AT Springfield, Mass., the
train stopped sufficiently long to enable the passengers to get supper. As I
took my seat at the table I observed an elderly gentleman looking very
earnestly at me. I felt sure I had seen him before somewhere; but where and
when I had quite forgotten. At length he recognized me, and taking a seat
near me said, in a whisper, "How is the hardware business?" The moment he
spoke I remembered the voice, and recalled my old Cleveland acquaintance,
Capt. John Brown, of Kansas.
SECOND INTERVIEW WITH JOHN
He was much changed in
appearance, looking older and more careworn ; his face was covered with a
long beard, nearly white; his dress was plain, but good and scrupulously
clean. There was no change in his voice or eye, both were indicative of
strength, honesty, and tenacity of purpose. Learning that I was on my way to
Boston, whither he was going on the following day, he urged me to remain in
Springfield over night, and accompany him to Boston. After supper we retired
to a private parlour, and he requested me to tell him all about my trip
through Mississippi and Alabama. He remarked that our mutual friend, of
Northern New York, had told him that when he last heard from me, I was in
Selma. He listened to the recital of my narrative, from the time I left New
Orleans until my arrest at Columbus, with intense earnestness, without
speaking, until I described my arrest and imprisonment, then his countenance
changed, his eyes flashed, he paced the room in fiery wrath. I never
witnessed a more intense manifestation of indignation, and scorn. Coming up
to me, he took my wrists in his hands and said, "God alone brought you out
of that hell; and these wrists have been ironed, and you have been cast in
prison for doing your duty. I vow, henceforth, that I will not rest in my
labour until I have discharged my whole duty toward God, and toward my
brother in bondage." When he ceased speaking he sat down and buried his face
in his hands, in which position he sat for several minutes, as if overcome
by his feelings. At length, arousing himself, he asked me to continue my
narrative, to which he listened earnestly during its recital. He said, "The
Lord has permitted you to do a work that falls to the lot of but few";
taking a small Bible or Testament from his pocket, he said, "The good book
says, 'Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to
them'; it teaches us further, to 'remember them in bonds, as bound with
them." He continued, "I have devoted the last twenty years of my life to
preparation for the work which, I believe, God has given me to do." He then
gave rue some details of a campaign which he was then actually preparing
for, and which he said had occupied his mind for years. He intended to
establish himself in the mountains of Virginia with a small body of picked
men —men in whom he could trust, and who feared God. He felt confident that
the negroes would flock to him in large numbers, and that the slaveholders
would soon be glad to let the oppressed go free; that the dread of a negro
insurrection would produce fear and trembling in all the Slave States; that
the presence in the mountains of an armed body of Liberators would produce a
general insurrection among the slaves, which would end in their freedom. He
said he had about twenty-two Kansas men undergoing a course of military
instruction; these men would form a nucleous, around which he would soon
gather a force sufficiently large and effective to strike terror throughout
the Slave States. His present difficulty was, a deficiency of ready money;
he had been promised support—to help the cause of freedom—which was not
forth- corning, now that he was preparing to carry the war into the South
His friends were disinclined to aid offensive operations.
During this interview, he
informed me that he intended to call a Convention of the friends of the
cause at Chatham, Canada, in a few weeks, for the purpose of effecting an
organization composed of men who were willing to aid him in his purpose of
invading the Slave States. He said he had rifles and ammunition sufficient
to equip two hundred men; that he had made a contract for a large number of
pikes, with which he intended to arm the negroes; that the object of his
present trip to the East was, to raise funds to keep this contract, and
perfect his arrangements for an attack upon the Slave States in the
following September or October.
Captain Brown accompanied me,
on the following day, to Boston. During our journey, he informed me that he
required a thousand dollars at least to complete his preparations; that he
needed money at once to enable him to keep a contract for arms with some
manufacturer in Connecticut. He also needed money to bring his men from Iowa
to Canada. On our arrival in Boston, I went to the house of a friend, and
Capt. Brown took quarters at a hotel. I saw him every day while he remained
in Boston ; and regretted to learn that he met with but little success in
obtaining money. It appeared that those friends of the cause of freedom, who
had an inkling of his project, were not disposed to advance money for
warlike purposes, except such as were for the defence of free territory. He
finally did succeed in raising about five hundred dollars. An impression
prevailed, in the minds of many sincere friends of freedom, that the
persecution of himself and family by the pro-slavery men of Kansas had so
exasperated him that he would engage in some enterprize which would result
in the destruction of himself and followers. I am persuaded that these
impressions were groundless. I never heard him express any feeling of
personal resentment towards the slaveholders. He at all times, while in my
company, appeared to be controlled by a fixed, earnest, and unalterable
determination to do what he considered to be his duty, as an agent in the
hands of the Almighty, to give freedom to the slaves. That idea, and that
alone, appeared to me to control his thoughts and actions.
On the morning of his
departure from Boston, I accompanied him to the depot, and bid him farewell.
(I never again saw the brave old captain in life.) A few days afterwards,
however, I received the following:-
In consequence of my absence
from Boston, I did not receive the above letter until the 1301 of May—three
days after the time appointed for the meeting of the Convention.
REFUGEES IN CANADA.
During the summer of 1858 I
visited Canada, and had great pleasure in meeting several of those who had,
under my auspices, escaped from the land of bondage. In a barber shop, in
Hamilton, I was welcomed by a man who had escaped from Augusta, and who
kept, as a souvenir of my friendship, a dirk knife I had given him on the
night he started for Canada. The meeting with so many of my former pupils,
and the fact that they were happy, thriving, and industrious, gave me great
satisfaction. The trials and dangers I had endured in their behalf were
pleasing reminiscences to me, when surrounded by the prosperous and happy
people whom I had striven to benefit.
The information I obtained
from the Canadian refugees, relative to their experiences while en route to
Canada, enabled me in after years to render most valuable aid to other
fugitives from the land of bondage.
On the 9th of October, 1859,
I was surprised to receive the following letter from Captain Brown,
announcing his determination to make an attack on the slave States in the
course of a few weeks. The letter reads as follows:-
Soon after the reception of
the above letter I left for Richmond, Virginia, much against the wishes of
my friends. I had promised Captain Brown, during our interview at
Springfield, Mass., that when he was ready to make his attack on the Slave
States, I would go to Richmond and await the result. In case he should be
successful in his attack, I would be in a position to watch the course of
events, and enlighten the slaves as to his purposes. It might also be
possible for me to aid the cause in other respects. On my arrival in
Richmond, I went to the house of an old friend, with whom I had stopped
during my previous raid on the chattels of Virginia's slaveholders.
