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´╗┐Title: The Raid of John Brown at Harper's Ferry as I Saw It
Author: Leech, Samuel Vanderlip, 1837-1916
Language: English
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Transcriber's Notes: No corrections of typographical or other errors
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surrounded by _underscores_. Words in bold in the original are
surrounded by =equal signs=. On pages 6 and 7 of the original, a note
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[Illustration: CAPT. JOHN BROWN]

                  The Raid of John Brown at Harper's
                          Ferry As I Saw It.


                  REV. SAMUEL VANDERLIP LEECH, D. D.

_Author of "Ingersoll and The Bible," "The Three Inebriates," "From West
  Virginia to Pompeii," "Seven Elements in Successful Preaching," Etc._

                       PUBLISHED BY THE AUTHOR.

                              THE DESOTO
                          WASHINGTON, D. C.

                   Copyright by S. V. Leech, 1909.



The town of Harper's Ferry is located in Jefferson County, West
Virginia. Lucerne, in Switzerland does not excel it in romantic grandeur
of situation. On its northern front the Potomac sweeps along to pass the
national capital, and the tomb of Washington, in its silent flow towards
the sea. On its eastern side the Shenandoah hurries to empty its waters
into the Potomac, that in perpetual wedlock they may greet the stormy
Atlantic. Across the Potomac the Maryland Heights stand out as the tall
sentinels of Nature. Beyond the Shenandoah are the Blue Ridge mountains,
fringing the westward boundary of Loudon County, Virginia. Between these
rivers, and nestling inside of their very confluence, reposes Harper's
Ferry. Back of its hills lies the famous Shenandoah Valley, celebrated
for its natural scenery, its historic battles and "Sheridan's Ride." At
Harper's Ferry the United States authorities early located an Arsenal
and an Armory.

Before the Civil War, the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist
Episcopal Church was constituted of five extensive districts in
Virginia, stretching from Alexandria to Lewisburg and two great
districts north of the Potomac, including the cities of Washington and
Baltimore. The first three years of my ministerial life I spent on
Shepherdstown, West Loudon and Hillsboro Circuits, being then all in
Virginia. The State of West Virginia, now embracing Harper's Ferry, had
not been organized by Congress as a war measure out of the territory of
the mother State. Our Methodist Episcopal Church was theoretically an
anti-slavery organization; but our Virginia and Maryland members held
thousands of inherited and many purchased slaves. These were generally
well-cared for and contented. Being close to the free soil of
Pennsylvania they could have gotten there in a night had they wished to
escape bondage, and then they could have easily reached Canada by that
Northern aid, called the "Underground Railroad."

On the Sunday night when John Brown and his men invaded Virginia, I
slept within a half mile of Harper's Ferry. That day I inaugurated
revival services at my westward appointment called "Ebenezer," in Loudon
County two miles from Harper's Ferry. I was twenty-two years of age.

Three months before this raid Captain John Brown with two of his sons,
Owen and Oliver, and Jeremiah G. Anderson, calling themselves "Isaac
Smith and Sons" rented a small farm on the Maryland side of the Potomac
four miles from Harper's Ferry. It was known as the "Booth-Kennedy
Place." They also carried on across the mountains at Chambersburg,
Pennsylvania, a small hardware store managed by John H. Kagi. It was a
depot for the munitions of war to be hauled to their Maryland farm.
Another of Brown's men, John E. Cook, sold maps in the vicinity. He was
a relative of Governor Willard of Indiana who secured the services of
Hon. Daniel W. Voorhees, Attorney General of Indiana, to defend Cook at
his after trial in Virginia. It was a time of profound national peace.
Brown and his men represented themselves as geologists, miners and
speculators. They had a mule and wagon with which to haul their boxes
from Chambersburg. A wealthy merchant of Boston, Mr. George Luther
Stearns, Chairman of the Massachusetts Aid Society had financed Brown's
Kansas border warfare work, as well as his approaching Harper's Ferry
raid. Other Northern friends assisted. Brown had completed his
preparations and collected his twenty-one helpers early in October,
1859. He had hidden in an old log cabin on the place 200 Sharpe's
rifles, 13,000 rifle cartridges, 950 long iron pikes, 200 revolving
pistols, 100,000 pistol caps, 40,000 percussion caps, 250 pounds of
powder, 12 reams of cartridge paper and other warlike materials. He
organized his twenty-two men, himself included, into a "=Military
Provisional Government=" to superintend the possible uprising of the
slaves of Virginia. Thirteen of these men had engaged in border warfare
in Kansas, in a successful effort to prevent Kansas from becoming a
slave state. He, sixteen other white men and five negroes, constituted
his entire Virginia army. The white men were Captain John Brown,
Adjutant General John H. Kagi, Captains Owen Brown, Oliver Brown, Watson
Brown, Aaron D. Stephens, John E. Cook, Dauphin Adolphus Thompson,
George P. Tidd, William Thompson and Edwin Coppoc. The Lieutenants were
Jeremiah G. Anderson, Albert Hazlitt and William Henry Leeman. The
privates numbered eight. Three of them were white men and five were
negroes. The whites were Francis J. Merriam, Barclay Coppoc and Steward
Taylor. The negroes were Dangerfield Newby, Osborne P. Anderson, John A.
Copeland, Sherrard Lewis Leary and Shields Green.

