told me the troops were 
coming up the road after us soon, I sent him (the negro) back to in- 
form Tidd, while I hastened down the road. After going down oppo- 
site the Ferry, I ascended the mountain in order to get a better view 
of the position of our opponents. 

"I saw that our party were completely surrounded, and as I saw a 
body of men on High Street firing down upon them, — they were about 
half a mile distant from me, — I thought I would draw their fire upon 
myself; I therefore raised my rifle and took the best aim I could and 
fired. It had the desired effect, for the very instant the party returned 
it. Se\eral shots were exchanged. The last one they fired at me cut 
a small limb I had hold of just below my hand, and gave me a fall of 
about fifteen feet, by which I was severely bruised, and my flesh 
somewhat lacerated. I descended from the mountain and passed down 
the road to the Crane on the back of the canal, about fifty yards from 
Mr. W.'s store. I saw several heads behind the door-post looking at 
me ; I took a position behind the Crane, and cocking my rifie, beck- 
oned to some of them to come to me. After some hesitation, one of 
them approached, and then another, both of whom knew me. I asked 
them if there were any armed men in the store. They pledged me 
their word and honor that there were none. I then passed down to 
the lock house, and went down the steps to the lock, where I saw 
William McGreg, and questioned him in regard to the troops on the 
other side. He told me that the bridge was filled by our opponents, 
and that all of our party were dead but seven — that two of them 
were shot while trying to escape across the river. He begged me to 
leave immediately. After questioning him in regard to the position 
and number of the troops, and from what sources he received his in- 
formation, I bade him good night, and started up the road at a rapid 
walk. I stopped at the house of an Irish family at the foot of the hill, 
and got a cup of coffee and some eatables. I was informed by them 
that Captain Brown was dead ; that he had been shot about four o'clock 
in the afternoon. At the time I believed this report to be true. I 
went on up to the school house, and found the shutters and door 
closed ; called to Tidd and the boys, but received no answer ; cocked 
my rifle, and then opened the door ; it was dark at the time. Some 
of the goods had been placed in the middle of the floor, and, in the 
dark, looked like men crouching. I uncocked my rifle, and drew my 
revolver, and then struck a match ; saw that there was no one in the 
school house ; went into the bushes back of the school house, and 
called for the boys ; receiving no answer, I went across the road into 
some pines, and again called, but could find no one. I then started 
up the road towards Captain Brown's house ; I saw a party of men 
coming down the road ; when within about fifty yards, I ordered them 
to halt ; they recognized my voice, and called me. I found them to 
be Charles P. Tidd, Owen Brown, Barclay Coppic, F. J. Merriam, 
and a negro who belonged to Washington or Alstadtt. They asked 
me the news, and I gave the information that I received at the canal lock 
and on the road. It seemed that they thought it would be sheer mad- 
ness in them to attempt a rescue of our comrades, and it was finally 
determined to return to the house of Captain Brown. I found that Tidd, 

Sword in Hand. 


before leaving the school house to go for Brown, Coppic, and Merriam, 
had stationed the negroes in a good position in the timber back of the 
school house. On his return, however, they could not be found. We 
therefore left for Captain Brown's house. Here we got a few articles 
which would be necessary, and then went over into the timber on the 
side of the mountain, a few yards beyond the house, where the spears 
were kept. Here we laid down and went to sleep. About three 
o'clock in the morning one of our party awakened, and found that the 
negro had left us. He immediately aroused the rest of the party, and 
wo concluded to go to the top of the mountain before light. Here we 
remained for a few hours, and then passed over to the other side of 
the mountain, where we waited till dark, and then crossed the valley 
to the other range beyond." 

rf The town was filled with militia forces, which guarded 
every street and approach to the Ferry. There were 
fifteen hundred men under arms. During the night, 
Colonel Lee, with ninety United States marines, and 
two pieces of artillery, arrived in the town, took pos- 
session of the Armory guard, in immediate proximity 
to the engine house. 

The scene in the town is thus described by a corre- 
spondent of the Frederick Herald, a Maryland pro- 
slavery paper : 

"The dead lay on the streets, and in the river, and were subjected 
to every indignity that a wild and madly excited people could heap 
apon them. 

" Curses were freely uttered against them, and kicks and blows in- 
dicted upon them. The huge mulatto that shot Mr. Turner was lying 
n the gutter in front of the Arsenal, with a terrible wound in his 
leck, and though dead and gory, vengeance was unsatisfied, and 
nany, as they ran sticks into his tcotind, or beat him with them, wished 
hat he had a thousand lives, that all of them might be forfeited in ex- 
nation and avengement of the foul deed he had committed. 

"Leeman lay upon a rock in the river, and was made a target for 
he practice of those who had captured Sharpe's rifles in the fray. 
Shot after shot was fired at him, and when tired of this xport, a man 
vaded out to where he lay, and set him up, in grotesqtie attitudes, and 
inally pushed him off, and he floated down the stream. His body and 
hat of Thompson, which was also in the water, were subscquentlj 
)rought to shore, and were buried, aw were all of them, except a fev 
vhich were taken by some of the physicians. It may be thought that 
here was cruelty and barbarity in this ; Ijut the state of the public 
nind had been frenzied by the outrages of these men ; and being out 
aws, were regarded as food for carrion birds, and not as human area- 


Fallen among Thieves. 

UP to the close of Monday evening, John Brown 
had successfully maintained his position against 
the united forces of Virginia and Maryland. With 
his three surviving followers he was now prepared to 
oppose the Nation ; and, knowing no fear but the failure 
to do his duty, he prepared to resist her forces also. 

Hemmed in by an overwhelming force, with the 
knowledge that, when the morrow's sun should rise, 
he must fall before its physical superiority, he never 
once faltered in his resolution, or exhibited the slight- 
est sign of fear. During the live-long night, said one 
of the hostages, the voice of Brown was heard contin- 
ually repeating. Are you awake, men ? Are you 
ready ? " And Colonel AVashington said that he — 
Brown — was the coolest man he ever saw in defying 
death and danger. With one son dead by his side, 
and another shot through, he felt the pulse of his 
dying sou with one hand, and held his rifle with the 
otherj and commanded his men with the utmost com- 
posure, encouraging them to be firm, and to sell their 



* Fallen among Thieves. 261 

lives as dearly as possible."* The old man, we are 
lold, spoke freely with Colonel Washington, and re- 
f 3rred to his sons. He said he had lost one in Kansas, 
and two here. He had not pressed them to join him 
i 1 the expedition, but did not regret their loss — they 
1 ad died in a good cause. 

At seven o'clock the preparations for an assault 
b3gan. Watson Brown lay writhing in agony on the 
ground, unable to assist in the defence ; but his un- 
d lunted comrades stood fearless and ready to defend 
their lives, and resist the hireling bands of the oppressor. 

The correspondent of a Baltimore paper thus de- 
S( ribes the closing scenes : 

"Shortly after seven o'clock, Lieutenant E, B. Stuart, of the 1st 
C valry, who was acting as aid for Colonel Lee, advanced to parley 
w th the besieged, Samuel Strider, Esq., an old and respectable citi- 
ze 1, bearing a flag of truce. They were received at the door by Cap- 
ta n Brown. Lieutenant Stuart demanded an unconditional surrender, 
01 ly promising them protection from immediate violence, and a trial 
bj law. Captain Brown refu.sed all terms but those previously de- 
m nded, which were substantially, " That they should be permitted to 
xn rch out with their men and arms, taking their prisoners with them ; 
th it they should proceed unpursued to the second toll-gate, when they 
Wi uld free their prisoners ; the soldiers would then be permitted to 
pi isue them, and they would fight if they could not escape." Of 
CO u-se, this was refused, and Lieutenant Stuart pressed upon Brown 
hi desperate position, and urged a surrender. The expostulation, 
th >ugh beyond earshot, was evidently very earnest. At this moment 
th interest of the scene was most intense. The volunteers were 
ra igcd all around the building, cutting off escape in every direction. 
Tl 2 marines, divided in two squads, were ready for a dash at the door. 

' Finally, Lieutenant Stuart, having failed to arrange terms Avilh the 
de ermined Captain Brown, walked slowly from the door. 

' Immediately the signal for attack was given, and the marines, 
he dcd by Major Bussell and Lieutenant Green, advanced in two lines 
on each side of the door. Two powerful fellows sprung between the 
lin !s, and with heavy sledge hammers attempted to batter down the 
dc >r. The door swung and swayed, but appeared to be secured with 
a ope, the spring of which deadened the effect of the biuws. Fail- 
In; thus, they took hold of a ladder, some forty feet long, and, ad- 
va cing at a run, brought it with tremendous effect against the door. 
At the second blow it gave way, one leaf falling inward in a slanting 

• Speech of Governor WLse, at Richmond, on his return from Harper's Ferry. 

262 ' Fallen among Thieves. 

position. The marines immediately advanced to the broach, Alajoi 
Russell and Lieutenant Green leading. A marine in front fell. The 
firing from the interior was rapid and sharp. They fired with delib- 
erate aim, and for a moment the resistance was serious, and desperate 
enough to excite the spectators to something like a pitch of frenzy. 
The next moment the marines poured in, the firing ceased, and the 
work was done. In the assault a private of the marines received a 
ball in the stomach, and was believed to be fatally wounded. Another 
received a slight flesh wound." 

One of the Liberators fell dead — Jerry Anderson — 
and only three shots were fired ; Brown, Coppoc, and 
Green each discharging their rifles at the marines on 
their first assault. 

Before the entrance of the troops, the Liberators 
ceased firing ; and, therefore, by all the rules of hon- 
orable warfare, should now have been sacredly pro- 
tected from violence. Offering no resistance, every 
civilized people would have taken them prisoners of 
war. But not so the assailants in Virginia. ^M 

Before the fight began, John Brown, according to 
the testimony of Colonel Washington, urged his hos- 
tages to seek places of safety — to keep themselves out 
of harm's way ; while the crowd in the streets, judging 
the Liberators by their own standard of humanity, sup- 
posed that they were killing them in cold blood. How 
did the descendant of George Washington reciprocate 
this consideration ? Let his friend and eulogist reply : 

" Colonel Washington, who, through all these tiying scenes, had 
borne himself Avith an intrepid coolness that excited the admiration 
of the brigand chief himself, now did important service. The moment 
the marines entered, he sprang upon one of the engines, told his fel- 
low-prifioners to hold up their hands that they might be re<:ognized as 
non-combatants, and then rapidly pointed out the outlaws to the vengeance 
of the soldiers. ... A soldier, seeing Colonel Washington in an 
active and prominent position, mistook him for one of the outlaws, 
levelled his piece, and put his finger on the trigger ; but, fortunately 
remembering the caution in regard to the prisoners, he desisted. 
Shields Green, alias Emperor, a negro M. C. under the future Pro- 
visional Government, sneaked among the slave prisoners, hoping thus 
to escape notice and detection ; but, perceived by Colonel Washington, 
he was hauled forth to meet his doom." 

Fallen among Thieves. 263 

Lieutenant Green, as soon as he saw John Brown, 
ilthough he was unarmed, (according to the testimony 
)f a Virginian,) struck him in the face with his sabre, 
vhich instantly knocked him down. Not content with 
liis brutality, the Lieutenant repeated the blow sev- 
eral times, and then another soldier ran a bayonet 
iwice into the prostrate body of the old man.* 

The scenes that followed this assault are so discred- 
i table to Virginia — nay, to human nature — that I 
dare not trust myself to describe them ; but will con- 
lent myself with quoting the accounts of two ultra pro- 
f lavery journalists. This is the report of the Baltimore 
American : 

'•When the insurgents were brought out, some dead and others 
■\ ounded, they were greeted with execrations, and only the precautions 
t lat had been taken saved them from immediate execution. The 
c -owd, nearly every man of which carried a gun, swayed with tumul- 
t lous excitement, and cries of ' Shoot them ! shoot them ! ' rang from 
e rery side. The appearance of the liberated prisoners, all of whom, 
t irough the steadiness of the marines, escaped injury, changed the 
c irrent of feeling, and prolonged cheers took the place of howls and 
e cccrations. 

"The lawn in front of the engine house, after the assault, presented 
a dreadful sight. Lying on it were two bodies of men killed on the 
p -evious day, and found inside the house ; three wounded men, one 
' them just at the last gasp of life, [Anderson ;] and two others 
g oaning in pain. One of the dead was Brown's son Oliver. The 
V oiuided father and his son Watson were lying on the gi-ass, the old 
n an presenting a gory spectacle. He had a severe ba\ionet wound in 
h s side, and his face and hair were clotted with blood." 

Porte-Crayon, a Virginia artist and author, and a 
f iudish historian of the holy Invasion, thus writes of 
t le same infamous scene : 

* In tho trial of Copeland, the following dialogue occurred : 

Mr. Si-nnotl. You say that when Brown was down you struck him in the face with 
y ur fabre? 

Lieut. Grern. Yes, sir. 

^ Mr. Se.nnott. This was after he was down t 

Lieut. Green. Yes, sir, he was down. 

_ Vr. Sennott. How many times, Lieut. Green, did you strike Brown in the face aftw 
b was down ? 

Utut. Grun. Why, sir, he was defending himself with his gun. 

Vr Hunter. I hope the counsel for tht deftnot will not preti itich oiutiitmt at th«H> 

Mr. SennoU. Very well, sir. 

264 Fallen among Thieves. 

•'The citizen captives, released from their long and trj'ing vonfint- 
ment, hurried out to meet their friends with every demonstration of 
joy ; while the bloody carcasses of the dead and dying outlaws were 
dragged into the lawn amidst the howls and execrations of the people. 
It was a hideous and ghastly spectacle. Some, stark and stiff, with 
staring eyes and fallen jaws, were the dead of yesterdaj'' ; while others, 
struck with death w'ounds, writhed and wallowed in their blood. 
Two only were brought out unhurt, — Coppoc, and Green the negro, 
— and they only escaped immediate death by accident, the soldiers not 
at once distinguishing them from the captive citizens and slaves." 

There is only one account of the conversation of 
John Brown, as he lay wounded and bloody on the 
lawn. It is thus narrated : 

" A short time after Captain Brown was brought out, he revived, 
and talked earnestly to those about him, defending his course, and 
avowing that he had done only what was right. lie replied to ques- 
tions substantially as follows : 

" ' Are you Captain Brown, of Kansas ? ' 

«* 'I am sometimes called so.' 

«' ♦ Are you Osawatomie Brown ? ' 

" ' / tried to do my duty there.' " 

These two replies are eminently characteristic — so 
manly and so modest. He never himself assumed the 
title of Captain, even in Kansas, where titles were as 
common as proper names. " I tried to do my duty 
there," — the sentence was a key to his whole life. 
Neither honor nor glory moved him ; the voice of duty 
was the only one he heard. 

" ' What was your present object ? ' 

•• 'To free the slaves from bondage.' 

" « Were any other persons but those with you now connected wifli 
the movement ? ' ^ 


" < Did you expect aid from the North ? 

" ' No ; there was no one connected with the movement but those 
■who came with me.' 

" ' Did you expect to kill people in order to carry your point ? ' 

" 'I did not wish to do so, but you force us to it.' 

"Various questions of this kind were put to Captain Brown, which 
he answered clearly and freely, with seeming anxiety to vindicate 

" He urged that he had the town at his mercy ; that he could have 
burned it, and murdered the inhabitants, but did not ; he had treated 
the prisoners with courtesy, and complained that he was hunted doAvn 
like a beast. He spoke of the killing of his son, which he alleged was 
dpne while bearing a flag of truce, and seemed very anxious for the 
safetjy of his wovmded son. His conversation bore the impression of 

Fallen among Thieves. 265 

the conviction that whatever he had done to free slaves was right, and 
that in th" warfare in which he was engaged he was entitled to be 
treated witli all the respect of a prisoner of war. 

"He seemed fully convinced that he was badly treated, and had a 
right to complain. Although at first considered dying, an examina- 
tion of his wounds proved that they were not necessarily fatal. He 
expressed a desire to live, and to be tried by his country. In his 
pockets nearly three hundred dollars were found in gold. Several 
important papers, found in his possession, were taken charge of by 
Colonel Lee, on behalf of the go\'ernment. To another, Brown said it 
was no part of his purpose to seize the public arms. He had army 
and ammunition enough reshipped from Kansas. He only intended 
to make the first demonstration at this point, when he expected to 
receive a rapid increase of the allies from Abolitionists every where 
settled through Maryland and Virginia, sufficient to take posses- 
sion of both States, with all of the negroes they could capture. He 
did not expect to encounter the Federal troops. He had Only a gen- 
eral idea as to his course ; it was to be a general south-west course 
through Virginia, varying as circumstances dictated or required. Mr. 
Washington reports that Brown was remarkably cool during the as- 
sault. He fell under two bayonet wounds — one in the groin, and 
)ne in the breast — and four sabre cuts on the head. During the fight 
le was supposed to be dead, or doubtless he would have been shot. 
Se was not touched by a ball. The prisoners also state that Brown 
.vas courteous to them, and did not ill-use them, and made no abolition 
speech to them. Coppoc, one of the prisoners, said he did not want to 
oin the expedition, but added, • Ah, you gentlemen don't know Cap- 
ain Brown ; when he calls for us we never think of refusing to come.' " ♦ 

Captain Brown, after his pockets were rifled, was 
jarried, with his dying son, to the Guard House, and 
Stevens was soon brought and laid down beside them 

■ )n the floor. No beds were provided for the prisoners. 
Joppoc, the brave Iowa boy, thus described, in a letter 
their mother, the death of John Brown's sons, and the 

: accommodations provided for them by the Virginians : 

<♦ I was with your sons when they fell. Oliver lived but a very few 
: loments after he was shot. He spoke no word, but yielded calmly to 
; is fate. Watson was shot at ten o'clock on Monday morning, and 
I ied about three o'clock on Wednesday morning. He suffered much. 
' 'hough mortally wounded at ten o'clock, yet at three o'clock Monday 
! fternoon he fought bravely against the men who charged on us. 
' Vhen the enemy were repulsed, and the excitement of the charge was 
' ver, he began to sink rapidly. After we were taken prisoners, he 
ras placed in the Guard House with me. He complained of the hard- 
: ess of the bench on which he was lying. I begged hard for a bed for 
. im, or even a blanket, but could obtain none for him. I took off my 

■ oat, and placed it under him, and held his head in my lap, in which 
osition he died, without a groan or struggle." 

« * TheM statemaDt* ure unworthy of belief. 



Spoils of War. 

SOME time after the capture of the Liberators, a 
negro, held in bondage by Colonel "Washington, 
reported that Captain Cook was in the mountains, only 
tliree miles off. Scouting parties went out in search 
of him, but all of them returned unsuccessful. From 
this time until the day of John Brown's death, the whole 
country around Harper's Ferry and Charlestown was 
kept in a condition of perpetual alarm. Rumors of 
invasion, and rescue, and murder — letters written by 
lovers of fun in the North, for the purpose of fright- 
ening the authorities — " mysterious Roman lights 
seen shooting up at night among the mountains " — 
and cows of bellicose propensities, who rebelliously re- 
fused to advance and give the countersign ; all aided to 
exhibit tlie exceeding cowardice of Virginia, and how 
dastardly a spirit her criminal institution has created 
among a people once brave and chivalrous. The inva- 
sion of John Brown, if it had done no more than effect 
this object, was an eminent success ; for, more effectu- 
ally than ever all the pens and tongues of eloquent 
champions of Freedom. had done, it tore away the veil 


Spoils of War. 267 

of deeency and courage which hither ..0 had hidden the 
enormities of Slavery. 

All Virginia was in alarm. Her militia forces were 
every where called out, and all business for the time 
was suspended. They, who had boasted of the stability 
of slave society, now acknowledged that its foundations 
lay in fire, whose irruption they daily feared would 
overwhelm them with ruin. 


At Washington City the military force was increased, 
and every precaution taken to keep the negroes down. 
A telegraphic despatch from the Capital, on the 18th — 
the day when John Brown was captured — thus por- 
trays their fears and the reason for them : 

" It appears from intelligence received here to-day from various portions of Virginia 
vnd Maryland, that a general stampede of slaves has taken place. There must have 
Ijeen an understanding of some nature among them in reference to this affair, for in nu- 
nerous instances — so I am informed by the slaveholders since this insurrection — they 
lave found it almost impossible to control them. Tlie slaves were in many instances 
nsolent to tlieir masters, and even refused to worlt. It is believed by the slaveholders, 
dnce this insurrection, that the slaves were aware of it, but were afraid to cciJperate. 
This view of the case is corroborated by Brown and other leaders." 

Large numbers of negroes were also reported to have 
eft the neighborhood of Hagerstown, Maryland, and 
Alexandria, Virginia. A reporter of a pro-slavery 
)aper gives additional information with respect to the 
' complicity " of the slaves : 

" The inhabitants are not by any means easy in their minds, as to the temper of the 
laves and free negroes among them. Col. Washington, who was one of Old Brown. ' 
ostages, docs not spend bis nights at home, and we are assured that many of hei 
calthy slave owners, whose residences lie at a distance from those of their neighlwrs, 
Iso regard it prudent to lodge elsewhere for the present; and yet the personal courage 
f these gentlemen cannot be questioned. It has been ascertained, reports to the con- 
•ary notwithstanding, that many negroes in the neighborhood, who liad been tam 
sred with by Cook and others of Brown's gang, had at least cognizance of the plans 
f the marauders, if they did not sympathize with them. On the night that Col 
k'ashington was taken, a free negro, who has a wife on the Colonel's plantation, wu» 
>ending the night there, and although he might in half an hour have raised ar 
larm at Charlestown, only two or three miles distant, he refrained from doing sq^ 

268 Spoils of War. 

toll the first news of the affair was brought to that village by citizens of Harper's 
Ferry the next day. There is no doubt that Washington's negro coachman Jim, wht 
vras chased into the river by citizens and drowned, had joined the rebels with a good 
will. A pistol was found on hiui, and he had his pocliets filled with ball cartridges 
when he was fished out of the river. On Sunday evening, before the attack, a gentle- 
man on the way to Harper's Ferry was stopped in a lonely place, three or four miles 
distant, by a white man, carrying a rifle, and two negroes, armed with axes, who told 
him there was something going on at Harper's Ferry, and he must turn back. He did 
so, and the men remained standing there until he was out of sight. Who those parties 
were, or what their connection with Brown's party, is still a mystery. It is certain 
that Brown's party was considerably larger when the attack was made than he bar 
acknowledged, or was at first supposed. There must have been at least thirty men." 

The Richmond Examiner found yet another trace of 
slave " conspiracy." It says : 

"We are informed by a highly respectable gentleman of this city that he saw, yes- 
terday morning, a letter which Mr. Samuel Gordon took from his negro, which wa« 
addressed to a negro from Baltimore, saying that he (the recipient of the letter) was 
expected in Baltimore by the 13th of this month, that a post had been assigned him, 
and that he was expected to be there by that time. The letter concluded in these 
words : ' And you know what will happen next day.' " 

These few and faint indications of sympathy among 
the slaves struck terror to the hearts of the Virginians. 
What would they have done, had they known the ter- 
rible facts that now lie buried with the corpse of Jolin 
Brown ? Not buried eternally, however ; for they will 
rise again — with the slaves. 


The Independent Grays of Baltimore, who went out 
in search of Cook, — for the Virginians did not dare to 
venture beyond the parade ground, — returned in two 
hours with the arms and ammunition found in the school 
house. The brave exploit by which they captured these 
arms, which was the most courageous action of the 
sober militia forces, — for the company of the editor, Al- 
bertus, by their own confession, were intoxicated when 
they charged on the Armory buildings, — is thus de- 
scribed by a native historian, worthy of the heroes 
whose vai^r he ex^.olj* : 

Spoils of War. 



"The gallant Grays proceeded at 'double-quick' time, along a constantlj* ascending 
ind rocky road, to execute the order. About a mile from the Ferry, they arrived 
vlthin sight of the school house, a cabin situated in a gloomy hollow, and, apparently, 
ilosely barricaded. Halting for a few moments, the Grays formed into platoons, under 
he respective commands of Lieuts. Simpson and Kerchner, and, at a given signal, dash- 
ng down the declivity of the road, and with the butt-ends of their muskets, battered 
n tlie doors and windows, through which they entered. The cabin was entirety 
mpty 0/ occupants. Against tiie front door wore piled sixteen long and heavy boxes, 
rne of which, upon being burst cpen, was found to contain ten newly-finished Sharpe's 
>reech-loading rifles, evidently fresh from the hands of their maker. There was also 
• liscovered one large square box, exceedingly heavy, which was sufi'ered to remain un- 
; pened : a large and heavy black trunk, a box filled with bayonets and sabres, and 
I everal boxes of rifle cartridges and ammunition. There were in all twenty-one boxes, 
(everal of which were filled with Maynard's latge-sized patent revolvers, with powder 
) asks accompanying. The room was littered with Sharpe's rifles, revolvers, and pikes, 

< vidently distributed with a view to their immediate use, either for the purpose of 

< efence or an aggressive action. After satisfying themselves that the traitors had 
1 ed, the gallant Grays proceeded to possess themselves — each man — of a rifle and a 
) wr of revolvers, the remainder being placed, together with a large number of pikes, 
/ c, upon a large new wagon, (purchased a few days Before, by Smith, or Capt. Brown, 
t < he is now known,) to which the captors harnessed a pair of fine horses they caught 
{ raring in the enclosure, and conveyed their valuable prize into town, where they 
> ere received with loud cheers by the citizens and military. 

" The captured boxes were placed for safe keeping in the Arsenal of the United 
{ '.atcs, though the Grays asserted an exclusive right to their possessioD, as the lawful 
I 'ize of the captors." 

The stores found in this cabin, are thus classified : 

102 Sharpe's Ilifles. 
12 Mass. Arms Company's Pistols. 
66 " " " Powder 

4 Large Powder Flasks. [Flasks. 
10 Kegs Gunpowder. 
' 3,000 Percussion Hifle Caps. 
1 0,000 Percussion Pistol Caps 
3,000 Sharpe's Uifle Cartridges, riightly 
damaged by water. 
IfiO Shaipe's Primers. 
14 lbs. Lead Balls. 
1 Old Percussion Pistol. 
1 Major General's Sword. 
55 Old Bayonets. 
12 Old Artillery Swords. 
483 Pikes. 

150 ISroken Handles for Pikes. 
IC Picks. 
40 Shovels. 
[1 lie railroad way bill called for several 
lozen, showing that more were to come.] 
1 Till Powder Case. 
1 Sack Coat. 
1 Pair Cloth Pants. 

1 Pair Linen Pants. 

Cimvas for Tent. 
1 Old Porte-monuaie. 
625 Envelopes. 

1 Pocket Map of Kentucky. 

1 Pocket Map of Delaware. 
3 Gross Steel Pens. 

5 Inkstands. 
21 Lead Pencils. 
34 Pen Holders. 

2 Boxes Wafers. 

47 Small Blank Books. 

2 Papers Pins. 

5 Pocket Small Tooth Combs.* 

1 Ball Hemp Twine. 

1 Ball Cotton Twine. 
50 Leather Water Caps. 

1 Kmery. 

2 Yards Cotton Flannel, 

1 Roll Sticking Plaster for Wounds 
12 Beams Cartridge Paper. 

2 Bottles Medicine,. 
1 Larp:e Trunk. 

1 Horse Wagon. 

Tho discovery of these "deadly "implements of domestic warftire, it has been argued, proved 
Ir ontcstably (he intention of the Liberator* to make yrai upon the " peculiar institutioiu " of 
T -ginia. 


270 Spoils of War. 

JOHN brown's carpet BAG. 

The next military movement must also be described 
in the glowing language of the friends of the fearless 
heroes who executed it : 

"The excitement attending this clever exploit [the charge on tho deserted school 
house] had scarcely subsided, when another alarniivas given, that the notorious insur- 
gent leader, Cook, had a few minutes betore been seen upon the mountains on the 
Maryland shore. A scouting party, consisting of several members of the Grays, (tho 
only foreign corps in the town, quite or nearly all of those present in tho forenoon hav- 
ing left for their homes,) some score or more of volunteers, and about twenty United 
States marines, under command of Capt. J. E. B. Stewart, was instantly formed, and 
proceeded rapidly in pursuit. Following tho same path which the Grays had pursued 
in making their discoverieg, and which is known as the 'County Road,' leading into 
the heart of Washington Co., Md., the party continued their course for a distance of i}/^ 
miles from the Ferry, until they reached the fai-m and house bought and occupied by 
Brown, under the name of John Smith. The dwelling — a log house, containing two 
unpaved basement rooms, used apparently for storage, and in which were several empty 
gun boxes; two rooms and a pantry upon the second floor; and one large attic room in 
which were six husk mattresses — was discovered to be unoccupied, save by a huge 
savage-looking mastiff, tied with a rope to tho railing of a small piazza outside the 
house; but there was abundant evidence of its recent hurried vacation. The floors of 
all the rooms were littered with books, papers, documents, and wearing apparel of sev- 
eral persons, hastily snatched from eight or ten trunks and an equal number of valises 
and coarse carpet bags strewn around, the fastenings of all of which had been forcibly 
broken, as if their violators were too much pressed for time to adopt the tardier method 
of entrance by looking up keys. In the pantry, which appeared to have been used for 
kitchen purposes, besides an almost new cooking stove, and an abundance of tin uten- 
sils, were two barrels of flour, a large quantity of sausage meat and cured hams, to- 
gether with several pounds of butter, lard, &c. The fire was yet smouldering in the 
stove, and the water in the boilers was quite hot at the time of the entrance. But tho 
most valuable discovery was a trunk belonging to Captain Brown, containing a great 
number of highly important papers, documents, plans, and letters from private indi- 
viduals throughout the Union — all revealing the existence of an extensive and thor- 
oughly organized conspiracy. 

"The telegraphic account of this 'clever exploit' stated that they found a large 
quantity of blankets, boots, shoes, clothes, tents, and 1500 pikes with large blades 
affixed. They also discovered a carpetbag, containing 'documents throwing much 
light on the affair, printed constitutions and by-laws of an organization showing or 
indicating ramifications in various .States of tlie Union.'" 

In this carpet bag were found various unimportant 
notes, from prominent persons in different States ; let- 
ters to " J. Henrie," meaning Kagi ; and " Friend Isaac," 
meaning Captain Brown — referring chiefly to the old 
man's Kansas work ; brief entries, in journals, of sub- 
scriptions received, and journeys made, and hardships 
endured in Iowa, the Eastern States, and Canada ; 

Spoils of War. 271 

copies of the Constitution, and of books of military 
tactics, with numerous receipts and bills for stock and 
provisions purchased for the war of liberation. 

In the mean time, now that the fight was over, the 
valiant Virginians flocked to Harper's Ferry. Gov- 
ernor Wise came down by the midday train, and, after 
ridiculing the people, visited the prisoners. The in- 
terview lasted several hours. None but the bitterest 
enemies of the Liberators were present during this con- 
fronting of the representatives of the North and South. 
The most graphic narrative is written by a Virginia 
artist, who stands high in the estimation of her people, 
and is regarded as a true representative of her chivalry. 
The character of her gentry, therefore, may be judged 
from the spirit of his description : 

"Tlie midday train of Tuesday brniight Governor WiKe, accompanied by several hun- 
dred men from liichmond, Alexandria, Baltimore, and elsewhere. There was real dis- 
appointment to find that the fight was all over, and when the Governor was informed 
of the mere handful of men who had created all this bobbery, lie boiled over. In his 
wrath he said some good things. Indeed it was universally seen and felt that Gov 
ernor Wise was just the man for such an occasion. 

" Accompanied by Andrew Hunter, Esq., a distinguished lawyer of Jefferson County, 
the Governor presently repaired to the guard room where the two wounded prisoners 
lay, and there had a protracted and interesting conversation witli the chief of the out- 
laws. It had more tlio character of a conversation than a legal examination, for the 
Governor treated the wounded man with a stately courtesy that evidently surprised 
ind affected him. Brown was lying npon the floor with his feet to the fire and his 
lead propped upon pillows on the back of a chair. His hair was a mass of clotted gore, 
io that I could not distinguish the original color ; his eye a pale blue or gray, nose 
Iloman, and beard, originally sandy, was white and blood-stained. His speech was fre- 
picntly interrupted by deep groans, not awakening sympatlij- like those of the young 
«ldier dying in the adjacent office, but reminding one of the agonized growl uf a fcro> 
•ions beast. 

" A few feet from the leader lay Stevens, i fine-looking fellow, quiet, not ir pain 

ipparently, and conversing in a voice as full and natural as if he were unhurt How 

•ver, his hands lay folded upon his breast in a child-like, helpless way — a position thot 

observed was assumed by all those who had died or were dying of their wounds 

)nly those who were shot stone dead lay as they fell. 

" Brown was frank and communicative, answering all questions without reserve, ex 
ept such as might implicate his immediate associates not yet killed nr taken. I append 
onre extracts from notes taken during the conversation by Mr. Hunter: 
" ' Brown avers that the small pamphlet, many copies of which were found on the 
ersons of the 8\alu, and entitled "Provisional Constitution and Ordinances for the 
'oople of the United States," was prepared principally by himsolf, and adopted at » 

272 Spoils of War. 

convention of Abolitionists held about two years ago at Chatham, Canada West, where 
H was printed. That under its provisions ho was appointed •'Commander-in-Chief." 
His two sons and Stevens were each captains, and Coppoo a lieutenant. They each 
had their commissions, issued by himself. 

" ' Heavers that the whole number operating under this organization was but twenty- 
two, each of whom had taken the oath required by Article XLYIII. ; but he confi- 
dently expected large reenforcements from Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, North and 
South Carolina, and several other Slave Stiites, besides the Free States — taking it for 
granted that it was only necessary to seize the public arms and place them in tlie liands 
of the negroes and non-slaveholders to recruit his forces indefinitely. In this calcula- 
tion he reluctantly and indirectly admitted that he had been entirely disappointed.' 

" Concluding that the prisoner must be seriously weakened by his vigils and his 
wounds, the Governor ordered some refreshment to be given him, and appointing a 
meeting on the following day, took his leave. As some of us lingered, tlie old man 
recurred again to his sons, of whom he had spoken several times, asking if we were 
sure they were both dead. He was assured that it was so. 

" ' How many bodies did you take from the engine house ? ' he asked. 

" He was told three. 

" ' Then,' said he, quickly, ' they are not both dead ; there were three dead bodies 
there last niglit. Gentlemen, my son is doubtless living and in your power. I wih 
ask for him what I would not ask for myself; let him have kind treatment, for he is 
as pure and noble-hearted a yonth as ever breathed the breath of life.' 

" There was some show of human feeling in the old felon at last, but his prayer wa* 
vain. Both his boys lay stark and bloody by the Armory wall. 

