Funding from the Institute of
Museum and Library
supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text scanned (OCR) by
Images scanned by Katherine Anderson
Text encoded by Christie Mawhinney and Jill Kuhn
First edition, 1999
Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
(title page) The Two Rebellions; or, Treason Unmasked.
by a Virginian
Smith, Bailey & Co., Sentinel Office.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-CH
digitization project, Documenting the American South.
All footnotes are inserted at the point of reference within paragraphs.
Any hyphens occurring in line breaks have been removed, and the trailing part of a word has been joined to the preceding line.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as " and " respectively.
All single right and left quotation marks are encoded as ' and ' respectively.
All em dashes are encoded as --
Indentation in lines has not been preserved.
Running titles have not been preserved.
Spell-check and verification made against printed text using Author/Editor (SoftQuad) and Microsoft Word spell check programs.
The preface of this work is found between pages 8 and 9 of the original copy. It has been moved to the front of the work to follow a more logical order and structure.
Library of Congress Subject Headings, 21st edition, 1998
LC Subject Headings:
[Copy-right secured according to law.]
The author of the annexed crude production has no better apology to offer for his extreme assurance in presenting it to the public than a statement of the facts which explain its conception.
A short time before the actual breaking out of the present war, the Virginia Historical Society honored him with a request that be would prepare, for the sake of historic reference, a brief chronicle of what was termed the "Harper's Ferry Rebellion."
This was at once acceded to; but absence from this country, to which he returned but a few months prior to the commencement of hostilities, prevented more than a partial completion of his engagement when a higher duty called him to the field. Since that time, until recently, he has had no opportunity of prosecuting the work which he had undertaken, and the difficulties of which were greatly increased by the destruction of his original manuscript and material by Patterson's soldiers. Lately, taking advantage of a furlough which a slight wound obtained, the writer recommenced the task which he had engaged to perform.
Becoming interested in a subject, an investigation of which disclosed so much which related to the causes and objects of the present war, he has somewhat enlarged upon his first plan and indulged in a slight glance at some of the interesting features of the second as well as the first rebellion against the majesty of an established compact.
Hoping, in the language of all authors, that the Confederacy and mankind may derive no little blessing from this effort of his genius, he beseeches the compassion a generous public.
The boyhood of great men is the most universally interesting period of their lives. The mystery of greatness does not then hide nature. Then their characters may be seen written out, as it were, in boyish folly or precocious virtuous action, and, in the transparent experience of that age, something discovered of the impulses and springs of natures that soared above the masses of mankind.
The "pomp and circumstance" which usually encircles triumphant manhood is apt to conceal from common view those master motives and secret thoughts which reveal the sources of greatness. But in early youth this impenetrable halo is not yet formed, and the veins and nerves of undeveloped heroism lie patent to the vulgar gaze. Hence it is that all men love to study the boyhood of the great.
The same is true of great revolutions. Within the narrow and intelligible outlines of their small beginnings, it is often possible to contemplate the principal agencies of a commotion that is destined to change the direction of human progress. However petty they seem in their smallness, they are yet important from the representative causes which participate in them, and hence interesting.
It is pleasant, too, to discover the connection between the great and small events of history; to find the keys, as it were, to great mysteries. For there is always much mystery about great revolutions. The ignorant and the learned alike find them hard to comprehend, and though the latter may entertain
their vanity with compiling records of inexplicable combinations, coincidence, and sequences, they will neither enlighten nor amuse the less patient masses. Indeed, the philosophers themselves are apt to lose their way amid the world of moral phenomena that envelopes them at every step.
The numberless moral forces which concur in producing the bewildering chaos of such historic periods, obscure the main causes of the general change, and when out of the confusion there finally arises new ideas and institutions which, by methods known only to God, are worked out as its legitimate fruits, philosophic ingenuity is exercised rather to find out the direct causes of these than the master causes of the revolution. The very multitude of the events that crowd in such periods, without considering their causal relations, is sufficient to defy human analysis. And then the all-absorbing torrent of exciting incidents, the trifling, perhaps, overshadowing the more important, lighting up with the splendor of glorious action the incomprehensible vast theatre upon which endless lines of battle stretch, form a complex picture of history which dazzles and confounds the deepest philosophers. Reason is lost amid the thousand labyrinths it is called upon to wind, and the imagination captivated with the grand efforts of military genius or the sublimity of individual heroism. Hence it is difficult to comprehend the meaning and character of a great revolution by surveying it when arrayed in all the pride and strength of maturity. It is far better to regard it in its first openings, when the buddings of its vital principles are visible and the innumerable auxiliaries have not yet come forth to plunge all in confusion. Or, to use another figure, it is more profitable to sail up the apparently shoreless stream of human events, which represent the course of a great revolution, until we can behold its banks and determine its general direction.
The stranger who rides in a solitary bark upon the placid waters of a majestic river, where, with viewless banks, it debouches into the sea, strains his eyes in vain to obtain some conception of the nature and origin of the stream upon which he floats. Chance may direct his course until, in his ascent, he beholds, on either side, lining the horizon, the distant shores; and still the wide expanse which stretches out before him baffles his vision and confounds his judgment.
He must still ascend to where the neighboring banks, with outstretched arms meeting in the distance, bound in the rushing tide, ere he can form any idea of the character of the
stream. Here, if he pauses on this inland lake, contemplating the well-defined scene of a beautiful river, kissing with its silver waves the rock-bound shores, notwithstanding the little bays and creeks which occasionally interfere with a correct apprehension of the landscape, he will soon form a clear idea of the origin, nature, and direction of the stream upon which he looks.
If he proceeds still further, and passing in his upward course the broad valleys, fertile meadows, and winding vales, through which its gradually diminished volume ascends, he will, in time, find himself threading dark hollows and romantic gorges, through which the river, now become a brook, with mimic roar or trembling music, winds its fitful and capricious course.
Once more he is involved in confusion as to the general direction of the stream. The unsatisfactory vastness of a shoreless sea he has exchanged for the sunless and perplexing gloom of mountain forests, and, bewildered with the mazes he has trodden, he regards the brawling rivulet at his feet, and can neither tell whence it comes nor whither it goes.
Thus is it with one who explores the stream of events that make up a great revolution. If he strolls along the edges of rivulets which, successively uniting, form its head-waters, he can learn no more concerning its geographical course and general characteristics than where, with apparently boundless volume, it stretches on to mingle its crystal waves with the blue billows of the ocean. Those small beginnings which, far back in the hills of time, barely suggest the mighty tide which they will one day help to swell, can scarcely be said to foreshadow the character of events which, from their magnitude and novelty, are destined to astonish nations. And, likewise, when the full-blown grandeur of its fierce maturity is reached, when the authority of custom is rejected and the accumulated wisdom of generations despised, and millions of armed men fill a continent with the pomp, din, and horror of war, the same mystery surrounds the secret of its birth and progress.
So that to obtain a few clear ideas concerning the causes and general characteristics of a great revolution, it is necessary to contemplate it at some point of its development where neither the obscurity of its dawn nor the impervious grandeur of its meridian brightness is encountered. One must select that period when the laws of its nature are just clearly unfolded, and the scale upon which they are exhibited admits of a determination of their tendency.
Now, it seems to me that that part of the present revolution which corresponds to this is that embraced in the length and breadth of the Harper's Ferry insurrection. It constitutes the first rebellion against the compact of peace and mutual interest, which at first was gradually formed by independent States within themselves, and afterwards was increased by the addition of a confederate superstructure.
It has an individuality distinct from the second rebellion of '61, though it may be regarded as a precocious and premature manifestation of their common causes. It preceded and prefigured the second rebellion, and is of interest, not only as forming an essential part of the development of the latter, but as furnishing in its petty outlines a photographic image of its prominent features. Upon its narrow stage was acted a small drama, typical of the great tragedy which now fills a continent, and in its single actors one sees personified those human passions which have animated the respective portions of the rebel masses at the North, in their insane attempt to dethrone the majesty of established laws and institutions.
Regarding the outbreak upon the Virginia border, in 1859, in such a character, we propose to embrace, in an investigation of its various causes and in a brief narrative of their practical development, an analysis also of those moral principles which, budding, blooming, and fructifying at the North, have at length resulted in producing the present terrible war.
The insurrectionary outbreak, known as the John Brown raid, belongs to that peculiar class of events which are denominated by an astonished public as extraordinary and unaccountable, but which subsequent developments prove to have been the first indication of a new state of things, or the beginning of a period of change and revolution.
John Brown was the first practical exponent of a radical system of ideas, that, for some time before his emeute, had almost entirely subjugated the northern intellect. What had been preached by others and received by the majority, he put
in practice. Revolutions of ideas always precede those of action, but are never acknowledged to have occurred until discovered in the new forms of commonplace events.
That change of opinion which, in logical order, preceded this insurrectionary outbreak, is older than the American Republic. It may be discovered in almost any period of our colonial history. Indeed, it began with the first Puritan sect who confounded the idea of a free and equal salvation with wild notions of political equality.
The peculiar sins of the founders of the Puritan religion, and which have been faithfully transmitted to their descendants, were self-righteousness, covetousness, love of power, and envy of their superiors. While these, no doubt, are to be found among the back-sliders of all denominations, yet nowhere do they grow with such rank luxuriance, as in the soil of a bad Puritan's heart. There they flourish in the wildest wantonness, and are conspicuous among the host of smaller sins which ever attend them.
Now, with these evil propensities belonging to natures obstinate and energetic, as all Puritans are, it may be conjectured that a designing, wicked intelligence, could perform much mischief in the world.
Their overweening pride, their envy of the powers that be, and their utter contempt for that spirit of consideration for others which produces social peace and harmony, was a great temptation to the Devil to use them for the purpose of setting christendom by the ears. And this seems to have been effected by him upon more than one occasion since the origin of the sect.
The moral consequences, in their case, seem to have been according to the law that made Satan himself pre-eminent among the fallen. As he was the brightest of all who ministered around the heavenly throne, so when overcome by pride and envy he fell, he became the most active, energetic and efficient, of all the fallen spirits to plot and to do evil.
Now, perhaps it may be said with propriety, that the Puritans aimed at a higher standard of excellence than any of the reformers. Certainly the standard which they professed to have attained, was far above that which others reached. Hence, it seems, that as their virtues were of primal excellence their sins were the most diabolical, and likewise, as the qualities of faith, veneration, and obedience, seem to have made the Jews the favorite people of the Almighty, so those of
pride, love of power, and envy, seem to have made the Puritans the pet darlings of Satan. Their palm of infamy is undisputed; the judgment of history has pronounced upon their merits, and "by their fruits ye shall know them," is the equitable statute that convicts this people, before an impartial world, of a pre-eminence in evil.
Much of the history of the world has never been written, and that which has had the most skillful delineators, is but little understood. The fathomless depths of human motive, escape the penetration of the historian, and the mysterious influence of trifling events is ill comprehended. But, if the history of the Devil's administration among the armies of evil could be written in a book, it would aid greatly in dispelling the obscurity that surrounds the past. And the history of the Puritans since the origin of their religion, if faithfully depicted, would, in all probability, constitute an important chapter of the book.
The Puritans have always maintained two apparently contradictory cardinal doctrines. First, that as Jesus Christ died for all men, and salvation is offered free to all, so men are equal in all things. Second, that to the saints belong the government of the world, and, they being the saints, are the divinely commissioned lords of creation.
The first assumed an importance in their practical life that did not attach to it from its natural significance, in their system of moral truths, so much as from the social condition of its advocates from the beginning.
They were all men of vulgar origin, and of that pestilent, envious class of low people, who readily receive any theory of religion or politics, whiah brings down the great, the intellectual, and the good, to their own level. They found society recognizing the fact that they had social superiors, and so they the more readily believed and inculcated the doctrines of equality. They found themselves without that taste and refinement of the heart, and incapable of that chivalry of disposition, which belonged to their superiors, and so they proscribed these with the other sins which they professed to abhor. And thus it happens, to the surprise and disgust of enlightened mankind, that from the very foundation of their order, it has been a part of their transmitted system to despise and denounce those soft and refining qualities of the heart which, in all ages, have been recognized as the essential qualifications of gentlemen.
The second cardinal doctrine mentioned, ignores and disavows that equality which the first proclaims. It does not, however, interfere with the advantages of the first, by intruding itself in a painful proximity to it. Like two faithful sentinels, these doctrines relieve each other, never both remaining on duty at the same time. The first is always preached when the saints are of the governed, the second they have the wisdom to keep silent about, except when they get the reins of government in their own hands.
There are three periods in their history when they proclaimed the second; and during the time of its ascendency, the first was forgotten. When Cromwell, like an exhalation in the evening, excited the astonishment and wonder of mankind; when New England rejoiced in a religious persecution of all disbelievers in Puritan perfection; and now when, upon the backs of black republican masses, they have exhalted their opinions and their priests into federal power. Yet, in the several intervals between these periods, they have exhausted the powers of their rhetoric and the vehemence of their vindictive passions, in denouncing what they term the unequal asperities of the social and political surface.
It is their fate to be always busy. Like the wretched wandering Jew of romance, their lease of life rests upon a ceaseless activity. Progress, whether towards evil or good, seems to be a necessity of their restless energetic natures, and, with their propensities, some conjecture may be formed, from the very nature of the case, what an amount of evil these Puritans have accomplished. They are of that class whom the sacred writer thus describes: "The wicked are like the troubled sea which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt."
While other denominations have frequently merited the charge of bigotry, it has been their peculiar, privilege to illustrate fanaticism. They have always been fanatical and extremists in all things. The error that was committed in making their standard unnatural and overdrawn, distorted their views and petrified and deformed what little of nature they had in the beginning. In the light of their system, genuine charity is an ever retreating phantom of the brain that they neither practice nor understand, and those who are supposed to possess it differ from their fellows only in being either less covetous or more politic. For charity of heart, a forgiving disposition, and tenderness for the wretched, are virtues that
never grow spontaneously in Puritan soil, and even when
transplanted, have but the perishable beauty of the exotic, and
soon disappear. For these Christian qualities, whose importance
is so frequently dwelt upon in holy writ, they, imposing upon
their imaginations, substitute an artificial sentimental sympathy
for the remotely distant oppressed of the human race,
artfully deluding their consciences by pretending to feel for
the oppressed, when the emotion is really hatred of the prosperous
oppressor. In this Way
"They compound for sins they are inclined to,
By damning those they have no mind to."
And so profitable do they find this kind of moral exercise, that, by their devotion to it, they invariably succeed in mistaking the beams in their own eyes for spots upon their neighbor's character.
With such general propensities as these, it is not surprising that they have played the chief part in the destruction of the American edifice of civil and religious freedom. In mercy to the interest and the hopes of the American nation, Providence seems to have cast them upon the cold and bleak hills of New England. But their rebellious natures were not to be starved or chilled into a decent submission to the Divine will. And the Devil, who never forsakes his friends, converted the very hardness of their lot into the means of their destruction. From the barren rocks of New England, they regarded with wishful eyes the fertile fields and comfortable homes of their southern brethren. In their abundance, and happy lots, they discovered a partiality on the part of Deity, which made them, like Cain, rebellious against God and anxious to slay their brethren. And, meditating upon their comparative penury and the luxurious wealth of their brethren, they surrendered themselves up to an envy and hatred, which prompted them to attempt the ruin of the South. That such was their object, they did not of course admit to themselves; but, for the gratification of their own consciences, as well as to conceal their purposes, they called their antagonism to the South the antipathy of free to slave labor. It may be true, and perhaps is, that they disapprove of southern institutions. But it was the corroding cankers of unchristian envy and personal hatred, that made them at first the unconscious, and afterwards the avowed, enemies of the southern people.
Their hostility was first manifested in their orations and their writings. But when they found their arguments disregarded, and their officious counsel indignantly spurned, they abandoned the use of moral force against a stiff-necked people; and, in the depths of their fraternal solicitude and affection, proclaimed a crusade against their political brethren and advocated the military modes of rescuing people from the consequences of their own mad follies.
If it were possible to state in one word the origin of the Brown movement, and the subsequent sectional conflict of which it was an integral part, that one word would be Puritanism. Not that it was the only cause; but the principal one. Nor even that it caused it by directly making war upon the Union, and arraying itself as a sect in irrepressible conflict against it.
It was rather because it perverted other moral forces which were the spontaneous productions of northern soil, and directed them in hostility against the Union. From those evil propensities which ever characterize the Puritan nature, which germinated and flourished and fructified with great prolificacy, under the fructifying beams of the northern sun of liberty, came the baleful influence that withered the conservative principles of virtue in northern society and converted the radicalism which it helped to create into a sort of politico-religious antagonism to southern institutions.
Puritan ideas have long since subjugated the northern mind. They cannot claim any dominion except what their intellectual conquests have given them. But by means of this they have acquired some power over the northern heart.
The people of the South possess the qualities of the old cavaliers, not so much that they are all descendants of cavaliers as because the cavaliers have always been, from the beginning, the influential class. From the earliest colonial settlement they have always held the social power, and hence have given laws to all who aimed at honor or distinction.
In the North, the same is true of the Puritans; with this difference: the influence exercised by the cavalier in the South has been principally social, and, through that as a means, politics and religion have, in some measure, been effected. The influence exerted by the Puritans in the North, has been, on the other hand, principally religious, and through that, political and social.
Now, the history of mankind indisputably shows that religion, when it strays from its proper sphere, and interferes with the political or social relations, has a tendency to corrupt and degrade what it designs to improve; while social influence over politics and religion has always been, on the average, beneficial.
And thus it is that the influence of the cavalier in the South has had a tendency to produce those virtues of charity and self- respect and honor, which soften the acerbities of the political, and adorn even the religious life; while the influence of the Puritans in the North has had quite the opposite effect. For the political and social influence of sects is generally exercised by the worst of their members; while the political and religious influence exerted by a social class is generally derived from the best of its members.
Hence it is the Puritanic sinners of the North, and the most courtly gentlemen of the South, who have had to do with the civilizations of their respective sections. The result might have been easily anticipated.
Lust of power, malice, envy and covetousness, the staple sins of the Puritans, have produced in the North their legitimate fruits. By the help and direction of Satan, these Puritanic sins, animating and impelling a respectable body of well-washed, white-cravatted orators and statemen have, after a desperate struggle of eight generations, finally succeeded in vitiating the wholesome public sentiment of the North, and converting a nation of intelligent persons into a half crazed mass of malignant fiends.
It cannot be denied that there were, in the North, many monstrous isms, which aimed at the downfall of order and the rights of property, with the origin of which Puritanism had nothing to do. Many were imported from Europe, while many more were of that same radical brood, which the license of free society produces in all ages and countries. These aimed at anarchy under the name of equality. And for these the Puritans are not responsible. Indeed, it cannot be said of them that they are enemies to order.
They do not writhe under the restraint of mere governmental authority; because they are always confident of converting the laws that impose such into the means of establishing their own power. They do not so much desire freedom from control, as they desire to control.
Hence, they cannot be charged with the radicalism of the North though many of their sect are of that calling. But the crime they have to answer for is, that they, with an art super-Satanic, poured in the crucible of their envious hearts, all the radicalisms of the North, and, mingling with these their own evil propensities, produced the amalgam abolitionism. Perhaps it would be a more appropriate figure of speech to speak of abolitionism as a hybred of miscegen, being the unnatural offspring of Puritanism and radicalism. The monster realized in its promise every unholy expectation, every wicked desire, that reigned at its inception. There was nothing at which either parent aimed, but what the common progeny gave promise of being the appropriate means of accomplishment. Puritanism saw in it the means of unlimited power as well as an instrument of gratifying its pride and malice, and hence cherished it with more than paternal fondness.
Radicalism dreamed dreams of plunder and spoliation, robbery and revenge, and Puritanism with a metaphysical subtlety, sharpened by a long and successful practice upon its own conscience, soon convinced its ally of the ability of the progeny to gratify all of its bloody desires. "No slavery," was the cry of the new party, and the fiercest passions of which men are capable, agitated the masses who took up that watchword.
It was in vain people of common sense and contented dispositions pointed to the bible, and from its sacred pages read the condemnation of the new-born monster: The Devil was always on hand, in the person of some distinguished, wise, and reverend Puritan, to pervert and darken the meaning of holy writ, and to grow eloquent and shed tears of enthusiasm over some meaningless proposition about the rights of man.
Once again was heard in the world, and this time on the western hemisphere those stimulating pæans of freedom, those profane apostrophes to liberty, those disgusting invocations of the vengeance of Deity upon all aristocrats, and those maxims of agrarianism, that ever madden when they inspire the assassins of their beloved idol. It was the mournful music that always heralds the downfall of order and civil liberty. It was the same that had reverberated among the
graceful monuments of Athenian art, just before the popular lust of power and gold banished freedom forever from the city. It was the same that resounded through the Roman forum at the foundation of the empire, or was heard in nasal cadence around Whitehall as the grand preliminary chorus to Cromwell's accession to absolute power. The red was exchanged for the black banner of republicanism, and the old story of republics was repeated --the masses blinded by hatred, envy and love of plunder, digging, under the very altars of freedom, its everlasting grave.
It was not only in the pulpit and the legislative chambers that the unholy alliance of radicalism and Puritanism made war upon the southern people. Every possible channel of communication with the popular mind was seized with military precision, and made an avenue of attack. Such was the admirable disposition and skillful massing of the moral, or rather immoral forces, to capture and irritate the northern mind, that any one who reviews their successful expeditions against truth and virtue, is obliged to conclude that the Devil himself, with a complete corps of military advisers mapped out the plans and conducted the campaign in person. Newspapers and pamphlets, schoolbooks and histories, poems and romances, psalms and ballads, works on law and theology, jurisprudence and religion, moral and natural science, astronomical and gastronomical subjects, phrenology and animal magnetism, almanacs, travelling companions, city directories and advertisements of quack medicines, were all impressed to serve the purposes of Satan in propagating and spreading abolitionism.
The operations of the enemy were not confined to America, though, perhaps, the field headquarters may be said to have been established in Boston for a long time. In Europe, however, his heaviest columns were found, though these were not so actively engaged as those in America. Then, radicalism was the eldest, though perhaps not the most native to the soil; while Puritanism, under one name or another of the different ascetic offshoots of Catholicism, had existed in Europe for centuries.
Abolitionism was a God-send to the radicalists particularly, but, in some degree, to the politicians of all classes in Europe.
Radicalism needed a subject, the ventilation of which furnished a fine field for the display of their social dogmas; something to serve as an insidious means of attack, without compelling an open opposition to the existing institutions[.]
From the "uncivilized homes" of slavery the monarchical politicians were delighted to draw parallels that reflected credit
upon the benign despotisms of their own country. Connecting the institution and its well known character as a necessary concomitant of republicanism in America, upon that they founded an argument that commended feudal despotism to all lovers of order and mankind.
The liberals and conservatives were no less pleased with the new-fangled idea. They were delighted to find a subject upon which, in sweet fraternal harmony, they could join with the radicalists in their passionate denunciations of oppression.
While abolitionism was thus acceptable to the violent and the designing of all political parties, it was no less so to the vain babblers and fanatics of religion. They welcomed a theme, in the discussion of which their vanity and their selfishness was gratified by a contemplation of the wickedness of their fellow- creatures, while they were pleased with the opportunity which it afforded of gratifying their pet sins of pride and malice. In this way anti-slavery sentiments became first popular, and then fashionable. It made its way everywhere. It entered the hut and the palace alike. It was toasted with enthusiasm over the bumpers of home-brewed, and proclaimed by the most distinguished at the festive boards of the great. All classes of society adopted it with a zeal that was akin to fanaticism; and such was its prevalence that it finally took possession of the very thrones. Its profession became the evidence of philanthropy, the touchstone of humanity, and the test of European civilization. To be without it was to be barbarous and to be a slaveholder was, in the opinion of Europe, to be guilty of an unpardonable crime against universal progress.
Never, since the days of Peter the Hermit, had Europe found itself so agitated by a single emotion, so united in a single animosity. The forum, the pulpit, the court and the press, met upon the platform of anti-slavery, and recognised their fraternity in their common hatred of the slaveholder.
America and Europe acted and reacted upon each other, either, each time, gaining strength in its antipathy to slavery. And thus it was, that the last generation of the Christian world, with the exception of that of the Confederate States, were bred and educated in an abhorrence of slavery and slaveholders. Public opinion had everywhere yeilded to the energetic invasion of abolition, so far as their speculative conclusions were solicited. Nay, the South itself, at one time, tottered upon the brink of gradual emancipation. The cunning sophistries of nasal philosophers and sensational humanitarians, had at one time made serious inroads
upon the southern belief in the morality of their institutions; and their insidious attacks, through pamphlets, magazines, and school-books, had well-nigh carried the citadel of their strength before its unsuspecting sentinels were alarmed.
The work of exposing the finely spun web of abolition fallacies, was by no means difficult, however, for the South, when the necessity appeared, and the unequivocal admission of the morality of slavery by the first Christian apostles, gave weight to the arguments in its favor among a people who had not yet, like those of the North, felt the need of an anti-slavery bible.
Yet while it was easy to expose their fallacies and refute their reasoning, it was a much more serious undertaking to eradicate the prejudices which had been implanted in the soil of the youthful hearts, by their despicable school-books and histories, and had entwined themselves almost indissolubly with youth's noblest dreams of usefulness.
