XX. John Brown.
- Lineage and early life of John Brown -- his Kansas experiences -- his Convention in Canada -- repairs to Virginia -- seizes Harper's Ferry -- is overpowered — captured — convicted — hung.
on the 17th of October, 1859, this country was bewildered and astounded, while the fifteen Slave States were convulsed with fear, rage, and hate, by telegraphic dispatches from Baltimore and Washington, announcing the outbreak, at Harper's Ferry, of a conspiracy of Abolitionists and negroes, having for its object the devastation and ruin of the South, and the massacre of her white inhabitants. A report that President Buchanan had been proclaimed Emperor and Autocrat of the North American continent, and had quietly arrested and imprisoned all the members of Congress and Judges of the Supreme Court, by way of strengthening his usurpation, would not have seemed more essentially incredible, nor have aroused a more intense excitement. Here follow the dispatches which gave the first tidings of this audacious and amazing demonstration:
Probably the more prevalent sensation  at first excited by this intelligence was that of blank incredulity. Harper's Ferry being the seat of a National Armory, at which a large number of mechanics and artisans were usually employed by the Government, it was supposed by many that some collision respecting wages or hours of labor had occurred between the officers and the workmen, which had provoked a popular tumult, and perhaps a stoppage of the trains passing through that village on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad; and that this, magnified by rumor and alarm, had afforded a basis for these monstrous exaggerations. Yet, as time wore on, further advices, with particulars and circumstances, left no room to doubt the substantial truth of the original report. An attempt had actually been made to excite a slave insurrection in Northern Virginia, and the one man in America to whom such an enterprise would not seem utter insanity and suicide, was at the head of it. John Brown was sixth in descent from Peter Brown, a carpenter by trade, and a Puritan by intense conviction, who was one of the glorious company who came over in the May-flower, and landed at Plymouth Rock, on that memorable 22d of December, 1620. The fourth in descent from Peter the pilgrim, was John Brown, born in 1728, who was captain of the West Simsbury (Connecticut) train-band, and in that capacity joined the Continental Army at New York in the Spring of 1776, and, after two months service, fell a victim to camp-fever, dying in a barn a few miles north of the city. His grandson, John Brown, of Osawatomie, son of Owen and Ruth Brown, was born in Torrington, Conn., May 9, 1800. On his mother's side, he was descended from Peter Miles, an emigrant from Holland, who settled at Bloomfield, Conn., about 1700; and his grandfather on this side, Gideon Mills, also served in the Revolutionary war, and attained the rank of lieutenant. When John was but five years old, his father migrated to Hudson, Ohio, where he died a few years since, aged eighty-seven. He was engaged, during the last war, in furnishing beef cattle to our forces on the northern frontier; and his son, John, then twelve to fourteen years of age, accompanied him as a cattle-driver, and, in that capacity, witnessed Hull's surrender at Detroit, in 1812. He was so disgusted with what he saw of military life that he utterly refused, when of suitable age, to train or drill in the militia, but paid fines or evaded service during his entire liability to military duty. In an autobiographical fragment, written by him in 1857, for a child who had evinced a deep interest in his Kansas efforts, speaking of himself in the third person, he says:
During the war with England, a circumstance occurred that in the end made him a most determined Abolitionist, and led him to declare, or swear, eternal war with Slavery. He was staying, for a short time, with a very gentlemanly landlord, once a United States Marshal, who held a slave-boy near his own age, active, intelligent, and good-feeling, and 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 and friends-called their attention to every little smart thing he said or did, and to the fact of his being more than a hundred miles from home with a drove of cattle alone; while the negro boy (who was fully, if not more than, his equal,) was badly clothed, poorly fed and lodged in cold weather, and 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 and motherless slave children; for such children have neither fathers nor mothers to protect and provide for them. He sometimes would raise the question, Is God their Father?Young John had very little of what is called education; poverty and hard work being his principal teachers. At sixteen years of age, he joined the Congregational Church in Hudson; and from fifteen to twenty he learned the trade of tanner and currier. He returned to New England while still a minor, and commenced, at Plainfield, Mass., a course of study with a view to the Christian ministry; but, being attacked with inflammation of the eyes, which ultimately became chronic, he relinquished this pursuit and returned to Ohio, where he married his first wife, Dianthe Lusk, when a little more than twenty years of age. By her, he had seven children; the last of whom, born in 1832, was buried with her three days after its birth. He next year married Mary A. Day (who survives him), by whom he had thirteen children, of whom three sons were with him at Harper's Ferry, two of whom lost their lives there, and the third escaped. Eight of his children were living at the time of his death. Brown worked for himself as a tanner and farmer five or six years in northern Ohio, and, for nine or ten years thereafter, in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, enjoying general respect as a sincere, earnest, upright, pious man. One who knew him in those days remembers that the wrong of Slavery was a favorite topic with him, and that, though stern in manner, he was often affected to tears when depicting the unmerited sufferings of slaves. So early as 1839, the idea of becoming himself a liberator of the unhappy race was cherished by him. From 1835 to 1846 he lived once more in northern Ohio removing thence to Springfield, Mass., where he engaged in wool-dealing under the firm of Perkins & Brown, selling wool extensively on commission for growers along the southern shore of Lake Erie, and undertaking to dictate prices and a system of grading wools to the manufacturers of New England, with whom he came to an open rupture, which induced him at length to ship two hundred thousand pounds of wool to London, and go thither to sell it. This bold experiment proved a failure, wool bringing far higher prices in this country than in any other. He finally sold at a fearful loss and came home a bankrupt. But, meantime, he had traveled considerably over Europe, and learned something of the ways of the world. In 1849, he removed with his family to North Elba, Essex County, New York, to some land given him by Gerrit