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daughter who married Mr. T. B. Alexander and who
still resides at Put-in-Bay. She and her husband trans-
ferred these rare and precious relics to the custody of
the Society. The numerous visitors who almost daily
come to the museum and library building of the Society
invariably pause to view these souvenirs of the stirring
times m Kansas and at Harper's Ferry.

This manifestation of interest has led the writer to
attempt a series of articles for the Quarterly on "John
Brown and His Men From Ohio." Of John Brown
himself little remains to be written. His entire life from
birth to execution has been subjected to the searching
investigation of friend and foe. It is really remarkable
with what patient research the different steps in the
career of this man have been followed and with what

186 Ohio Arch, and Hist. Society Publications.

wealth of detail they have been recorded. It remains
for the writer only to present that record in outline and
emphasize such portions as relate to John Brown's life
in Ohio. This is the necessary background for the con-
templated sketches of his men from this state. A gen-
eral knowledge of the character and purposes of the
leader is essential to an understanding of the motives
and actions of his followers.

Fortunate is the man who has a sympathetic biog-
rapher. Autobiography not infrequently leaves a more
satisfactory impression with the casual reader than does
biography. Someone has observed that Benjamin
Franklin showed his wisdom in leaving to posterity a
carefully prepared record of his life which has become
a classic in our language. Other writers have been less
classic and some of them less lenient. The first biog-
raphy of the subject of this sketch, entitled The Public
Life of Captain John Brozvn, was written by James Red-
path, a man in hearty sympathy with Brown and so
closely associated with him in Kansas that he may be
classed among John Brown's men. His book bears the
copyright date of 1860, had a wide sale and produced a
profound impression. The author in a brief period col-
lected a wealth of material favorable to his hero whom
he valiantly defends against attack from whatever
quarter. It is difficult even at this late day to read this
record without living again in the times in which it was
written and yielding to the fervent appeal presented by
the author. To Redpath, John Brown was always right
and the sainted martyr of his generation.

Redpath was a newspaper correspondent and a man
of considerable literary ability. He witnessed the stir-
ring scenes in Kansas but was not at Harper's Ferry.

John Broivn 187

A poem entitled "Brown's Address to His Men," evi-
dently written by himself, reveals something of the
spirit of the anti-slavery warriors in Kansas. We quote
here the introductory and the concluding stanzas:

They are coming — men, make ready;

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

Onward to their graves they come.
We must conquer, we must slaughter ;

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

In Jehovah's dread name— Fire!

While Redpath's book is a valuable contribution to
the history of the times, it was written too soon and in
the midst of an excitement so intense that inaccuracies
naturally occur and it cannot claim the highest authority.

In another volume. Echoes From Harper's Ferry,
issued in the same year, this author has performed a
valuable service by collecting and publishing in perma-
nent form the expressions of eminent men and women
on the tragedy that closed with the execution of Brown
and a number of his followers. This includes the views
of Thoreau, Emerson, Theodore Parker, Henry Ward
Beecher, James Freeman Clarke, William Lloyd Garri-
son, Victor Hugo, Mrs. M. J. C. Mason of Virginia and
Rev. Moncure D. Conway of Cincinnati. There are
quotations from scores of others almost equally promi-
nent and a collection of the correspondence of John
Brown. Ohioans will find interest in the fervid and
prophetic address of Conway, which is full of the senti-
ment that pervaded the ranks of anti-slavery men in
Ohio under the stress of the times.

In John Broum, Liberator of Kansas and Martyr of .
Virginia, F. B. Sanborn, the ^contemporary and associate

188 Ohio Arch, and Hist. Society Publications.

of Brown, has presented in over 600 compactly printed
pages the Hfe and the most complete collection of the
letters of Brown that has been published. This work
has gone through four editions, the last of which bears
the date of 1910. Mr. Sanborn was the well known
writer of Concord, and no study of the life and times of
Brown can satisfactorily be made without frequent ref-
erence to this book, written by his associate and friend.
Like the work of Redpath, this volume has been pre-
pared by one in thorough sympathy with the purposes
and achievements of Brown and must be regarded as
the testimonial of a devoted lifetime friend.

