patriot; born in Sandisfield, Mass.
, Oct. 19, 1744; was graduated at Yale College in 1761; became a lawyer and active patriot; entered Canada
in disguise (1774-75) to obtain information and secure the co-operation of the Canadians with the other colonists, and
aided Ethan Allen in the capture of Ticonderoga
He was active with Montgomery
in the siege of Quebec
In August, 1776, he was made lieutenant-colonel, and, on the morning of Sept. 18, 1776, he surprised the outposts of Ticonderoga
, set free 100 American prisoners, captured four companies of British regulars, a quantity of stores and cannon, and destroyed a number of boats and an armed sloop.
He left the service because of his detestation of Benedict Arnold
, but continued to act with the militia.
He was killed by Indians in the Mohawk Valley
, Oct. 19, 1780.
abolitionist; born in Torrington, Conn.
, May 9, 1800; hanged in Charlestown, Va.
, Dec. 2, 1859; was a descendant of Peter Brown
of the Mayflower
His grandfather was a soldier of the Revolution, and perished in that war. When John was five years of age, his father moved to Ohio
; and in 1815-20 he worked at the trade of a tanner.
He became a dealer in wool; visited Europe
on business; and in 1855 he emigrated to Kansas
, where, as an anti-slavery champion, he took an active part against the pro-slavery party, engaging in some of the conflicts of the short civil war in that Territory.
Devout, moral, courageous, and intensely earnest, he sought to be an instrument for the abolition of African
slavery from the republic.
The idea that he might become a liberator was conceived so early as 1839.
In May, 1859, he made his first movement in an attempt to liberate the slaves in Virginia
, which ended so disastrously to himself at Harper's Ferry
There seemed to be a peculiar serenity and calmness in the public mind about public affairs in the fall of 1859, when suddenly a rumor went out of Baltimore
that the abolitionists had seized the government armory and arsenal at Harper's Ferry
, at the junction of the Shenandoah
and Potomac rivers
, and that a general insurrection of the slaves in Virginia
The rumor was mostly true.
had suddenly appeared at Harper's Ferry
with a few followers, to induce the slaves of Virginia
to rise in insurrection and assert their right to freedom.
With a few white followers and twelve slaves from Missouri
, he went into Canada West
, and at Chatham
a convention of sympathizers was held in May, 1859, whereat a “Provisional Constitution and Ordinances for the People of the United States
” was adopted-not, as the instrument declared, “for the overthrow of any government, but simply to amend and repeal.”
It was a part of the scheme for promoting the uprising of the slaves.
spent the summer of 1859 in preparations for his work.
He hired a farm a few miles from Harper's Ferry
, where he was known by the name of Smith
One by one his followers joined him there, and stealthily gathered pikes and other weapons,
with ammunition, for the purpose of first arming the insurgent slaves of Virginia
On a very dark night, Brown
, with seventeen white men and five negroes, stole into the village of Harper's Ferry
, put out the street-lights, seized the government armory and the railway-bridge there, and quietly arrested and imprisoned in the government buildings every citizen found in the street at the earlier hours of the next morning, each one ignorant of what else had happened.
had seized Colonel Washington
, living a few miles from the ferry, with his arms and horses, and liberated his slaves; and at eight o'clock on Monday morning, Oct. 17, Brown
and his followers (among whom were two of his sons) had full possession of the village and the government works.
He had felt assured that when the first blow should be struck the negroes of the surrounding country would rise and flock to his standard, that a general uprising of the slaves throughout the Union
would follow, and that he would win the satisfaction and the honors of a great liberator.
When asked what was his purpose, and by what authority he acted, he replied, “To free the slaves; and by the authority of God Almighty.”
News of this affair went swiftly abroad, and before night a large number of Virginia
militia had gathered at Harper's Ferry
Struggles between these and Brown
's followers ensued, in which the two sons of the latter perished.
The invaders were finally driven into a fire-engine house, where Brown
bravely defended himself.