And, hence, though the efforts of abolition served but to illuminate and unite the southern mind, in regard to slavery, yet they did not fail to make some few converts to their doctrines out of those southern intellectual imbeciles, who confounded the obscure suggestions of early prejudices with the conclusions of their reason.
When abolitionism thus failed in its intellectual attempts upon the rights of the South, mad with disappointed malice, it abandoned itself to those bloody-minded Puritans who from the first had preached extermination of the slaveholder. In their eyes, gangrened with rancorous hate, envy, and unholy ambition, the destruction of the slaveholder became the sacred duty of every righteous lover of freedom. Under the influence of the madness that possess them, murder and robbery and arson were transferred from the list of crimes and registered among the abolition virtues. Falsehood, which had always been held by the Puritans a species of virtue when told for the benefit of the faith, was now legitimized and esteemed a most excellent accomplishment; and every description of little, low, and mean action became respectable, when performed against the slaveholder. There was no obligation of religion or humanity that did not yield to the divinely imposed necessity of exterminating the slaveholder.
Even the cardinal virtues of the Puritans, frugality, sobriety, and religious worship, all of which claimed their main influence upon the habits of the laymen, from the tendency of their practice to gratify their pride and covetousness, even these were neglected in their mad idolatry of the new God.
And, now, that they had surrendered themselves up to the delightful emotions of fanatical hate and envy, from one single stand-point of moral vision they viewed everything, and even went so far as to repudiate and denounce the obligation of obedience to both human and Divine law. Such is the history of the intellectual revolution which radicalism and Puritanism effected in conjunction, and such was the iniquitous conception in which their wicked desires culminated.
John Brown was a full-blooded Puritan. According to the statements of his worshippers, he was a lineal descendant of a saint of the same name who came across the Atlantic in the ever-memorable vessel of history, known as the May Flower. Upon the barren rook of Plymouth, this paternal ancestor and founder of an illustrious line, landed with the rest of his noble compatriots. What his especial calling was in the new colony, is buried in oblivion; but it may safely be conjectured, that, like the rest of his brethren, he devoted most of his time to tilling his farm, making butter and cheese, preaching, burning witches and hanging other less obnoxious heretics. This, indeed, may be said of most of John's ancestors, who flourished in those good old times.
The biographers of John seem to take great pleasure in asserting, with much emphasis, that all of his paternal ancestors were remarkable for their piety and firmness. This is the language of all the school-books in speaking of the character of the New England Puritans; and it should be properly understood. There were, beyond a doubt, certain virtues which the cold climate and sterile soil imposed as absolute necessities upon all New England people; and these, perhaps, flourished in the Brown family in much luxuriance. They were, in all probability, industrious and sober and frugal. Most Puritans are. But, whether these habits of life were entitled to the name of virtues, is to be determined by the motives which prompted
their practice. This is the test before a tribunal a little more reliable than the historiographer of abolitionism. People are not permitted to make virtues of their necessities and then get par estimates for them on the heavenly record. There the gold is seperated from the alloy before it is weighed, and the counterfeits are rejected altogether. One of John Brown's ancestors was a revolutionary soldier, and, "from him," say his biographers, "he inherited that indomitable courage for which he was ever distinguished."
The Puritans, as a class, are not cowards. Being extremists, on account of their overdrawn standard, they fight with the certain assurance that they are the favorites of God or the Devil. Those who doubt whether the angel of the Lord encamps about them, are perfectly sure that Satan has spared some of his household guards for that purpose. Still their courage never deserves the descriptive indomitable, but should more properly, be called dogged. For, if they have any in addition to that fanatic zeal which, in some form or other, generally possesses them, it is of that character which the bull dog has, who, once having fixed his fangs in his enemy's vitals, is so intoxicated with the charm of inflicting misery, that he forgets his own dangers.
John Brown was born in Essex county, New York, (so it is said.) From his earliest infancy he displayed those qualities of the heart and mind, which gave promise of his singular future. He was a serious, solemn child. Those sports and innocent pastimes, which children usually take so much delight in, had no charms for him. He was continually meditating upon plans of action which he never told, and which can only be inferred from his subsequent career. His ruminations took a contemplative turn. His ideas were always entirely original and singular. And, even when a child, he was ahead of his age in his apprehension of the dignity of his species. His thoughts took a metaphysical turn, rather than philosophical, as those of most children do; and while yet a mere boy, he reflected upon those mysterious things called rights. For, while other boys are always quick to recognise the existence of such things, they generally busy themselves with applying the popular notions in regard to their own case, without investigating the truth or falsity of the same. But John, as occasionally boys will do, questioned the truth of those dogmas of mankind, whenever he discovered that their proper application interferred with his interest or convenience. With a
childish precocity in logic, that invariably produces a foolish man, he disputed every rule of life that the wisdom of mankind had sanctioned, which did not agree with his abstract notions of right. Egotistical, vain and obstinate, and withal dreamy, his early speculations were in all probability, exceedingly interesting and radical. With little veneration for the wisdom of mankind, among whom, no doubt, his venerable parents were included, he yet paid great respect to what he imagined were the opinions of the Almighty. And those which he discovered coincided pretty much with his own he silently cherished, in despite of the thrashings which they doubtless frequently got for him. Given thus up to personal musing and contemplation, he very soon began to think that there were few persons in the world besides himself who ought to be proud of their existence; and, the fact that he concealed this truth in a great measure from other people, was satisfactory evidence to him that he was a perfect pattern of humility.
His first desire seems to have been to acquire wealth. This master propensity never failed to assert its supremacy in youth or old age. And, even upon the occasions when he professed to be most deeply imbued with those humanitarian notions, which never left him, he never failed to take advantage of an opportunity to make a little money.
During the war of 1812, in the days of blue lights and Hartford conventions, when the sturdy and industrious and virtuous Puritan fathers preferred peace with disgrace, to honorable war with pecuniary loss, John Brown was yet a boy. His father, no doubt, sharing in that feeling of disapprobation of the war which prevailed in New England, instead of indulging in the infamous blue-light method of aiding his country's enemies, preferred the profitable treason of selling cattle to the British and pocketing their gold.
John, it seems, according to his admiring biographer (Redpath,) being a lad of great energy, materially assisted his father in this treasonable business. It was here that he first displayed those qualities of self-reliance and boldness, which afterwards he exhibited in such a remarkable degree. It was here, too, he first displayed a more than usual ability in taking advantage of the topography of a country, to avoid or escape from a dangerous foe. His biographer does not say what other remarkable natural qualities he here, for the first time, displayed. But it is reasonable to suppose, from the character of his business,
that he here displayed, though it may be not for the first time, an unusual talent for successfully appropriating the property of others, for which he was, upon more than one occasion afterwards, quite remarkable.
"It was here," says Redpath, "that he contracted that horror of war which never afterwards left him." It is certainly not singular that a member of the human family with rational faculties, should have a natural horror of war without waiting to contract it; much less that one should do so who witnesses it. But, it does seem that, if there is any occasion when one is called on to praise war and esteem it a blessing, it is when he is not expected to fight, but is permitted to engage in an unlawful trade that the existence of war renders exceedingly profitable. There were, no doubt, moments during this period of treasonable traffic with the enemy, when the youthful John conceived a "horror for war." Sometimes, perhaps, when higgling over the price of a Connecticut bull with a British commissary, and finding his Yankee pertinacity outdone by British obstinacy; perhaps when shot at by American pickets, or relieved of his unlawful earnings by remorseless guerrillas; but certainly not when just having effected a successful run, did the sentimental John conceive his ineradicable "horror of war." It was, perhaps, with the profits accummulated in this business, that the father of John purchased the paternal estate upon which he afterwards lived, and the memory of whose broad acres ever stimulated the enterprising youth to become a landholder.
His education seems to have been limited, though from specimens of his composition, he appears to have picked up, at some time during his life, a vigorous, though executive, style of writing. His books were few, his time being pretty much occupied between the labors of the farm and the intellectual recreations which the long-winded Puritan preachers afforded. He is said to have been a young man of piety, and very attentive at Sabbath service. The latter no doubt was true, but the former must be received with a few grains of allowance. No doubt he was a punctual attendant at divine worship, and occupied a good deal of his time in meditating upon the sermons that he heard. But, he was of that peculiar class of minds, that receive nothing as truth but what contributes, in some measure, to the gratification of an inordinate vanity. This seems to have been the case at quite an early age. He was one of those children, who always know better than anybody
else, and what they do not know is not worth knowing. They have their plans in life, and they intend to carry them out. If what is preached to them does not interfere with their grand programme, it is approved and laid by for more mature consideration. If it does, the preacher is a fool, and his notions are beneath the notice of men of sense.
Now, John seems to have always felt the binding force of those virtues, industry, sobriety, and frugality. Perhaps when yet a child, with his mind still a tabula rasa, and with an original propensity to hold on with tenacity to first impressions, the propriety of possessing these virtues was indelibly impressed upon his memory. They are certainly the first that are taught to the child in all Puritan families, and frequently the only ones. The latter seems to have happened with regard to John. But it is difficult to say whether they occupied his youthful heart, to the exclusion of every other, from the want of sufficient instruction, or, because, being the first comers, they so chimed in with his personal propensities that he formed with these a charming programme of life which he could not bear to have broken. Perhaps each had something to do with his apparent ignorance of all the other virtues, besides these three cardinal ones of the Puritan faith. Certainly it is not to be presumed that he learned much about charity, and the multitude of minor virtues that follow in its train, from a father who made most of his money by supplying beef to the enemies of his country.
To an inordinate desire of wealth, John added a more than ordinary love of power and notoriety. That he was ambitious, the whole history of his life demonstrates; but his ambition seems first to have spent itself in an effort to acquire property. It was this passion which, as in the case of most all Puritan youths, possessed him entirely at first. This is proved more by his reputation for stinginess than by any unusual success. For it does not appear that he was skillful, but only anxious to make money. He lacked judgment and capacity rather than energy; and this is discoverable in his whole life. He was one of those unfortunate beings who are agitated with desires and aspirations disproportionate to their capacities. All his life he found himself overreached and disappointed. Hence it was natural for him, when finally frustrated in all his plans of aggrandizement, to resort to any desperate chance that offered itself. Natures like his, with a similar experience, are certain to terminate a career of misfortune in crime, if not restrained
by a strength of moral principle proportionate to the strength of their propensities; and this John did not have. He was, it is said, a scrupulous adherent to his theory of duty. But he got his theory from a heart prompted by sinful passion. That Puritan illusion of confounding covetousness with innocent thrift, miserly abstemiousness with temperance, and hypocritical cant with the language of real devotion, made an early victim of the ambitious John. He was none the less, however, an exemplary member of the Puritan church. Indeed, he is spoken of by his admirers as having always been a pattern of Puritan purity.
While still a youth, no doubt, he began to hear those moral lectures about human rights and human capabilities, which have generally constituted the sermons of Puritan ministers. From these he first learned to apply his radical ideas to the apprehension of the oppressed condition of the Africans of the South. It does not appear, however, that John Brown at an early period of his life, was troubled with more than a mere feeling of disapprobation of slavery, and this, no doubt, existed alongside of similar opinions with regard to existing institutions at the North. It was not until circumstances of adversity had filled his heart with the bitterness of disappointment that he turned for consolation to his speculative opinions, and, under the influence of the orators of abolitionism and his own bad passions, found a dernier resort in becoming a practical abolitionist.
This was not the usual mode by which abolitionism entered the Puritan mind. Abolitionism, generally, enters the Puritan mind from the propensity of the Puritan nature, or character, to substitute sentiment for practical religion, and from the cherishing of a constant desire to extenuate its own frailties by magnifying those of others. The natural consequence of the indulgence of these propensities is to supplant any possible feelings of love, which is goodness, by feelings of hatred and all uncharitableness, which is wickedness. And when this is accomplished, the singular illusion is found to exist of people going through all the forms and using all the language of earnest devotion, and imagining while they do it that the sinful feelings which animate their hearts are those of charity and love. Thus, it will be seen, that to satisfy a Puritan's conscience, who, like the rest of our fallen race, is always trying to patch up some kind of compromise with the troublesome monitor within, all that is necessary is to give him something that asks
for his love and hate at the same time--hatred for the sinner and love for his victim. It is all he wants to work out his own salvation, without "fear and trembling." For, he will nurse his wrath with a miser's care, imagining that from it may be derived that charity of heart and love of mankind which every man needs. So, that it may be truly said, there is an aching void in the Puritanic heart for something to hate. They like to practice the divine habit of being angry with the wicked every day. They feel that they are better and stronger when they have in their minds' eye some apparently awful sinner, upon whom they can pour out all the vials of their sacred wrath; just as the devotion of the Pharisee, in the parable, was heightened by the presence of the Publican; and, when this needful sinner does not turn up of his own accord, like his pet sin, they are sure to find him out; and they will not let him alone when once they have found him. For though, like Ephraim, he may be joined to his idols, they will not let him alone. They will expostulate and reason; they will threaten and bully, and never seem to got tired of trying to make him think as they do, while, all the time, they do not desire what they are, apparently, so anxious to bring about.
First it was the anti-christ and woman of Babylon, that furnished the fruitful theme for exhortation and self-gratulation; then came the Amalekitish people of Old England. They never tired of dwelling upon the horrible crimes of these, and of refreshing their minds with the pleasant scenes of torment and misery, that they knew were prepared for such vile sinners. Then came the witches and quakers and other miserable heretics of New England. The quakers and other heretics, who fell into their hands, were mercifully allowed the privilege of being hung; but, for those incorrigible old women, a more horrible fate was reserved. With a sense of propriety, that would only suggest itself to fiendish natures, they destroyed them in the element with which they were supposed to be most familiar, and gave them, while yet in human form, a foretaste of that punishment which they were believed to be helping Satan to prepare for others. After the witches and the quakers, came first one thing and then another; but nothing permanent or lasting. All the sources of consolation and of edification of the church seemed to have dried up; and it is probable that during this interregnum, as it were, of Satan, divisions and lukewarmness sprung up in the church. Soon, however, African slavery was introduced. But, for some time, the subject was not ventilated, on account of
many of the most prosperous elders being slaveholders and slavedealers themselves. They, speedily got rid of their property, which had always proved unprofitable, and which now threatened to be more so.
These pillars of the church having disposed of their "human chattels," to the highest bidder, and, perhaps, having put a little of the proceeds of the sale in the coffers of the saints, the storm of wrath began its mutterings against the damable crime of slavery.
Never were the dews of heaven more grateful to a parched and thirsty soil, than was the inexhaustible subject of the sins of slavery to the self-righteous Puritan mind. From its discussion were wrought miracles of reform. It served as the golden cord of brotherhood and the magic wand that melted the very heart of the people, and restored the lost feelings of fraternity and love. In the congenial ardor of a common disapprobation, a common hate, and a common envy, a fellowship was formed which the Puritans mistook for Christian fraternity.
Never had a subject elicited so much interest before; and, in a short time it became the most popular and the most profitable aversion that the priests of the faith had yet discovered. The more it was examined into, the more perfectly bewitching and agreeable it was found to be. And while it has became a proverb that, "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church of God," in the case of the Puritans it was the imagined shedding of African blood that gave unity and strength to their sect. Slavery being, essentially, an institution so opposite in its practical character to every Puritan idea of the dignity of their species, they were not slow to credit, as belonging to it, every horrible quality conceivable; while their hatred and envy of the slaveholder, made them dwell upon and exaggerate all the extravagant things they heard.
It was the thing of all things which they needed to leaven the whole Puritan camp. At last their desire had been gratified, and a field of iniquity had been found from which a prurient fancy could gather a dish of horror whenever the dyspeptic soul of the afflicted needed it. It is true that the showing up of the "hideous thing" was as full of falsehood as rhetoric; but that was no difference, their end was gained. With a sensation of delight, they studied the theme as one would polish a flattering mirror to contemplate the excellent beauties of their own countenance. Romance and history were ransacked for illustrative parrallels of the iniquitous deeds of slavery. The machines of
torture of the Spanish inquisition, the ingenious living tombs of the Roman emperors, the thumb-screws of Queen Mary, and the awful contrivances of the blood-thirsty despots of Turkey, China, Japan, and the Sandwich Islands, were mere harmless toys compared to those inconceivable engines of cruelty which every southern planter kept in his back parlor. But, it was not the inhuman cruelties or the irreclaimable viciousness of the slaveholder that provoked the holy Puritan so much as his unpardonable arrogance in holding men as property.
This was the most heinous of his sins. Had he limited himself to his blood hounds, his cat-o-nine-tails, his thumb-screws, and other like instruments of torture, the sinner had not been past praying for. But when he dared to degrade the dignity of the human species, by buying and selling men like cattle, this was an insult to the human family, and the saints, feeling themselves to be the most distinguished members of the same, could not but regard such conduct as personally offensive. That was the capital crime of slavery, in the judgement of the Puritan. For, to hold men as property, because their skins were black, was to imply that, if they, by any chance, should be caught and blackened, they, the saints, might be knocked down to the highest bidder; and this was an idea inconceivably horrible.
But, while they hated, with an undisguised bitterness, the slaveholding class as traffickers in human flesh, the envy of their worldly prosperity, their contented spirits, and their social privileges, soon converted this feeling of antipathy to a class into one of personal hostility to every individual member of it. Moreover, those qualities, too, of courage, chivalrous forgetfulness of self and a high sense of honor, which the Puritan might take advantage of, but could never possess, made the slaveholder of the South still more hateful. Like Shylock, who hated Antonio because his generous consideration for the unfortunate brought down "the rate of usance in Venice," the Puritan hated the southerner because his chivalrous traits of character, by contrast, made his miserly maxims of conduct less respectable in the eyes of the nation and, hence, his success less profitable.
Such is the process of the formation of abolitionism in the minds of Puritans generally. But John Brown's abolitionism was of not so malignant a character in its origin. It had a less sinful origin and, hence, when developed, was more dangerous. It was due more to the force of his metaphysical conclusions about human rights, than to any uncontrollable propensity to hate something. Taking for his premises those "glittering generalities" about the
inalienable rights of man, which, for forty years, have excited more interest find attention in the North than the laws of Moses or the precepts of our Saviour, he very soon satisfied himself of the wrong of slavery. He was, no doubt, assisted and helped along his way by the much preaching which it was his habit to hear. No doubt, most of the sermons that he heard related much more to the glory of liberty and equality and the dignity of the human species than to the propriety of humility and lowliness in this world. It is reasonable to suppose that he listened, with plea- sure and a grateful sense of belief, to the flattering dissertations about the great things of which his unfettered and unrestrained nature was capable. Egotistical and ambitious as he was, he drank in the pleasing tributes with eagerness, and never tired of hearing those encomiums upon the capacities of human nature that northern preachers so liberally indulge in. For, strange to say, while people in the South go to church to hear the awful reckoning of the extent of their wickedness, they, in the North, go to the same place in order to increase their knowledge of their own excellence. So that, it is quite evident that church-going is much more pleasant in one section than it is in the other; and it should not be a matter of surprise that it is more popular at the North.
As John Brown grew apace, and his mind expanded and his opinions became more fixed, it is probable that he was an original thinker upon more subjects than one. His attention, however, must have been especially given to the nature and extent of human rights.
If it were possible to enter into his most secret thoughts, we would find him, in all probability, applying those principles he had learned to the solution of the difficulties which first intruded themselves upon his attention.
He must certainly have been engaged in the puzzling task of reconciling, with his theory, the legitimacy of the despotic authority
exercised by his father in the home circle. What right his father had, to appropriate the profits of his labor, to control his movements, infringe upon his personal liberty, and even touch him up occasionally with a birch, or a strap, or a wagon whip, whichever was the handiest, must have been a hard question for John to answer in the light of his theory of human equality. Or why, his mother, no doubt, a rational, grown up woman of sense and experience, should be confined, in her sphere of duties, to the mysteries of housewifery, deprived of a voice in the county elections, and be made to obey her husband, a cross-grained old man, in all things, was another metaphysical lion in his path.
Perhaps, too, in the meanderings of his discursive faculty, he discovered an unreasonable oppression in the law that forbid him at twenty, an intelligent young man, of superior endowment and with natural capacity far ahead of all the people of his own age, from exercising the right of choosing his own political representatives. Certainly, the validity of his objection to the law was not diminished in his eyes, when he saw the privilege which he was denied granted to his father's stupid ploughman and the ignorant Dutch tailor that lived in vicinity.
Such were the kind and character of the difficulties that must have beset the youthful John in his metaphysical pilgrimage in search of truth. And, if we are to infer anything from the prompt manner, in which he adopts logical conclusions, without regard to the practical difficulties in the way, discoverable in the writings and speeches of his after life, we may reasonably conclude that he was convinced, while yet a youth, of the need of great changes in the social and political institutions of the American world.
In the first period of manhood when the love of truth is strong and reason establishes her conclusions in our speculative world with the undisputed authority of a sovereign, the youthful mind is not apt to permit the prompting of interest or passion to affect its abstract conclusions. The hopeful heart refuses to construct its dream of usefulness according to the laws of the world around it, but rather according to the apparently more equitable laws of a world of its own creation. It is then, if ever, if our system of belief has been adopted, that its logical results are stared full in the face, and truth, stripped of all extraneous covering, is seen in its native beauty.
Now, John Brown was, all his life, troubled with a moral fearlessness about accepting rational or rather irrational conclusions. He did not, as most of the cunning professors of his faith do,
hold on to the premises of his system and only adopt those logical consequences of the same which were agreeable to his interest and convenience. So that, it may well be supposed, in early manhood, when the will and faculties alike are not yet made captive by the desires and apetites, he was a believer in all of the absured and ridiculous conclusions that follow necessarily from the radical premises he had adopted. That was the difference between him, at that period, and his philosophical and religious brethren. And, when afterwards, his attention was drawn to slavery and circumstances acting upon his bad passions influenced a poor judgement and a mind given up by habit to the contemplation of unattainable objects, be became, more than any of them, a practical abolitionist.
The truth is that, until that period arrived, he was exercised so much with the business of this life that, during his more practical period of manhood, his attention was more directed to the qualities of stock and the state of the markets than to the condition of the oppressed of any country.
It was not till afterwards, when misfortune and disappointment had overtaken him and its repeated blows had rendered him desperate, that, like the murderer in Macbeth,
"Whom the vile blows and buffets of the world
Had so incensed, that he was reckless what he did
To spite the world,"
he became prepared for any scheme that promised wealth or power, and more especially if there were not wanting arguments which, in the light of his speculative opinions, either drowned or misinterpreted the whisperings of conscience.
It was not till then that he became the dupe of the more wicked abolitionists and began a career of crime and murder which terminated on the gallows at Charlestown.
Soon after reaching years of maturity John Brown took unto himself a wife and settled down into the interesting routine of a New England farmer's life. In this capacity, he employed those energies of mind and body, which fate had not yet revealed to him were intended for nobler uses. Occupied with the cares of a family, he devoted himself to the various modes of accumulating worldly gain that are known only to a Puritan Yankee.
That necessity, which has been frequently called the mother of invention, filled his mind, no doubt, with a continual round of notions about turning pennies. His active brain, stimulated by a desire for wealth, and an egotism which might be called impracticable, wrought out original plans of farming without number. Thus, deviating too far from the beaten track of his forefathers, he ploughed and he sowed a great deal more than he reaped and mowed. There was an enterprising dash about all his agricultural cultural arrangements, which was not in keeping with the rules of New England thrift. No amount of economy, frugality, or industry, could wring from the cold-hearted Ceres of the North that prosperity which his soul panted for. It was equally impossible to propitiate the divinities that watch over the welfare of flocks and herds. For, in addition to the failure of his crops, his stock died or were stolen; or, what was still more unfortunate as well as disreputable were swapped out of him. His efforts at financering were not more successful than attempts at plain farming, and he found himself, after years of indefatigable activity, more and more involved in a labyrinth of mortgages, bonds, and promises to pay. It was in vain that he endeavored to reform his system and retrieve his fortune. His egotism and his self-confidence made him despise that caution in business which every man must have who would not starve in New England; while his love of achieving new things and his uncontrollable desire to seem a man of original powers made him adopt unusual methods of farming that were uniformly unsuccessful. As he lost money he lost credit, and he was finally reduced to the extremity of struggling for a bare subsistence.
Tired, at length, with an ungrateful soil that denied him a living, and a community that in exchange for his property had left him nothing but its contempt, he determined to seek his fortune elsewhere. So, gathering up the remnants of his property that had survived the wreck, and obtaining some assistance from his relations, he emigrated with his family, about the year 1836, to the State of Ohio.
There, finding a more generous climate and soil and a people less grasping and close in their business transactions, the idiosyncracies of his character did not for some time interfere with his worldly prosperity. He soon, by dint of energy and a little wisdom derived from his former experience, increased his possessions. Fortune seemed at last to have been conciliated, and he began to cherish his old dreams of great wealth. When once he had given up himself to the fatal passion again, he murmured at the homely but abundant comforts that surrounded rounded him, and,
"Like a miser, who still pants for more,
Pined amid his earthly store."