CAPTAIN BROWN ATTACKS HARPER'S
On the morning of Monday, the
17th of October, wild rumours were in circulation about the streets of
Richmond that Harper's Ferry had been captured by a band of robbers; and,
again, that an army of abolitionists, under the command of a desperado by
the name of Smith, was murdering the inhabitants of that village, and
carrying off the negroes. Throughout the day, groups of excited men gathered
about the newspaper offices to hear the news from Harper's Ferry.
On the following morning
(Tuesday) an official report was received, which stated the fact that a
small force of abolitionists, under old Ossawatomie Brown, had taken
possession of the U. S. building at the Ferry, and had entrenched
themselves. I met an aged negro in the street, who seemed completely
bewildered about the excitement and military preparations going on around
him. As I approached him, he lifted his hat and said: "Please massa, what's
the matter? What's the soldiers called out for?" I told him a band of
abolitionists had seized Harper's Ferry, and liberated many of the slaves of
that section; that they intended to free all the slaves in the South, if
they could. "Can dey do it, massa?" he asked, while his countenance
brightened up. I replied by asking him, if he wished to be free? He said: "O
yes, massa; I'se prayed for dat dese forty years. My two boys are way off in
Canada. Do you know whar dat is, massa?" I told him I was a Canadian, which
seemed to give him a great surprise. He said his two boys had run away from
their master, because he threatened to take them to New Orleans for sale.
That John Brown had struck a
blow that resounded throughout the Slave States was evident, from the number
of telegraph des- patches from all the Slave States, offering aid to crush
DEFEAT OF CAPTAIN BROWN.
The people of Richmond were
frantic with rage at this daring interference with their cherished
institution, which gave them the right to buy, beat, \work, and sell their
fellow men. Crowds of rough, excited men, filled with whiskey and
wickedness, stood for hours together in front of the offices of the Despatch
and Enquirer, listening to the reports as they were announced from within.
When the news of Brown's defeat and capture, and the destruction of his
little army, was read from the window of the Despatch office, the vast
crowds set up a demoniac yell of delight, which to me sounded like a death
knell to all my hopes for the freedom of the enslaved. As the excitement was
hourly increasing, and threats made to search the city for abolitionists, I
saw that nothing could be gained by remaining in Richmond. I left for
Washington, nearly crushed in spirit at the destruction of Captain Brown and
his noble little band. On the train were Southerners from many of the Slave
States, who expressed their views of Northern abolitionists in the most
emphatic slave-driving language. The excitement was intense, every stranger,
especially if he looked like a Northerner, was closely watched, and in some
instances subjected to inquisition.
The attitude of many of the
leading Northern politicians and so-called statesmen, in Washington, was
actually disgusting. These weak-kneed and craven creatures were profuse in
their apologies for Brown's assault, and hastened to divest themselves of
what little manhood they possessed, when in the presence of the braggarts
and women-whippers of the South. "What can we do to conciliate the Slave
States?" was the leading question of the day. Such men as Crittenden, and
Douglas, were ready to compromise with the slaveholders even at the
sacrifice of their avowed principles. While Toombs, Davis, Mason, Slidell,
and the rest of the slave- driving crew, haughtily demanded further
guarantees for the protection of their "institution ;" and had it not been
for the stand taken by the people of the Northern States at that time, their
political leaders would have bound the North, hand and foot, to do the
bidding of the slaveholders. But on that occasion, as well as all others
where the principles of freedom have been involved, the people of the United
States were found worthy descendants of their revolutionary sires.
EFFECTS OF JOHN BROWN'S
The blow struck at Harper's
Ferry, which the Democratic leaders affected to ridicule, had startled the
slaveholders from their dreams of security, and sent fear and trembling into
every home in the Slave States. On every plantation the echoes from Harper's
Ferry were heard. The poor terrified slave, as he laid down at night, weary
from his enforced labours, offered up a prayer to God for the safety of the
grand old captain, who was a prisoner in the hands of merciless enemies, who
were thirsting for his blood.
BRAVERY OF CAPTAIN BROWN.
How bravely John Brown bore
himself while in the presence of the human wolves that surrounded him, as he
lay mangled and torn in front of the engine-house at Harper's Ferry! Mason,
of Virginia, and that Northern renegade, Vallandigharn, interrogated the
apparently dying man, trying artfully, but in vain, to get him to implicate
leading Northern men. In the history of modern times there is not recorded
another instance of such rare heroic valour as John Brown displayed in the
presence of Governor Wise, of Virginia. How contemptible are Mason, Wise,
and Vallandigham, when compared with the wounded old soldier, as he lay
weltering in his blood, and near him his two sons, Oliver and Watson, cold
in death. Mason and Vallandigham died with the stain of treason on their
heads, while Governor Wise, who signed Brown's death warrant, still lives,
despised and abhorred.
To superficial observers,
Brown's attack on Virginia with so small a force, looked like the act of a
madman; but those who knew John Brown, and the men under his command, are
satisfied that if he had carried out his original plans, and retreated with
his force to the mountains, after he had captured the arms in the arsenal,
he could have defeated and baffled any force sent against him. The slaves
would have flocked to his standard in thousands, and the slaveholders would
have trembled with fear for the safety of their families.
JOHN BROWN VICTORIOUS.
John Brown in prison,
surrounded by his captors, won greater victories than if he had conquered
the South by force of arms. His courage, truthfulness, humanity, and
self-sacrificing devotion to the cause of the poor downtrodden slaves,
shamed the cowardly, weak-kneed, and truculent Northern politicians into
opposition to the haughty demands of the despots of the South.
"HIS SOUL IS MARCHING ON."
Virginia, in her pride and
strength, judicially murdered John Brown. But the day is not far distant
when the freedmen and freemen of the South will erect a monument on the spot
where his gallows once stood, to perpetuate to all coming generations the
noble self-sacrifice of that brave Christian martyr. And when the Southern
statesmen who shouted for his execution are mouldering in the silent dust,
forgotten or unpleasantly remembered, the memory of John Brown will grow
brighter and brighter through all coming ages.
JOHN BROWN'S MARTYRDOM.
December the 2nd, was the day
appointed for the execution of Capt. Brown. I determined to make an effort
to see him once more if possible. Taking the cars at Baltimore, on Nov.