Smith. He went thither expressly to counsel and benefit the negroes settled in that vicinity, on lands like-wise bestowed upon them by our noblest philanthropist. The location was a hard one, high up among the glens of the Adirondack Mountains, rugged, cold, and bleak. The negroes generally became discouraged, in view of the incessant toil, privation, and hardships, involved in hewing a farm and a habitation out of the primitive wilderness, in a secluded, sterile region, and gave over in despair after a brief trial; but John Brown and his sons persevered, ultimately making homes for themselves, which,  though not luxurious nor inviting, their families retain. In 1851, the father returned with his family to Akron, Ohio, where he once more carried on the wool business and managed the farm of a friend; but, in 1855, on starting for Kansas, he moved his family back to their own home at North Elba, where they remain, with his grave in the midst of them. In 1854, his four elder sons — all by his first wife, and all living in Ohio — determined to migrate to Kansas. They went thither, primarily, to make that a Free State; secondly, to make homes for themselves and their families. They went unarmed, having a very inadequate idea of the nature and spirit of the fiend they were defying. They settled in Lykins County, southern Kansas, about eight miles distant from the present village of Osawatomie, and not far from the Missouri border. Here they were soon so harassed, threatened, insulted, and plundered, by gangs of marauding ruffians from Missouri, that they found it impossible to remain without arms, and they wrote to their father to procure such as they needed. He obtained them; and, to make sure work of it, went with them. Nearly all others went to Kansas in the hope of thereby improving their worldly condition, or, at least, of making homes there. John Brown went there for the sole purpose of fighting, if need were, for Liberty. He left his family behind him, for he had no intention of making Kansas his home. He was no politician, in the current acceptation of the term, having taken little or no interest in party contests for many years. His intimate follower and admiring biographer, Redpath, says of him:
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 interpretation of the Federal Constitution. It teaches that we must content ourselves with resisting the extension of Slavery. Where the Republicans said, “ Halt!” John Brown shouted, “Forward! To the rescue!” He was an Abolitionist of the Bunker Hill school. He followed neither Garrison nor Seward, Gerrit Smith nor Wendell Phillips; but the Golden Rule and the Declaration of Independence, in the spirit of the Hebrew warriors, and in the God-applauded mode that they adopted, “ The Bible story of Gideon,” records a man who betrayed him, “ had manifestly a great influence on his actions.” He believed in human brotherhood and in the God of Battles; he admired Nat Turner, the negro patriot, equally with George Washington, the white American deliverer. He could not see that it was heroic to fight against a petty tax on tea, and war seven long years for a political principle, yet wrong to restore, by force of arms, to an outraged race, the rights with which their Maker had endowed them, but of which the South, for two centuries, had robbed them. The old man distrusted the Republican leaders. He thought that their success in 1860 would be a serious check to the cause he loved.1 His reason was that the people had confidence in these leaders, and would believe that, by their action in Congress, they would peacefully and speedily abolish Slavery. That the people would be deceived — that the Republicans would become as conservative of Slavery as the Democrats themselves — he sincerely and prophetically believed. Apathy to the welfare of the slave would 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. lie was 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. Of course, he was not pleased with what he found and saw in Kansas. There were too much policy, too much politics, and too general a regard for personal safety and comfort. He would have preferred a good deal less riding about, especially at night, with more solid fighting. Redpath, who visited him in his camp near Prairie City, not long before the battle of Black Jack, says:
I shall not soon forget the scene that there 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 around 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 two fine-looking youths were standing, leaning on their arms, on guard, near by. One of them was the youngest son of Old Brown, and the other was “ Charley,” the brave Hungarian, who was subsequently murdered at Osawatomie. Old Brown himself stood near the fire, with his shirt-sleeves rolled up, and a large piece of 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 moment only; for the Captain ordered them to renew their work. He respectfully but firmly forbade conversation on the Pottawatomie; and said that, if I desired any information from the company in relation to their conduct or intentions, he, as their Captain, would answer for them whatever it was proper to communicate. In this camp, no manner of profane language was permitted; no man of immoral character was allowed to stay, except as a prisoner of war. He made prayers, in which all the company united, every morning and evening; and no food was ever tasted by his men until the Divine blessing had been asked on it. After every meal, thanks were returned to the Bountiful Giver. Often, I was told, the old man would retire to the densest solitudes to wrestle with his God in secret prayer. One of his company subsequently informed me that, after these retiring, he would say that the Lord had directed him in visions what to do; that, for himself, he did not love warfare, but peace — only acting in obedience to the will of the Lord, and fighting God's battles for His children's sake. 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 before had I met such a band of men. They were not earnest, but earnestness incarnate. Six of them were John Brown's sons.In the August following, a new invasion, on an extensive scale, of Kansas, from the Missouri border, was planned and executed. Inflammatory proclamations were issued, which affirmed that the pro-Slavery settlers either had been or were about to be all killed or driven out of the Territory by the Abolitionists, and the Missourians were exhorted to rally all their forces for the conflict. Lexington, Mo., was assigned as the place, and August 20th as the time, of assemblage for La Fayette County, and New Santa Fe, Jackson County, as the general rendezvous. “Bring your guns, your horses, and your clothing, all ready to go on to Kansas: our motto will be this time, ‘ No Quarter!’ Let no one stay away!” A similar appeal.was issued from Westport, signed by Atchison, Stringfellow, and others. A force of two thousand men was, by virtue of these appeals, collected at the petty village of Santa Fe, directly on the border; but soon divided into two expeditions, one of which, led by Senator Atchison, was confronted at Bull's Creek by not more than half its number  under Gen. J. H. Lane, and turned back without a fight-first halting, and refusing to advance against the determined front of the Free-State men, and finally disappearing in the course of the ensuing night. The other and smaller party, led by Gen. Reid, consisted of four to five hundred men, well armed with United States cannon, muskets, bayonets, and revolvers, and liberally supplied with ammunition. They pursued a more southerly course, and, at daylight on the morning of August 30th, approached the little village of Osawatomie, which was defended by barely thirty Free-State men; but their leader was old John Brown. His son Frederick was shot dead, about a mile and a half from the village, by the Rev. Martin White, who led the pro-Slavery advance or scouting party, before young Brown was aware of their hostile character. Two other Free-State men were likewise surprised and killed early in the morning. John Brown, with his thirty compatriots, took position in great haste in the timber on the southern bank of the little river Osage, here known as the Marais-des-Cygnes, a little to the northwest of the village, and here fought the advance of the foe as they approached, until thirty-one or two of them were killed and from forty to fifty wounded. The Free-State men, fighting generally under cover against an undisciplined and badly managed force, lost but five or six in all; but the disproportion was too great, and, their ammunition becoming exhausted, they were forced to retreat, leaving Osawatomie to be sacked and burned again. Brown himself continued steadily firing, as well as directing his men, throughout the conflict, amid an incessant shower of grapeshot and bullets. Not until he saw the whites of the enemy's eyes did he give the order to his little band to retreat. The Ruffians killed the only wounded prisoner whom they took, as also a Mr. Williams, whom they found in Osawatomie, and who had taken no part in the conflict. The Missourians returned to their homes in triumph, boasting that they had killed old Brown and dispersed his band; but their wagon-loads of dead and wounded created a salutary awe, which was very efficient in preventing future invasions, or rendering them comparatively infrequent. The Rev. Martin White, for his services in this expedition, was chosen a member of the next Lecompton (pro-Slavery) Legislature, which he attended; and, in the course of its deliberations, he entertained his fellow-members with a graphic and humorous account of his killing of Frederick Brown. When the session was finished, he started for home, but never reached it. His body was found cold and stiff on the prairie, with a rifle-ball through his vitals. Six weeks after the Osawatomie fight, Capt. Brown was in Lawrence, stopping over Sunday on his way home from Topeka, when the startling announcement was made that 2,800 Missourians, under Atchison and Reid, were advancing upon that town. Not more than two hundred men in all could be rallied for its defense. Brown was unanimously chosen their leader. He made a speech from a dry-goods box in Main-street, opposite the post-office, substantially as follows:
Gentlemen, it is said there are twenty-five  hundred Missourians down at Franklin, and that they will be here in two hours. You can see for yourselves the smoke they are making by setting fire to the houses in that town. Now is probably the last opportunity you will have of seeing a fight; so that you had better do your best. If they should come up and attack us, don't yell and make a great noise, but remain perfectly silent and still. Wait till they get within twenty-five yards of you; get a good object; be sure you see the hind-sight of your gun: then fire. A great deal of powder and lead, and very precious time, are wasted by shooting too high. You had better aim at their legs than at their heads. In either case, be sure of the hind-sights of your guns. It is from this reason that I myself have so many times escaped; for, if all the bullets which have been aimed at me had hit me, I should have been as full of holes as a riddle.He proceeded to post his men so admirably as to conceal entirely their paucity of numbers, taking advantage of a gentle ridge running east and west, at some distance south of the town. The hostile forces remained through the night about half a mile from each other, with a corn-field between, each man covered by the grass and the inequalities of the ground, their positions only revealed by the flashes and reports of their guns. When the sun rose next morning, the Missourians had decamped. Capt. Brown left soon after for the East by the circuitous land route through Nebraska and Iowa; that through Missouri being closed against Free-State men. He took a fugitive slave in his wagon, and saw him safely on his way to freedom. He made two or three visits to the East in quest of aid and of funds, returning for the last time to Southern Kansas in the Autumn of 1858. Peace had finally been secured in all that part of the Territory lying north of the Kansas river, by the greatly increased numbers and immense preponderance of the Free-State settlers, rendering raids from Missouri, whether to carry elections or devastate settlements, too perilous to be lightly undertaken. When the Missourians still rallied, in obedience to habit, at Kansas elections, they did so at Oxford, Santa Fe, and other polls held just along the border, where they could suddenly concentrate force enough to make the operation a tolerably safe one. But Southern Kansas was still very thinly settled, in part by Missourians; while Fort Scott, a military post and land-office in the heart of that section, afforded a nucleus and a rallying-point for pro-Slavery terrorism. The Missourians, recognizing and acting under the Territorial Legislature and local officers created by the Border Ruffian irruptions and fraudulent elections, claimed to be the party of Law and Order, and often, if not usually, committed their outrages under the lead of a marshal or a sheriff. The Free-State men, repudiating and scouting those elections and their fruits, were regarded and treated, not only by the pro-Slavery party on either side of the border, but by the Federal Administration and its instruments in Kansas, as outlaws and criminals. At length, Fort Scott itself was captured2 by Montgomery,3 one of the boldest of the Free-State leaders, who, with 150 men, entered it by night, made temporary prisoners of its dignitaries, and liberated a Free-State man imprisoned there. Montgomery soon after surrendered himself to the Federal Governor of the Territory, when a treaty or understanding was had between them,  under which the region gradually settled into comparative peace. But, while the ferment was at its hight, and forces were gathering on both sides for the conflict, a slave named Jim came secretly across the border to Capt. Brown's cabin, and told him that himself and his family had been sold, and were to be sent off to Texas next