Richard J. Hinton, another associate of Brown's, in
1894 published a most interesting volume entitled John
Brozvn and his Men. The appearance of this contribu-
tion was most fortunate. In Kansas and at Harper's
Ferry, Brown was so completely the dominating figure
of the tragic scenes through which he passed that sight
is almost lost of his followers. It is fortunate that one
of these followers who personally knew the men that
served under John Brown should collect all the avail-
able material in regard to the lives of these associates.
We are apt to think of them sometimes as men like
Brown himself, to overlook the fact that they were all
much younger, in fact a majority of them might be
termed boys, for some of them were not out of their
*teens and most of them had not reached their thirties.
Though younger they were in thorough sympathy with
Brown. Seven of them were his own sons. Almost
without exception they had acquired the rudiments of
an education in the common schools of their day and
some of them, like Kagi and Cook, were men of wide
reading and some literary ability, while Richard Raelf,

John Brown 189

a wayward son of genius, was a poet whose writings
are altogether worthy of the attractive volume in which
they have been published with a memoir of his life. For
our purpose this volume by Hinton has an especial value
as it contains matter and references that will be very
helpful in contemplated sketches of Kagi, the Coppoc
brothers and John Brown's sons, six of whom were born
in Ohio.

In 1911 Houghton Mifflin and Company issued a
substantial and attractive volume of 738 pages entitled
John Brozmi, a Biography Fifty Years After, by Oswald
Garrison Villard, a grandson of William Lloyd Garri-
son. This work is the result of research study extend-
ing over more than three years. The author seems to
have consulted every available source in his industrious
quest and he came into contact by personal visit or letter
with practically all of the survivors who had been asso-
ciated with Brown or had been present at the time of the
Harper's Ferry raid and the execution that followed it.
In the preface of his book he states his purpose in lan-
guage that needs no explanation. He says in part :

"Since i886 there have appeared five other lives of Brown,
the most important being that of Richard J. Hinton, who in his
preface glories in holding a brief for Brown and his men. The
present vohime is inspired by no such purpose, but is due to
a belief that fifty years after the Harper's Ferry tragedy the
time is ripe for a study of John Brown, free from bias, from
the errors in taste and fact of the mere panegyrist and from the
blind prejudice of those who can see in John Brown nothing but
a criminal. The pages that follow were written to detract from
or champion no man or set of men, but to put forth the essential
truths of history as far as ascertainable, and to judge Brown,
his followers and associates in the light thereof."

There can be no doubt that Mr. Villard labored
assiduously to bring his book up to the high standard set

190 Ohio Arch, and Hist. Society Publications.

forth above. His bibliography of manuscripts, books,
documents and papers consuhed covers twenty royal
octavo pages of closely printed matter — a list of refer-
ences so complete that it will probably not be extended.
In dealing with the character of John Brown he most
seriously criticises th-e warfare waged by him in Kansas
prior to 1857. He especially condemns what he terms
"Murder on the Pottawatomie" as without provocation
or extenuating cause. There are other portions of the
book that attest pretty clearly the declaration of the
author that he is not holding a brief for John Brown.
Like his grandfather Garrison, Mr. Villard finds it
difficult to justify the taking of human life or participa-
tion in deeds of bloodshed and violence. While he seeks
to be rigidly just and to take into account the spirit of
the times in which John Brown lived, his task is not
an easy one and his conclusions invite criticism. When
John Brown appealed to arms and ruthless warfare
against the ruffian invaders, violence was manifest in
legislative halls, on the plains of Kansas and wherever
the burning question of slavery had divided the people
into hostile parties. While Villard finds much to criti-
cise in John Brown's eulogists, in the concluding chapter
of his book entitled "Yet Shall He Live," he pays just
tribute to the heroic qualities that Brown manifested
while in prison and when with triumphant step he
mounted the scaifold and took his place among the
martyrs of history. The conclusion of his exhaustive
study is presented in the last four sentences of his book:

"And so, wherever there is battling against injustice and
oppression, the Charlestown gallows that became a cross will help
men to live and die. The story of John Brown will ever con-
front the spirit of despotism, when men are struggling to throw

John Brown 191

off the shackles of social or political or physical slavery. His
own country, while admitting his mistakes without undue pal-
liation or excuse, will forever acknowledge the divine that was
in him by the side of what was human and faulty, and blind
and wrong. It will cherish the memory of the prisoner of
Charlestown in 1859 as at once a sacred, a solemn and an inspir-
ing American heritage."