26th, I went to Harper's Ferry and applied to the military officer in
command for permission to go to Charleston. He, enquired what object I had
in view in wishing to go there at that time, while so much excitement
existed. I replied, that I had a desire to see John Brown once more before
his death. Without replying to me, he called an officer in the room and
directed him to place me in close confinement until the train for Baltimore
came, and then to place me on board, and command the conductor to take me to
Baltimore. Then, raising his voice, he said, "Captain, if he (myself)
returns to Harper's Ferry, shoot him at once." I was placed under guard
until the train came in, when, in despite of my protests, I was taken to
Baltimore. Determined to make one more attempt, I went to Richmond to try
and obtain a pass from the Governor. After much difficulty I obtained an
INTERVIEW WITH GOVERNOR WISE.
I told the Governor that I
had a strong desire to see John Brown before his execution; that I had some
acquaintance with him, and had formed a very high estimate of him as a man.
I asked him to allow me to go to Charlestown (under surveillance if he
pleased), and bid the old Captain "Good bye." The Governor made many
inquiries as to my relation to Brown, and whether I justified his attack on
Virginia. I replied candidly, stating that I had from childhood been an
ardent admirer of Washington, Jefferson, and Madison, and that all these
great and good men deplored the existence of slavery in the Republic. That
my admiration and friendship for John Brown was owing to his holding similar
views, and his earnest desire to abolish the evil. The Governor looked at me
with amazement, and for a moment made no reply. At length he straightened
himself up, and, assuming a dignified look, said, "My family motto is, 'saere
aside.' I am wise enough to understand your object in wishing to go to
Charlestown, and I dare you to go. If you attempt it, I will have you shot.
It is just such men as you who have urged Brown to make his crazy attack on
our constitutional rights and privileges. You shall not leave Richmond until
after the execution of Brown. I wish I could hang a dozen of your leading
HE WOULD LIKE TO BAG GIDDINGS
AND GERRIT SMITH.
"If I could bag old Giddings
and Gerrit Smith, I would hang them without trial." The Governor was now
greatly excited, and, rising from his chair, he said, "No, sir you shall not
leave Richmond. You shall go to prison, and remain there until next Monday;
then you may go North, and slander the State which ought to have hanged
you." I quietly waited a moment before replying, and then remarked, that as
he refused me permission to see Capt. Brown, I would leave Virginia at once,
and thus save both him and the State any trouble or expense on my account. I
said this very quietly, while his keen eyes were riveted on me. In reply, he
said, "Did I not tell you that you should remain a prisoner here until
Monday?" I quietly said, "Yes, Governor, you certainly did; but I am sure
the executive of this great State is toowise to fear one unarmed man." For a
few moments he tapped the table with his fingers, without saying anything.
Then he came toward me, shaking his fore finger, and said: "Well, you may
go; and I would advise you to tell your Giddings, Greeleys, and Garrisons,
cowards that they are, to lead the next raid on Virginia themselves."
Fearing that obstacles might
be thrown in my way which would cause detention and trouble, I requested the
Governor to give me a permit to leave the State of Virginia. Without making
any reply, he picked up a blank card, and wrote as follows :-
This he handed me, saying,
"The sooner you go, the better for you: our people are greatly excited, and
you may regret this visit, if you stay another hour."
I returned to Philadelphia as
rapidly as possible, where I remained until the remains of Capt. Brown
arrived, en route for their final resting place at North Elba, in Northern
New York. Having taken my last look at the dead liberator, I returned to
Canada, where I remained until my preparations were completed for another
visit to the South.
EXTRACTS FROM THE PRESS OF
The following Extracts from
the Press of that period, will furnish my readers with a good index of the
popular feeling respecting John Brown's raid, and his defeat, imprisonment,
trial, and execution :-
From Harper's Weekly, October
EXTRAORDINARY INSURRECTION AT
One of the most extraordinary
events that ever occurred in our history took place last week at Harper's
Ferry. We shall endeavour to give our readers a connected history of the
affair, which, at the present time, has been brought to a close.
THE FIRST ACTIVE MOVEMENT.
The first active movement in
the insurrection was made at about half-past ten o'clock on Sunday night.
William Williamson, the watchman at Harper's Ferry bridge, while walking
across toward the Maryland side, was seized by a number of men, who said he
was their prisoner, and must come with them. He recognized Brown and Cook
among the men, and knowing them, treated the matter as a joke, but enforcing
silence, they conducted him to the Armory, which he found already in their
possession. He was detained till after daylight, and then discharged. The
watchman who was to relieve Williamson at midnight found the bridge lights
all out, and was immediately seized. Supposing it an attempt at robbery, he
broke away, and his pursuers stumbling over him, he escaped.
ARREST OF COLONEL WASHINGTON
The next appearance of the
insurrectionists was at the house of Colonel Lewis Washington, a large
farmer and slave-owner, living about four miles from the ferry. A party,
headed by Cook, proceeded there, and rousing Colonel Washington, told him he
was their prisoner. They also seized all the slaves near the house, took a
carriage horse, and a large waggon with two horses. When Colonel Washington
saw Cook, he immediately recognized him as the man who had called upon him
some months previous, to whom he had exhibited some valuable arms in his
possession, including an antique sword presented by Frederick the Great to
George Washington, and a pair of pistols presented by Lafayette to
Washington, both being heir-looms in the family. Before leaving, Cook wanted
Colonel Washington to engage in a trial of skill at shooting, and exhibited
considerable skill as a marksman. When he made the visit on Sunday night he
alluded to his previous visit, and the courtesy with which he had been
treated, and regretted the necessity which made it his duty to arrest
Colonel Washington. He, however, took advantage of the knowledge he had
obtained by his former visit to carry off all the valuable collection of
arms, which the Colonel did not re-obtain till after the final defeat of the
From Colonel Washington's he
proceeded with him as a prisoner in the carriage, and twelve of his negroes
in the waggon, to the house of Mr. Alstadt, another large farmer, on the
same road. Mr. Alstadt and his son, a lad of sixteen, were taken prisoners,
and all their negroes within reach forced to join the movement. He then
returned to the Armory at the Ferry.
THE STOPPAGE OF THE RAILROAD
At the upper end of the town
the mail train arrived at the usual hour, when a coloured man, who acted as
assistant to the baggage-master, was shot, receiving a mortal wound, and the
conductor, Mr. Phelps, was threatened with violence if he attempted to
proceed with the train. Feeling uncertain as to the condition of affairs,
the conductor waited until after daylight before he ventured to proceed,
having delayed the train six hours.
baggage-master of the mail- train, gives the following particulars: I walked
up the bridge; was stopped, but was afterward permitted to go up and see the
captain of the insurrectionists; I was taken to the Armory, and saw the
captain, whose name is Bill Smith; I was kept prisoner for more than an
hour, and saw from five to six hundred negroes, all having arms; there were
two or three hundred white men with them; all the houses were closed. I went
into a tavern kept by Mr. Chambers; thirty of the inhabitants were collected
there with arms. They said most of the inhabitants had left, but they
declined, preferring to protect themselves; it was reported that five or six
persons had been shot.