On Sunday morning, October 16th, 1859, Brown assembled his men and
informed them that on that night their invasion into Virginia would take
place. They took the oath of allegiance to the "Provisional Government."
Adjutant General Kagi presented to each officer his commission.

The contents of the Armory, Arsenal and Hall's Rifle Works were daily
open to public inspection. Captain John Brown well knew that Daniel
Whelan was the only watchman, during the night time, at the Armory
grounds. He believed that if he could secure the arms and ammunition in
these buildings, carry them into the fastnesses of the adjacent
mountains, and then unfurl the flag of freedom for all slaves who would
flock to his standard, the result would be a general uprising of the
negro population throughout the border states. A more idiotic and
senseless theory never entered an American mind. In the superlative
degree it was unreasonable and ridiculous. I personally know of the
general loyalty of the slaves to their masters in that locality, at that
period in our national history. Federal generals were astonished at the
devotion of the negroes to their masters everywhere in the South after
the war had begun. This was especially true along the border states. But
John Brown--honest, enthusiastic and intensely fanatical on the slavery
question--issued his commands. On this Sunday he assigned to each his
earliest work. Captain Owen Brown, Barclay Coppoc and Francis J. Merriam
were to remain at the farm to guard the arms and ammunition. Hence only
nineteen left the Kennedy farm. They were to walk down the river road on
the Maryland side to the Maryland end of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad
bridge. The Virginia end was close to the depot, hotel, Armory and the
Arsenal. Captain John Brown was to ride in the wagon with the necessary
guns, pistols and tools. Captains Cook and Tidd were to go in advance
and cut the telegraph wires on the Maryland side. Captain Stephens and
Adjutant General Kagi were to capture Mr. Williams, the guard of the
bridge. Captain Watson Brown and Taylor were to hold up the passenger
train due from the west at 1:40 A. M. It would be bound for Washington
and Baltimore. Captain Oliver Brown and Thompson were to hold the
bridges spanning the two rivers. Captain Dauphin Adolphus Thompson and
Lieutenant Anderson were to hold the first building in the Armory[6:1]
grounds popularly known afterwards as "=John Brown's Fort=." It was the
engine house where Brown held his most distinguished prisoners. From the
portholes of it that they made after his entrance, his men did their
final fighting. Captain Coppoc and Lieutenant Hazlitt were to hold the
Arsenal outside and opposite the Armory gates. Adjutant General Kagi and
Copeland were to seize and retain Hall's Rifle Works. They were half of
a mile up the western shore of the Shenandoah. Captain Stephens, and
such men as he might select, were to go out to the home of Colonel Lewis
W. Washington, the grand nephew of General George Washington, and bring
him and some of his adult male slaves, to the engine house. They were
also to secure the swords presented to General George Washington by
Frederick the Great and by General Lafayette. For this object Stephens
selected as his helpers Captains Tidd and Cook and privates Leary, Green
and Anderson. Brown made the raid at 11:30 that night. Mr. Williams the
bridge guard was captured by Stephens and Kagi. The watchman at the
Armory[7:1], Daniel Whelan, refused Brown and his men admission to the
grounds. They broke the locks with tools, captured Whelan, and took
possession of the Armory and also of the Arsenal outside. The following
prisoners were brought in early on Monday and placed in the engine
house: Jesse W. Graham who was master workman, Colonel Lewis W.
Washington, Terance Byrne, John M. Allstadt, John Donohue, who was clerk
of the railroad company; Benjamin F. Mills, the master armorer; Armstead
M. Ball, the master machinist; Archibald M. Kitzmiller, assistant
superintendent; Isaac Russell, a Justice of the Peace; George D. Shope,
of Frederick and J. Bird, Arsenal armorer. The white prisoners were to
be held as hostages and the blacks were to be armed and placed in
Brown's army. Cook and Tidd evidently mistrusted their surroundings.
During the night they made their way back to the farm and hastily
escaped into Pennsylvania. Captain Watson Brown and Taylor held up the
train bound for Baltimore, detaining it for three hours. The colored
porter of the depot, Shepherd Hayward, went out on the bridge to hunt
for Williams. He was brutally shot by one of Brown's bridge guards.
Hayward managed to crawl to the baggage room where he died at noon on
Monday. Dr. John Starry dressed his wounds and ministered to his every
want. The physician was under the impression that a band of train
robbers had captured the depot. He told this to Mr. Kitzmiller before
Kitzmiller's imprisonment. Captain E. P. Dangerfield, clerk to the
paymaster, entered the grounds and was hustled into the engine house
quite early in the morning. Numerous arriving workmen were imprisoned in
an adjoining building. Colonel Washington said that fully sixty men were
imprisoned by eight o'clock on Monday morning. The citizens were hearing
of the situation. Newby and Green, negroes, were stationed at the
junction of High and Shenandoah streets. Newby shot at and killed
Captain George W. Turner, a graduate of West Point. Green shot and
killed Mr. Thomas Boerley, a grocer. Dr. Claggett attended Boerley, who
also soon died. After the mulatto had shot Turner, a man named Bogert
entered the residence of Mrs. Stephenson by a rear door. Having no
bullet he put a large nail into his gun, went up stairs and shot Newby,
the nail cutting his throat from ear to ear. He was also shot in the
stomach by some one else. I saw him die, in great agony, with an
infuriated crowd around him. About ten o'clock in the morning, armed
citizens crossed the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers to prevent the escape
by the bridges, or by water, of any of the raiders. Some walked down the
Maryland river road and wounded Captain Oliver Brown on the bridge. He
reached the engine house but soon died beside his father. Citizens
seized the uninjured prisoner, Captain Thompson, and put him under guard
at the Galt hotel. Captain Stephens tried to reach the hotel to propose,
as he stated, terms of surrender. George Chambers wounded him, and then
assisted him into the Galt hotel, where his wounds were dressed. About
eleven o'clock in the morning the Jefferson Guards from Charlestown
commanded by Captain J. W. Rowen arrived. A half hour passed and the
Hamtramck guards under Captain V. M. Butler came to the Ferry. They were
followed by the Shepherdstown Mounted Troop commanded by Captain Jacob
Reinhart. Then a military company from Martinsburg twenty miles distant
reached the place, under the command of Captain Alburtis. Colonels W. R.
Baylor and John T. Gibson took the general direction of the military
affairs. Some soldiers crossed the Shenandoah along with armed citizens
to intercept the four raiders Kagi, Leary, Leeman and Copeland, when
they should be driven out of Hall's Rifle Works. These raiders also had
in these works one of Colonel Washington's slaves pressed into their
service. All of them ran out into the river to swim across to the Loudon
County shore. All were shot to death in the river with the exception of
Copeland. He threw up his hands and surrendered. During the excitement
Hazlitt and the negro Anderson left the Arsenal and, undetected, escaped
into Pennsylvania. Early in the morning Captain Owen Brown, Barclay
Coppoc and Merriam had deserted the Kennedy farm and gone north. Thus
seven of the twenty-two men fled to the North. Cook and Hazlitt were
captured. They were returned to Virginia, tried and executed.