Dissatisfied with a fate that confined him to the humble spheres of human action, and with the slow road to wealth and power that he had chosen, he again became the victim of his vanity and his overleaping ambition. This time the blow was more fell and sweeping. Confident in a judgment which, his own experience had taught, could barely be relied on, he tasted of the infatuating waters of western speculation. The small success that rewarded his first efforts, thrilled him with inexpressible emotions of pleasure, as he thought he saw near at hand the enchanted elysium of his distempered imagination, and the golden goal of his hopes. So, with increased confidence that was the more fatal as it was blind, he risked his all in a speculation and was reduced to penury.
The blow was the more severe as it was unexpected. This time, he had not lost his property piece by piece and descended from competence to poverty by slow and gentle stages. The fall was sudden and complete. From the heights of prosperity, by his own mad folly, he had been precipitated, as it were, to the lowest depths of adversity. From the abyss of his despair, he could not but turn and gaze with wistful eyes upon the pleasant fields which he had left to climb the dizzy heights beyond, and sigh, for one time in his life, for a restoration of those comforts of life which he had in his folly despised.
The occasion was one that demanded all the philosophy of common sense and the unbending resolution of a heart armed with honesty. The trial was terrible for a nature like his, and its severity was not diminished by the consciousness that it was self-inflicted. Under such circumstances, a man, however erring in judgment, if imbued with correct principles and a proper self-respect, would have emerged from the ordeal wiser and more determined. Undaunted by pecuniary misfortune in enterprising America, he would have recalled the past, only to profit by it, and entered the battle of life, if not with new hope, with new resolution. Such would have been the heroism of common sense joined to ordinary honesty; a heroism that the world never notices, but is always ready to apologize for the want of.
But John Brown was not of that class of unfortunates who, on account of their modesty and their number, are unobserved. He rather belonged to a class of the opposite quality who, not so much on account of their paucity as on the account of their performances, attract the notice of others. The overweening self- confidence which, failure after failure could not shake, the morbid love of wealth and power, which no reverses could diminish, began to work their legitimate results in his self-perverted nature. The lessons of experience which he had learned in the bitter school of adversity, viewed in the light of an offended vanity and a disappointed ambition, were disregarded or misconstrued. The chastisements he had received were considered as ill deserved, and he began to question an arrangement of things that denied success to talents like his, while the efforts of his inferiors were crowned with triumph. Such honesty, such sagacity, and such judgment as his, why could they all not force success? Did he not know that in regard to smartness, he was behind none, while in activity and energy, his superiority was admitted? Where, then, was the success which he deserved? He could not approve of, or rather he was determined not to approve of, any system of society, that, by its legitimate workings, condemned him to poverty. He could not see why others should succeed and he always fail. It never once occurred to him that his ill regulated passions were the cause; he preferred to attribute it to some defect in the arrangement of things.
There was but one explanation of the mystery satisfactory to his mind, now filled with the suggestion of an offended vanity and a disappointed ambition; and that was, that he and the other poor were honest men, while all the rich were accomplished scoundrels. And, was he to tamely surrender all his
hopes of wealth and all his dreams of influence, because a sea of villains had gotten possession of the purse-strings of society and appropriated the wealth of the country to their own aggrandizment? Was it to be expected of a man, who felt himself capable of great achievements, if his active spirit of enterprise were repressed, to lie down like a dog and queitly resign himself to whatever fate the unprincipled sharks of society allotted. Did not a man owe it to the dignity of his species, and to the claims of a nature superior to that of base sharpers, to resist this social conspiracy to deprive him of his natural rights and reduce him to a state of social bondage?
These questions, though they might have appeared difficult to other people in a similar condition, were soon answered by John Brown. In the light of his revived radicalistic philosophy, which the expediency of a busy life had far a long time ignored, but which had, with intervals of quiescence, continually reappeared and become strengthened, he began to understand everything. The rich were oppressors and the poor were oppressed. The successful were villains and the unsuccessful were ill-treated and condemned innocents. The dominions of the wicked extended wherever there were dominions, and the richer the soil and the more abundant its yield, the greater was the iniquity of the owners. The world was possessed by the votaries of sin, and the righteous and the virtuous and the humble and the honest John Browns were robbed and pillaged and persecuted without mercy or remorse. Possessed with these opinions, it was not with much hope or expectation, that the unhappy and disconsolate John Brown surveyed the future. It could no longer have much interest for him, now that he was convinced that all his efforts would be unavailing as well as unprofitable. So, from this time, for a considerable period, he seems to have been wandering about, decided upon nothing and engaged in no settled vocation. His opinions were assuming more and more a practical tendency, and he began to approach a new and important period in his career. His continued penury and want, his increasing distate for all civil employment, and his constant habit of attending and participating in the abolition meetings which were then being held everywhere in the North, began to produce their legitimate fruits upon a mental and moral soil in which they had crowded out all plants of usefulness. His radicalism assumed an abolition hue, and his political theories took a gloomy fanatical turn. To his surprise, perhaps, he commenced acquiring new notions, in his idle meditations upon the mysteries
of his destiny; and, when all hope of a human employer had vanished, the startling idea flashed across his mental horizon that he was intended for the service of the Almighty. Thus did his unextinguishable vanity dissipate any lingering traces of remorse for his folly that had ruined him, and, from the very desolateness of his condition, he obtained the means of reviving his self-reliance and his fatal ambition. Now, when penniless, bad men lose the confidence of the public, and no longer have either the inclination or the opportunity to earn their daily bread by the sweat of their brows, they generally take to supplying their wants out of the stores of their fellow men. The modes of doing this differ according to the capacity, the taste, the idiosyncracies of the thief and the nature of the society and government to which they for the time being belong.
In most countries they taker at first to pilfering or robbing on the highway. These strike the inexperienced rogue as the best, because they are the quickest and the simplest ways of gratifying his desires. But, as this kind of robbery is condemned by the laws of most all countries and disapproved of in nearly all social circles, the unfortunate ones who resort to it are apt to get a good share of infamy as well as rope. So, that it does not commend itself to a rogue in intent who desires not only to avoid the infliction of legal punishment and the condemnation of society in the practice of his thievery, but even to do it so skillfully as to excite the admiration and the sympathy of the world around him.
Perhaps, the unsophisticated reader would wonder what in the world he would follow to bring about these two apparently opposite results. A slight acquaintance with the organization of northern society, however, would soon silence his speculations upon that point. For, in the complex and ever varied structure of northern free society, the enterprising mind is not restricted to the generally received respectable avenues to fame and riches. It may abandon the usual roads of industry, and exercise its energies in one of the numerous novel ways to wealth and renown that are found only in the late United States. These ways all differ, but still are species of the same genus, and furnish every possible theatre of activity for the discontented and abandoned characters that swarm upon the turbid surface of northern society. The ordinary crimes, such as burglary, larceny and murder, are generally confined to the ignorant and vicious foreigners and negroes that infest the northern cities. They principally fill the chain- gangs, jails, and penitentiaries of the North. The native-born
villains, however, more especially those from New England who are far more deserving of such punishment, are generally well fed and dressed, and frequently the lions of society. They are gentlemen of leisure and means, voluble and insinuating knaves, and as full of fine sentiment as they are void of principle. They know a little about everything and everybody, and can entertain a crowd upon the mysteries of electricity, the immortality of the soul, or the last new reaping-machine. They are agents and secretaries of philanthropic societies, lecturers on spiritualism, mesmerists, electro-biologists, popular illustrators of natural science, quack doctors, vendors of wooden nutmeg and toothace medicine. They all belong to a class which, by general consent, is called humbugs. Not that they have a monopoly of the art, since it is well known that it is the main element of success in any business in the North, but because it is their vocation. Now, when John Brown concluded that he was incapable of winning wealth or renown in the ordinary spheres of activity, he cast about to find a new calling which would congenial to his taste and at the same time gratify his ambition and his love of money. His radical opinions and Puritan prejudices soon determined him to be a freedom-shrieker; more especially as this class were now beginning to put money in their pockets. And he took, a pleasure in justifying himself in his opinions by listening to every lunatic or knave that grew eloquent over the imaginary crimes of slaveholding. Each day that revealed to him the lucrativeness as well as popularity of his new profession, saw him more and more convinced that he had found his calling at last. And soon he added, to a settle determination, an enthusiasm that excited the admiration and confidence of the faithful. This unexpected promising state of affairs encouraged him to increase his own enthusiasm, and hence his profits and popularity. To do this, it was necessary to stifle conscience entirely; and he hesitated at nothing in proposed plans of making way with the slaveholder. This was easily done by conceiving himself to be a special instrument of Providence, who was to "slay and spare not."
His vanity and his despair, not to speak of his ambition, assisted by an abolitionism that obtained legitimacy from his radicalism and a holiness of character from the inherent malignancy of Puritanism, soon revealed the nature of his mission and, if he had any lingering doubts about the propriety of such a belief, they all vanished, when Gerrit Smith proposed to him to take charge of his negro colony at North Elba.
Gerritt Smith belonged to the least disreputable class of abolitionists. There were but two classes, the lunatics and the knaves. The lunatics lived upon the emotions of philanthropy which the sentimental achievements of the knaves excited; while the latter lived upon their per centage of the money which the former contributed in behalf of the suffering African. It was a mutual admiration society, and imbued with singular vitality. Now, Gerritt Smith was one of the wealthiest, and hence one of the most prominent members of the class. Endowed by nature, with a warm heart but a weak mind, he became an early victim to the abolition mania that was abroad in the North. The possessor of great wealth, he was too rich a prize to let slip when once he had been secured; so that it was difficult to disentagle him from the toils of the abolition knaves that surrounded him. Human vampires as they were, they heated his imagination with their well-drawn pictures of the misery of slaves and pocketed the gold which his benevolence contributed. Perpetually persecuted by them, and from "morn till dewy eve" exercised with their eloquence and their conversation, he became a blind votary of the god, and surrendered himself up to every mad scheme that could be suggested. Among these, there was none which excited more interest among the faithful, than the North Elba, scheme. This was a Utopian dream, tested in the crucible of human experience. It proposed to exhibit to the world the capacity of the African, when excluded from the malign influence of the white race, to be happy industrious, virtuous and prosperous. In the bosom of the Adirondacs. Which, with their bald and inhospitable peaks, surrounded a fertile basin of land, the colony was settled. Here, walled in from the visits of the strolling curious, or the adventurous vender of Yankee notions, the despised race were to enjoy that Arcadian repose so necessary for their intellectual and moral development. Nothing was wanting but some worthy and unselfish apostle of philanthropy to watch over their spiritual and carnal interest and point out the road to virtue and happiness.
For this sublime duty John Brown was selected. His activity and devotion to the cause had already attracted the attention of the insane humanitarian, and he determined to employ him as
the theocratic govenor of his Utopian republic. Nothing more agreeable
could have been proposed to the penniless champion of humanity. It
furnished a field for the exercise of his philanthropy, his love of power,
notoriety, and money. Here, shut out from the hateful world of white men
that had conspired to rob him of reputation and property, he could conduct a
government and organize a society according to his own ideas of perfection.
Perhaps, too, it would be the nucleus of a great settlement that, in the course
of time, would congregate there and astonish America with its prosperity, its
strength, and its virtue. And, of this new nation, he (glorious thought!) would
be regarded as the founder and idolized, by the citizens of the same, as the
father of their country. Even if these dreams were not realized, which
candor compel us to say had very little to do with John's readiness of
acceptance, still, there was the land and the labor, over which he had
supreme control, and the road to wealth and power was as "plain as a pike-
staff." With such hopes and expectations, he entered upon the undertaking.
Now, at last, his judgment was untrammeled and his means apparently
without limit; and while he appeared to be conducting an experiment of
philanthropy, he was really engaged, most of the time, in trying many pet
ones of his own. So that the result, which any one of sense might have
anticipated, was not long deferred. Being his own executive officer, secretary
of the interior, and treasurer, and uniting in himself the legislative, judical, and
military functions of his kingdom, his administration was soon attended with
more than its usual disastrous consequences. His proteges, in spite of his
moral lectures and his paternal expostulations, could neither appreciate the
superiority of his judgment, or the necessity of labor. They were lazy, filthy
and thievish. They would neither work, learn, or pray; but seemed to have
an incurable propensity for eating, sleeping, and lying. Their habits of filth and
idleness and their vicious indulgences, soon engendered diseases which,
combining with less fatal causes of depletion, gradually diminished the
population of the Utopia, until John Brown began to
"Feel like one who treads alone a banquet hall deserted."
It is as difficult, as it is unimportant, to decide whether the failure of the North Elba scheme was owing to the unfitness of the negro for a state of freedom or of John Brown for the office of their civil and religious governor. Both, however, had their full share in hastening the result, though the fact that John was the only survivor of the national wreck, and the only gainer by
the whole business, subjects him to the suspicion that in this case something more than incompetence might be charged. Whatever conclusions might have been drawn by other men from an experience similar to John Brown's, it only served to fortify his confidence in a belief, the cherishing of which had the rare charm of furnishing him the means of a livelihood. He soon became eager for new fields of activity; and so, living on the farm which his abolition sentiments had procured him, he became more and more extravagant in his advocacy of the new faith. As his enthusiasm increased and his will and faculties were given up more and more to the possession of a terrible animosity to the slaveholder, be became more fearlessly destructive in his abolition plans of reform. But be contemplated something more than mere intellectual warfare. While other champions found it a sufficiently remunerative business to cultivate the fertile fields of the popular credulity and reap crops of golden opinions with their keen-edged scythes of rhetoric, he knew that he was as incapable of successfully farming these as the barren fields of New England. So that, while these sleek and glossy priests were content with working on the productive moral vineyards of northern opinion, John Brown advocated a crusade against the South. Others had filled their pockets with money by simply filling buildings with eloquent exordiums and feeling perorations, or pamphlets and newspapers with their writings; but John had only profited by putting his own hand to the plough, and he wanted practical work to do.
A war of moral forces might do for others; but it did not suit him. He had neither taste, talent, nor time for it. A large family, as imprudent and thriftless as himself, was on his hands, and he wanted work to do that was profitable. And, so far as ambition had anything to do with his motives, these others might be the Aarons of the liberated race; for his part, he wanted to be the Moses or the Joshua. At this time, however, there was not yet a season for the full display of his plans. In the meantime, he was occupied in the most profitable and agreeable jobs of real work that the brotherhood had to let out at that time. No doubt, he exercised his philanthropy, for a, time, by running as one of the metaphorical conductors on the underground railroad. This, however, is not well ascertained; though, from the familiar business transactions which he was continually having with the principal abolition chiefs, he certainly was in their employ in some capacity. He certainly displayed, during the Kansas wars, a skill in stealing
negroes, that argued a wonderful natural ability for the business or else a long and profitable previous experience. But, it was not till the breaking out of that war that his career can be definitely traced, though there can be no doubt, from his conduct during that struggle, that he had prepared himself, in more ways than one, for the career of lawlessness that he there entered upon.
The history of the Kansas war is a part of the history of the country. It was the melancholy forerunner of the terrible sectional conflict that for the last three years has been desolating America. The fires of civil strife between the two sections, which had been so long smouldering, found first in the rich valleys and fruitful plains of Kansas a partial outlet for their volcanic fury. Upon her champaign fields and blooming prairies was the burning lava first discharged; and, from the desolate hearthstones and blackened ruins which then were seen, some conception might have been formed of the horrors reserved, when the whole land was to feel the effect of its wrath.
The struggle for power between the opposing political parties of the country had well nigh culminated, when a territorial government was established for Kansas, and each party was then, in its unscrupulous struggle for the spoils, beginning to reinforce their strength by pandering to the prejudices of the sections in which they respectively predominated. The administration, did not hesitate to take advantage of the sectional animosity which the agitation of slavery had excited at the South, while the opposition, composed now almost entirely of the Republican party, numbered in their ranks most of the anti- slavery elements in the North. The numerical power of the North at the polls, and the now almost general feeling of hostility to slavery among the masses, encouraged the ambitious office-seekers of the opposition to organize a sectional party.
This they unhesitatingly proceeded to do, using all the caution and judgment which success required. At first their platforms were equivocal, and they had the audacity to expect political assistance from the South. When there was no longer any reason for concealment, their hostility to slavery was avowed, and they declared their intention of inaugurating an irrepressible conflict. Before, however, this last step, which resulted in the famous Chicago platform, of 1860, could be taken, preparatory measures had to be adopted. It was necessary that blood should be shed and the two sections inflamed with mutual resentment before that degree of white heat could be attained which was to weld the different elements of opposition at the North in one solid mass. The struggle in Kansas between the northern and southern political ideas furnished a fine opportunity for doing this. The odium of the act, should a possible reaction take place in the public mind, prevented them, perhaps from assuming the responsibility; but they found able coadjutors and willing tools in the professional ministers of abolitionism. They, who had for years been plotting the downfall of every authority and institution that recognized slavery, made very little ado about kindling civil war in Kansas. If the cauldron did not boil, their infernal incantations would lose their charm. It was not "eye of newt and toe of frog" that satisfied the mysterious demands of their devilish art. Human blood, shed in the rage of fratricidal war, was the propitiatory sacrifice. And so, aided by the generous contributions of the Republican leaders and sustained by their political countenance and support, the powers of abolition lent all their energy to the bloody work. While efforts were made everywhere in the North, as also in the South, by individuals, and sometimes by communities, to stimulate emigration to the new territory, in order to secure it as an ally of either section, the abolitionists deliberately set to work to organize troops and ship them to the territory. This went on increasing, being boldly proclaimed and endorsed by respectable portion of the press, until it culminated in a Kansas Relief Association, whose duty was to furnish the men and money for the conduct of the contest in Kansas. This association armed and equipped, with all the materiel of war, an army, formidable at that time, and transported it to Kansas.
This army had a regular organization, with quartermasters and commissaries, and a commanding officer, subject to the instructions of a home council of priests and politicians. Their
invasion of Kansas, and their unlawful and unwarranted interference with the civil authorities of the territory, provoked a corresponding movement on the part of the Missourians on the western frontier of their State, and thus began the sectional conflict.
The attention of the Federal Government being called to the condition of Kansas, an effort was made, by the exertion of its military power, to quiet the civil disturbances. This was partially successful--all organized bands of any strength being dispersed or driven off. But the contest proved to be irrepressible, indeed, and, notwithstanding the presence of the Federal forces, a guerrilla contest was carried on between the two contending parties which every day increased in barbarity and cruelty. In vain, were the efforts of the Federal Government to restore order in Kansas, when the authors and instigators of the conflict shared in the councils of the nation. Every skirmish was a political event, every defeat a political misfortune, for one party, or the other. The abolitionists, and the more designing and unscrupulous of the Republicans, were the only clear gainers. Agitation and mutual resentment was what they desired, and they pushed on the conflict with all the energy of their diabolical natures. The fires of dissolution were kindled, and they knew it; and it was with fiendish delight they hailed the beginning of a general conflagration. As the contest for political supremacy in Kansas proceeded, and victory trembled in the balance, the pride of either section was excited and the feelings of the most moderate became enlisted. Each section was disposed to apologise for and palliate the violence of their respective champions, while there was too much eagerness to magnify the atrocities of their adversaries. Thus was increased that general feeling of sectional bitterness and hostility which the abolitionists took good care never to let die out. For they were the most untiring and the most active. As to the political result, they were perfectly indifferent, so that the general object of their wishes was approached. They wanted not so, much territorial supremacy for the free-state opinions as they wanted agitation. The Republicans wanted both; and so they besieged the northern mind with the most extravagant and exaggerated stories of southern barbarities. Thus was popular credulity abused and the northern heart inflamed, and the public mind prepared for the reception of the Republican doctrines of the 1860 platform. Indeed, so desperate were means they sometimes resorted to that
while, in one breath, they announced the inferiority of the southern race of white men, in the next, they inflamed the worst passions of the masses by artful allusions to northern cowardice and southern chivalry.
Among all the men whom they employed to harass and hunt down the pro-slavery settlers in Kansas, John Brown was the most merciless and cold-blooded. This is the verdict of his enemies and of most of his friends and admirers. Many of the Kansas free- state emigrants came to the territory for the purpose of settling or staying there long enough to assist by their votes in making it a free State. But many others came there, as mere hired mercenaries, to plunder and kill the pro-slavery men at will. Of the latter, John Brown was, from the first, the most conspicuous for the delight he took in planning and executing his expeditions of murder.
Most men came to Kansas with arms in their hands; but John Brown, at his coming, exhited a style of warlike display that could not but attract general notice, while it was received as a sort of declaration of his intentions.
His wagon was partially filled with ordnance of various descriptions, while the rifle-musket with the gleaming sword-bayonet and the naked sabre stood defiantly erected upon the sides of his vehicle.
Never did a bacchanalian devotee rush into the mad revels of the wine-god with more enthusiasm than John Brown did to the scenes of assassination and murder which Kansas then presented. Wild with delight at the prospect of a fit theatre of action for his bad and ambitious nature, before be had tasted of the oblivious sweets of slaughter, he astonished the most hardened villains of the precious brotherhood with his cruel plans of extermination. He was soon initiated into the mysteries of his order. An opportunity was not long wanting to one who watched its coming so eagerly. And it was but a short time, after having taken the plunge, before he surpassed all competitors
in the savageness of his animosity and the fiendishness of his deeds. His untiring energy and staunch devotion to the cause of abolition soon made him a leader for others who were equally unscruprulous, but less active and ardent. Adventurous if not brave, and without any of those passing qualms of conscience, that sometimes haunt the most blood-stained souls, he hesitated at the perpetration of no outrage, and shrank from no enterprise, because success was to be obtained by the use of the most atrocious means. Like a devouring wild beast he was to the families of all who did not put faith in his creed; and was as little turned from the accomplishment of his purposes by the prayers of the mother as by the srieks of the children. Busy, ever busy, with tracking and pursuing the pro-slavery man, he hunted him down with the pertinacity of a hound, and destroyed him, when found, with the ferocity of a tiger.
Such zeal and slavish devotion of time and energy to the cause of abolition could not fail to attract the admiration and confidence of its most influential priests throughout the North. Their philanthropic natures, though yet unfamiliar with scenes of blood, were no less gratified by "the heroic exploits of the stern old man." They could not but admire the courage which did not hesitate to do what the heart conceived; and though they could not reconcile his deeds of more than savage cruelty with their refined ideas of human obligation, they did not hesitate to approve of them, in consideration of the character and merits of the class upon which they were inflicted. Hence, John Brown rose rapidly in their estimation. His influence in their councils increased, and he finally came to be their most trustworthy and confidential partisan chief in the Kansas war. His popularity was by no means confined to them. The professional pirates of the free-state party thought a great deal of him. His military popularity among them, however, was due more to their estimate of his abilities as a brigand chief than as an abolition fanitic.
In the army of the free state men that the Kansas Relief Association had transported to the territory, there were few who mingled, with their motives of hostility to the slaveholder, much of that abstract devotion to the idea of freedom that the leading fanatics in the States professed. They were, for the most part, desperate bad men, whom necessity had driven to become the miserable tools of the timid, but more guilty abolition advocates of the east. Induced by the promise of pay and the hope of plunder, they had consented to engage in their bloody business,
more for the purpose of retreiving their fortunes than with the design of disseminating abolition doctrine. This was confined to those redoubtable parlor knights who, upon imaginary fields of action, frequently slay whole hecatombs of victims, but who, at the same time, are universally known to be constitutional cowards. It was the same then as now as now, with their inflammatory harrangues and tempting inducements held out, they filled their army with the poor dupes of their mercenary rhetoric. The only difference between that period and the one which commenced with Lincoln's accession to power, is, that then their influence was confined to a despicable and comparatively small class, while now, it extends over communities, cities and States.
Now, these Kansas free-state soldiers, "the cankers of a long peace and a calm world," discharged journeymen, and broken down tradesmen, unprincipled adventurers, professional roughs, and outcasts from society generally, found in their sainted John, a captain after their own heart, and a perfect prince of cut-throats. There was an apparent earnestness and consciousness of doing right about his acts of violence that gave stealing and murdering an air of legitimacy. To a love of blood and plunder, he joined a devilish cunning and an iron nerve, that made him as a marauder unusually successful. And, then, his hypocritical cant served, so well, to extinguish remorse and all disagreable reflections upon their crimes. His metaphysics were as efficient as his sword in promoting success. For every appeal of injured right he had a settling argument, and every prayer for mercy he drowned in a blasphemous denunciation of the unpardonable crime of slavery. So, John Brown became a great man in Kansas, even among the free-state men, and may be said to have exerted more influence in making a free State of that territory than perhaps any other of the partisan leaders. When the contest for supremacy was decided, and many of the free-state soldiers were rewarded with the farms of the slain or banished pro-slavery men, most of the conquerors laid down the sword and resigned themselves to the enjoyment of those homes which they had purchased with the blood of their former owners. John Brown, however, had tried farming more than once too often. He had found a business which he liked better and he determined to continue his efforts in that vineyard of his masters from which he could obtain both fame and money. He was not long unemployed[.] For, though the contest for supremacy in Kansas had been decided and victory perched upon the banners of the North, the insatiable juggernaut of abolition needed more victims. And
so, encouraged and employed by same agents who conducted the Kansas war, John Brown, with his band of cut-throats somewhat diminished, commenced a similar career of crime on the frontiers of Missouri that he had consummated with so much glory in Kansas.