day. Brown, with twenty men, divided into two parties, crossed the border in the night, liberated Jim and his family, and, proceeding to the house of another slaveholder, gave deliverance to five more slaves. The other party, under Kagi, called at several houses in search of slaves, but found none until they reached the residence of David Cruse, who, learning their object, seized his rifle and raised it to fire, but was instantly shot dead. He had but one slave, who accompanied his liberators on their retreat. One of the captured slaveholders was carried several miles into the Territory to prevent his raising a hue-and-cry for rescue. A furious excitement throughout Western Missouri inevitably followed. The Governor offered a reward of three thousand dollars for the arrest of Brown, on his part; to which President Buchanan added two hundred and fifty dollars. It was reported that the slave population of the two adjacent Missouri counties was diminished from five hundred to fifty within a few weeks, mainly by removal for sale. The more moderate Free-State men earnestly disavowed all sympathy with Brown's doings over the border, or any acts of violence by Free-State men on their adversaries, not committed in necessary self-defense. Brown soon learned that he must leave Kansas, or remain there denounced and condemned by those who had hitherto been his friends. He resolved to leave, and started early in January, 1859, passing through Lawrence on his northward route. He had four white companions, three of whom afterward fought under him at Harper's Ferry, and three negroes, beside women and children. He was pursued by thirty pro-Slavery men from Lecompton so sharply that he was compelled to halt and prepare for a defense. He took possession of two deserted log-cabins in the wilderness, which his pursuers surrounded, at a respectful distance, and sent to Atchison and Lecompton for reenforcements. From Atchison, twelve men arrived, making their force forty-two to his eight. As they were preparing to attack, Brown and his seven companions suddenly issued from the wood, in order of battle, when the valorous posse turned and fled.4 Not a shot was fired, as they, putting spurs to their horses, galloped headlong across the prairie, and were soon lost to the view. Only four men stood their ground, and these were made prisoners forthwith. Brown ordered them to dismount, and give their horses to his negroes. This command occasioned — not to say provoked — profane language on their part; whereupon he commanded silence, saying he would permit no blasphemy in his presence. At this, they only swore the louder and the harder. “Kneel!” exclaimed the stern Puritan,  suddenly presenting his pistol. There was no alternative but a deadly one, and they all knelt. “Now, pray!” It was probably their first attempt in that line for many years, and their success could hardly have been brilliant; but he kept them at it until they had at least manifested an obedient and docile spirit. They never swore again in his presence, though he held them prisoners for five days, compelling them, each and all, to pray night and morning. These four were from Atchison; and, being finally liberated, returned to that still pro-Slavery city, where one of them was green enough to tell the story of their capture, and their discipline under old John Brown. The laugh was so general and so hearty that they soon left, never to return. Brown was joined, soon after this “Battle of the spurs,” by Kagi, with forty mounted men from Topeka, of whom seventeen escorted him safely to Nebraska City. He there crossed the Mississippi into Iowa, and traveled slowly through that State, Illinois, and Michigan, to Detroit, where he arrived on the 12th of March, crossing immediately into Canada, where his twelve blacks--one of them born since he left Missouri--were legally, as well as practically, free. All of them were industrious, prosperous, and happy, when last heard from, many months thereafter. A secret convention, called by Brown, and attended only by such whites and blacks as he believed in thorough sympathy with his views, had assembled in a negro church at Chatham, Canada West, May 8, 1858; at which Convention a “Provisional Constitution and Ordinances for the People of the United States” had been adopted. It was, of course, drafted by Brown, and was essentially an embodiment of his political views. The nature of this Constitution is sufficiently exhibited in the following extracts:
preamble.--Whereas, Slavery, throughout its entire existence in the United States, is none other than the most barbarous, unprovoked, and unjustifiable war of one portion 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 Declaration of Independence: 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 rights which the white man is bound to respect, together with all the other people degraded by the laws thereof, do, for the time being, ordain and establish for ourselves the following Provisional 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 proscribed, 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 persons, shall be held to be fully entitled to protection under the same.
Art. XXVIII. Property.--All captured or confiscated property, and all property the product of the labor of those belonging to this organization, and of their families, shall be held as the property of the whole equally, without distinction, and may be 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 any property found, captured, or confiscated, belonging to the enemy, or shall willfully 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 punished accordingly. 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 articles above named, contrary to the provisions and spirit of this article, shall be deemed guilty of theft, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished accordingly. The Treasurer shall furnish the Commander-in-Chief at all times with a full statement of the condition of such fund, and its nature.
Art. XXXIII. Volunteers.--All persons who may come forward, and shall voluntarily deliver up slaves, and have their names registered on the books of this organization, shall, so long as they continue at peace, be entitled to the fullest protection in person and property, though not connected with this organization, and shall be treated as friends, and not merely as persons neutral. Art. XXXIV. Neutrals.--The persons and property of all non-slaveholders who shall remain absolutely neutral shall be respected so far as circumstances can allow of it, but they shall not be entitled to any active protection. Art. XXXV. No Needless Waste.--The needless waste or destruction of any useful property or article by fire, throwing open of fences, fields, buildings, or needless killing of animals, or injury of either, shall not be tolerated at any time or place, but shall be promptly and peremptorily punished. 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 willfully holding slaves, shall be confiscated and taken whenever and wherever it may be found, in either Free or Slave States.