By 2 o'clock P. M., the town and hills swarmed with militia and
citizens. Brown had barricaded the engine house doors with the engine
and reel. Inside were Captains John Brown and his son Watson; also
Captain Oliver Brown, who was soon dead; Shields Green, Captain Edwin
Coppoc, Lieutenant Jeremiah G. Anderson, Captain Dauphin Adolphus
Thompson and ten white prisoners. The numerous prisoners, mostly
workmen, in the adjoining structure had all escaped from the grounds,
Brown having no port-holes on that side of his fort. The militia were
afraid to fire into the port-holes for fear of killing some of the
prominent prisoners. About 4 o'clock the Mayor, Mr. Fontaine Beckham,
aged sixty years, who was also station agent of the railroad company,
went out on the platform unarmed. He was shot dead by the negro Shields
Green. Captain Watson Brown in the engine house received his death wound
soon afterwards. Mayor Beckham was very much beloved by the people. A
number of citizens hurried into the hotel and brutally seized Captain
Thompson, threw him over the wall into the Potomac and riddled him with
bullets. Mrs. Foulke of the hotel, and her colored porter, went to the
platform and brought in the dead body of the Mayor.

As night was settling on the excited city a military company from
Winchester, Virginia, commanded by Captain B. B. Washington, arrived by
a Shenandoah Valley train. Shortly thereafter a Baltimore and Ohio
railroad train brought several companies of soldiers from Frederick,
Maryland. They were commanded by Colonel Shriver. Soon several
independent companies from Baltimore, accompanied by the Second Light
Brigade, arrived under the general command of General Charles C.
Edgerton. Colonel Robert E. Lee of the United States army, overtook
these troops at Sandy Hook, a mile and a half below the Ferry on the
Maryland side. He had come from Washington with several companies of
marines. He was accompanied by Lieutenant J. E. B. Stuart, afterwards a
famous Confederate Cavalry General; also by Major Russell and by
Lieutenant Israel Green, who died several months ago in the West. All
were regular army officers. Colonel Lee regarded it as unwise to attack
the engine house that night, fearing that Colonel Lewis W. Washington or
other prisoners might be killed. Early in the morning he sent Lieutenant
J. E. B. Stuart, who had once held Brown as a prisoner in Kansas, to
demand an immediate and unconditional surrender. Brown refused to trust
himself and men to the United States officers. About this time Colonel
Robert E. Lee got within range of Captain Coppoc's rifle. Prisoners said
that Mr. Graham knocked the muzzle aside. Lee's life was saved. Had he
been then killed who knows that the battles of Antietam, Gettysburg, and
the final conflicts north of the Appomattox would have ever been fought?
On the Confederate side no abler general or more magnificent man, ever
sat on a saddle than Robert E. Lee. He was the son of "Light Horse Harry
Lee," a brave Major General of the Revolutionary War. He was the father
of William Henry Fitzhugh Lee, who became a Major General of the
Confederate forces of Virginia, at a later date. General Robert E. Lee
made a brilliant record in the Mexican war as Chief Engineer of the
United States army. After surrendering his decimated army to General
Ulysses S. Grant, at Appomattox, he accepted the political situation
with dignity. He became President of the Washington University at
Lexington, Virginia. The South lavished on him every possible honor.
During the late summer the Virginia legislature placed in the National
Hall of Fame, at the United States Capitol, two fine statues of two
representative men of their state. One was the statue of General George
Washington; the other that of General Robert E. Lee.