" I had observed Stevens holding a small packet in his folded hands, and feelirg 
some curiosity in regard to it, it was handed to me. It contained miniatures of his 
sisters; one, a sweet girlish face of about fourteen, the other more mature, but pretty. 
What strange reflections these incidents awakened! This old man craves a boon for his 
noble boys which neither pain nor death can bring him to ask for himself. Tlie other 
clasps to his dying breast a remembrance of his gentle sisters and his fathers elm-shaded 
cottage far away in peaceful Connecticut. Is this pity that thus dims my eyes f a 
rising sympathy that struggles in my heart? Away with puling weakness. Has not 
this hoary villain, that prates about his sons, been for months a deliberate plotter 
against the lives and happiness of thousands? Did he not train these very boys to aid 
him in his attempt to waste, with fire and sword, the fairest land under the cope of 
heaven ? And this bloody dupe — his follower — how many men's sisters did ho pro- 
pose to murder? how many social hearths to quench in blood? For what use were 
those hundreds of deadly rifles, those loads of pikes, those bundles of incendiary 
fagots? A felon's death 1 Almighty Providence! is man indeed so weak that he can 
inflict no more ? " 

The man whom God had anointed, and the man 
whom the people had appointed — both were too con- 
scious of their earthly position, as they stood in the 
guard house of Harper's Ferry, to feel that either 
could do the other a favor. The assertion that John 
JBrown was affected by the conduct of Governor Wise, 
is one that none but an unheroic pen could make. 
Coarse brutality and stately courtesy were alike indif- 

Spoils of War. 273 

ferent to the venerable warrior. Conscious of having 
tried to do his duty, he serenely awaited his preap- 
pointed fate. What was it to him that he would be 
brutally accused of having sought to lay " waste, with 
fire and sword, the fairest land under the cope of 
Eeaven ? " of having proposed to murder innocent 
vomen, or having conspired against the lives and hap- 
)iness of thousands ? Knowing that he had obeyed the 
Jivine behest only by listening to the poor that cried ; 
hat he had done unto others as he would have desired 
hat others should have done unto him ; he was neither 
■ be awed into fear, nor softened into gratitude, to the 
nncmies of his God : and thus he aroused, by the modest 
nanliness of his demeanor, the astonishment — almost 
he veneration — of the able but distorted intellect who 
I tood beside him. When Governor Wise, on his return 
I0 Richmond, appeared before the people, he thus spoke 
( f the wounded Liberator : 

" They are themselves mistaken who take httn to be a madman. lie is a biindlo 
c ' the best nerves I ever saw, cut and thrust, and bleeding and in bonds, llo is a 
I an of clear head, of courage, fortitude, and simple ingenuousness. lie is cool, col- 
1 cted, and indomitable, and it is but Just to him to say, that ho was humane to hia 
I -Isoners, as attested to me by Col. Washington and Mr. Mills, and he inspired me 
\ ith great trust in his integrity, as a man of truth, lie is a fanatic, vain and garru- 
1 us, but firm, and trutbl'ul, and intelligent. His men, too, who survive,. except the 
f ee negroes with him, are like him. He professes to be a Christian, in communion 
\ ith the Congrcgationali t Church of the North, and openly preaches his purpose of 
\ liversal emancipation : and the negroes themselves were to be the agents, by means 
c arms, led on by white commanders. When Col. Washington was taken, his watch, 
« id plate, and jewels, and money were demanded, to create what they call a 'safety 
f nd,' to compensate the liberators for the trouble and expense of taking away his 
g 1V08. This, by a law, was to be done with all slaveholders. Washington, of course,, 
r fused to deliver up any thing; and it is remarkable, that the only thing of materia! 
■^ luo which they took, besides his slaves, was the sword of Frederick tlie Great, which 
^ IS sent to General Washiogton. This was taken by Stevens to Brown, and the latter 
c mmanded his men with that sword in this fight against the peace and safety oi 
A ashington's native State I lie promised Col. Washington to return it to him when 
1 1 was done with it. And Col. Washington says that he, Brown, was the coolest and 
1 most man he ever saw in defying danger and death. With one son dead by his side, 
» d another shot through, lie felt the pulse of his dying son with one hand and held 
I s rifle with the other, and commanded his men with the utmost composure, encotu- 
t ;ing them to be firm, and to sell their lives as dearly u thsy could." 


The Political Inquisitors. 

AS soon as it was known that John Brown was not 
dead, and that three of his followers had been 
Bafely protected from the fury of the populace, four 
political inquisitors hastened down to see him ; to 
extort, if possible, from the lips of the dying chief, or 
the fears or hopes of the younger captives, confessions 
that might criminally implicate the champions or friends 
of the Republican party. From the South came Gov- 
ernor Wise and Senator Mason of Virginia ; from the 
North, a United States Marshal iiamed Johnson, and 
Mr. Vallandingham, a member of Congress from Ohio. 

The result of these visits was one of John Brown's 
greatest victories. From the three published reports 
of it, carefully compared and corrected, we give the 
conversation that ensued between the wounded insur- 
rectionists and their cowardly political inquisitors. 

Never before, in the United States, did a recorded 
conversation produce so sudden and universal a change 
of opinion. Before its publication, some, who subse- 
quently eulogized John Brown, with fervor and sur- 


The Political Inquifitors. 275 

passing eloquence, as well as the great body of the press 
and people who knew not the man, lamented that he 
should have gone insane, — never doubting that he was 
X maniac ; while, after it, from every corner of the 
land came words of wonder, of praise rising to worship, 
md of gratitude mingling with sincerest prayers for 
:he holy old hero. Enemies and friends were equally 
imazed at the carriage and sayings of the wounded 
rt^arrior. " During his conversation," wrote a "Southern 
3ro-slavery reporter to a Southern pro-slavery paper, 
' no signs of weakness were exhibited. In the midst 
)f enemies whose home he had invaded ; wounded and 
I prisoner ; surrounded by a small army of officials and 
I more desperate army of angry men ; with the gallows 
staring him full in the face. Brown lay on the floor, 
md, in reply to every question gave answers that 
)etokened the spirit th&,t animated him. The language 
)f Governor Wise well expresses his boldness when he 
;aid : ' He is the gamest man I ever saw.' I believe 
he worthy Executive had hardly expected to see a 
nan so act in such a trying moment." 

" Such a word as insane, ^^ said an eloquent speaker, 
inconsciously uttering the opinion of the people of the 
^orth, " is a mere trope with those who persist in using 
t ; and I have no doubt that many of them, in silence, 
lave already retracted their words. Read his admirable 
mswers to Mason and others. How they are dwarfed 
md defeated by the contrast ! On the one side, half- 
)rutish, half-timid questioning ; on the other. Truth, 
lear as lightning, crashing into their obscene temples, 
riiey are made to stand as Pilate or Gesler and the 
nquisition. Probably all the speeches of all the men 

276 The Political Inquifitors. 

whom Massachusetts has sent to Congress for the last 
few years do not match, fOr manly directness and force, 
and for simple truth, the few casual remarks of John 
Brown on the floor of the Harper's Ferry engine house 
— that man whom you are about to send to the other 
world ; though not to represent you there. He is too 
fair a specimen of a man to represent the like of us. 
Who, then, were his constituents ? Read his words, 
understandingly, and you will find out. In his case 
there is no idle eloquence. Truth is the inspirer and 
earnestness the polisher of his sentences. He could 
afford the loss of his Sharpe's rifles while he retained 
the faculty of speech — a rifle of far straighter sight 
and longer range." 

It is seldom that men of views so opposite meet 
together, either in the events themselves, or in their 
subsequent views of those events, as met at Harper's 
Ferry, when Captain John Brown and Senator Mason 
' — the abolitionist and the extraditionist — the slave 
liberator in virtue of the higher law, and the slave- 
holding author of the fugitive slave law — gazed at 
each other face to face ; or when the Baltimore Ameri- 
can and the hermit of Concord united to do honor to 
the venerable invader of Yirginia ! The reader will 
notice, also, how the two earnest men respected each 
other ; how Mason, the " fanatic," unlike his compro- 
mising compeer, was courteous to the old man, fearless 
and almost reverential in his questionings. 


Senator Mason, Can you tell us, at least, "who furnished money for 
your expedition ? 

Capt. Brown, I furnished most of it myself. I cannot implicate 
©thers. It is by my own folly that I hav« been taken. I could easily 

The Political Inquifitors, 277 

have saved myself from it if I had exercised my own better judgment, 
rather than yielded to my feelings. I should have gone away, but 
[ had thirty odd prisoners, whose wives and daughters were in tears 
'or their safety, and I felt for them. Besides, I wanted to allay the 
'ears of those who believed we came here to bum and kill. For this 
•pason I allowed the train to pass the bridge, and gave them full lib- 

< Tty to pass on, I did it only to spare the feelings of those passengers 
i Jid their families, and to allay the apprehension that you had got here 
) a your vicinity a band of men who had no regard for life and prop- 
« rty, nor any feeling of humanity. 

Senator M, But you killed some people passing along the streets 

< uietly. 

Capt. B. Well, sir, if there was any thing of that kind done, it was 
T ithout my knowledge. Your own citizens, who were my prisoners, 
\ ill tell you that every possible means were taken to prevent it. I did 
r ot allow my men to fire, nor even to return a fire, when there was 
d mgcr of killing those wc regarded as innocent persons, if I could 
1 3lp it. They will tell you that we allowed ourselves to be fired at 
X 'peatedly, and did not return it. 

A Bystander. That is not so. You killed an unarmed man at the 
c irncr of the house, over there, (at the water tank,) and another 
b 'sides. 

Capt. B. See here, my friend ; it is useless to dispute or contradict 
tl e report of your own neighbors, who were my prisoners. 

Senator M. If you would tell us who sent you here, — who pro* 
vi led the means, — that would be information of some value. 

Capt. B. I will answer freely and faithfully about what concern^ 
m /self — I "will answer anything I can with honor, but not about 
0I lers. 

. Mr. VaUandingham, (member of Congress from Ohio, who had just 
er, tered.) Mr. Brown, who sent you here ? 

Capt. B. No man sent me here ; it was my o^vn prompting and that 
gf. my Maker, or that of the devil whichever you please to ascribe it to. 
I : cknowledge no master in human form. i: 

Mr. V. Did you get up the expedition yourself? 

lapt. B. I did. \ 

\Ir. V. Did you get up this document called a constitution ? 

lapt. B. I did. They are a constitution and ordinances of my own 
CO striving and getting up. 

Ir. V. How long have you been engaged in this business ? 

^apt. B. From the breaking out of the difficulties in Kansas. Four 
of ny sons had gone there to settle, and they induced me to go. I iid 
no go there to settle, but because of the difficulties. 


i^S The Political Inquifitors. 

Senator M. How many are engaged in this movement ? I hnk 
these questions for your own safety. 

Capt. B. Any questions that I can honorably answer, I will ; not 
otherwise. So far as I am myself concerned, I have told every thing 
truthfully. I value my word, sir. 

Senator M. What was your object in coming ? 

Capt. B. AVe came to free the slaves, and only that. 

A Young Man, (in the uniform of a volunteer company.) How 
many men in all had you ? 

Capt. B. I came to Virginia with eighteen men besides myself. 

Volunteer. "What in the world did you suppose you could do here 
in Virginia with that amount of men ? 

Capt. B. Young man, I don't wish to discuss that question here. 

Volunteer. You could not do any thing. 

Capt. B. Well, perhaps your ideas and mine, on military subjects, 
Would differ materially. 
' Senator M. How do you justify j'our acts ? 

Capt. B. I think, my friend, you are guilty of a great wrong against 
God and humanity — I say it without wishing to be offensive — and it 
vrould be perfectly right for any one to interfere with you so far as to 
free those you wilfully and wickedly hold in bondage. I do not say 
this insultingly. 

Senator M. I understand that. 

Capt. B. I think I did right, and that others will do right who in- 
terfere with you, at any time, and all times. I hold that the golden 
rule — <<Do unto others as you would that others should do unto 
you " — applies to all who would help others to gain their liberty. 

Lieutenant Stuart. But you don't believe in the Bible ? 

Capt. B. Certainly I do. 

Mr. V. Where did your men come from ? Did some of them come 
from Ohio ? 

Capt. B. Some of them. 

Mr. V. From the Western Reserve, of course ! None came from 
Southern Ohio ? 

Capt. B. O, yes. I believe one came from Steubenville, •down not 
far from Wheeling. 

Mr. V. Have you been in Ohio this summer ? 

Capt. B. Yes, sir. » 

Mr. V. How lately ? 

Capt. B. I passed through to Pittsburg on my way, in June. 

Mr. V, Were you at any county or state fair there ? 

Capt. B. I was not there since June. 

Senapr M. Did you consider this a military organization in this 

The Political Inquifitors. 270 

l)aper ? (Showing a copy of John Brown's constitution and ordinance.) 
'. have not yet read it. 

Capt. B. I did in some measui-e. I wish you would give that 
] taper your close attention. 

Senator M. You considered youiself the commander-in-chief of 
t ais provisional military force ? 

Capt. B. I was chosen, agreeably to the ordinance of a certain d»c- 
1 .mcnt, commander-in-chief of that force. 

Se7iator M. What wages did you offer ? 

Capt. B. None. 

Lieut. S. " The wages of sin is death." 

Ca2)t. B. I would not have made such a remark to you, if you had 
I een a prisoner and wounded, in my hands. 

Bystander, Did you not promise a negro in Gettysburg twenty 
t ollars a month ? 

Capt. B. I did not. 

Bystander. He says you did. 

Mr. V. Were you ever in Dayton, Ohio f 

Capt. B. Yes, I must have been. 

Mr. V. This summer ? 

Capt. B. No ; a year or two since. 

Senator M. Does this talking annoy you at all ? 

Capt. B. Not in the least. 

Mr. V. Have you lived long in Ohio ? 

Ca/;^ B. I went there in 1805. I lived in Summit County, which 
V as then Trumbull County. My native place is York State. 

Mr. V. Do you recollect a man in Ohio named Brown, a noted 
c )unterfeiter ? 

Capt. B. I do. I knew him from a boy. His father was Henry 
I rown, of Irish or Scotch descent. The family "was very low. 

Mr. V. Have you ever been in Portage County ? 

Capt. B. I was there in June last. 

Mr. V. When in Cleveland, did you attend the Fugitive Slave Law 
( Dnvention there ? 

Capt. B. No. I was there about the time of the sitting of the 
c lurt to try the Oberlin rescuers. I spoke there, publicly, on that 
e ibject. I spoke on the fugitive slave law, and my own rescue. Of 
c lursc, so far as I had any influence at all, I was disposed to justify 
t e Oberlin people for rescuing the slave, because I have myself forci- 
l y taken slaves from bondage. I was concerned in taking eleven 
8 ives from Missouri to Canada, last winter. I think that I spoke in 
( leveland before the Convention. I do not know that I had any con- 
1 Tsation with any of the Oberlin rescuers. I was sick part of *ha 

The Political Inquilitors. 

time I was in Ohio. I had the ague. I was part of tho *ime in Ash- 
tabula county. 
" Mr. V. Did you see any thuig of Joshua II. Giddings there ? 

Capt. B. I did meet him. 

Mr. V. Did you converse with him ? 

Capt. B. I did. I would not tell you, of coxirse, any thing that 
would implicate Mr. Gidduigs ; but I certainly met with him, and had 
a conversation with him. 

Mr. V. About that rescue case ? 

Capt. B. Yes, I did. I heard him express his opinion upon it very 
freely and frankly. 
• Mr. T. Justifying it ? 

Capt. B. Yes, sir. I do not compromise him, certainly, in saying 

A Bijstander. Did you go out to Kansas imder the auspices of the 
Emigrant Aid Society ? 

C<ipt. B. No, sir ; I went out under the auspices of John Bro-vvn, 
and nobody else. 

Mr. V. Will you answer this ? Did you talk to Giddings about 
your expedition here ? 

Capt. B. No, sir ! I won't answer that, because a denial of it 
I would not make ; and to make an affidavit of it, I should be a great 

Mr. V. Have you had any correspondence with parties at the North 
on the subject of this movement ? 

Capt. B. I have had no correspondence.* 
■ Bystander. Do you consider this a religious movement ? 

Capt. B. It is, in my opinion, the greatest service a man can render 
to his God. 

Bystander. Do you consider yourself an instrument in the hands 
of Providence ? 

Capt. B. I do. 

Bystander. Upon what principle do you justify your acts ? 

Capt. B. "Upon the golden rule. I pity the poor in bondage that 
have none to help them. That is why I am here ; it is not to gratify 
any personal animosity, or feeling of revenge, or vindictive spirit.* It 
3 ray sympathy with the oppressed and the wronged, that are as good 
as you, and as precious in the sight of God. 

Bystander. Certainly. But why take the slaves against their will ? 

Capt. B. I never did. 

Bystander. You did in one instance, at least. 

Stevens. (To the inquii-cr, interrupting Brown.) You are right, 
^ ; in one case — (a groan from the wounded man") — in one case, I 

* One report reads thus : the other omits the word " no." 

The Political Inquifitors. 281 

know the negro wanted to go back. — (To Brown.) Captain, the 
gentleman is right. 

Brjstander. (To Stevens.) Where did you come from ? 

Stevens. I hved in Ashtabula County, Ohio. 

Mr. B. How recently did you leave Ashtabula County ? 

Stevens. Some months ago. I never resided there any length of 
time. I have often been through there. 

Mr, V. How far did you live from Jefferson ? 

Capt. B. (To Stevens.) Be very cautious, Stevens, about an an- 
iwer to that ; it might commit some friend. I would not answer it 
It all. 

Stevens, who had been groaning considerably, as if the exer- 
ion necessary to conversation seriously affected him, seemed content 
o abide by the captain's advice. He turned partially over, with a 
;roan of pain, and was silent. 

Mr, V. (To Capt. Brown.) Who are your advisers inthismoYe> 
: aent ? 

Capt, B. I cannot answer that. I have numerous sympathizers 

■ hroughout the entire North. 

Mr. V. In Northern Ohio ? 

Capt. B. No more there than any where else — in all the Free States. 

Mr. V. But are you not personally acquainted in Southern Ohio ? 

Capt. B. Not very much. 

Mr. V. (To Stevens.) Were you at the convention last June f 

Stevens. I was. 

Mr. V. (To Capt. Brown.) You made a speech there ? 

Capt, B. I did, sir. 

Bystander. Did you ever live in Washington city ? 

Capt. B. I did not. I want you to understand, gentlemen, that 1 

: espect the rights of the poorest and weakest of the colored people, 

' ippresscd by the slave system, just as much as I do those of the most 

vealthy and powerful. That is the idea that has moved me, and that 

; lone. We expected no reward except the satisfaction of endeavoring 

■ do for those in distress — the greatly oppressed — as we would be 
lone by. The cry of distress, of the oppressed, is my reason, and the 
nly thing that prompted me to come here. 

Bystander. Why did you do it secretly ? 

Capt. B. Because I thought that necessary to success, and for no 
ther reason. 

Bystander. And you think that honorable, do you ? Have you 
ead Gerrit Smith's last letter ? 

Capt. B. What letter do you mean ? 

Bystander. The New York IlercUd of yesterday, in speaking of tbiB 


2^2 The Political Inquilitors. 

affair, mentions a letter in which he sa^'s, <' that it is folly to attempt 
to strike the shackles off the slave by the force of moral suasion or 
legal agitation," and predicts that the next movement made in the 
direction of negro emancipation will be an insurrection in the South. 

Capt. B. I have not seen a New York Herald for some days past ; 
but I presume, from your remarks about the gist of the letter, that 1 
should concur with it. I agree with Mr. Smith, that moral suasion is 
hopeless. I don't think the people of the Slave States will ever con- 
sider the subject of slavery in its true light until some other argument 
is resorted to than moral suasion. 

Mr. V. Did you expect a general rising of the slaves in case of 
y6ur success ? 

Capt. B. No, sir ; nor did I wish it. I expected to gather strength 
from time to time ; then I could set them free. 

Mr. V. Did you expect to hold possession here till then ? 

Capt. B. Well, probably I had quite a different idea. I do not 
know that I ought to reveal my plans. I am here a prisoner, and 
wounded, because I foolishly allowed myself to be so. You overrate 
your strength when you suppose I could have been taken if I had not 
allowed it. I was too tardy, after commencing the open attack, in de- 
laying my movements through Monday night, and up to the time I was 
attacked by the government troops. It was all occasioned by my de- 
sire to spare the feelings of my prisoners and their families, and the 
community at large. 

Mr. V, Did you not shoot a negro on the bridge, or did not some 
of your party ? 

Capt. B. I knew nothing of the shooting of the negro, (Hey- 

Mr. V. "What time did you commence your organization over in 
Canada ? 

Capt. B. It occurred about two years ago. If I remember right, 
it was, I think, in 1858. 

Mr. V. "Who was the secretary ? 

Capt. B. That I would not tell if I recollected ; but I do not re- 
member. I think the officers were elected in May, 1858. I may 
answer incorrectly, but not intentionally. My head is a little confused 
by Avoimds, and my memory of dates and such, like is somewhat 

Dr. Biggs. . Were you in the party at Dr. Kennedy's house ? 

Capt. B. I was the head of that party. I occupied the house to 
mature my plans. I would state here that I have not been in Balti- 
more to purchase percussion caps. 
■ Dr. 2f. What was the number of men at Kennedy*! ? 

The Political Inquifitors. 283 

Capt, B. I decline to answer that. 

Dr, B. Who lanced that -woman's neck on the hill ? 

Capt. B. I did. I have sometimes practised in surgery, when I 
thought it a matter of humanity or of necessity — when there was no 
one else to do it ; but I have not studied surgery. 

• Dr. B. (To the persons aroimd.) It was done very well and scien- 
tifically. These men have been very clever to the neighbors, I hays 
been told, and we had no reason to suspect them, except that we 
could not understand their movements. They were represented as 
eight or nine persons ; on Friday there were thirteen. 

Capt. B. There were more than thirteen. 

Questions were now put in by almost every one in the room. 

Q. Where did you get arms to obtain possession of the armory ? 

Capt. B. I bought them. 

Q. In what state ? 

Capt. B. That I would not state. 

Q. How many guns ? 

Capt. B, Two hundred Sharpe's rifles, and two hundred revolvers 
— what is called the Massachusetts Arms Company's revolvers — a 
little under the navy size. 

Q. Why did you not take that swivel you left in the house ? 

Capt. B. I had no occasion for it. It was given to me a year or 
;wo ago. 

A Reporter. I do not wish to annoy you ; but if you have any 
hing else you would like to say, I Avill report it. 

Capt. B. I do not wish to converse any more ; I have nothing to 
ay. I will only remark to these reporting gentlemen, that I claim to 
)e here in carrying out a measure I believe to be perfectly justifiable, 
.nd not to act the part of an incendiary or rufiian ; but, on the con- 
vary, to aid those svitfering under a great wrong. I wish to say, fur- 
hermore, that you had better — all you people of the South — pre- 
lare yourselves for a settlement of this question. It must come up for 
ettlement sooner than you are prepared for it, and the sooner you 
ommence that preparation the better for you. You may dispose of 
: le very easily. I am nearly disposed of now ; but this question is 
I till to be settled — this negro question, I mean. The end of that is 
) ot yet. These wounds were inflicted upon me, — both the sabre cut 
I n my head, and the bayonet stabs in the diflfcrent parts of my body, 

• - some minutes after I had ceased fighting, and had consented to stir ■ 
) mder for the benefit of others, and not for my own benefit. 

(Several persons vehemently denied this statement. Without no- 
1 cing the interruption, the old man continued :) 
J believe the Mfyoi: here (pointing to Lieut. Stuart) would not have 

284 The Political Inquifitors. 

been alive but for me. I might have killed him just as easy as I could 
kill a mosquito, when he came in ; but I supposed that he came in only 
to receive our surrender. There had been long and loud calls of sur- 
render from us, — as loud as men could yell, — but in the confusion 
and excitement I suppose we were not heard. I do not believe the 
major, or any one else, wanted to butcher us after we had surren- 

An officer present here stated that special orders had been given to 
the marines not to shoot any body ; but when they were fired upon by 
Brown's men, and one of them had been killed, and another wounded, 
they were obliged to return the compliment. 

Captain Brown insisted, with some warmth, that the marines fired 

An Officei\ WTiy did you not surrender before the attack ? 

Capt. B. I did not think it was my duty or interest to do so. We 
assured our prisoners that we did not wish to harm them, and that 
they should be set at liberty. I exercised my best judgment, not be- 
lieving the people would wantonly sacrifice their own fellow- citizens. 
When we offered to let them go upon condition of being allowed to 
change our position about a quarter of a mile, the prisoners agreed by 
vote among themselves to pass across the bridge with us. We wanted 
them only as a sort of guarantee for our own safety — that we should 
not be fired into. We took them, in the first place, as hostages, and 
to keep them from doing any harm. We did kill some men when 
defending ourselves ; but I saw no one fire except directly in self- 
defence. Our orders were strict not to harm any one not in arms 
against us. 

Q. Well, BroAvn, suppose you had every nigger in the United 
States, what would you do with them ? 

Capt. B. '(In a loud tone, and with emphasis.) Set them free, sir ! 

Q. Your intention was to carry them off and free them ? 

Capt. B. Not at all. 

Bystander. To set them free would sacrificer the life of every man 
in this community. 

Capt. B. I do not think so. 

Bystander. I know it. I think you are fanatical. 

Capt. B. And I think you are fanatical. " Whom the gods would 
destroy> they first make mad ; " and you are mad. 

Q. Was your only object to free the negroes ? 

Capt. B. Absolutely our only object. 

Bystander. But you went and took Col. Washington's silver and 

Capt B. O, yes ; we intended freely to have appropriated the prop- 

I The Political Inquifitors. 285 

( rty of slaveholders, to carry out our object. It was for that, and only 
t hat ; and with no design to enrich ourselves with any plunder 
\ 'hatever. 

Q. Did you know Sherrod in Kansas ? I understand you killed 

Capt. B. I killed no man except in fair fight. I fought at Black 
J ick, and at Osawatomie ; and if I killed any body, it was at one of 
t lose places. 

During this conversation, the wounded Liberators, 
ve are told by pro-slavery writers, " lay stretched on 
Diiserable shake-downs." John Brown's "long gray 
bair was matted and tangled, and his hands and clothes 
a 1 smooched and smeared with blood, and begrimed 
ys ith dirt — the effect of continued exposure to the 
^.noke of powder. His manner and conversation were 
.c )urteous and affable, and he appeared to make a 
ii vorable impression upon his auditory." 

Mr. Yallandingham, not ashamed of having at- 
t( mpted to extort political capital from the lips of a 
.d dng man — or having inquired if he knew one Brown, 
a noted counterfeiter, or having striven to bring dis- 
Ji )nor on the people of Ohio, in the eyes of the South 
— -returned to his native state, and, unconscious of the 
ii unortality of infamy he had gained, publicly and in 
w -iting declared that " I have only to regret now that 
I lid not pursue the matter further, asking more ques- 
ti )ns, and makmg them more specific." Of the old 
hi ro he said : 

' It is in vain to underrate either the man or the conspiracy. Cap . 
Jo in Brown is as brave and resolute a man as ever headed an insur- 
fe tion, and, in a good cause, and with a sufficient force, would have 
be n a consummate partisan commander. He has coolness, daring, 
pe sistency, the stoic faith and patience, and a firmness of will and 
pu pose unconquerable. He is the farthest possible remove from the 
or inary riiifian, fanatic, or madman. Certainly it was one of the 
be t planned and best executed conspiracies that ever failed." 


Lodged in Jail. 

AFTER a public exhibition of more than thirty 
hours, as they lay unattended and bloody on the 
floor of the guard house, interrogated by unmanly politi- 
cians and insulted by the brutal mob, the surviving Lib- 
erators, on Wednesday evening, October 19, were con- 
veyed to the jail of Charlestown, under an escort of 

A United States Marshal from Ohio, after the politi- 
cal inquisitors had finished with the whites, endeavored 
to extort from the negroes, Copeland and Green, con- 
fessions to criminate the friends of freedom in his na- 
tive State. He succeeded in procuring no confession 
whatever, but only a few brief answers to leading 
questions, which served to show at once his political 
purpose and his depravity of heart. 

A Virginia journalist thus describes the journey to 
Charlestown : 

" On Wednesday evening they were conveyed to the jail of Jefferson 
County, under an escort of marines. Stevens and Brown had to 
be taken in a wagon, but the negro Green and Coppoc, being unhurt, 
walked between a file of soldiers, followed by hundreds of excited men, 
exclaiming, ' Lynch them ; ' but Governor Wise, who was standing on 
the platfrrm of the ears, said, 'O, it would be cowardly to do so 


Lodged in Jail. 287 

low;' and the crowd fell back, and the prisoners Avere safely placed 
m the train. Stevens was placed in the bottom of the car, being 
inable to sit up. Brown was propped up on a seat with pillows, and 
lioppoc and Green seated in the middle of them ; the former was evi- 
lently much frightened, but looked calm, while the latter was the very 
mpersonation of fear. His nerves were twitching, his eyes wild and 
dmost bursting from their sockets, his whole manner indicating the 
beadful apprehensions that filled his mind. This fellow was a mem- 
)er of Congress, under the Provisional Government, had been very 
laring while guarding the arsenal, and very impudent while in the 
-■ngine house, but when the marines entered it, he jumped back 
imong the imprisoned, and cried out that he was a prisoner ; but Mr. 
vVashington thrust him forward, and informed the besiegers that he 
vas one of the guerillas, upon which a stab was made at him, but 
nissed him, and he still lives to expiate his guilt on the gallows." 

These statements, with regard to the negroes, are in 
:ill probability false. The Virginians, who had not 
'lared to fight them armed, mustered courage to insult 
hem when manacled. 

On the same evening there was another panic at 

'. larper's Ferry : it was Cook, this time, who was mur- 

■ lering all the people at Sandy Hook ! The marines 

'. lastened out to protect the citizens, but found neither 

Oook nor a broil there. When they returned to Har- 

)er's Ferry, the Virginia militia, who had been afraid 

follow, now valiantly offered to go out to defend 

heir fellow-citizens. 

But the limits of this volume will not permit me to 
ecount how often and pusillanimously the Virginians 
cted. From the arrest of the Liberators till the death 
if their Chief, the shivering chivalry of the once gal- 
ant State of Virginia suffered from a chronic but 
. udicrously painful fright. 

Governor Wise and Mr. Hunter accompanied the 
irisoners to Charlestown, where they were lodged in 
, ail, and placed under the charge of Capt. John Avis. 
)f the jail and jailer a trust-Worthy writer says : 

288 - Lodged in Jail. 

" Brown is as comfortably situated as any man can be in a jail. He 
has a pleasant room, which is shared by Stevens, whose recovery 
remains doubtful. He has opportunities of occupying himself by 
writing and reading. His jailer, Avis, was of the party who assisted 
in capturing him. Brown says, that Avis is one of the bravest men 
he ever saw, and that his treatment is precisely what he should 
expect from so brave a fellow. Avis is a just and humane man. He 
does all for his prisoners that his duty allows him to. I think he has 
a sincere respect for Brown's undaunted fortitude and fearlessness. 
Brown is permitted to receive such visitors as he desires to see. He 
states that he welcomes every one, and that he is preaching, even in 
jail, with great effect, upon the enormities of Slavery, and with 
arguments which every body fails to answer. His wounds, excepting 
one cut on the back of the head, have all now healed, without sup- 
puration, and the scars are scarcely visible. He attributes his very 
rapid recovery to his strict abstemious habits through life. He is 
really a man of imposing appearance, and neither his tattered gar- 
ments, the rents in which were caused by sword cuts, nor his scarred 
face, can detract from the manliness of his mien. He is always com- 
pcsed, and every trace of disquietude has left him." 

On the following day — Thursday, October 20 — the 
body of Kagi was taken from the river, and the other 
corpses were buried in a large pit. The body of Wat- 
son Brown, however, was crammed into a box and 
carried off for medical dissection. The corpses of the 
negroes were horribly mutilated by the brutal pop- 
ulace. A. D. 1859 — Ya., U. S. A. ! 

!00k Jfourt^. 



8. And he smote them hip and thigh, with great slaughter, (Chap- 
ter XV.) 

21. But the Philistines took him and brought him down to Gaza. 

23. Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for 
to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon, their god, and to rejoice : for 
they said. Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand. 

24. And when the people saw him, they praised their god : for 
thej'' said. Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the 
destroyer of our country, which slew many of us. 

30. The dead which he slew at his death were more than they 
which he slew in his life. — Book of Judges, Chapter xvi. 


The Preliminary Examination. 

THE prisoners were formally committed to jail on the 
20tli of October, by a Justice of the Peace of 
Charlestown, on the oaths of Henry A. Wise and two 
others, " for feloniously conspiring with each other-, and 
other persons unknown, to make an abolition insurrec- 
tion and open war against the Commonwealth of Vir- 
ginia," and for the additional crimes of murder and 
" conspiring with slaves to rebel and to make insurrec- 
tion." On the same day a warrant was issued to the 
Sheriff, commanding him to summon eight Justices of 
the Peace to hold a Preliminary Court of Examination 
on the 25th of October. 

On tlie day thus appointed the Preliminary Court 
assembled; a person named Colonel Davenport pre- 
siding. At half past ten o'clock in the forenoon, the 
prisoners were conducted from the jail under a guard 
of eighty armed men. Another military force was sta- 
tioned around " the Court House, which was bristlhig 
with bayonets on all sides." 

John Brown and Coppie were manacled together. 
" The prisoners, as brought into Court," writes a pro- 


292 The Preliminary Examination. 

slavery eye witness, " presented a pitiable sight, Brotvn 
and Stevens being- unable to stand without assistance. 
Brown had three sword cuts in his body, and one 
sabre cut over the head. Stevens had three balls in 
his head and two in his breast, and one in his arm. 
He was also cut on the forehead with a rifle bullet, 
which glanced off, leaving a bad wound. Brown seemed 
weak and haggard, with eyes swollen from the effects 
of wounds on the head. Stevens seemed less injured 
than Brown, but looked haggard and depressed." 

Never before, in our Christian country, or in any 
other civilized land, were men, thus suffering and dis- 
abled, dragged from their beds of sickness to a Court 
of Justice, to be tried for a capital offence. Judge 
Jeffreys, of England, never fully equalled this atrocity ; 
it needed, for its perpetration, men brutalized by the 
influence of American slavery. 

Charles B. Harding, attorney for the County of Jel- 
ferson, and Andrew Hunter, counsel for the State, 
appeared for the prosecution. The Sheriff read the 
commitment of the prisoners, and the Prosecuting 
Attorney asked the Court that counsel might be assigned 
them. The Presiding Magistrate then inquired if the 
prisoners had counsel. 

John Brown replied : 

** Virginians : I did not ask for any quarter at the time I was taken. 
I did not ask to have my life spared. The Governor of the State of 
Virginia tendered me his assurance that I should have a fair trial ; but 
under no circumstances whatever, will I be able to attend to my trial. 
If you seek my blood, you can have it at any moment without this 
mockery of a trial. 
. <' I have had no cpuusel. I hav« not b«en ^bl^ tQ aAm/^ with any 

The Preliminary Examination. 293 

one. I know nothing about the feelings of my fellow-prisoners, and 
am utterly unable to attend in any way to my own defence. My 
memory don't serve me. My health is insufficient, although improving. 
' If a fair trial is to be allowed us, there are mitigating circum- 
stances, that I would urge in our favor. But, if we are to be forced 
with a mere form — a trial for execution — you might spare yourselves 
that trouble. I am ready for my fate. I do not ask a trial. I beg for 
no mockery of a trial — no insult — nothing but that which conscience 
gives or cowardice would drive you to practise. 

••I ask again to be excused from the mockery of a trial. I do not 
know what the special design of this examination is. I do not know 
what is to be the benefit of it to the Commonwealth. I have now little 
further to ask, other than that I may be not foolishly insulted, only as 
cowardly barbarians insult those who fall into their power." 

Without paying the slightest attention to this brave 
speech, calmly delivered in the midst of infuriated 
enemies, the Court assigned Charles J. Faulkner and 
Lawson Botts, both Virginians and pro-slavery men, 
as counsel for the defendants. Mr. Faulkner, after 
consultation with the prisoners, desired to decline the 
appointment, — because he doubted the authority of 
the Court to order him to defend them ; because John 
Brown had declared that such a defence would be a 
mockery ; and because, having been at the place of 
action, and having heard all the admissions of the de- 
fendants, it would be improper and inexpedient for him 
to be their counsel. But if the Court peremptorily 
ordered him, and the prisoners consented, he would see 
that full justice was done them. Mr. Botts accepted. 

** Mr. Ilardmg then asked John Brown if he was willing to accept 
:hese gentlemen as counsel. 

John Brown replied: "I wish to say that I have sent for counsel. I 
lid apply, through the advice of some persons here, to some persons 
A'hosG names I do no? now recollect, to act as counsel for me ; and I 
lave sent for other counsel, who have not had time to reach here, and 
lave had no possible opportunity to sec me. I wish for covmsel, if I 
im to have a trial ; but if I am to have nothing but the mockery of a 


294 The Preliminary Examination. 

trial, as I said, I do not care any thing about counsel. It is mineces* 
sary to trouble any gentleman with that duty." 

Mr. Harding. " You are to have a fair trial." 

John Brown. •• There were certain men — I think Mr. Botts was one 
of them — who declined acting as counsel, but I am not positive about 
it ; I cannot remember whether he was one, because I have heard so 
many names. I am a stranger here, and do not know the disposition 
or character of the gentlemen named. I have applied for counsel of 
my own, and doubtless could have them, if I am not, as I have said 
before, to be hurried to execution before they can reach here. But if 
that is the disposition that is to be made of me, all this trouble and 
expense can be saved." 