Art. XLVI. These Articles not for the Overthrow of Government.--The foregoing articles shall not be construed so as in any way to encourage the overthrow of any State Government, or of the General Government of the United States, and look to no dissolution of the Union, but simply to amendment and repeal; and our flag shall be the same that our fathers fought under in the Revolution.Under this Constitution, the offices of President and Commander-in-Chief were to be separate, and in all cases to be held by different persons. John Brown was chosen Commander-in-Chief; J. H. Kagi, Secretary of War; Owen Brown (son of John), Treasurer; Richard Realf, Secretary of State. Brown returned to the States soon after his triumphal entry into Canada as a liberator, and was at Cleveland from the 20th to the 30th of March. He entered his name on the hotel-book, as “John Brown, of Kansas,” advertised two horses for sale at auction; and, at the time of the sale, stood in front of the auctioneer's stand, notifying all bidders that the title might be considered defective, since he had taken the horses with the slaves whom he liberated in Western Missouri, finding it necessary to his success that the slaves should have horses, and that the masters should not. “But,” he added, when telling the story afterward, “they brought a very excellent price.” Early in April following, he was in Ashtabula County, Ohio, sick of the ague. He visited his family in Essex County, New York, toward the end of that month. In May, he was in New York City, Rochester, and Boston, where he learned to manufacture crackers. On the 3d of June, he was at Collinsville, Conn., where he closed a contract for a thousand pikes, that he had ordered some time before. He was soon afterward again in Northern Ohio, and in Western Pennsylvania, proceeding by Pittsburg and Bedford to Chambersburg, where he remained several days. He was in Hagerstown, Md., on the 30th, where he registered his name as “Smith, and two sons, from Western New York.” He told his landlord that they had been farming in Western New York, but had been discouraged by losing two or three years crops by frost, and they were now looking for a milder climate, in a location  adapted to wool-growing, etc. After looking about Harper's Ferry for several days, they found, five or six miles from that village, a large farm, with three unoccupied houses, the owner, Dr. Booth Kennedy, having died the last Spring. These houses they rented for a trifle until the next March, paying the rent in advance, purchasing for cash a lot of hogs from the family, and agreeing to take care of the stock on the farm until it could be sold, which they faithfully did. After they had lived there a few weeks, attracting no observation, others joined them from time to time, including two of Brown's young daughters; and one would go and another come, without exciting any particular remark. They paid cash for everything, were sociable and friendly with their neighbors, and seemed to pass their time mainly hunting in the mountains; though it was afterward remembered that they never brought home any game. On one occasion, a neighbor remarked to the elder Mr. Smith (as old Brown was called), that he had observed twigs and branches bent down in a peculiar manner; which Smith explained by stating that it was the habit of Indians, in traveling through a strange country, to mark their path thus, so as to be able to find their way back. He had no doubt, he said, that Indians passed over these mountains, unknown to the inhabitants. Meantime, the greater number of the men kept out of sight during the day, so as not to attract attention, while their arms, munitions, etc., were being gradually brought from Chambersburg, in well-secured boxes. No meal was eaten on the farm, while old Brown was there, until a blessing had been asked upon it; and his Bible was in daily requisition. The night of the 24th of October was originally fixed upon by Brown for the first blow against Slavery in Virginia, by the capture of the Federal Arsenal at Harper's Ferry; and his biographer, Redpath, alleges that many were on their way to be with him on that occasion, when they were paralyzed by the intelligence that the blow had already been struck, and had failed. The reason given for this, by one5 who was in his confidence, is, that Brown, who had been absent on a secret journey to the North, suspected that one of his party was a traitor, and that he must strike prematurely, or not at all. But the women who had been with them at the Kennedy farm — the wives or daughters of one or another of the party — had already been quietly sent away; and the singular complexion of their household had undoubtedly begun to excite curiosity, if not alarm, among their neighbors. On Saturday, the 15th, a council was held, and a plan of operations discussed. On Sunday evening, another council was held, and the programme of the chief unanimously approved. Hie closed it with these words:
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 necessary  to take life in order to save your own, then make sure work of it.Harper's Ferry was then a village of some five thousand inhabitants, lying on the Virginia side of the Potomac, and on either side of its principal tributary, the Shenandoah, which here enters it from the South. Its site is a mere nest or cup among high, steep mountains; the passage of the united rivers through the Blue Ridge at this point having been pronounced by Jefferson a spectacle which one might well cross the Atlantic to witness and enjoy. Here the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad crosses the Potomac; and the rich valley of the Shenandoah is traversed, for a considerable distance hence, by the Winchester and Harper's Ferry Railroad. Washington is fifty-seven miles distant by turnpike; Baltimore eighty miles by railroad. Modest as the village then was, space had been with difficulty found for its habitations, some of which were perched upon ground four hundred feet above the surface of the streams. One of its very few streets was entirely occupied by the work-shops and offices of the National Armory, and had an iron railing across its entrance. In the old Arsenal building, there were usually stored from 100,000 to 200,000 stand of arms. The knowledge of this had doubtless determined the point at which the first blow of the liberators was to be struck. The forces with which Brown made his attack consisted of seventeen white and five colored men, though it is said that others who escaped assisted outside, by cutting the telegraph wires and tearing up the railroad track. The entrance of this petty army into Harper's Ferry on Sunday evening, October 17th, seems to have been effected without creating alarm. They first rapidly extinguished the lights of the town; then took possession of the Armory buildings, which were only guarded by three watchmen, whom, without meeting resistance or exciting alarm, they seized and locked up in the guard-house. It is probable that they were aided, or, at least, guided, by friendly negroes belonging in the