In no other part of the United States, perhaps, has
there been more controversy over the subject of this
sketch than in the state of Kansas. Here he first ap-
pealed to arms and here his friends claim that he struck
the first telling blow which turned back the tide of Pro-
Slavery invasion and ultimately made Kansas a free

When the war was on in the Territory of Kansas
between the Free-State men and the Border Rufifians
from Missouri and the South, the settlers who were
opposed to slavery compromised their differences and
fought shoulder to shoulder to make Kansas free.
When they had triumphed and Kansas took her place in
the Union without slavery, divisions began to spring up
among the Free State men themselves, divisions which
present the phenomenon not infrequently witnessed of
factional differences in a triumphant party after a polit-
ical campaign. Governor Robinson led one of the Free
State factions. General Lane and the followers of John
Brown united in another. The controversy raged over
the question as to who had done most to save Kansas to
freedom. The conflict was fanned to furious heat
through political campaigns that followed the Civil
War. Of course neither John Brown nor his sons were
present to take part in the controversy, but the friends
and enemies of Robinson and Lane waged with each
other a long and bitter war of words, the echoes of

192 Ohio Arch, and Hist. Society Publications.

which come down to the present time. Governor Rob-
inson became one of the wealthiest men in Kansas and
it was asserted by his opponents not only that he had
acquired his wealth unjustly but that he never hesitated
to use it to advance his interests in the acrimonious con-
tests that he waged. As an outgrowth of this contro-
versy we have a life of John Brown written by William
Elsey Connelley, a well known historian and at present
Secretary of the Kansas Historical Society. After a
careful survey of the Kansas field, Connelley took his
place in the ranks of the friends of John Brown. While
in his biography he admits the imperfections and mis-
takes of the hero of Black Jack and Osawatomie, he
finds upon careful investigation extenuating circum-
stances that go far toward justifying all that John
Brown did in Kansas. He stoutly defends the "Potta-
watomie executions" and quotes eminent men to sustain
his view. Among those quoted are Senator John J.
Ingalls* and Professor L. Spring,f of the University
of Kansas.

The appearance of Mr. Connelley's book stirred up
Governor Robinson and his friends who raised many
questions in regard to the authority of the work and
rather severely criticised the author because of the con-

* Senator Ingalls, in the North American Rcviczv, of February,
1884, wrote: "It was the 'blood and iron' prescription of Bismarck. The
Pro-Slavery butchers of Kansas and their Missouri confederates learned
that it was no longer safe to kill. They discovered, at last, that nothing
is so unprofitable as injustice. They started from the guilty dream to
find before them, silent and tardy, but inexorable and relentless, with up-
lifted blade, the awful apparition of vengeance and retribution."

t On the Pottawatomie affair Professor Spring wrote: "Was the
fanatic's expectation realized? Did the event approve his sagacity? I
think there is but one answer to questions like these. After all, the fafriatic
was wiser than the philosopher. The effect of this retaliatory policy in
checking outrages, in bringing to a pause the depredations of bandits, in
staying the proposed execution of Free State prisoners was marvelous."

John Brown 193

elusions that he had drawn from the study of his subject
and the 'stirring times in which Kansas was born. If
the critics thought that Connelley would calmly submit
to their estimate of his work and be silent, they were
seriously mistaken. Mr. Connelley wields a trenchant
pen in dealing wdth the detractors of John Brown. The
pamphlet in which he replied to their criticisms bears
the title An Appeal to flic Record. Those who had at-
tacked him and his work assuredly discovered when this
pamphlet of 130 pages appeared that they had caught a
Tartar. He retaliated by holding up to public condem-
nation Governor Robinson, G. W. Brown and Eli
Thayer. Their private lives are brought into serious
question by sweeping general condemnations and with
the promise to furnish detailed particulars for the in-
dictment if occasion requires. Their public 'records are
excoriated so mercilessly that their friends to this day
must feel their blood tingle as they peruse the pages of
the Record. His critics must have felt when this publi-
cation appeared much as did those of Byron when they
read English Bards and Scotch Reviezvers.