Mr. Harding. " The question is, do you desire the aid of Messrs. 
Faulkner and Botts as your counsel ? Please to answer yes or no." 

John Brown. "I cannot regard this as an examination under any 
circumstances. I would prefer that they should exercise their own 
pleasure. I feel it as a matter of little account to me. If they had 
designed to assist me as counsel, I should have wanted an opportunity 
to consult with them at my leisure." 

Mr. Harding. "Stevens, are you willing those gentlemen should act 
as your coiuisel ? " 

Stevens. "I am willing that gentleman shall," (pointing to Mr. 

Mr. Harding. " Do you object to Paulkner ? " 

Stevens. " No ; I am willing to take both." 

Mr. Harding then addressed each of the other prisoners separately, 
and each stated his willingness to be defended by the counsel named. 

The Court then issued peremptory orders that the press should not 
publish detailed testimony, as it would render the getting of a 'jury 
before the Circuit Court impossible." * 

Eight witnesses were then examined, who testified to 
the arrest of citizens, the occupation of the armory, the 
fight, the casualties of the conflict, and the self-avowed 
object of the liberators. Kitzmillar admitted that Ste- 
vens was fired at and shot while under a flag of truce, 
with which, accompanied by the witness, and at his re- 
quest, he had left the armory, to permit him to try to 
" accommodate matters " for the safety of the citizens 

♦ Telegraphic report of the Associated PreBS. 

The Preliminary Examination. 295 

'ietained there; that Brown, while the Virginia pris- 
oners were in his power, treated them with great cour- 
1 esy and respect ; and repeatedly stated that his only 
('bject was to liberate the negroes, and that, to accom- 
jilish it, he was willing to fight the pro^slavery men. 
Vhe witnesses who were prisoners in the Armory also 
1 3stified that during the conflict they were requested by 
the Liberators to keep themselves out of the fire of the 
r larines. One thought that Coppic shot Beckman, and 
I^rown the marine. 

At one stage of the proceedings, Stevens, weak from 
his wounds, appeared'to-be fainting, and a mattress was 
pE'ocured for him, on which he reposed during the re- 
n ainder of the examination. What a scene for an 
A merican Court ! 

The prisoners were of course remanded to the Cir- 
01 lit Court for trial. 

The telegraph, although entirely managed by the par- 
ti sans of Slavery at this time, involuntarily told truths 
disgraceful to Virginia, and illustrative of the efifect 
o\ her iniquitous institution on the character of her 
ci izens of every rank, as well as of the danger that 
tl) is criminal tenacity to Human Slavery creates to the 
et ibility of Southern society. Two paragraphs will 
811 ffice to sustain me. 

' There is an evident intention to hurry the trial tlirough, and exe 
cu 3 the prisoners as soon as possible — feakino attempts to rescue them. 
It 3 rumored that Brown is desirous of making a full statement of his 
mc :ives and intentions through the press, but the Court has refused all 
ac( jss to reporters — tearing that he may put forth something calculated 
to ifliience the public mind, and to have a bad effect on the slaves." 

The reason given for hurrying the trial is, that the people of the 
wl )le country are kept in a state of excitement, and a large armed 
foi :e if required to prevent attempts at rescue." 


Judicial Alacrity. 

HARDLY had the Preliminary Court adjourned, ere 
the Circuit Court assembled. At two o'clock the 
Grand Jury were called, and charged by Judge Rich- 
ard Parker. By way of a contrast to the subsequent 
proceeding, the plausible yet Jesuitical address of the 
Judge, which promises and urges a fair trial, but, at 
the same time, so clearly indicates the spirit of Vir- 
ginia, is deserving of a record here. 

Gentlemen of the Jury : In the state of excitement into which 
our whole community has been thrown by the recent occurrences in 
this county, I feel that the charge which I usually deliver to a grand 
jury would be entirely out of place. These occurrences cannot but 
force themselves upon your attention. They must necessarily occupy 
a considerable portion of that time which you will devote to your 
public duties as a Grand Jury. However guilty the unfortunate men 
who are now in the hands of justice may prove to be, still they cannot 
be called upon to answer to the offended laws of our Commonwealth 
for any of the multifarious crimes with which they are charged, until a 
Grand Jury, after "dignified" inquiry, shall decide that for these of- 
fences they be put upon their trial. I will ^^xjt permit myself to give 
expression to any of those feelings which at once spring up in every breast 
wJien reflecting upo7i the enormity of the guilt in which those are involved 
who invade by fcnxe a peaceful, unsiispecting portion of our common coxin- 


Judicial Alacrity. 297 

'ry, raise the standard of itistirrection amongst us, and shoot down without 
nercy Virginia citize7is defenditig Virginia soil against tJieir invasion. 
'. must remember, gentlemen, that, as a minister of justice, bound to 
' ixecute our laws faithfully, and in the very spirit of Justice herself, I 
1 aust, as to every one accused of crime, hold, as the law holds, that he 
i 3 innocent until he shall be proved guilty by an honest, an independent, 
i nd an impartial jury of his countrymen. And what is obligatory 
upon me is equally binding upon you, and upon every one who may be 
< onnected with the prosecution and trial of these offenders. In these 
( ases, as in all others, you will be controlled by that oath which each 
c f you has taken, and in which you have solemnly sworn that you 
■\ ill diligently inquire into all offences which may be brought to your 
Inowledge, and that "you wiU present no one through ill-will," as 
^ 'ell as " that you will leave no one unpresented through fear or favor, 
I ut in all your presentments you shall present the truth, the whole 
t uth, and nothing but the tnith." Do but this, gentlemen, and you 
y ill have fulfilled your whole duty. Go beyond this, and, in place of 
t lat diligent inquiry and calm investigation which you have sworn to 
n ake, act upon prejudice or from excitement of passion, and you will 
h ive done a wrong to that law in whose service you are engaged. As I 
h jfore said, these men are now in the hands of justice. They are to have 
a fair and an impartial trial. We owe it to the cause of justice, as well 
a to our own characters, that such a trial should be afforded them. If 
g dlty, they will be sure to pay the extreme penalty of their guilt, and the 
e ample of punishment, when thus inflicted by virtue of law, will be 
b yond all comparison more efficacious for our future protection than 
a; y torture to which mere passion could subject them. Whether, then, 
•w 3 be in public or private position, let each one of us remember that, as 
tl e law has charge of these alleged offenders, the law alone, through 
it recognized agents, must deal with them to the last. It cati tolerate 
m interference hy others icith duties it has assumed to itself. If true to 
h< rself, — and true she will be, — our Commonwealth, through her courts 
ol justice, will be as ready to punish the offence of such interference as 
si 3 is to punish these grave and serious offences with which she is now 
a1 out to deal — in case these offences be proved by legal testimony to 
hi ve been perpetrated. Let us all, gentlemen, bear this in mind, and 
in patience await the result — confident that that result will be what- 
e\ ;r strict and impartial justice shall determine to be necessary and 
pi 5per. It would seem, gentlemen, — and yet I speak from no evidence, 
b\ t upon vague rumors which have reached me, — that these men who 
lii re thrown themselves upon us confidently expected to be joined by 
01 r slaves and free negroes, and unfurled the banner of insurrection, 

298 Judicial Alacrity. 

and invited this class of our citizens to rally under it. And yet, I am 
told, they are unable to obtain a single recruit.* 

The Preliminary Court reported the result of their 
examination, and the Grand Jury at once retired with 
the witnesses. At five o'clock they returned, and asked 
to be discharged for the day. They reassembled at ten 
o'clock on the following forenoon, Wednesday, and, at 
twelve o'clock, reported " a true bill " against each of 
the prisoners : First, For conspiring with negroes to 
produce insurrection ; second, For treason in the Com- 
monwealth, and, third, For murder. The Grand Jury 
was then discharged. 

This is the indictment of the Grand Jury : 


Judicial Circuit of Virginia, Jefferson County, in wit. — The Jurors of the Commoii- 
■wealtli of A'irginia, in and for the body of the County of Jefferson, duly impanelled, 
and attending npon the Circuit Court of said county, upon their oaths do present that 
John Brown, Aaron C. Stephens, alias Aaron D. Stephens and Edwin Coppic, whito 
men, and Shields Green and John Copeland, free negroes, together with divers other 
evil-minded and traitorous persons to the Jurors unknown, not having the fear of God 
before their eyes, but being moved and seduced by the false and malignant counsel of 
other evil and traitorous persons, and the instigations of the devil, did, severally, on the 
sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth days of the month of October, in the year of our 
Lord eighteen hundred and fifty-nine, and on divers other days before and after that 
time, within the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the County of Jefferson aforesaid, and 
within the jurisdiction of this Court, with other confederates to the Jurors unlvuown, 
feloniously and traitorously make lebellion and levy war against the said Commonwealth 
of Virginia, and to effect, earry out, and fulfil their said wiclied and treasonable ends 
and purposes did, then and there, as a band of organized soldiers, attack, seize, and hold 
a certain part and place within the county and State aforesaid, and within the jurisdic- 
tion aforesaid, known and called by the name of Harper's Ferry, and then and there 
did foi'cibly capture, make prisoners of, and detain divers good and loyal citizens of said 
Commonwealth, to wit: Lewis W. Washington, John M. AUstadt, Archibald M. Kitii- 
miller, Benjamin J. Mills, John E. P. Dangerfield, Armstead Ball, Jolin Donoho, and 
did then and there slay and murder, by shooting with firearms, called Sharpe's rifles, 
divers good and loyal citizens of said Commonwealth, to wit: Thomas Boerly, George 
W. Turner, Fontaine Beckham, together with Luke Quinn, a soldier of the United States, 
and Ilayward Sheppard, a free negro, and did then and there, in miinner afoi-esaid, wound 
divers other good and loyal citizens of said Commonwealth, and did then and there felo- 
niously and traitorously establish and set up, without authority of the Legislature of the 
Commonwealth of Virginia, a government, separate from, and hostile to, the existing 
Government of said Commonwealth; and did then and there hold and exercise divers 
offices under said usurped Government, to wit : tlio said John Brown as Commander-in 
Chief of the military forces, the said Aaron C. Stephens alias Aaron B. Stephens, as Cap- 
tain ; the said Edwin Coppic, as Lieutenant, and the said Shields Green and John Cope- 

• It is true that the slaves did not join John Brown. But why? Because they had not time 
to know his design, and to act, ere their heroic liberators were either killed or imprisoned. But 
one negro, I know, — a slave of Washington,— whom Governor Wise pretended had prolmbly 
been killed by Captain Cook in endeavoring to return home, was shot in the river «« ?ie teas 
fiuhting for freedom. I know this fact from one of John Brown's men who saw him. I have 
positive knowledge, also, of sixteen slaves who succeeded in escaping from Harper's Ferry. 

Judicial Alacrity 299 

land as soldiers ; and did then and there require and compel obedience to said ofBcers; 
and then and there did hold and profess allegiance and fidelity to said usurped Govern- 
ment ; and under color of the usurped authority aforesaid, did then and there resist forci- 
bly, and with warlike arms, the execution of the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 
and with firearms did wound and maim divers other good and loyal citizens of said 
Cumnionweallh, to the Jurors unknown, when attempting, with lawful atithority, to 
nphold and maintain said Constitution and laws of the Commonwealth of S'irgiula, and 
for the purpose, end, and aim of overthrowing and abolishing the Constitution and 
laws of said Commonwealtli, and establishing, in the place thereof, another and differ- 
ent go\ernment, and constitution and laws hostile thereto, did then and there feloni- 
:)usly and traitorously, and in military array, join in open battle and deadly warfare with 
the civil officers and soldiers in the lawful service of the said Commonwealth of Vir- 
:;inia, and did tlion and there shoot and discharge divers guns and pistols, charged with 
juupowder and leaden bullets, against and upon divers parties of the militia and vol- 
unteers embodied and acting under the command of Colonel Jlobert W. Baylor, and of 
Jolouel John Thomas Uibson, and other oflicers of said Commonwealth, with lawful 
luthority to quell and subdue the said John Urown, Aaron C. Stephens, alias Aaron D. 
Jtepliens, Kdwin Coppic, Shields Green, and John Copland, and other rebels and 
traitors assembled, organized, and acting with them, as aforesaid, to the evil example 
>f ail others iu like case offending, and against the peace and dignity of the Common- 

l^C'ind Count — And the Jurors aforesaid,, upon their oaths aforesaid, do further pro- 
lent that the said John Brown, Aaron C. Stephens, alias Aaron 1). Stephens, Edwin 
Jopjjic, Shields Green, and John Coi>eland, severally, on the sixteenth, seventecth, and 
'.ighteenth days of October, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and fifty-nine, in 
4ie said County of Jefferson, and Commonwealth of Virginia, and within the jurisdiction 
)f this Court, not having the fear of God before their eyes, but moved and seduced by 
ho false and malignant counsels of others, and the instigations of the devil, did each 
everally, maliciously, and feloniou.sly conspire with eacii other, and with a certain 
lohn l*^. Cook, John Kagi, Charles Xidd, and others to the Jurors unknown, to induce 

ertain slaves, to wit, Jim, Sam, Mason, and Catesby 

he slaves and property of Lewis W. Washington, and Henry, Levi, Ben, Jerry, Phil, 
ieorge, and Bill, the slaves and property of John U. Allstadt, and other slaves to the 
Furors unknown, to rebel and make insurrection against their masters and owners, 
nd against the Qovernmcnt and the Constitution and laws of the Commonwealth of 
I'^irgiuia : and then and there did maliciously and feloniously advise said slaves, and 
■ther slaves to the Jurors unknown, to rebel and make insurrection against their masters 
nd owners, and against the Government, the Constitution uiid laws of the Commou- 
vealth of Virginia, to the evil example of all others in like cases offeudujg, and against 
ho peace and dignity of the Commonwealth. 

T/tird Count. — And the Jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, further present 

liat the said John Brown, Aaron C. Stephens, alias Aaron 1). Stephens, Edwin Coppic, 

liields Green, and John Copeland, severally, on the sixteenth, seveiiteentli, and eigh- 

■cMth days of October, in the j'oar of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty- 

ine, in the County of Jefferson and the Commonwealth of Virginia aforesaid, and 

• ithin the jurisdiction aforesaid, in and upon the bodies of Thomas Boerly, George W. 

' 'urner, i'ontaine Beckham, Luke Quinn, white persons, and Hay ward Sheppard,afree 

egro, in the peace of the Commonwealth then and there being, feloniously, wilfully, 

. nd of their malice aforethought, did make an assault, and with firearms called 

harpe's rifles, and other deadly weapons to the Jurors unknown, then and there, 

' liarged with gunpowder and leaden bullets, did then and there feloniously, wilfully, 

: nd of their m.ilice aforethought, shoot and discharge the same against the bodies sov 

' rally and respectively of the said Thomas Boerly, George W. Turner, Fontaine Beck 

am, Luke Quinn, and Ilayward Sheppard ; and that the said John Brown, Aaron C. 

tephens, alias Aaron D. Stephens, Edwin Coppic, Shields Green, and John Copland, 

ith the leaden bullets aforesaid, out of the firearms called Sharpe's rifles, aforesaid, 

lot and discharged as aforesaid, and with the other deadly weapons to the jurors 

iiknown, as aforesaid, then and there feloniously, wilfully, and of their malice afore- 

idught did strike, penetrate and wound the said Thomas Boerly, George W. Turner, 

ontaine Beckham, Luke Quinn, Ilayward Sheppard, each severally; to wit: the said 

' liomas Boerly in and upon the left side; the said George \V. Turner in and upon the 

■ft shoulder; the said Fontaine Beckham in and upon the right breast; the said Luke 

I uinn in and upon the abdomen, and the said Ilayward Sheppard in and upon the back 

: iid side, giving to the said Thomas Boerly, George W. Turner, Fontaine Beckham, 

like Quinn. Ilayward Sheppard, then and "there with the leaden bullets, so as afore- 

1 liil shot and discharged by them, severally and respectively out of the Sbarjie's riflfes 

: orosaid, and with the other deadly weapons to the Jurors unknown, as aliire:iaid,each 

I le mortal wound, of which .said niortil wounds they the said Thomas Bcerly, Georje 

'. Turner, Fontaino Beckham, Luke Quinn, and Ilayward Sheppard each died; and so 

^oo Judicial Alacrity. 

the Jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say that the said John Brown, 
Aaron C. Stephens, alias Aaron D. Stephens, Edwin Coppic, Siiields Green, and John 
Copland, then and there, them the said Thomas«Boerly, George W. Turner, Fontaine 
Beclihani, Lulte Quinn, and Hayward Sheppard, in the manner aforesaid, and by the 
means aforesaid, feloniously, wilfully, and of their, and each of their malice afore- 
tJiouglit, did kill and murd'br, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth. 

Fourth Count.— And the Jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, further present 
that the said John Brown, Aaron C. Stephens, alias Aaron D. Stephens, and Edwin 
Coppic, and Shields Green, each severally on the seventeenth day of October, In tho 
year of our Lord eighteen hundred and fifty-nine, in the County of Jefferson and Com- 
monwealth of Virginia aforesaid, and within tho jurisdiction of this Court, in and>upon 
the bodies of certain Thomas Boerly, George W. Turner, and Fontaine Beckham, in 
the peace of the Commonwealth, then and there being feloniously, wilfully, and of 
their malice aforethought, did malvo an assault, and with guns called Sharpe's rifles, 
then and there charged with gunpowder and leaden bullets, did then and there felo- 
niously, wilfully, and of their, and each of their malice aforethought, shoot and dis- 
charge tlio same against the bodies of the said Thomas Boerly, George W. Turner, and 
Fontaine Beckliam, and that the said John Brown, Aaron C. Stephens, alias Aaron D. 
Stephens, Edward Coppic, and Shields Green, with leaden bullets aforesaid, shot out 
of the Sharpe's rifles aforesaid, then and there, feloniously, wilfully, and of their malice 
aforethought, did strike, penetrate, and wound the said Thomas Boerly, George W. 
Turner, and Fontaine Beckham, each severally, viz. : The said Thomas Boerly in and 
upon the left side ; the said George W. Turner in and upon the left shoulder and 
breast, and tho said Fontaine Beckham in and upon tho right breast, giving to the 
said Thomas Boerly, George W. Turner, and Fontaine Beckham, then and there, with 
leaden bullets aforesaid, shot by them severally out of Sharpe's rifles aforesaid, each 
one mortal wound, of which said mortal wounds they the said Thomas Boerly, George 
W. Turner, and Fontaine Beckham then and there died: and that the said John Cop- 
land, then and there, feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforothought, was present, 
aiding, helping, abetting, comforting and assisting the said John Brown, Aaron C. 
Stephens, alias Aaron D. Stephens, Edwin Coppic, and Shields Green in tho felony and 
murder aforesaid, in manner aforesaid to commit. And so the Jurors aforesaid, upon 
their oaths, do say that the said John Brown, Aaron C. Stephens, alias Aaron D. Ste- 
phens, Edwin Coppic, Shields Green, and .Tohn Copland, then and there them, the said 
Thomas Boerly, (jeorge W. Turner, and Fontaine Beckham, in the manner aforesaid, 
and by the means aforesaid, feloniously, wilfully, and of their and each of their malice 
aforethought, did kill and murder, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth 
of A'Irginia. 

Lewis W. Washington. John H. Allstadt, John E. P. Dangerfield, Alexander Kelly, 
Emanuel Spangler, Armstead M. Ball, Joseph A. Brua, William Johnson, Lewis P. 
Stiirry, Archibald H. Kitzmiller, weie sworn in open Court this 26th day of October, 
1859, to give evidence to the Grand Jury upon this bill of indictment. 

Teste : Robert T. Bkown, Clerk. 

A true copy of said indictment. 

Teste : Egbert T. Browk, 

Clerk of the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, in the State of Virginia. 
Which bill of indictment th« Grand Jury returned this 26th day of October. 
A true bill. Thomas Kutherfokd, Foreman. 

October 26, 1859. 

Before the indictment was read, as Mr. Faulkner 
had gone home, the Court requested a Mr. Green, a 
Virginian, to act as assistant counsel for the defend- 
ants. It was understood that all the prisoners were 
willing that this arrangement should be made. 


John Brown then rose and said : 

I do not intend to detain the court, but barely wish to say, as I have 
been promised a fail- trial, that I am not now in circtmastances that 

Judicial Alacrity. 301 

enable me to attend a trial, owing to the state of my health. I hare 
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 
d( lay of my trial, and I think I may get able to ^sten to it ; and I 
m ;rely ask this, that, as the saying is, «« the devil may have his due " 
— no more. I wish to say, further, that my hearing is impaired, and 
re idered indistinct, in consequence of wounds I have about my head. 
:annot hear distinctly at all ; I could not hear what the court has 
d this morning. I would be glad to hear what is said on my trial, 
an d am now doing better than I could expect to be under the circum- 
st; noes. A very short delay would be all I would ask. I do not 
pr !sume to ask more than a very short delay, so that I may in some 
de ?ree recover, and be able at least to listen to my trial, and hear 
wl at questions are asked of the citizens, and what their answers are. 
If hat could be allowed me, I should be very much obliged. 

Mr. Hunter said that the request was rather preraa- 
ture. The arraignment sliould be made, and this 
qi estion could then be considered. 

Tlie Court ordered the indictment to be read, so 
th it the prisoner could plead guilty or not guilty, and 
it vvould then consider Mr. Brown"'s request. 

The indictment was now read, and each of the pris- 
on ;rs pleaded Not Guilty, and demanded to have sepa- 
ra e trials. One incident of this scene is so revolting, 
thi t I must record it in the language of the enemies 
of the prisoners : 

' The prisoners were brought into court, accompanied by a body of 
irn 2d men. Cannon were stationed in front of the court housf, and 
m rmed guard were patrolling round the jail. BroAvn looked some- 
thii 5 better, and his eye was not so much swollen. Stevens had to 
be upported, and reclined on a mattress on the floor of the court 
roo 1 — evidently unable to sit. He has the appearance of a dying man, 
irec king with great difficulty. The prisoners were compelled to stand 
iur iig the indictment, but it was with difliculty, Stevens being held 
ipr, iht by two bailiffs." 

. iS soon as the prisoners had responded to the ar- 
rai ;nment, Mr. Hunter rose and said, " The State 

302 Judicial Alacrity. 

elects to try John Brown first." A discussion and 
decision, fit accompaniments to the scene above de- 
scribed, then ensued ; which are thus reported by the 
partisans of the State : 

Mr. Botts said, I am instructed by Brown to say that he is mentally 
and physically unable to proceed with his trial at this time. He haa 
heard to-day that counsel of his own choice will be here, whom he 
will, of course, prefer. He only asks for a delay of two or three days. 
It seems to be but a reasonable request, and I hope the Court will 
grant it. 

Mr. Hunter said, he did not think it the duty of the prosecutor for 
the Commonwealth, or for one occupying the position, to oppose any 
thing that justice required, nor to object to any thing that involved a 
simple consideration of humanity, where it could be properly allowed ; 
yet, in regard to this proposition to delay the trial of John Brown two 
or three days, they deemed it their duty that the Court, before deter- 
mining matters, should be put in possession of facts and circumstances, 
judicially, that they were aware of in the line of their duties as prose- 
cutors. His own opinion was, that it was not proper to delay the 
trial of this prisoner a single day, and that there was no necessity for 
it. He alluded in general terms to the condition of things that sur- 
rounded them. They were such as rendered it dangerous to delay, to 
»ay nothing of the exceeding pressure upon the physical resources of tha 
community, growing out of circumstances connected with affairs for 
•which the prisoners were to be tried. He said our laws, in making 
provisions for allowing, in the discretion of the Court, briefer time than 
usual, in cases of conviction, for such oflfenders, between the condemna- 
tion and execution, evidently indicates, indirectly, the necessity of 
acting promptly and decisively, though always justly, in proceedings 
of this kind. In reference to Brown's physical condition, he asked 
the Court not to receive the unimportant statements of the prisoners 
as sufficient ground for delay, but that the jailer and physicians be 
examined. As to expecting counsel from abroad, he said that no im- 
pediment had been thrown in the way of the prisoners' procuring such 
counsel as they desired, but, on the contrary, every facility had been 
afforded ; able and intelligent counsel had been assigned them here, and 
he apprehended that there ws^i little reason to expect the attendance 
of those gentlemen from the North who had been written for. There 
tpas also a public duty resting tipon them to avoid as far as possible, toithin 
the forms of law, and with reference to the great and never to be lost sight 
of principle of giving cf a fair and impartial trial to the prisoners, the 

Judicial Alacrity. 303 

ntroductton of any thing likely to tceaken our present position, and giv0 
ihrtngth to our enemies abroad, whether it issues from the jury in time, 
I r whether it comes from the mouths of the prisoners, or any other source, 
3t was their position that had been imperilled and jeopardized, as 
they supposed, by enemies. 

Mr. Harding concurred in the objection of Mr. Hunter, on the ground 
c f danger in delay, and also because Brown was the leader of the insur- 
r action, and hi? trial ought to be proceeded with on account of the ad- 
t xntage tJiereby accruing in the trial of the others. 

Mr. Green remarked that he had had no opportunity of consiilting with 
t le prisoner, or preparing a defence. The letters for Northern counsel 
h id beon sent oiF, but not sufficient time had been afforded to receive 
a iswers. Under the circumstances, he thought a short delay desirable. 

Mr. Botts added, that at present the excitement was so great as per- 
h ips to deter Northern counsel from coming out ; but now that it had 
b .en promised that the prisoners should have a fair and impartial trial, 
h ! presumed that they would come and take part in the case. 

The Court stated that, if physical inability were shown, a reasonable 
d lay must be granted. As to the expectation of other counsel, that 
d d not constitute a sufficient cause for delay, as there was no cer- 
t£ inty about their coming. Under the circumstances in which the 
p isoners were situated, it was rational that they should seek delay. 
J 'le brief period remaining before the close of the term of the Court ren- 
dt red it necessary to proceed as expeditiously as practicable, and to be 
C( utious about granting delays. He would request the physician who 
hi d attended Brown to testify as to his conditioru 

Were ever before, in any civilized State, such reasons 
g ven for refusing the delay of a few days only to a 
■w Duiided prisoner, charged with a capital offence, whose 
S( le request was, that time might be allowed for honest 
ct unsel, whom he knew, to arrive and defend him ? 
E /en had the old man been iinwounded, surrounded as 
h ! was by excited enemies, in a county and Common 
w 3alth where a verdict of acquital was an impossible 
e out, it wonld have been a very grave judicial outrage to 
h vc tried him until he could obtain proper counsel, 
before considering a demand for a change of venue. 
B )causc the expense of a trial was grOat ; because the 

QQA Judicial Alacrity. 

offences charged on the prisoner were declared to be 
grave ones — by the unjust Yirginia code ; because the 
arrival of Northern counsel might elicit facts unfavora- 
ble to the reputation of the State, but that might tend to 
exculpate the defendant — for this is what Mr. Hunter's 
last orphic sentence meant ; because there might be 
danger, if the request was 'granted, of a second con- 
quest of Virginia by the friends of her first anti- 
slavery invader ; and because — how and why is not yet 
explained — a speedy trial of the leaders would result 
in a benefit to his followers in jail : these were the rea- 
sons, as extraordinary as inhuman, advanced by the 
prosecution why a wounded man's request should be 
refused by a Court of Justice ; not one of them, by all 
the rules of law, either pertinent or just, and one of 
them the strongest argument why the case should b<3 
protracted. The graver the crime, the more lenient 
the law should be in granting opportunities of defence 
to the accused. The Judge's reply ignores this salu- 
tary rule, and assumes that it was necessary to try the 
prisoners at that particular term of the Court ! With 
every faculty undimmed, with every legal facility 
around him, with able lawyers and a Pardoning 
Power unpledged against the exercise of his highest 
prerogatives, the prisoner had a right to demand a post- 
ponement of the trial until the prejudices of the people 
were less excited against him. 

The physician was called, and swore, of course, that 
the old man was able to go on with the trial, and did 
not think that his wounds were such as to affect his 
mind and recoUe'jtioa 

Judicial Alacrity. 305; 

The Court, accordingly, refused to postpone the 


The afternoon session, which lasted three hours, was 
occupied in obtaining a jury. At this time no Repub- 
lican reporters were permitted to enter Charlestown, or 
had succeeded in obtaining entrance to the prison or 
Court. Hence, for the only accounts of the trial, we 
are obliged to accept the statements of John Brown's 
bitterest foes. This is their report of that afternoon's 
proceedings : 

" The jailer was ordered to bring Brown into Court. He found him 
in bed, from Avhich he declared himself iinable to rise. He was accord- 
ingly brought into Court on a cot, which teas set down within the bar. The 
prisoner lay most of the time with his eyes closed, and the counter- 
pane drawn up close to his chin. The jury were then called and 
sworn. The Court excluded those who were present at Harper's Ferry 
during the insurrection and saw the prisoners perpetrating the act for 
which they were about to be tried. They were all from distant parts 
of the country, mostly farmers — some of them owning a few slares, 
and others none. The examination was continued until twenty-four 
were decided by the Court and counsel to be competent jurors. Out 
3f these twenty-four, the counsel for the prisoner had a right to strike 
jff eight, and then twelve are dra\»Ti by ballot out of the remaining 
■sixteen. The following were the questions put to the jurors : Were 
you at Harper's Ferry on Monday or Tuesday ? How long did you 
emain there ? Did you witness any of the proceedings for which this 
party is to be tried ? Did you form or express any opinion, from what 
y^ou saw there, with regard to the guilt or innocence of these people ? 
Would that opinion disqualify you from giving these men a fair trial ? 
Did you hear any of the evidence in this case before the Examining 
Dourt ? "What was your opinion based on ? Was it a decided one, or 
vas it one which would yield to evidence, if the evidence was different 
rom what you supposed ? Are you sure that you can try this case 
mpartially from the evidence alone, without reference to any thing 
/Qu have heard or seen of this transaction ? Have you any conscien- 
ious scruples against convicting a party of an offence to which the 
aw assigns the punishment of death, merely because that is the pen- 
Ity assignetl ? " 

26* . , • ■-■■i- 

3o6 Judicial Alacrity. 

But these statements give no just notion of tlic man- 
ner of impanelling the juries in the trials of the Lib- 
erators. As they were all similarly conducted, it will 
be proper here to quote, from the graphic sketches of 
an eye witness, a description of the impanelling of the 
jury who tried Edwin Coppie. 

•' Let me endeavor to represent to you how some of the jurors in 
these cases are qualified. 

A stolid and heavy man stands up before the judge to answer the 
necessary questions. His countenance is lighted only by the hope of 
getting a chance to give his voice against the wounded man upon the 
ground. You can see this as plainly as if he told you. 

Judge. Were you at Harper's Ferry, sir, during these proceedings ? 

Juror. No, sir. 

Judge. You are a freeholder of this county ? 

Juror. Yes, sir. 

Judge. Have you heard the evidence in the other cases ? 

Juror. (Eagerly.) Yes, sir. 

Judge. I mean, if you have heard the evidence, and are likely to 
be influenced by it, you are disqualified here. Have you heard much 
of the evidence ? 

Juror. No, sir. 

Judge. Have you expressed any opinion as to the guilt of these 
parties ? 

Juror. Yes, sir, (eagerly again.) 

Judge. Are you, then, capable of judging this case according to 
the evidence, without reference to what you have before heard said ? 

Juror. Yes, sir. 

Judge. Have you any conscientious scruples, which will prevent 
you finding this man guilty, because the death penalty may be his 
punishment ? 

Juror. Yes, sir, (promptly.) 

Judge. I think you do not understand my question. I ask you if 
you would hesitate to find this man guilty, because he would bo liung 
if you did ? 

Juror looks around puzzled, overcome by the abstract nature of the 
proposition ? 

Judge. This man will oe hung if you fibnd him guilty. "Will that 
certainty of his being hung prevent you from finding him guilty, if 
the evidence convinces you he is so ? 

Judicial Alacrity. 


Juror. (Catching the idea.) No, sir — no, sir. 

Jvdge. Very well, sir; you can take your seat as a juror." 

Mr. Botts, who had solemnly promised to John Brown 
:o defend him faithfully, did not fulfil this moral and 
professional obligation, for a jury was obtained without 
delay and without any objection on his part. The 
]iames of these unfortunate men* were announced, 
but they were not sworn till the following day. 

At five o'clock " the prisoner was carried over to 
jail on his cot, and the Court adjourned till morning." 

• They were — Klchnrd Timberlake, Joseph Myers, Thomas Watson, Jr., Isaac Dust, 
J ohn C. McClure, William Kightsdale, Jacob J. Millar, Thomas Osborne, George W. 
1 oyer, John C. Wiltsharo, George W. Tapp, and WiUiam A. Martin. 


State Evidence. 

ON Thursday morning, October 27, the trial began in 
earnest. John Brown was brought from jail, sup- 
ported on either side — for he was too feeble to walk 
alone, — and laid down on his cot within the bar.* The 
author of the Fugitive Slave Law was present. Did he 
know that he was witnessing the beginning of the end 
of the rule of the wicked Power that he represents ? Did 
he think that the wounded old man on the pallet was un- 
dermining, with his every groan and breath, the founda- 
tions of Human Slavery in America ? As John Brown 
embodied the Northern religious anti-slavery idea, so 
Senator Mason, who now gazed at him, incarnated 
the Southern idolatrous principle of infidelity to man. 
Yet, seemingly, how reversed did their positions ap- 
pear ! The Slave Liberator with no earthly prospect 
but a speedy death on the gallows ; and the Slave 
Extraditionist buoyed up with the hope of soon filling 
the Presidential Chair ! 


The plea of insanity — first advanced by political 

* Seo the engniviiig. 


State Evidence. 309 

monomaniacs in the Northern States, who conld not un- 
derstand a heroic action when they saw one, and yet, 
admiring his spirit, were unwilling to denounce John 
Brown — was brought forward, before the jury were 
sworn, by the production of a telegraphic despatch from 
Ohio. It asserted that insanity was hereditary in John 
Brown's family ; that his mother's sister died with it, 
and her daughter was now in an insane asylum ; and 
that three of the children of his maternal uncle were 

also mentally deranged. 


" Mr. Botts said, that on receiving the above despatch, he went to the 
jail with his associate, Mr. Green, and read it to Brown, and was de- 
sired by him to say that in his father's family there has never been any 
insanity at all. On his mother's side there have been repeated instances 
of it. He adds that his first wife showed symptoms of it, which were 
also evident in his first and second sons by that wife. Some portions 
of the statements in the despatch he knows to be correct, and of other 
portions he is ignorant. He does not know whether his mother's sis- 
ter died in the lunatic asylum ; but he does believe that a daughter of 
that sister has been two years in the asylum. He also believes that a 
son and daughter of his mother's brother have been confined in an 
asylum ; but he is not apprised of the fact that another son of that 
brother is now insane, and in close confinement. Brown also desires 
his counsel to say that he does not put in the plea of insanity." * 

John Brown then rose, and spurned the ploa thus 
sought to be introduced. He said : 

"I will add, if the Court will allow me, that I look upon it as a 
miserable artifice and pretext of those who ought to take a different 
course in regard to me, if they took any at all, and I view it with con- 
tempt more than otherwise. Insane persons, so far as my experience 
goes, have but little ability to judge of their own sanity ; and if I am 
insane, of course I should think I knew more than all the rest of the 
world. But I do not think so. I am perfectly unconscious of insan- 
ity, and I reject, so far as I am capable, any attempts to interfere in my 
behalf on that score.'' 

* Report of Associated Press. 

310 State Evidence. 

A day's delay refused. 

" The course taken by Brown this morning," writes 
a pro-slavery correspondent, "makes it evident that he 
sought no postponement for the mere purpose of de- 
lay." And yet, although the prisoner again asked for 
a suspension of the proceedings for one day only, until 
a lawyer in Ohio, to whom he had written, and who 
had telegraphed a reply, should arrive in Charlestown, 
the Court again refused to grant the request, and or- 
dered the examination to proceed ! Mr. Hunter, in 
opposing the fequest, involuntarily showed that he re- 
garded the trial as a form only, — a mockery of justice, 
— and expressed his belief that the old man was less 
solicitous for a fair trial than to give to his friends the 
time and opportunity to organize a rescue. Mr. Hard- 
ing, with greater brutality, asserted that the prisoner 
was merely shamming sickness — although he could not 
stand unsupported for any length of time, and was cov- 
ered with wounds, not one of which had healed ! 