village. At half-past 10, the watchman at the Potomac bridge was seized and secured. At midnight, his successor, arriving, was hailed by Brown's sentinels, but ran, one shot being fired at him from the bridge. He gave the alarm, but still nothing stirred. At a quarter-past one, the western train arrived, and its conductor found the bridge guarded by armed men. He and others attempted to walk across, but were turned back by presented rifles. One man, a negro, was shot in the back, and died next morning. The passengers took refuge in the hotel, and remained there several hours; the conductor properly refusing to pass the train over, though permitted, at three o'clock, to do so. A little after midnight, the house of Col. Washington was visited by six of Brown's men under Capt. Stevens, who captured the Colonel, seized his arms, horses, etc., and liberated his slaves. On their return, Stevens and party visited the house of Mr. Alstadtt and his son, whom they captured, and freed their slaves. These, with each male citizen as he appeared in the street, were confined in the Armory until they numbered between forty and fifty. Brown informed his prisoners that they could be liberated on condition of writing  to their friends to send a negro apiece as ransom. At daylight, the train proceeded, Brown walking over the bridge with the conductor. Whenever any one asked the object of their captors, the uniform answer was, “To free the slaves ;” and when one of the workmen, seeing an armed guard at the Arsenal gate, asked by what authority they had taken possession of the public property, he was answered, “By the authority of God Almighty!” The passenger train that sped eastward from Harper's Ferry, by Brown's permission, in the early morning of Monday, October 17th, left that place completely in the military possession of the insurrectionists. They held, without dispute, the Arsenal, with its offices, workshops, and grounds. Their sentinels stood on guard at the bridges and principal corners, and were seen walking up and down the streets. Every workman, who ignorantly approached the Armory, as day dawned, was seized and imprisoned, with all other white males who seemed capable of making any trouble. By eight o'clock, the number of prisoners had been swelled to sixty-odd, and the work was still proceeding. But it was no longer entirely one-sided. The white Virginians, who had arms, and who remained unmolested in their houses, prepared to use them. Soon after daybreak, as Brown's guards were bringing two citizens to a halt, they were fired on by a man named Turner, and, directly afterward, by a grocer named Boerly, who was instantly killed by the return fire. Several Virginians soon obtained possession of a room overlooking the Armory gates, and fired thence at the sentinels who guarded them, one of whom fell dead, and another — Brown's son Watson — was mortally wounded. Still, throughout the forenoon, the liberators remained masters of the town. There were shots fired from one side or the other at intervals, but no more casualties reported. The prisoners were by turns permitted to visit their families under guard, to give assurance that they still lived and were kindly treated. Had Brown chosen to fly to the mountains with his few followers, he might still have done so, though with a much slenderer chance of impunity than if he had, according to his original plan, decamped at midnight, with such arms and ammunition as he could bear away. Why he lingered, to brave inevitable destruction, is not certain; but it may fairly be presumed that he had private assurances that the negroes of the surrounding country would rise at the first tidings of his movement, and come flocking to his standard; and he chose to court the desperate chances of remaining where arms and ammunition for all could abundantly be had. True, he afterward said that he had arms enough already, either on or about his premises; but, if so, why seize Harper's Ferry at all? At all events, if his doom was already sealed, his delay at least hastened it. Half an hour after noon, a militia force, one hundred strong, arrived from Charlestown, the county seat, and were rapidly disposed so as to command every available exit from the place. In taking the Shenandoah bridge, they killed one of the insurgents, and captured William Thompson, a neighbor of Brown at Elba,  unwounded. The rifle-works were next attacked, and speedily carried, being defended by five insurgents only. These attempted to cross the river, and four of them succeeded in reaching a rock in the middle of it, whence they fought with two hundred Virginians, who lined either bank, until two of them were dead, and a third mortally wounded, when the fourth surrendered. Kagi, Brown's Secretary of War, was one of the killed. William H. Leeman, one of Brown's captains, being pursued by scores, plunged into the river, a Virginian wading after him. Leeman turned round, threw up his empty hands, and cried, “Don't shoot!” The Virginian fired his pistol directly in the youth's face — he was but twenty-two--and shattered his head into fragments. By this time, all the houses around the Armory buildings were held by the Virginians. Capt. Turner, who had fired the first shot in the morning, was killed by the sentinel at the Arsenal gate, as he was raising his rifle to fire. Here Dangerfield Newby, a Virginia slave, and Jim, one of Col. Washington's negroes, with a free negro, who had lived on Washington's estate, were shot dead; and Oliver Brown, another of the old man's sons, being hit by a ball, came inside of the gate, as his brother Watson had done, lay quietly down without a word, and in a few moments was dead. Mr. Beckham, mayor of the town, who came within range of the insurgents' rifles as they were exchanging volleys with the Virginians, was likewise killed. At the suggestion of Mr. Kitzmiller, one of Brown's prisoners, Aaron D. Stevens, one of his most trusted followers from Kansas, was sent out with a flag of truce to call a parley, but was instantly shot down by the Virginians, receiving six balls in his person. Thompson, their prisoner, was attacked by scores of them in the parlor where he was confined, but saved for the moment by a young lady throwing herself between him and their presented rifles, because, as she afterward explained, she “did not want the carpet spoiled.” He was dragged out to the bridge, there shot in cold blood, and his body riddled with balls at the base of the pier, whither he had fallen forty feet from the bridge. By this time, more militia had arrived from every quarter, and a party from Martinsburgh, led by a railroad conductor, attacked the Armory buildings in the rear, while a detachment of the same force assailed them in front. Brown, seeing that his assailants were in overwhelming force, retreated to the engine-house, where he repulsed his assailants, who lost two killed and six wounded. Still, militia continued to pour in; the telegraph and railroad having been completely repaired, so that the Government at Washington, Gov. Wise at Richmond, and the authorities at Baltimore, were in immediate communication with Harper's Ferry, and hurrying forward troops from all quarters to overwhelm the remaining handful of insurgents, whom terror and rumor had multiplied to twenty times their actual number. At five P. M., Capt. Simms arrived, with militia from Maryland, and completed the investment of the Armory buildings, whence eighteen prisoners had already been liberated upon the retreat of Brown to the engine-house.  