Mr. Simpson was escorted back
over the bridge by six negroes.
THE STATE OF AFFAIRS AT
It was not until the town
thoroughly waked up, and found the bridge guarded by armed men, and a guard
stationed at all the avenues, that the people saw that they were prisoners.
A panic appears to have immediately ensued, and the number of
insurrectionists was at once largely increased. In the mean time a number of
workmen, not knowing anything of what had occurred, entered the Armory, and
were successively taken prisoners, until at one time they had not less than
sixty men confined in the Armory. These were imprisoned in the engine-house,
which afterward became the chief fortress of the insurgents, and were not
released until after the final assault. The workmen were imprisoned in a
large building further down the yard.
A coloured man, named
Hayward, a railroad porter, was shot early in the morning for refusing to
join in the movement.
The next man shot was Joseph
Burley, a citizen of Perry. He was shot standing in his own door. The
insurrectionists by this time, finding a disposition to resist them, had
withdrawn nearly all within the Armory grounds, leaving only a guard on the
About this time, also, Samuel
P. Young, Esq., was shot dead. He was coming into town on horseback,
carrying a gun, when he was shot from the Armory, receiving a wound of which
he died during the day. He was a graduate of West Point, and greatly
respected in the neighbourhood for his high character and noble qualities.
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 previous day, and found inside the house;
three wounded men, one of them just at the last gasp of life, and two others
groaning in pain. One of the dead was Brown's son. Oliver, the wounded man,
and his son Watson, were lying on the grass, the father presenting a gory
spectacle. He had a severe bayonet wound in his side, and his face and hair
were clotted with blood.
APPEARANCE OF THE PRISONERS.
When the insurgents were
brought out, some dead, others wounded, they were greeted with execrations,
and only the precautions that had been taken saved them from immediate
execution. The crowd, nearly every man of which carried a gun, swayed with
tumultuous excitement, and cries of "Shoot them! shoot them !" rang from
every side. The appearance of the liberated prisoners, all of whom, through
the steadiness of the marines, escaped injury, changed the current of
feeling, and prolonged cheers took the place of howls and execrations.
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. He
replied to questions substantially as follows : "Are you Captain Brown, of
Kansas?" "I am sometimes called so." "Are you Ossawatamie Brown?" "I tried
to do my duty there." "What was your present object ?" "To free the slaves
from bondage." "Were any other persons but those with you now connected with
the movement?" "No." "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 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 himself.
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 down like a beast. He spoke of
the killing of his son, which he alleged was done while bearing a flag of
truce, and seemed very anxious for the safety of his wounded son. His
conversation bore the impression of the conviction that whatever he had done
to free the slaves was right; and that, in the warfare in which he was
engaged, he was entitled to be treated with all the respect of a prisoner of
CAPTURE OF ARMS.
During Tuesday morning, one
of Washington's negroes came in and reported that Captain Cook was on the
mountain, only three miles off; about the same time some shots were said to
have been fired from the Maryland hills, and a rapid fusilade was returned
from Harper's Ferry. The Independent Grays of Baltimore immediately started
on a scouting expedition, and in two hours returned with two waggons loaded
with arms and ammunition, found at Captain Brown's house.
The arms consisted of boxes
filled with Sharp's rifles, pistols, &c., all bearing the stamp of the
Massachusetts Manufacturing Company, Chicopee, Mass. There were also found a
quantity of United States ammunition, a large number of spears, sharp iron
bowie-knives fixed upon 1)0105, a terrible looking weapon, intended for the
use of the negroes, with spades, pickaxes, shovels, and everything else that
might be needed thus proving that the expedition was well provided for, that
a large party of men were expected to be armed, and that abundant means had
been provided to pay all expenses.
How all these supplies were
got up to this farm without attracting observation, is very strange. They
are supposed to have been brought through Pennsylvania. The Grays pursued
Cook so fast that they secured a part of his arms, but with his more perfect
knowledge of localities, he was enabled to evade them.
TREATMENT OF BROWN'S
The citizens imprisoned by
the insurrectionists all testify to their lenient treatment. They were
neither tied nor insulted, and, beyond the outrage of restricting their
liberty, were not ill- used. Capt. Brown was always courteous to them, and
at all times assured them that they would not be injured. He explained his
purposes to them, and while he had them (the workmen) in confinement, made
no abolition speech to them. Colonel Washington speaks of him as a man of
extraordinary nerve. He never blanched during the assault, though he
admitted in the night that escape was impossible, and that he would have to
die. When the door was broken down, one of his men exclaimed, "I surrender."
The Captain immediately cried out, "There's one surrenders; give him
quarter;" and at the same moment fired his own rifle at the door.
During the previous night he
spoke freely with Colonel Washington, and referred to his sons. He said he
had lost one in Kansas and two here. He had not pressed them to join him in
the expedition, but did not regret their loss—they had died in a glorious
BROWN'S PAPERS AND STORES.
On the i8th a detachment of
marines and some volunteers made a visit to Brown's house. They found a
large quantity of blankets, boots, shoes, clothes, tents, and fifteen
hundred pikes, with large blades affixed. They also discovered a carpet-bag,
containing documents throwing much light on the affair, printed
constitutions and by-laws of an organization, showing or indicating
ramifications in various States of the Union. They also found letters from
various individuals at the North—one from Fred. Douglass, containing ten
dollars from a lady for the cause; also a letter from Gerrit Smith about
money matters, and a check or draft by him for $100, indorsed by the cashier
of a New York bank, name not recollected. All these are in possession of
HIS WARNING TO THE SOUTH.
Reporter of the Herald.—I do
not wish to annoy you; but, if you have any thing further you would like to
say, I will report it.
Mr. Brown—I have nothing to
say, only that I claim to be here in carrying out a measure I believe
perfectly justifiable, and not to act the part of an incendiary or ruffian,
but to aid those suffering great wrong. I wish to say, furthermore, that you
had better—all you people at the South—prepare yourselves for a settlement
of that question that must come up for settlement sooner than you are
prepared for it. The sooner you arc prepared the better. You may dispose of
me very easily. I am nearly disposed of now; but this question is still to
be settled— this negro question, I mean; the end of that is not yet. These
wounds were inflicted upon me —both sabre cuts on my head and bayonet stabs
on different parts of my body—some minutes after I had ceased fighting, and
had consented to a surrender, for the benefit of others, not for my own.
