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Chapter 4: Exodus.

John Brown, in January, 1859, wrote a letter in relation to his invasion of Missouri, which, of course, should precede all other accounts of it. It became a celebrated document, and was known as:

John Brown's parallels.

Trading Post, Kansas, January, 1859.

You will greatly oblige a humble friend by allowing the use of your columns while I briefly state two parallels, in my poor way.

Not one year ago, eleven quiet citizens of this neighborhood, viz.: William Robertson, William Colpetzer, Amos Hall, Austin Hall, John Campbell, Asa Snyder, Thomas Stilwell, William Hairgrove, Asa Hairgrove, Patrick Ross, and B. L. Reed, were gathered up from their work and their homes by an armed force under one Hamilton, and without trial or opportunity to speak in their own defence, were formed into line, and all but one shot--five killed and five wounded. One fell unharmed, pretending to be dead. All were left for dead. The only crime charged against them was that of being Free State men. Now, I inquire, what action has ever, since the occurrence in May last, been taken by either the President of the United States, the Governor of Missouri, the Governor of Kansas, or any of their tools, or by any pro-slavery or administration man, to ferret out and punish the perpetrators of this crime?

Now for the other parallel. On Sunday, December 19, a negro man called Jim came over to the Osage settlement, from Missouri, and stated that he, together with his wife, two children, and another negro man, was to be sold within a day or two, and begged for help to get [219] away. On Monday (the following) night, two small companies were made up to go to Missouri and forcibly liberate the five slaves, together with other slaves. One of these companies I assumed to direct. We proceeded to the place, surrounded the buildings, liberated the slaves, and also took certain property supposed to belong to the estate.

We, however, learned, before leaving, that a portion of the articles we had taken belonged to a man living on the plantation, as a tenant, and who was supposed to have no interest in the estate. We promptly returned to him all we had taken. We then went to another plantation, where we found five more slaves, took some property and two white men. We moved all slowly away into the Territory for some distance, and then sent the white men back, telling them to follow us as soon as they chose to do so. The other company freed one female slave, took some property, and, as I am informed, killed one white man, (the master,) who fought against the liberation.

Now for a comparison. Eleven persons are forcibly restored to their natural and inalienable rights, with but one man killed, and all “hell is stirred from beneath.” It is currently reported that the Governor of Missouri has made a requisition upon the Governor of Kansas for the delivery of all such as were concerned in the last-named “dreadful outrage.” The Marshal of Kansas is said to be collecting a posse of Missouri (not Kansas men) at West Point, in Missouri, a little town about ten miles distant, to “enforce the laws.” All pro-slavery, conservative free-state, and dough-face men, and Administration tools, are filled with holy horror.

Consider the two cases, and the action of the Administration party.

Respectfully yours, John Brown.

The invasion.

Of these two parties of liberators John Brown and Kagi were the Captains. The old man's force consisted of twelve men; Kagi's company of eight only. The slaves were to have been removed to Texas on the following day. Captain Brown went to the house of Hicklan, the master of Jim, and liberated that negro and four others. He then proceeded to the house of Isaac Jarne, another slave-holder, and released five more. Jarne was taken prisoner and carried into the

Territory, to prevent an alarm being given. [220]

John Brown was not merely an emancipationist, but a reparationist. He believed, not only that the crime of slavery should be abolished, but that reparation should be made for the wrongs that had been done to the slave. What he believed, he practised. On this occasion, after telling the slaves that they were free, he asked them how much their services had been worth, and — having been answered — proceeded to take property to the amount thus due to the negroes.

Kagi went on the southern side of the Little Osage, and called at several houses for the purpose of rescuing slaves. But he failed to find one, until he reached the residence of David Cruse. That robber of God's poor children, on learning the purpose of the party, raised his rifle to fire at it, but was shot dead before he pulled the trigger. He had one slave only — who immediately filled his place in the census of freemen.

The two parties soon reunited. Jarne was carried several miles into the Territory. One of his late female slaves attempted to console him; but, like Rachael mourning for her children, he was not to be comforted; upon which the sympathetic negress remarked:

“Gosh! massa's in a bad fix — hog no killed — corn no gathered — nigger run away: laws-a-me! what'll massa do?”

Jim, who was driving an ox team, “supposed to belong to the estate,” asked one of the liberators, “How far is it to Canada?”

“Twenty-five hundred miles.”