Here, they continued their warfare upon slaveholders, carrying off horses, mules and slaves, until the established State authorities of Kansas and Missouri set their joint faces against the villain. The Governor of Missouri proclaimed him an outlaw, and offered a thousand dollars for his head. Many of his accomplices were also embraced in the proclamation of outlawry. The return of something like peace, followed by this proscription of old Brown and some of his associates, made his former confederates among the free-state men, rather cool in their treatment of him. Many, now that the stimulating period of conflict was over, sickened at the recollection of the villain's atrocities which once had created their applause and "began to heave the gorge," and deny his claims to either sympathy or admiration. Even some of his old bosom comrades, who, having obtained comfortable farms, were now desirous of becoming useful and respectable members of society, gave him the cold shoulder. Not so much because they did not relish the society of a wretch who was steeped in every crime, as because they had no idea of being annoyed with a disreputable, penniless old outlaw. For though his career of robbery and murder had been more bold and public and, perhaps, more outrageous than their own, the guilt was about equally balanced. Some conception, however, may be formed of the nature of the eccentric barbarities of the abolition champion, when men whose hands were yet red with the blood of the innocent, shuddered, it is said, at the sight of him, and studiously avoided his society.
Of all the atrocities which popular belief assigned to him, the murder of Doyle was the most horrible. The story of that deed of cruelty, like an evil spirit, haunted Brown wherever he went; and the images of horror which its relation called up, froze the blood of the most hardened villains.
According to the statements of the cotemporary newspapers, which were subsequently corroborated by testimony under oath, before an investigating committee of the then Federal Congress appointed to enquire into the facts of the committal of acts of violence in Kansas, the substantial account of that outrage is as follows:
John Brown, inflamed with resentment for some trifling ill-treatment
that one of his confederates had received at the hands of the pro- slavery men, determined to wreak his vengeance upon some one. Unable to reach the perpetrators of the injury or any of their friends or sympathizers, without running too much personal risk, he determined to gratify his now uncontrollable thirst for blood upon a man, whom every one knew was a neutral and perfectly inoffensive. John Doyle, who lived in a sort of neutral district, and who had never been known to participate in any way in the intestine struggle, was subject, however, to the damning suspicion of disbelieving in John Brown's divine right to exterminate the slaveholders. This was his crime, and now that the blood-thirsty monster was raging with disappointed malice and suffering for the want of a victim, this was enough. So, proceeding with the stealthiness of a panther upon the unsuspecting object of his wrath, and under cover of a darkness which a moonless midnight afforded, with a small party he surrounded Doyle's house and then entered it with violence. Doyle, disturbed from slumber by the noise of the entrance, demanded the meaning of the nocturnal visitation. The only reply was a demand for himself and family to surrender, followed by a rush of the villains who secured them all. It was in vain that Doyle cried out that he had never done anything, or said anything or thought anything of an unfriendly character towards Brown. In vain did his wife, on bended knees, with entreaties to which the anguish of despair and floods of tears lent eloquence, beg the poor boon of her husbands life. In vain did his little children and lisping infant, join their prayers with their mother and scream with grief at the feet of the iron-hearted pirate. A gloating look of triumph upon his grim countenance was the only answer to their petition, and the father was dragged from the embraces of his family to undergo the doom of death which Brown had already intended to inflict. Tearing him from his wife and children, who clung with the tenacity of despair, he dragged his shrieking victim out into the woods, and, within the hearing of his heart-broken wife, riddled him with bullets. Then, as if impelled by a spirit of slaughter which was as insatiable as it was pitiless, he again entered the house and seizing the two eldest boys, before their mother's eyes, carried them off and slew them as he had done their father. Left, at last, with a small remnant of her beloved family to mourn in drear helplessness the desolation of her heart and home, Maria Doyle searched for and found the reeking
corpses of her husband and children. There, by their side, the red ground and beneath the starlit heaven, she poured forth a prayer for mercy and vengeance, that only the unutterable anguish of a broken heart can inspire. Two years afterwards, when John Brown was closely immured in a felon's cell at Charlestown, Virginia, awaiting the execution of the doom which his crimes had more than once deserved, Maria Doyle wrote him a letter, of which the following is a copy:
"CHATTANOOGA, November 20, 1859.
"SIR: Although vengeance is not mine, I confess that I do feel gratified to hear that you were stopped in your fiendish cause at Harper's Ferry with the loss of your two sons. You now appreciate my distress in Kansas, when you then and there entered my house at midnight, arrested my husband and two boys and took them out in the yard, and in cold blood, shot them dead in my hearing. You cannot say you done it to free our slaves, we had none and never expected to own one; but it has only made me a disconsolate widow with helpless children. While I feel for your folly, I do hope and trust you will meet your just reward. Oh, how it pained my heart to hear the dying groans of my poor husband and boys.
Such is the story of the demoniac deed of cruelty, the narration of which through Kansas, made even the professional cut-throats of abolition shudder at the sight of Brown. His slaughter of an inoffensive man and his two boys, gave him a pre-eminence in crime that appalled the imaginations of the most blood-stained.
Yet this is the man who has since become a god and is almost adored by a party who hold in their hands the destiny of the northern States. The tongue of the orator and the pen of the poet preserve and magnify his heroic achievments in the cause of freedom. He is held up as a model for the religious as well as the patriotic, and the countless hosts of the North march into battle invoking in song the guardianship of his sanctified spirit.
While, however, many of the more fastidious villains did not conceal their aversion to Brown, and refused to associate with him, there were plenty left, whom the hope of plunder could easily blind to his horrible traits. They wanted profitable work to do, and, as they had long since sold themselves to Satan, they were not going to let a mere retching of the fancy deprive them of a successful leader. And there was never wanting, at any time, staunch supporters and enthusiastic admirers of the "hero of Ossawattomie," among the household and familiar priests of the abolition god. These confidential and domestic counsellors of the popular divinity, who conducted the mysterious rites of the interior altar, and whose secret councils were held behind the veil which limited the reach of public penetration, they, of course, never thought of abandoning such a profitable fanatic as old Brown. They knew the "service he had done the state," and, if they were not grateful, they were at least anxious to retain such a valuable servant[.] What had excited horror in others not so deeply dyed in villainy as themselves, only excited in them sentiments of esteem and affection. So, these venerated apostles of the faith, instead of snubbing the invaluable old murderer, gently stroked the silver hairs of the fierce old fellow, and, patting him on the back, called him by endearing names. They supplied his wants, gave him money, and revived his drooping spirits.
The prospect of more lucrative and agreeable employment, and the increasing certainty of an immunity from public scorn or interruption from the officers of the law, now that public opinion was every day yielding to the systematic attacks of abolition, caused Brown to entertain more extensive and more daring enterprises. Now, that he was outlawed in Missouri, abhored in Kansas, and persecuted by his creditors everywhere, it was more than ever necessary to do something. So, driven by despair and deluded by the whisperings of an ambition which, by this time, a vindictive malice inflamed, he listened to the flattering language of his artful employers, and, with their assistance, conceived the mad plan of invading the southern States and exciting a general servile war. His own experience in Missouri, where he found the slaves ever ready to become the dupes of any bold, positive person, made him imagine that they would fight for the emancipation
of their race, as quickly as they would run away from their masters, to enjoy what they were led to believe, was an elysium of bliss in the North where the glorious sun of freedom furnished its votaries food and raiment without money and without price. Doubtless, too, the infernal book of Helper, which did so much to poison and mislead the northern mind, excited no little influence, in determining his judgment, with regard to the practicability of arraying the non-slaveholding class against the slave holding. A bold spirit, a mind original and calm, with a small band of brave and well drilled men, was all that was wanting, he proudly imagined, to ignite the combustible elements of southern society and envelope the whole cursed section from the Potomac to the Rio Grande in one general conflagration. The first two of these indispensable requisites, he felt sure that he possessed; and his wily employers promised him the third as well as those sinews of war which he would need, to put on a war footing his army of black and white recruits. These astute mentors were perfectly aware of the madness of the scheme, and chuckled in their sleeves at Brown's gullability. They knew that there was not the slightest probability of success for Brown; but, nevertheless, their object would be gained. Agitation, agitation, was the source of their vitality, and this scheme, if attempted, no matter with what result attended, was certain to produce it. There is no doubt in the world that the grand plan was originally their own, and that Brown's expedition against Virginia was only a part of it. There was a vastness about it disproportionate to his ability as well as his command of resources. Indeed, their underground "railroad system," which had been progressing for years, formed an appropriate and natural culmination in the conception of the grand plan. For a long time previous, abolition emissaries and agents, under every conceivable disguise, had abused the hospitality and imposed upon the confidence of the southern people. And so John Brown was admitted among this army of secret spies, and for a time, clothed with some authority, over them. The grand plan was a widely organized scheme to excite a servile insurrection in many of the densely slave-populated districts of the South. These were selected according to their relative geographical contiguity and the character of their population. The United States census returns had been studied with a devilish discrimination, for the purpose of gaining the desired information. The number of whites and blacks, males and females, and adults of each race and sex, were ascertained and set down. As an evidence
that these insurrections were not expected to be immediately crushed, a connected line of these devoted districts was selected, extending from the South Carolina coast to the western frontier of Arkansas. Commencing at Georgetown and Beaufort, South Carolina, they stretched along the Savannah and through the interior of Georgia to the Chattahoochee river, in the western part of Georgia. From thence, the prospective hurricane of desolation was to sweep through contiguous and appropriate districts, in the neighborhood of the Alabama and Tombigbee rivers, to the eastern border of Mississippi. Thence westward, across the river, to and along the Red river plantations to the western frontier of Arkansas, where, in all probability, a motley column of Indians, mulattos, negroes and white men, were to be precipitated from the redeemed plains of Kansas. This was the original plan which was prepared without much assistance from Brown. His particular business was to make a military diversion, about the same time, somewhere in Virginia, and thus generalize the sectional bitterness by involving the border as well as the cotton States.
In all probability, it was only some of the most deluded fanatics of the North who believed in even the temporary success of either effort; while the smart and more dangerous ones, who used their dupes, as all unprincipled men use their despised instruments of villainy, knew that most of the overt actors in the affair were likely to suffer death if caught; and so they took great pains to cover up well their footprints. In all their correspondence with Brown, they used fictitious names always; and held secret audiences with him.
Now, while Brown was thus entrusted with the particular duty of invading Virginia, his boldness and untiring activity so gained upon the confidence of his employers, that he finally came to exercise a general superintendence over the whole affair. This was rather permitted than authorized; for he was always ready to assume laborious responsibilities, if they increased the scope of his authority. But while his peculiar function was to sound the non-slaveholding, riff-raff population of the mountains of Maryland and Virginia, and prepare the negroes near Harper's Ferry for his coming, that of the rest of the brotherhood was to fix the mine that at was to upheave the cotton States. The plan was in character with the series of other plans of destruction, which they have tried, without success in this war, beginning with the "anaconda" and ending with the "attrition." This, perhaps, might be called, in the graphic and select nomenclature
of the imaginative writers of the North, the volcanic or the internal convulsion plan.
John Brown set about making the preparations for his part of the work with his usual diligence. The field of labor was congenial and gratifying. His vanity was tickled at the grandeur of the job, and his ambition and avarice were excited by the prospect of reward. Visions of fame, as the liberator of a despised race, mingled with his dreams of plunder, power, and vengeance. The very inception of the vast undertaking had intoxicated him with the emotions of the sublime. He felt his soul expand as he dwelt upon the glory of the attempt, and already, on the wings of imagination, heard the thundering plaudits of the emancipated millions, the dying shrieks of the hated slaveholder, and the congratulations of his fault-finding friends and creditors. But, should these expectations prove groundless; should the degenerate non-slaveholders and ignorant slaves let slip the golden opportunity to gain independence, he would still have the benefit of disbursing the money invested by the brotherhood in this enterprise, and would, moreover, have the pleasure of killing a few slaveholders; and then, by means of prisoners as hostages, could secure his personal safety and bide his time. Such, no doubt, as his subsequent conduct showed, were the reflections of Brown. His activity and restless energy in making the necessary preparations, seem to have won the confidence of his employers, and he was, apparently, invested with more and more authority. His active and busy mind, seemed to have interfered in all the arrangements, whether of the military or combustible kind. Now, he is in Iowa, superintending the drilling of his army of invasion; sometimes enquiring into their military progress and enlightening them in one moment upon the art of war, by relating some of his own experience in Kansas, in the next, pronouncing a sermon on the crime of slavery; sometimes higgling with their lanlady about the amount of their board bill. Now,
he is in Chicago or Boston, in close confab with the moneyed elders of the faith, and explaining the necessity of larger contributions. He seems to be ubiquitous, embracing the whole of the old United States within the limits of his care and supervision. Sometimes, like an ancient apostle, he travelled from point to point, leaving a crumb of comfort wherever he stopped, blessing the radicals and stirring up the dough-faces, with his brawny logic; sometimes visiting arsenals and armories, and adding to his already large stock of information precious bits of facts about the laws of projectiles or the range of different calibres; sometimes strolling through the South, picking up scraps of gossip and scandal, and prying into the domestic affairs of the people whose hospitality he enjoyed.
His curiosity, like that of all Yankees, was as universal as it was impertinent; while his vanity was beyond all description ridiculous, more especially when be came to differ with southern men. There was no subject with which he was not entirely familiar, and perhaps more thoroughly versed in than even other people, but especially slaveholders, could hope to be. If one adduced propositions which he had not heard of, of course they were false, for if they had been true, he would have known them. This assumed infallibility was not confined to those ordinary subjects of conversation among the unlearned, but to the most abstruse and mysterious. He differed from most Yankees in one respect. While they usually ask a great many questions in regard to people's affairs, they do so apparently from the expectation that the knowledge acquired will some day or other be of some benefit to them. But John Brown asked questions more for the purpose of showing his own knowledge than for any other. Still there was a kind of method in his madness and some consistency in his meanderings and strange enquires.
The irrepressible African was the central object with which everything of interest to him had some connection. He adopted every variety of disguise to conceal a design which no man would have risked his reputation for common sense by suspecting him of. Now he was a travelling agent, now a vender of clocks, and now a searcher after ore veins. Some- times he seems to have disguised himself, from a mere force of the habit of masquerading through the country, and at other times from the mere love of novelty. It must have been with this motive, that he, a six-footer, donned the habilliments of
the other sex, and promenaded the country over in hose and petticoat. There are a great many persons who asserted most positively that he did so. For, as soon as they saw him in prison, they, without concert, agreed in pronouncing him the exact counterpart of a strange-looking woman that had been in their neighborhood, upon whose extraordinary height and stout appearance, all had remarked, as well as the odd things she did and her eccentric manner of locomotion. While he was thus engaged with exercising a general superintendence over the development of the grand plan, it was upon Harper's Ferry and its environs that he directed his particular attention.
Nearly two years previous to the date of the eruption at that place, he sent his chief assistant, Cook, to reconnoitre and obtain the information necessary to the perfection of the plan. Cook was an ordinary specimen of quite a numerous class in the northern cities, at that time. He was a half-educated, amiable coxcomb, whom idleness and dissipation had ruined, and who, having exhausted his money and his credit, had chosen the calling of a freedom-shrieker, rather than that of faro-dealing. His vanity was nearly as great as Brown's; but he was without any of that bull- dogged force of character that his leader possessed. He had participated with Brown in much of his performances in Kansas, and like him, having been outlawed by the Governor of Missouri and having a reward set on his head, was desperate and prepared for any mad scheme. He was a sentimental, dreamy youth, of a sanguine disposition, and full of vagaries. His principal accomplishments, at least those which he most prided himself upon, were skill in shooting a pistol or dashing off a verse of poetry. Without principle or courage, conceited and visionary, rather than ambitious, he was a fit character to become a tool of old Brown. And such, in a great measure, he was. He came to the Ferry, according to the instructions of Brown, and employed himself in sounding the population, white and black, and gathering information of every variety. While there, he visited the farmers of the neighborhood and county, finding out the number of their slaves and the other valuable property which they possessed. Brown himself, from time to time, appeared at the Ferry; disguising the object of his visits by pretending to be looking for ore veins.
In order to operate with still greater security, Brown rented the Kennedy farm, a small mountain place in the mountains of
Maryland, and situated about four miles from the Ferry. From this farm to the Pennsylvania line, was a seldom-trodden valley or hollow which was the thoroughfare Brown adopted for his channel of travel and communication, and through which he expected to bring his army of invasion. With the Kennedy farm for his field headquarters, then, and the necessary reconnoissances having been made, he proceeded to mature his warlike preparations. Having, with great difficulty, obtained from his employers a sufficiency of funds, be proceeded to expend it in that kind of material of war, which he thought he would most need. Besides an indefinite quantity of picks and shovels, ropes, and other similar stores, he purchased two hundred Sharp's rifles, two hundred Maynard revolvers, and about one thousand spears. The rifles and pistols, he designed (as he told Governor Wise,) to put in the hands of his expected white recruits, while the spears were intended for the negroes. He had been promised aid, he said, from Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, North and South Carolina, and Canada. With an army then, consisting of blacks and whites, he expected to make the Blue Ridge his base, and, advancing along its top, southward, extending as he went his conquests and his power, he expected to penetrate into Northern Georgia and form a junction there with a column, which was to proceed in the same triumphal manner from Beaufort, South Carolina, along the route which has been already defined.
In this way, the southern States were to be interpenetrated, bisected, and trisected, and heaved asunder generally, by the magnificient workings of the volcanic plan. The absurdity of the scheme is apparent to every one; but the madness of the plan does not seem so great, when it is recollected how the whole northern people, as well as their military leaders, have more than once since, indulged in similar visionary plots for our destruction.
While we have thus given our special attention to that portion of the rebel conspiracy which was more directly connected with the outbreak in Virginia, we have been lead to pass over a very important event which, from the date of its occurrence, and from the flood of light it throws upon the character of the rebellion, was entitled to an earlier notice. This was the grand radical convention held by the conspirators at Chatham, West Canada, May 8, 1858.
The whole proceedings of that august body of reformers, as recorded by Mr. Kagi, the secretary, is before us; and, for the benefit of the present besotted generation, and the innocent millions yet unborn, we propose to allude to some of the striking features of that momentous performance.
The convention was composed of thirty-five illustrious members of the human species. Ten of these were white men, while the remaining twenty- five presented in their array of physiognomies an interesting mosaic, in which several of the elementary tints of the rainbow might have been discovered, The genuine African, with his curly locks and ebony countenance, intermingled, at intervals, in the bright galaxy, served to set off to advantage the red, yellow, and dusky-brown heroes who made up the main body of the assembly.
After the meeting had been called to order, and the usual preliminaries of
organization completed, Mr. Brown, it seems, took upon himself the onerous
duty of stating the object of the convention. This statement was followed
up by the aforesaid Brown's presenting, for the consideration of his fellow-
senators, what he modestly termed a "plan of action." This "plan of action"
was embodied in a brief preamble and forty-eight articles, with a schedule,
to all of which the reader's attention is especially invited.*
In the organic law, of the proposed government, which it was gravely contemplated to substitute for all other governments then in existence in the United States, there were many novel features. But those profound legislators,
who had more than once defied the minions of civil authority, were neither appalled at the novelty of the proposed changes or the stupendousness of the undertaking. It is impossible to learn from the minutes of the meeting what flights of eloquence or stunning appeals marked the progress of the discussion of the merits of the "plan of action." We only know that, after a full and "satisfactory" discussion, the convention unanimously adopted Mr. Brown's "plan of action."
This "constitution of the provisional government" is of interest, not only as revealing the designs of the plotters of the first rebellion against the internal peace of the Great Republic, but also because it exhibits, in a systematic whole, (even as early as May, 1858,) the "plan of action" in a great measure followed by the leading insurgents in the second rebellion. What was then and there agreed upon by these radical outlaws is the almost identical compact which the course of the present war has revealed, as being the implied league of blood between the grand rebels who, for nearly four years, have held armed possession of the former national capital.
The main point of the preamble is to announce the fact that the new government especially contemplates the accession of "the proscribed, oppressed, and enslaved" people of the United States. And this, and the qualification for membership in a following article, intimates that neither sex, color, age, political or social condition, will be at all considered against any one. So that all, negroes, jail-birds, convicts, and disappointed people of both sexes, broken-down tradesmen or disgraced gentlemen, penniless youths and strong-minded women, are particularly invited to fall in.
When it is borne in mind what a number of people was embraced in these classes, in the North, and that Brown and most of his confederates belonged to the "proscribed and oppressed races," the importance of this point will be appreciated.
Articles second, third, fourth, and fifth are devoted to a description of the different branches of which the new government is to consist and the various powers belonging to each. In these respects the rebels condescend to copy after the old Federal Government, making a liberal provision, however, for whatever important additions military necessity might require. The changes, as there proposed, have been, in a great measure, adopted by their astute successors in treason, though, it must be confessed that, in one or two instances, the latter have been a little anticipated. For article six says:
"All enactments of the legislative branch shall, to become valid, during the first three years, have the approbation of the President and the 'commander-
in-chief of the army.'"
Thus, the commander-in-chief is clothed with a co-equal veto power with the President: This individual, it will appear in reading the "constitution," is expected to be a very important personage. In addition to other prerogatives just mentioned, he is "to have the direction and control of the army and advise with the, allies." He, also, substantially possesses the power of appointing the Secretary of War, and can remove him at pleasure.
Now, in respect to this functionary, it must be confessed that no kind of enactment by the rebel congress yet gives him all the power in the Lincoln government that he had under Mr. Brown's. But, every one must confess that, every day, the Yankee commander-in-chief is growing in importance at the North, and, from all appearances, he will soon be, if he is not virtually already, as powerful with the second as he was with the first rebels.
We now come to the powers of the central congress as laid down in the Chatham constitution. Those articles which describe these may be safely regarded as a pretty correct inventory of the powers which the present rebel congress at Washington have helped themselves to already.
In the organic laws which either rebellion professes to be governed by, the existence of the States is acknowledged; but, practically, neither government contemplates anything more than mere nominal authority as belonging to the States. The present rebel congress pays no regard to the obsolete idea of State sovereignty. Indeed, it seems to ignore their existence, except as mere passive agents to execute its declared will.
Articles sixteen and seventeen describe some of the special duties of the President and Secretary of State. These are rare and interesting, as furnishing such a full account of a few of the special duties which Messrs. Lincoln and Seward have felt called upon to perform for several years past.
No doubt, when their proposed schemes of confiscation and subjugation are completed, they will have a much jollier time performing all the special duties imposed in the aforesaid articles. What a field for the exercise of their administrative talents will the appointment of preachers, school-marms, innkeepers, and intelligence agents, afford!
"The places of deposit and sale," alluded to in article seventeen
which the President and Secretary of State are to select, doubtless are for the purpose of facilitating the disposition of stolen valuables of various kinds. It is not, positively, stated that they are to superintend the sale of the aforesaid valuables. But, it is not to be supposed that Mr. Lincoln will stand on technical trifles, when such a fine opportunity for playing the popular clown will be offered to him, as acting in the character of a national auctioneer. In the far distant future, we think we see him now, dwelling with vulgar vivacity over the qualities of the stolen ware, and cracking innocent jokes at the expense of the quandam owners, while the dear mob around split their greasy sides with laughter.
The remaining articles of the "constitution" are mainly devoted to an exposition of the ground idea of the whole "plan." This ground idea is, evidently to build up, on the ruins of existing laws and institutions, a sort of Utopian despotism, in which the "enemies of the government" are to be deprived of their capacity to do further evil by the loss of their liberty and worldly gear, while the loyal citizens are to form a sort of aristocratic fraternity, whose patriotic duty it will be to punish disloyalty at all hours and upon all occasions "promptly and effectually," and "without the formality of a complaint." The confiscation of the property of all slaveholders and "other disloyal persons," and the various modes of breaking their spirits and reducing them to the condition of serfs, are dwelt upon at great length, as important means for the establishment of the grand Utopian empire.
Occasionally, a brief article steps in between these terrible enactments, to enjoin upon the loyal the practice of a few of those virtues which the Puritans have generally practised from motives of meanness. Such, for instance, as sobriety, industry, and economy.
The duty of labor is gravely recommended to all, not, as it appears, from the formidable preparations made for swindling and robbing, that any such necessity is expected to arise, but, because there is a supposed puritanic virtue in labor which elevates and dignifies the Yankee species.
Here also, we find elaborated, for the benefit of the abolition proconsuls, who are expected to rule over the conquered districts, many of those charming instruments of moral torture, such as oaths of neutrality and allegiance, registering, etc., which Butler, Milroy, and others, have used with so much success. Doubtless, these worthies will be quick to deny that they
borrowed any of their bright ideas for inflicting cruelty, from the Chatham "plan of action." The security of their own fame, among their illustrious fellow-citizens, requires that they should assert the claims of their own originality.