(This statement was vehemently denied by all around.) I believe the Major
(meaning Lieutenant J. B. Stuart, of the United States Cavalry) would not
have been alive—I could have killed him just as easy as a mosquito when he
came in, but I supposed he came in only to receive our surrender. There had
been loud and long calls of "surrender" from us—as loud as mcii could
yell—but in the confusion and excitement I suppose we were not heard. I do
not think the Major, or any one, meant to butcher us after we had
Brown has had a conversation
with Senator Mason, which is reported in the Herald. The following is a
verbatim report of the conversation :-
Mr. Mason.—Can you tell us,
at least, who furnished money for your expedition?
Mr; Brown.—I furnished most
of it myself. I can not implicate others. It is by my own folly that I have
been taken. I could easily have saved myself from it had I exercised my own
better judgment, rather than yielded to my feelings.
Mr. Mason.—You mean if you
had escaped immediately?
Mr. Brown.—No; I had the
means to make myself secure without any escape, but I allowL' myself to be
surrounded by a force by being too tardy.
* * * * * *
Mr. Mason.—But you killed
some people passing along the streets quietly.
Mr. Brown.—Well, sir, if
there was any thing of that kind done it was without my knowledge. Your own
citizens, who were my prisoners, will tell you that every possible means was
taken to prevent it. I did not allow my men to fire, nor even to return a
fire, when there was danger of killing those we regarded as innocent
persons, if I could help it. They will tell you that we allowed ourselves to
be fired at repeatedly, and did not return it.
A By-stander.—That is not so.
You killed an unarmed man at the corner of the house over there (at the
water tank), and another besides.
Mr. Brown.—See here, my
friend, it is useless to dispute or contradict the report of your own
neighbors who were my prisoners.
Mr. Mason.—If you would tell
us who sent you here—who provided the means—that would e information of some
Mr. Brown.—I will answer
freely and faithfully about what concerns myself—I will answer any thing I
can with honor, but not about others.
* * * * *
Mr. Mason.—How many are
engaged with you in this movement? I ask those questions for our own safety.
Mr. Brown.—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.
Mr. Mason.—What was your
object in coming?
Mr. Brown.—We 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?
Mr. Brown.—I came to Virginia
with eighteen men only, besides myself.
Volunteer,—What in the world
did you suppose you could do here in Virginia with that amount of men?
Mr. Brown.—Young man, I don't
wish to discuss that question here.
Volunteer.—You could not do
Mr. Brown.—Well, perhaps your
ideas and mine on military subjects would differ materially.
Mr. Mason.—How do you justify
Mr. Brown.—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 would 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.
Mr. Mason.—I understand that.
Mr. Brown.—I think I did
right, and that others will do right who interfere 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
HOW HE WAS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF.
* * * * *
Mr. Mason.—Did you consider
this a military organization, in this paper (the Constitution)? I have not
Mr. Brown.—I did in some
sense. I wish you would give that paper close attention.
Mr. Mason.—You considered
yourself the Commander-in- Chiefof these "provisional military forces?
Mr. Brown.—I was chosen,
agreeably to the ordinance of a certain document, Commander-in-Chief of that
Mr. Mason.—What wages did you
offer? Mr. Brown.—None.
Lieutenant Stuart.—" The
wages of sin is death."
Mr. Brown' —I would not have
made such a remark to you if you had been a prisoner and wounded in my
A Bystander.--Did you not
promise a negro in Gettysburg twenty dollars a month?
Mr. Brown.—I did not.
Bystander.—He says you did.
WHAT HE EXPECTED.
* * * * * *
Mr. Vallandigham.—Did you
expect a general rising of the slaves in case of your success?
Mr. Brown.—No, sir; nor did I
wish it. I expected to gather them up from time to time and set them free.
Mr. Vallandigham.—Did you
expect to hold possession here till then?
Mr. Brown.—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 in supposing I could have been taken if I had not
allowed it. I was too tardy after commencing the open attack—in delaying my
movements through Monday night, and up to the time I was attacked by the
Government troops. It was all occasioned by my desire to spare the feelings
of my prisoners and their families and the community at large. I had no
knowledge of the shooting of the negro (Heywood).
Mr. Vallandigham.—What time
did you commence your organization in Canada.
Mr. Brown.-.That occurred
about two years ago, if I remember right. It was, I think, in 1858.
Mr. Vallandigham.—Who was the
Mr. Brown.—That I could not
tell if I recollected, but I do not recollect. I think the officers were
elected in May, 1858. I may answer incorrectly, but not intentionally. My
head is a little confused by wounds, and my memory obscure on dates, etc.
PERSONAL APPEARANCE OF THE
A writer in the Baltimore
Exchange, gives the following account of the personal appearance of the
Old Brown, the leader, is a
small man, with white head, and cold-looking grey eyes. When not speaking
his lips are compressed, and he has the appearance of a most determined man.
His two Sons (one dead) were strikingly alike in their personal appearance.
Each about five feet eleven inches high, with spare visage, sallow
complexion, sunken eyes, and dark hair and beard. The beard was sparse and
long, and their hair long and matted. The wounded man is of undoubted
courage, and from his cold sullen manner, one would suppose did not ask for
or desire sympathy. Anderson, mortally wounded, is tall, black-haired, and
of dark complexion. His appearance is indicative of desperate resolution.
Although suffering the most intense agony from the wound in the abdomen, he
did not complain, or ask for any favour, and the only evidence he gave of
suffering, was occasionally a slight groan. He looks to be thirty years of
age. Stevens, who was wounded on Monday afternoon, and taken prisoner, is
physically a model man. He is five feet eleven inches high, with fine brawny
shoulders and large sinewy limbs, all the muscles finely developed and hard.
He is of dark complexion, and of undoubted resolution. When taken prisoner,
he did not ask or expect quarter, and lay and suffered from his wounds
without complaint other than a groan.
COMMENCEMENT OF THE TRIAL.
A fresh attempt of Brown's to
have the trial postponed in order to obtain counsel from the North having
failed, the case was proceeded with.
The jury having been sworn to
fairly and impartially try the prisoner, the Court directed that the
prisoner might forego the form of standing while arraigned, if he desired
Mr. Botts put the enquiry to
the prisoner, and he continued to lie prostrate on his cot while the long
indictment, filling seven pages, was read:
First—For conspiring with
negroes to produce insurrection,
Second—For treason to the
THE SPEECHES AND THE EVIDENCE.