By the advice of Colonel Lewis W. Washington all of Brown's prisoners
mounted the fire engine and the reel carriage and lifted up their hands
when the attack began. Three marines undertook to batter down the doors
with heavy sledge hammers. They were not successful. Then twelve
marines struck the doors with the end of a strong ladder. They opened.
Lieutenant Green entered first of all amidst a shower of bullets.
Discovering Brown reloading his rifle he sprang on him with his sword
and cut his head and stomach. The raider Captain Anderson rose to shoot
Green. A marine named Luke Quinn ran his bayonet through him. Another
raider shot Luke Quinn who soon died. Two other marines were wounded. I
saw Captains Anderson and Watson Brown as they lay dying on the grass
after their capture. The dead body of Captain Oliver Brown lay beside
them. Captain Watson Brown had been dying for sixteen hours. Captain
John Brown, bleeding profusely, and Captain Stephens from the hotel,
were carried into the paymaster's office. Brown's long grey beard was
stained with wet blood. He was bare headed. His shirt and trousers were
grey in color. His trousers were tucked into the top of his boots.
Captain Coppoc and the negro Green were also taken prisoners. They were
not wounded.

As Brown lay on the floor of the paymaster's office he was very cool and
courageous. Governor Henry A. Wise, United States Senator J. M. Mason of
Virginia and Honorable Clement L. Vallandingham of Ohio plied him with
many questions. To all he gave intelligent and fearless replies. He
refused to involve his Northern financiers and advisers. He took the
entire responsibility on himself. He told Governor Wise that he, Brown,
was simply "An instrument in the hands of Providence." He said to some
newspaper correspondents and others: "I wish to say that you had
better--all you people of the South--prepare for a settlement of this
question. You may dispose of me very easily. I am nearly disposed of
now. But this question is yet to be settled--this negro question I mean.
The end is not yet." Before thirteen months had passed one of the
greatest Americans of any century, Abraham Lincoln, had been elected
President of the United States; the Republican party was for the first
time dominating national affairs and, soon thereafter, the Civil War
was begun which culminated in the physical freedom of every slave in
this Republic.

On Wednesday Captains John Brown, Stephens and Coppoc, along with
Copeland and Green, were removed to the county jail at Charlestown, ten
miles south of Harper's Ferry. Being acquainted with the jailor, Captain
John Avis, I was permitted to visit Brown on one occasion. Captain Aaron
D. Stephens was lying on a cot in the same room. I was told that Brown
had ordered out of his room a Presbyterian minister named Lowrey when he
had proposed to offer prayer. He had also said to my first colleague,
Rev. James H. March, "You do not know the meaning of the word
Christianity. Of course I regard you as a gentleman, but only as a
=heathen= gentleman." I was advised to say nothing to him about prayer. He
had told other visitors that he wanted no minister to pray with him who
would not be willing to die to free a slave. I was not conscious that I
was ready for martyrdom from Brown's standpoint. I have never been
anxious to die to save the life of any body. My life is as valuable to
me and my family as any other man's is to him and his family. But young
as I was I hated American slavery. I was a "boy minister" of a great
anti-slavery denomination of Christians. For more than a century the
Methodist Episcopal Church has carried in its Disciplines its printed
testimony against slavery. It is to-day the largest fully organized
anti-slavery society on earth. I would have gladly offered prayer in
Brown's room at Charlestown if an honorable opportunity had been

At his preliminary examination before five justices, Colonel Davenport
presiding, Brown said: "Virginians! I did not ask for quarter at the
time I was taken. I did not ask to have my life spared. Your governor
assured me of a fair trial. If you seek my blood you can have it at any
time without this mockery of a trial. I have no counsel. I have not been
able to advise with any one. I know nothing of the feelings of my fellow
prisoners and am utterly unable to attend to my own defense. If a fair
trial is to be allowed there are mitigating circumstances to be urged.
But, if we are forced with a mere form, a trial for execution, you
might spare yourselves that trouble. I am ready for my fate."