While we are willing to admit this, we are compelled, for the sake of truth, to insist that the same spirit of evil must have inspired each great original, in order to explain the wonderful similarity of their devilish creations. In other words, that spirit of malignant antipathy to the southerner, united with the love of greed, which exists in all Yankees, was bound to produce that class of thieves and beasts, the existence of which was recognized in the Chatham constitution, and of which Butler and Milroy are distinguished members. The plotters of the first rebellion were bolder, because more desperate; but they had not the serpent wisdom of the plotters of the second rebellion. They committed the folly of admitting to each other, and even putting in black and white, some of the terrible things, they foresaw must be done in order to consummate their "plan of action."
The leaders of the second rebellion were certainly as bloody- minded as their predecessors in crime, and forsaw with more distinctness, the terrible means they would have to adopt to insure success. But they were, however, too cunning to alarm the fastidious sensitiveness of their malicious but timid supporters, by anticipating the horrors of the future. It was necessary to entangle their poor dupes, step by step, in the meshes of debt and crime, before any of the truth could be revealed.
From the innovations and changes which have marked the inception and progress of the second rebellion, the assumption of executive power, the blotting out of State lines, the introduction of a gigantic system of confiscation and robbery, the organization of an extensive and ubiquitous army of spies and agents, one is forced to conclude that, the moral or immoral causes which moved the first rebellion, moved also, and still sustain, the second. The striking similarity between the proposed plan of the Chatham conspirators, and the one that has already been adopted by their successors in treason, is truly wonderful. And one is almost ready to believe that Seward and Lincoln have been using the Chatham constitution as a pattern after which to model the despotism which they now enjoy at Washington.
There is one feature in the Chatham "plan" which, more
than any other, vividly calls up the majestic forms of Messrs. Lincoln and Seward. Near the winding up of their provisional document, occasion is taken to inform the world, with all the gravity of mighty legislators who feel the weight of their responsibility, that the whole object of their scheme is to amend the constitution, and not to overthrow it.
How naturally, upon reading this "article," the mind recurs to the language of Mr. Lincoln, when he has just promulgated some one of his numerous despotic edicts. Every act of dissolution he declares, is for the sake of the Union. With the knife yet reeking in his hand, be proclaims that the Union has been stabbed for the good of the Union. Oh, Union! what crimes have been committed in thy name. Indeed, it seems as if the curse which overshadows the land, is a divine punishment for an idolatry of that same Union. Since, in its name, and under the cloak of its worship, has been introduced every evil which, for the last half of a century, has afflicted this country.
Five years ago, when people read this "Chatham constitution," they could not but smile at the many queer provisions in it, for the administering of oaths, the registering of names, and the various punishments for disloyalty. They, invariably, rose from its perusal with the conviction, that the conspirators at Chatham were as mad as March hares. But how different do those same persons think now. At least, if they still insist that the conspirators of 1858-9, were mad, they must also admit that the same madness had already, in a measure, seized upon a large majority of the sovereigns of the North.
While Brown was thus engaged in laying the foundations of a new government which was to supercede the old and rotten one of '76, and was gradually maturing his plans of military invasion, there was another "Richmond in the field," endeavoring to contest the palm of success with the "Kansas hero."
Colonel Forbes, an English abolitionist of the Exeter hall school, was, for some time, a co-laborer and afterwards a formidable
humanitarian rival of Brown. He was connected with Garrabaldi in his revolutionary attempt of 1848, in some capacity, and afterwards turned up in this country, during the Kansas war, as one of the abolition mercenaries.
After the restoration of quiet in Kansas, he was employed by the abolition leaders, to assist Brown in making the necessary preparations for the consummation of the volcanic plan. Brown, perhaps desirous of not being interfered with in his arrangements, and unwilling to share the profits of disbursing the money of the brotherhood, assigned Forbes to the duty of drilling his raw levies in Iowa. Forbes acted in this capacity for several months, moving his corps-d'-armee of sixteen men from village to village to avoid suspicion, and drilling them daily in all the severe exercises of a soldier. Finally, however, the pay and provender which he received from the chief not coming up to his expectations, Forbes made complaint to the higher authorities. Getting no satisfaction, he abandoned his post and went in person to the pillars of the order to state his case and demand the balance of pay that was due him. They referred him to the abolition commissariat general. This distinguished official could do nothing for him, and Forbes discovered that he had fallen among thieves.
Greely, the most thoroughbred villain among them all, when Forbes made application to him, retreated behind the strict letter of the law, and pleaded that he was not bound by Brown's contract. Sanborn, the secretary of the Emigrant Aid Society of Boston, and Howe, an infamous abolitionist of the same city, made similar excuses. Thus disappointed all around, and unable to procure the means of support for his family, Forbes commenced denouncing all the New England abolitionists. Still, his pecuniary embarrassments admonished him not to alienate his only employers by untimely imprudence. And, so, again and again he besieged them with petitions and entreaties. These having failed, he tried the efficacy of making a suggestion as to the folly of Brown's undertaking. Necessity gave an impetus to his genius, and he formed a new plan for prosecuting the noble work which had met with such success in Kansas, and this, he submitted, was far better than Brown's. This was, simply, an organized system of stampeding slaves along the border States and thus driving the institution farther South.
However acceptable any plan of this sort might have been to Greely & Co., it did not approach Brown's insignificance or
value. It was too slow a process. This they had learned by experience. Besides, their object was not to free the slaves so much as it was to agitate the question and, upon the excitement which this agitation would cause, to make fame and name and money. And then, there was their vindictive malice to be gratified; and Brown's plan was likely to cause some blood to flow. So the abolitionists would not listen to Forbes.
Driven to despair by the avarice and the folly of his abolition masters, he cherished, now, nothing but resentment towards Brown and the rest of them. So, inflamed with indignation, he denounced the Harper's Ferry plan to many of the leading repulicans. To his astonishment, they manifested as little surprise or concern as Greely & Co. He found that the leading republicans not only knew all about it, but were perfectly indifferent as to what might come of it. Forbes had been too long a plain, blunt scoundrel to understand the complications of northern politics. He could not understand how abolitionists and republicans alike cared little whether Brown failed or succeeded; so he made the attempt.
There was another mystery also, which Forbes stumbled upon in his underground experience with old Brown. He found that the philanthropic abolitionists and the office-seeking republicans were not alone interested in the happening of the insurrectionary attempt. The cotton speculators of New York and Boston felt an interest in it. Brown told him that a member of the firm of Lawrence, Stone, & Co., had promised him $8,000 if he succeeded in his attempt. Of course, they knew it would not succeed, and, yet, they too wanted it to happen.
Mystery on top of mystery ! Nobody but Brown thought it was going to succeed, and, yet, every one he had talked to about it, showed the same indifference and unconcern. It did not occur to Forbes that, upon the breaking out of anything like a formidable servile insurrection in the South, the public estimate of the capacity of the slave-labor system to produce cotton would diminish, and, hence, in consequence of an expected diminution in the production of the raw material, all cotton and cotton fabrics on hand would advance in price. This was a commercial way of viewing political and social revolution that he neither appreciated nor fancied. He could only regard it from a military point of view, and, looking at it in this way, he maintained that the whole plan was absurd, and so kept on denouncing it to the leading republicans.
Among those to whom he denounced it, were Messrs. Sumner and Hale and William H. Seward, the most shining lights of the republicans. Of these three, Hale was by far the most respectable. He had respect enough for virtue and patriotism to victimize himself before be attempted to deceive others in regard to his professions of philanthropy. Of course, like all men who prostitute the good impulses of their nature to gratify the cravings of an inordinate ambition, he must have had occasional lucid intervals. But, these did not last long, and, driven by a stern necessity which his own ambition had conjured up, he soon returned to his wallowing in the mire. But Sumner and Seward did not have to mask their motives under a feeling of benevolence in order to get the approbation of their judgments. They merely considered what others thought, and were governed accordingly. They knew perfectly well that they were villains, but endeavoured to keep that fact carefully concealed from their constituents. Among the many political reprobates who conspired to mislead the already much abused public mind of the North, and, upon the waves of error, ride triumphantly into power, there was such a variety of viciousness and depravity of character that it is hard to pick out any that might be termed representative villains.
Whenever the mind singles any one of them out and contemplates his character for a moment, so vast and incomprehensible is the magnitude of the iniquity discovered, that the imagination, exhausted in its efforts to take in the idea, produces the invariable conclusion, in every instance, that the grandest villain of them all has at last been found. Not that the magnitude of the iniquity discoverable in each case, is equal, but that each exceeds the capacity of our comprehension. Nor even that they are similar, for, as Christians are all said to have special gifts to do good, according to their talents, so, these mercenaries of Satan seem to have special gifts to do evil, according, to their natural and acquired powers of wickedness. Each, in his particular sphere, excites our wonder and horror as we contemplate him. Cheever, with his patiently cultivated powers of blasphemy; Greely, with his elaborate schemes of rapine and
murder; Sumner, with his studied imprecations, smelling of the lamp, and winged with the envenomed malice of his vindictive, cowardly heart, and crafty, Satan-like, Seward, with his cold-blooded calculations of reckless ruin for the South. This difficulty of deciding, then, with regard to the relative claims of the different leaders to the palm of pre-eminence, compels one to be governed by the opinions of those who, from long experience, are well skilled in making the proper discrimination. The northern people must decide, and, so far as influence and political success is an evidence of popularity, Sumner and Seward may be regarded as the representative men of the abolitionists and republicans.
Sumner of Massachusetts, belongs to that class of little souls that have more than ordinary intellects. Their large mental faculties lack the propelling power of moral energy to make them attempt great things. Sumner, all his life, has experienced the need of strong natural propensities to give direction to that intellectual force which he felt capable of exerting. With an inordinate vanity, however, but with little ambition, he soon lent his intellectual capital to the flattering and ambitious common-place abolition leaders. Pleased with a constituency which praised his talents and a subject that was well suited to the heartless, but able efforts of his genius, he became an enthusiastic abolitionist. A devoted student, he drew from the inexhaustible fountains of classic thought that taste and knowledge which, while they elevate the sentiment and refine the imagination, often obscure the light of Christian philosophy and substitute the simple impulses of the heart the suggestions of an enlightened understanding. That mental power and polish, which such acquirements give, he used to form a sentimental structure of abolition belief, which, seducing the popular heart by an exaltation of its idol, would advance his political interests. In his skillful hands, radical abolitionism was deprived of the odium of vulgarity and its homely associations. What, at first, appeared to cultivated minds as the offspring of common and depraved natures, when presented in the graceful forms, and illustrated in the chaste and captivating imagery of his artistic rhetoric, became exalted and dignified into a philosophy worthy of adoption by the most refined and fastidious.
There were men, among the fanatics and politicians of abolitionism, who kept ahead of Sumner, in the readiness with which they discarded every common sense of right and decency, in their bitter anti-slavery zeal; but Sumner stood alone, in the
enthusiasm with which be suborned the handmaids of classic taste and refinement, to dignify, with their attendance, the disgusting monster, abolitionism.
If anything was wanting to stimulate a mind, which strove rather for the honey of applause than the sceptre of power, taunting sneers of the incensed southerners, culminating, at last, in a severe flagellation, furnished the necessary incentive. The unexpected manner of administering rebuke for his rhetorical insolence, selected by Mr. Brooks of South Carolina, "quite vanquished him." Yet, though his spirit quailed and his coward heart surrendered under the blows of the insulted senator, his venomous nature received new inspiration from the corporeal drubbing. Every blow was like the touch of Minerva's magic wand, which filled him with the heavenly fires of eloquence. His menial soul, which, like a whipped spaniel, cowered beneath the infliction of the most degrading treatment, shrunk from an encounter which offended honor suggested, and found a soothing balm in the sonorous beauties of well-rounded anathema. He would not fight; oh, no! But, after suffering the most disgraceful treatment at the hands of a fellow senator, "he would unpack his heart with words and fall to cursing," not "like a drab," but like an elegant, refined northern gentleman. His civilized sense of propriety, abhorred the usage of swords and pistols, but, did not disdain to burl envenomed shafts, dipped in the gall of his coward heart. Every arrow sent, was a signal for applause, and every pathetic explanation of his punishment and his poltroonery excited new sympathy in a congenial public. What a commentary upon the character of a people, when confessed cowardice becomes one of the tests of heroism? For, though Sumner had risen into notice, he was never distinguished and influential, at the North, until be showed himself a poltroon and gloried in it. Before that, his admirers and friends were confined to the abolitionists; but, that act of exultant turpitude, touched the heart of a nation, who sympathized with his cowardice and admired him because his defence of the same justified themselves unto themselves. His cause was their cause, and, though they did not approve of his political sentiments, they could not but admire such a skillful defender of their own code of propriety.
The story of Sumner's rise to greatness is without a parallel in the history of the world. In reviewing the annals of the past, the virtuous mind is, sometimes, shocked at the discovery of a people so depraved as to reserve its honors and titles for the
vicious and the wicked; but, one looks in vain for that depth of degradation which discards the gallant and the daring, and crowns with laurels the poltroon and the coward. The most savage and the most brutal races of mankind, never in the darkest period of their barbarism, seem to have been without some esteem for that virtue called personal bravery; while the most enervated and degenerate nations of the luxurious East, have never lost, so entirely, the proper idea of heroism, as to admire a coward on account of his cowardice. It was reserved for the abolition, miscegenating North, to exalt a man for an act, which, among all the other nations of the world, past or present, would have excited unqualified contempt. Such is Sumner, one of the illustrious representative types of a nation which darkens the earth with its fleets and armies; a man without one manly virtue to redeem the malignant viciousness of a heart given up to unholy desires. In the corridors of history, where the great and notorious have their appropriate niches, underneath the bust which preserves his memory, this superscription should be written: "While the infamous and the famous have excited the wonder of their fellows by their virtues or their vices, Sumner was unknown to fame until he had proved himself a coward. Let him sleep in peace, he deserves not the execrations, but the contempt of mankind."
Wm. H. Seward, of New York, is, perhaps, the best representative type of the Yankee nation. In his versatile and vast composition, every curious and original variety of Yankee villainy, finds some adequate representation. There is not a political fault, sin or crime, that was conceived by the malignant New Englander, the mammon-worshipping New Yorker, or the profane, mercenary, northwesterner, which has not been included in his personal experience. He seems the source and home of the well known as well as the novel wickedness of the Yankee nation. The very moral chaos of iniquity, which fills the North, resounding with the horried buz of immeasurable, strange, and novel diabolisms, seems classified, systematized, and harmoniously united, in his sublimely devilish, nature. Distinguished individual villains there are, who, perhaps, surpass him in their particular gifts to do evil; but, in the scope, variety, and intensity of his evil propensities, he is the most infernal Yankee of them all. While, perhaps, Greely is the most devoted falsifier of truth, Cheever, the wretch, most blasphemous, and Sumner the most brazen pimp to a depraved public taste, it is reserved for Seward to unite them all in one, and, like a horrid masterpiece
of demonism, to blend in one single nature, the opposite of every virtue, and the vice of every soul. John Brown was a violator of the law, a thief, robber, and assassin. But, inasmuch as, upon occasions, he had some of the impulses of a Christian, and always some habits which pass for virtues, he was an angel of light compared to Wm. H. Seward.
If, ever Satan condescended to revisit the earth in person, and live and move as a human being, devoting his whole time and energies to the development of one man's nature for the perpetration of evil, he has done it in the case of Wm. H. Seward. Greely and his colaborers may be said to be possessed of devils; but, is it questionable whether Seward is not the very Devil himself. The imagination is appalled and shrinks back powerless in its effort to grasp the complete wickedness of that man's heart. The English language possesses adjectives without number for describing the fare and the common phases of human depravity, while its capacity for refined and nice distinction, for vigorous and terse sentences, for the contrast of antithesis and, the climax of comparison, is unequaled by that of any other tongue. Yet, we firmly believe that its powers must be further developed before an American can do justice, in his own vernacular, to the character of Wm. H. Seward. The depths, the bottomless depths, of his ambitious, bad heart, are inconceivable as infinity itself, and beyond all description painful to attempt to contemplate. But, while it is difficult to measure the depth of his malignancy and the extent of his ambition, (inasmuch as they baffle all human powers of computation,) it is not difficult to form a correct estimate of the strength and force of his mental faculties. In all his writings and speeches, there are very few indications of intellectual force. Though, sometimes gracefully, and always adroitly arranged, one rarely discovers any evidence of depth of thought, or even logical skill, in his cabalistic sentences. He seems to value both words and ideas, according to their capability of producing uncertain impressions; and his aim seems, not so much to produce a well-defined wrong impression, as to cloak his meaning in an impenetrable veil of mystery. The art of concealment, in writing and speaking, depends not so much upon intellectual skill as it does upon a total disregard of truth. Obscurity is much oftener the evidence of ignorance and dullness, than it is of talent. And, yet, what in others is attributed to the former, in Seward, is attributed to the latter. It is true, there is a certain kind of obscurity of language which is more complete than others; but, still, it is always easily found
by the most ordinary minds, if they seek for it. If Seward had ever displayed, in any of his remarkable State papers, even a little variety in his uniformly equivocal or ambiguous statements, he might, with some color of propriety, be denominated artful, and thus far intellectual. But there is, always, the same simple want of plain meaning which necessitates no wrong inference, but just allows any that one may please to make.
Seward's power of deception, then, does not reside in or result from intellectual gifts, but originates in a devilish spirit of cunning that halts at no falsehood and hesitates at no meanness to accomplish its purpose. This should be borne in mind, in order that the shallow-minded, but profoundly cunning, incarnate demon may be properly understood. Seward illustrates the power of mere immoral force in this fallen world. The immeasurable intensity of his passions and propensities have more do with his individual momentum than any extraordinary mental gifts which have been erroneously attributed to him. For, individual momenta, like those of physical forces are compounds. As physical momenta are equivalent to the combined results of the velocity and the weight of the body, so individual momentum is equivalent to the combined results of the intensity of the moral activity and the intellectual capacity or weight. So that, with a given amount of intensity for the moral propelling power, very little mind is needed to make an individual capable of exercising an extraordinary influence among men. In this manner, must the want of mind in Seward be reconciled with the undoubted fact of the almost despotic influence which he has, for years, exerted over the northern people. He is a rare instance of an intellectual pigmy ruling, with sovereign's sway, a nation run mad with evil passions, by simply feeling and manifesting in a deliberate way, a greater intensity of the same passions and deriving a sort of inspiration from the exceeding great depths of the badness of his nature. There is nothing in his acts or his language or his sentiments to excite the admiration or interest of an indifferent spectator. It is only to human motives that his words or conduct ever appeal. You may be amused with the humor of Greely, and the wit of Cheever, you may not refuse to admire the vehement diatribes of Hale, or the fine, fancy and eloquent perorations of Sumner; but, Seward is, ever and always, the plain, matter-of-fact, pure, unadulterated demon. While his infamous coadjutors are not impervious, at times, to the emotions of the beautiful and the grand, Seward seems incapable of any but those of gratified pride and successful villainy.
In other words, while the former sometimes permit their natural feeling to supplant the devils which usually possess them, Seward always seems filled with the same sleepless, bloodless, heartless spirit of evil.
The evidence of Colonel Forbes, which convicts the leading republicans of the North of lending their countenance, if not their support, to an enterprise which aimed at the total destruction of southern institutions, is fortified by other facts of history notorious at that time. These were that the republican party then needed and desired, for political reasons, that sectional bitterness should increase; in order that they might recruit their ranks from the fickle and volatile masses of the North. Hence, they were anxious for the occurrence of such an event as an hostile invasion of a southern State. Subsequent events, too, when the republicans, got possession of the government and shamelessly avowed their irrepressible hostility to the South, strenghthens the presumption that, as far back as the advent of the Harper's Ferry invasion, they entertained ideas of destruction towards the southern people.
In 1859, those of the republican leaders who juggled behind the scenes, and who could see with some distinctness into the immediate political future, well knew that, in order to give vitality and coherency to their new formed party, something more was necessary than the mere array of abstract dogmas of political faith, however acceptable these might be to the popular mind. Something was needed to agitate the northern heart and animate it with one common sectional feeling like that which the Kansas war had, for a brief space, excited. Nothing was so well calculated to do this as a manifestation of unreasonable and ungenerous bitterness on the part of the South. And this would be speedily brought about, by anything like a formidable abolition attempt to excite a servile insurrection.
These astute political seers, in whose scales of calculation their
country's interest weighed not a feather, were not unmindful that the Kansas war had proved of invaluable service to them. They had been convinced then that the god, at whose shrine they worshipped, was not to be conciliated by tile blood of lambs or of bullocks. The desolation, which pestilence, famine, and death brings, was the offering most grateful at his shrine. The wails of lamentation and woe that rise up from a distressed and bereaved people, the smoke and din of the deadly internecine strife, the sickening fumes which ascend from the carcass-strewn and crimson-dyed battle-field, was the incense most acceptable at his altar. They had seen how the Kansas war had done what the most eloquent harrangues and able intellectual efforts had failed to approach. They had seen how it had stirred up the moderates of either section to make the easy transition from the abuse of a party confined to a particular local region to the bitter denunciation of the whole population of the same. This was the process, by which life and strength had been infused into their heterogeneous mass of malcontents.
The Kansas war had solved the mystery, for it revealed the art of making a sectional party. It was true that the profitable experiment, which had enlightened them, had cost some expenditure of men and money. But what was that compared to the value of the benefit acquired--the knowledge of the sure mode of overthrowing the democratic party and domineering over the southern people. The money, which had been contributed to the prosecution of the Kansas war, had been well invested, and they were anxious to repeat the speculation. But reasons of a selfish or political nature, were not the sole causes of the desire of the republican leaders to kindle a servile war in the South. There were causes which were imbedded in the strata of northern society, and which, though unproclaimed, both strengthened the purpose and influenced the policy of the wily heads of the republican party. While these moral motors, in an invisible manner, exerted no little influence upon the mass of the northern people, their effect is more traceable in the language and conduct of the leading minds and controlling intelligences of the republican party. The apologists of these desperate, bad factionists, should not be permitted to attribute their criminal conduct to an epedemic craving for political power. For, sad as their case would be, should it be admitted that they had committed the error of consenting to destroy their country for the purpose of overthrowing their political enemies, the whole truth, when revealed, makes it sadder still. Something more, and something
far worse than an unscrupulous opposition to the democratic party, actuated them.
The progress of civilization, under the two different forms of development which the respective social organisms North and South afforded, called into being two different classes of educated minds.
These, in their views of life, their taste, religious and political opinions, their ideas of truth and honor and their ideals of happiness, were the very antipodes of each other. Upon whatever arena they met, whether of politics, literature, or religion, they discovered the same radical points of difference. In those notions of decorum and propriety, which constitute the laws of the social circle, the difference was the more conspicuous, because more frequently made manifest. It gave to partisan animosity a keener edge and tended to widen party breaches. In the halls of Congress, the high-toned, free spoken southerner, might affiliate, for party purposes, with his political brother of the North; but he could find little pleasure in the society of one so totally different from him in feeling and habits. Called from the cares of a magnificent estate, or the practice of a lucrative profession, the southern Congressman exhibited, in his intercourse with others, some of that lordliness of manner which, as the absolute sovereign of a populous plantation, or as the reigning orator of his district, he had gradually acquired. Into the halls of Congress he carried the frankness of manner, the confidence in his fellow-man, and the love of truth and honor, that he had learned from his parents. Usually, with an abundance of means at his disposal, he was as liberal as he was kind-hearted, and paid little attention to the lobby operations of the venal and unprincipled.
On the other hand, the northern Congressman was, generally, some self-educated, shrewd, calculating "finder-out of occasions," who, while yet a boy, had quaffed a love of political fame from the annual stream of fourth of July orations which
periodically flooded his section. Occasionally, he was a son of some distinguished divine or lawyer, and had made politics his profession. But, more frequently, he was some hypocritical, bawling radicalist, whom the love of plunder and power had seduced from his shop to the uncertain arena of politics. If he was from New England, he was, probably, a sort of Puritan Republican, with a humanitarian tinge; a fellow who had probably tried preaching before he took to stump-speaking, and whose chief occupation was to expound the meaning of the declaration of independence and sell his vote to the highest bidder. If he was from the middle States, he was occasionally a man of talent and wealth, but, more generally, the representative of some commercial or manufacturing interest, and, not infrequently, a radicalist of the New England type.
From the northwestern States came the most interesting candidates for political greatness. There, the avenues to fame were the bar-rooms, the tailor-shops, and country stores. There was more talent and less hypocrisy among the politicians of the northwest than among those of the middle and eastern States. But, it is questionable whether vice without the habiliments of virtue, as it appeared in the northwesterner, was not more disgusting than when discovered beneath the Puritan cloak of hypocrisy. Their obscene ribaldry, their vulgar jokes, and their open repudiation of the obligations of decency and honesty, was a sort of moral outlawry that denied the very dignity and existence of virtue. The Puritans, by their hypocrisy, acknowledged the supremacy of virtue; but the besotted and brazen rowdies of the northwest, by their open contempt for propriety and good character, aimed at the very legitimacy of the sovereignty of virtue in human esteem.