Twenty-five hundred! Laws-a-massa! Twenty-five hundred miles! No get dar 'fore spring!” cried [221] Jim, as, raising his heavy whip and bringing it down on the ox's back, he shouted impatiently--“Whoa-la, Buck, get up dar-g'lang, Bell!”

A little boy of the party grasped his father by the leg and asked:

“Hows ye feel, fadder, when you's free?” 1

These liberated slaves constituted four families: one man, his wife, and two children; a widowed mother, two daughters, and a son; a young man, a boy, and a woman who had been separated from her husband. They were taken by one party several miles into Kansas, and there they remained for two or three weeks.

A fight or two.

Captain Brown and Kagi returned to their fortified position — known as Bain's Fort — on the Little Osage, in which fifty men could have resisted five hundred.

When the news of the invasion of Missouri spread, a wild panic went with it, which, in a few days, resulted in clearing Bates and Vernon Counties of their slaves. Large numbers were sold south; many ran into the Territory and escaped; the others were removed farther inland. When John Brown made his invasion there were five hundred slaves in that district where there are not fifty negroes now. For a short time a dead calm in the Territory followed this movement; the public seemed to hold their breath in anxious expectation for the next step. The Governor of Missouri, appealed to by the Borderers, offered a reward of three thousand dollars for the arrest of John Brown, to which the President added a further reward of two hundred and fifty [222] dollars. The politicians of Lawrence, of both parties, became alarmed at a movement which defied their pusillanimous policy — and men who had only hypocritically cursed when their territory was invaded, now worked in earnest to arrest the schemes of the brave retaliators. Some honest men, also, aided in this effort “to restore tranquillity;” but it owed its embodiment into a law to the Free State sycophants of the South. That embodiment was the Amnesty Act, which pardoned all “political offences” up to that time, and which the Federal Governor was compelled, by the fear of renewed disturbances, to approve, in order to induce Montgomery to disband his organization.

Montgomery, sent for by the politicians, reached the town of Lawrence while John Brown was on his journey to it, for the purpose of arranging to carry off his negroes. To save Montgomery from the odium that his enemies had attempted to cast on him, for his supposed implication in the invasion of Missouri, the old man wrote his parallels from the “Trading post” in Lynn County.

During the absence of Montgomery and Brown, Kagi, who had been left in command, had two or three fights with the invaders.

Battle of the Spurs.

About the 20th of January, John Brown left Lawrence for Nebraska, with his emancipated slaves, who had been increased in number by the birth of a child at Ossawatomie. It was named, Captain John Brown.

When at the third resting place of “Jim Lane's army,” which had been named Concord, but which subsequent settlers called Holton, a party of thirty proslavery [223] men, who had followed them from Lecompton, approached so near that it was necessary to halt and make a defence. The old man had at this time four white companions and three negro men. The whites were Stevens, Tidd, and Anderson, (who fought at Harper's Ferry,) and another Kansas boy. The Captain took possession of two log cabins in the wood, which the pursuers surrounded — at a distance,--while they sent to Atchison and Lecompton for further aid. From Atchison twelve men arrived; thus making a force of forty-two men opposed to eight only. They were preparing for the attack, when Captain Brown and his men issued from the woods for the purpose of offering fight. The Sheriff's Lecompton posse turned and fled! Not a shot was fired, not a drum was heard, as, putting spurs to their horses, they ran panic-stricken across the prairie. Only four men — ashamed of the conduct of their comrades — stood their ground; and they were made prisoners forthwith. This incident was ironically called the Battle of the Spurs, as those sharp instruments of torture were the only weapons used on the occasion.

The old man caused them to dismount, and put the negroes on their horses. They swore. He ordered them to be silent, as he would permit no blasphemy in his presence. They swore again.

“Kneel!” said the old man, as, with stern earnestness, he drew his pistol.

They knelt down, and he ordered them to pray. He detained them for five days, and compelled them to pray night and morning. They never swore again in [224] the old man's presence. They returned to Atchison, I was told, and one of them indiscreetly related the story: the ridicule that overwhelmed them compelled them to leave the town.

The overland journey.

Kagi, in the mean time, arrived at Topeka from the South, and found the town in a great commotion. News had just arrived that Old Brown was surrounded. As soon as he appeared, all the fighting boys flocked around him. At the head of forty mounted men, he started at once to rescue his old Captain. He came up just in time to see the last of the posse retreating across the prairie. He advocated the hanging of the captured slave-hunters, but the old man opposed it, and the kidnappers were saved.2

Seventeen of the “Topeka boys” escorted the party of liberators to Nebraska City.