Col. Baylor commanded in chief. The firing ceased at nightfall. Brown offered to liberate his prisoners, upon condition that his men should be permitted to cross the bridge in safety, which was refused. Night found Brown's forces reduced to three unwounded whites beside himself, with perhaps half a dozen negroes from the vicinity. Eight of the insurgents were already dead; another lay dying beside the survivors; two were captives mortally wounded, and one other unhurt. Around the few survivors were fifteen hundred armed, infuriated foes. Half a dozen of the party, who had been sent out at early morning by Brown to capture slaveholders, and liberate slaves, were absent, and unable, even if willing, to rejoin their chief. They fled during the night to Maryland and Pennsylvania; but most of them were ultimately captured. During that night, Col. Lee, with ninety United States marines and two pieces of artillery, arrived, and took possession of the Armory guard, very close to the engine-house. Brown, of course, remained awake and alert through the night, discomfited and beyond earthly hope, but perfectly cool and calm. Said Gov. Wise, in a speech at Richmond soon after:
Col. Washington said that 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 son with one hand, held his rifle with the other, and commanded his men with the utmost composure, encouraging them to be firm, and to sell their lives as dearly as possible.Conversing with Col. Washington during that solemn night, he said he had not pressed his sons to join him in this expedition, but did not regret their loss — they had died in a good cause. At seven in the morning, after a parley which resulted in nothing, the marines advanced to the assault, broke in the door of the engine-house by using a ladder as a battering-ram, and rushed into the building. One of the defenders was shot and two marines wounded; but the odds were too great; in an instant, all resistance was over. Brown was struck in the face with a saber and knocked down, after which the blow was several times repeated, while a soldier ran a bayonet twice into the old man's body. All the insurgents, it was said, would have been killed on the spot, had the Virginians been able to distinguish them with certainty from their prisoners. Of course, all Virginia, including her Governor, rushed to Harper's Ferry upon learning that all was over, and the insurrection completely suppressed. The bleeding survivors were subjected to an alternation of queries and execrations, which they met bravely, as they had confronted the bullets of their numerous and ever-increasing foes. They answered frankly, save where their replies might possibly compromise persons still at liberty; and none of them sought to conceal the fact that they had struck for Universal Freedom at all hazards. The bearing of Brown was especially praised by his enemies (many of whom have since won notoriety in the ranks of the Rebellion), as remarkably simple and noble. Among others, Mr. C. L. Vallandigham, of Ohio, hastened to visit and catechise Brown, in the hope of making political capital out of his confessions, and was answered  frankly and fully. On his return to Ohio, he said:
It is in vain to underrate either the man or the conspiracy. Capt. John Brown is as brave and resolute a man as ever headed an insurrection; and, in a good cause, and with a sufficient force, would have been a consummate partisan commander. He has coolness, daring, persistency, the stoic faith and patience, and a firmness of will and purpose unconquerable. He is the farthest possible remove from the ordinary ruffian, fanatic, or madman. Certainly, it was one of the best planned and best executed conspiracies that ever failed.On Wednesday evening, October 19th, after thirty hours of this discipline, the four surviving prisoners were conveyed to the jail at Charlestown under an escort of marines. Brown and Stevens, badly wounded, were taken in a wagon; Green and Coppoc, unhurt, walked between files of soldiers, followed by hundreds, who at first cried, “Lynch them!” but were very properly shamed into silence by Gov. Wise. It is not necessary to linger here over the legal proceedings in this case; nor do the complaints, so freely made at the time, of indecent haste and unfair dealing, on the part of the Virginia authorities, seem fully justified. That the conviction and death of Brown and his associates were predetermined, is quite probable; but the facts and the nature of the case were notorious, beyond dispute; and Virginia had but this alternative — to hang John Brown, or to abolish Slavery. She did not choose to abolish Slavery; and she had no remaining choice but to hang John Brown. And as to trying him and Stevens while still weak and suffering severely from their wounds — neither able at times to stand up — it must be considered that the whole State had been terror-stricken by the first news of their attempt, and that fears of insurrection and of an armed rescue were still widely prevalent. That the lawyers of the vicinage who were assigned to the defense of the prisoners did their duty timidly and feebly, is certain; but they shared, of course, not only the prejudices but the terrors of their neighbors, and knew that the case, at any rate, was hopeless. Brown's conduct throughout commanded the admiration of his bitterest enemies. When his papers were brought into court to be identified, he said: “I will identify any of my handwriting, and save all trouble. I am ready to face the music.” When a defense of insanity was suggested rather than interposed, he repelled it with indignation. When, after his conviction, he was suddenly brought into court, on the 1st of November, to listen to the judgment, and directed to stand up, and say why sentence should not be passed upon him, though taken by surprise and somewhat confused, he spoke gently and tenderly as follows:
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 snapping of a gun on either side, moved them through the country, and finally left them in Canada. I designed to have done the same thing again, on a larger scale. That was all I 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, it is unjust that I should suffer such a penalty. Had I interfered in the manner 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 behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of any  of their friends, either father, mother, brother, sister, wife, or children, or any of that class, and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have been all right, and every man in this Court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment. This Court acknowledges, as I suppose, the validity of the Law of God. I see a book kissed here which I suppose to be the Bible, or, at least, the New Testament. 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 those that are in bonds as bound with them.” I endeavored to act upon 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, was not wrong, but right. Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children, and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments — I submit: so let it be done. Let me say one word further: I feel entirely satisfied with the treatment I have received on my trial. Considering all the circumstances, it has been more generous than I expected. But I feel no consciousness of guilt. I have stated from the first what was my intention and what was not. I never had any design against the life of any person, nor any disposition to commit treason, or excite slaves to rebel, or make any general insurrection. I never encouraged any man to do so, but always discouraged any idea of that kind. Let me say, also, a word in regard to the statements made by some of those connected with me. I hear it has been stated by some of them that I have induced them to join me. But the contrary is true. I do not say this to injure them, but as regretting their weakness. There is not one of them but joined me 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 have done.Among the many letters addressed to him while in prison was one from Lydia Maria Child, who sought, but did not obtain, from the Virginia authorities, permission to visit him in his prison. Her letter to Brown was answered as follows:
His letter to his family, written a week after his sentence to death, is as follows:
During the forty-two days of his confinement at Charlestown, Brown received several visits from sympathizing Northern friends, many of whom had never before seen him. His wife, overcoming many obstacles, was finally permitted to spend a few hours in his cell, and to take supper  with him a short time before his death. No Virginians, so far as is known, proffered him any words of kindness, unless it were the reverend clergy of the neighborhood, who tendered him the solace of religion after their fashion, which he civilly, but firmly, declined. He could not recognize any one who justified or palliated Slavery as a minister of the God he worshiped, or the Saviour in whom he trusted. He held arguments on several occasions with pro-Slavery clergymen, but recognized them as men only, and not as invested with any peculiar sanctity. To one of them, who sought to reconcile Slavery with Christianity, he said: “My dear Sir, you know nothing about Christianity; you will have to learn the A B Cs in the lesson of Christianity, as I find you entirely ignorant of the meaning of the word. I, of course, respect you as a gentleman; but it is as a heathen gentleman.” The argument here closed. The following characteristic letter was written by him, while under sentence of death, to a relative then residing in Windham, Ohio:
The 2d of December was the day appointed for his execution. Nearly three thousand militia were early on the ground. Fears of a forcible rescue or of a servile insurrection prevented a large attendance of citizens. Cannon  were so planted as to sweep every approach to the jail, and to blow the prisoner into shreds upon the first intimation of tumult. Virginia held her breath until she heard that the old man was dead. Brown rose at daybreak, and continued writing with energy until half-past 10, when he was told to prepare to die. He shook hands with the sheriff, visited the cell of Copeland and Green, to whom he handed a quarter of a dollar each, saying he had no more use for money, and bade them adieu. He next visited Cook and Coppoc, the former of whom had made a confession, which he pronounced false; saying he had never sent Cook to Harper's Ferry, as he had stated. He handed a quarter to Coppoc also, shook hands with him, and parted. He then visited and bade a kindly good-bye to his more especial comrade, Stevens, gave him a quarter, and charged him not to betray his friends. A sixth, named Hazlett, was confined in the same prison, but he did not visit him, denying all knowledge of him. He walked out of the jail at 11 o'clock; an eye-witness said--“with a radiant countenance, and the step of a conqueror.” His face was even joyous, and it has been remarked that probably his was the lightest heart in Charlestown that day. A black woman, with a little child in her arms, stood by the door. He stopped a moment, and, stooping, kissed the child affectionately. Another black woman, with a child, as he passed along, exclaimed: “God bless you, old man! I wish I could help you; but I can't.” He looked at her with a tear in his eye. He mounted the wagon beside his jailor, Capt. Avis, who had been one of the bravest of his captors, who had treated him very kindly, and to whom he was profoundly grateful. The wagon was instantly surrounded by six companies of militia. Being asked, on the way, if he felt any fear, he replied: “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.” The day was clear and bright, and he remarked, as he rode, that the country seemed very beautiful. Arrived at the gallows, he said: “I see no citizens here; where are they?” “None but the troops are allowed to be present,” was the reply. “That ought not to be,” said he; “citizens should be allowed to be present as well as others.” He bade adieu to some acquaintances at the foot of the gallows, and was first to mount the scaffold. His step was still firm, and his bearing calm, yet hopeful. The hour having come, he said to Capt. Avis: “I have no words to thank you for all your kindness to me.” His elbows and ankles being pinioned, the white cap drawn over his eyes, the hangman's rope adjusted around his neck, he stood waiting for death. “Capt. Brown,” said the sheriff, “you are not standing on the drop. Will you come forward?” “I can't see,” was his firm answer; “you must lead me.” The sheriff led him forward to the center of the drop. “Shall I give you a handkerchief, and let you drop it as a signal .” “No; I am ready at any time; but do not keep me needlessly waiting.” In defiance of this reasonable request, he was kept standing thus several minutes, while a military parade and  display of readiness to repel an imaginary foe were enacted. The time seemed an hour to the impatient spectators; even the soldiers began to murmur--“Shame!” At last, the order was given, the rope cut with a hatchet, and the trap fell; but so short a distance that the victim continued to struggle and to suffer for a considerable time. Being at length duly pronounced dead, he was cut down after thirty-eight minutes suspension. His body was conveyed to Harper's Ferry, and delivered to his widow, by whom it was borne to her far northern home, among the mountains he so loved, and where he was so beloved.6 There let it rest forever, while the path to it is worn deeper and deeper by the pilgrim feet of the race he so bravely though rashly endeavored to rescue from a hideous and debasing thraldom!