The Jury were sworn, and the indictment read. The 
Court permitted the prisoner, while arraigned, to re- 
main prostrate on his pallet. He did so. The in- 
dictment charged Insurrection, Treason, and Murderc 
John Brown pleaded Not Guilty. 


Mr, Hunter then stated the facts that he designed to 
prove by the evidence for the prosecution, and reviewed 
the laws relating to the offences charged on the pris- 
oner, and concluded by hypocritically 

" Urging the jury to cast aside all prejudices, and give the prisoners 
a fair and impartial trial, and not to allow their hatred of Abolition- 
ists to influence them against those who have raised the black flag 
on the soil of this Commonwealth." 

State Evidence. 311 

Mr. Green responded, stating what should be proved, 
and how, to convict of the offences charged : 

1. To establish the charge of treason it must be proven 
that the prisoner attempted to establish a separate and 
distinct government within the limits of Virginia, and 
the purpose also of any treasonable acts ; and this, not 
by any confessions of his own, elsewhere made, but by 
two different witnesses for each and every act. 

2. To establish the charge of a conspiracy with slaves, 

"The jury must be satisfied th<it such conspiracy was done within 
the State of Virginia, and within the jurisdiction of this Court. If it 
was done in Maryland, this Court could not punish the act. If it was 
done within the limits of the Armory at Harper's Ferry, it was not 
done within the limits of this State, the Government of the United 
States holding exclusive jurisdiction within the said grounds. Attor- 
ney General Gushing had decided this point with regard to the Armory 
grounds at Harper's Forry, which opinion was read to the jury, show- 
ing that persons residing within the limits of the Armory cannot even 
be taxed by Virginia, and that crimes committed within the said limits 
ire punishable by Federal Courts." 

3. Over murder, (he argued,) if committed within the 
limits of the Armory, the Court had no jurisdiction ; 
md, in the case of Mr. Beckham, if he was killed on 
ihe railroad bridge, it was committed within the State 
)f Maryland, which claims jurisdiction up to the Armory 

Mr. Botts followed him, and supported these views. 
Che only noteworthy thing he said was, that — 

'•It is due to the prisoner to state that he believed himself to be 
ctuated by the highest and noblest feelings that ever coursed through 

human breast. They could prove by those gentlemen who were 
Tisoners that they were treated with respect, and that they wtre kept 
1 positions of safety, and that no violence was offered to them. These 
lets must be taken into consideration, and have their due weight with 
tie jury." ^ 

312 State Evidence.^^. 

Mr. Hunter replied. The State law of treason, he 
argued, was more full than that of the Federal Con- 

" It includes within its definition of treason the establishing, -without 
the authotity of the Legislature, any Government within its limita 
separate from the existing Government, or the holding or executing, 
under such Government, of any office, professing allegiance or fidel- 
ity to it, or resisting the execution of law under the color of its 
atxthority ; and it goes on to declare that 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. Any one of these acts consti- 
tutes treason against this Commonwealth ; and he believed that the 
prisoner had been guilty of each and all these acts, which would be 
proven in the clearest manner, not by two, but by a dozen witnesses, 
unless limited by the lack of time. The prisoner had attempted to 
break down the existing Government of the Commonwealth, and 
establish on its ruins a new Government ; he had usurped the office 
of Commander-in-chief of this new Government, and, together with 
his whole band, professed allegiance and fidelity to it ; he represented 
not only the civil authorities of State, but our own military ; he is 
doubly, trebly, and quadruply guilty of treason. Mr. Hunter pro- 
ceeded again to the question of jurisdiction over the Armory grounds, 
and examined the authority, cited on the other side, of Attorney Gen- 
eral Cushing. The latter was an able man ; but he came from a region 
of country where opinions are very different from ours in relation to 
the power of the Federal Government as affecting State rights. Our 
Courts are decidedly adverse to Mr. Cushing's views. In all time 
past, the jurisdiction of this County of Jefferson in criminal offences 
committed at Harper's Ferry, has been uninterrupted and unchallenged, 
whether they were committed on the Government property or not. 
He cited an instance, twenty-nine years ago, where an atrocious mur- 
der was committed between the very shops in front of which these 
men fought their battles, and the criminal was tried here, convicted, 
and executed under our laws. There was a broad difference between 
the cession of jurisdiction by Virginia to the Federal Government and 
mere assent of the State that the Federal Government should become a 
landholder within its limits. The law of Virginia, by virtue of which 
the grounds at Harper's Ferry were purchased by the Federal Gov- 
ernment, ceded no jurisdiction. Brown was also guilty, on his own 
notorious confession, in advising conspiracy. In regard to the charge 
of murder, the proof will be, that this man was not only actually 
sngaged in murdering our citizens, but that he was the chief directer 

State Evidence. 313 

01' the whole movement. No matter whether he was present on the 
8] ot, or a mile off, he is equally guilty." 


The examination of witnesses was commenced at the 
a 'ternoon session. The conductor of the train was 
fi-st called, narrated the circumstances of its stoppage 
01 the morning of Monday, October 17, and thus de- 
S( ribed his interview with Captain Brown : 

'♦ I met a man whom I now recognize as Coppic, and asked what 
thay meant. He replied, 'We don't want to injure you or detain 
y( ur train. You could have gone at three o'clock : all we want is to free 
th 3 negroes.' I then asked if my train could now start, and went to 
th 3 guard at the gate, who said, • There is Captain Smith ; he can 
te 1 you what you want to know.' I went to the engine house, and 
th ? guard called Captain Smith. The prisoner at the bar came out, 
a: d I asked him if he was captain of these men. He replied he was. 
I asked him if I could cross the bridge, and he peremptorily re- 
Bj onded, » No, sir.' I then asked him what he meant by stopping my 
tr an. He replied, ♦ Are you the conductor on that train ? ' I told 
hi n I was, and he said, • AVhy, I sent you word at three o'clock that you 
cc aid pass.' I told him that, after being stopped by armed men on the 
bi dge. I would not pass with my train. He replied, ' My head for it, 
y( u will not be hurt ; ' and said he was very sorry. It was not his in- 
te ition that any blood should be spilled ; it was bad management on 
th ; part of the men in charge of the bridge. I then asked him what 
se ;urity I would have that my train would pass safely, and asked him 
if he would walk over the bridge ahead of my train with me. He 
ca led a large, stout man to accompany him, and one of my passen- 
gc s, Mr. McByrne, asked to accompany me ; but Brown ordered him 
to get into the train, or he would take them all prisoners in five min- 
ut ;s ; but it was advice more than in the form of a threat. Brown 
ac ;ompanied me ; both had rifles. As we crossed the bridge, the three 
ar ned men were still in their places. "When we got across. Brown 
m d to me, * You, doubtless, wonder that a man of my age should be 
ht e with a band of armed men ; but if you knew my past history, 
yc 1 would not wonder at it so much.' My train was then through 
th bridge, and I bade him good morning, jumped on my train, and 
le t him," 

He narrated the conversation between Captain Brown 
ai d Governor Wise, when the Liberator was confmed 


314 State Evidence. 

in the guard house at Harper's Ferry, in which he said 
that the prisoner stated, in reply to a question, that he 
thought he had been betrayed to the Secretary of War, 
but had practised a ruse to prevent suspicion ; yet re- 
fused to inform them whom he believed to be the trai- 
tor, or how he had acted to avert the consequences of 
the betrayal. 

John Broion thus alluded to Colonel Forbes and his 
own third visit to Kansas. 

During the examination of this witness, a despatch 
arrived from Cleveland, announcing that Northern 
counsel would arrive in Charlestown that evening ; 
whereupon the Virginia counsel for John Brown, in his 
name, asked that the cross-examination might be post- 
poned till the following morning. It was already late 
in the evening, but the prosecuting attorney resisted 
the request, because : 

"If the cases were not pushed on, the whole balance of the terra 
would not be sufficient to try these men. He thought there was no 
reason for delay, especially as it was unceiiain whether the counsel could 
get here before — to-morrow ! " 

The Court, as usual, ordered the case to proceed. 

Colonel Washington described his arrest, and testified 
that Captain Brown permitted his prisoners to keep in 
a safe position ; that he never spoke rudely or insult- 
ingly to them ; that he allowed them to go out, to quiet 
theii- families, by assuring them of their personal 
safety ; that he heard him direct his men, on several 
occasions, never to fire on an unarmed citizen ; that he 
assured the captives that they should be treated well, 
and none of their property destroyed ; and that he 
overheard a conversation between Stevens and another 

State Evidence. 315" 

person, on Southern Institutions, in the course of which 
tnat Liberator asked, " if he was in favor of slavery ? " 
and, on receiving the reply, that, although a non-slave- 
holder, yet, " as a citizen of the South, he would sus- 
tain the cause," immediately answered, " Then you are 
the first man I would hang ; you deserve it more than 
a man who is a slaveholder and sustains his interests." 
He could not swear whether the marines fired after 
they broke into the engine house ; the noise, he said, 
was great, and several shouted from the inside that 
some one had surrendered among the prisoners . 

Tliis evidence ended the proceedings of the Court on 
Thursday. The ofiicial report closed with this extraor- 
dinary announcement : " Orders have been given to 
the jailers to shoot all the prisoners if an attempt is 
made for their rescue.''^ 

When it is borne in mind that the only offence of 
these prisoners was an effort to fulfil two commands of 
Jesus, " Do unto others as ye would that others should 
do unto you," and " Remember tliose in bonds, as bound 
with them ; " and that, by the laws of every free Com- 
monwealth, the accused man, nntil convicted of a 
3rime, is held to be guiltless, — what a fearful picture 
)f the civilization and Christianity of Virginia does 
,liis barbarous and bloody order hold up to our view ! 

^t l^rvrft bin 


State Evidence Closed. 

THERE was great exultation in Charlestown on Fri 
day, October 28. John E. Cook was brought iu 
as a prisoner, by men who, in a Free State, betrayed 
and seized him, for the price of his blood, previously 
offered by Governor Wise. But until this record of the 
outrage called the trial of John Brown be completed, I 
will not divert the attention of the reader to the fears 
and hopes, the crimes and prayers which were agitating 
the world outside of the Court House and the Jail of 
- Charlestown. 

On Friday morning, Mr. Hoyt, a young Boston law- 
yer, arrived as a volunteer counsel for John Brown ; 
and, although declining to act until he obtained a 
knowledge of the case, was qualified as a member of 
the bar. 

The testimony for the prosecution was resumed. 
Colonel Washington, recalled, stated that he heard 
Captain Brown frequently complain of the bad faith of 
the people by firing on his men when under a flag of 
truce ; " but he heard him make no threat, nor utter any 
vindictiveness against them;'' and that, " during the 


State Evidence Clofed. 317 

day, one of Brown's sons was shot in the breast, the 
ball passing around to the side ; but he took his weapon 
again and fired repeatedly before his sufferings com- 
pelled him to retire." 

Mr. Hunter then laid before the Jury the printed 
Constitution and Ordinance of the Provisional Govern- 
ment, and a large bundle of letters and papers. He 
asked that the Sheriff, who knew the handwriting of 
the prisoner, be brought to identify his handwriting. 

John Brown. I will identify any of my handwriting, 
and save all that trouble. I am ready to face the music. 
I li Mr. Hunter. I prefer to prove them by Mr. Camp- 
'■ jjell. 

John Brown. Either way you please. 
The bundle of letters was then opened ; each was 
identified by Campbell, and then handed to the pris- 
oner, who, in a firm tone, replied, "Yes — that is 
mine," as soon as he recognized his writing. 

Mr. Hunter presented the fonn of Government established by the 

nsurgents, and read a list of the members of the Convention. It is 

leaded, "William Charles Morris, President of the Convention, and 

I. Kagi, Secretary of the Convention." On handing the list to 

'. irown, he exclaimed, with a groan, «• That is my signature." 

Mr. Ball, master machinist of the Armory, one of the prisoners 
I lade by Captain Brown, testified as to his arrest, and stated that he 
' was conducted to Captain Brown, who told me his object was to free 
I t \e slaves, and not the making of war on the people ; that my person 
a id private property would be safe ; that his war was against the 
a cursed system of slavery ; that he had power to do it, and would 
c rry it out ; it was no child's play he had undertaken. He then gave 
n 3 permission to return to my family, to assure them of my safety 
a d get my breakfast ; started back home, and was accompanied by 
t^ o armed men, who stopped at the door ; breakfast not being ready, 
Yi nt back, and was allowed to return home again, under escort, at a 
la er hour ; on returning again, Captain Brown said it was his detcrmi- 
"Oi tion to seize the arras and munitions of the Government, to arm the 
bl vcks to defend themselves against their master*." 


31 8 State Evidence Clofed. 

He tesfified, also, as tb several incrdents hS'fratcd 
in the account of the fight. He added, in his cross- 
examination , that — '^^- ^'^^' 'S V^f^ " • ^^ J ' 

" Brown repeatedly said that he would injure no one but in self- 
defence, and Coppic frequently urged us to seek places of safety ; but 
Brown did not — he appeared to desire us to take care of oursch'es. 
There were three or four slaves in the engine house ; they had spears, 
but all seemed badly scared; Washington Phil was ordered by Brown 
to cut a port-hole through the brick wall ; he continued until a brisk 
fire commenced outside, when he said, ' This is getting too hot for Phil,' 
and he squatted. Brown then took up the tools and finished the 

John Allstadt told how he was brought from his farm 
by a party of men who declared that their object was 
to " free the country from slavery ; " described his 
detention at the engine house, and various incidents of 
the fight there ; said that " the negroes were placed in 
the watch house with spears in their hands, but showed 
no disposition to use them ; that he saw Phil making 
port-holes by the Captain's order, but that the other 
negroes did nothing, and had dropped their weapons — 
some of them being asleep nearly all the time ; that 
John Brown's rifle was always cocked, and that he 
believed, although he would not swear, that it was the 
old man himself who shot the marine. 

Alexander Kelly described the manner of Thomas 
Boerley's death. He was armed with a gun when 
killed. George "W. Turner, also, was killed as he was 
levelling his rifle. 

Albert Grist described his arrest, by a man armed 
with a spear, on Sunday night, and his detention in the 
Armory until he was dismissed by Captain Brown, after 
delivering a message to the conductor of the train. 

State Evidence Clofed. 319 

" Brown," he said, " declared that his object was to free 
the slaves. I told him there were not many there. 
He replied : ' The good Book says we are all free and 
equal.' " 

At the afternoon session of Friday, three additional 
witnesses were produced for the State, but their testi- 
mony presented no new facts ; and Henry Hunter, wlio 
is described as " a very intelligent young gentleman, 
apparently about twenty-two years of age, the son of 
Andrew Hunter, Esq., who conducts the prosecution," 
was examined as to the murder of Thompson. 

Although, technically, the record of the evidence for 
the prosecution should here close, it will be seen, by 
the subsequent proceedings, that, in consequence of the 
intentional negligence of the prisoner's Virginia coun- 
sel, it was not concluded till the adjournment of the 
Court. The defence began on the following day. Yet, 
in this Friday's proceedings, one incident of the conflict 
at Harper's Ferry, as described by a witness first intro- 
duced by the State, is so characteristic of the spirit 
engendered by slavery, — so faithful a mirror of modern 
Southern chivalry, — that it deserves to be reported in 
full, and preserved as a contrast to the conduct of the 


Mr. Green stated to the Court that he desired to bring out testi- 
nony relative to the shooting of Thompson, one of the insurgents, on 
he bridge ; but the State objected to it, unless Brown had a knowledge 
>f that shooting. 

Mr. Hunter said there was a deal of testimony about Brown's for- 
)earance and not shooting citizens, that had no more to do with this 
•ase than the dead languages. If he understood the offer, it was to 
how that one of those men, named Thompson, a prisoner, was de- 

320 State Evidence Clofcd. 

spatched after Beckham's death. The circumstances of the deed might be 
such as he himself might not at all approve. He did not know how 
that might be, but he desired to avoid any investigation that might be 
used. Not that it was so designed by the respectable counsel employed 
in the case, but because he thought the object of the prisoner in get- 
ting at it was for out-door effect and influence. He therefore said if 
the defence could show that this prisoner was aware of these circum- 
stances, and the manner in which that party was killed, and still 
exerted forbearance, he would not object. But unless the knowledge 
of it could be brought home to the prisoner and his after conduct, he 
could not see its relevancy. 

Mr. Green, counsel for defence, contended that they had a right to 
infer that Brown had been made aware of it, as it was already proved 
that communications passed between him and the citizens several times 
after the killing of Thompson. 

Judge Parker decided that the whole transaction of that day con- 
Btituted a part of the res gesta;, and might be inquired into. 

Henry Hunter called, — examined by counsel for defence. 

Q. Did you witness the death of this man Thompson ? 

A. I witnessed the death of one whose name I have been informed 
was Thompson. 

Q. The one who was a prisoner ? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. Well, sir, what were the circumstances attending it ? 

A. Do you wish my own connection with it, or simply a description 
of the circumstances ? Shall I mention the names ? 

Mr. Andreio Hunter. Every bit of it, Henry ; state all you saw. 

Witness. There was a prisoner confined in the parlor of the hotel, 
and after Mr. Beckham's death he was shot down by a number of us 
there belonging to this sharp-shooting band. 

Mr. Andrew Hunter. Will you allow him to state, before proceeding 
further, how he was connected with Mr. Beckham ? 

Mr. Green. Certainly, sir. 

Witness, He was my grand-uncle and my special friend — a man 
I loved above all others. After he was killed, Mr. Chambers and 
myself moved forward to the hotel for the purpose of taking the pris- 
oner out and hanging him ; we were joined by a number of other 
persons, who cheered us on in that work ; we went up into his room, 
where he was bound, with the undoubted and undisguised purpose of 
taking his life ; at the door we were stopped by persons guarding the 
door, who remonstrated with us, and the excitement was so great that 
persons who remonstrated with us at one moment would cheer us on 
the next ; we burst into the room where he was, and found several 

State Evidence Clofed. 321 

around hira, but they offered only a feeble resistance ; we brought our 
guns down to his head repeatedly, — myself and another person, — for 
the purpose of shooting him in the room. 

There was a young lady there, the sister of Mr. Fouke, the hotel 
keeper, who sat in this man's lap, covered his face with her arms, and 
shielded him with her person whenever we brought our guns to bear ; 
she said to us, " For God's sake, wait and let the law take its course ; " 
my associate shouted to kill him ; ••Let us shed his blood," were kis 
words; all round were shouting, ''Mr. Beckham's life was worth ten 
thousand of these vile abolitionists ; " I was cool about it, and delib- 
erate ; my gun was pushed up by some one who seized the barrel, and 
I then moved to the back part of the room, still with purpose un- 
changed, but with a view to divert attention from me, in order to get 
an opportunity, at some moment when the crowd would be less dense, 
to shoot him ; after a moment's thought, it occurred to me that that 
was not the proper place to kill him ; we then proposed to take him 
out and hang him ; some portion of our band then opened a way to 
him, and first pushing Miss Fouke aside, we slung him out of doors ; 
I gave hjm a push, and many others did the same ; we then shoved 
him along the platform and down to the trestle work of the bridge ; 
he begged for his life all the time, very piteously at first. 

By-the-by, before we took him out of the room, I asked the ques- 
tion Avhat he came here for : he said their only purpose was to free 
the slaves or die ; then he begged, '• Don't take my life — a prisoner ; " 
but I put the gun to him, and he said, •' You may kill me, but it will 
be revenged ; there are eighty thousand persons sworn to carry out 
this work ; " that was his last expression ; we bore him out on the 
bridge with the purpose then of hanging him ; we had no rope, and 
none could be found ; it was a moment of wild excitement ; two of 
us raised our guns — which one was first I do not know — and pulled 
the trigger ; before he had reached the ground, I suppose some five 
or six shots had been fired into his body ; he fell on the railroad track, 
his back down to the earth, and his face up ; we then went back for 
the purpose of getting another one, (Stevens;) but he was sick or 
wounded, and persons around him, and I persuaded them myself to 
et him alone ; I said, ''Don't let us operate on him, but go around 
md get some more ; " we did this act with a purpose, thinking it right 
md justifiable under the circumstances, and fired and excited by the 
lowardly, savage manner in which Mr. Beckham's life had been 
aken. .» 

Mr. Andrew Hunter. Is that all, gentlemen ? 
Mr. Botts. Yes, sir. 
Mr. Andrew Jlmtef^, ^Tq ttie witness.). Stand aside. 

322 State Evidence Clofed. 

This sworn statement of a cold-blooded murder, by 
one of the perpetrators of it, elicited not one ivord of 
condemnation from any journal published in the South- 
ern States. 

Wm. M. Williams, the watchman, stated the particulars of his arrest 
and confinement in the watch house. Capt. Brown told the prisoners 
to hide themselves, or they would be shot by the people outside ; he 
said he would not hurt any of them. He told Mr. Grist to tell the 
people to cease firing, or he would burn the town ; but if they didn't 
molest him, he wouldn't molest them ; heard two shots on the bridge 
about the time the express train arrived, but did not see Ilayward 

Capt. Brown. State what was said by myself, and not about his 
being shot. 

Williams. I think you said that if he had taken care of himself, 
he would not have suffered. 

Reason Cross. I prepared a proposition that Brown should retain 
the possession of the Armory, that he should release us, and that the 
firing should stop. 

Capt. Brow7i. Were there two written propositions drawn up while 
you were prisoner ? 

Cross. Yes, there was another paper prepared by Kitzmiller and 
some others. I went out to stop the firing ; a man went with me, 
and they took him prisoner and tied him ; this was Thompson, who 
was afterwards taken out and shot ; Brown's treatment of me was 
kind and respectful ; heard him talk roughly to some men who were 
going in to where the blacks were confined. 

Several witnesses for the defence were then called, 
but none of them answered to their subpoenas. They 
had not been returned. There was no doubt, now, 
that the trial would have been closed at once ; for, 
up to this period, no earnest effort had been made, by 
tlie counsel for the defence, to compel the Court to 
grant a brief delay ; when, unexpectedly, John Brown 
arose from his mattress and addressed the Judge. 

JOHN brown's speech. 
May it Please the Court — I discover that, notwithstanding all the 
assurances I have received of a fair trial, nothing like a fair trial 

State Evidence Clofed. 323 

is to be given me, as it would seem. I gave the names, as soon 
as I could get them, of the persons 1 wished to have called as wit- 
nesses, and was assured that they would be subpoenaed. I wrote 
down a memorandum to that effect, saying where these 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 any thing at all deserving 
the name and shadow of a fair trial, that this proceeding be deferred 
until to-morrow morning ; for I have no counsel, as I have before 
stated, on whom I feel that I can rely ; but I am in hopes counsel 
may arrive who will attend to seeing that I get the witnesses who are 
necessary for my defence. I am myself imable to attend to it. I hav« 
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 any errands, for my money was all taken from me 
when I was sacked 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 any body to do 
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 morning to have something done, if any thing is designed ; 
if not, I am ready for any thing that may come up. 

The old man lay down again, drew his blanket over 
him, closed his eyes, and appeared to sink in tranquil 

This bold speech, with its modest request, (which 
was seconded by Mr. Hoyt, who, we are told, " arose 
amid great sensation," and stated that other counsel 
would arrive to-night,) shamed the unfaithful Virginia 
idvocates into an immediate resignation, and the Court 

nto an adjournment till the following morning. But 

t is due to the reputation of Mr. Hunter to say, that 

le resolutely resisted this action. 
" The town," flashed the telegraph, " is greatly 

•xcited ; the guard has been increased ; the conduct 
■ 'f Brown is regarded as a trick." The very appear- 
i lice of decency alarmed the citizens of Charlestowu ! 


The Defence. 

JOHN BROWN cared little for posthumous fame ; 
but for his reputation, as a help or hiiiderance to 
the cause of the slave, he had a just degree of solici- 
tude. He did not wish to die with the character of a 
robber or a murderer. He desired to show that he 
had shed no blood, committed no violence, done no 
■uncourteous act, uttered no tmkind or vindictive say- 
ing, beyond what the furtherance of his plan demanded 
— above or outside of the absolute necessities of his 
holy scheme and dangerous situation. While freely 
admitting every act that he committed, therefore, and 
having no hope whatever of a verdict of acquital, or of 
a pardon, he sought to prove in Court, by the evidence 
of his enemies, that he had not in any way transcended 
the obligations of his divinely-appointed mission. This 
design, of course, was not acceptable to Virginia ; and 
her loyal sons, therefore, — Messrs. Botts and Green, — 
although they often stated their determination to see 
justice done, took no efficient steps to secure its fulfil- 
ment. This is a copy of the brief directions given to 
them at the commencement of the trial : it is tran- 


The Defence. 325 

scribed from the original, in the old hero's hand- 
writing : 

JOHN brown's directions TO HIS COUNSEL. 

We gave to numerous prisoners perfect liberty. 

Get all their names. 

We allowed numerous other prisoners to visit their families, to quiet 
their fears. 

Get all their names. 

We allowed the conductor to pass his train over the bridge with all 
his passengers, I myself crossing the bridge with him, and assuring all 
the passengers of their perfect safety. 

Get that conductor's name, and the names of the passengers, so far at 
may be. 

We treated all our prisoners with the utmost kindness and humanity. 

Get all their names, so far as may he. 

Our orders, from the first and throughout, were, that no unarmed 
person should be injured, under any circumstances whatever. 

Prove that by all the j)risoners. 

We committed no destruction or waste of property. 

Prove that. 

Tlie Court assembled at ten o'clock on Saturday. 
John Brown was brought in and laid on his pallet. 
Mr. Samuel Chilton, of Washington City, and Mr. 
Henry Griswold, of Ohio, appeared as additional coun- 
sel for the prisoner. 

Mr. Chilton rose and said, that, on his arrival in 
Charlcstown, after finding that the counsel whom he 
had come to assist had retired from the case, he hesi- 
tated about undertaking it ; it was only at the urgent 
solicitation of the prisoner and his friends, that he had 
now consented to do so ; but, not having had time to 
•ead the indictment or the evidence already given, it 
vas impossible for him to discharge the full duty of a 
jounsel. So, also, with Mr. Griswold. A short delay 
—a few hours only — would enable them to make some 


326 The Defence. 

The Court, as usual, refused the request, and re- 
ferred, with some asperity, to the recent speech of the 
plain-spoken prisoner. " This term," said the Judge, 
" will very soon end ; and it is my duty to endeavor to 
get through with all the cases if possible, in justice to 
the prisoners, and in justice to the State. The trial 
must proceed." 

Mr. Hoyt, after objecting to certain papers, (which 
were withdrawn,) and asking certain questions relative 
to the witnesses he had summoned, called on Jolin P. 
Dangerfield, of Harper's Ferry, to testify. From the 
evidence for the defence, it is unnecessary to quote 
more than those passages which refer to the object that 
John Brown had in view, and a few brief incidents of 
the conflict not elsewhere noted : 

John P. Dangerfield. Was a prisoner in the hands of Capt. Brown 
at the engine house. About a dozen black men were there, armed 
with pikes, which they carried most awkwardly and unwillingly. 
During the firing they were lying about asleep, some of them having 
crawled under the engines. From the treatment of Capt. Brown he 
had no personal fear of him or his men during his confinement. Saw 
one of John Brown's sons shot in the engine house ; he fell back, ex- 
claiming, <' It's all up with me," and died in a few moments. Another 
son came in and commenced to vomit blood ; he was %vounded while out 
■with Mr. Kitzmuller, (carrying a flag of truce.) The prisoner frequently 
complained that his men were shot down while carrying a flag of 

Mr. Hunter again tried to arrest the production of 
evidence so disgraceful to the Virginians ; but even 
the barbarous code of his native State did not prevent 
tlie presentation of proof tending to show the absence 
of malice. The witness was allowed to proceed : 

'• Brown promised safety to all descriptions of property except slave 
property. After the first attack Capt. Brown cried out to surrender. 
Saw Brown wounded on the hip by a thrust from a sabre, and several 

The Defence. 


sabre cuts on his head. When the latter wounds were given, Capt. Brown 
appeared to be shielding himself with his head down, hut making no resist- 
ance. The parties outside appeared to be firing as they pleased." 

Major Mills, master of the armory, was next sworn. 

" "Was one of the hostages of Capt. Brown in the engine house. . . . 
Brown's son went out with a flag of truce, and was shot. Heard Brown 
frequently complain that the citizens had acted in a barbarous manner. 
He did not appear to have any malicious feeling. His intentions were 
to shoot nobody unless they were carrying or using arras." 

John Brown here asked whether the witness saw any 
firing on his part that was not purely defensive. 

" Witness. It might be considered in that light, perhaps ; the balls 
came into the engine house pretty thick." 

A conversation here ensued between John Brown, 
lying on his cot, and Mr. Dangerfield, as to the part 
taken by the prisoner in not unnecessarily exposing his 
lostages to danger. The witness generally corrob- 
)rated the Liberator's version of the circumstances at- 
ending the attack on the engine house, but could not 
estify to all the incidents that he enumerated. He 
< lid not hear him say that he surrendered. The wife 
1 nd daughter of the witness were permitted to visit 
1 im unmolested, and free verbal communication was 
t llowed with those outside. " We were treated kindly, 
1 ut were compelled to stay where we didn't want to be " 

Samuel Snidor, the next witness, corroborated the 
e ddence of Mr. Dangerfield ; asserting that the pris- 
ler honestly endeavored to protect his hostages, and 
V ished to make peace more for their sake than his per- 
s mal safety. 

Mr. Hoyt's sudden indisposition caused the Court to 
a Ijourn for an hour. 

At two o'clock in the afternoon, the testimony was 

328 The Defence. 

resumed, and the examination conducted l>y Mr. 

Captain Simms, commander of the Frederick Yol- 
iKQteers, was the first witness. 

«• Brown complained," he said, " that his men were shot down like 
dogs while bearing a flag of truce. I told him that they must expect 
to be shot down like dogs, if they took up arms in that way." 

What an appalling declaration for an American cit- 
izen to make — that men who interfere in behalf of 
the heavily oppressed, the despised poor, for whom 
Jesus suffered on the Cross of Calvary, but whom Vir- 
ginia converts into mere articles of merchandise, 
" must expect " — in a country which boasts of its 
freedom and devotion to human rights — "to be shot 
down like dogs " ! How horriljle, and how horribly 

" 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 
said he 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 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 had been wounded [wftile carrying a 
flag of truce] , and shamed some young men who were endeavoring to shoot 
him, as he lay in his bed, apparently dying. . . . He had no sympathy 
for the acts of the prisoner, but he regarded him as a brave m£wi." 

Two other witnesses corroborated these evidences of 
tne old hero's courage and humanity, and of the cow 
ardly barbarity of the Virginians. The defence here 
rested their case. 

lawyers' tongue-fencing. 

Whereupon, the lawyers began their preliminary 

The Defence. 329 

duties — to submit various motions and make objec- 
tions thereto. For such as admire this description of 
debate, I submit the official report of it. 


Mr. Chilton, for the prisoner, rose and submitted a motion that the 
prosecution in this case be compelled to elect one count of the indict- 
ment and abandon the others. The indictment consists of four counts, 
and is indorsed thus : ' An indictment for treason, and advising and 
conspiring with slaves and others to rebel.* The charge of treason is 
in the first, and the second count alleges a charge different from that 
which is indorsed on the back of the indictment, and which is upon 
record. The second count is under the following statute: "If a free 
person advise or conspire with a slave to rebel or make an insurrec- 
tion, he shall be punished with death, whether such rebellion or insur- 
rection be made or not." But the second count of the indictment is, 
that these parties, who are charged by the indictment, " conspired, 
together with other persons, to induce certain slaves, the property of 
of Messrs. AUstadt and Washington, to make rebellion and insurrec- 
tion." There is a broad distinction between advising and conspiring 
with slaves to rebel, and conspiring with others to induce slaves to 
rebel. Whether he was to avail himself of their irregularity by 
instruction from the Court to the Jury to disregard this second count 
entirely, or whether it would be proper to wait until the conclusion of 
the trial, and then move an arrest of judgment, he left his Honor to 
decide. He proceeded to argue the motion that the prosecution be 
compelled to elect one count and abandon the others, quoting Archi- 
bald's Criminal Pleading in support of his view. He further alluded 
to the hardship which rests upon the prisoner to meet various and dis- 
tinct charges in the same trial. From the authority he read, it would 
be seen that in a case of treason, different descriptions of treason could 
not be united in the same indictment : high treason could not be asso- 
ciated with other treason. If an inferior grade of the same character 
could not be ihcluded in separate counts, still less can offences of 
higher grade. Treason in this country is high treason. Treason 
agamst the State of Virginia is treason against her sovereignty. We 
have no other description of treason, because treason can only be com- 
mitted against sovereignty, whether that of the United States or of a 
sovereign State. 


Mr. Harding could not see the force of the objection made by the 
learned counsel on the other side. In regard to separate offences 


330 The Defence. 

being charged, these were but different parts of the same ^ansackon. 
Treason against the Government is properly made the subject of one 
of the counts. But we also have a count of murder, for it can hardly 
be supposed that treason can exist without being followed or accom- 
panied by murder. Murder arose out of this treason, and was the 
natural result of this bloody conspiracy ; yet, after all the evidence has 
been given on all these points, the objection is made that we must 
confine ourselves to a single one of them. He hoped that no such 
motion would be granted. 

Mr. Hunter, in reply to the argument of Mr. Chilton, said that the 
discretion of the Court compelling the prosecution to elect on one 
count in the indictment, is only exercised where great embarrassment 
would otherwise result to the prisoner. As applied to this particular 
case, it involved this point, that notwithstanding the transaction, as 
has been disclosed by the evidence, be one tiansaction, a continued, 
closely-connected series of acts, which, according to our apprehension 
of the law of the land, involves the three great offences of treason, 
conspiring with and advising slaves to make insurrection, and the per- 
petration of murder ; whether, in a case of this character, it is right 
and proper for the Court to put the prosecution upon their election, tut 
to one of the three, and bar us from investigation of the two others, 
although they relate to facts involved in one grand fact. Notwith- 
standing the multiplicity of duties devolving upon the prosecutor and 
assistant prosecutors, yet we have found time to be guarded and care- 
ful in regard to the mode of framing the indictment. It is my work, 
and I propose to defend it as right and proper. He then proceeded to 
quote Chitty's Criminal Law and Robinson's Practice, to prove that 
the discretion of the Court there spoken of, in reference to the further- 
ing of the great object in view, was the attainment of justice. Where 
the prisoner is not embarrassed in making his defence, this discretion 
is not to be exercised by the Court, and no case can be shown where 
the whole ground of the indictment referred to one and the same trans- 
action. This very case in point would show the absurdity of the prin- 
ciple, if it were as broad as contended for by his learned friend. As 
to the other point of objection, it was too refined and subtle for his 
poor intellect. 

Mr. Chilton responded. In order to ascertain what a party is tried 
for, we must go to the finding of the Grand Jury. If the Grand Jury 
return an indictment charging the party with murder, finding a true 
bill for that, and he should be indicted for manslaughter, or any other 
offence, the Court would not have jurisdiction to try him on that 
•ount in the indictment. And the whole question turns on the con- 

The Defence. 331 

Btruction of the section of the statute which has been read, viz., whether 
or not advising or conspiring with slaves to rebel is a separate and dis- 
tinct offence from conspiring with other persons to induce it. 

The Court said that the difference might perhaps be taken advantage 
df to move an arrest of judgment; but the Jury had been charged and 
had been sworn to try the prisoners on the indictment as drawn. The 
trial must go on, and counsel could afterwards move an arrest of judg- 
ment. As to the other objection, the Coiirt made this answer : The 
very fact that the offence can be charged in different counts, varying the 
language and circumstances, is based upon the idea that distinct 
offences may be charged in the same indictment. The prisoners are to 
be tried on the various counts as if they were various circumstances. 
There is no legal objection against charging various crimes in the same 
indictment. The practice has been to put a party upon election where 
the prisoner would be embarrassed in his defence ; but that is not the 
law. In this case, these offences charged are all part of the same trans- 
action, and no case is made out for the Court to interfere and put the 
parties upon an election. 