Now, it could not be expected that the chivalrous, well-bred, southerner, coming in contact with these rowdies, fanatics, and mercenaries of the North, could find anything in them to admire or to love. His notions of the usages among gentlemen were, constantly, shocked by the evidences of their in-bred vulgarity or open violations of the most common rules of courtesy. To his utter astonishment, he would hear men discourse most feelingly about the obligations of conscience and, not long after, boast of some successful piece of villainy. His sense of honor was constantly pained and his self-respect insulted by most friendly and familiar intimations of fine chances to steal. Their ill-breeding annoyed and bored him, their vulgar obscenity disgusted him, and their utter want of honor and honesty
excited his most profound contempt. Hence, as time ripened the fruits of the two opposite organisms, the aversion of the southerner for the Yankee became more and more intense, and was more and more exhibited in the national halls of legislation. The contempt of the southerner was resented with well- studied phrases of bitterness, and had the Yankee admitted the legitimacy of the code duello, and answered for his slanders on the field, a sort of partizan war might have commenced about Washington sometime before the masses became generally engaged. But the Yankees refused the arbitrament of the sword, which, if allowed, would, perhaps, have secured some observance of the rules of senatorial courtesy, if it had not postponed the general conflict. Having thus, by their poltroonery, limited all modes of redress for the most studied insults to the woundings which the tongue and the pen could inflict, a perfect war of words was inaugurated in Congress. Elaborate sarcasms, withering invectives, metaphors of denunciation, and most sonorous billingsgate, filled the legislative chambers of the Great Republic. The northerner hated the southerner because he was haughty and supercilious, and because he assumed a social superiority that no amount of Yankee insolence could disturb. The southerner despised the northerner because he was stingy, low-bred, false-tonged, and cowardly.
It was in those arenas, where female champions enter the lists, that the social contest between the two sections was conducted with the most unrelenting bitterness. Party affiliations and party reasons, had their influence in removing the barriers which time had erected between the male representatives of the opposite civilizations. But the women neither appreciated nor cared for these. They obeyed the instincts and aspirations of their natures, with little regard to political consequences. In the crowded reception rooms of the presidential mansion, met two social currents, that had as little affinity for each other as oil and water. There, was the delicately bred southern woman, with a brilliancy of hue and complexion, and a gracefulness of
person that reminded one of those glorious flowers of beauty which blossom and wave in the rich sunlight of her native land. With a charming naivete of manner that silenced even malice, a perpetual sprightliness that purchased everyone's good will, and an inaccessible gentleness which subdued audacity and excited the noblest sentiments in the masculine nature, she shed a soft and golden radiance over the presidential circle, where she reigned with regal sway. It was in vain that the studied action, thoughtful face, and artful tongue of the Boston belle, disputed her sovereignty. In vain did New York enter the lists, bedizzened and enveloped in silk and diamonds, or the energetic, rosy, dashing western girl, contend with almost pugilistic skill. The fair daughter of the South had but to smile and command, and away went the obsequious votaries of the northern child of art. The splendor of wealth, the shafts of art pointed with the bitterness of an envious heart, the lustre of official position, and those disparaging arguments, which none but a metaphysical female mind can invent, might be all arrayed on the side of the North; but, woman's divinest weapons, modesty and gentleness adorning the eloquence of a rich fancy and a tender heart, maintained the supremacy of the southern ladies against all opposition. For years was the contest carried on; and, at the end of each campaign, the result was the same, at last, it was, no longer a question of dispute, but was treated as a matter settled for history; and the cotemporaneous writers of the age recorded that southern women reigned supreme in the national capital. The capital having been once "occupied and possessed," it was quite easy to make other conquests. So, armed with the prestige of this victory, the principal northern cities and watering places, became the next objects of attack; and it was not long before they suffered a similar fate. The spacious mansions of Philadelphia and gorgeous palaces of New York, as well as the fretted halls of Saratoga and Cape May, soon rang with the praises of southern breeding and southern beauty; and the admiring multitude, which had for so long been accustomed to kneel in flattering homage at the feet of some charming angel of Chesnut street or superb darling of Fifth Avenue, now, "doated on an obsequious bondage,"to a lovely daughter of the South. Thus was city after city and stronghold after stronghold taken, until Boston herself, the self-styled Athens of America, a condemned spot that nature had never loved and had long before abandoned, was indebted, for her independence, solely to the contempt of the victors.
This social conquest of the nation, though directed and conducted by the women of the South, was due, in some measure, to the character and manners of southern gentlemen. Their noble carriage and knightly mien, were adorned with all the graces of chivalry. Taught from infancy to regard women as naturally entitled to their highest esteem and tenderest consideration, their gallantry had something of the elevated and unselfish character of disinterested devotion. The recipient of their attentions was not the mere object of a selfish passion, but the resting place of the purest and noblest emotions of which the heart is capable. Hence, it is not strange that these manly traits, which the most uncivilized female appreciates, should lend southern gentlemen a fascination in the eyes of northern women, that threw far in shade the artificial mannerism and affected hauteur of northern men. That polish of address and manner, which a well cultivated mind can bestow, was not wanting among northern men. They excelled in graceful conversational periods, and ornamented their colloquial sentences with striking antitheses and elaborately prepared impromptu flashes of wit. Their bon mots were as studied as their speeches, and their stiff, formal manners, only differed according to the theory of the particular tutelary Puritan who had moulded their tastes and opinions. They were prepared for the parlor and the drawing room precisely as they were prepared for their callings, at the standard boarding schools and colleges. The whole of education with them, was confined to the development and discipline of the mental faculties and muscles. They were prepared for the ordeal of society, by a system of lessons and rehearsals, just as the athlete learns in the gymnasium the feats of strength and skill, which are to electrify the gazing multitude of the circus. Those qualities of the soul which nothing but an education of the heart can give, they neither possessed nor understood. Indeed, the northern people, as a nation, have, for the last forty years, ignored the existence of human impulses and the necessity of educating the human heart. Through the improvement of the mind and the strengthening and development of the faculties was all good to be attained. Many of their theological and most of their philosophical writers idolized reason as the governing agent in the world, and, in their opinion, the promised milennium is nothing more than another name for a period when human reason, gathering strength by acting in concord, shall, with its collective power, subdue all the earth to do right.
Thus it is that the elite of the northern masses, though not wanting in that refinement of the mind which study imparts, are yet wofully deficient in those winning graceful traits of character which nature, when not too much cramped, will put forth among any people. Among the best of them, their social excellences only illustrate the truth, that art may adorn and develop, but can never create. The finest female specimens of their system, like artificial flowers, are beautiful to behold at a distance; but a closer acquaintance discovers that they have neither the delicious fragrance, nor the delicate tints of nature. Thus, from one cause and another, it came to happen that the northern women preferred southern men to their own indigenous beaux, while the northern men exhibited, on all occasions, a hopeless but sincere preference for southern women over the highly accomplished females of their own section. And, when, in addition to this strange state of affairs, it is borne in mind that the southern men and women hate and despise, respectively, the males and females of the North, there will no longer exist a profound wonder why the northern people are making, incredible exertions to persuade, by fire and sword, the southern people to live once more in peace and harmony with them.
Thus it is that they hate us and they love us too, while the history of the present war too well shows that something more than just resentment and aggression inflames the soldiers of the South. Ours is a hate in which contempt is the master feeling; an aversion unconquerable, a feeling of loathing like that which the human family feels for reptiles. Nothing better illustrates this strange states of things, where esteem and respect mingle with feelings of malignant hatred, on one side, and the most loathing contempt aggravates a just resentment on the other, than the manner in which the women of either section treat the invading foe. When a southern town is entered by a northern army, it is like marching into a city of the dead. The doors are closed, the blinds down, and the streets vacant. Perhaps, here and there, a solitary traitor, decked out in holiday attire, mingles with the occasional groups of curious Africans, who show their ivories at the unexpected familiar salutations of the miscegenating Yankees. From behind the incompletely closed
window-shutters, the southern women sentinel their houses and watch the stealthy foe. If entrance is forced by any of the soldiers, or the semi-genteel officers, and bread and meat demanded through fear, or perhaps a habit of charity, it is not refused. The looks of scorn and contempt, which generally accompany the gift, do not, however, banish the Yankee apetite. A long career of swindling at home or plunder in the South, has made their brutal natures quite invulnerable to such delicate modes of warfare. The fear of bodily harm or pecuniary loss, alone deters them from the most infamous performances. After gratifying the cravings of hunger, they generally begin to cast their eyes around to see what valuables they can steal. If they cannot find any silver, they will condescend to purloin any little portable article which can be secretly appropriated. For, strange to say, although they can do as they please, yet, such is the force of habit, they seldom lay violent hands on things, in presence of any of the females; but, by all those various ways known only to Yankees, manage to steal them, when the backs of the owners are turned. Sometimes, they resort to threats, but these are disregarded. Their promises are alike unavailing to obtain either confidence or conciliatory treatment from the women of the South. Whether they appear in their natural character of professional pirates, or as men of ordinary humanity and honesty, they hear the same language of defiance and contempt. Neither the apprehension of injury to property or of violence of any sort, can compel the proud spirits of the women of the South to use the forms of ordinary civility to the despised invader. They seem to have a consciousness of a protecting power to their person in their infinite moral superiority, while they will not, for the sake of their property, teach their tongues to utter words of kindness to those who, in their eyes, are the embodiment of all that is unmanly, mean, and despicable.
When a southern army enters a northern town, the reception is as different as it is characteristic. The Yankee population, with the usual curiosity and low taste of the vulgar, swarm in the streets, arrayed in their Sunday finery. Their is no friendliness in their greeting, but there is a servility in their manner, when conversing with the southerner, that only conquered spirits manifest. All seem subjugated, from the fear of pecuniary loss. Even the women who are encouraged to speak their minds by the polite and knightly southern soldier, are cringing and prayerful whenever they can muster up sufficient courage to speak. Intimate the slightest wish, and they run in haste to gratify it.
Their desire to please seems only limited by the extent of the pecuniary sacrifice required. Ask them their political sentiments, and, while some will evade the question, many will profess a sort of Christian neutrality, and gently insinuate that, if they were to make a preference, they would choose the side of the "secesh." It is hard to tell whether such a signal want of spirit is due to craven fear alone, or whether they are not really charmed by the gallantry and courtesy of the southerners.
I have thus endeavored to show the part that social causes have played in engendering sectional bitterness between the North and the South; and how, as early as 1859, the leaders of the republican party, animated with deadly hostility to the South, contemplated, with criminal indifference, the ruin of their country, as a means of gratifying their ambition and hate. We must now return to Forbes, who, as we have seen, had in vain endeavored to get some one of the leading republicans to denounce Brown and expose the gigantic treason of the abolitionists. He had, likewise, failed to persuade his old employers to substitute for Brown's mad plan his more practicable scheme of emancipation.
From this time, Forbes disappears from the scene, unless it was he who wrote the anonymous letter to Secretary Floyd, a short time before the memorable 16th October, informing him of Brown's designs. This timely warning was disregarded by Mr. Floyd, who was then Secretary of War. Its only importance consists in the fact that it shows how binding must have been the oaths of the conspirators and how intense the hate of the confidential politicians, when only one man was found, among them all, to forewarn the government even anonymously.
Brown, in the meantime, had not yet matured his plans. Hearing of their probable exposure, through the treachery of Forbes, he hurried up the grand consumation. Gathering his confederates at the Kennedy farm in Maryland, he prepared his army for action.
At half-past ten o'clock, Sunday night, 17th October, 1859,
the Potomac was crossed, and the advance guard of the abolition army invaded the sovereignty of Virginia. Proceeding with military method, they seized, first, the watchman guarding the bridge, and, posting pickets at certain points, occupied the arsenal and armory building. Then, no doubt, in accordance with a previously concerted plan, Cook went out in command of a party for the purpose of getting black recruits from the adjoining estates of slaveholders. He first proceeded to Mr. Lewis Washington's. He had been hospitably entertained by this gentleman and honored with a look at some of his very cherished valuable family relics. Cook, after securing the slaves and horses, did not, in the agitation of the occasion, forget the sacred family relics; but, appropriating them, with the watch of his former genial host, took Mr. Washington and his movables, and carried them off in the wagons which he had pressed for the service of his government. Proceeding with his train, he acted in a similar manner at several other houses. Having accumulated, in this way, valuable hostages in the persons of the prominent citizens whom he captured, and quite a company of blacks, he returned in triumph, under the cover of night, to the Ferry. Upon reaching that place, Cook sent most of his prisoners and recruits to Brown, while he went, with his plunder, to Kennedy's house.
From this place, Cook did not return in time to reach Brown before the fighting commenced, and there is every reason to believe, from subsequent developments, that he never intended to return.
In the meantime, Brown had inaugurated his reign, as military dictator aud supreme disposer of all things in America, in the armory buildings. His pickets, from time to time, arrested and brought into his august presence all who, from motives of curiosity or otherwise, had ventured within his military lines. These, he greeted with the imperial condescension which a spider might be supposed to extend to an unfortunate fly that had strayed within his lines. Informing them that they were in no danger, he turned them over to some of his black janizaries. Rumors of these things, and much more, went flying through the air. Each one desired to see for himself. And thus, indignant and astonished officials and distinguished men of the town were spirited away, seriatim, as they stumbled in the darkness upon Brown's pickets. In a short time, quite a number of these respectable men, involuntarily, assembled in one of the armory buildings, and found their sole consolation in their mutual misery. Halted in their high place of authority, rudely posted off
into the presence of a hoary-headed, grave looking, severe old man, and dismissed by the same terrible fellow to the comfortless precincts of a dark dungeon, was a fate for which their good easy souls were unprepared, and they trembled for the future. Putting them all in one of the rooms of the armory building, Brown placed a negro sentinel over them, with instructions to "guard them well." This fellow, like others when "clothed in a little brief authority," commenced his "fantastic tricks" by brandishing the deadly looking spear which Brown had placed in his hands, and threatened the horror-stricken officials with condign punishment, if they dared to poke their heads out of the windows, or in any other way act contrary to orders.
This entrance of negro actors on the stage was the change of scene that was the most unexpected and horrible. It was strange and terrible enough to be kidnapped, robbed, and insulted, but to have the custody of your person put into the hands of one of a despised and brutal race was an indignity which passed all conception.
Brown, however, was by no means intimidated or discomposed by the horror and indignation which his conduct excited. The notion that he was dealing with men caught in the act of capital crime seemed to influence him entirely, and he paid no more attention to their protests and exclamations of surprise than an executioner does to the shrieks of the condemned culprit.
Notwithstanding the pressing need of the exercise of all his faculties to remove the military difficulties of his situation, he yet found time to bestow upon his ignorant and benighted captives some of the light of his civilization. Laying aside, for a brief space, the iron sternness of the military leader, he donned his apostolic character; and, by the dim starlight that peeped through the windows, read the slaveholders a moral lecture upon the sinfulness of their criminal existence. However indisposed they were to receive the truth, with their minds thronged with painful apprehensions, they listened, with silent respect, evidently willing to admit the truth of any proposition that did not threaten their personal safety.
While endeavoring to reconcile his white prisoners to the fate which their unpardonable crime deserved, he did not forget to dispense a liberal allowance of the truth to his astonished black recruits. These he told that the priceless boon of liberty was theirs for the asking--they had but to reach forth their hands to take it. He told them how they, descended, in all probability, from high toned princes of African blood, had for successive
generations been crushed beneath the iron heel of a merciless despotism; and had, at last, found a liberator in him. He dwelt, most eloquently, upon the rich rewards that awaited a bold stroke; and, rounding his discourse with one of the usual perorations about the horrors of slavery and the felicities of freedom, he put into their trembling hands the terrible looking weapon which, with much hellish ingenuity, he had contrived. They received the instruments of insurrection with open mouths and eyes wild with fright. Confounded and terror-stricken by the authoritative fierceness of Brown, they held them in their hands until his back was turned, and then dropped them; apparently, fearful lest the things might go off. Their conduct upon this occasion was but in accordance with that of all the negro allies whom the Federals have enlisted in their service during this war. They acted the part of mere passive agents, submitting to whoever, for the time being, had authority, but showing an abiding sense of the superiority of the white race, and an inability to comprehend how their being in a state of slavery was either improper or degrading. They exhibited then, as they have done since, upon similar occasions, an eagerness for a life of indolence and sloth, and a susceptibility of being wrought upon by artful misrepresentations to such a degree that they cherished, after some schooling among the Yankees, not unfrequently, a deadly animosity towards their masters. But they showed no desire for freedom, for the sake of the franchises of a freeman. They were incapable of appreciating those sentiments of liberty which animate the Caucasan race. They only desired the privileges of unrestrained license; and, to gain these, they were willing to run no personal risks.
While Brown was engaged in improving the moral condition of his prisoners and proclaiming his plans for exalting the black race, fate, with singular caprice, but with great propriety, was telling another story to an audience that some of his followers had discovered.
Having captured one of the watchmen on the bridge, when the one who was to relieve him made his appearance, they challenged him. He, apprehensive of harm, at once retreated without obeying their command to stand. Finding words of no avail, the outlaws fired upon the fugitive, and brought him to the ground. Upon examining their victim, they discovered that he was a mulatto and mortally wounded. Thus, the first victim who fell in the abolition war was a member of that race, whose emancipation, in the eyes of Europe, will be the only profit that
mankind will reap from the bloody fields of intestine slaughter in America.
About three o'clock in the morning, the Baltimore train arrived. This was halted for two or three hours, and, finally, after much expostulation, allowed to pass on. What Brown's design was in stopping this, the sequel did not show; though he ever afterwards considered that permitting it to pass on was the cardinal error of his Harper's Ferry campaign. He took occasion, however, during the arrest of the train, to utter a few moral truths to the passengers and to assure them that, if they only knew his past history, they would not be astonished at what they saw. The passengers, of course, were eager to spread the story of their incredible experience; and, as they went along the road, the country was electrified with the most contradictory and wonderful accounts of an inexplicable event. According to the degree of their fright, the proportions of the affair were conceived, and, from out of the few villainous-looking scoundrels that had been seen hovering around the train, their heated imaginations formed a formidable revolutionary army. As the rumors passed from tongue to tongue, the usual liberties were taken, and, by the time they reached the most distant and secluded spot of the country, the novelty and reported magnitude of the event created the most intense excitement.
Daylight was approaching, and still the citizens of the Ferry, who, from behind closed shutters, or peering from distant windows, were whispering their common apprehensions, had not yet formed a correct idea of the nature of the outbreak. Those who had been near enough to see and to hear, without falling into the clutches of the enemy, gave the most marvelous accounts of his ferocity and his strength. Some said that they had seen moving masses of blacks and whites, and that their number was momentarily increasing. Some said that they were all muffled and dressed in singular-looking uniforms that hung loose on their immense bodies, and that they moved about as noiseless as spirits. Various were the conjectures of the citizens to reach a solution of the mystery. The idea that it was an attempt at robbery was discountenanced by their confining themselves to the armory and arsenal. The mystery passed explanation. One fact, however, was patent and imperative. That was, that the outlaws, whoever they were, had taken possession of the public buildings and many of the citizens, and did not hesitate to fire at every one who disobeyed them. Public duty demanded that some effort should be made to dislodge
them. So, the citizens, besides those who on their own hook kept up a guerrilla fire upon the insurgents, assembled together on the outskirts of the town, and formed themselves into a military organization for the purpose of expelling the invaders. The arms and ammunition were, for the most part, in the hands of the enemy; but sporting pieces were collected and cartridges made. By this time, reinforcements commenced coming from the country.
Excited couriers had, at the earliest streak of dawn, galloped over the country and given the alarm. But such was the incredulousness of the country people, that the extraordinary statements of the fugitives were, at first, disregarded. As the evidence, however, accumulated and became overpowering, the farmers mounted their riding horses, and, armed with whatever was most convenient, went towards the Ferry.
The man who brought the news to Charlestown, a village about eight miles from the Ferry, excited nothing but the mirth and laughter of those who heard him. And, when he, with a grave and fearfully serious countenance, insisted upon the truth of what he stated, people shook their heads and said to each other that the man was crazy. Some suggested that he should be arrested, as it was improper to let such an alarmist run loose. And, to those who objected, there were not wanting aged opponents who asserted, most positively, that insanity had always run in the man's family. All through the adjoining counties, the news was received with similar incredulity, and it was only after the evidence had become indisputable that the people, forming themselves into squads, or, sometimes, uniting with one of the volunteer companies, approached the Ferry. In a short time, the roads which led to the Ferry were filled with volunteers of every description hurrying to the extraordinary scene of conflict. There might have been seen, burly farmers with the trusty rifle on their shoulders and umbrella and overcoat tied behind the old- fashioned saddle; country gentlemen with their pistol holsters; youths with their sporting pieces, and occasional gangs of the State militia, strolling along to the rendezvous, with few arms and little ammunition. Occasionally, the lively beat of the kettle-drum, mingled with the animating strains of the fife, announced the approach of a volunteer company; and their gay uniforms and nodding plumes, moving to their measured tread, gave a better promise of military aid to the invaded town.
In a short time, the efforts of the citizens, assisted by the
country volunteers, began to threaten the invaders with total discomfiture. All the modes of egress from the town were seized, and from every direction the citizen soldiers closed in around the enemy. Many of their advance pickets were killed or captured, and the remnant forced to seek refuge with Brown in a single building in the armory yard. At the Hall rifle works, a building situated on the Shenandoah, about a half mile distant from the headquarters of the commander-in-chief, Brown had posted Kagi, his secretary of war, with one of his grand divisions, consisting for the most part of negroes, and numbering about six men. These, like the main body, had quite an easy time at first, shooting at every curious person that manifested any interest in their performances. Their notes of joy and triumph were soon changed to those of lamentation. As soon as it was discovered that they were the public enemies, from the neighboring hills, which overlooked and commanded the building, came shrill messengers that struck panic to the hearts of the corps d'Afrique.
Having already been rendered somewhat nervous by the reports of their own pieces, which they had discharged with devilish glee at harmless and unoffending people, they were filled with the greatest consternation at the hissing and crashing sound of the rifle bullets, as they whistled and flew in their vicinity. Visions of liberty and power and landed estate, vanished, ignominiously, before the frightful apprehensions which mastered them, and, after a brief effort to regain the heroic calmness of liberty's martyrs, they took to their heels and fled in every direction. Bewildered and panic stricken, most of them were shot while endeavoring to cross the Shenandoah or to return to Brown in the armory yard. Kagi, it is supposed, concealed himself in one of the out- buildings and made his escape two or three days afterwards. In this way, Brown having lost more than a third of his force, and being reduced with his command to the contracted area of a small brick building of two rooms, he began to have some misgivings about the establishment of his military empire. The death of one son and the dying groans of another, admonished him, that it was time to retreat or make arrangements for his own exit from this world of sin. So, selecting a gentleman of aldermanic proportions and respectable appearance, he sent him out upon parole, for the purpose of negotiating terms of capitulation. He offered to surrender the fortress and prisoners, provided he was allowed a safe retreat for himself
and followers; and, on the other hand, if that was refused and further belligerent demonstrations were made towards him, he threatened to kill his prisoners and make a sally, to which despair would, in all probability, lend at least a partial success. This proposition, which indicated very great cunning on the part of Brown, showed that, if he was mad, there was a "method in his madness." He had, indirectly, foreseen the alternative, to which he might be reduced, and, for the purpose of securing his retreat, had captured prisoners as hostages. Indeed, there is great reason to believe that, as the moment for action approached, his confidence of success had diminished; and that his prime object, in striking the blow, at the time that it was struck, was to carry out orders from those whom he dared not disobey. Certainly, he had hit upon the only plan which promised the chance of escape, in case of military failure. His expectation of intimidating the citizens, by threats of violence towards his prisoners, was based upon the reasoning of a mind that had become shrewd in the perpetration of evil. But his devilish sagacity was, as usual, not sufficient. He had not calculated upon the swift and terrible storm of indignation which his incredible villainy had excited among the citizens of the State. It is true, that the fear of the massacre of the prisoners, in some measure, retarded the efforts for his capture. The eloquent entreaties of the sobbing wives, whose husbands were in Brown's possession, and the arguments of their friends and relations, divided the councils and cooled the ardor of the commanding officers of the citizen soldiery.
While, however, they hesitated to drive the ferocious outlaw to the extremity of despair, by refusing to encourage the slightest hope of quarter, they did not, for a moment, entertain the idea of permitting him to escape. So, without coming to any understanding, they kept up their attack upon the building in which Brown and his comrades with their prisoners, were collected. Their anxiety concerning the captives was, in some measure, relieved by a successful dash made by a small party from Martinsburg upon the engine house. Getting momentary possession of the room, in which the majority of the prisoners were kept, they opened the doors of their prison, and gave them an opportunity of escape, of which they readily availed themselves. In the other room of the same building, which did not communicate with this, Brown with his comrades had still the most important prisoners. And, being now confined in their military operations to this one room, they
punched holes through the brick walls and made a fort quite impregnable to small arms.