The kidnappers, on being released, asked the old man to restore their horses and weapons.

“No,” said John Brown, gravely; “your legs will carry you as fast as you want to run; you won't find any more Old Browns between this and Atchison.”

The party reached Tabor in the first week of February, and travelled slowly across the State of Iowa.

As he was performing this journey, men panting for the price of blood closely followed him; but the sight of his well-armed company prevented an attack on the [225] band of liberators. He stopped at several villages, and was well received by the friends of freedom. From one of his hosts, we have the following letter, which was published at the time:

Captain Brown in Iowa.

“Old Captain Brown of Kansas!” I have set my eyes on this old hero, feared by Missouri invaders, and loved by the legions of liberty in Kansas as a father. He had a company of twelve colored people, (who I only guess were once slaves,) en route for Canada, where I trust they are safe. To me he is an historic character. In the family, simple-hearted as a child, he narrates stirring scenes, placing himself in the background of the picture; while an eye of the most determined expression I ever saw at once supplies what the modesty of the narrator has withheld as personal. He is the impersonation of firmness. Among his company, white and black, with a long gray beard and a head frosted with sixty winters, he walks like a patriarch, if that early name implies leadership and devotion.

Captain Brown avows his philosophy to be the showing of Border Ruffians that they have enough to do in taking care of slavery in Missouri, without making a foray on the people of Kansas to establish slavery there against the votes and wishes of the people. As God spares him, he says, he will “ deliver the poor that cry;” and does not conceal the fact that, in open day, he conducted out those who dreaded, next to death, a more Southern prison house. Two companies of slave-hunters, headed by a Marshal, looked upon them, but were not ready to lose their lives in a negro hunt. A reward of three thousand dollars by the Governor of Missouri, with the value of his company as chattels, has made him quite a lion through the State of Iowa. The “dirt-eating” Democracy covet the reward, but keep at a good distance from the cold lead, and have no desire to be awed into silence and shame by one glance from the old hero, who feels that “ God will cover his head in the day of battle.” Stranger than fiction have been his escapes and exploits in Kansas. Combining the gentleness of a Christian, the love of a patriot, and the skill and boldness of a commander, whether ending his career in the quiet of home or in bloody strife, the freemen of Kansas will hallow his memory, and history will name him the Cromwell of our Border Wars.

How unlike the Old Brown sketched by fiendish hate is the man at your fireside!--his mouth unpolluted with tobacco, strong drinks abjured, regimen plain, conversation grave, and occupied with pleasant memories of other days. He drops a tear of gratitude on the [226] mention of the practical kindness of to him in the hour of extremity. He recurs to the solid principles and hearty affection of Dr. Osgood, of Springfield, on whose ministry he attended for many years. He had a lucrative occupation as wool grower and dealer in Ohio, and gained a medal as exhibitor of wool at the World's Fair; and now finds himself in the “wool business” still, in a land where men find more dreaded foes than the young Hebrew shepherd found in the beasts that took a lamb out of the flock. I am well informed that the people at Grinnell took care of the company for two days, furnishing them food for their journey, and, on Sabbath evening, took up a collection for them as well as on Saturday evening.

The same writer, in a letter published since the trial of John Brown, gives additional particulars of the old hero's talks when under his roof:

Nothing seemed to so much excite him as an intimation that oppression aroused a spirit of revenge. As he spoke in public there was no boasting, nor a display of himself. The wrongs of Kansas, and the atrocities of slavery, he pictured in a clear style, declaring:

That it was “nothing to die in a good cause, but an eternal disgrace to sit still in the presence of the barbarities of American slavery.”

His logic, with all who were captious as to his course, was like a chain shot argument; yet he courted no discussion, being then occupied with the safe escape of the eleven supposed chattels from Missouri.

Providence,” said he, “ has made me an actor, and Slavery an outlaw. A price is on my head, and what is life to me? An old man should have more care to end life well than to live long.”

Duty is the voice of God, and a man is neither worthy of a good home here, or a heaven, that is not willing to be in peril for a good cause!”

The loss of my family and the troubles in Kansas have shattered my constitution, and I am nothing to the world but to defend the right, and that, by God's help, I have done, and will do.”

This, in substance, and much more, was said in reply to a wish which I expressed that he would not return to Kansas, but seek that quiet with his family which his health demanded.

He scouted the idea of rest while he held “ a commission direct from God Almighty to act against slavery.”