Mr. Chilton said he would reserve the motion as a basis for a motion 
in arrest of judgment. 
• Mr. Griswold remarked that the position of all the present counsel 
of the prisoner was one of very great embarrassment. They had no 
disposition to interfere with the course of practice, but it v. as the 
desire of the defendant that the case should be argued. He supposed 
that counsel could obtain sufficient knowledge of the evidence pre- 
viously taken by reading notes of it. But it was now nearly dark. 
If it was to be argued at all, he supposed the argument for the Com- 
monwealth would probably occupy the attention of the Court until 
the usual time for adjournment, unless it was the intention to continue 
with a late evening session. From what had heretofore transpired, he 
felt a delicacy in making any request of the Court ; but knowing that 
ie case was now ended except for mere argument, he did not know 
,hat it would be asking too much for the Court to adjourn after the 
)pening argument on behalf of the prosecution. 

Mr. Hunter said that he would cheerfully bear testimony to the unex- 
ceptionable manner in which the counsel who had just taken his seat 
lad conducted the examination of witnesses to-day. It would afford 
lim very great pleasure, in all ordinary cases, to agree to the indulgence 
•f such a request as the gentleman had just made, and which was en- 
irely natural. But he -fi^,^ bound Jo remember, and respectfully 

332 The Defence. 

remind the Court, that this state of things, which places counsel L\ a 
somewhat embarrassing position in conducting the defence, is purely 
and entirely the act of the prisoner. His counsel will not be respon- 
sible for it ; the Court is not responsible for it ; but the unfortunate 
prisoner is responsible for his own act in dismissing his faithful, skilful, 
able, and zealous counsel on yesterday afternoon. He would simply say 
that not only were the jurors kept away from their families by their 
delays, but there could not be a female in this county, who, whether with 
good cause or not, was not trembling with anxiety and apprehe^ision. 
While their courtesy to the counsel and humanity to the prisoner 
should have due weight, yet the Commonwealth has its rights, the 
community has its rights, the Jury have their rights, and it was for his 
Honor to weigh these in opposite scales, and determine whether we 
should not go on and bring this case to a close to-night. We had 
until twelve o'clock to do it in. 


Mr. Chilton said their client desired that they should argue his case. 
It was impossible for him to do so now, and he could not allow him- 
self to make an attempt at argument on a case about which he knew 
so little. If he were to get up at all, it would be for the unworthy 
purpose of wasting time. He had no such design ; but having under- 
taken this man's cause, he very much desired to comply with his 
wishes. He W'Ould be the last man in the world to subject the jurors 
to inconvenience unnecessarily ; but although the prisoner may have 
been to blame, may have acted foolishly, and may have had an 
improper purpose in so doing, still he could not see that he should 
therefore be forced to have his case submitted without argument. In 
a trial for life and death, we should not be too precipitate. 

The Court here consulted with the jurors, who expressed themselves 
very anxious to get home. 

His Honor said he was desirous of trying this case precisely as he 
would try another, without any reference at all to outside feeling. 

Mr. Hoyt remarked that he was physically incapable of speaking to- 
night, even if fully prepared. He had worked very hard last night to 
get the law points, until he fell unconscious from exhaustion and 
fatigue. For the last five days and nights he had only slept ten hours, 
and it seemed to him that justice to the person demanded the allow- 
ance of a little time in a case so extraordinary in all its aspects as 

The Court suggested that we might have the opening argument for 
the prosecution to-night, at any rate. 

Mr. Harding would not like to open the argument now, unless the 
case was to be finished to-night. He was willing, however, to submit 

The Defence. 


tne case to the jury without a single word, believing they would do the 
prisoner Justice. The prosecution had been met not only on the thresh- 
old, but at every step, with obstructions to the progress of the case. 
If thp case was not to be closed to-night, he would like to ask the same 
indulgence given to the other side, that he might collate the notes of 
the evidence he had taken. 

The Court inquired what length of time the defence would require 
for argument on Monday morning. He could then decide whether to 
grant the request or not. 

After consultation, Mr. Chilton stated that there would be only two 
speeches by himself and Mr. Griswold, not occupying more than two 
hours and a half in all. 

Mr. Hunter again entered an earnest protest against delay. 

The Court then ordered the prosecution to proceed. 
Mr. Hunter spoke forty minutes, and ridiculed as ab- 
surd the expectation of the prisoner — that he should 
have been dealt with by the rules of honorable war- 
fare ! 

The Court then adjourned till Monday ; and the 
brave old man, satisfied that his motives were now 
correctly understood, and that no injury to the Cause 
would ensue from his heroic unsuccess, was carried 
back on the pallet to his cell in the Drison. He re- 
turned there a conqueror. 

•P'»_> s^ffS. - 



Lawyers' Pleas. 

THE Court reassembled early on Monday morning, 
October 31. John Brown was brought from prison 
between files of armed men, as the practice was, and laid 
down on bis bed within the bar. " He looked better," 
we are told, " than on the previous day ; his health is 
evidently improving, and he seemed to be at the most 
perfect ease of mind." The Court room and every 
approach to it were densely crowded. 

From the opening of the Court until the afternoon 
session, the counsel for the defence — Messrs. Griswold 
and Chilton — and for the prosecution — Messrs. Hun- 
ter and Harding — occupied the attention of the jury 
in arguing for and against the prisoner. I do not in- 
tend to pollute my pages with any sketch of the law- 
yers' pleas. They were able, without doubt, and eru- 
dite, and ingenious ; but they were founded, neverthe- 
less, on an atrocious assumption. For they assumed 
(as all lawyers' speeches must) that the statutes of the 
State were just ; and, therefore, if the prisoner should 
be proven guilty of offending against them, that it was 
right tha. he should suffer the penalty they inflict. 
This doctrine every Christian heart must scorn ; John 


Lawyers' Pleas. 335 

Brown, at least, despised it ; and so also, to be faithful 
to his memory, and my own instincts, must I. Mr. 
Griswold proved conclusively that, even according to 
the laws of Virginia, John Brown had not been guilty 
either of treason, of inciting to insurrection, or of 
murder with malice prepense ; although, undoubtedly, 
he had committed other offences against the peace and 
dignity of that ancient Commonwealth. In any civil- 
ized State — in Europe, England, or our North — 
these facts would have resulted in the acquittal of the 
prisoner ; for, although a person may be proven guilty 
of murder, if he be arraigned for theft, that indictment 
— in every free country — must at once be abandoned. 
Mr. Chilton's speech is unworthy of further notice than 
that it began in falsehood and ended in cant. Two 
quotations will sustain my statement : 

" He desired, and the whole State desired, and the whole South 
lesired, that the trial shoiild be fair : and it had been fair / . . . . 
le charged the jury to look on this case, as far as the law would 
.How, with an eye favorable to the prisoner, and when their verdict 
; hould be returned — no matter what it might be — he trusted that 
1 very man in the country would acquiesce in it. Unless the majesty of 
1 he law were supported, dissolution of the Union must soon ensue, 
' ath all the evils that must necessarily follow in its train." 

Mr. Hunter was true to his barbaric instincts to the 
1 ist ; eulogizing Wise to begin with, filling up his 
s oeech with tlie infamous maxims of iniquitous laws, 
£ ad closing it with anathemas on godly John Brown. 
1'he peroration of his speech is noteworthy from its 
8 adacity of assertion : 

"We therefore ask his conviction to vindicate the majesty of the 
li w. While we have patiently borne delays, as well here as outside 
ii the community, in preservation of the character of Virginia, that 

336 Lawyers' Pleas. 

plumes itself on its moral character, as well as physical, and on its loyaL'^ 
and its devotion to truth and right, we ask you to discard any thing else, 
and render your verdict as you are sworn to do. . , . Justice is 
the centre upon which Deity sits. There is another column which 
represents its mercy. You have nothing to do with that." 

Mr. Hunter closed his speech at half past one 

" During most of the arguments to-day, Brown lay on his back, 
witlj his eyes closed. 

•' Mr. Chilton asked the Court to instruct the Jury, if they believed 
the prisoner was not a citizen of Virginia, but of another State, they 
cannot cQuvicl on a count of treason. 

" The Court declined, saying the Constitution did not give rights 
and immunities alone, but also imposed responsibilities. 

•'Mr. ChUton asked another instruction, that the Jury must be sat- 
isfied that the place where the offence was committed was within ths 
boundaries of Jefferson County, which the Court granted." 

The Jury then retired to consider their verdict, and 
the Court adjourned for half an hour. 


Thus far, for our record of the trial, we have been 
obliged to rely on pro-slavery authority. It was not 
till the following day that a truthful and impartial re- 
porter succeeded in eluding the cowardly and inquisi- 
torial vigilance of the Virginians, who, in their anxiety 
to prevent a fair trial or a true report, excluded all 
Northern men from their City — as had been done, a 
thousand times before, in each of the despotic Com- 
monwealths south of the Potomac, by men who are 
ever, and in various ways, committing daily violence on 
the Federal Constitution, and accusing, in the same 
breath, the Northern men who submit to these infrac- 
tions as guilty of assailing the rights of the South. 

Thus far, then, they have been convicted out of their 

.w ^ 

Lawyers' Pleas. 337 

f wn months ; and, in order to complete their self-con- 
c emnation, I will conclude this report with ,an extract 
t L'om one of their own journals : 

After an absence of three quarters of an hour, the Jury returned 
i) ito Court with a verdict. At this moment the crowd filled all the 
s )ace from the couch inside the bar, around the prisoner, beyond the 
r iLling in the body of the Court, out through the wide hall, and be- 
y )nd the doors. There stood the anxious but perfectly silent and 
a tentivc populace, stretching head and neck to witness the closing 
s ene of Old Brown's trial. It was terrible to look upon such a 
c owd of human faces, moved and agitated with but one dreadful cx- 
p ictancy — to let the eyes rest for a moment upon the only calm and 
u iruflied countenance there, and to think that he alone of all present 

V as the doomed one, above whose head hung the sword of fate. But 
t] ere he stood, a man of indomitable will and iron nerve, all collected 
a id unmoved, even while the verdict that consigned him to an igno- 
n inious doom was pronounced upon him. After recapitulating his 
o Fences set forth in the indictment, the Clerk of the Court said : 

Gentlemen of the Jury, what say you ? Is the prisoner at the bar, 
J ihn Brown, guilty, or not guilty ? 

Foreman, Guilty. 

Clerk. Guilty of treason, and conspiring and advising with slaves 
a; id others to rebel, and murder in the first degree ? 

Forema?i. Yes. 

Not the slightest sound was heard in the vast crowd as this verdict 

V is tlius returned and read. Not the slightest expression of elatien 
o triumph was uttered from the hundreds present, who, a moment 
b fore, outside the Court, joined in heaping tlireats and imprecations on 
h s head ; nor was this strange silence interrupted during the whole 
o the time occupied by the forms of the Court. Old Brown himself 
Si Id not even a word, but, as on any previous day, turned to adjust 
h i pallet, and then composedly stretched himself upon it. 

Mr. Chilton moved an arrest of judgment, both on account of errors 
ii tlie indictment and errors in the verdict. The objection in regard 
t( the indictment has already been stated. The prisoner has been 
ti ed for an offence not appearing on the record of the Grand Jury. 
T le verdict was not on each count separately, but was a general ver- 
d 3t on the whole indictment. 

Counsel on both sides being too much exhausted to go on, the mo- 
ti )n was ordered to stand over till to-morrow, and Brown was again 
r moved unsentenced to prison. 

" There he stood ! " Alas ! for the honor of tho 

^^ Lawyers' Pleas, 

Union, whom Virginia thus disgraced in the eyes of 
the world,' the brave old man was too feeble to stand. 
" He sat up in his bed when the Jury entered," writes 
another and more vindictive Virginia journalist, "and, 
after listening to the rendition of the verdict, lay down 
very composedly, without saying a word." The writer 
adds, intending thereby to eulogize the Virginians, 
" There was no demonstration of any kind whatever." 
Thus thoroughly does Slavery corrupt the heart, that 
the spectacle of an heroic old man, feeble from the loss 
of blood poured out in behalf of God's despised poor, 
unable to stand imsupported on his feet, and yet con- 
demned to die on the scaffold, shocked no one South- 
ern conscience — excited "no demonstration of any 
kind whatever." 


s«'' Condemned to Die. 

ri'^HE first of November was devoted to the trial of 
JL Coppoc, which was continued on the following day. 
No witnesses were called for the defence. Mr. Hard- 
ing for the State, and Messrs. Hoyt and Griswold for 
the defence, followed by Mr. Hunter, who closed for the 
prosecution, addressed the jury, who presently retired 
to appear to consider their pre-determined verdict — of 

" During the absence of the Jury in Coppoc's case," 
says an eye witness, " in order that no time should be 
wasted, John Brown was brought in from jail to be sen- 
tenced. He walked with considerable difficulty, and 
every movement appeared to be attended with pain, 
although his features gave no expression of it. It was 
late, and tlie gaslights gave an almost deathly pallor to 
his face. He seated himself near his counsel, and< 
after once resting his head upon his right hand, re- 
mained entirely motionless, and for a time appeared 
unconscious of all that passed around — especially un- 
conscious of the execrations audibly whispered by spec- 
tators : ' D — d black-hearted villain ! heart as black 


340 Condemned to Die. 

as a stove-pipe"! ' and many STich. While the Judge 
read his decision on the points of exception which had 
been submitted, Brown sat very firm, with lips tightly 
compressed, but with no appearance of affectation of 
sternness. He was like a blo_ck of stone. "When the 
clerk directed him to stand and say why sentence 
should not be passed upon him, he rose and leaned 
slightly forward, his hands resting on the table. He 
spoke timidly — hesitatingly, indeed — and in a voice 
singularly gentle and mild. But his sentences came 
confused from his mouth, and he seemed to be wholly 
unprepared to speak at this time.* Types can give no 
intimation of the soft and tender tones, yet calm and 
manly withal, that filled the Court room, and, I think, 
touched the hearts of many who had come only to re- 
joice at the heaviest blow their victim was to suffer." 
This is what he said : 

JOHN brown's last SPEECH. 

"I have, may it please the Court, a few words 
to say. 

" In the first place, I deny every thing but what I 
have all along admitted — the design on my part to free 
the slaves. I intended certainly to have made a clear 
thing of that matter, as I did last winter, when I went 
into Missouri, and there took slaves without the sna^n 
ping of a gun on either side, moved them through tlio 
country, and finally left them in Canada. I designed 
to have done the same thing again, on a larger scale. 
That was all I intended. I never did intend murder, 

* It was expected that all the prisoners would he condemned and executed on the 
taine day. Uence, John Brown was taken by surprise. 

Condemned to Die. 341 

or treason, or the destruction 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 interfered in be- 
half 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 punishment. 

" This Court acknowledges, as I suppose, the validity 
of the Law of God. I see a book kissed here which 1 
suppose to be the Bible, or, at least, the New Testa- 
ment. That teaches me that all things ' whatsoever I 
would that men should do unto 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 understand that God is any respecter of per- 
sons. I believe that to have interfered as I have done, 
as I have always freely admitted 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 futherance 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 whoso 

342 Condemned to Die. 

rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and iiiiJTist 
enactments — I submit : so let it be done. 

" Let rae say one word further. 

" I feel entirely satisfied with the treatment I hav^o 
received on my trial. Considering all the circum- 
stances, 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 encouraged any man to do so, but always dis- 
couraged any idea of that kind. 

" Let me say, also, a word in regard to the state- 
ments made by some of those connected with me. I 
hear it has been stated by some of them that I have in- 
duced them to join me. But the contrary is true. I 
do not say this to injure them, but as regretting their 
weakness. There is not one of them but joined me of 
his own accord, and the greater part at their own ex- 
pense. 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 I have done." 

Perfect quiet prevailed while this speech was de- 
livered ; and, when he finished, the Judge proceeded 
to pass sentence on him. After a few preliminary re- 
marks, he stated that no doubt could exist of the guilt 
of the prisoner, and sentenced him to be hanged by the 
neck till he was dead, on Friday, the 2d day of De- 
cember. " At the announcement," said a spectator, 

Condemned to Die. 343 

" that, for the sake of example, the execution would be 
more than usually public, one indecent fellow, behind 
the Judge's chair, shouted and clapped hands jubi- 
lantly ; but he was indignantly checked, and in a man- 
ner that induced him to believe that he would do best 
to retire. It is a question, nevertheless, if the general 
sentiment were not fairly expressed by this action. 
John Brown was soon after led away again to his place 
of confinement." 

Was ever such a speech delivered in America — so 
fearless, yet so gentle ; so manly, modest, wise, God's- 
heart-imbued ? 



The Conquering Pen. 

FROM the date of his incareeratiou in the jail of 
Charlestown, till the day of his execution^ John 
Brown wrote a number of eminently characteristic let- 
ters to his friends in different parts of the country. 
Such of them as we have been able to obtain, are 
herewith subjoined : 

• Chaklestotvn, Jefferson Co., Oct. 22, 1859. 
To THE Hon. Judge Tilden. 

Dear Sir: I am here a prisoner, with several sabre cuts in my 
head, and bayonet stabs in my body. My object in writing is to ob- 
tain able and faithful counsel for myself and fellow-prisoners, five in 
all, as we have the faith of Virginia pledged through her governor, 
and numerous prominent citizens, to give us a fair trial. Without 
we can obtain such counsel from without the slave states, neither the 
facts in our case can come before the world, nor can we have the ben- 
efit of such facts as might be considered mitigating, in the view of 
others, upon our trial. I have money on hand here to the amount of 
two hundred and fifty dollars, and personal property sufficient to pay 
a most liberal fee to yourself, or any able man who will undertake our 
defence, if I can be allowed the benefit of said property. Can you, or 
some other good man, come on immediately, for the sake of the young 
men prisoners at least ? My wounds are doing well. 
Do not send an ultra abolitionist. 

Very respectfully yours, 

John Brown. 
P. S. The trial is set for Wednesday next, the 26th instant. 

J. W. Campbell, Sheriff Jeffersoti Oo. 

The Conquering Pen. . 345 

A noble lady, a worthy friend of John Brown, when 
the news of his " failure " and imprisonment reached 
Boston, determined to go on to Virginia to nurse him ; 
but, prostrated by the shock tnus given to her nervous 
system, she was prevented, by physical incapacity, from 
carrying out the generous and heroic impulse. On 
suggesting the execution of this design to her distin- 
guished relative, Mrs. Child, that lady at once sent a 
-letter to Captain Brown, forwarding it with a note to 
Governor Wise, in which she asked permission to go 
on to Charlestown and nurse the old hero. 


Wayland, Mass., Oct. 26, 1869. 

Dear Captain Brown: Though personally unknown to you, you 
will recognize in my name an earnest friend of Kansas, when circum- 
stances made that territory the battle ground between the antagonis- 
tic principles of slavery and freedom, which politicians so vainly 
strive to reconcile in the government of the United States. 

Believing in peace principles, I cannot sympathize with the method 
you chose to advance the cause of freedom ; but I honor your gener- 
ous intentions; I admire your courage, moral and physical; I rev- 
erence you for the humanity which tempered your zeal ; I sympathize 
with you in your cruel bereavement, your sufferings, and your 
wrongs. In brief, I love you and bless you. 

Thousands of hearts are throbbing with sympathy as warm as mine. 
I think of you night and day, bleeding in prison, surrounded by hos- 
tile faces, sustained only by trust in God and your own strong heart. 
I long to nurse you — to speak to you sisterlj- words of sympathy and 
consolation. I have asked the permission of Governor Wise to do so. 
If the request is not granted, I cherish the hope that these few words 
may at least reach your hands, and afford you some little solace. 
May you be strengthened by the conviction that no honest man ever 
sheds blood for freedom in vain, however much he may be mistaken in 
his efforts. May God sustain you, and carry you through whatsoever 
may be in store for you. Yours, with heartfelt respect, sympathy, 
and affection. L. Maria Child. 

Governor Wise's answer to Mrs. Child's request was 
respectful, but crafty and characteristic. He would 

34^ The Conquering Pen. 

forward the letter, he said, to the Commonwealth's 
Attorney, " with the request that he will ask the per- 
mission of the Court to hand it to the prisoner." After 
asserting that Virginia and Massachusetts were not 
involved in a civil war ; that the Federal Constitution 
gave to citizens of Massachusetts going to Virginia the 
immunities of a citizen of the United States ; that, 
coming to minister to the captive in prison — a mis- 
sion merciful and humane — she had the right to visit 
Charlestown, and would "not only be allowed, but 
be respected, if not Avelcomed," the politician added, 
that " a few unenlightened and inconsiderate persons, 
fanatical in their modes of thought and action to main- 
tain justice and riffht, might molest you, or be disposed 
to do so, and this might suggest the imprudence of 
risking any experiment upon the peace of a society 
very much excited by the crimes with whose chief 
author you seem to sympathize so much." Declaring 
the readiness of Virginia to protect Mrs. Child against 
the fury of the populace, the next sentence of the let 
ter was worthy of Mark Antony : " I could not permit 
an insult, even to woman in her walk of charity among 
us, thoug-h it be to one vjho whetted knives of butchery 
for our mothers, sisters, daughters, and babes. . . . 
His attempt was the natural consequence of your sym- 
pathy." He concluded by announcing that whether 
the lady should see him or not, when she should ar- 
rive in Charlestown, would be for the Court and its 
officers to say. The Executive, he intimates, and the 
Judiciary are separate branches of the Government ; a 
statement that the first attempt to try Stevens will 

The Conquering Pen. 347 

The gilded threat of this letter caused Mrs. Child 
to delay her departure until she should hear from the 
old hero himself. When his letter came, it prevented 
her journey. 

JOHN brown's letter TO MRS. CHILD. 

[No date.] 
Mrs. L. Maria Child. 

My dear Friend : (such you prove to be, though a stranger :) 
Your most kmd letter has reached me, with the kind offer to come 
here and take care of me. Allow me to express my gratitude for 
your great sympathy, and at the same time to propose to you a differ- 
ent course, together with my reasons for wishing it. I should cer- 
tainly be greatly pleased to become personally acquainted with one so 
gifted and so kind ; but I cannot avoid seeing some objections to it, 
under present circumstances. First, I am in charge of a most humane 
gentleman, who, with his family, have rendered me every possible 
attention I have desired, or that could be of the least advantage ; and 
I am so far recovered from my wounds as no longer to require nurs- 
ing. Then, again, it would subject you to great personal inconven- 
ience and heavy expense, without doing me any good. 

Allow me to name to you another channel through which you may 
reach me with your sympathies much more effectually. I have at 
home a wife and three young daughters — the youngest but little over 
five years old, the oldest nearly sixteen. I have also two daughters- 
in-law, whose husbands have both fallen near me here. There is also 
another widow, Mrs. Thompson, whose husband fell here. Whether 
she is a mother or not I cannot say. All these, my wife included, 
live at North Elba, Essex County, New York. I have a middle-aged 
son, who has been, in some degree, a cripple from his childhood, who 
would have as much as he could well do to earn a living. He was a 
most dreadful sufferer in Kansas, and lost all he had laid up. He has 
not enough to clothe himself for the winter comfortably. I have no 
living son, or son-in-law, who did not suffer terribly in Kansas. 

Now, dear friend, would you not as soon contribute fifty cents 
now, and a like sum yearly, for the relief of those very poor and 
deeply afflicted persons, to enable them to supply themselves and 
their children with bread and very plain clothing, and to enable the 
children to receive a common English education ? Will you also 
devote your own energies to induce others to join in giving a like 
amount, or any other amount, to constituta a littla fund for the pur- 
pose named i 

348 The Conquering Peri. 

I cannot see how your coming here can do me the least gooc" , and 
I am quite certain you can do me immense good where you are. I 
am quite cheerful under all my afflicting circumstances and prospects ; 
having, as I humbly trust, •' the peace of God, which passeth all 
understanding," to rule in my heart. You may make such use of this 
as you see fit. God Almighty bless and reward you a thousand fold. 
Yours, in sincerity and truth, John Beown. 


Newport, R. I., Tenth Month, 27th, 1859. 
Cai't. John Bbown. 

Dear Friend : Since thy arrest, I have often thought of thee, and 
have wished that, like Elizabeth Fry towards her prison friends, so I 
might console thee in thy confinement. But that can never be, and so 
I can only write thee a few lines, which, if they contain any comfort, 
may come to thee like some little ray of light. You can never know 
how very many dear friends love thee with all their hearts, for thy 
brave efforts in behalf of the poor oppressed ; and though we, who 
are non-resistants, and religiously believe it better to reform by moral, 
and not by carnal, weapons, could not approve of bloodshed, yet we 
know thee was animated by the most generous and philanthropic 
motives. Very many thousands openly approve thy intentions, though 
most friends would not think it right to take up arms. Thousands 
pray for thee every day; and, O, I do pray that God will be with thy 
soul. Posterity will do thee justice. K Moses led out the thousands 
of Jewish slaves from their bondage, and God destroyed the Egyptians 
in the sea because they went after the Israelites to bring them back to 
slavery, then, surely, by the same reasoning, we may judge thee a 
deliverer who wished to release millions from a more cruel oppres- 
sion. K the American people honor Washington for resisting with 
_.loodshed for seven years an unjust tax, how much more ought thou 
to be honored for seeking to firee the poor slaves ! 0, I wish I could 
plead for thee, as some of the other sex can plead ; how I would seek 
to defend thee ! If I had now the eloquence of Portia ; how I would 
turn the scale in thy favor ! But I can only pray, " God bless thee ! " 
God pardon thee, and, through our Redeemer, give thee safety and 
happiness now and always. From thy friend, E. B. 

JOHN brown's reply. 

Charlestown, Jefferson Co., Va., November 1, 1859. 
My dear Friend, E. B. of R. I. : Your most cheering letter of 
27th of October is received, and may the Lord reward you a thousand 
fold for the kind feeling you express towards me ; but more especially 

The Conquering Pen. 349 

for your fidelity to the " poor that cry, and those that have no help." 
For this I am a prisoner in bonds. It is solely my own fault, in a 
military point of view,* that we met with oirr disaster — I mean that I 
mingled with our prisoners, and so far sjnnpathized with them and 
their families, that I neglected my duty iti other respects. But God's 
will, not mine, be done. 

You know that Christ once armed Peter. So also in my case ; I 
think he put a sword into my hand, and there continued it, so long as 
ho saw best, and then kindly took it from me. I mean when I first 
went to Kansas. I wish you could know with what cheerfulness I am 
now wielding the " sword of the Spirit" on the right hand and on the 
left. I bless God that it proves "mighty to the pulling down of 
strongholds." I always loved my Quaker friends, and I commend to 
:heir kind regard my poor, bereaved, widowed wife, and my daughters 
ind daughters-in-law, whose husbands fell at my side. One is a 
nother, and the other likely to become so soon. They, as well as my 
)wn sorrow-stricken daughter, are left very poor, and have much 
plater need of sympathy than I, who, through Infinite Grace and the 
dndncss of strangers, am "joyful in all my tribulations." 

Dear sister, w.'ite them at North Elba, Essex Co., N. Y., to comfort 
heir sad hearts. Direct to ilary A. Brown, wife of John Brown. 
' There is also another, a widow, wife of Thompson, who fell with my 
loor boys in the affair at Harper's Ferry, at the same place. 

I do not foci conscious of guilt in taking up arms ; and had it been 
: 11 behalf of the rich and powerful, the intelligent, the great, — as 
: iien count greatness, — of those who form enactments to suit them- 
■ elves and corrupt others, or some of their friends, that I interfered, 
I ufFered, sacrificed, and fell, it would have been doing very well. But 
( nough of this. 

These light afflictions, which endure for a moment, shall work out 
] )r me a far tnore exceeding and eternal u-eight of glory. I would be 
' ery grateful for another letter from you. My wounds are healing. 
. 'aretoelL God will surely attend to his own cause in the best possible 
' ay and time, and he will not forget the work of his own hands. 

Your friend, Johx Bkown. 

Charlestown, Jefferson Co., Va., 8th Nov., 1869. 
Dear Wife and Children — Every One : I will begin by saying that 
1 have in some degree recovered from my wounds, but that I am qtiite 
- eak in my back, and sore about my left kidney. My appetite has 
1 cen quite good for most of the time since I was hurt. I am supplied 
" ith almost every tiling I could desire to make me comfortable, and 


350 The Conquering Pen. 

the little I do lack (some articles of clothing, which I lost) I may 
perliaps soon get again. I am, besides, quite cheerful, having (as I 
trust") the peace of God, which "passeth all understanding," to "rule 
in my heart," and the testimony (in some degree) of a good conscience 
that I have not lived altogether in vain. I can trust God vith both 
the time and the manner of my death, believing, as I now dc-, that for 
me at this time to seal my testimony (for God and humanity) with my 
blood, will do vastly more towards advancing the cause I have ear- 
nestly endeavored to promote, than all I have done in my life before. 
I beg of you all meekly and quietly to submit to this ; not feeling 
yourselves in the least degraded on that account. Remember, dear 
wife and children all, that Jesus of Nazareth suffered a most excru- 
ciating death on the cross as a felon, under the most aggravating 
circumstances. Think, also, of the prophets, and apostles, and Chris- 
tians 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." 1 charge you all never (in your trials) to forget the 
griefs of " the poor that cry, and of those that have none to help them." 
I wrote most earnestly to my dear and afflicted wife not to come on 
for the present at any rate. I will now give her my reasons for doing 
so. First, it would use up all the scanty means she has, or is at all 
likely to have, to make herself and children comfortable hereafter. 
For let me tell you that the sympathy that is now aroused in your 
behalf may not always follow you. There is but little more of the 
romantic about helping poor widows and their children than there is 
about trying to relieve poor " niggers." Again, the little comfort it 
might afford us to meet agam would be dearly bought by the pains of 
a final separation. We must part, and, I feel assured, for us to meet 
under such dreadful circumstances would only add to our distress. 
If she come on here, she must be only a gazing stock throughout the 
whole journey, to be remarked tipon in every look, word, and action, 
and by all sorts of creatures, and by all sorts of papers throughout the 
whole country. Again, it is my most decided judgment that in quietly 
and submissively staying at home, vastly more of generous sympathy 
will reach her, without such dreadful sacrifice of feeling as she must 
put up with if she comes on. The visits of one or two female friends 
that have come on here have produced great excitement, which is very 
annoying, and they cannot possibly do me any good. O Mary, do 
not come ; but patiently wait for the meeting (of those who love God 
and their fellow-men) where no separation must follow. " They shall 
go no more out forever." I greatly long ta hear from some one of 

The Conquering Pen. 351 

you, and to learn any thing that in any way affects your welfare. I 
sent you ten dollars the other day. Did you get it ? I have also 
endeavored to stir up Christian friends to visit and write to you in 
your deep affliction. I have no doubt that some of them at least will 
heed the call. Write to me, care of Capt. John Avis, Charlestown, 
Jefferson County, Va. 

" Finally, my beloved, be of good comfort." May all your names 
Ue "written on the Lamb's book of life" — may you all have the 
purifying and sustaining influence of the Christian religion — is the 
earnest prayer of your affectionate husband and father. 

John Buowx. 

P. S. I cannot remember a night so dark as to have hindered the 
:oming day, nor a storm so furious or dreadful as to prevent the 
eturn of warm sunshme and a cloudless sky. But, beloved ones, 
lo remember that this is not your rest, that in this world you have 
10 abiding place or continuing city. To God and his infinite mercy I 
dways commend you. J. B. 

Nov. 9. 

Charlestown, Jefferson Co., Va., Nov. 12, 1859. 

Dear Brother Jeremiah: Your kind letter of the 9th instant is 
3 eceived, and also one from Mr. Tilden, for both of which I am greatly 
( bliged. You inquire, " Can I do any thing for you or your family ? " 
] would answer that my sons, as well as my wife and daughter, are all 
^ ery poor, and that any thing that may hereafter he due me from my 
i ither's estate I wish paid to them, as I will endeavor hereafter to 
I escribe, without legal formalities to consume it all. One of my boys 
1 as been so entirely used up as very likely to be in want of comfort- 
i ble clothing for the winter. I have, through the kindness of friends, 
1 fteen dollars to send him, which I will remit shortly. If you know 
1 here to reach him, please send him that amount at ojice, as I shall 
r !mit the same to you by a safe conveyance. If I had a plain state- 
r ent from ^Ir. Thompson of the state of my accounts, with the estate 
c ' my father, I should then better know what to say about that mat- 
t r. As it is, I have not the least memorandum left me to refer to. If 
Jr. Thompson will make me a statement, and charge my dividend fully 
J )r his trouble, I would be greatly obliged to him. In that case you 
c n send me any remarks of your own. I am gaining in health slow- 
1 , and am quite cheerful in view of my approaching end, being fully 
p rsuaded that I am worth inconceivably more to hang than for any 
her purpose. God Almighty bless and save you a'.l. 

Your affectionate brother, John Brown. 

P. S. Nov. 13. — Say to my poor boys never to grieve for one 

352 The Conquering Pen. 

moment on my account ; and should many of you live to see the time 
■when you will not blush to own your relation to Old John Brown, it 
will not be more strange than many things that have happened. I feel 
a thousand times more on account of my sorrowing friends than on 
my own account. So far as I am concerned, I " count it all joy." " I 
have fought the good fight," and have, as I trust, "finished my 
course." Please show this to any of my family that you may see. 
My love to all ; and may God, in his infinite mercy, for Christ's sake, 
bless and save you all. Your affectionate brother, J. Brown. 


West Newton, Mass., Nov. o, 1859. 
Capt. John Brown. 

Dear Brother : Withholding any expression of opinion respecting 
the outbreak at Harper's Ferry, I cannot but admire your bravery and 
effort to save life during the conflict. But, above all, your unwaver- 
ing faith in God and fidelity to principle, your fearless answers, your 
faithful testimony against slavery, and your noble, self-sacrificing 
spirit excite the admiration of all who venerate justice, truth, iuid 

While I cannot approve of all your acts, I stand in awe of your 
position since your capture, and dare not oppose you lest I be foun<i 
fighting against God ; for you speak as one having authority, and 
seem to be strengthened from on high. Look only to God for aid in 
these your trying hours, which if they be brief, may the illumination 
of his Spirit and of a lifetime be centred in the time allotted you 
here. K called to ascend the gallows, may you do it joyfully, praising 
God that you have been counted worthy to die for those ready to per- 
ish ; and, like his Son, may you feel to forgive and bless those who 
take your life. Many, yes, a multitude, appreciate you now; and 
were you ambitious of immortal fame, you might now enjoy a fore- 
taste of that which is to come, if you die as you have lived since a 

Your family will not be forgotten ; their wants will be attended to 
abundantly by those who love heroism and integrity to principle, and 
by the Father who siiffers not a sparrow to fall to the ground without 
his notice. My prayers you have. May God give you strength and 
resignation, and inspire you to utter words of wisdom, warning, cour- 
age, and love to those you leave. 

I would imprint on your sacred face the kiss of sympathy and love 
ere you join the multitude of martyrs who have gone before you. But 
this cannot be. God bless you. I would ask a line from you, but 
would not tax your brief tjjne ; for never having seen you, I shoiild 

The Conquering Pen. 353 

sacredly cherish a line from your hand. Believing God reigns, I feel 
<-o view these recent events as his providence, which in time may be 
fully manifested, although at present inscrutable. A host of friends 
love and remember you, and I speak for many in my immediate neigh- 
borhood. Farewell, dear brother. God bless you. 


Charlestown, Jefferson Co., Va., Nov. 15, 1859. 
My dear Sir : Your kind mention of some things in mj' conduct 
here, which you approve, is very comforting indeed to my mind. Yet 
I am conscious that you do me no more than justice. I do certainly 
teel that thruugh divine grace ///nt;e endeavored to be "faithful in a 
very few things," mingling with even these much of imperfection. I 
im certainly " unworthy even to suffer affliction with the people of 
jod ; " yet in infinite grace he has thus honored me. May the same 
;race enable me to serve him in a " new obedience," through my little 
emainder of this life, and to rejoice in him forever. I cannot feel 
hat God will suffer even the poorest service we may any of us render 
lim or his cause to be lost or in vain. I do feel, " dear brother," 
hat I am wonderfully •' strengthened from on high." 