Two very able Virginia attorneys were assigned as a matter of State form
as counsel for Brown. They were Honorable Charles J. Faulkner of
Martinsburg, afterwards United States Envoy Extraordinary to France, and
Judge Green, Ex-Mayor of Charlestown. The county grand jury indicted
Brown on three separate charges: first, conspiracy with slaves for
purposes of insurrection; second, treason against the commonwealth of
Virginia; third, murder in the first degree. Mr. Faulkner withdrew from
the case and Mr. Lawson Botts took his place. Mr. Samuel Chilton a
learned lawyer of Washington, D. C., and Judge Henry Griswold of Ohio,
another distinguished attorney, volunteered their services as counsel
for John Brown and were accepted. Some of Brown's friends sent an
excellent young lawyer named George H. Hoyt from Boston, as additional
counsel. These attorneys made an able defense, whatever may have been
their private opinion as to Brown's guilt or innocence. The prosecuting
attorney for the State of Virginia was Andrew Hunter, an exceptionally
brilliant orator and able lawyer. He was a courtly and commanding
speaker. He was gifted with a rich and powerful voice. After the
indictment of Brown by the court of justices, the prosecuting attorney
of Jefferson county, Mr. Charles B. Harding left the prosecution almost
exclusively to Mr. Andrew Hunter, who represented the State. So too,
after the arrival of Brown's chosen outside counsel, Judge Green and Mr.
Lawson Botts withdrew, in good taste, from his defense.

At the regular trial Brown's counsel requested a postponement on account
of the prisoner's health. But Dr. Mason, his physician, attested the
physical ability of his patient to undergo the strain. The State was
spending almost a thousand dollars a day for military guards and other
items. When Brown's counsel presented telegrams from his relatives
asking for delay until they could forward proofs of his insanity, Brown
said, "I will say, if the court will allow me, that I look on this as a
miserable artifice and trick of those who ought to take a different
course in regard to me if they take any at all. I view it with contempt
more than otherwise. I am perfectly unconscious of insanity and I
reject, so far as I am capable, any attempts to interfere in my behalf
on that score."

On the last day of the trial, October 31st, after six hours of argument
by Hunter, Chilton and Griswold, the jury delivered the following
verdict: "Guilty of treason, and of conspiring and advising with slaves
and others to rebel; and of murder in the first degree." On Wednesday,
November the 2nd, he was brought into court to receive his sentence. The
County Clerk, Robert H. Brown, asked: "Have you anything to say why
sentence should not be passed on you?" Brown, leaning on a cane, slowly
arose from his chair and with plaintive emphasis addressed Judge Parker
as follows:

"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 certainly intended to have made a clean thing
of that matter as I did last winter when I went into Missouri and 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 that 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
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, sister, brother, 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 is 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 unto 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 that 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 admitted freely 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 never had any design against the life of any person, nor any
disposition to commit treason or excite slaves to rebellion or make any
general insurrection. I never encouraged any man to do so but always
discouraged any idea of the kind.

"Let me say 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
induced them to join me. But the contrary is true. I do not say this to
injure them, but as regards 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 am done."

Brown's statement was not exactly sustained by the facts. Why had he
collected the Sharpe's rifles, the pikes, the kegs of powder, many
thousands of caps and much warlike material at the Kennedy farm? Why did
he and other armed men, break into the United States Armory and
Arsenal, make portholes in the engine house, shoot and kill citizens and
surround their own imprisoned persons with prominent men as hostages?
But everybody in the court house believed the old man when he said that
he did everything with a solitary motive, the liberation of the slaves.

Judge Parker could, under his oath, do nothing else than to sentence him
to be hung. He fixed the date for Friday, the second of December.
Brown's counsel appealed to the Supreme Court of Virginia. Its five
judges unanimously sustained the action of the Jefferson county court.

Brown was hung on the bright and beautiful morning of December 2nd at
11:15 o'clock. At his request Andrew Hunter wrote his will. He then
visited his fellow prisoners who were all executed at a later date. He
rode to his death between Sheriff Campbell and Captain Avis in a
furniture wagon drawn by two white horses. He did not ride seated on his
coffin as some of his chief eulogists have affirmed. The wagon was
escorted to the scaffold by State military companies. No citizens were
allowed near to the jail. Hence he did not kiss any negro baby as he
emerged from his prison, as Mr. Whittier has described in a poem on the
event and as artists have memorialized in paintings. The utter absurdity
of such an incident occurring under such surroundings any Virginian will
see. Avis, Campbell and Hunter publicly denied it. But the story will
doubtless have immortality. In one of the companies of soldiers walked
the actor John Wilkes Booth, the infamous assassin of Abraham Lincoln.
At the head of the Lexington cadets walked Professor Thomas Jefferson
Jackson, who became an able Confederate General and is best known to the
world as "Stonewall Jackson." As the party neared the gallows Brown
gazed on the glorious panorama of mountain and landscape scenery. Then
he said: "This is a beautiful country." He wore a black slouch hat with
the front tipped up. Reaching the scaffold the numerous State troops
formed into a hollow square. Brown mounted the platform without
trepidation. Standing on the drop he said to the sheriff and his
assistants: "Gentlemen! I thank you for your kindness to me. I am ready
at any time. Do not keep me waiting." The drop fell and in ten minutes
Dr. Mason pronounced him dead. That evening Mrs. Brown and her friends
received the casket at Harper's Ferry and accompanied it to the old home
at North Elba, N. Y. His funeral, as reported by the metropolitan
papers, took place there six days after his execution. An immense
concourse was in attendance. The conspicuous and brilliant orator,
Wendell Phillips, delivered the address. He closed it with these words:
"In this cottage he girded himself and went forth to battle. Fuller
success than his heart ever dreamed of God had granted him. He sleeps in
the blessings of the crushed and the poor. Men believe more firmly in
virtue now that such a man has lived." Personally I remained in