There appears never to have been a reply to the in-
dignant "appeal," but its appearance was probably re-
sponsible for the publication in 1913 of a volume entitled
"John Brown, Soldier of Fortune, A Critique," by Hills
Peebles Wilson. This work is the most condemnatory
that has been published on John Brown. It scoffs at his
religious pretense, questions whether Brown ever really
desired to liberate the slaves and hurls anathemas at all
of his biographers who have said a word in his support.
The author, however, gives Brown the credit of having
carefully planned the Harper's Ferry raid which in his
opinion almost succeeded. He scouts the contention that

Vol. XXX — 13.

194 Ohio Arch, and Hist. Society Publications.

he was insane. At the cHmax of his tirade he denounces
Brown as "Grafter! Hypocrite! Fiend! MONSTER!"
In the closing pages of his book he declares that Brown
was "crafty in the sublimest degree of the art." He
concludes his "critique" of 407 pages with these lines,
quoting as a text the caption of the final chapter in Vil-
lard's book:

" 'Yet Shall He Live' : but it will be as a soldier of fortune,
an adventurer. He will take his place in history as such ; and
will rank among adventurers as Napoleon ranks among marshals;
as Captain Kidd among pirates; and as Jonathan Wild among

Assuredly here is fierce denunciation. This book for
a time was read with much satisfaction by the critically
inclined who place a low estimate upon humanitarian
endeavor and reluctantly accord unselfish motives to
others. Mr. Wilson places much stress on the word
"grafter" throughout his work.

This book was widely circulated ; but the effort thus
to blacken the name of Brown in history came to a some-
what ignominious end. The widow of Governor Rob-
inson, in the spirit of her husband, continued the war-
fare against the friends of Lane and Brown. Shortly
after she died Wilson appealed for the money due him
for writing the book. He had to produce his contract
in court to get his pay. This he did, took the contract
price, $5000, and at latest reports was no longer a citizen
of Kansas. This revelation detracted from the influence
of the book and took much of the sting out of "grafter"
and other epithets that the author so liberally hurled at
old John Brown.

Peace now seems to reign among the history writers

John Broivn 195

of Kansas, with Connelley and his friends triumphant
and the fame of John Brown again in the ascendant.

There is a Ufe of John Brown by W. E. B. DuBois,
the colored scholar and author, which is well worth
reading. It may be regarded as an index of the ultimate
attitude of the race for which Kansas bled and the gal-
lows of Virginia ushered in the tragic drama of the
Civil War. DuBois's book does credit to himself and
his people. It reflects their gratitude for liberation from
bondage, and the estimate of Brown's followers who
fought to accomplish this is thoughtful and conserva-
tive. It is evident, however, that the author has in mind
the present and future of his race and a somber appre-
ciation of prejudices to be overcome and wrongs to be
righted. He insists that the negro still suffers grievous
injustice; that the times call for another John Brown
to batter down the walls and break the fetters that de-
prive his people of the rights and opportunities which
should be theirs under our institutions. He has a
grievance to present and a purpose to accomplish; he
gets a hearing through his ably written biography of
John Brown, even as Charles Sumner in his scholarly
lecture on Lafayette found an avenue for an attack on
the institution of slavery.

John Brown appears to have appealed strongly to
literary men of other lands. Victor Hugo, perhaps the
greatest writer of his age, himself an exile at the time
of the raid, was quick to express eloquent appreciation.
Later he joined with French republican associates in
striking a gold medal for the widow of John Brown and
sending it to her with the remarkable letter which is
found elsewhere in this issue of the Quarterly. Dr.

196 Ohio Arch, and Hist. Society Publications.

Hermann von Hoist, the gifted and cultured German,
who came to the United States and attained eminence
as a historian of our institutions, has left a tribute to
Brown in an extended essay which was brought out in
a separate publication by Frank Preston Stearns in

There are other biographies and monographs; there
are pamphlets and periodical articles almost without
number. Reference to the foregoing works is made for
the convenience of the average reader who may wish to
know something of the books that will most likely be
within his reach, their authors and the purpose for which
each was written.