With one son dead by his side and the other shot through the body, he felt the pulse of his dying child with one hand.
held his rifle with the other, and issued oral commands to his men with all the composure of a general in his marquee, telling them to be firmly and sell their lives as dearly as possible.
They held their citadel until Monday evening, when Col. Robert E. Lee
arrived with ninety United States marines and two pieces of artillery.
The doors of the engine-house were forced open.
and his followers were captured.
The bold leader was speedily tried for murder and treason.
was found guilty (Oct. 29), and on Dec. 3, 1859, was hanged.
Meanwhile the wildest tales of the raid had gone over the land.
The governor of Virginia
(Henry A. Wise
) was almost crazy with excitement, and declared himself ready to make war on all the free-labor States; and he declared.
in a letter to the President
(Nov. 25), that he had authority for the belief that a conspiracy to rescue Brown
existed in Ohio
New York, and other States.
Attempts were made to implicate leading Republicans in a scheme for liberating the slaves.
A committee of the United States Senate, with James M. Mason
, author of the Fugitive Slave Law
of 1850, as its chairman, was appointed to investigate the subject.
The result was the obtaining of positive proof that Brown
had no accomplices, and only about twenty-five followers.
's mad attempt to free the slaves was a total failure, it proved to be one of the important events which speedily brought about the result he so much desired.
Autobiographical notes: Brown's letter on slavery to his brother Frederick.
Instructions to the “Gileadites.”
an organization of colored people.
Nothing so charms the American
people as personal bravery.
Witness the case of Cinques, of everlasting memory, on board the Amistad
The trial for life of one bold and to some extent successful man, for defending his rights in good earnest, would arouse more sympathy throughout the nation than the accumulated wrongs and sufferings of more than three millions of our submissive colored population.
We need not mention the Greeks struggling against the oppressive Turks
, the Poles against Russia
, nor the Hungarians against Austria
combined, to prove this.
No jury can be found in the Northern States that would convict a man for defending his rights to the last extremity.
This is well understood by Southern Congressmen, who insisted that the right of trial by jury should not be granted to the fugitive
. Colored people have ten times the number of fast friends among the whites than they suppose, and would have ten times the number they now have were they but half as much in earnest to secure their dearest rights as they are to ape the follies and extravagances of their white neighbors, and to indulge in idle show, in ease, and in luxury.
Just think of the money expended by individuals in your behalf in the past twenty years! Think of the number who have been mobbed and imprisoned on your account!
Have any of you seen the Branded Hand
Do you remember the names of Lovejoy
Should one of your number be arrested, you must collect together as quickly as possible, so as to outnumber your adversaries who are taking an active part against you. Let no able-bodied man appear on the ground unequipped, or with his weapons exposed to view: let that be understood beforehand.
Your plans must be known only to yourself, and with the understanding that all traitors must die. wherever caught and proven to be guilty.
“Whosoever is fearful or afraid, let him return and depart early from Mount Gilead
” (Judges, VII. 3; Deut.
XX. 8). Give all cowards an opportunity to show it on condition of holding their peace.
Do not delay one moment after you are
ready: you will lose all your resolution if you do. Let the first blow be the signal for all to engage; and when engaged do not do your work by halves, but make clean work with your enemies,--and be sure you meddle not with any others
. By going about your business quietly, you will get the job disposed of before the number that an uproar would bring together can collect; and you will have the advantage of those who come out against you, for they will be wholly unprepared with either equipments or matured plans; all with them will be confusion and terror.
Your enemies will be slow to attack you after you have done up the work nicely; and if they should, they will have to encounter your white friends as well as you; for you may safely calculate on a division of the whites, and may by that means get to an honorable parley.
Be firm, determined, and cool; but let it be understood that you are not to be driven to desperation without making it an awful dear job to others as well as to you. Give them to know distinctly that those who live in wooden houses should not throw fire, and that you are just as able to suffer as your white neighbors.