On the day that Brown was hung =Martyr Services=, as they were called,
were held in many Northern localities. At Concord, Dr. Edmund Sears read
a poem in which are these stanzas:

     "Not any spot, six feet by two
        Will hold a man like thee:
      John Brown will tramp the shaking earth
        From Blue Ridge to the sea
      Till the strong angel comes at length
        And opes each dungeon door:
      And God's Great Charter holds and waves
        O'er all the humble poor.

      And then the humble poor may come
        In that far distant day,
      And from the felon's nameless grave
        Will brush the leaves away:
      And gray old men will point the spot
        Beneath the pine tree's shade,
      As children ask with streaming eyes
        Where old John Brown was laid."

Before he was executed many threatening communications were received by
the Virginia State and Jefferson County officers. Large numbers of E. C.
Stedman's poem, entitled "John Brown of Ossawattamie," were scattered
about Charlestown. One stanza reads as follows:

     "But Virginians! Don't do it, for I tell you that the flagon,
     Filled with blood of Old Brown's offspring, was first poured by
         Southern hands;
     And each drop from Old Brown's life veins, like the red gore of the
     May spring up, a vengeful Fury, hissing through your slave-worn
     And Old Brown,
     Ossowattamie Brown,
     May trouble you more than ever,
     When you've nailed his coffin down."

Whether they be from the North or the South, fair-minded men, who are
thoroughly conversant with the history of this raid, can hardly cherish
any doubt concerning the turpitude of the invasion, the fairness of
Brown's trial and the justice of his conviction and execution. He fell
under the direction of a misguided conscience. The noble endowment that
philosophers call conscience that gives its verdicts as to the moral
merit or demerit of actions and affections, was strangely warped in
Brown's intense and brave character. The possession of this faculty of
conscience is the massive foundation of all human responsibility.
Illustrations of the moral enormities that a perverted conscience can
perpetrate are manifold along the pages of sacred and secular history.

When Jesus looked down the aisles of the future, He said to His
disciples that the men who would finally transfigure them into martyrs
would murder them in the belief that they were rendering acceptable
service to God.

Paul declared that he regarded himself as meeting the divine approval
when he was persecuting and murdering the primitive Christians.

When the officers of the Spanish Inquisition saw the agonies of the
victims who refused to renounce their religious creeds they joyfully
exclaimed, "Let God be glorified."

Charles the Ninth of France said he was conscientious in ordering the
Saint Bartholomew massacre that resulted in the murder in French cities
of tens of thousands of Christian Hugenots.

The Bloody Queen, Mary Tudor, said she had a pure conscience when she
sent to the scaffold the learned and gentle young Ex-Queen Lady Jane
Grey. Thousands of criminals have sheltered their crimes in the temple
of Conscience.

The trend of Brown's constant defence was that he obeyed his conscience.
His lawless conduct, the death of many of his party and the murder of
Virginia citizens gave him very little apparent intellectual unrest. He
sowed to the wind and reaped the logical harvest, if it is the
appropriate word, the whirlwind.

Brown's high Calvinism bordered on fatalism. Oliver Cromwell never
believed more radically in the foreordination of all human actions than
did he. When questioned concerning the failure of this invasion he
replied: "All of our actions, even all of the follies that led to this
disaster, were decreed to happen ages before the world was made." When
Judge Russell visited him he said: "I know that the very errors by which
my scheme was marred were decreed before the world was made. I had no
more to do with the course I pursued than a shot leaving a cannon has to
do with the spot where it shall fall."