The case was then opened at
length by Messrs. Harding and Hunter for the Commonwealth, and by Messrs.
Botts and Green for the prisoner.
OLD BROWN ASKS FOR DELAY.
Mr. Brown then arose, and
said : "I do not intend to detain the Court, but barely wish to say, as I
have been promised a fair trial, that I am not now in circumstances that
enable me to attend a trial, owing to the state of my health. I have a
severe wound in the back, or rather in one kidney, which enfeebles me very
much. But I am doing well; and I only ask for a very short delay of my
trial, and I think that I may be able to listen to it; and I merely ask
this, that as the saying is, 'the devil may have his dues'—no more. I wish
to say further, that my hearing is impaired and rendered indistinct in
consequence of wounds I have about my head. I cannot hear distinctly at all
I could not hear what the Court has said this morning. I would be glad to
hear what is said on my trial, and am now doing better than I could expect
to be under the circumstances. A very short delay would be all I would ask.
I do not presume to ask more than a very short delay, so that I may in some
degree recover, and be able at least to listen to my trial, and hear what
questions are asked of the citizens, and what their answers arc. If that
could be allowed me, I should be very much obliged.
At the conclusion of Brown's
remarks, the Court assigned Charles J. Faulkner and Lawson Botts as counsel
for the prisoners.
THE EXAMINATION BEFORE THE
The examination before the
magistrates then proceeded. The evidence given was much the same as that
which we published last week. It established the main facts charged against
Brown, but showed that he had treated the prisoners humanely. At the close
of the examination, the case was given to the Grand Jury, who found a true
bill next day.
At twelve o'clock on the
26th, the Court reassembled. The Grand Jury reported a true bill against the
prisoners, and were discharged.
Charles B. Harding, assisted
by Andrew Hunter, represented the Commonwealth; and Charles J. Faulkner and
Lawson Botts are counsel for the prisoners.
A true bill was read against
First—For conspiring with
negroes to produce insurrection
Second—For treason to the
The prisoners were brought
into Court accompanied by a body of armed men. They passed through the
streets and entered the Court-house without the slightest demonstration on
the part of the people.
Brown looked somewhat better,
and his eye was not so much swollen. Stevens had to be supported, and
reclined on a mattress on the floor of the Court-room, evidently unable to
sit. He has the appearance of a dying man, breathing with great difficulty.
Before the reading of the
arraignment, Mr. Hunter called the attention of the Court to the necessity
of appointing additional counsel for the prisoners, stating that one of the
counsel (Faulkner) appointed by the County Court, considering his duty in
that capacity as having ended, had left. The prisoners, therefore, had no
other counsel than Mr. Botts. If the Court was about to assign them other
counsel, it might be proper to do so now.
The Court stated that it
would assign them any member of the bar they might select.
After consulting Captain
Brown, Mr. Botts said that the prisoner retained him, and desired to have
Mr. Green, his assistant, to assist him. If the Court would accede to that
arrangement it would be very agreeable to him personally.
The Court requested Mr. Green
to act as counsel for the prisoner, and he consented to do so.
Old Brown addressed the Court
as follows :-
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 have a fair trial. If you seek my blood, you can have it at any moment,
without this mockery of a trial. I have had no counsel; I have not been able
to advise with any 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 mc; my health is insufficient, although improving. There
are mitigating circumstances that I would urge in our favour if a fair trial
is to be allowed us; but if we are to be farced with a mere forma 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 even 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 not be foolishly insulted, only as cowardly barbarians
insult those who fall into their power.
THE TRIAL OF JOHN BROWN.
On Monday, 31st ult., Mr.
Griswold summed up for the defence, and Mr. Harding for the Commonwealth of
During most of the arguments
Brown lay on his back, with his eyes closed.
Mr. Chilton asked the Court
to instruct the jury, if they believe the prisoner was not a citizen of
Virginia, but of another State, they cannot convict on a count of treason.
The Court declined, saying
the Constitution did not give rights and immunities alone, but also imposed
Mr. Chilton asked another
instruction, to the effect that the jury must be satisfied that the place
where the offence was committed was within the boundaries of Jefferson
County, which the Court granted.
A recess was taken up for
half an hour, when the jury came in with a verdict.
There was intense excitement.
Brown sat up in bed while the
verdict was rendered.
The jury found him guilty of
treason, advising and conspiring with slaves and others to rebel, and for
murder in the first degree.
Brown lay down quickly, and
said nothing. There was no demonstration of any kind.
MOTION IN ARREST OF JUDGMENT.
Mr. Chilton moved an arrest
of judgment, both on account of errors in the indictment and errors in the
verdict. The prisoner had been tried for an offence not appearing on the
record of the Grand Jury; the verdict was not on each count separately, but
was a general verdict on the whole indictment.
On the following day Mr.
Griswold stated the point on which an arrest of judgment was asked for in
Brown's case. He said it had not been proved beyond a doubt that he (Brown)
was even a citizen of the United States, and argued that treason could not
be committed against a State, but only against the General Government,
citing the authority of Judge Story; also stating the jury had not found the
prisoner guilty of the crimes as charged in the indictment—they had not
responded to the offences, but found him guilty of offences not charged.
They find him guilty of murder in the first degree, when the indictment
don't charge him with offences constituting that crime.
Mr. Hunter replied, quoting
the Virginia code to the effect that technicalities should not arrest the
administration of justice. As to the jurisdiction over treason, it was
sufficient to say that Virginia had passed a law assuming that jurisdiction,
and defining what constituted that crime.
On the following day the
Court gave its decision as ruling the objections made. In the objection that
treason cannot be committed against a State, he ruled that wherever
allegiance is due, treason may be committed. Most of the States have passed
laws against treason. The objections as to the form of the verdict rendered,
the Court also regarded as insufficient.
The clerk then asked Mr.
Brown whether he had anything to say why sentence should not be passed upon
Mr. Brown immediately rose,
and, in a clear, distinct voice, said: "I have, may it please the Court, a
few words to say. I deny every thing but what I have all along admitted, of
a design on my part to free slaves. I intended, certainly, to have made a
clean thing of that matter, as I did last winter, when I went into Missouri,
and there took slaves without the snapping of a gun on either side, moving
them through the country, and finally leaving 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 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, that it is unjust that I should suffer such
a penalty. Had I interfered in the manner in which I admit, and which I
admit had 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 behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the
so-called great, or in behalf of any of their friends, either father,
mother, brother, sister, wife, or children, or any of that class, and
suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have been
all right; every man in this Court would have deemcd it an act worthy of
reward rather than punishment.