After effecting a rescue, if you are assailed, go into the houses of your most prominent and influential white friends with your wives; and that will effectually fasten upon them the suspicion of being connected with you, and will compel them to make a common cause with you, whether they would otherwise live up to their profession or not. This would leave them no choice in the matter
. Some would doubtless prove themselves true of their own choice; others would flinch; That would be taking them at their own words.
You may make a tumult in the court-room where a trial is going on, by burning gunpowder freely in paper packages, if you cannot think of any better way to create a momentary alarm, and might possibly give one or more of your enemies a hoist.
But in such case the prisoner will need to take the hint at once, and bestir himself; and so should his friends improve the opportunity for a general rush.
A lasso might probably be applied to a slave-catcher for once with good effect.
Hold on to your weapons, and never be persuaded to leave them, part with them, or have them far away from you. Stand by one another and by your friends, while a drop of blood remains; and be hanged, if you must, but tell no tales out of school.
Make no confession
Union is strength.
Without some well-digested arrangements nothing to any good purpose is likely to be done, let the demand be never so great.
Witness the case of Hamlet and Long in New York, when there was no well-defined plan of operations or suitable preparation beforehand.
The desired end may be effectually secured by the means proposed; namely, the enjoyment of our inalienable rights.
Early in the morning of Aug. 30 the enemy's scouts approached to within one mile and a half of the western boundary of the town of Osawatomie
At this place my son Frederick (who was not attached to my force) had lodged, with some four other young men from Lawrence
, and a young man named Garrison
, from Middle Creek
The scouts, led by a pro-slavery preacher named White
, shot my son dead in the road, while he — as I have since ascertained — supposed them to be friendly.
At the same time they butchered Mr. Garrison
, and badly mangled one of the young men from Lawrence
, who came with my son, leaving him for dead.
This was not far from sunrise.
I had stopped during the night about two and one-half miles from them, and nearly one mile from Osawatomie
I had no organized force, but only some twelve or fifteen new recruits, who were ordered to leave their preparations for breakfast and follow me into the town, as soon as this news was brought to me.
As I had no means of learning correctly the force of the enemy, I placed twelve of the recruits in a log-house, hoping we might be able to defend the town.
I then gathered some fifteen more men together, whom we armed with guns; and we started in the direction of the enemy.
After going a few rods, we could see them approaching the town in line of battle, about half a mile off, upon a hill west of the village.
I then gave up all idea of doing more than to annoy, from the timber near the town, into which we were all retreated,
and which was filled with a thick growth of underbrush; but I had no time to recall the twelve men in the log-house, and so lost their assistance in the fight.
At the point above named I met with Captain Cline
, a very active young man, who had with him some twelve or fifteen mounted men, and persuaded him to go with us into the timber, on the southern shore of the Osage
, or Marais des Cygnes, a little to the northwest from the village.
Here the men, numbering not more than thirty in all, were directed to scatter and secrete themselves as well as they could, and await the approach of the enemy.
This was done in full view of them (who must have seen the whole movement), and had to be done in the utmost haste.
I believe Captain Cline
and some of his men were not even dismounted in the fight, but cannot assert positively.
When the left wing of the enemy had approached to within common rifle-shot, we commenced firing, and very soon threw the northern branch of the enemy's line into disorder.
This continued some fifteen or twenty minutes, which gave us an uncommon opportunity to annoy them.
and his men soon got out of ammunition, and retired across the river.
After the enemy rallied, we kept up our fire, until, by the leaving of one and another, we had but six or seven left.
We then retired across the river.
We had one man killed--a Mr. Powers
, from Captain Cline
's company — in the fight.
One of my men, a Mr. Partridge
, was shot in crossing the river.
Two or three of the party who took part in the fight are yet missing, and may be lost or taken prisoners.
Two were wounded; namely, Dr. Updegraff
and a Mr. Collis
I cannot speak in too high terms of them, and of many others I have not now time to mention.
One of my best men, together with myself, was struck by a partially spent ball from the enemy, in the commencement of the fight, but we were only bruised.