The skirmishing grew momentarily hotter, and the outlaws, from within their prison, made a desperate resistance. During the day, occurred an incident that faithfully forshadowed the horrors of the great conflict of which this was but the beginning. In the morning, when the insurgents were being generally driven back by the citizen-soldiers, who encompassed them, a prisoner by the name of Thompson was captured. From him, for the first time, some proper idea was gathered of the strength of the enemy, and, after that time, the advances became bolder. Several citizens had been already killed, and yet many exposed themselves to the fire from the engine house. Among these was the grey-haired unarmed mayor of the town, by the name of Beckham. In vain he was told that they fired upon all. He insisted upon making a target of his body, foolishly supposing that his gray hairs and unarmed appearance would protect him from harm. A remorseless bullet from the gun of one of the insurgents convinced him of his folly. The sight of his dead body, and the manner of his death, added fresh fuel to the already burning resentment which inflamed the citizens. This wanton murder of an unarmed old man, fairly maddened with fury some of his relatives and friends who witnessed his death. And, impelled by a blind and savage animosity towards all the outlaws, some of the relatives and intimate friends of Beckham seized the prisoner Thompson, and, despite the expostulations and protests of the bystanders, dragged him out upon the bridge, killed him, and threw his body into the river.
While the events related above were happening, through the the whole length and breadth of the old Union, the population was thrilled with the most novel sensations of astonishment and indignation. The morbid love of novelty which afflicted the dyspeptic minds of the northern masses was highly gratified,
at first, by the extraordinary accounts that reached them. For once, the busy fancy of the newspaper correspondents was nonplussed. It required no ingenuity to misrepresent the magnitude and to paint it, for the pleasure of the lovers of the marvellous, on a scale of incredible size; but, to come at the real nature of the affair, or even to exceed its strangeness by an invention of the imagination, was an achievement transcending their mercenary powers. At length, however, their was an end to the "startling discoveries" and "astounding developments," daily chronicled in the northern papers; and, for a brief space, they condescended to discuss the meaning of the event.
In the meantime, something more than mere idle speculation was taking place at the South. Like a clap of thunder in a clear sky, the event astonished them, and, when the nature of it was understood, an active sense of resentment possessed them. The news, however, was too late reaching Richmond, to enable the Governor of the State, H. A. Wise, to reach the ground with State forces, before the emeute was suppressed, and Brown and the remnant of his band captured. As soon as the President of the United States, James Buchanan, was informed of the outbreak, a body of marines; under Col. Robert E. Lee, was forwarded to the scene of action. The city of Baltimore at once forwarded troops, and these, joined with the United States forces, arrived at the Ferry about 10 o'clock Monday night. More Virginia troops, from the adjoining counties, reached there Tuesday night, and, by the following morning, quite a formidable military force encompassed the doomed criminals.
Up to that time, the Virginians, who had driven Brown into the engine house, killing and wounding nearly half of his men, had not yet made up their minds to storm the engine house and run the hazard of having prisoners massacred, as Brown threatened. The arrival of Colonel Lee, with regular troops, stopped the deliberations of the militia commanders. The fact that the outlaws were on the territory and in a building over which the United States had temporary authority, made it exceedingly proper that the federal officer commanding should decide upon their fate. Besides, it was reasonable so suppose that the outlaws would not expect the same importance to be attached to their threats of massacring the prisoners by a federal officer in command of regular troops, as by citizen officers commanding soldiers, many of whom were related
to the threatened victims. Accordingly, it was determined that, at the dawn of day, the engine-house should be stormed by the marines, unless, before that time, the enemy surrendered. During the night, volunteer parties of the hot-blooded Virginians, jealous of the honor of their State, besought Colonel Lee to let them have the privilege of storming the engine house. All such propositions were, however, refused, by one whose lofty and heroic devotion to the interests of Virginia allows none to question the propriety of his decision. As daylight dawned, troops were stationed around the engine-house to cut off all hope of escape, and the United States marines divided into two squads for storming purposes. A deathlike stillness and absence of life, seemed to settle upon the insurgent fortress, and the outlaws no longer fired upon the troops now within short range; but, from the gloomy port- holes, they silently watched the terrible preparations that were going on. What had come over them, none could tell, that they permitted men to form right in front of their stronghold, for the purpose of carrying it by storm. Perhaps, Brown was still hopeful that his propositions of capitulation would be acceded to; perhaps, he had resigned himself to the forlorn hope of mollifying by this forbearance, the manifest animosity of his unrelenting pursuers.
Shortly after 7 o'clock, Lieutenant J. E. B. Stuart, then an aid-de-camp of Colonel Lee, afterwards the world renowned cavalry chief of Lee's army, advanced to parley with the besieged--an old citizen bearing a flag of truce. They were received at the door by Brown, who heard their proposition and responded. Lieutenant Stuart demanded an unconditional and immediate surrender, promising only protection from violence and a trial according to law. Brown refused all terms but those which he had more than once already asked for, namely: "That he should be permitted to pass out unmolested with his men and arms and prisoners, that they should proceed unpursued to the second toll gate, when they would free their prisoners and take the chances of escape. These, of course, were refused, and Stuart, reminding Brown of his desperate position, urged upon him the sense and humanity of a surrender. Brown, however, was deaf to all persuasion, returning a sullen and dogged refusal to every demand, though Stuart earnestly expostulated.
Having exhausted the power of words, Stuart slowly returned from the door of the engine house, and the signal of
attack was given. The marines advanced in two lines on each side of the door. Two powerful fellows sprung between the lines and attempted, with sledge-hammers, to batter it down. The door swung and swayed, but appeared to be secured with a rope, the spring of which deadened the effect of the heavy blows. Failing thus to force an entrance, the marines were ordered to fall back. Exchanging the hammers for a ladder, which was on hand, and, converting it into a sort of battering ram, they advanced at a run and thrust it against the door. At the second blow, the latter gave way, one leaf falling inward in a slanting direction. The marines immediately dropped the ladder and rushed towards the breach formed, Lieut. Stuart among the first. One man, in the front, fell mortally wounded, and sharp and rapid was the firing from within, from the insurgents now driven to desperation. The next moment the gap is widened and the marines pour in. As Lieutenant Stuart enters the door, a voice cried out, "I surrender!" Brown said, "One man surrenders, give him quarter!" and at the same time fired his piece. The next, moment Stuart's sword had entered his skull, and the desperate outlaw was stretched bleeding.
Such was the termination of the first campaign of abolition against the liberty and independence of the South. It was a remarkable caprice of fate, that permitted the lion of Arlington to fight his first fight against abolitionism in the uniform of a federal officer; and to let him who, in the unfolded records of the future, was reserved to bring to naught all the diabolical plans of an abolition government against the integrity of the South, commence his magnificient career by capturing the sometime apostle, and, after his execution, the god of abolition.
When the insurgents were brought out of the engine house, some dead, others wounded, curious indeed was the group that surrounded them. The wounded and the a dead were stretched side by side upon the sod; and old Brown, a gory spectacle,
his face and hair clotted with blood, a bayonet wound in his side, with his dead and dying sons around him, excited the pity, indignation and horror, of all who beheld him. Several persons in the crowd at once recognized, in the outlaw, the infamous Ossawattomie Brown, of Kansas notoriety. The discovery seemed to please him, and he acknowledged the busy part he took in the Kansas war with apparent pleasure. Upon being questioned by the bystanders as to his purpose in seizing upon the Ferry, he gave different and confused answers. To some he said that he had lost a son in Kansas, to others, that he considered it his duty to make war on the slaveholder. To Governor Wise, he admitted the following: "I rented the Kennedy farm from Dr. Kennedy, and named it after him. Here I ordered to be sent from the East, all things required for my undertaking. The boxes were double, so that no one could suspect the contents of them, not even the carters engaged in hauling them up from the wharves. All boxes and packages directed to J. Smith & Son. I never had more than twenty-two men about the place at one time. But, had it so arranged, that I could arm, at any time, fifteen hundred men following arms: two thousand Sharp's rifles, two hundred Maynard's revolvers, one thousand spears. I would have armed the whites with the rifles and revolvers, and the blacks with the spears; they not being sufficiently familiar with other arms. I had plenty of ammunition and provisions, and had a good right to expect the aid of from two to five thousand men, at any time I wanted them. Help was promised me from Maryland, Kentucky, North and South Carolina, Virginia and Canada. The blow was struck a little too soon. The passing of the train on Sunday night did the work for us; that killed us. I only regret that I have failed in my designs; but I have no apology to make or concession to ask now. Had we succeeded, when our arms and funds were exhausted by an increasing army, contributions would have been levied on the slaveholders, and their property appropriated to defray expenses and carry on the war of freedom. Had I known government money was in the safe here, I would have appropriated it."
Having thus unburdened his mind and defiantly avowed his nefarious purposes, before a gaping and curious crowd, to the Governer of the State, whose soil he had polluted, Brown sank back quite exhausted, and with the calmness, that unconquerable hate lends even to the dying, surveyed the bystanders. His countenance plainly indicated that his bosom was still
agitated with those malignant passions which had ruined him, and the apparent proximity of death and its awful sequel, seemed entirely forgotten in the concentrated hate that spoke in every lineament of his face. Governor Wise told him that he had better be preparing for death. He replied, with a sneer, that he, (the Governor,) though he might live fifteen years, would have a good deal to answer for, and that he had better be preparing for death himself. The defiant conduct of Brown was imitated, in a great measure, by most of his partners in guilt. The terrors of death seemed forgotten amidst the excitement of their capture, and it was not till the grim king of terrors was felt to be slowly approaching, through the solemn and deliberate forms of the law, that their guilty souls heard again the voice of conscience and were oppressed with gloomy forebodings.
As an evidence of the mad and diabolical spirit which filled them all, the following may be read by the curious; having been written by Watson Brown, (as is said,) in the engine house, while lying there mortally wounded. "Fight on, fight on, yoo hell houns of the lower regions. Your day has come. Lower your black flag, shoot your dogs yoo devils. Hell and furies, go in for death." Such is, as it were, the dying manifesto of one of Brown's "martyr" children. His body, after his death, was transported to the dissecting room of the Medical College, at Winchester, and, when the first Yankee army entered that town the college building was burned by the Yankee soldiers, in revenge for the indignity perpetrated there upon Watson Brown's body.
The curiosity of the people to find out the motives of the outlaws, in doing as they did, restrained, for a time, their outbursts of wrath, which the more increased when they heard the criminals glory in their crimes. The proposition to hang them on the spot where they had committed their crimes, was received with loud and threatening applause, and nothing but the strong arm of the military, which was interposed for their protection, prevented their immediate execution. Notwithstanding there was a doubt concerning the right of jurisdiction in the matter, the outlaws having been captured on territory subject to the temporary control of the federal government, it was determined to hand them over to the authorities of the State whose sovereignty they had insulted. Accordingly, they were taken charge of by the civil authorities of Jefferson county, and securely confined in the Charlestown jail.
In the meantime, from the confessions of the criminals and the papers and maps found upon the person of old Brown and at the Kennedy farm, a correct idea of the nature of the invasion began to be formed in the popular mind. The developments too, which daily occurred, showing the extent and meaning of conspiracy, threw still more light upon the subject. But it was not until some time after, when large assemblies met in the North to express their sympathy for old Brown, "the martyr of freedom," and dignified public bodies adopted resolutions complimentary to his character, that the order-loving citizens of the Union comprehended the significance of the outbreak. Then, for the first time, it was discovered that there was a desperate and dangerous political element at the North which aimed at the destruction of the South even at the expense of the Union. Some of the leading papers at the North expressed a pious horror at the atrocities of the outlaws.
The northern masses, confounded at the prospect of general commotion, recoiled from the practical consequence of an anti-slavery and sectional feeling, which they then, in a measure, entertained and not long afterwards proclaimed from the housetops.
The more sagacious of the democratic northern journals took advantage of the event to read a moral lesson to the followers of the black republican leaders. They showed the meaning of the "outbreak," charged the republicans with its responsibility, pointed out the probability of the occurence of more serious similar events should the republican party obtain predominance. They spoke with the forecast of inspiration; but it is probable that party spirit, more than love of country, stimulated their sagacity. Such, indeed, was the general opinion. For, party spirit had reached that degree of bitterness in the United States when, though arguments might be prompted by the most enlightened patriotism, they were generally regarded as the interested efforts of hired advocates. It was in vain that the New York Herald and other influential organs at the North proclaimed that the "irrepressible conflict" of Mr. Seward had commenced, and that, if it was not repudiated by the North and the attempted conflagration quenched in the spark, the tires of intestine strife
would soon rage with desolating fury through the whole land. The republican presses differed in their opinions of the Harper's Ferry transaction. They agreed in some things however. They all concurred in the opinion that the republican party could alone save the country. What kind of salvation was meant, however, was in most cases concealed. Comprising within their ranks the innumerable malcontents of every imaginable radical and fanatic hue, they were united only by their common opposition to the administration and their antipathy to the southern people. They outdid the democrats in their prayers for peace, and while they, in many cases, denied their complicity in the Harper's Ferry transaction, they nevertheless, exhausted their rhetorical powers in extenuating the crimes of the outlaws and framing apologies for their fanaticism. Many of them, indeed, did not hesitate to justify Brown, and eulogise his "heroic conduct."
The abolitionists, however, proclaimed their sympathy and admiration for the criminals, with unblushing effrontery; and, when it was discovered that the Federal authority was not going to trouble them, they indulged in the most jubilant meetings, in commemoration of the glory of the"liberator of the ninteenth century." They extolled his bravery and held up, for the emulation of the American youth, his sainted example. Every act of atrocity and every piece of adroit villainy of which he had been guilty, was paraded for the edification of admiring thousands. The insolent defiance of the vain and desperate outlaw, these eloquent geese took for an exhibition of the martyr's spirit, while the attempt at servile insurrection was exalted above any other effort for freedom that the world had ever witnessed.
The pages of profane history were searched, in vain, for an anti-type to the illustrious John. Timoleon and Brutus were noble hearted heathens-- Hampden and Washington Christian heroes; but they all lacked that singleness of zeal which stamped John Brown as the divinely commissioned hero of modern times. Sacred history alone furnished any characters worthy of being compared to him. Some called him a Moses, some a Joshua, and some a Gideon, but Wendell Phillips bore off the palm for disgusting profanity, when he declared that John Brown was a second Saviour of mankind, and would make the "gallows more glorious than the cross."
While the abolitionists thus boldly avowed their approbation of the outbreak and their admiration for the discomfitted pirates who had engaged in it, it was whispered on every side, that the
most influential chiefs of the republicans were privy to the affair, and had lent it their countenance and support.
Papers were found on Brown's person and at the Kennedy farm-house which indirectly implicated men high in position in the government. No positive evidence, however, was forthcoming which, before a judicial tribunal, would convict the distinguished accused; and the indignant public, who were indignant, (a few democrats,) satisfied itself with quietly consigning the conspirators against the public peace, to the infamy they so well deserved. Among those who were thus pilloried in democratic esteem, Wm. H. Seward was conspicuous. While, however, he and his coadjutors thus lost cast with a certain respectable portion of the public, the mass of their admirers still adhered to them; not so much on account of the weakness of the evidence against them as because they liked them the better for their treason. Where they lost one friend they gained two[.] For the abolitionists and extreme republicans, a large constituency, now presented a solid phalanx in their favour.
Seward understood all this, and neither publicly denied nor admitted the charges brought against him. He felt himself to be the representative of the sectional enemies of the South, the founder and the priest of the republicans. The anointed shepherd of the new flock, hitherto, he had only fed them upon milk; but the day was not far distant when he hoped to minister at a feast of meat and blood.
While public sentiment at the North, concerning the outbreak, was thus divided, unsettled, and, among the majority, insensibly assimilating to that which prevailed among the extreme republicans, at the South the current of opinion ran in the opposite direction. Universal indignation at the audacity and atrociousness of the abolition attempt, which at first prevailed, was succeeded by a general feeling of apprehension and alarm, when the real state of public sentiment at the North began to be revealed.
Reflecting men discovered, in the various manifestations of northern sentiment, a wide-spread under-current of profound hostility to the institutions and people of the South. Amid the increasing roar of the noisy radicalism, which differed only in the degrees of sectional bitterness, they heard the mutterings of the coming storm. This impression which, at first, prevailed only with the more experienced and sagacious, soon spread among the masses; and, as the signs in the political sky became more and more threatening, the whole southern people began to fully
apprehend the significance of daily events. Several of the southern States, anticipating the future, began to prepare for the coming struggle.
Henry A. Wise, the Governor of Virginia, was one of those who foresaw with almost prophetic eye, the impending conflict. With the ostensible design, of providing against a rescue of the criminals from the Charlestown jail, he encouraged the organization of military companies throughout the State, and used every legitimate means to excite a war spirit among the people. Companies were received at Charlestown and, after a short stay there, were sent away to make room for others, in order that the war spirit might be disseminated throughout the State. The attention of the legislature was called to the state of the Commonwealth, and initiatory steps were taken to put the Old Dominion upon a war footing. All over the State, military organizations sprang up, and a homogeneous feeling of hostility was thus engendered against any and all the enemies of their cherished sovereign.
There is no doubt that these events had much to do in unitizing and strengthening those feelings of State pride which sustained Virginia in that terrible hour of trial, when called upon to bare her defenseless bosom to the northern avalanche and offer her body as a barrier against the waves of northern fanaticism.
The God of battles, who understood the loftiness of the motives which prompted the sacrificial offering, has permitted her territory to be desolated and the blood of her children to be shed; but, under the supervision of his providence, the spirit of her people is still undaunted, and her proud motto "sic semper tyrannis" still speaks an annual defiance upon the uttermost limits of her northeastern border.
In accordance with the prudent policy adopted by the Governor of Virginia, Charlestown, whose jail contained the outlaws, was transformed from a quiet country village into a military camp of instruction for the raw levies which responded
to the call of their country. Private houses as well as public buildings were converted into temporary barracks; a line of pickets girdled the town; sentinels walked their beats on its side-walks, and the busy hum of a military camp resounded through the formerly noiseless streets of the village. The threatened rescue of the imprisoned felons created the liveliest feelings of indignation throughout the South, and the Governor was honored with offers of troops from almost every Confederate State. Even Pennsylvania felt called upon to become an ally of Virginia. All help, however, outside of the State, was respectfully declined; for, the Chief Magistrate had enough to do to employ the irrepressible warriors of Virginia. Indeed, many were flatly refused, while others were granted the privilege of waiting their time. By this rotation in military service, troops were constantly relieving other troops at Charlestown, who returned to their homes with the greatest regret. The genial hospitality of the citizens of Charlestown and Jefferson county, had made the hours of their military experience joyful and fleeting, and they left the theatre of war with a very exalted opinion of the grim visaged monster.
Among the gay and animated groups which continually filled the streets of the village, representatives of all classes and from all parts of the State might have been seen. Each company disported the uniform of their fancy, and all the colors of the rainbow shone out resplendent in the various costumes which met the eye. There might have been seen the modest grey uniforms of the Richmond volunteers mingled with the cerulean blues of Alexandria, the glaring buff and yellow of the Valley Continentals and the indescribably gorgeous crimson of the southwesterners. Among many corps, each military gentleman selected his own uniform; and, while all seemed affected with a contempt for their citizen clothes, rarely more than two agreed in the selection of the color of their military dress. Some wore slouch hats, some military caps, and some stove-pipe beavers of the latest style. It was a merry gathering, and every one was as gay and as happy as a lark. They talked of war as a pastime, and seemed to think that it was a glorious thing. Old college acquaintances met, for the first time after a long separation, and exchanged opinions upon the state of the country. The western and the eastern, the northern and the southern Virginians, discovered that their views were similar, and that they were all imbued with a romantic devotion to the honor and dignity of their mother State. While some discussed politics
and war, others devoted themselves to the ladies. The plumed cavalier, with his jingling spurs and rattling sabre, vied with the gaily decorated infantryman in the hotels and parlors of the village. The slightest incident while "out on duty" served for the basis of a thrilling narrative; and often one could see some ardent captain exciting the liveliest sympathy of a tender-hearted damsel with an eloquent account of the horrors of a sleepless night or a rainy day.
But, of all the candidates for admiration who entered the lists, the militia officers of high rank were the most conspicuous. Impatient for the field, and provoked at the tardiness of the Governor in calling out their commands, they determined to give the commanding general at Charlestown the benefit of their personal prowess and counsel.
Every morning the bulletin-board announced the addition of a new officer to the staff of the commanding general, and the public were gratified to learn that another martial Solomon had arrived. Mounted on blooded steeds, and arrayed in magnificent regimentals, these distinguished gentlemen, riding constantly and furiously up and down the crowded streets of the village; were a terror to pedestrians and children, and the admiration of the ladies.
In addition to these lions of the hour, there were numerous notorious people from all parts of the republic. Notables, of every description, came and put their heads together, over a bowl of punch, to determine the fate of the country. "Border ruffians," "Indian fighters," Texas veterans, northern democrats, celebrated philanthropists, newspaper correspondents, and strong-minded women, all assembled at Charlestown for the purpose of gratifying their curiosity. Each one seemed possessed with a vague idea that something was about to turn up, out of which something could be made. Perhaps, the novel pleasures of those days and the horrors of those nights fascinated them. For military parades--the short intervals between filled up with violent discussions and the ceaseless touching of glasses at the bar-room counter--made the day pass quite glibly; while the parting good-night healths were oft renewed to fortify the mind against the terrible alarms which invariably disturbed one's nocturnal slumbers. Rumors of midnight attempts at rescue, and of the burning of the village under the cover of darkness, made their regular evening rounds; and the sentinels, who were ever ready to discharge their pieces at indiscreet night-wanderers, were constantly verifying the apprehensions
of the anxious. When, to all this fanfaronade of noisy soldiers, gorgeous officers, impudent, prying, notorieties and Yankee correspondents, elbowing each other, everywhere, and vieing in mutual displays of military fierceness and sectional contempt, we add, the clatter of kettle-drums, the march of armed columns, the flaunting of banners, the glistening of bayonets, and the incessant outbursts of martial music, we have a faint picture of that mimic scene of war which was a significant part in the first act of the great revolutionary drama.
This hollow bombast, which eyes inexperienced mistook for the real "pomp and circumstance of war," was quite natural to a people who, for so long a time, had enjoyed the luxury of peace. The first opportunity of gratifying the martial ardor of a people naturally found of war, was seized with avidity by the susceptible youth of Virginia; and it was in accordance with the character of events that the opening display should seem bombastic and ridiculous. The Yankee correspondents, whose machiavellian souls could not comprehend the uncalculating resentment of insulted honor nor discover, beneath the crust of bravado, an uncompromising self respect and a contempt for danger, construed it all as a sort of Chinese display of absurd sentimentality. They caricatured and magnified all the foibles and follies of the southern cavalier. The most absurd or the most commonplace event, according to its suitableness, was accepted and expounded as illustrating southern character, while the most contemptible of southern coxcombs were portrayed as the patterns and paragons of Virginia chivalry. This artful misrepresentation of things, at a time when the public mind of the North was already apologising for the villainy of the outlaws, had much to do in creating the conviction that the southern people were a race of uneducated, half-mad, Quixotic fools.
When, with hearts gangrened with hatred and envy, the intelligent northern freemen read in their favorite journals how the judge presiding at Charlestown was brutal, the Virginia lawyers profane and bullying, the jurymen ignorant and cruel, and the whole population habitually drunk, their previous speculative conjectures assumed the form of a fixed belief that their southern brethern, alas, were barbarous in spite of the civilizing influence of the Union.
Thus was the poison of ignorance and prejudice accelerated in its circulation in northern blood; and, before the trial of the outlaws reached its end, the impression began to be pretty general the North, that John Brown was the victim of a savage and
ferocious people who deserved the fate which he said John had designed for them.
Though the northerners drew these pregnant conclusions from
the tragico-comic performances at Charlestown, subsequent events
have shown that the occasion had called forth genuine as well as counterfeit
heroes. Among those gay crowds which to northern eyes, seemed composed of
inflated coxcombs and swaggering bullies, there were many choice spirits,
whose names have since become things of terror to the valiant Yankee. Some
still remain, surviving years of peril, to repeat their deeds of daring upon new
fields of stife; but many, alas,
"Sleep their last sleep,"
and will not be permitted to hear the shouts of praise which their redeemed country will yet send up to heaven for deliverance. How they fell, while plunged deep in the columns of the foe or mounting the summits of hostile entrenchments, a grateful country cannot forget; and popular ballad or local tradition will perpetuate their fame among those whom they loved most.
Among these, however, there were two whom the voice of mankind has proclaimed immortal--Jackson and Ashby. They were the Confederacy's first love, and she preserves their memory with the tenderness of a heart-broken youth. Whether rejoicing over victory or mourning over defeat, back to the past the nation ever turns and lingers with mournful pleasure over the recollection of her most dearly beloved. In vain will the muse "the brightest heaven of invention ascend" to paint the pure splendor of their glory. Down in the fathomless depths of the Confederate heart, where affection keeps its dearest idols, their image is enshrined, and in the unwritten language of devotion their praises are sung.