May I use that strength in " showing his s<>en^</t unto this genera- 
ion," and his power to every one that is to come. I am most grate- 
:ul for your assurance that my poor, shattered, heart-broken "family 
■ nil not be forgotten." I have long tried to recommend them to " the 
' rod of my fathers." I have mafii/ opportunities tor faithful plain deal- 
i >ig with the more powerful, influential, and intelligent classes in this 
) egion, which, I trust, are not entirely misimproved. I humbly trust 
t'lat /firmly believe that " God reigns," and I think I can truly say, 
' Let the earth rejoice." May God take care of his own cause, and of 
I is own great name, as well as of those who love their neighbors. 
Farewell ! Yours, in truth, John Brown. 

The next letter was addressed to his old school- 
1 laster, in Litchfield, Connecticut, and is thus intro- 
( uced by the Rev. L. W. Bacon : 

" My aged friend, the Rev. H. L. Vaill, of this place, remembers 
J )hn Brown as having been under his instruction in the year 1817, 
8 Morris Academy. He was a godly youth, laboring to recover from 
1 3 disadvantages of early education, in the hope of entering the min- 
i; try of the gospel. Since then, the teacher and pupil have met but 
"D ice to take ' a retrospective look over the route by which God had 
!■ d them.' But a short time sincCj Mr. Vaill wrote to Brown, in his 


354 The Conquering Pen. 

prison, a letter of Christian friendship, to which he has received the 
following heroic and sublime reply. Has ever such an epistle boen 
•written from a condemned cell since the letter ' to Timotheus,' when 
Paul ' was brought before Nero the second time ' ? 

"I have copied it faithfully from the autograph that lies before me, 
without.the change or omission of a word, except to omit the full name 
of the friends to whom he sends his message. The words in Italics 
and capitals are so underscored in the original. The handwriting is 
clfiar and firm ; but towards the end of the sheet seems to show that 
the sick old man's hand was growing weary. The very characters 
make an api>eal to us for our sympathy and prayers. ♦ His salutation 
■wi'i. his own hand. Remember his bonds.' " 

Charlestown, Jefferson Co., Va., Nov. 15, 1859. 
Rev. H. L. Vaill. 

My dear, steadfast Friend : Your most kind and most welcome 
letter of the 8th instant reached me in due time, 

I am very grateful for all the good feeling you express, and also for 
the kind counsels you give, together with your prayers in my behalf. 
Allow me here to say, that notwithstanding "my soul is amongst 
lions," still I believe that " God in very deed is with me." You will 
not, therefore, feel surprised when I tell you that I am "joj-ful in all 
my tribulations ; " that I do not feel condemned of Him whose judg- 
ment is just, nor of my own conscience. Nor do I feel degraded by 
my imprisonment, my chain, or prospect of the gallows. I have not 
only been (though utterly unworthy) permitted to " suffer affliction 
with God's people," but have also had a great many rare opportuni- 
ties for " preaching righteousness in the great congregation." I trust 
it will not all be lost. The jailer (in whose charge I am) and his fam- 
ily and assistants have all been most kind ; and, notwithstanding he 
was one of the bravest of all -vilio fought me, he is note being abused for 
his humanity. So far as my observation goes, none but brave men are 
likely to be humane to a fallen foe. Cowards prove their courage by 
Uvea ferocity. It may be done in that way with but little risk, 

I wish I could write you about a few only of the interesting times I 
here experience with different classes of men — clergymen among 
others. Christ, the great Captain of liberty as well as of salvation, 
and who began his mission, as foretold of him, by proclaiming it, saw 
fit to take from me a sword of steel after I had carried it for a time ; 
but he has put another in my hand, (" the sword of the Spirit ; ") and 
I pray God to make me a faithful soldier wherever he may send me — 
not less on the scaffold than when sm-rouuded by my waimest sym- 

The Conquering Pen. 355 

My dear old friend, I do asstire you I have not forgotten our last 
meeting, nor our retrospective look over the route by which God had 
then led us ; and I bless his name that he has again enabled me to 
hear your words of cheering and comfort at a time when I, at least, 
am on the '< brink of Jordan." See Bunyan's Pilgrim. God in in- 
finite mercy grant us soon another meeting on the opposite shore. I 
have often passed under the rod of Ilim 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 the happiness of others my 
own ; so that really I have had a great deal of prosperity. I am very 
prosperous still, and looking forward to a time when " peace on earth 
and good will to men" shall every where prevail; I h.ive no murmur- 
ing thoughts or envious feelings to fret my mind. •' I'll praise my 
Maker with my breath." 

Your assurance of the earnest sympathy of the friends in my native 
land is very grateful to my feelings ; and allow me to say a Mord of 
comfort to them : 

As I believe most firmly that God reigns, I cannot believe that any 
thing I have do7ic, suffered, or maij yet suffer, will be lost to the cause of 
God or of humanity. And before I began my work at Harper's Ferry, 
I felt assured that in the worst event it would certainly pay. I often 
expressed that belief, and can now see no possible cause to alter my 
mind. I am not as yet, in the main, at all disappointed. I have been 
a good deal disappointed as it regards myself in not keeping up to my 
own plans ; but I now feel entirely reconciled to that, even ; for God's 
plan was infinitely better, no doubt, or I should have kept to my own. 
Had Samson kept to his determination of not telling Delilah wherein 
his great strength lay, he would probably have never overturned the 
house. I did not tell Delilah ; but I was induced to act very contrary 
to my better judgment ; and I have lost n\y two noble boys, and other 
friends, if not my two eyes. 

But " God's will, tiot mine, be done." I feel a comfortable hope that 
like that erring servant of whom I have just been writing, eveti I may 
(through infinite mercy in Christ Jesus) yet "<f»e in faith." As to both 
the time and manner of my death, I have but very little trouble on that 
score, and am able to be (as you exhort) " of good cheer." 

I send through you my best wishes to Mrs. W and her son 

George, and to all dear friends. May the God of the poor and op- 
pressed be the God and Saviour of you all. 

Farewell, till we meet again. 

Your friend, in truth, John Browi*. 

356 The Conquering Pen. 

Charlestown, Jefferson Co., Va., 16th Nov., I80&. 

My dear Wife : I write you in answer to a most kind letter, of 

November 13, from dear Mrs. . I owe her ten thousand thanks for 

her kindness to you particularhj, and more especially than for what she 
has done, and is doina;, in a more direct way for me personally. 
Although I feel grateful ior every expression of kindness or sympathy 
towards me, yet nothing can so effectually minister to my comfort as 
acts of kindness done to relieve the wants or mitigate the sufFciings 
of my poor, distressed family. May God Almighty and their ou-n con- 
sciousness be their eternal rewarders. I am exceedingly rejoiced to 
have you make the acquaintance, and be surrounded by, such choice 
friends as I have long known some of those to be, with whom you are 
staying, by reputation. I am most glad to have you meet with one of a 
family (or I would rather say of two families) most beloved and never to he 

forgotten by me. I mean dear, gentle . Many and many a time has 

she, her father, mother, brother, sisters, tmcle and aunt (like angels of mercy) 
miiikistered to the wants of myself and of my poor sons, both in sick- 
ness and in health. Only last year I lay sick for quite a number of 
weeks with them, and was cared for by all, as though I had been a 
most affectionate brother or father. Tell her that I ask God to bless 
and reward them all forever. " I was a stranger, and they took me in." 

It may possibly be that would like to copy this letter, and 

send it to her home. K so, by all means let her do so. / woidd write 
them if I had the power. 

Now let me say a word about the effert to educate our daughters. 
I am no longer able to provide means to help towards that object, and 
it therefore becomes me not to dictate in the matter. I shall grate- 
fully submit the direction of the whole thing to those whose gener- 
osity may lead them to undertake it in their behalf, while I give anexo 
a little expression of my own choice respecting it. You, my wife, 
perfectly well hioxc that I have always expressed a decided preference for 
a very plain, httt perfectly practical, education for both so7is and daughters. 
I do not mean an education so very miserable as that you and I received 
in early life, nor as some of our children enjoyed. "When I say plain, 
but practical, I mean enough of the learning of the schools to enable 
them to transact the common business of life comfortably and respect- 
ably, together with that thorough training to good business habits 
which best prepares both men and women to be tiseful, though poor, 
and to meet the stern realities of life with a good grace. You well 
know that I always claimed that the music of the broom, wash-tub. 
needle, spindle, loom, axe, scythe, hoe, flail, &e., should first be 
learned at all events, and that of the piano, &c., afterwards. I put 
them in that order as most conductive to health of body and mind ; 

The Conquering Pen. 357 

and for the obvious reason that, after a life of some experietice and of 
much observation, I have found ten women as ■well as ten men who have 
made their mark in life right, whose early training was of that plain, 
practical kind, to cme who had a more popular and fashionable early 
training. But enough of this. 

Now, in regard to your coming here : If you feel sure that you can 
pndure the trials and the shock, which will be unavoidable, (if you 
come,) I should be most glad to see you once more ; but when I think 
of your being insulted on the road, and perhaps while here, and of 
only seeing your wretchedness made complete, I shrink from it. Your 
composure and fortitude of mind may be qxiite equal to it all; but I 
am in dreadful dotcbt of it. If you do come, defer your journey till 
about the 27th or 28th of this month. The scenes which you will 
have to pass through on coming here will be any thing but those you 
now pass, with tender-hearted friends, and kind faces to meet you 
every where. Do consider the matter well before you make the plunge. 
I think I had better say no more on this most painful subject. My 
health improves a little ; my mind is very tranquil, I may say joyous, 
and I continue to receive every kind attention that I have any possible 
need of. I wish you to send copies of all my letters to all our poor 
children. AVTiat I write to one must answer for all, till I have more 
strength. I get numerous kind letters from friends in almost all 
directions, to encourage me to <'be of good cheer," and I still have, 
as I trust, '< the peace of God to rule in my heart." May God. for 
Christ's sake, ever make his face to shine on you all. 

Your affectionate husband, John Bhown. 

Charlestown, Jefferson Co., Va., Nov. 17, 1859. 
My Dear Young Friend : — I have just received your most kind and 
welcome letter of the 15th inst., but did not get any other from you. 
I am under many obligations to you, and to your father, for all the 
kindness you have shown me, especially since my disaster. May God 
and your own consciences ever be your rewarders. Tell your father 
that I am quite cheerful — that I do not feel myself in the least .e- 
graded by my imprisonment, my chains, or the near prospect of the 
gallows. Men cannot imprison, or chain, or hang the soul. I go 
joyfully in behalf of millions that "have no rights" that this great and 
'glorious, this Christian Republic is ♦' bound to respect." Strange 
change in morals, political as well as Christian, since 1776 ! I look 
forward to other changes to take place in God's good time, fully 
believing that the " fashion of this world passeth away." 
Farewell. May God abundantly bless you all ! 

Your friend, John Brown. 

358 The Conquering Pen. 


Charlestown, Jeffekson Co., Va., Nov. 22, 1859 
Dear Children : Your most welcome letters of the 16th inst. I Lave 
just received, and I bless God that he has enabled you to bear the 
hea>7 tidings of our disaster with so much seeming resignation and 
composure of mind. That is exactly the thing I have wished you all 
to do for me — to-be cheerful and perfectly resigned to the holy will 
of a wise and good God. I bless his most holy name, that \ am, (I 
trust,) in some good measure, able to do the same. I am even "joy- 
ful in all my tribulations," even since my confinement, and I humbly 
trust that "I know in whom I have trusted." A calm peace (per- 
haps) like that which your own dear mother felt, in view of her last 
change, seems to fill my mind by day and by night. Of this, neither 
the powers of " earth or hell " can deprive me. Do not, dear chil- 
dren, any of you, grieve for a single moment on my account. As I 
trust my life has not been thrown away, so I also humbly trust that 
my death shall not be in vain. God can make it to be a thousand 
times more valuable to his own cause than all the miserable service 
(at best) that I have rendered it during my life. When I was first 
taken, I was too feeble to write much ; so I wrote what I could to 
North Elba, requesting lluth and Anne to send you copies of all my 
letters to them. I hope they have done so, and that you, Ellen, will 
do the same with what I may send to you, as it is still quite a labor 
for me to write all that I need to. I want your brothers to know what 
I write, if you know where to reach them. I wrote Jeremiah, a few 
days since, to supply a trifling assistance, fifteen dollars, to such of 
you as might be most destitute. I got his letter, but do not know as 
he got mine. I hope to get another letter from him soon. I also 
asked him to show you my letter. I know of nothing you can any 
of you now do for me, unless it is to comfort your own hearts, and 
cheer and encourage each other to trust in God, and Jesus Christ, 
whom he hath sent. If you will keep his sayings, you shall certainly 
«' know of his doctrine, whether it be of God or no." Nothing can 
be more grateful to me than your earnest sjTnpathy, except it be to 
know that you are fully persuaded to be Christians. And now, dear 
children, farewell for this tmie. I hope to be able to write you 
again. The God of my father take you for his children. 

Your affectionate father, John Brown. 

Note. — The remittance referred to was unquestionably intended 
for Owen Brown, who escaped from Harper's Ferry, but is supposed 
to be destitute even of a change of clothing. The significant allusion 
in the letter shows that the father was confident of Owen's safety. — 
Akrcm (O.) Beacon. 

The Conquering Pen. 3?9 


Jail, Charlestown, "Wednesday, Nov. 23, 1859. 
Rivv. McFabland. 

Dear Friend : Although you -write to me as a stranger, the spirit 
you show towards me and the cause for which I am in bonds, makes 
me feel towaids you as a dear friend. I would be glad to have you, 
or any of my liberty-loving ministerial friends here, to talk and pray 
with me. I am not a stranger to the way of salvation by Christ. 
From my youth I have studied much on that subject, and at one time 
hoped to be a minister myself; but God had another work for me to 
do. To me it is given in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on hii», 
but also to suffer for his sake. But while I trust that I have some 
experimental and saving knowledge of religion, it would be a great 
pleasure to me to nave some one better qualified than myself to lead 
iny mind in prayiir and meditation, now that my time is so near a 
close. You may wonder, are there no ministers of the gospel here ? 
I answer, No. There are no ministers of Christ here. These minis- 
ters who profess to be Christian, and hold slaves or advocate slavery, 
I cannot abide them. My knees will not bend in prayer with them 
while their hands are stained with the blood of souls. The subject 
you mention as having been preaching on, the day before you wrote 
to me, is one which I have often thought of since my imprisonment. 
I tliink I feel as happy as Paul did when he lay in prison. He knew 
Lf they killed him it would greatly advance the cause of Christ ; that 
was the reason he rejoiced so. On that same ground <'I do rejoice, 
yea, and will rejoice." Let them hang me ; I forgive them, and may 
God forgive them, for they know not what they do. I have no regret 
for the transaction for which I am condemned. I went against the 
laws of men, it is true ; but " whether it be right to obey God or men, 
judge ye." Christ told me to remember them that are in bonds, as 
bound with them, to do towards them as I would wish them to do towards 
me in similar circumstances. My conscience bade me do that. I 
tried to do it, but failed. Therefore I have no regret on that score. 
I have no sorrow either as to the result, only for my poor wife and 
children. They have suffered much, and it is hard to leave them un- 
cared for. But God will be a husband to the widow, and a father to 
the fatherless. 

I have frequently been in "Wooster ; and if any of my old friends 
from about Akron are there, you can show them this letter. I have 
but a few more days, and I feel anxious to be away, •' where the wicked 
cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest." Farewell. 

Your friend, and tho friend of all friends of liberty, 

John Brown. 

360 The Conquering Pen. 

From a subsequent letter, dated Nov. 24, we make 
the following extract : 

I have had many interesting visits from pro-slavery persons, almost 
daily, and I endeavor to improve them faithfully, -plainly, and kindly. 
I do not think I ever enjoyed life better than since my confinement 
here. For this I am indebted to Infinite Grace, and kind letters from 
friends from different quarters. I wish I could only know that all 
my poor family were as composed and as happy as I. I think nothing 
but the Christian religion could ever make any one so composed. 

" My willing soul would stay 
In such a frame as this." 

John Bkown. 

Charlestown, Jefferson Co., Va., Nov. 24, 1859. 
George H. Hoyt, Esq. 

Dear Sir : Your kind letter of the 22d inst. is received. I exceed- 
ingly regret my inability to make you some other acknowledgment for 
all your efforts in my behalf than that which consists merely in words ; 
but so it is. May God and a good conscience be your continual re- 
ward. I really do not see what you can do with me any further. I 
commend my poor family to the kind remetnbrance of all friends, but I 
well understand that they are not the only poor in our world. I ought 
to begin to leave off saying our world. I have but very little idea of 
the charges made against Mr. Griswold, as I get to see but little of 
what is afloat. I am very sorry for any wrong that may be done him ; 
but I have no means of contradicting any thing that may be said, not 
knowing what is said, I cannot see how it should be any more dis- 
honorahle for him to receive some compensation for his expenses and 
service, than for Mr. Chilton, and I am not aware that any blame is 
attached to him on that score. I am getting more letters constantly 
than I well know how to answer. My hind friends appear to have 
very wrong ideas of my condition as regards replying to all the kind 
communications I receive. 

Your friend, in truth, John Brown. 

This letter needs a word of comment. Mr. Chilton, 
"John Brown's chivalrous Southern lawyer," demanded 
a fee of one thousand dollars, which was paid out of 
the fund contributed for his family and cause in the 
New England States. Mr. Griswold accepted a fee of 
two hundred and fifty dollars for travelling expenses and 

The Conquering Pen. ;^6i 

services from John Brown personally; supposing — as 
every one at Charlestown thought at the time — that 
he was a man of independent fortune. For receiving 
this fee, Mr. Griswold has been denounced in hundreds 
of democratic papers, while not one of them has printed 
a reproachful word against the " distinguished lawyer " 
from Maryland. Neither is to blame, or both are ; and 
if to blame, let a fourfold punishment be meted out 
to Mr. Chilton. 


Before Mrs. Brown started from Philadelphia for 
Charlestown, she received a letter from her husband, 
dated November 25, in which, after referring to the 
fact that she was then staying with Lucretia Mott, he 

says ; ' 

I remember the faithful old lady well, but presume she 
has no recollection of me. I once set myself to oppose a mob at 
Boston, where she was. After I interfered, the police immediately 
took up the matter, and soon put a stop to mob proceedings. The 
meeting was, I think, in Marlboro' Street Church, or Hotel, perhaps. 
I am glad to have you make the acquaintance of such old " Pioneers " 
in the cause. I have just received from Mr. John Jay, of New York, 
a draft for $50 (fifty dollars) for the benefit of my family, and will 
enclose it made payable to your order, I have also $15 (fifteen dol- 
lars) to send to our crippled and destitute unmarried son ; when I can, 
I intend to send you, by express, two or three little articles to carry 
home. Should you happen to meet with Mr. Jay, say to him that 
you fully appreciate his great kindness both to me and my family. 
Ood bless all such friends. It is out of my power to reply to all the 
kind and encouraging letters I get ; I wish I could do so. I have been 
so much relieved from my lameness for the last three or four days as 
to be able to sit up to read and write pretty much all day, as well as 
part of the night ; and I do assure you and all other friends that I am 
quite busy, and none the less happy on that account. The time passes 
quite pleasantly, and the near approach of my great change is not the 
occasion of any particular dread. 
I trust that God, who has sustained me so long, will not forsake me 

31 ;-='•■-•• ' ■•■ 

362 The Conquering Pen. 

when I most feel my need of Fatherly aid and support. Should Ila 
hide His face, my spirit will droop and die ; but not otherwise, be 
assured. My only anxiety is to be properly assured of my fitness for 
the company of those who are " washed from all filthiness," and for 
the presence of Him who is infinitely pure. I certainly think I do 
have some "hunger and thirst after righteousness." If it be only 
genuine, I make no doubt I " shall be filled." Please let all our 
friends read my letters when you can ; and ask them to accept of it as 
in part for them. I am inclined to think you will not be likely to 
succeed well about getting away the bodies of your family ; but should 
that be so, do not let that grieve you. It can make but little difference 
what is done with them. 

You can well remember the changes you have passed through. 
Life is made up of a series of changes, and let us try to meet them 
in the best manner possible. You will not wish to make yourself and 
children any more burdensome to friends than you are really compelled 
to do. I would not. 

I will close this by saying that, if you now feel that you are equal 
to the undertaking, do exactly as you feel disposed to do about coming 
to see me before I suffer. I am entirely willing. 

Youi' affectionate husband, John Browk. 


Charlestown, Jefferson Co., Va., Nov. 27, 1859. 
Thaddeus Hyatt, Esq. 

My dear Sir : Your very acceptable letter of the 24th instant has 
just been handed to me. I am certainly most obliged to you for it, 
and for all your efforts in behalf of my family and myself. ... It, 
your effort, at any rate, takes from my mind the greatest burden I have 
felt since my imprisonment, to feel assured that, in some way, my 
shattered and broken-hearted wife and children would be so far re- 
lieved as to save them from great physical suffering. Others may have 
devised a better way of doing it. I had no advice in regard to it, and 
felt very grateful to know, while I was yet living, of almost any active 
measure being taken. I hope no offence is taken at yourself or me in 
the matter. I am beginning to fiimiliariije my mind with new and 
very different scenes. Am very cheerful. 

Farewell, my friend. John Brown. 


Charlestown, Jefferson Co., Va., Nov. 27, 1859. 

My dear Miss : Your most kind and cheering letter of the 18th 

instant is received. Although I have not been at all low-spirited nor 

The Conquering Pen. 363 

*taist down in fueling since being imprisoned and under sentence, which 
I am fully aware is soon to be carried out, it is exceedingly gratifying 
to learn from friends that there are not wanting iu this generation 
some to sjTnpathizc with me and appreciate my motive, even now that 
I am whipped. Success is in general the standard of all merit. I 
Lave passed my time here quite cteei-fully ; still trusting that neither 
my life nor my death will prove a total loss. As regards both, how- 
ever, I am liable to mistake. It affords me some satisfaction to feel 
conscious of having at least tried to better the condition of those who 
arc always on the under-hill side, and am in hope of being able to 
meet the consequences without a murmur. I am endeavoring to get 
ready for another field of action, where no defeat befalls the truly 
brave. That "God reigns," and most wisely, and controls all events, 
might, it would seem, reconcile those who believe it to much that 
appears to be very disastrous. I am one who have tried to believe 
that, and still keep trying. Those who die for the truth may prove to 
be courageous at last ; so I continue " hoping on," till I shall find that 
the truth must finally prevail. I do not feel in the least degree de- 
spondent nor degraded by my circumstances, and I entreat my friends 
not to grieve on my account. You will please excuse a very poor and 
short letter, as I get more tlian I can possibly answer. I send my 
best wishes to your kind mother, and to all the family, and to all the 
true friends of humanity. And now, dear friends, God be with you 
all, and ever guide and bless you. 

Your friend, John Brown. 

Charlestown, Jefferson Co., Va., Monday, Nov. 28, 1859. 
Hon. D. R, Tilden. 

My dear Sir : Your most kind and comforting letter of the 23d inst. 
is received. 

I have no language to expresstthe feelings of gratitude and obliga- 
tion I am under for your kind interest in my behalf ever since my 

The great bulk of mankind estimate each other's actions and mo- 
tives by the measure of success or otherwise that attends them through 
life. By that rule I have been one of the tcorst and one of the best of 
men. / do not claim to have been one of the latter ; and I leave it to 
an impartial tribunal to decide whether the world has been the worse 
or the better of my livi7ig and dying in it. My present great anxiety is 
to get as near in readiness for a different field of action as I well can, 
since being in a good measure relieved from the fear that my poor, 
broken-hearted toife and children would come to immediate want. May 
God reward, a thousand fold, all the kind efforts made in their behalf. 

364 The Conquering Pen. 

I have enjoyed remarkable cheerfulness and composure of mind ever sinoc 
my confinement ; and it is a great comfort to feel assured that 7 am 
permitted to die (/or a catise~) not merely to pay the debt of nature, (as 
all must.) I feel myself to be 7nost unworthy of so great distinction. 
The particular manner of dying assigned to me, gives me but very little 
imeasiness. I wish I had the time and the ability to give j'ou (my dear 
friend) some little idea of what is daily, and, I might almost sag, hourly, 
passing within my prison walls ; and could my friends but witness only 
a few of those scenes just as they occur, I think they would feci very 
well reconciled to my being here just what I am, and just as I am. 
My whole life before had not afforded me one half the opportunity to 
plead for the right. In this, also, I find much to reconcile me to both 
my present condition and my immediate prospect. I may be very in- 
sane, (and / am so, if insane at all.) But if that be so, insanity is like 
a very pleasant dream to me. I am not in the least degree conscious 
of my ravings, of my fears, or of any terrible visions whatever ; but 
fancy myself entirely composed, and that my sleep, in particidar, is as 
sweet as that of a healthy, joyous little infant. I pray God that he 
will grant me a continuance of the same calm, but delightful, dream, 
until I come to know of those realities which " eyes have not seen, and 
■which ears have not heard." I have scarce realized that I am ia 
prison, or in irons, at all. I certainly think I was never more cheer- 
ful in my life. I intend to take the liberty of sending, by express, to 
your care, some trifiing articles for those of my family who may be in 
Ohio, which you can hand to my brother Jeremiah, when you may 
see him, together with fifteen dollars I have asked him to advance 
to them. Please excuse me so often troubling you with my letters, or 
any of my matters. Please also remember me most kindlj' to Ma. 
Griswold, and to all others who love their neighbors. I write Jer- 
emiah to your care. Your friend, in truth, John Brown. 

Chaelestown, Jefferson Co., Va., Nov. 29, 1859. 

S. E. Sewall, Esq. 

My dear Sir : Your most kind letter of the 24th inst. is received. 
It does, indeed, give me "pleasure," and the greatest encouragement 
to know of any efforts that have been made in behalf of my poor and 
deeply afflicted family. It takes from my mind the greatest cause of 
sadness I have experienced during my imprisonment here. I feel quite 
cheerful, and ready to die. I can only say, for want of time, may the 
God of the oppressed and the poor, in great mercy, remember all those to 
whom we are so deeply indebted. 

Tarewell. Your friend, John Brown. 

The Conquering Pen. 363 


Charlestown Prison, Jefferson Co., Va., Nov. 30, 1859. 

My dearly beloved Wife, Sons and Daughters, Every One : As 
I now begin what is probably 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 Philadelphia, 
dated Nov. 22, by which it would seem that she was about giving up 
the idea of seeing me again. I had written 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 enclosed in my last letter to her 
a draft of $50 from John Jay, made payable to her order. I have now 
another to send her, from my excellent old friend Edward Harris of 
Woonsocket, R. I., for $100, which I shall also make payable to her 

I am waiting the hour of my public murder with great composure 
of mind and cheerfulness, feeling the strong assurance that in no other 
possible way could I be used to so much advantage to the cause of God 
and of humanity, and that nothing that either I or all my family 
have sacrificed or suff"ered 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 cir- 
cumstances — even those more severely trying ones into which our 
own feelings and wrongs have placed us. I have now no doubt but 
that our seeming disaster will ultimately result in the most glorious 
success. So, my dear 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 cer- 
tain and near approach of a bright morning and glorious day than 
I have felt, and do now feel, since my confinement here. I am en- 
deavoring to return, like a poor prodigal as I am, to my Father, 
igainst whom I have always sinned, in the hope that he may kindly 
and forgivingly meet me, though a very great way off. 

O, my dear wife and children, would to God you could know how 
[ have been travailing in birth for you all, that no one of you may 
:ail of the grace of God through Jesus Christ ; that no one of you 


366 The Conquering Pen. 

may be blind to the truth and glorious light of his Word, in which 
life and immortality are brought to light. I beseecli you, every one, to 
make the Bible your daily and nightly study, with a child-like, honest, 
candid, teachable spirit of love and respect for your husband and 

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 
jsoon need the consolations of the Christian religion. Circumstances 
like my own, for more than a month past, have convinced me beyond 
all doubt of our great need of some theories treasured up when our 
prejudices are excited, our vanity worked up to the highest pitch. 
O, 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 j-ou 
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 ? O, be determined at once to give 
your whole heart to God, and let nothing shake or alter that resolu- 
tion. 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 bless and leave you the stronger. Still, it is 
ground of 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 cannot be very hard to love his 

I must yet insert the reason for my firm belief in the divine inspira- 
tion of the Bible, notwithstanding I am, perhaps, naturally sceptical ; 
certainly not credulous. I wish all to consider 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 every where insisted on, that dis- 
tinguishes it from all the other teachings, that commends it to my con- 
science. Whether my heart be willing and obedient or not, the induce- 
ment that it holds out is another reason of my convictions 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 
Tiany of my posterity, instead of some other book at equal cost. 

I beseech you all to live in habitual contentment with moderate 

The Conquering Pen. 367 

' lircumstances and gains of worldly store, and earnestly to tench this 
10 your children and children's children after you, by example as well 
i.s precept. Be determined to know by experience, as soon as may be, 
"vhether Bible instruction is of divine origin or not. Be sure to owe 
no man any thing, but to love one another. John Rogers wrote to his 
< hildren, '< Abhor that arrant whore of Rome." John Brown writes 
I0 his children to abhor, with undying hatred also, that sum of all 
■( illanics — slavery. Remember, he that is slow to anger is better than 
the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. 
] lemember. also, that they, being wise, shall shine, and they that turn 
J lany to righteousness, as the stars forever 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 Bbowk. 

JOHN brown's will. 

Charlestown, Jefferson Co., Va., Dec. 1, 1869. 

I give to my son John Brown, Jr., my surveyor's compass and other 
s iryeyor's articles if found ; also, my old granite monument, now at 
I'orth Elba, N. Y., to receive upon its two sides a further inscription, 
a i 1 will hereafter direct ; said stone monument, however, to remain 
a : North Elba so long as any of my children and my wife may remain 
t lere as residents. 

I give to my son Jason Brown my silver watch with my name en- 
g raved on inner case. 

I give to my son Owen Brown my double-spring opera-glass, and 
n y rifle gun, (if found,) presented to me at Worcester, Mass. It is 
g obe-sighted and new. I give also to the same son fifty dollars in 
c ish, to be paid him from the proceeds of my father's estate, in con- 
8 deration of his terrible suffering in Kansas, and his crippled condition 
f; om his childhood. 

I give to my son Solomon Brown fifty dollars in cash, to be paid 
h m from my father's estate, as an offset to the first two cases above 
n imed. 

I give to my daughter Ruth Thompson my large old Bible, con- 
t ining the family record. 

I give to each of my sons, and to each of my other daughters, my 
8 n-in-law Henry Thompson, and to each of my daughters-in-law, 
a good a copy of the Bible as can be purchased at some bookstore in 
I ew York or Boston, at a cost of five dollars each in cash, to be paid 
it of the proceeds of my father's estate. 

I give to each of my grandchildren that may be living when my 
f: ther's estate is settled, as good a copy of the Bible as can be pur- 
c iti^ed (las above) at a cost of three dollars each. 

368 The Conquering Pen. 

All the Bibles to be purchased at one and the same time, for onsh, 
on the best terms. 

I desire to have ($oO) fifty dollars each paid out of the final proceeds 
of my father's estate to the following named persons, to wit : To Allen 
Hammond, Esq., of Rockvillc, Tolland County, Conn., or to George 
Kellogg, Esq., former agent of the New England Company at that 
place, for the use and benefit of that company. Also, fifty dollars to 
Silas Havens, formerly of Lewisburg, Summit County, O., if he can 
be found; also, fifty dollars to a man of Storck County, O., at Can- 
ton, who sued my father in his lifetime, through Judge Humphrey 
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. IMy 
father made a compromise with the man by taking our house and lot 
at Manneville. I desire that any remaining balance that may become 
my due from my father's estate may be paid in equal amounts to my 
■wife,' and to each of my children, and to the widows of Watson and 
Owen Brown, by my brother. 

John Avis, Witness. John Brown. 

Charlestown, Jefferson Co., Ta., t)ec. 2, 1859. 
It is my desire that my wife have all my personal property not pre- 
viously disposed of by me, and the entire use of all my landed prop- 
erty during her natural life ; and that, after her death, the proceeds 
of such land be equally divided between all my then living children ; 
and that w^hat 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 beloved 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. 

Charlesto-wn Prison, Jefferson Co., Va., Dec. 1, 1859. 
James Forman, Esq. 

My dear Friend : I have onl}' time to say I got your kind letter of 
the 26th Nov. this evening. Am very grateful for all the good feel- 
ing expressed by j'ourself and wife. !May God abundantly bless and 
save you all. I am very cheerful, in hopes of entering on a better 

The Conquering Pen. 369 

state of existence, in a few hours, through infinite grace in " Christ 
Tesus, my Lord." Remember the "poor that cry," and " them that 
ire in bonds as bound with them." 

Your friend as ever, John Bkown. 


CiiAELESTOWN, Va., Nov. 22, 1859. 
Andrew Hunter, Esa., Present. 

Dear Sir : I have just had my attention called to a seeming conflic- 
lion between the statement I at first made to Governor Wise and that 
■<irhich I made at the time I received my sentence, regarding my inten- 
1 ions respecting the slaves we took about the Ferry. There need be 
1 such confliction, and a few words of explanation will, I think, be 
( uite sufficient. I had given Governor Wise a full and particular 
E ccount of that ; and when called in court to say whether I had any 
t ling further to urge, I was taken wholly by surprise, as I did not 
€ spect my sentence before the others. In the hurry of the moment, I 
f )rgot much that I had before intended to say, and did not consider 
t le full bearing of what I then said. I intended to convey this idea : 
t lat it was my intention to place the slaves in a condition to defend 
t leir liberties if they would, without any bloodshed, but not that I 
i) tended to run 'them out of the Slave States. I was not aware of 
a ly such apparent confliction until my attention was called to it, and 
I do not suppose that a man in my then circumstances should be 
8 iperhuman in respect to the exact purport of every word he might 
M ter. What I said to Governor Wise was spoken with all the delib- 
e: ation I was master of, and was -intended for truth ; and what I said 
ii court was equally intended for truth, but required a more full ex- 
p anation than I there gave. Please make such use of this as you 
tl ink calculated to correct any wrong impression I may have given. 

John Browx. 

The three following letters have never liitherto been 
p iblished : 

Charlestown, Jefferson Co., Va., Oct. 31, 1859. 
My dear Wife and Children, Every One : I suppose you have learned 
b( "ore this by the newspapers that two weeks ago to-day we were 
fi{ liting for our lives at Harper's Ferry ; that during the fight Watson 
w: s mortally wounded, Oliver killed, Wm. Thompson killed, and 
D uphin slightly wounded ; that on the following day I was taken 
pi soner, immediately after which I received several sabre cuts in my 
he ,i, and bayonet stabs in my body. As nearly as I can learn, Wat- 

37© The Conquering Pen. 

son died of his wound on "Wednesday the second, or on Thursday the 
third day after I was taken. Dauphin was killed v.hen I was taken, 
and Anderson, I suppose, also. I have since been tried, and found 
guilty of treason, &c., and of murder in the first degree. I have not 
yet received my sentence. No others of the company with whom you 
were acquainted were, so far as I can learn, either killed or taken. 
Under all these terrible calamities, T feel quite cheerful in the as- 
surance that God reigns, and will overrule all for his glory and the 
best possible good. I feel no consciousness of guilt in the matter, nor 
even mortification on account of my imprisonment and iron ; and I 
feel perfectly assured that very soon no member of my family will feel 
any possible disposition to '* blush on my account." Already dear 
friends at a distance, with kindest sympathy, are cheering me with the 
assurance that posterity at least will do me juhtice. I shall commend 
you all together, with my beloved, but bereaved, daughters-in-law, to 
their sympathies, which I have no doubt will soon reach you. I also 
commend you all to Him " whose mercy endureth forever " — to the 
God of my fathers, "whose I am, and whom I serve." "-He will 
never leave you or forsake you " unless you forsake Him. Finally, 
my dearly beloved, be of good comfort. Be sure to remember and to 
follow my advice, and my example too^ so far as it has been consistent 
with the holy religion of Jesus Christ, in which I remain a most firm 
and humble believer. Never forget the poor, nor think any thing you 
bestow on them to be lost to you, even though they may be as black as 
Ebedmelech, the Ethiopian eunuch, who cared for Jeremiah in the pit of 
the dungeon, or as black as the one to whom Philip preached Christ. 
Be sure to entertain strangers, for thereby some have " Remem- 
ber them that are in bonds as bound with them." I am in charge of 
a jailer like the one who took charge of " Paul and Silas ; " and you 
may rest assured that both kind hearts and kind faces are more or less 
about me, whilst thousands are thirsting for my blood. «' These liyht 
afflictions, which are butybr a motnent, shall work out for us afar more 
exceeding and eternal weight of glory." I hope to be able to write you 
again. My wounds are doing well. Copy this, and send it to your 
sorrow-stricken brothers, Ruth, to comfort them. Write me a few 
words in regard to the welfare of all. God Almighty bless you. all, 
and make you "joyful in the midst of all your tribulations." Write to 
John Brown, Charlestown, Jefferson Co., Va., care of Captain John 
Avis. Your affectionate husband and father. Johx Bkowx. 