AN APPEAL TO THE BIBLE.
"This Court acknowledges,
too, as I suppose, the validity of the law of God. I see a book kissed,
which I suppose to be the Bible, or at least the New Testament, which
teaches me that all things whatsoever I would that men should do to me, I
should do even so to them. It teaches me, further, to remember them that are
in bonds as bound with them. I endeavoured to act up to that instruction. I
say I am yet too young to understand that God is any respecter of persons. 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, is no wrong, but
right. Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the
furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the
blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country,
whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I say
let be done, Let me say one word further. I feel entirely satisfied with the
treatment I have received on my trial. Considering all the circumstances, it
has been more generous than I expected; but I feel no consciousness of
guilt. I have stated from the first what was my intention, and what was not.
I never had any design against the liberty of any person, nor any
disposition to commit treason or incite slaves to rebel or make any general
insurrection. I never encouraged any man to do so, but always discouraged
any idea of that kind. Let me say, also, in regard to the statements made by
some of those who were connected with me. I fear it has been stated by some
of them that I have induced them to join me, but the contrary is true. I do
not say this to injure them, but regretting their weakness. Not one joined
me but of his own accord, and the greater part at their own expense. A
number of them I never saw, and never had a word of conversation with, till
the day they came to me, and that was for the purpose I have stated. Now, I
HIS TONE AND MANNER.
Brown's speech was delivered
in a calm, slow, unfaltering voice, with no attempt at effect. A
correspondent of the Herald says: -
His composure, and his quiet
and truthful manner while bearing testimony to the great indulgence that had
been extended to him by the Court, throughout the whole of the proceedings,
won the sympathy of every mind present. When he concluded, he quietly sat
In a moment after, he was
escorted back to the prison, for the first time followed by the sympathy of
the people, who gazed upon him with pitying eyes.
His counsel have put in a
bill of exceptions, which will be referred to the Court of Appeals at
While Mr. Brown was speaking,
perfect quiet prevailed; and when he had finished the judge proceeded to
pronounce sentence upon him. After a few preliminary remarks, he said that
no reasonable doubt could exist of the guilt of the prisoner; and sentenced
him to be hung in public on Friday, the 2nd of December next.
Mr. Brown received his
sentence with composure.
The only demonstration made
was the clapping of the hands of one man in the crowd,
who is not a resident of
Jefferson County. This was promptly suppressed, and much regret was
expressed by the citizens at its occurrence.
JOHN BROWN IN PRISON
A lady, who visited
Charlestown to assist Mrs. Lydia Maria Child, obtained two interviews with
John Brown, the first of an hour, and the other for a shorter period.
Mrs.—, on entering, found
Captain Brown lying on a cot, and Stephens on a large bed, Captain Brown
arose from his bed to receive his guests, and stood a few moments leaning
against the bedstead, immediately lying down again from weakness. His
visitors were struck with the cheerfulness of his expression, and the
calmness of his manner. He seemed not only passively resigned to his fate,
but cheerful under it, and more than willing to meet it.
She said to him, "I expected
Mrs. Child would be here to introduce me; I am sorry not to find her, for
her presence would make this room brighter for you."
He smiled, and replied, "I
have written to her the reasons why she should not come; but she was very
Some questions were then
asked as to the treatment and care he had received ; to which he said, "I
wish it to be understood by every body that I have been very kindly attended
; for if I had been under the care of father or brother, I could not have
been better treated than by Captain Avis and his family."
HIS STATE OF MIND.
Mrs.- had carried with her
into the jail a large bunch of autumn leaves, gathered in the morning from
the woods. There was no nail on the wall to hang them by, and she arranged
them between the grated bars of the window. She gave to the sufferer a
full-blown rose, which he laid beside his cheek on his pillow. The old man
seemed to be greatly touched with these tokens of thoughtfulness. He is said
to have always been a great lover of nature, particularly of the grandeur of
Mrs. drew a chair near his
bedside, and taking out her knitting, sat by him for an hour. She has
preserved his complete conversation, of which I can give only a small
portion. She says: "I never saw a person who seemed less troubled or
excited, or whose mind was less disturbed and more clear. His remarks are
pointed, pithy, and sensible. He is not in the least sentimental, and seems
to have singularly excellent common sense about every thing."
HIS PRINCIPLES ON SLAVERY.
She asked him the direct
question,—" Were you actuated, in any degree, in undertaking your late
enterprise, by a feeling of revenge ?" adding that a common impression to
that effect had gone abroad.
He manifested much surprise at this statement, and after pausing a moment,
replied: "I am not conscious of ever having had a feeling of revenge; no,
not in all the wrong done to me and my family in Kansas. But I can see that
a thing is wrong and wicked, and can help to right it, and can even hope
that those who do the wrong may be punished, and still have no feeling of
revenge. No, I have not been actuated by any spirit of revenge."
He talked a good deal about
his family, manifesting solicitude for their comfort after he was gone, but
expressing his great confidence and trust in God's kind providence in their
When some allusion was made
to the sentence which he had received, he said, very deliberately and
firmly, and as my friend says, almost sublimely : "I do not think I can
better serve the cause I love so much than to die for it
She says that she can never
forget the impressive manner in which he utterred these solemn words. She
replied It is not the hardest thing than can happen to a brave man to die;
but it must be a great hardship for an active man to lie on his back in
prison, disabled by wounds. Do you not dread your confinement, and are you
not afraid that it may wear you down, or cause you to relax your
convictions, or regret your attempt, or make your courage fail?"
"I can not tell," he replied,
"what weakness may come over me; but I do not think that I shall deny my
Lord and Master Jesus Christ, as I certainly should, if I denied my
principles against slavery."
When the conversation had
proceeded thus far, as it was known outside the jail that a Northern lady
was inside, a crowd began to collect, and although no demonstration of
violence was made, yet there were manifest indications of impatience; so
that the sheriff called to the jailer, and the jailer was obliged to put an
end to the interview.
BROWN'S INTERVIEW WITH HIS
Mrs. Brown arrived at
Charlestown, Dec. i, to see her husband. The interview between them lasted
from four o'clock in the afternoon until near eight o'clock in the evening,
when General Tallaferro informed them that the period allowed had elapsed,
and that she must prepare for departure to the Ferry. Capt. Brown urged that
his wife be allowed to remain with him all night. To this the General
refused to assent, allowing them but four hours.