He claimed to be responsible for the wise exercises of his powers only, and not for the quality of certain acts. In taking slaves out of Missouri, he said that he would teach those “living in glass houses not to throw stones,” and they would have more than they could do to keep slavery in Missouri, without extending it against the will of [227] Kansas. The battle of Black Jack and others, he was free to say, he thought had scared Missouri, and that was Gen. Lane's opinion. They did not report half the number killed, which they were ashamed to do, nor will it ever be known. I could repeat much that he said which showed a wonderful sagacity, and a bold, undaunted spirit. His whole demeanor was that of a well-bred gentleman, and his narratives were given with child-like simplicity. He feared nothing, for said he,

Any who will try to take me and my company are cowards, and one man in the right, ready to die, will chase a thousand. Not less than thirty guns have been discharged at me, but they only touched my hair.

A man dies when his time comes, and a man who fears is born out of time.

The nation was not worthy of him. Tyranny is relentless as the grave, and its tools want a victim. Cowardice will hang him, but humanity will stand appalled at the sacrifice of such a victim to the cruel Moloch.

When in Chicago, he sent his men in different directions, retaining Kagi and Stevens with him. A gentleman who conversed with him in that city thus writes to me:

There is one thing he charged me to do when I last saw him. It was this:

Do not allow any one to say I acted from revenge. I claim no man has a right to revenge myself. It is a feeling that does not enter into my heart. What I do, I do for the cause of human liberty, and because I regard it as necessary.

The party reached Detroit on the 12th of March, and immediately crossed over to Canada. There, free children of the God of the oppressed, the old warrior of the Lord left the people he had snatched from the earthly hell of American slavery. Eight months afterwards, when their deliverer lay in prison for endeavoring to free others of the same despised race, we hear the sobbings of this little group, intermingled with prayers for their benefactor's safety, as they waft across the Lakes to the Southern jail. A Canadian correspondent thus writes: [228]

John Brown's colony.

Windsor, Upper Canada, Nov, 6, 1859.
As every thing relative to “Old John Brown” is now interesting, I would inform your readers that I have spent a few hours in Windsor, Upper Canada, with seven of the twelve colored Missourians who are now residing in that place. The other five are living about nine miles in the country. These make the twelve persons taken by Brown last January into Canada. As various reports are afloat concerning them, I wish to inform all parties that those living here are very industrious. Two of the seven are men. They “team,” saw wood, and “job round.” One, a boy about twelve, helps around generally. Two of the women, who were field hands in Missouri last spring, on arriving at Windsor, hired, for four dollars, an acre of land, and with a spade each, they actually spaded it, planted it with corn and potatoes, and attended it well; this crop would challenge any crop I ever saw in Missouri, and not often beaten even in Kansas, where soil and climate are superior to most portions of this world; their potatoes are very fine — all dug and put up in a secure manner in the garden back of their house for winter; the corn, of which I brought some away, is beautiful. One of their houses has a small garden attached; they pay two dollars a month for this. In this little garden they have grown some very fine onions, carrots, parsnips, and some extraordinary cabbages; the cabbage are taken up, put together, and covered thick with fodder or straw, rather neatly packed. They have amply sufficient corn, potatoes, &c., for winter. As to meat, they do without, till they have some fit to kill. They have three hogs growing finely, which they paid one dollar each for, and feed them on what they collect in swill from neighbors, &c. As to clothing, they are neat, with well-patched articles. They say they have twenty dollars salted down. They informed me that, after being here a short time, they were burned out, losing all, or nearly all, of the useful articles given them by friends on their way, while escorted by that man whom they venerate. While I read aloud the sentence of Brown, with his speech, from the paper, to them, O, how affecting to see their tears and hear their sobs! Two women declared, if it could be, they would willingly die instead of their liberator. A woman among them remarked, if the Bible was true, John frown practised most of it here; so he would be rewarded by “old Master,” up higher, with greater happiness. The father, mother, and three children in the country, work a farm on shares; they have about sixteen acres of corn, potatoes, &c., part of which are theirs; and they are all anticipating the day when they can get a piece of land of their own.

1 These incidents were related by Kagi.

2 One of these men, since the capture of Captain Brown at Harper's Ferry, has spoken of him with the greatest admiration; and said, that “although evidently a monomaniac on the subject of slavery,” he was an honest and brave man. On being jestingly advised to go into mourning for him, he said: he might go into black for many a worse man. This testimony from a kidnapper is not without value.

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