Nov. 3, 1859. 
P. S. — Yesterday, Nov. 2, I was sentenced to be hanged on Dec. 
2d next. Do not grieve on my account. I am still quite cheerful. 
• God bless you. Yours ever, John Broavn. 

The Conquering Pen. 371 

LETTER TO HIS WIFE. * •' "^ ' 

Charlestown, Jefferson Co., Va., Nov. 12, 1859. 
My dear Wife : Your most welcome letter of the 13th instant I got 
yesterday. I am very glad to learn from yourself that you feel so 
much resigned to your circumstances, so much confidence in a -wise 
ind good Providence, and such composure of mind in the midst of all 
your deep afilictions. This is *^just as it should be ; " and let me still 
my, " Be of good cheer ; " for we shall soon " come out of all our 
jreat tribulations," and very soon (if we trust in him) «' God shall 
,vipe away all tears from our eyes." Soon " we shall be satisfied when 
ve are awake in his likeness." There is now here a source of much 
Usquietude to me, viz., the fires which are almost of daily and nightly 
iccurrence in this immediate neighborhood. Whilst I well know that 
: 10 one of them is the work of our friends, I know at the same time 
hat by more or less of the inhabitants we shall be charged wich them, 
1 he same as with the ominous and threatening letters to Governor 
' Yise. In the existing state of public feeling, I can easily see a further 
I bjection to your coming here at present ; but I did not intend saying 
I nother word to you on that subject. Why will you not say to me 
■< /hethw you had any crops mature this season ? If so, what ones ? 
, dthough I may never more intermeddle with your worldly affairs, I 
1 avc not yet lost all interest in them. A little history of your success 
If of yoxir faihircs, I should very much prize ; and I would gratify you 
I ad other friends some way were it in my power. I am still quite 
c deerful, and by no means " cast down." I "remember that the time 
i short." The little trunk and all its contents (so far as I can judge) 
r cached me safe. May God reward all the contributors. I wrote 
J ou under cover to our excellent friend Mrs. Spring on the 16th instant. 
I presume you have it before now. When you return it is most lihely 
t le Lake will not be open ; so you must get your ticket at Troy for 
J '^oreau Station, or Glens Falls, (^for Glens Falls if you can yet one,') or 
y t one for Vergennes in Vermont, and take your chance of crossing 

/er on the ice to Westport. If you go soon, the route by Glens 

1 ills to Elizabethtown will probably be the best. I have just learned 
t at our poor Watson lingered with his wound imtil Wednesday about 
n )on of the 19th Oct. Oliver died near my side in a few moments 
ft ter he was shot. Dauphin died the next morning after Oliver and 
\ illiam were killed, viz., Monday. He died almost instantly — was by 
n y side. William was shot by several persons. Anderson was killed 
•* ith Dauphin. 

Keep this letter to refer to. God Almighty bless and keep you all. 
Your affectionate husband, John Brown. 

Dear Mrs. Spring : I send this to your care, because I am at a loss 
w lere it will reach my wife. Your friend, in truth, J. Brow». 

oy2 The Conquering Pen. 

CiiAULESTOwN, Jefferson Co., Va., Nov. 22, 1859. 

Dear Children All : I address this letter to you, supposing that 
yoiir mother is not yet with you. She has not yet come here, as I 
have requested her not to do at present, if at all. She may think it 
best for her not to come at all. SAe has, (or will,) I presume, written 
you before this. Annie's letter to us both of the 9th has but just 
reached me. I am very glad to get it, and to learn that you are hi anxj 
measure cheerful. This is the greatest comfort I can have, except that 
it would be to know that you are all Christians. God in mercy grant 
you all may be so. That is what you all will certainly need. When 
and in what/orwt death may come is of but small moment. I feel just 
as content to die for God's Eternal Truth, and for suffering humanity's, on 
the scaffold as in any other way ; and I do not say this from any dispo- 
sition to " brave it out." No ; I would readily own my wrong, were I 
in the least convinced of it. I have now been confined over a month, 
with a good opportunity to look the whole thing as " fair in the face " 
as I am capable of doing ; and I now feel it most grateful that I am 
counted (in the least possible degree) worthy to suffer for the truth. I 
want you all to "be of good cheer." This life is intended as a season 
of training, chastisement, temptation, affliction, and trial, and " the 
righteous shall come out of" it all. O my dear children, let me 
again entreat you all to <' forsake the foolish and live." What can you 
possibly lose by such a course ? '• Godliness with contentment is 
great gain, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which 
is to come." "Trust in the Lord and do good, so shalt thou dwell in 
the land ; and verily thou shalt be fed." I have enjoyed life much ; 
why should I complain on leaving it ? I want some of you to write 
me a little more particularly about all that concerns your welfare. I 
intend to write you as often as I can. " To God and the Avord of his 
grace I commend you all." 

Your affectionate father, John Bkown. 

P. S. — I am very grateful to all oxxr friends. 

Yours, J. B. 


Forty Days in Chains. 

THE old man was imprisoned in the jail of Charles- 
town for forty-two days. The preceding chapter 
contains the principal letters that he wrote during 
this long period of confinement. His conduct while in 
jail was in keeping with his previous character. He 
never wavered in his faith ; never faltered in the pres- 
3nce of any man. From his first commitment, on the 
L9th of October, till the 7th of November, no clean 
'.lothing was given to him ; he lay as he had fallen at 
larper's Ferry, in his * dirty and blood-stained gar- 
; nents. 

Such brief notes as have been published of his life in 
jirison, from reliable authorities, I will now record in 
1 lieir chronological order. 


The first is a telegraphic despatch to the Associated 
] 'ress, of October 26 : 

" Brown has made no confession ; but, on the contrary, says he has 
f 11 confidence in the goodness of God, and is confident that he will 
r scue him from the perils that surround him. He says he has had 
r fies levelled at him, knives at his throat, and his life in as great 
p ril as it is now, but that God has always been at his side. He 
K 10W8 God is with him, and fears nothing." 

32 (373) 

374 Forty Days in Chains. 

On the 2d of November, Judge Russell, of Boston, 
and his wife,* arrived in Charlestown, and had an in- 
terview with John Brown. The Judge spoke of the 
charge preferred by an administration journalist in 
Kansas against the Captain, which charged him with 
having killed the ruffians of Pottawattomic. The old 
man declared that he did not, in any way, participate 
in their execution ; but thought here, in jail, as he had 
believed in Kansas, that the act was just and necessary. 
A reliable writer, who was admitted to the cell on the 
same day, thus speaks of the old man : 

" He is permitted to receive such visitors as he desires to see. He 
states that he welcomes every one, and that he is j^rcaching, even in 
jail, with great effect, upon the enormities of slavery, and with argu- 
ments that every body fails to answer." 

Another newspaper correspondent who visited him 
at this time — the days of his sentence — says: 

" He said that Captain Avis, his jailer, showed as much kindness in 
treating him, as he had shown courage in attacking him. 'It is what 
I should expect from a brave man.' Seeing that one of the deputy 
jailers was prasent, he added : ' I don't say this to flatter ; it isn't 
my way. I say it because it is true.' Capt. Brown appears perfectly 
fearless in all respects, — says that he has no feeling about death on a 
scaffold, and believes that every act, ' even all the follies that led to 
this disaster, were decreed to happen ages before the world was made.' 
The only anxiety he expressed was in regard to the circumstances of 
his family. He asked and obtained leave to add a postscript to a letter 
to his wife, telling her that he was to be hanged on the second of 
December, and requested that it should be directed to Mrs. John 
Brown, ' for there are some other widow Browns in North Elba.' 
He speaks highly of his medical attendants, but rejects the offered 
counsel of all ministers who believe that slavery is right. He will die 
as fearlessly as he has lived." 

* " When that Boston wife went down to John Brown's prison, and stood mending 
the sabre cut of his coat, a young Virginian, doubtless of the first families, who had on 
a uniform, although requested by a friend to retire for the purpose of letting her and 
Brown talk of old times alone, looked in throilgh the window. But the wit of the 
woman got rid of him ; for, having finished her needlework, she turned round and said, 
' Young man, get me a brush to clean this coat with ; ' but the chivalry of the old 
State was so livid hot with rage at being asked to do any thing useful, that he went 
off, and was not seen again for half an liour. Now, that is a specimen of this white 
race in working." — Speech of Windell I'hUlips, New Yori, December 15. 

Forty Days in Chains. 375 

The visit of Judge Russell and his wife was not 
liked by the self-styled hospitable Virginians, but they 
were permitted to visit the jail unmolested by the pop- 
ulace, and were not uncourteously received. 


The next Northern visitor — a Boston sculptor — 
who had come to take a likeness and a measure of John 
Brown's head, was less tenderly treated by the author- 
ities. Captain Brown refused, at first, to permit the 
measurements to be made ; but, when told that a ladj^ 
who had been a friend to him in other days, requested 
it as a personal favor, he at once expressed his willing- 
ness to permit it to be done. But the judicial, offi- 
cial, and jail authorities interposed, and the sculptor 
was refused all access to him. A reporter who had 
access to the cell on the same day — November 3 — 
writes : 

••Brown's cheerfulness never fails him. He converses with all who 
visit him in a manner so free from restraint and with so much uncon- 
cern, that none can doubt his real convictions of self-approval. His 
daring courage has strongly impressed the people, and I have more 
than once heard public avowals of admiration of his fearlessness in 
spite of ominous murmurs of disapprobation from bystanders. A 
telegraphic despatch, dated Boston, was this morning received from 
T. W. Higginson. It said, ' John Brown's wife wishes to go on and 
see him. Can you obtain permission for her ? ' This was answered 
affirmatively ; but when the matter was mentioned to Brown, he 
directed that this message should be immediat«iy sent : ' Do not, for 
God's sake, come here now. John Brown.' " 

In his next letter he adds : 

^,, •• November 4. Certain Northern papers convey the impressions of a 
verj'^ general belief in John Brown's safety from execution. They 
assume, that, for political or other reasons. Governor Wise will b« 
induced to show clemency to this condemned man. Such ideas are 
received here with indignation. It is evident that any attempt to 
remove him alive from this town would fail. The people say that a 
regiment of soldiers, with the Governor at their head, could not 
accomijlish it. You, at a distance, can hardly form an impression 
of the rage for vengeance which is felt by the citizens of this plaoo. 

376 Forty Days in Chains. 

When Brown was in court on trial, there were always faces, burning 
with hatred hanging over him, fiercely watching every movement 
that he made. In the event of an attempt to rescue, which has been 
the great fear all along, the jailers have been instructed to shoot him. 
The populace are resolute in their determination that their victims 
Bhall never be taken from them, and it does not seem that this deter- 
mination is to be shaken by any expedient. 

" Brown's own ideas on the subject are characteristic. He tran- 
quilly says, « I do not know that I ought to encourage any attempt to 
save my life. I am not sure that it would not be better for me to die 
at this time. I am not incapable of error, and I may be wrong ; but 
I think that perhaps my object would be nearer fulfilment if I should 
die. I must give it some thought.' There is no insincerity about 
this, you may be sure. Brown does not value his life ; or, at least, is 
wholly unmoved at the prospect of losing it. He was never more 
firm than at this moment. The only compunctions he expresses are 
in relation to his management at Harper's Ferry, by which he lost 
not only himself, but sacrificed his associates. He sometimes says 
that if he had pursued his original plan of immediate escape to the 
mountains, he could never have been taken, for he and his men had 
studied the vicinity thoroughly, and knew it a hundred times better 
than any of the inhabitants. It was, he says, his weakness in yield- 
ing to the entreaties of his prisoners, and delaying his departure, that 
ruined him. » It was the first time,' are his own words, ' that I ever 
lost command of myself, and now I am punished for it.' 

"The reason Brown has given for asking his wife to remain away, 
is also characteristic. He knows it would cause great suffering, and 
will, possibly, shatter his composure in a manner which he is resolved 
against, lest his captors should esteem it an evidence of regret for 
what he has done. The despatch which I told you was sent to 
Mrs. Brown did not reach her, and to-day another was received, an- 
nouncing that she was about to leave Philadelphia for this town. 
Brown will still make another eff'ort to check her. Nothing seems to 
give Brown greater annoyance than hearing of those threatening 
anonymous letters that are continually sent to Governor Wise, and 
to the authorities of Charlestown, respecting his fate. He protests 
against them, and feels iinwilling to believe that they proceed from his 
own friends.". 

A pro-slavery reporter of the New York Herald vis- 
ited John Brown on the same days, and thus records 
the results of the interview : 

" I have just seen ' Old Captain Brown.' I inquired after his health 
and condition ; he replied that his recent wounds had caused some 
inflammation in an old one, received, doubtless, in some of his ' Kan- 
sas work ; ' with that exception he was easy in mind and body, and 
thought he had done his duty to God and man. If it was decreed 
that he should suffer for it, very well ; it was of but small conse- 
quence to him. He cared but little, any way. I asked him if he 
had no regret for the valuable lives he had destroyed. The old sin- 
ner replied he had not intended that. In answer to the query, ' K 

Forty Days in Chains, 377 

he thought his designs could be c«irried out without bloodshed ? ' he 
replied, ' It had been done in Missouri.' Just at that point the inter- 
view terminated. 

"The prisoners are still guarded with the greatest vigilance. Hun 
dreds of men all the time under arms are stationed at the jail, which, 
by the way, in its external appearance looks much more like a private 
residence than a jail, with its curtained windows and porch or stoop, 
to speak in Yankee parlance, leading out on the street — but it is very 
strong and secure within." 

On the 5th of November, a Northern lady — Mrs. 
Spring — arrived in Charlestown to nurse John Brown; 
and, on the following day, was admitted to his cell. 
From her account of this interview, all that has not 
hitherto been published is subjoined : 

" On our way wc spent a night at Harper's Ferry. In the parlor 
we heard a young lady describing to a gentleman the horrors of the 
night of terror. ' I wished,' she said, ' I could shoot them all.' She 
told the story of poor Thompson, brought wounded into the hotel, 
followed by the infuriated people, protected for a time by Mr. Foulke's 
sister, at last dragged out and killed on the bridge. She said, ' It was 
dreadful to drag him out so ; but they did right to kill him. / 
would. . . .' 

" Between Mr. Brown and his jailer there has grown up a most 
friendly feeling. Captain Avis, who is too brave to be afraid to be 
kind, has done all he could for the prisoners, and been cursed accord- 
ingly. Still their condition was very cheerless, and Mr. Brown was 
in the same clothes in which he was taken. A cloth under his head 
was much stained with blood from a still open wound. It was hard 
for me to forget the presence of the jailer, (I had that morning seen his 
advertisement of • fifty negroes for sale ; ') but I soon lost all thought 
of him in listening to Mr. Brown, who spoke at once of his plans and 
his failure. Twenty years he has labored, and waited, and suffered, 
and at last he believed the time of fulfilment had come. But he failed ; 
and instead of being free on the mountains, strong to break every 
yoke, and let the oppressed go free, he was shorn of his strength, with 
prison walls about him. ' But,' he said, ' I do not now reproach 
myself; I did what I could.' I said, 'The Lord often leads us in 
strange ways.' 'Yes,' he answered; 'and I think I cannot now better 
serve the cause I love so much* than to die for it ; and in my death I may 
do more than in my life.'' A pleasant smile came over his face when I 
exclaimed, ' Then you will be our martyr ! ' I contmued, ' I want 
to ask one question for others, not for myself — Have you been actu- 
ated by any feeling of revenge ? ' He raised his head, and gave me a 
surprised look ; then, lying back, he answered slowly, but firmly, 
' I am not conscious of having had a feeling of the kind. No, not in 
all the wrong done to me and my family in Kansas, have I had a feel- 
ing of revenge.' ' That would not sustain you now,' I remarked. 
•No, indeed,' he replied quickly; 'but I sleep peacefully as an 
infant, or if I am wakeful, glorious thoughts come to me, entertaining 


378 Forty Days in Chains. 

my mind.' Presently he added, ' The sentence they lave pronounced 
against me did not disturb me in the least ; it is not the first time that 
I have looked death in the face.' ♦ It is not the hardest thing for a 
brave man to die,' I answered ; ' but how will it be in the long days 
before you, shut up here ? If you can be true to yourself in all this, 
how glad we shall be ! ' * 7 cannot say,' he responded, » but I do not 
believe I shall demj my Lord and Master, Jesus Christ ; and I should be if 
I denied my principles against slavery. Why, I preach against it all tliR 
time — Captain Avis knows I do.' The jailer smiled, and said, ' Yes.' 
We spoke of those who, in times of trial, forgot themselves, and he 
said, ' There seems to be just that difference in people ; some can bear 
more than others, and i. ot suffer so much. He had been through all 
kinds of hardships, and did not mind them.' My son remarked it 
was a great thing to have confidence in one's own strength, ♦ I did 
not mean to say that,' was the answer. 'It was only a constitutional 
difference, and I have been trained to hardships.' When twelve years 
old he went with his fiither to furnish tlie American army with cattle. 
This had led him far away from home, and subjected him to much 
exposure. Sometimes he slept in graveyards, but without any super- 
stitious fears, and in forests a hundred miles from human habitations, 
surrounded by hostile English and Indians. ' But,' he added, smiling, 
' I harve one unconquerable weakness ; 1 have always been more afraid 
of being taken into an evening party of ladies and gentlemen than of 
meeting a company of men with guns.' I think he is still more 
afraid of giving trouble to others. He seems to me to be purely unself- 
ish, and in all that he has done to have never thought of himself, but 
always of others. In a noble letter to his wife, which I brought away 
■with me, he entreats his ' dear wife and children, every one. Never in 
cM your trials forget the poor that cry, and him that hctth none to help 

" While he was talking to me with deepest solicitude of his family, 
the rabble, ever hanging about the Court House and prison, fearful 
that we were plotting treason inside, became restless. The sheriff Avas 
frightened, and called the jailer, so that I had only a moment to speak 
to Stevens, and to say farewell to Mr. Brown, who stood up to take 
leave of us, saying, ' The Lord will bless you for coming here.' 

" There was, I learned afterwards, an angry mob outside the jail, 
but I did not see it. In a moment we reached the hotel, and at once 
recorded all we could remember of this interesting visit. That night 
there were rimnors of an attack on the jaU, and it was thought best 
that I should not repeat my visit. 

" But the evening before we left CharlestoTvn, a tqjegram announced 
to me that Mrs. Bro-wn was in Philadelphia ; and I was anxious there- 
fore to have another interview with her husband. In the morning 
I sent for the Judge, who went with tis to the prison door. Mr. 
Brown was sitting at the table, where he had just finished a letter to 
his wife, and a note to me. He looked better, and brighter, and hap- 
pier than at my first visit, and Stevens also looked better. The old 
man said little except about his family, whom he commended to the 
kindness of good people." 

The next account that we haye, is from the corre- 
spondence of a pro-slavery paper, — the New York 

Forty Days in Chains. 379 

Herald, — and from so very prejudiced a source, it is 
an important testimony to John Brown's character and 
courage : 

" A person visiting Brown in jail, and seeing him for the first time, 
■with an estimate formed of the man from his conduct during the trial 
and the speeches there delivered by him, would find his preconceived 
opinions rapidly disappear before the subject of them. It is true that, 
acting under excitement and from the consciousness that he was sur- 
rounded by his enemies, Brown frequently indulged in irascible remarks, 
feeling somewhat secure in the protection of the law whose victim lie 
must be, while, at the same time, he dared, and, indeed, seemed to 
court, the worst his foes could do, thinking, perhaps, that he might 
jscape the slower and more vengeful process of the law. In this state 
of feeling, sensitive as an enthusiast in giving to thcAVorld the motives 
of an act which, to his own diseased mind, was great and good, but 
which the world must condemn, he claimed with petulance and impa- 
tience those delays in the administration of the law which neither liis 
crimes nor the circumstances of the court could fairly admit of. Ilia 
objrct in this was, as he himself said, to give the world a fair oppor- 
tunity of judging of his motives. If this opportunity was to be 
denied him, a summary quietus from one of the Sharpe's rifles in the 
hands of his enemies was all he next most desired. Now that he has 
received at the hands of justice and fair play all the delay that he 
could possibly hope for — a trial protracted over five days — with the 
fullest publicity given to the statements of those witnesses who testficd 
most directly and generously to his humanity to his prisoners in the 
Armory at Harper's Ferry, he is satisfied, and awaits the result with 
that calm firmness which is the sure characteristic of a brave man. 

" What Brown was most anxious to establish in the eyes of the 
world, during the trial, was his claim to being considered humane and 
merciful from his conduct to his prisoners. Whatever good quality a 
man possesses in any marked degree he is most anxious to have ac- 
knowledged at a time when circumstances point the other way ; and 
so it was with Brown. Though his deeds in the Kansas border wars 
did not entitle him to be considered either as humane, or as averse to 
the shedding of blood, certainly his prisoners at Harper's Ferry had no 
fault to find with him on that score. They frankly acknowledged his 
humanity and courtesy towards them. At all events, the opinions 
formed of the man from the darker features of his life would fade 
before the influence of a personal interview with him in prison. Now 
that his fate has been decided by the just and proper process of law, 
he feels resigned to it. He no longer indulges in complaints and in- 
vectives. He rarely adverts to his trial ; but whenever he does, he 
pays a tribute to all concerned — Judge, counsel, and witnesses. He 
speaks freely upon all subjects but one, and that is the death of his 
sons. From his taciturnity he has been adjudged as entirely callous 
as to the fate of his sons and the other unfortunate victims of his mad 
enterprise -, but this is a very great mistake, and arises from ignorance 
of the human heart. He avoids the subject, it is true, but in waiv- 
ing it, should it be started, the observer can mark and understand 
tlie feeling which confines it to his own heart. He speaks freely 

380 Forty Days in Chains. 

enough of his wife and daughters, and he has beeti some time consid- 
ering the propriety of allowing them to visit him. They are now on 
their way to visit him, although he had resolved on avoiding an inter, 
view with them until some few days previous to that fixed for his 
death, and which he has not the slightest hope of seeing put off a 
single hour. 

" Mrs. Russell, wife of Judge Russell, visited him the other day, 
and had a long chat with him. He appear"'.! v ry much pleased with 
the lady's manner, and was very communicative with her. In illustrat- 
ing his own character, ho said that he had never known what fear 
was when brought into opposition or collision with his fellowjman, 
but that he had a strange feeling of that nature on his first introduc- 
tion to the higher class of men with whom his peculiar and waywaid 
life brought him into contact. This feeling, he said, was very awk- 
ward, and very painful, also, when entering the society of women. 
The interview with Mrs. Russell seemed to touch the old man's heart, 
and no woman could turn from him, so full of trials and sorrow — 
for woman at such a moment rarely looks back to first causes — with- 
out emotion. 

" Brown frequently indulges in amusing narratives of his encoun- 
ters with his border enemies of Kansas and Missouri. He related to 
me that upon one occasion he had succeeded in running away with a 
party of slaves from Missouri, but that he was so hotly pursued that 
some stratagem was necessary to prevent them from being overtaken, 
in the event of which a severe fight and consequent sacrifice of life 
must be the result. To avoid this. Brown himself turned off the 
track of the retreating party, and having completely disguised him- 
self, joined as an amateur the pursuers. With them he remained a 
day and a night, entering into their counsels and effectually control- 
ling their motions, so that he turned them off the right track, and gave 
his friends an opportunity to escape. The old man laughed as he 
recalled the scene, and said, ' I never was good at a disguise, but that 
time I deceived several in the party who had seen and known me 
before.' With all who come in a kindly spirit to visit him Brown is 
exceedingly free and open. He esteems such as friends, and seems to 
view their leave-taking with regret. But these visits are but as angels'- 
visits, few and far between, for the jealousy and suspicion with Avhjch 
the people of Charlestown regard all who are likely to feel for and 
sympathize with the prisoner — in fact, all strangers — keep barred 
the prison doors. It is not so, however, in regard to those about 
whose earnest hostility to all abolition movements there is no doubt 
entertained. They enter in flocks, and gape, and stare, and follow 
the jailer in and out. He is in the same cell with Stevens, at whose 
bedside he is constantly found sitting, with the Bible (just closed as 
the visitor enters) placed upon his knees. This is the Bible he always 
carried with him. It was found, after the final attack and recapture 
of Harper's Ferry, ia the Armory, and was by some kind person re- 
stored to its owner in captivity. It is almost needless to say tjjat 
Brown awaits death with that resignation and tranquillity which dis- 
arm the dreaded phantom of all terror." 

A republican correspondent, writing under date of 
November 8, informs us that, 

Forty Days in Chains. 381 

** Brown's conversation is singularly attractive. His manner is 
magnetic. It attracts every one who approaches him, and while he 
talks he reigns. The other prisoners venerate him. Stevens sits in 
his bed, usually with his face away from the window, and listens all 
day to ' the Captain's ' words, seldom offering a syllable except when 
called upon. Sometimes he gets a little excited, and springs forward 
to make clear some point about Avhich ' the Captain ' is in doubt ; but 
his five bullets, in head and breast, weigh him down, and he is soon 
exhausted. As for the other men, — Copeland, Green, and Coppic, — 
they are always sending messages to ' the Captain,' assuring him that 
' it was not they who confessed, and he mustn't growl at them, but at 
Cook.' I cannot forget hearing Bro-\\Ti express himself on the subject 
of the threatening anonymous letters that have been received by Gov. 
Wise relating to his case. ' Well, gentlemen,' he said, ' I tell you what 
I think of them. They come from no friends of mine. I have noth- 
ing to do with such friends. Why, gentlemen, of all the things in the 
world that I despise, anonymous letters are the worst. If I had a 
little job to do, I would sooner take one half the men I brought dovm. 
here to help me than as many of these fellows as could fill all Jef- 
ferson County, standing close upon every inch. If I don't get out 
of this jail before such people as they are take me out, I shan't go 
very soon.' " 

\ During all this time, John Brown received large 
numbers of letters daily. All anonymous notes he 
burned without reading. He replied to as many of 
the others as«he had time to answer. Previous to this 
date, also, two militia companies paid him a visit, — 
the Continentals and the Frederickburg Guards. He 
received them cordially ; but objected, he said, " to be 
made a monkey show of." He told the Continentals 
that he had seen their uniform on the border during 
the war of 1812. 


On November 16, says the New York Tribune, 

" John Brown, by counsel, made his last appeal to a Virginia tri- 
bunal. Within a few hours' time, the five judges of the Su])rcme 
Court of Appeals uttered their unanimous opinion that the judgment 
of the Jefferson County Court, under which the old man awaits death 
by hanging on the 2d day of December, was right ; and therefore they 
denied his petition for a writ of error. The indictment upon which 
Brown was tried contained four counts — for treason, for advising and 
conspiring with slaves and others to rebel, and for murder. Chiu-ged 
jointly with others, he was tried alone. One general judgment of 
death was entered upon the whole of it. The grounds of his applica- 

382 Forty Days in Chains. 

tion for a writ of error were few. He claimed, first, that the judgment 
against him was erroneous, because it was not averred in the treason 
count, that at the time of the offence charged he Avas a citizen of the 
State of Virginia or of the United States. The law is well settled, 
that treason is a breach of allegiance, and can be committed only by 
one who owes allegiance, either temporary or perpetual. Brown ap- 
pealed to the Court, that if the judgment against him on all the counts, 
including this defective one of treason, was to staud, he would be put 
out of all possible reach of the Executive clemency. That clemency 
could have reached him, on the contrary, if the judgment had only 
been on the other counts of the indictment. Secondly, he claimed that 
the judgment under which he now awaits death was erroneous, in that 
the Court below denied his application that the prosecution be made 
to elect some one count upon which to try him, and abandon the rest. 
He was entitled to that election : First, Because the offence of treason 
is not pardonable by the Governor of Virginia, and therefore a count 
charging it should not have been united in an indictment with counts 
for offences thi\t are pardonable. Second, Because the punishment 
upon conviction upon each of the counts was not necessarily the 
same ; that while it was inevitably capital upon one of them, upon 
the others he might have been found guilty only of a misdemeanor, 
or of a simple manslaughter. Thirdly, he insisted that the Court be- 
low should have in,structed the Jury that if they believed, from the 
evidence, that at the time of the committing of the acts charged in the 
count for treason, he was not a citizen of Virginia, but of another 
State, he could not be convicted under it. Fourthly, he claimed that 
the finding by the Jury upon the counts for conspiring with slaves to 
rebel, and for killing ' four white men and one free negro,' ' in manner 
and form as aforesaid,' was too uncertain and inconsistent to warrant 
a judgment of death. Briefly, and without any delay painful to the 
tense expectation of the Virginia mind, did the five Judges of the 
Appeals Court say to John Brown, through his counsel, ' The judg- 
ment under which you are to be hung by the neck until you are dead, 
is plainly right.' IBs counsel were not allowed to be heard." 


Johu Brown had frequent calls from the Virginia 
clergy, but with none of them would he bow the knee 
to their Baal. Mr. Lowry, an old neighbor, who visited 
him in prison, states that : 

'* Mr. Brown is a member of the Old-School Presbyterian Church, 
and a decidedly religious man, though he strictly and sternly refuses 
to be aided in his prayers by the pro-slavery divines of Virginia. 
One of these gentlemen, in conversation with me, said that he had 
called on Brown to pray with him. He said that Brown asked if ho 
was ready to fight, if necessity required it, for the freedom of the 
slave. On his answering in the negative, Brown said that he would 
thank him to retire from his cell ; that his prayers would be an abom- 
ination to his God. To another clergyman he said that he would not 
insult his God by bowing down with any one who had the blood of 
the slav2 upon his skirts." 

Forty Days in Chains. 383 

A correspondent of the Baltimore American gives 
this additional testimony to John Brown's fidelity : 

" Captain Brown has also recovered, and is getting quite active. 
Ho rpfuses to receive any ministers who countenance slavery, telling 
them to go home and read their Bibles. Rev. Alfred Griffith had 
an interview with him a few days since, which lasted for nearly an 
hour, principally on the subject of slavery. They quoted Scriptxire 
to sustiiin their views, and had quite a clashing time of it ; but neither 
wan able to convince the other of the correctness of their peculiar 

Another writer says : 

" Brown was visited yesterday by Rev. James H. March, of the M. 
E. Church. The reverend gentleman having advanced an argument in 
favor of the iijstitution of slavery as it ^ow exists, Brown replied to 
him, saying, * My dear sir, you know nothing about Christianity ; you 
will have to learn the A B C's in the lesson of Christianity, as I find 
you entirely ignorant of the meaning of the word. I, of course, re- 
spect you as a gLntleman ; but it is as a heathen gentleman.' The rev- 
erend gentleman here thought *it best to draw such a discussion to a 
close, and therefore withdrew." 

Let the churches of America blush in shame in pres- 
ence of the faithful Christian of Charlestown jail. Was 
ever testimony against slavery so firmly or so worthily 
borne ? The effect of it was noteworthy. The clergy- 
men of Charlestown refused to pray for John Brown 
before his execution, although that custom is immemo- 
rial, and Christianity enjoins the duty of praying even 
for our enemies. 

To Mr. Lowry, in speaking of the Pottawattomie 
executions, and the person who accused him of having 
killed the ruffians, he said that he was mistaken in 
supposing that the charge needed any refutation from 
him. " Time and the honest verdict of posterity," he 
said, " will approve of every act of mine to prevent 
slavery from being established in Kansas. I never shed 
the blood of a fellow-man, except in self-defence or in 
promotion of a righteous cause.''* Mr. Lowry adds : 

384 Forty Days in Chains. 

" During our conversation, the martial music (where Governor Wise 
was reviewing his army near the prison) made a great noise, and, 
thinking it must annoy him, I asked him it" it did not. ' No,' said the 
man ; ' it is inspiring ! ' 

" And here, as I parted with him, telling him I would see him 
again, if possible, he repeated to me : ' Tell those without that I am 
cheerful.' My time was up, and I was invited to leave." 

During this week five fires, caused by incendiaries, 
occurred within a circuit of fifteen miles. The fright- 
ened Virginians attributed them to antirslavory inva- 
ders ; but the planters, knowing the feelings of their 
slaves, slept every night in the town. A cow ap- 
proached tlie guards, one evening, and, refusing to give 
the countersign, was shot. In a few days afterwards, 
companies of infantry and artillery arrived from Peters- 
burg and Richmond, to protect the citizens. 

On their arrival in Charlestown, on November 22, 
these protectors of Virginia from her graminivorous 
enemies paid a visit to the old man in prison ; but no 
one cared or was permitted to describe the interview. 
Governor Wise, who accompanied them to Charles- 
town, had a conversation with John Brown, who " jus- 
tified and defended his course." 

On the 24th, the militia Colonel hitherto in command 
was superseded by General Taliaferro, and martial law 
was at once proclaimed. The telegraph was seized by 
the Government of Virginia, and every train that en- 
tered the State was searched and put under guard. 
The Austrian passport system was inaugurated — for 
the first time in American history. 

The next and only published record of John Brown's 
life in his cell, until the day preceding his sublime 
victory over death, is from the pen of a very prejudiced 

Forty Days in Chains. 385* 

authority, but bears, nevertherless, internal evidenaes 
of its truthfulness : 

"Colonel Smith, of the Virginia Military Institute, paid a visit to 
John Brown to-day, in company with Mr. O. Jennings Wise, son of 
Governor Wise, who is attached to Company F, of Richmond. I had 
an interview with one of the jail officials who was present at the con- 
versation that took place between Captain Brown and these gentlemen, 
and I give you, word for word, what transpired during our interview : 

Reporter. Did Colonel Smith question Bro^vn as to whether he had 
any desire to have a clergyman to administer to him the consolations 
oi; religion ? 

Jail Official. Yes, he did ; but Brown said he did not recognize any 
slaveholder, lay or clerical, or any man sympathizing with slavery, as 
a Christian. He gave the same reason yesterday for his refusal to 
accept the services of some clergymen who called upon him. He also 
said he would as soon be attended to the scaffold by blacklegs or rob- 
bers of the worst kind as by slaveholding ministers, or ministers sym- 
pathizing with slavery, and that if he had his choice he would prefer 
being followed to the scaffold by barefooted, barelegged, ragged 
negro children, and their old gray-headed slave-mother, than by cler- 
gymen of this character. He would feel, he said, much prouder of 
Buch an escort, and wished he could have it. 

Reporte)-. Has he said any thing on the subject of religion to the 
clergymen who have called upon him ? 

Official. Yes, he argues with them ; but winds up frequently by 
telling them that they, and all slaveholders and sympathizers with 
alayery, have far more need of prayers themselves than he has, and he 
accordingly advises them to pray for themselves, and exhibit no con- 
cern about him. "NVliile making these remarks, he requests that he 
would not be understood as designing to offer any insidt. 

Reporter. Does his health seem impaired by the anxiety which he 
must necessarily feel in view of his impending fate ? 

Official. No, sir ; he looks much better to-day than he did at any 
period since his unprisonment. He eats his meals regularly, and 
seems to be in. better spirits this morning than he has been for ten 

Reporter, Does he make any reference to his sons who were shot at 
Harper's Ferry ? 

Official, He expressed some anxiety to get the bodies of his sons 
together, and requested the jailer to give his wife any assistance in his 
power to get them together. 