It is when patriotic men read the story of "John Brown's Raid" by the
torches of President Lincoln's early election, the Civil War and the
Emancipation of all American slaves, that they seem to become blind to
the terrible criminal features of the invasion and look only at the
national results and the magnificient courage, benevolent motives and
supreme self-sacrifice of this martyr. Multitudes of visionary men
regard him as a divinely appointed John the Baptist raised up to usher
in the day of physical freedom for every slave on American soil and
their posterity to the end of time. They claim that in this instance
"The End has justified the Means." His raid made the North solid against
the slave system and the South as solid against anti-slavery theories
and agitators. Before the Brown raid the vote for John C. Fremont, the
Republican candidate for President, was 1341000. James Buchanan had
496000 majority. The year after the raid Abraham Lincoln received
1886000 votes for President and had 491000 majority over Stephen A.
Douglas, when the South voted for another Democrat. Fremont had 114
votes in the Electoral College. Lincoln had 180. Under his presidency
the emancipation of every slave on the national soil took place. The
nations of Europe learned for the first time the important lesson that
the United States was able to maintain its national unity. This raid
beyond question hastened in the Civil War. I have seen Federal regiments
marching on to battle enthusiastically singing:

     "John Brown's body lies a mould'ring in the grave,
     But his soul is marching on."

A few weeks after Brown's execution Victor Hugo said, "What the South
slew last December was not John Brown but slavery." His statement
developed into a colossal historical truth. The great statesman, orator
and senator, John J. Ingalls of Kansas, closed an oration with these
remarkable words:

"Carlyle says that when any great change in human society is to be
wrought God raises up men to whom that change is made to appear as the
one thing needful and absolutely indispensable. Scholars, orators,
poets, philanthropists, play their parts, but the crisis comes at last
through some one who is stigmatized as a fanatic by his contemporaries,
and whom the supporters of the systems he assails crucify between
theives or gibbet as a felon. The man who is not afraid to die for an
idea is the most potential and convincing advocate.

"Already the great intellectual leaders of the movement for the
abolition of slavery are dead. The student of the future will exhume
their orations, arguments and state papers, as a part of the
subterranean history of the epoch. The antiquarian will dig up their
remains from the alluvial drift of the period, and construe their
relations to the great events in which they were actors. But the three
men of this era who will loom forever against the remotest horizon of
time, as the pyramids against the voiceless desert, or mountain peaks
over the subordinate plains, are Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant and
old John Brown of Ossowattamie."

Senator Ingalls well knew that Brown had no such intellectual
massiveness, or splendid culture, as had Webster, Clay, Jefferson,
Sumner, and many other eminent Americans. He referred to the majesty of
personal achievements. From this standpoint men like Garabaldi, Morse,
Harriman, Edison, Roosevelt and Cook, the Arctic explorer have been
great. Brown's life was a perpetual sacrifice for the annihilation of
American slavery. Very defective as a military leader he was always
ready to do, dare and die to assist in this work. Even today tens of
thousands of educated men regard him as a monomaniac concerning the
abolition of slavery. For many years, in the state of Kansas, he had
permitted his own life, and the life of each of his sons, to be in
continual peril that they might assist in placing Kansas in the
constellation of free States. Men like Gerrit Smith and John L. Stearns
financed his schemes from their wealth. Men like Henry Ward Beecher,
Ralph Waldo Emerson, George B. Cheever, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell
Phillips and Theodore Parker, delivered eulogies on Brown after he had
been hung. They most eloquently denounced slavery from pulpits and
platforms; but they lived in the limelight of oratorical popularity and
flourished amidst luxurious ease. To Brown's immortal credit be it said
that he gave domestic security, his humble fortune, his perillous work,
the lives of his cherished sons and his own blood and life for the
anti-slavery opinions that were anchored in his soul. His prison letters
to many friends are full of intrepidity, submission to the divine
providence and heroic anticipations of immortal blessedness. Ten minutes
before he left his jail cell for the gallows he handed to a prison
official a sheet of paper on which he had written these words: "I, John
Brown, am quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never
be purged away but with blood, I had, as I now think, vainly flattered
myself that without very much bloodshed it might be done."

His surpassing bravery and self-sacrificing candor profoundly impressed
eminent Virginians. Governor Henry A. Wise said: "He is a bundle of the
best nerves I ever saw, cut and thrust; and bleeding and in bonds. He is
a man of clear head, of courage, fortitude and simple ingenuousness. He
is cool, collected, indomitable; and it is but just to him to say that
he was humane to his prisoners. He is a fanatic, but firm, and truthful
and intelligent." Colonel Lewis W. Washington and Captain John E. P.
Dangerfield bore testimony to his courage.

Brown's wonderful moral heroism became resplendent after Judge Richard
Parker had sentenced him to death. Many of his letters to his friends,
collected and published by Mr. F. B. Sanford, would have done honor to
the pen of Paul. He was exultant from the standpoint of a happy
spiritual experience and triumphant as he gazed beyond this mortal life.
In one of his last letters he wrote these words: "I sleep as peacefully
as an infant, or if I am wakeful glorious thoughts come to me
entertaining my mind. I do not believe I shall deny my Lord and Master,
Jesus Christ, in this prison or on the scaffold. But I should do so if I
denied my principles against slavery." Surely he must have been sincere
as he faced eternity.