In this connection it may be worth while to bear in
mind that the writer of this contribution and others that
are in contemplation was born and reared under Quaker
influences and that as he writes memory frequently
reverts to a Quaker grandfather who, like others of his
faith, was valiant in the war of words against the insti-
tution of slavery but deplored the shedding of blood and
the clash of arms that came as the result of the agitation.
His sympathy with Brown was heightened by the fact
that two Quaker boys from a neighboring farm went to
Harper's Ferry and one of them followed his chief to
the gallows at Charlestown. The story of this youth,
his tragic fate and the outpouring of people to attend his
funeral is still rehearsed in the little community where
Edwin Coppoc was born and near which his mortal
remains are at rest. H bias marks aught that is here
written, may it be credited to the influence of those fire-
side memories.

Any adequate estimate of the character and career of
John Brown should, of course, take into consideration

John Brown 197

the record and spirit of the times in which he lived.
This seems to be conceded by all who have seriously
written on the subject and they have collected and pub-
lished materials that make unnecessary extended addi-
tional research. Mr. Villard in his exhaustive work has
stated in consecutive order the cumulative offenses on
both sides of the controversy over slavery. It is difficult
to read these without reaching the conclusion that deeds
of violence and the bloody sequel of Civil War were
inevitable. In the light of what he himself has written,
some of his judgments against John Brown's operations
in Kansas may seem unduly severe. To anti-slavery
settlers conditions had become intolerable. Reprisals
and retribution were the results.

A review of the long controversy over slavery need
not be presented here. It is sufficient to know that when
Brown and his sons went to Kansas hostile thoughts
were finding expression in action — that violent words
were emphasized by cruel blows — that heated appeals
from the rostrum were marshalling the hosts for ensan-
guined battle fields.

Years before this in the state of Illinois Lovejoy
had been shot while defending his right through his
paper to oppose slavery, and for a similar offense Gar-
rison had been mobbed in the streets of Boston. It is
difficult for the rising generation to understand that
men are still living who can remember the raid of anti-
slavery newspapers, even in Ohio, and the treatment of
at least one editor to a liberal coat of tar and feathers.

As early as 1830 the condition of affairs in Kentucky
was set forth in a message of the governor of that state
in which he declared that "men slaughter each other
almost with impunity" and urged the legislature to take

198 Ohio Arch, and Hist. Society Publications.

action to prevent a condition that made Kentucky still
the "dark and bloody ground." John Ouincy Adams
was denoimced for his anti-slavery utterances and this
toast was offered at a southern banquet: "May we never
want * * * a hangman to prepare a halter for
John Ouincy Adams." On more than one occasion the
pistol and the bowie knife were brandished in the Con-
gress of the United States and Pro-Slavery newspapers
put a price on the heads of their eminent opponents:
"Five thousand dollars for that of William H. Seward
and ten thousand dollars for the delivery in Richmond
of Joshua R. Giddings," the representative in Congress
of the Ohio Western Reserve, the home of John Brown
and his family.

The Pro-Slavery men who rushed to Kansas in order
to fix upon it their "peculiar institution," were not less
violent than the extremists of the states from which
they came. Before John Brown reached the Territory
it had been the scene of strife and bloodshed over the
question of slavery. The invasion from Missouri and
the South was in full sway. His sons who had preceeded
him were already involved in the controversy. They
were outspoken in their attitude of hostility to slavery.
John Brown, Jr., on June 25, 1855, was chosen vice-
president of the Free State Convention held in Lawrence
on that day. He was on the committee that reported
among other resolutions one containing this "defy" to
the Missourians: "In reply to the threats of war so fre-
quently made in our neighbor state, our answer is, 'WE
ARE READY'." For this attitude the Browns were
"marked men," long before their father appeared on the

At previous elections the state had been overrun by

John Brozmi 199

Missourians, and the most flagrant frauds had been
openly perpetrated. At the election for delegate to Con-
gress November 29, 1854, they cast 1729 fraudulent

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