The interview was not a very
affecting one— rather of a practical character, with regard to the future of
herself and children, and the arrangement and settlement of business
affairs. They seemed considerably affected when they first met, and Mrs.
Brown was for a few moments quite overcome, but Brown was as firm as a rock,
and she soon recovered her composure. There was an impression that the
prisoner might possibly be furnished with a weapon or with strychnine by his
wife, and before the interview her person was searched by the wife of the
jailer, and a strict watch kept over them during the time they were
On first meeting they kissed
and affectionately embraced, and Mrs. Brown shed a few tears, but
immediately checked her feelings. They stood embraced, and she sobbing, for
nearly five minutes, and he was apparently unable to speak. The prisoner
only gave way for a moment, and was soon calm and collected, and remained
firm throughout the interview. At the close they shook hands, but did not
embrace, and as they parted he said, "God bless you and the children!" Mrs.
Brown replied, "God have mercy on you !" and continued calm until she left
the room, when she remained in tears a few moments, and then prepared to
depart. The interview took place in the parlour of Captain Avis, and the
prisoner was free from manacles of any kind. They sat side by side on a
sofa, and after discussing family matters proceeded to business.
THE EXECUTION OF BROWN.
At eleven o'clock on 2nd
December, the prisoner was brought out of the jail, accompanied by Sheriff
Campbell and assistants, and Captain Avis, the jailer. As he came out, the
six companies of infantry and one troop of horse, with General Tallaferro,
and his entire staff, were deploying in front of the jail, while an open
waggon with a pine box, in which was a fine oak coffin, was waiting for him.
Brown looked around, and
spoke to several persons he recognized, and, walking down the steps, took a
seat on the coffin box along with the jailer, Avis. He looked with interest
on the fine military display, but made no remarks. The waggon moved off;
flanked by two files of riflemen in close order. On reaching the field the
military had already full possession. Pickets were established, and the
citizens kept back, at the point of the bayonet, from taking any position
but that assigned them.
Brown was accompanied by no
ministers, he desiring no religious services either in the jail or on the
JOHN BROWN OF OSAWATOMIE.
JOHN BROWN, of Osawatomie,
Spake on his dying day:
"I will not have, to shrive my soul,
A priest in Slavery's pay;
But, let some poor slave-mother,
Whom I have striven to free,
With her children, from the gallows-stair,
Put up a prayer for me.
John Brown, of Osawatomie,
They led him out to die,
When lo, a poor slave-mother,
With her little child, pressed nigh.
Then the bold, blue eye grew tender,
And the old, harsh face grew mild,
As he stooped between the jeering ranks
And kissed the negro's child - Whittier.
On reaching the field where
the gallows was erected, the prisoner said, "Why, are none but military
allowed in the inclosure? I am sorry citizens have been kept out." On
reaching the gallows, he observed Mr. Hunter and Mayor Green standing near,
to whom he said, "Gentlemen, good-by!" his voice not faltering.
ON THE GALLOWS.
The prisoner walked up the
steps firmly, and was the first man on the gallows. Avis and Sheriff
Campbell stood by his side, and after shaking hands and bidding an
affectionate adieu, he thanked them for their kindness, when the cap was put
over his face, and the rope around his neck. Avis asked him to step forward
on the trap. He replied, "You must lead me, I can not see." The rope was
adjusted, and the military order given, "Not ready yet." The soldiers
marched, countermarched, and took position as if any enemy were in sight,
and were thus occupied for nearly ten minutes, the prisoner standing all the
time. Avis inquired if lie was not tired. Brown said, "No, not tired ; but
don't keep me waiting longer than is necessary.
While on the scaffold Sheriff
Campbell asked him if he would take a handkerchief in his hand to drop as a
signal when he was ready. He replied, "No, I do not want it; but do not
detain me any longer than is absolutely necessary."
He was swung off at fifteen
minutes past eleven. A slight grasping of the hands and twitching of the
muscles were seen, and then all was quiet.
The body was several times
examined, and the pulse did not cease until thirty-five minutes had passed.
The body was then cut down, placed in a coffin, and conveyed under military
escort to the depot, where it was put in a car to be carried to the ferry by
a special train at four o'clock.
JOHN BROWN'S AUTOGRAPH.
One of the jail-guard, a
worthy gentleman of this place, asked of Captain Brown his autograph, He
expressed the kindest feeling for him, and said he would give it upon this
consideration— that he should not make a speculation out of it. The
gentleman never alluded to the subject again, but on the morning of
execution Brown sent for him, and handed him the following communication:-
CHARLESTOWN, Va., December,
I, John Brown, am now quite
certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but
with blood. I had, as I now think, vainly flattered myself that, without
much bloodshed, it might be done.
VICTOR HUGO ON JOHN BROWN.
The following is part of an
address which has been published:-
When we we reflect on what
Brown, the liberator, the champion of Christ, has striven to effect, and
when we remember that he is about to die, slaughtered by the American
Republic, the crime assumes the proportions of the nation which commits it;
and when we say to ourselves that this nation is a glory of the human race;
that—like France, like England, like Germany—she is one of the organs of
civilization; that she sometimes even outmarches Europe by the sublime
audacity of her progress; that she is the queen of an entire world ; and
that she bears on her brow an immense light of freedom, we affirm that John
Brown will not die, for we recoil, horror-struck, from the idea of so great
a crime committed by so great a people.
In a political light, the
murder of Brown would be an irreparable fault. It would penetrate the Union
with a secret fissure, which would in the end tear it asunder. It is
possible that the execution of Brown might consolidate slavery in Virginia,
but it is certain that it would convulse the entire American democracy. You
preserve your shame, but you sacrifice your glory.
In a moral light, it seems to
me that a portion of the light of humanity would be eclipsed—that even the
idea of justice and injustice would be obscured on the day which should
witness the assassination of emancipation by liberty.
As for myself, though I am
but an atom, yet being, as I am, in common with all other men, inspired with
the conscience of humanity, I kneel in tears before the great starry banner
of the New World, and with clasped hands, and with profound and filial
respect, I implore the illustrious American republic, sister of the French
republic, to look to the safety of the universal moral law, to save Brown,
to throw down the threatening scaffold of the 16th of December, and not to
suffer, beneath its eyes, and I add, with a shudder, almost by its fault,
the first fratricide be outdone.
For—yes, let America know it,
and ponder it well—there is something more terrible than Cain slaying
Abel—it is Washington slaying Sparticus.
Hauteville House, Dec. 2,