As early as 1820 John Quincy Adams said of the overthrow of American
slavery, "The object is vast in its compass, awful in its prospects and
sublime and beautiful in its issues. A life devoted to it would be nobly
spent or sacrificed." John Brown, along illegal and criminal lines,
placed before the world such a life and death. He saw clearly what
American statesmen of his period saw but dimly. Beyond all question he
died as emphatically for the overthrow of slavery as Paul died for the
honor of Christianity. Three of his favorite books were the life stories
of men of great achievements:--"The Life of Oliver Cromwell," "The Life
of Marco Bozarris," and "The Life of William Wallace."

Some years ago, in an oration delivered at Harper's Ferry, the
distinguished freedman and orator, the late Frederick Douglass, said:
"If John Brown did not end the war that ended slavery he did at least
begin the war that ended slavery. If we look over the dates, places and
men for which this honor is claimed we shall find that not Carolina, but
Virginia; not Fort Sumter, but Harper's Ferry and the United States
Arsenal; not Major Anderson, but John Brown, began the war that ended
American slavery and made this a free republic. Until this blow was
struck the prospect was dim, shadowy and uncertain. The irrepressible
conflict was one of words, votes and compromises. When John Brown
stretched forth his arm the sky was cleared, the time for compromise was
gone, the armed hosts stood face to face over the chasm of a broken
Union and the clash of arms was at hand."

And let it be remembered that when Brown had told Douglass the details
of his proposed invasion at Harper's Ferry, Douglass begged him to
abandon his plans and assured him that they would end, as they did, in
untold disaster.

The chief authors who have written concerning John Brown and his
invasion were not in Virginia during the forty-four days intervening
between the raid and his execution. They were destitute of any personal
knowledge of the facts. They were bitter enemies of the South and most
intense admirers of the intrepid man executed at Charlestown. Their
narratives are replete with errors and contain much romance. They are,
generally, saturated with misrepresentation of the Virginia people and
are burdened with eulogistic apologies for Brown's conduct in Virginia.
Because I was on the ground and saw things as they occurred; because I
have kept in touch with Brown literature; and because I am in love with
the Truth I believe that my story is worthy of public confidence.

I have known Virginians, personally, for over fifty years. My long
career, as a minister of Christ, was begun among them. They have not
deserved the traduction Brown's eulogists have heaped on them. His
unfortunate execution was the logical result of his criminal and bloody
raid. The Virginia people have been noble in chivalry, bounteous in
hospitality, sublime in kindness of heart and life and models of high
social and moral purity.

Spartacus led the way for the destruction of Roman slavery. John Brown
performed a similar service for the American slaves. He mingled in his
strange character fanaticism and courage--eccentricity and a prophetical
insight into future events--a warped conscience and a sublime martyr
heroism. But whether in safety or peril, at home or in prison, in battle
or on the scaffold, this mysterious man intensely cherished the
conviction that Joanna Baillie imbedded into poetry:

     "The strength of man sinks in the hour of trial,
     But there doth live a power that for the battle
           Girdeth the weak."


[6:1] For Armory read Arsenal.

[7:1] For Armory read Arsenal.

   |                                                                  |
   |                                                                  |
   |                         THE DE SOTA                              |
   |                                                                  |
   |                           Washington, D. C., November 18, 1909.  |
   |                                                                  |
   |  My Dear Sir:                                                    |
   |                                                                  |
   |  There has just been issued a small volume copyrighted,          |
   |  entitled., "The Raid Of John Brown As I Saw It" from the pen    |
   |  of "Rev. Samuel Vanderlip Leech, D. D., of Washington, D. C.,"  |
   |  who has been a Methodist Episcopal Minister for 52 years. For   |
   |  this book The Maurice Engraving Company furnished the latest    |
   |  portrait of Captain John Brown. The edition is limited to four  |
   |  hundred copies. They are not sold at any store. The object of   |
   |  the publication is to place on the shelves of Libraries,        |
   |  Colleges, Universities and Historical societies, from the       |
   |  southern standpoint, an accurate narrative of the raid, and     |
   |  the events associated with it. I was 22 years of age, was       |
   |  preaching close to Harper's Ferry, saw the fighting and         |
   |  capture and visited Brown in his prison. I was a witness of     |
   |  the events of the forty four days intervening between the raid  |
   |  and his execution.                                              |
   |                                                                  |
   |  His partisan biographers were not in Virginia at that time.     |
   |  Their books contain historical errors and much romance. Their   |
   |  abuse of the Virginians is unfair. I am a Republican, and have  |
   |  steadily voted for Republican Presidents. But I think the time  |
   |  has come when a truthful version of this famous raid should     |
   |  find a place in national literature. I think that you will      |
   |  agree with me. On receipt of a money order for 45 cents I will  |
   |  mail to you a post-paid copy of this small volume.              |
   |                                                                  |
   |                                        With Respect,             |
   |                                                                  |
   |                                            S. V. LEECH.          |
   |                                                                  |

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