Reporter. What does he mean by getting them tqgethei \ 

Official. He is aware that the body of one of his sons was taken to 
the Winchester Medical College for cUssection, and in using the words 
getting them together he meant to have their bones collected and given 
to his wife. He also expressed ^ 4esire to have the bones of two men, 
named Thompson, from his neighborhood, who were shot at Harper's 
Ferry, given to his wife. He expressed an idea that it would be well 
to have the flesh bt^rncfj qff the bodies of all, and their bones boxed 
up, so that they might be carried home with more convenience. In 
expressing tjijs wish he remarked that he raeqnt to do no yiole^ce \Q 


386 Forty Days in Chains. 

the feelings or Christian sentiments of the people of Virginia. His 
S(Jle object was to prevent inconvenience in their transportation, and 
avoid any disagreeable odor. 

Reporter. There was a rumor on the streets during yesterday that 
he was engaged in writing out, or had written, his autobiography. Is 
there any truth in the rumor ? 

Official. No, sir ; there is no truth in it. He is, however, writing 
a lolig communication to his family.* 

Reporter. Does he exhibit much concern about his wife and chil- 
dren f 

Official. Some time since he felt deeply concerned lest they may be 
reduced to want. Now, however, he has less concern on that head, 
doubtless because of the assurance he received of a purpose to make 
provision for them. He often speaks of his three youngest daughters, 
the eldest of whom, he says, is rising sixteen, and the youngest six. 

Reporter. Does he say any thing relative to Governor Wise ? 

Official. He speaks of him in the highest terms, and expressed him- 
self much pleased at seeing his son to-day, on account of his father's 
treatment of him. He observed that the Governor treated him much 
better than he expected he would have done under the circumstances. 

Reporter. Does he seek to justify himself for the murder of the men 
at Pottawattomie Creek, when questioned upon the subject ? 

Official, He says he did not kill any of them, but that he approved 
of their being killed. 

Reporter. Has he any intercourse with the rest of his confederates 
now in jail ? 

Official. He has not, except with Stevens, who occupies the same 
cell with him. 

Reporter. Did he seem pleased when he was informed that the 
Governor agreed to hand over his body to his wife ? 

Offiicial. He was very much pleased when he read the Governor's 
letter to the Sheriff, requesting his body to be given to his wife after 

At this stage of the dialogue a Presbyterian clergyman of this town, 
named Dutton, entered the jailer's dwelling, and requested to have his 
name reported to Mr. Brown, vAxh. a request for an interview if con- 
venient. The message was delivered, but Mr. Brown declined an 
interview, on the groiind that he was then too busy. Mr. Dutton 
then left. 

Reporter. "VVTiat is it keeps him busy ? 

Official. He is engaged in reading about two dozen letters, sent to 
him this morning. In declining an interview with Mr. Dutton, he 
desired that he (Mr. D.) be informed of his (Brown's) willingness to 
see him in the coiirse of the day, and argue with him on the subject of 

Reporter. What is generally the character of the letters sent to him ? 

Official. They are generally letters of sympathy and condolence. 

Reporter. Does he receive any assuring him of a purpose to rescue 

Official. Yes ; several, fhese, however, are mostly anonymous, 
and he invariably commits them to the flames. I have observed him 

• Wliich they never reeeiv«d. 

Forty Days in Chains. 387 

throwing them into the fire upon finding them to be anonymous. 
Recently he reads no anonymous letter. Any communication, how- 
ever, applauding him as a martyr to the anti-slavery cause, he care- 
fully files away. Referring to his execution this morning, during his 
conversation with Mr. O. J. Wise and Colonel Smith, he said he was 
not to be executed, but pubKcly murdered. 

Reporter. Does he profess any religion ? 

Official. Yes; he says he is a member of the Congregationalist 
Church, and represents himself as a good Christian. 

Reporter. Have you any idea whether he has written, or intends to 
write, any thing which he would wish to have published ? 

Official. He has v/ritten nothing that I am aware of, except a short 
note to a gentleman across the street, stating that his commentaries on 
Beecher's sermon were not published as he gave them. Some of his 
commentaries, he said, were omitted, while others were materially 

Reporter. Does he exhibit any lack of firmness when spoken to on 
the subject of his approaching doom > 

Official. I remarked to him this morning that the question was fre- 
quently asked, "Whether there was any caving in on his part," and 
his reply was, that there was no caving in about him ; that he would 
hold up to the last moment as he did at the start. 

Reporter. What does ho say regarding the prospects of his rescue ? 

Official, He said he was sure his sons could hardly contemplate his 
fate without using some efforts to rescue him ; but this, he presumed, 
they would only do if he was allowed to remain in jail without any 
thing more than ordinary precaution to prevent his escape or rescue 
being exercised. He said, however, that such an attempt would not 
be made in view of the precautions now taken. He had no idea that 
any attempt at rescue would be made with so large a military force aa 
he understood was now present. 

Reporter. Is he aware that he will not be permitted to make any 
speech from the scaffold ? 

Official. Yes, he is ; and when informed of that fact, he said he did 
not care about saying any thing." 

,, "In. all his conversation," wrote another reporter, 
"Brown showed the utmost gentleness and tranquil- 
lity, and a quiet courtesy withal, that contrasted rather 
strongly with the bearing of some of his visitors." 


Husband and Wife. 

■RS. BROWN, on her return to Philadelphia from 
Baltimore, wrote a letter to Governor Wise, ask-, 
ing for the bodies of her slain sons, and of her husband, 
after his execution. He sent her the orders for them, 
addressed to the Sheriff and the General in command. 
On Wednesday evening, Mrs. Brown, carrying these sad 
certificates, arrived at Harper's Ferry, under the escort 
of two gentlemen from Philadelphia. She intended to 
have gone to Charlestown with them, on the following 
morning, to have her last earthly interview with her 
husband. When the morning came, a despatch from 
liead-quarters ordered the officers to detain the sorrow- 
stricken wife and her friends until further orders. A 
trustworthy correspondent says : 

"I learned at CharlestoA^Ti that for several hours a triangular cor- 
respondence by telegraph was going on between Charlestown, Rich- 
mond, and Harper's Ferry, which ultimated in a despatch from General 
Taliaferro, saying that he had sent a file of dragoons to escort Mrs. 
Brown, but not the others. Tlie mortification of the citizens of Har- 
per's Ferry was not less than that of Mrs, Brown, and her fi-iends, at 
so cruel and unlooked-for an act on the part of the chivalrous sons of 
Virginia. But as a cow will frighten a private doing sentry duty, one 


Hufband and Wife. 389 

live Northern woman and two Northern men might reasonably be ex- 
pected to intimidate a Virginia army. 

" The escort consisted of a file of eight mounted riflemen, under a 
sergeant. Captain Moore, of the Montgomery Guards, stationed at 
this place, very kindly offered his own services as a personal escort to 
Mrs. Brown, and she gladly accepted it. 

"The Captain referred frequently, as they came along, to the imfor- 
tunate situation of her husband. She exhibited no sorrow or regret, 
so far as he could observe." 

The gallant Captain had the brutality to attempt to 
argue with a wife, thus circumstanced, in favor of that 
great crime against God and man, for assailing whose 
power her husband was doomed to die. 

The writer, above quoted, continues : 

<<I was in sight when the formidable cavalcade arrived. The mili- 
tary went through manoeuvres in Scott's Manual, named and nameless, 
and which were well calculated to impress the beholder with the won- 
derful effectiveness of a Virginia regiment at a general muster, but in 
a no more sanguinary conflict. At last, however, Mrs. Brown was 
admitted. She was kindly received by Captain and Mrs. Avis. Mrs. 
Avis, by order of the powers that be, conducted Mrs. Brown into a 
private apartment, where her clothing was searched for concealed 
weapons, or other means which the morbid suspicion of the Vir- 
ginia army of occupation suggested Mrs. Brown might surreptitiously 
convey to her husband. 

" In the mean time Captain Brown had been informed that his wife 
had arrived. The announcement M'as made by General Taliaferro, 
when the following dialogue took place : 

" 'Captain Brown, how long do you desire this interview to last?' 
asked the Virginian. 

" • Not long ; three or four hours will do,' said Captain Brown. 

"♦I am very sorry. Captain Brown,' said the Virginia General, 
•that I shall not be able to oblige you. Mrs. Brown must return 
to-night to Harper's Ferry.' 

" 'General, execute your orders; I have no favors to ask of the 
State of Virginia,' was the brave old man's reply. 

"This fact was related to an acquaintance of mine by a Virginia 
gentleman, as an illustration of Captain Brown's courage and bravery. 
He did not see in it the scathing rebuke to the pusillanimity of a great 
State, which, with a cordon of twenty-five hunfUed men, would not 
protract the last interview tfetweeii a brave man and his sorvdw- 
strickeh wiftf." 


390 Hufband and Wife. 

Mrs. Brown, we are told, was led into the cell by the 
jailer. Her husband rose, and, as she entered, received 
her in his arms. For some minutes they stood speech- 
less, — Mrs. Brown resting her head upon her hus- 
band's breast, and clasping his neck with her arms. 
At length they sat down and spoke ; and from Captain 
Avis, who was the only witness of that sorrowful scene, 
(his fellow-prisoner, Stevens, having been placed in an 
adjoining cell before the entrance of the wife,) the fol- 
lowing record comes : 

John Brown spoke first. " Wife, I am gLad to see you," he said. 

•' My dear husband, it is a hard fate." 

" Well, well ; cheer up, cheer up, Mary. We must all bear it in 
the best manner we can. I believe it is all for the best." 

" Our poor children — God help them." 

•' Those that are dead to this world are angels in another. How are 
all those still living ? Tell them their father died without a single re- 
gret for the course he has pursued — that he is satisfied he is right in 
the eyes of God and of all just men," 

Mrs. Brown then spoke of their remaining children and their home. 
Brown's voice, as he alluded to the bereavements of his family, was 
broken with emotion. After a brief pause, Brown said : 

" Mary, I would like you to get the bodies of our two boys who 
were killed at Harper's Ferry, also the bodies of the two Thompsons, 
and, after I am dead, place us all together on a wood pile, and set fire 
to the wood ; burn the flesh, then collect our bones and put them in 
a large box, then have the box carried to our farm in Essex County, 
and there bury us." 

Mrs. Brown said, " I really cannot consent to do this. I hope you 
v/ill change your mind on this subject. I do not think permission 
would be granted to do any such thing. For my sake, think no more 
of such an idea." 

" Well, well," Brown answered, " do not worry or fret about it ; I 
thought the plan would save considerable expense, and was the best." 

Mrs. Brown observed a chain about the ankles of her husband. To 
avoid its galling his limbs, he had put on tv.'o pairs of woollen socks. 
J£rs. Brown said she was desirous of procuring the chain as a family 
relic. She had already at her home the one with which the limbs of 
John Brown, Jr., were inhumanly shackled in Kansas, and in which 

Hufband and Wife. 391 

*he was goaded on by the Border devils until he was mad, and the 
chain had worn through his flesh to the bone ; and this, too, she de- 
sired. Captain Brown said he had himself asked that it be given to 
his family, and had been refused. 

The conversation then turned upon matters of business, which 
Brown desired to have arranged after his death. He gave his wife all 
the letters and papers which were needed for this purpose, and read to 
her the will which had been drawn up for him by Mr. Himtcr, care- * 
fully explaining every portion of it. 

Speaking of the parties to whom sums are directed to be paid, ho 
said: "Dear Mary, if you can find these, pay them personally; but 
do not pay any one who may present himself as their attorneys, for if 
it gets into the hands of attorneys, we do not know what will become 
of it." 

Subsequently he requested his wife to make a denial of the state- 
ment that had gained publicity, that he had said in his interview with 
Governor Wise that he had been actuated by feelings of revenge. He 
denied that he had ever made such statement, and wished his denial 
made known ; and he denied further that any such base motives had 
ever been his incentive action. 

After this conversation they took supper together. This occupied 
only a few minutes. Their last sorrowful meal being concluded, and 
the time approaching at which they must part, Mrs. Brown asked to 
be permitted to speak to the other prisoners. But Gen. Taliaferro's 
orders forbade this, though Capt. Avis expressed a willingness to per- 
mit her to see them even at the risk of violating orders. She declined 
to see them under the circumstances. 

Brown then touched upon business affairs, until an order was re- 
ceived from the Commander-in-Chief, saying that the interview must 
terminate. Brown then said, " Mary, I hope you will always live in 
Essex Coimty. I hope you will be able to get all out children together, 
and impress the inculcation of the right principles to each succeeding 
generation. I give you all the letters and papers which have been sent 
me since my arrest. I wish you also to take all my clothes that are 
here, and carry them home. Good by, good by. God bless you ! " 

Mrs. Brown was escorted back to Harper's Ferry, 
and reached there, greatly exhausted, at nine o'clock. 


The rope with which the old man was to be hanged 
was publicly exhibited several days before the date of 
his official murder. South Carolina sent one, Missouri 

392 Hufband and Wife. 

another, and Kentucky a third rope, with which to 
strangle the fearless man who had dared to beard the 
lion which the nation dreaded in its oldest and strongest 
den. The gifts of South Carolina and Missouri were 
found to be wanting in strength ; and Kentucky had 
the infamous preference in this choice of the neces- 
sities of assassination. 

A forged letter, purporting to be written by Mrs. 
Doyle, the widow of one of the ruffians of Pottawatto- 
mie, was published before John Brown's execution, in 
order to avert from Virginia the indignation which the 
slaughter of a hero would inevitably excite in CA'^ery 
manly heart in Christendom. It was a fit expedient 
for its authors ; but it failed to effect its purpose. It 
proved the brutality of Slavery ; not the crime of its 
pure-hearted assailant. 

On this day, also, the old man presented to a mer- 
chant of Charlestown, who had shown him great kind- 
ness, a copy of the Bible, bearing on the fly-leaf this 
dedication : 

" With the best wishes of the undersigned, and his sincere thanks for 
many acts of kindness received. There is no Commentary in the 
world so good in order to a right understanding of this Blessed Book 
as an honest, child-like, and teachable spirit. John Brown. 

'^Charlestown, 29th November, 1859." 

The opposite page was thus inscribed : 

" John Brown. The leaves were turned down and marked by him 
while in prison at Charlestown, Va. But a small portion of those 
passages, which in the most positive terms condemn oppression and 
violence, are marked." 

" Many hundred passages," writes a correspondent of a Southern 
paper, " which can by any possibility of interpretation be tortured into 
a support of his peculiar theory, are carefully marked, both by having 
the corner of the pages turned over, and by being surrounded by 
heavy pencil marks'." 


The Victory over Death. 

niHE sun rose clear and bright on the 2d of Deccm- 
JL ber. A haze, that presently veiled it, soon disap- 
peared ; and ere the hour appointed for the hero's 
death, not a cloud was to be seen in the ethereal ex- 
panse. The temperature was so exceedingly genial, 
that, until late in the afternoon, the windows of all 
the houses were open. 


On the previous evening, the timber for the scaffold 
had been removed from "the enclosure of the new 
Baptist church," to a field about half a mile distant 
from the jail, wliich had been fixed on by the General 
in command, and marked out with white flags on short 
stakes, to indicate the position the several sentries 
should occupy. At seven o'clock the carpenters began 
the work of erecting the scaffold. When finished, it was 
about six feet high, twelve wide, and fifteen or eigh- 
teen in length. A hand rail extended around three 
sides and down the flight of steps. On the other side, 
stout uprights, with a cross beam, which was supported 
by strong braces. In the centre of the cross beam was 
an iron hook, from which the rope was suspended. 
The trap beneath was arranged to swing on hinges, 
attached to the platform so slightly as to break from 


394 The Victory over Death. 

it when the cord was cut that upheld the trap. The 
cord, knotted at the end, passed throvigh a hole ai the 
trap, through another hole in the cross beam, over the 
corner, and down the upright, to a hook near the 
ground, to which it was tied. Thus, the weight of a 
man being placed on it, when the cord near the hook 
was cut, the trap would fall at once. 


At eight o'clock the troops began to arrive ; and at 
nine the first company took position. Horsemen clothed 
in scarlet jackets were posted around the field at fifty 
feet apart, and a double line of sentries was stationed 
farther in. As each company arrived, it took its allotted 
position. The following diagram will explain the posi- 
tion of the military forces : 

:•: I 



* » 

» — 



*♦ V 


» • N 

N * * 

* ^ 


* * 

* * 

* o. 



♦ ^ * K 


* * ♦ 

: : 

^I] A 


» * J 

* « 

* ^ 

1 * 

* ♦ 

G * * 

• . — 


" * 


* « * 

* ^ 


* ♦ ♦ ♦ * 

« » « w jt» « 

* ♦ ♦ 



» • * » » « 




» ♦ » * 




Description of the Fieid. — A, Scaffold; B, Generals and Staff; C, Virginia Cadets; 
D, Cadet Howitzers, with cannon pointed at scaffold; E, Riclimoiid Company ; F, Win- 
chester Continentals ; G, Fauquier Cavalry ; H, Company A of Richmond ; I, Alexandria 
Riflemen; K, Riflemen, and part of Capt. Ashby's Cavalry, to keep order in the small 
crowd. J, Hunter's Guard, at entrance gate, supported by a piece of Artillery under 
command of Lieut. Green of the United States Marines; L, Woods scoured by the 
Woodis Rifles, to have the first brush at the enemy, if approaching from Harper's 
Kerry ; M M M M, Pickets of the Fauquier Cavalry ; N N N, Two lines of Sentries ; 0, 
Petersburg Grays is Body Guard to prisoner in wagon. 

The Victory over Death. 395 

The first companies of infantry and cavalry having 
taken their position, the artillery then arrived, with a 
huge brass cannon, which was so placed and pointed 
that, in the event of an attempted rescue, the prisoner 
might be blown into shreds by the heavy charge of 
grape shot that lay hidden in it. Other cannon were 
stationed, with equal care, to sweep the jail and every 
approach to it. From eight o'clock till ten, the mili- 
tary were in constant motion. The extent of these 
precautions may be inferred from the fact that lines 
of pickets and patrols encircled the field of death for 
fifteen miles, and that over five hundred troops were 
posted about the scaffold. Nearly three thousand 
militia soldiers were on the ground. There were not 
more than four hundred citizens present ; for the fears 
of a servile insurrection, or an anti-slavery invasion, 
had kept them at home to watch the movements of 
their slaves. 


John Brown rose at daybreak, resumed his corre- 
spondence with undiminished energy, and continued to 
write till half past ten o'clock, when the Sheriff", Jailer, 
and assistants entered, and told hina that he must pre- 
pare to die. 

The Sheriff* bade him farewell in his cell. The old 
man quietly thanked him for his kindness, and spoke 
of Captain Avis, his jailer, as a brave man. He was 
then led to the cell of Copeland and Green. This 
interview is thus reported : 

" He told them to stand up like men, and not betray their friends. 
He then handed them a quarter of a dollar each, saying he had no 
more use for money, and bade them adieu. He then visited Cook and 

39^ The Victory over Death. 

Coppoc, who were chained together, and remarked to Cook : ♦ You 
have made false statements.' 

«' Cook asked : ' What do you mean ? ' 

" Brown answered : * Why, by stating that I sent you to Harper's 

" Cook replied: ♦Did you not tell me in Pittsburg to come to Har- 
per's Ferry and see if Forbes had made any disclosures ? ' 

•'Brown: 'No, sir; you knew I protested against your coming.' 

" Cook replied : ' Captain Brown, we remember differently,' at the 
same time dropping his head. 

« ' Brown then turned to Coppic and said : ' Coppoc, you also made 
false statements, but I am glad to hear you have contradicted them. 
Stand up like a man.' He also handed him a quarter. He shook both 
by the hand, and they parted. 

"The prisoner was then taken to Stevens's cell, and they kindly 
interchanged greetings. 

" Stevens : ' Good by. Captain ; I know you are going to a better 

" Brown replied : * ' I know I am.' Brown told hun to bear up, 
and not betray his friends, giving him a quarter. 

" He did not visit Hazlett, as he has always persisted in denying 
any knowledge of him." 

How touchingly manly, and yet what cliildHke sim- 
plicity ! " I know I am " — " he gave them a quarter," 
are both equally characteristic of the man. 


At eleven o'clock, John Brown came out of jail. 
An eye witness said of his appearance at this solemn 
moment : " He seemed to walk out of the Gates of 
Fame ; his countenance was radiant ; he walked with 
the step of a conqueror." Another spectator — every 
one, in truth, who saw the old man — corroborated 
this report : On leaving the jail, he wrote, John Brown 
had on his face an expression of calmness and serenity 
characteristic of the patriot who is about to die, with a 
living consciousness that he is laying down his life for 
the good of his fellow-creatures. His face was even 
joyous, and a forgiving smile rested upon his lips. 

The Victory over Death. 397 

His was the lightest heart, among friend or foe, in the 
whole of Charlestown that day ; and not a word was 
spoken that was not an intuitive appreciation of his 
manly courage. Firmly, with clastic step, he moved 
forward. No flinching of a coward's heart there. He 
stood in the midst of that organized mob, from whose 
despotic hearts petty tyranny seemed for the nonce 
eliminated by the admiration they had on once behold- 
ing A MAN ; for John Brown was there every inch a man. 

As he stepped out of the door, a black woman, with a 
little child in her arms, stood near his way. The twain 
were of tlie despised race for whose emancipation and 
elevation to the dignity of children of God he was 
about to lay down his life. His thoughts at that 
moment none can know except as his acts interpret 
them. He stopped for a moment in his course, stooped 
over, and with the tenderness of one whose love is as 
broad as the brotherhood of man, kissed it affectionately. 
That mother will be proud of that mark of distinction 
for her offspring ; and some day, when over the ashes 
of John Brown the temple of Virginia liberty is reared, 
she may join in the joyful song of praise which on that 
soil will do justica to his memory. As he passed along, 
a black woman with a child in her arms, ejaculated, 
" God bless you, old man ; I wish I could help you, 
but I cannot." He heard her, and, as he looked at 
her, a tear stood in his eye. 

The vehicle which was to convey John Brown to the 
scaffold was a furniture wagon. On the front seat was 
the driver, a man named Hawks,* said to be a native 

* Reader, is not this symbolical? Think and say and act accordingly. 


398 The Victory over Death. 

of Massachusetts, but for many years a resident of Vir- 
ginia, and by his side was seated Mr. Saddler, the 
undertaker. In the box was placed the coffin, made of 
black walnut, enclosed in a poplar box with a flat lid, 
in which coffin and remains were to be transported to 
the North. John Brown mounted the wagon, and took 
his place in the seat with Captain Aris, the jailer, whose 
admiration of his prisoner is of the profoundest nature. 
Mr. Saddler, too, was one of John Brown's stancliest 
friends in his confinement, and pays a noble tribute to 
his manly qualities. 

He mounted the wagon with perfect calmness. It 
was immediately surrounded with cavalry. This mil- 
itary escort of the warrior of the Lord to the scene of 
his last earthly victory, consisted of Captain Scott's 
company of cavalry, one company of Major Loring's 
battalion of defensibles, Captain "Williams's Montpelier 
Guard, Captain Scott's Petersburg Greys, Company D, 
Captain Miller, of the Virginia Volunteers, and the 
Young Guard, Captain Rady ; the whole under the com- 
mand of Colonel T. P. August, assisted by Major Loring 
— the cavalry at the head and rear of the column. 

The wagon was drawn by two white horses. From 
the time of leaving jail until he mounted the gallows 
stairs, he wore a smile upon his countenance, and his 
keen eye took in every detail of the scene. There was 
no blenching, nor the remotest approach to cowardice 
nor nervousness. As he was leaving jail, when asked 
if he thought he could endure his fate, he said, " I can 
endure almost any thing but parting from friends ; that 
is very hard." On the road to the scaffold, he said, in 

The Victory over Death. 399 

reply to an inquiry, " It has been a characteristic of 
me, from infancy, not to suffer from physical fear. I 
have suffered a thousand times more from bashfulness 
than from fear." 

" I was very near the old man," writes an eye witr 
ness, " and scrutinized him closely. He seemed to 
take in tlie whole scene at a glance ; and he straight- 
ened himself up proudly, as if to set to the soldiers an 
example of a soldier's courage. The only motion he 
made, beyond a swaying to and fro of his body, was 
that same patting of his knees with his hands that we 
noticed throughout his trial and while in jail. As he 
came upon an eminence near tlie gallows, he cast his 
eye over the beautiful landscape, and followed the 
windings of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. 
He looked up earnestly at the sun, and sky, and all 
about, and then remarked, ' This is a beautiful coun- 
try. I have not cast my eyes over it before — that is, 
while passing through the field.' " 

" Yes," was the sad reply of the brave Captain Avis. 

"You are a game man, Captain Brown," said Mr. 

" Yes," he said, " I was so trained up ; it was one of 
the lessons of my mother ; but it is hard to part from 
friends, though newly made." " -' 

" You are more cheerful than I am, Captain Brown," 
responded Mr. Saddler. 

" Yes," said the hero, ^^ I ought to be.'' 


By this time, the wagon had reached the field of 
death — the warrior's last battle ground. It is thus 
described : 

400 The Victory over Death. 

••The field contained about forty acres, I should say, part of it in 
com stubble, but the greater part in grass. The surface is undulating, 
and a broad hillock near the public road was selected as the site for 
the gallows, because it would aflFord the distant spectators a fair view, 
and place the prisoner so high that if compelled to fire upon him, 
the soldiers need not shoot each other or the civilians. The field was 
boxmded on the south by the road, on the north by a pretty bit of 
woodland, and on the remaining two sides by enclosed fields." ; •, 

The sun shone with great splendor as the condemned 
hero's escort came up, and afar off could be seen the 
bright gleaming muskets and bayonets of his body 
guard, hedging him in, in close ranks, all about. On 
the field the several companies glittered with the same 
sparkle of guns and trappings ; and the gay colors of 
their uniforms, made more intense in the glare, came 
out into strong relief, with the dead tints of sod and 
woods. Away ofif to the east and south, the splendid 
mass of the Blue Ridge loomed against the sky and 
shut in the horizon. Over the woods towards the north- 
east, long, thin stripes of cloud had gradually accumu- 
lated, and foreboded the storm that came in due time ; 
while, looking towards the south, the eye took in an 
undulating fertile country, stretching out to the dis- 
tant mountains. All nature seemed at peace, and the 
shadow of the approaching solemnity seemed to have 
been cast over the soldiers, for there was not a sound to 
be heard as the column came slowly up the road. There 
was no band of musicians to heighten the effect of the 
scene by playing the march of the dead, but with 
solemn tread the heavy footfalls came as of those of one 
man. Thus they passed to their station to the easterly 
Bide of the scaffold. 

As the procession entered the fi^ld, the old hero, as 

The Victory over Death. 401 

if surprised at the absence of the people, remarked : 
" I see no citizens here — where are they ? " 

" The citizens are not allowed to be present — none 
but the troops," was the reply. 

■ " That ought not to be," said the old man ; " citizens 
should be allowed to be present as well as others." 


The wagon halted. The troops composing the escort 
took up their assigned position ; but the Petersburg 
Greys, as the immediate body guard, remained as 
before, closely hemming the old hero in — as if still as 
afraid of his sword of Gideon, as the State had proved 
itself to be of his sword of the Lord, by preventing the 
people from listening to his last words. They finally 
opened ranks to let him pass out ; when, with the 
assistance of two men, he descended from the wagon. 
Mr. Hunter and Mayor Green were standing near by. 
" Gentlemen, good by," the old man said in an unfal- 
tering tone ; and then, with firm step and erect form, 
he calmly walked past jailers, sheriff", and officers, and 
mounted the scaffold steps. He was the first man that 
stood on it. As he quietly awaited the necessary 
arrangements, he surveyed the scenery unmoved, look- . 
ing principally in the direction of the people in the far 
distance. " There is no faltering in his step," wrote 
one who saw him, " but firmly and erect he stands 
amid the almost breathless lines of soldiery that sur- 
round him. With a graceful motion of his pinio.ned 

^ right arm he takes the slouched hat from his. head and. 
carelessly casts it upon the platform by his side." '-'.I 

L Ignow," said another witness, " tha.t every ^.one.jwithiBi, 

f "■ - ■ 34* " 

402 The Victory over Death. 

view was greatly impressed with the dignity of his 
bearing. I have since heard men of the South say that 
his courageous fortitude and insensibility to fear filled 
them with amazement." 

The hour had now come. The officer approached 
him. To Captain Avis he said : " I have no words to 
thank you for all your kindness to me." 

His elbows and ankles are pinioned, the white cap 
is drawn over his eyes, the hangman's rope is adjusted 
around his neck. John Brown is ready to be ushered 
into the land, of the hereafter. 

"Captain Brown," said the Sheriff, "you are not 
standing on the drop. Will you come forward ? " 

" I can't see, gentlemen," was the old man's answer, 
unfalteringly spoken, " you must lead me." 

The Sheriff led his prisoner forward to the centre of 
the drop. 

" Shall I give you a handkerchief," asked the SheriflF, 
" and let you drop it as a signal ? " 

" No ; I am ready at any time ; but do not keep me 
needlessly waiting." 

This was the last of John Brown's requests of Vir- 
ginia ; and this, like all the others, was refused. When 
he pleaded for delay during the progress of his trial, 
the State refused it, and hurried him to his doom ; and 
now, when he asked, standing on the gallows, blind- 
folded, and with the rope that was to strangle him 
around his neck, for no unnecessary delay, the demo- 
niacal spirit of slavery again turned a deaf ear to his 
request. Instead of permitting the execution to be at 
once consummated, the proceedings were checked by the 

The Victory over Death. 403 

martial order — "Not ready yet;" and the hideous 
mockery of a vast miUtary display began. For ten 
minutes at least, under the orders of the commanding 
officer, the troops trod heavily over the ground, hither 
and thither, now advancing towards the gallows, now 
turning about in sham defiance of an imaginary enemy. 

Each moment to every humane man seemed an 
hour, and some of the people, unable to restrain an 
expression of their sense of the outrage, murmured — 
Shame I Shame I 

At last the order was given, and the rope was severed 
with a hatchet. As the trap fell, its hinges gave a wail- 
ing sort of screak, that could be heard at every point 
on the fields.* 

John Brown is slowly strangling — for the shortness 
of the rope prevents a speedy death. 

" There was but one spasmodic effort of the hands 
to clutch at the neck, but for nearly five minutes the 
limbs jerked and quivered. He seemed to retain an 
extraordinary hold upon life. One who has seen num- 
bers of men hung before, told me he had never seen 
so hard a struggle. After the body had dangled in mid 
air for twenty minutes, it was examined by the surgeons 
for signs of life. First the Charlestown physicians 
went up and made their examination, and after them 
the military surgeons, the prisoner being executed by 
the civil power, and with military assistance as well. 
To see them lifting up the arms, now powerless, that 

* "Wfts this symbolic," asks an able WiittT, "of tliy wail of grief that went up at 
the moment from tlkousands o£ friends to the CHuse of emancipation throughout thi» 
land? In the dead stillness of tlie hour it went to my heart liko the wail for th» 
df>{iarMd that may Ite heard in efome highland glen." j -fw- . ■ i-^.tii'? 

404 The Victory over Death. 

once were so strong, and placing their ears to the breast 
of the corpse, holding it steady by passing an arm 
around it, was revolting in the extreme. And so the 
body dangled and swung by its neck, turning to this 
side or that when moved by the surgeons, and swinging 
pendulum like, from the force of the south wind that 
was blowing, until, after thirty-eight minutes from the 
time of swinging off, it was ordered to be cut down, 
the authorities being quite satisfied that their dreaded 
enemy was dead. The body was lifted upon the scaf- 
fold, and fell into a heap. It was then put into the 
black walnut coffin, the body guard closed in about the 
wagon, the cavalry led the van, and the mournful pro- 
cession moved off." 

There was another procession at that moment — un- 
seen by the Virginians : a procession of earth's holiest 
martyrs before the Throne of God : and from among 
them came a voice, which said : 

" Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the king- 
dom prepared for you from the foundations of the 
world. . . . Inasmuch as ye have done it imto one of the 
least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." 

The soul of John Brown stood at the right hand of 
the Eternal. He had fought the good fight, and now 
wore the crown of victory. 

In the prison of Charlestown a plaintive wail was 
heard. Sustained by no religious convictions, one 
prisoner was in great agony of mind. The scaffold 
A'om which the stainless soul of John Brown leaped from 

The Victory over Death. 405 

earth into the bosom of the God of the oppressed, was 
only half a mile behind the jail in which his body had 
been confined. " From the windows of his cell Cook 
had an unobstructed view of the whole proceedings. 
He watched his old Captain until the trap fell and his 
body swung into mid air, when he turned away and 
gave vent to his feelings." 

With his sword and his voice John Brown had de- 
monstrated the unutterable villany of slavery. His 
corpse was destined to continue the lesson. The sur- 
geons pronounced the old man dead ; tliey declared 
that his spinal column had beun ruptured ; they said 
that the countenance was now purple and distorted ; 
they knew that the cord had cut a finger's depth into 
the neck of the strangled corpse. 

Yet, as the animal heat still remained in the body, 
it was not permitted to be taken away until it should 
cool. Even this precaution against an earthly resurrec- 
tion did not satisfy the hearts corrupted by slavery. 

" I heard it suggested by a Captain," writes a wit- 
ness of unquestioned veracity, " that a good dose of ' 
arsenic should be administered to the corpse to make 
sure work ; and many others wished that at least the 
head might be cut off and retained by them, since 
the body was to be embalmed, and, on gorgeous catar 
falques, carried in procession through Northern cities. 
This bloodthirstiness is on a par," the writer adds, 
" with that of the students at the Winchester Medical 
College, who have skinned the body of one of Brown's 
sons, separated the nervous and muscular and venous 

4o6 The Victory over Death. T 

systems, dried and varnished, and have the whole hung 
up as a nice anatomical illustration. Some of the stu- 
dents wished to stuff the skin ; others to make it into 
game pouches." 

Such is the spirit of Southern Slavery ! 

" Tlie body once in its coffin and on its way back to 
the jail," wrote a correspondent, " the field was quickly 
deserted, the cannon, limbered up again, rumbled away, 
and the companies of infantry and troops of cavalry in 
solid column marched away. The body had not left 
the field before the carpenters began to take the scaffold 
to pieces, that it might be stored up against the 16th 
instant, when it will be used to hang Cook and Cop- 
pic together. A separate gallows will be built for the 
two negroes." 

" The night after the execution has set in dark and 
stormy. The south wind has brought up a violent 

The body of John Brown was delivered to his widow 
at Harper's Ferry, and by her it was carried to North 
Elba, where it now lies at rest on the bosom of the 
majestic mountain region that he loved when living. 
It was interred as only dead heroes should be buried. 
There was no vast assemblage of" the so-called great ; " 
no pompous parade ; no gorgeous processions ; but loyal 
worth and noble genius stood at the grave of departed 
heroism ; for his friends and his family wept as the 
Heaven-inspired soul of Wendell Phillips pronounced 
the eulogium of John Brown, — the latest and our 
greatest martyr to the teachings of the Bible and the 
American Idea. 

The Victory over Death. 


As the coffin was lowered into the grave, a clergy 
man, with prophetic voice, repeated these words of the 
Apostle Paul : 

" I have fought the good fight ; I have finished my 
course ; I have kept the faith : henceforth there is laid 
up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, 
the righteous Judge, shall give me ; and not to me 
only, but unto all that love his appearing." 


December 2, 1859. 

YOU bound and made your fport of him, PhililUa ! 

You fet your fons at him to flout and jeer ; 
You loaded down his limbs with heavy fetters ; 

Your mildeft mercy was a fmiling fneer. 

One man, among a thoufand who defied him. 

One man from whom his awful ftrength had fled — 

You brought him out to lafli him with your vengeance j 
Ten thoufand curfes on one hoary head ! 

You think his eyes are clofed and blind forever, 
Becaufe you feared them to this mortal day ; 

You draw a longer breath of exultation, 

Becaufe your conqueror's power is torn away. 

Oh fools ! his arms are round your temple pillars : 
Oh blind ! his ftrength divine begins to wake. 

Hark ! the great roof-tree trembles from its centre — 
Hark ! how the rafters bend, and fwerve, and fhake ! 

NQSEc. MAR 4fiB2 



HUS.B. Redpath, Jajnes 

B8785 The [public] life of 

.Yr Captain John Brown