The loss I refer to is one of my missing men. The loss of the enemy, as we learn by the different statements of our own as well as other people, was some thirty-one or two killed, and from forty to fifty wounded. After burning the town to ashes and killing a Mr. Williams
they had taken, whom neither party claimed, they took a hasty leave, carrying their dead and wounded with them.
They did not attempt to cross the river, nor to search for us, and have not since returned to look over their work.
I give this in great haste, in the midst of constant interruptions.
My second son was with me in the fight, and escaped unharmed.
This I mention for the benefit of his friends.
Old Preacher White
, I hear, boasts of having killed my son. Of course he is a lion.
Brown's plan as explained in 1858, reported by Richard Realf.
stated that for twenty or thirty years the idea had possessed him like a passion of giving liberty to the slaves; that he made a journey to England
, during which he made a tour upon the European
continent, inspecting all fortifications, and especially all earth-work forts which he could find, with a view of applying the knowledge thus gained, with modifications and inventions of his own. to a mountain warfare in the United States
He stated that he had read all the books upon insurrectionary war fare that he could lay his hands on: the Roman
warfare, the successful opposition of the Spanish
chieftains during the period when Spain
was a Roman province — how with 10,000 men, divided and subdivided into small companies, acting simultaneously yet separately, they withstood the whole consolidated power of the Roman Empire
through a number of years.
In addition to this.
he had become very familiar with the successful warfare waged by Schamyl, the Circassian
chief, against the Russians; he had posted himself in relation to the war of Toussaint L'Ouverture
: he had become thoroughly acquainted with the wars in Hayti and the islands round about; and from all these things he had drawn the conclusion — believing, as he stated there he did believe, and as we all (if I may judge from myself) believed — that upon the first intimation of a plan formed for the liberation of the slaves, they would immediately rise all over the Southern States
He supposed that they would come into the mountains to join
him, where he purposed to work, and that by flocking to his standard they would enable him (making the line of mountains which cut diagonally through Maryland
, down through the Southern States
, the base of his operations) to act upon the plantations on the plains lying on each side of that range of mountains; that we should be able to establish ourselves in the fastnesses.
And if any hostile action were taken against us, either by the militia of the States or by the armies of the United States
, we purposed to defeat first the militia, and next, if possible, the troops of the United States
; and then organize the free blacks under the provisional constitution, which would carve out for the locality of its jurisdiction all that mountainous region in which the blacks were to be established, in which they were to be taught the useful and mechanical arts, and all the business of life.
Schools were also to be established, and so on. The negroes were to be his soldiers.
Provisional constitution and ordinances for the people of the United States.
[This is the preamble of the constitution drawn up by Brown
in 1858 for the government of the slaves whom he proposed to free.]
Brown's address to Governor wise.
Governor,--I have from all appearances not more than fifteen or twenty years the start of you in the journey to that eternity of which you kindly warn me; and, whether my time here shall be fifteen months or fifteen days or fifteen hours, I am equally prepared to go. There is an eternity behind and an eternity before; and this little speck in the centre, however long, is but comparatively a minute.
The difference between your tenure and mine is trifling, and I therefore tell you to be prepared.
I am prepared.
You all have a heavy responsibility, and it behooves you to prepare more than it does me.
Brown's last speech to the court, Nov. 2, 1859.
I have, may it please the court, a few words to say.
In the first place.
I deny everything but what I have all along admitted — the design on my part to free the slaves.
I intended certainly to have made a clean thing of that matter, as I did last winter, when I went into Missouri
and 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, and which I admit has been fairly proved (for I admire the truthfulness and candor of the great 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 to me, I should do even so to them.
It teaches me, further, to “remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them.”
I endeavored to act up to that instruction.
I say, I am vet 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 be 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 of them at their own expense.
A number of them I never saw, and never had a word of conversation with, till the day they came to me; and that was for the purpose I have stated.
Now I have done.
Last letter to his family.