Among the many dashing cavaliers who, glowing with martial ardor and a romantic attachment to their native State, responded to the call to arms, Turner Ashby was foremost. He came to war as to a feast, and seemed elevated and transformed, from the sluggish person he was in business, into an active, vigilant and energetic being, under the influence of new hopes and new scenes. His knightly mien and superb horsemanship attracted the notice and excited the admiration of all, while his calm demeanor and gentle manners quite won their hearts. The glittering pageantry of holiday parade, which stirred the majority with the mere sentiment of glory, excited more serious emotions in the prophetic soul of Ashby. Like the war horse of Job, he "snuffed
the battle from afar" and saw, in the harmless show around him, the opening scene of a bloody period and the promise of a grand theatre of action. A calvary captain then, his observed soldierly qualities was the constant theme of popular praise; and the applause which followed him foreshadowed his future success, when he was to become the paragon of chivalry and the ideal of southern romance. Like that of the knights of old, his career rather illustrated the power of personal prowess and the influence of daring example than that of well-directed military talent. Inspiring, by his own conduct, an untrained but resistless valor in his men, he achieved results rather through the power of love and sympathy than through that of modern discipline. Had he lived, he would, probably, have availed himself of the advantages of scientific knowledge, and, in time, have become a great and successful general. But he fell in the spring time of his career, and in the morning of his fame; and, though years have elapsed, the influence of his genius is still seen in the unrivalled dash and gallantry of his old command.
Jackson, at Charlestown, neither attracted the notice of the crowd or excited the expectations of his friends. At a time when the prophetic popular voice was declaring the heirs to future distinction, his pale face and ungraceful form passed unmarked amid the throng of gold-covered chieftains who adorned the scene. Regarded as a dyspeptic martinet and an uninteresting blue Presbyterian, none ever dreamed of the great mind and heroic soul which slumbered within such a commonplace exterior.
War, in all its horrid nakedness, seemed necessary to develop the grand points of his character. Like the goddess of antiquity, whose brightness only shone amid the blinding darkness and fury of the storm, it was only amid the tempest of conflicting hosts that the splendor of his greatness was visible. It was then that the inmost depths of his nature was stirred; and, equal to the occasion, his genius, God- like, soared sublime. Captivating his soldiers with a kindness and spmpathy which was almost heavenly, and elevating them into a lofty contempt for danger by a calmness that seemed to deny its existence, he hurled them in irresistible masses upon the enemy. Under the impulse of his iron will, impossibilities were made easy; and time and space annihilated by the rapidity of his movements. But, the beauty of his life was more admirable than the magnificence of his genius. Within the rough casket were precious virtues whose radiance were reflected in his daily conduct. With an abiding trust in God, he performed the apparantly most trival duties, with the
same fearfulness that he engaged in battle. But, when once he had determined, the thunder of hostile cannon or the threatening advance of serried columns were as powerless to change his purpose, as the frown of a child. With none of that lofty heroic pride which fortune seems to love, the fickle goddess was yet a constant minion in his train. Humility exemplified in him overthrew armies, and every victory seemed an oblation to God. The glory of his life culminated at its close, and the loving gentleness that was exhibited in the agonies of death, filled up the measure of his greatness.
When Jackson died the Confederacy wept; and the sincere lamentations of distant nations prolonged the anthem which followed him to his grave. The copious showers of grief, which relieved the aching heart of southern women, no less than the scalding tear, which burned the Confederate soldier's manly cheek, attested a nation's love ; while the unfeigned tributes, from his country's enemies and from stangers in foreign lands, proclaimed that his death had wrung with sorrow the heart of civilized mankind.
While this petty prologue to real war was being pronounced by the sensitive spirits of Virginia, John Brown and his comrades were quietly reposing in the jail of Charlestown, awaiting the determination of their fate. This, Virginia proceeded to ascertain, according to the established forms of law, and in spite of the manifest disposition of some of the more violent, to visit summary vengeance upon the exultant murderers. The outcry against them was great, and was increased by the apprehension that chance, or a desperate effort on the part of their many northern sympathisers, might let them loose once more to prey upon society. Organized troops became as necessary to repress the violence of the mob, as to anticipate every
attempt at rescue or escape. The madness of the latter was plain, but was not thought improbable, when the past was considered. It was certainly more rational to attempt a rescue of the prisoners, than to assail the power of the Federal and State governments; and this had been attempted. The same political intriguers who had devised and moved the one, could easily find fools enough to attempt the other. Besides, the practicability of these things was not an element considered. Political effect, in creating sectional bitterness, was the primary object; and that, either partial success or complete defeat was certain to produce. Perhaps, it would have been better for the South, if the criminals had been rescued and a border war then commenced with the hordes of abolition. But it is unprofitable to speculate upon the advantages of war. It may safely be surmised that it always comes soon enough, and that he who postpones it without sacrificing the honor of the State, is a public benefactor.
John Brown and his comrades were indicted for treason, murder, and an attempt to excite servile insurrection among the slaves. Upon the first count of the indictment, questions arose as to the definition of treason against a State. Hence, came up the question of State sovereignty; and, in this case, as afterwards occurred when the citizens of the State met in conflict the soldiers of the federal government, that doctrine was adopted, by either, which justified their conduct. Those metaphysical subtleties, with which the profound federalists of Virginia had demonstrated the propriety of federal assumption of power, vanished before the trenchant logic of alarming facts. Upon the other counts of the indictment, but a feeble resistance was made, as both the testimony and the law was overwhelming. The counsel of the prisoners were permitted to resort to all those technical impediments to judgment which the law of Virginia, bending towards the side of mercy, affords to the accused. Their ingenuity was, however, finally exhausted, and the trial soon neared its end. The greatest difficulty was to obtain an impartial jury. The feeling of resentment against the outlaws was so intense that, most of those selected by the sheriff, when examined upon oath, admitted that their opinions, already formed upon the merits of the case, prevented them from giving the criminals a fair trial. One man, upon being asked, if he had any scruples about inflicting capital punishment, replied that he formerly had, but, since the arrival of Brown and his confederates, he had
changed his opinions and believed that it was absolutely necessary to hang occasionally.
Finally, all the testimony had been heard; and the learned counsel, whom prominent abolitionists had procured from the North, concluded their last objection and rounded their last period. The jury were instructed and retiring from the court room, they, in a short time returned to render their verdict. This was rendered in the midst of a breathless mass of spectators assembled from all parts of the whole country. It declared the prisoners guilty of all the counts in the indictment. The verdict was one which all expected, and yet its announcement seemed to afford great relief. The clerk asked Brown, if he could assign any reason why sentence of death should not be passed upon him. Brown rose up to the height of his full stature and, with a countenance now, for the first time, manifesting fear and apprehension, spoke 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, of a design on my part to free slaves. I intended, certainly, to have made a clear thing of that matter, as I did last winter when I went into Missouri, and there took slaves without the snapping of a gun on either side. I 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 slaves to rebellion or to make insurrection."
"I have another objection, and that is, it is unjust that I should suffer such a penalty. Had I interferred in the manner, which I admit has been fairly proved, (for I admire the and candor of the greater portion of the witnesses who have testified in this case)--had I so interferred, in behalf of the rich and powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of any of their friends, either father or mother, brother or sister, wife or children, or any of that class, and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have been all right, and this court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward, rather than punishment. This court acknowledges too, I suppose, the validity of the law of God. I see a book kissed here, which, I suppose, to be a bible, or, at least, the new testament. That teaches me that all things, whatsoever, would men should do unto me, I should do so even to them. It teaches me further, to remember them
that are in bonds, as bonded with them. I endeavored to act up to these instructions. I say, I am yet too young to understand that God is any respecter of persons. I believe, that to have interferred, as I have done, in behalf of his despised poor, was no 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 the 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 trail. Considering all the circumstances, it has been more generous than I expected, but I feel no consciousness of guilt. I have stated from the first, what were my intentions and what were not. I never had any design against the life of any person, or any disposition to commit treason, or incite the slaves to rebel, or make any general insurrection. I never encouraged any man to do so, but always discouraged any idea of that kind. Let me say also, in regard to the statements made by some of those connected with me. I fear it has been stated by some of them that I have induced them to join me. But the contrary is true. I do not say this to injure them, but, as regretting their weakness. There is none of them but what joined me of his own accord, and the greater part at their own expense. A number of them I never saw, and never had a conversation with till the day they came to me, and that was for the purpose I have stated. Now I have done."
While Brown was speaking, great quiet prevailed. When he had finished, the court proceeded to pronounce sentence. After some preliminary remarks, in which the judge (Parker,) said, that no reasonable doubt could exist as to guilt of the prisoner, the court sentenced him to be hung on the 2nd December.
Such was the speech, word for word, made by Brown. It was republished in most of the northern papers. If any one will turn back and compare it with what he told Governor Wise, the morning of his capture, he will discover a flat denial in the last of what was triumphantly asserted in the first. To Wise, he, substantially, says that he came South to revolutionize the government and overthrow her whole social fabric, by means of the slaves and the disaffected non-slaveholders. For this purpose, he had brought jagged spears, for the untaught African, and rifles for the more intelligent whites. All his
correspondence shows that such were his intentions; and all his abolition sympathizers boast of and admire him, because he had the heart to conceive it and the nerve to attempt it. His provisional constitution is based upon the idea of a general upheaving of the social and political institutions of the South; and there is not a shadow of a doubt, from his own acts and declarations, as well as those of his professed friends and admirers, that such was the object of the treasonable conspiracy, of which he was the open conductor.
This was what legitimized and sanctified, in the opinion of abolitionists, his arsons and murders, and invested him with the character of a divinely commissioned hero.
And yet, alas! for poor frail human nature, when the judge, with the fearful black cap sits before him, ready prepared to pronounce his doom, the great apostle of abolitionism trembles and denies his faith. Before the earthly tribunal, almost, and, indeed, pretending to be, certain of his fate; with the eyes of his enemies upon him, while thousands of big worshippers, at a distance, are waiting to hear of the triumphant declaration of his mission and his calm acceptance of martyrdom; yet, under all these stimulating circumstances, with not the brazen hardihood of an ordinary convict, he repudiates his destiny and equivocates and lies in his desire to move the mercy of the judge.
In order to understand this apostacy of Brown, in the very crisis of his fate, it is proper to recur to some other facts which have not been mentioned. Most of the northern press, yielding to the violent clamor of the blatant abolitionists, had urged upon Governor Wise the expediency of pardoning Brown, or commuting his sentence to one of solitary confinement for life. With specious sophistry, they argued that such an act of executive clemency would declare the magnanimity of Virginia, deprive the abolitionists of their thunder, and conciliate the moderates of the North.
Private attacks, too, were made upon his firmness, and he was encouraged to hope that such a betrayal of his trust would not only act as oil to the troubled waters, but secure him political strength with the national democracy. [For Governor Wise was then a prominent candidate for the democratic nomination for the presidency.] In this way, the impression began to prevail with some people that Brown had yet some hope of life. Brown caught at the hope as a drowning man is said to catch at a straw; and, fearful of death, in the presence of the
court, denied his ever having entertained radical designs; and thus, by his very cunning effort to preserve his life, betrayed plainly his real character and solicited for himself the ignominious punishment which he so well deserved.
Afterwards, when Governor Wise informed him, in prison, that there was no room for hope, he again returned to his first declarations, and edified his disciples with long-winded epistles about the glorious death which awaited him. Seated in his cell, in Charlestown, he passed the last fleeting moments of his existence in inditing words of comfort to the faithful. The voluminous and remarkable manuscripts which, through the mail, bore homage to his greatness from all parts of the North, were rare specimens for the lovers of the curious. Marble- hearted philosophers could not have perused, with dry eyes, their pathetic language of devotion, while the most erudite pantheist would have been startled at the novel theories of a hereafter, explained in their contents.
Isms, which had never before been heard of in the South, of every possible hue and variety, were there discovered as allies of abolitionism. Spiritualists, sentimentalists, and socialists of every conceivable description, in sentences of compliment and adoration, which profaned and blasphemed as they went, furnished stimulants to the doubting heart of the bloodstained villain.
One person, a woman I think, wrote to ask him to take a message to her beloved, whom she represented as enjoying the fruits of his abolition efforts while on earth, in the land of liberty beyond the skies; and, in order that he might recognize the dead one for whom the message was intended, she enclosed his photograph. Of such was the mass who idolized John Brown, and such like are those who now wage the most barbarous of all wars upon the southern people.
No doubt, if the truth could be ascertained, upon investigation it would be found that a large majority of the people of the North entertain religious opinions, or rather irreligious opinions, which more nearly resemble downright infidelity and atheism than christianity. Amid the engrossing pursuits which the present war has engendered in the North, it has, perhaps, not been profitable to gather statistics concerning the spread of the respective infidel creeds. Some curious Yankee, however, has amused himself with estimating the increase of the spiritualistic belief. As the result of his investigation, he gives
the alarming fact that there are now six hundred thousand professing spiritualists in that illuminated land.
If the other respectable as well as vulgar isms have increased at a similar rate, the number of orthodox Christians remaining is small indeed. Supported by the strong artificial, sentimental stuff, with which he was daily supplied through the mail, Brown contemplated his coming martyrdom with increased calmness.
From the sublime heights of sanctity, to which vanity and flattery had raised him, he began to regard his ignorant persecutors with feelings more resembling contempt than hatred. To all slaveholders who, out of mere curiosity, went to see him, his manner was that of a man who had been deeply wronged; who knew it, but did not resent it. His charity, however, sometimes manifested itself in moral lectures, which partook more of the vehement invective style than the exhortative. Especially if any Christian minister, from motives of kindness, went to offer him in his desolateness, the consolations of religion. Upon him he would let out all his gall of bitterness, telling him, in the first place, that he (Brown) was better posted on the bible than any other man North or South, and that when he was in want of information he should not probably apply for it to a heathen.
In this way, scribbling sermons to his disciples, expounding the mystery of human rights to all who would listen, and throwing out plain hints to the southern ministers of the torture reserved for them, he prepared himself for his final departure from earth.
At the day appointed, December 2d, 1859, under a strong guard of soldiers, be was conducted to the gallows, and, there, in sight of the beautiful country, a portion of which he had hoped one day to possess, he suffered the extreme penalty of the law.
Near the spot where he was hung, a tree stood. Afterwards, when the Yankee soldiers took possession of the town, some negro told them that Brown had been hung upon that tree. The forewith cut it down and hewing out little pieces, sent them home as rare relics to their families.
The body was given up to his wife who, enclosing it in a metallic coffin, carried it to North Elba, New York. The arrival of the corpse in Philadelphia and New York was, in a great measure, concealed from the populace through the strenuous efforts of the police; and, though crowds were on the qui-vive to receive with honor the sacred relics, the activity and vigilance of the police succeeded in keeping it a profound secret from the many. As it proceeded further North, however, such was not
the case. In several towns the news of its arrival was the signal for popular demonstration. The heart-rending spectacle of the "murdered hero," in several instances, moved the mob to tears; and the universal interest, manifested among the northern masses, revealed the fact that the popular sympathy for the villain was, beyond all expectation, wide-spread.
Upon the day appointed for his execution, a motion for adjournment out of respect to the sacredness of the day, was lost in the Massachusetts State Senate, by three votes; while in many of the towns in that pestilent State the bells of their temples were tolled, and congregations of the faithful assembled to consecrate the day with their heathen ceremonies.
The body was carried to North Elba and, after being kept in state for a short time, was followed to the grave by troops of canting abolitionists. There, with a simple monument to mark the spot, it still rests, and the frequent pilgrimages to the sequestered spot has made North Elba a sort of modern Mecca for the disciples of the abolition Apostle.
The rest of the conspirators were disposed of in the same manner as their chief, though the interest of the northern public seemed to have been centred in Brown.
Cook, his second in command at the outbreak, deserves some notice, from the fact of his betrayal of his chief and the great effort made to save his life by influential connections. He was the brother-in-law of the Governor of Indiana, and no pains were spared to save the family from the disgrace of his execution upon the gallows.
Cook, as we have already seen, deserted old Brown in his hour of need at the Ferry; and endeavored to secure himself by an early retreat. His long stay at the Ferry, previous to the insurrectionary attempt, had probably convinced him of the madness of the scheme; and he only participated far enough to obtain some treasure and valuables from the farm houses he visited; when it appears he made off with his plunder to the mountains.
He was soon caught, however, and securely lodged in jail. When once there, the apprehensions of just punishment for his crimes quite banished the airy fabric of sentimental sophistry, with which he had soothed the few pangs of conscience he experienced in the perpetration of his many villainies. Like Brown, abandoning his professed creed, he confessed some of his crimes and pleaded for mercy. He even disregarded those obligations of false honor which are the last to be abandoned by thieves, and, with a hope of obtaining pardon as a reward for his treachery, told all he knew against his confederates. But his cowardice availed him little. He only excited contempt instead of pity, and, in spite of the eloquent efforts of his counsel, was condemned to be hung.
Like Brown, too, when all hope was lost, he sought to reinstate himself in the good opinion of his former admirers. He wrote verses and pathetic prose, to his northern friends, about the "glorious cause" and pretended to look forward with pleasure, to the glorious time of his apotheosis.
Confined in the same room with Cook was a fellow-sufferer by the name of Coppic. Concerning this worthy, all that is known is obtained from a letter written by an old Quaker in the northwest, who seems to have raised him. He bewails the sad fate that has befallen his apprentice, and seems to take a sort of mournful pleasure in finding that the "vicious boy," who would heed no admonitions of wisdom, has, at last; reached that state of misfortune which he had always predicted was in reserve for him.
In conjunction with this soldier of freedom, Cook conceived the plan of making one bold effort to escape from prison. Removing the bricks from under the sill of the window of their cell and filing off, by means of a hacked pocket-knife, their fetters, they, one dark and rainy night, descended and found themselves within the jail yard free and unfettered. A low wall of brick, beyond which, at intervals of twenty paces, sentinels kept watch, was all that lay between them and freedom. Leaning against the wall were the beams and planks of the scaffold upon which they were expected to spend their last moments. The circumstances were sufficient to have nerved a child to make one desperate effort for life. Mounting the wall, they were about to make the leap, when one of the sentries hearing the noise, fired his piece at them. Paralyzed with fear, these two heroes of abolitionism retreated back to the jail and gave themselves up. Nobody was astonished at their attempt to escape, but people
smiled when they discovered that these champions of an oppressed race had not the resolution to hazard something to secure their own lives and liberties. Not long afterwards, Cook, Coppic and the rest of the piratical crew were hung, and the list of abolition martyrs was again increased.
Thus ended the first rebellion. It was conceived in iniquity, born in sin, and met with the violent end it merited. Though its avowed object was unaccomplished, the blow struck contributed much towards it, and the designs of its instigators were certainly crowned with success. The blood that it cost, stimulated disunion; and the mutual bitterness and heartburnings, which it engendered throughout the country, were the dragon's teeth from which sprang crops of armed men. Like the war which followed it, it was a blessing in disguise; though its fruits have not entirely been made manifest. It is a part, and was, in some measure, the eccasion of the present struggle. It familiarized the northern mind with the idea of intestine conflict. It robbed the grim-vissaged monster of his revolting novelty, and baptized him the god-child of abolition and the champion of the oppressed.
Perverted as the whole affair was in northern journals, it not only served to excite the resentment of the North, but it convinced them of the weakness of the South, and of their own power. They felt no longer constrained to treat as an equal a section which they had long hated and feared, but now began to regard as an inferior in merit and strength. Spurning what they considered as the exploded idea of southern power, they gave full rein to the many evil passions which they had entertained. They elaborated their wild notions of free soil and American destiny, treating with contemptuous indifference the possible objections of the South.
While its moral effect, in thus consummating that revolution
of opinion which for years had been slowly gathering strength in the North, was great, its political consequences were immediate and significant. Sectional animosity, which was the source of vitality to the republican organization, was inflamed to that degree of fever heat, when the admonitions of reason are not heard amid the raging tempest of passion. Profiting by the storm, the republican leaders, whose political ambition was stimulated by bitter personal hostility to southern gentlemen, then threw off still more of the mask and proclaimed the doctrine of irrepressible conflict. The "music of the Union" was drowned amid the mere mutterings of the approaching revolution. The obligations of the federal compact needed only to be mentioned to call forth derision, and all sense of reason, propriety, and decency were lost in the insanity of the hour.
In anticipation of conflict, party organization assumed a military character; national wide-awake clubs were formed and the able-bodied members drilled in the exercises of war. Illuminations and bonfires, processions and popular gatherings, celebrated the coming triumphs of the implacable enemies of the South. The frenzy was almost universal, and those who still retained some glimmerings of reason, were helpless in the presence of the mighty flood which threatened to engulf all who resisted. "Facilis descensus Averni," and rapid indeed is the progress in evil of a people who, for the gratification of evil passions, shut their eyes to the obligations of duty.
Popular sympathy with abolition conspirators, whose despicable crimes merited the detestation of all good citizens, was but a sign of coming events which soon occurred. Sympathy with one act of rebellion, manifested a disposition to approve a similar undertaking and the diabolical chiefs of the anti-southern party, took advantage of the occasion. Thus is the connection between the first and second rebellions short and simple. For the outbreak at the Ferry was the first rebellion, with John Brown for its nominal leader. The second, though plotted for a long time, was publicly organized by Seward, Greely & Co., at Chicago, the following year.
The Chicago Convention was the grand consolidation of the numerous rebellious movements which, for years had been springing up and gathering strength in the North. The Chicago platform was the common "plan of action," upon which they all agreed, for the sake of overthrowing their common enemy--the constitution. Over it, all the factious interests, rampant radicalisms, and insurrectionary fanatics, joined hands
of fellowship and subscribed pledges of mutual support. Each had a different ulterior end, but the overthrow of the constitution and the destruction of the South was the first step in their respective programmes; and this the triumph of the Chicago platform and its champions would certainly bring about. For a long time these rebellious movements had been progressing. They had manifested themselves in a thousand different ways. Sometimes in acts of popular violence; sometimes in the treasonable resolutions of conventions and assemblies, and not unfrequently in legislative statutes, and in the solemn acts of State Governors and other high officials.
A lively sense of the pecuniary advantages of peace and Union, for a period, repressed a general outburst. The great masses still, from fear of southern resentment, refrained from pushing matters to extremes; though they applauded and encouraged the violence of irresponsible mobs. They were guilty of the perfidy of disguising their real purposes, until they thought the moment had arrived for compelling the acquiescence of the South. In 1860 they thought that time had come, and they rallied, with a unanimity undreamed of in the South, to the support of an open and avowed attempt at rebellion. The Chicago platform became their bible and their constitution, and allegiance to it was held far superior to all other political obligations.
The first rebellion failed, the rather because its mode seemed impracticable to the northern mind than because its avowed objects were considered objectionable. For, even then, the overthrow of the constitution and the destruction of the South, at which it aimed, would have been agreeable to a very formidable portion of the northern people. The same bad men, who were privy to and helped to plot the first, more or less elaborated the second. The main objects of each were the same, namely: the dethronement of the legitimate majesty of the constitution, and, thereafter, the annihilation of the sovereignties of the States and the destruction of the South.
The leaders were impelled by motives of ambition and malignant hostility to the South. They did not hesitate to walk over the wreck of civil liberty into the high places of power, where, armed with authority, they proposed to gratify their feelings of vengeance.
The people, their tools, maddened with a senseless fanaticism and a blind resentment towards the South, were appalled by no consideration of loss in the pursuit of their mad projects.
Like bound lunatics, as they were, they felt themselves ground down by the tyranny of a compact which, to a small extent, protected the minority against the imperious will of a majority. They could not and they would not endure its authority; and, if they could not overthrow it, they would not abide by it.
The plan of the most precipitate of the rebels, for sometime, was to profess an allegiance to a higher law, and respect the articles of the compact, only where it did not interfere with the statutes of the "higher law." This "higher law," the most indefinite and uncertain thing in the world, was capable of being modified, expanded, or repealed, according to the mandates of the reason of each individual, it was said; but, more properly, according to the kind and quantity of malignant passions that reigned in each individual breast. But, it was soon found that this subterfuge was unnecessary. A president and a numerical majority was all that was required; and then, acts of Congress could be passed or repealed to carry out all their designs. All they wanted, was this, and the constitution or the compact, whatever it was called, would have to stand aside. In other words, it would be overthrown, banished, done away with, and, in its place, a vulgar and fanatical majority would enthrone their capricious will. When fanatical villains declared in the federal Congress, that they acknowledged allegiance to another government than the one which protected them, namely: to the provisional government or cabal of radicalists who promulgated and expounded the "higher law," nobody thought of calling them rebels. The very audacity of their treason prevented its being seen in its true light. And when these traitors went on, from year to year, doing the same thing and constantly increasing in power and influence, still, few regarded them as traitors plotting against the spirit and form of the constitution. The observed bitterness of their hostility to the slaveholder, blinded people, especially southerners, to their real designs. It was foolishly supposed that their whole antipathy was against the institution of slavery; hence they were merely called fanatical abolitionists and quietly despised. But these men, especially the more crafty of them, were making the proposed destruction of slavery a means and an end, at the same time. Their ruling passion was desire of power, and they declaimed against slavery, more for the purpose of obtaining, that, than from any real philanthropic aversion to the institution. True, they hated the slaveholder because he was a gentleman
whose courtesy and courage annoyed them; but they cared nothing for the slaves.
In this way was their treason to the government so well concealed, it was not, until time and circumstances had put into their hands the whole political power of the North, that the southern masses penetrated their designs. It was then seen that they had banded to destroy the delegated majesty of the established constitution, and to exalt in its stead, not a new constitution modified, through the modes provided for in the old, but the capricious will of a mere numerical majority of legislators who would be guided in the use of their power by nothing but party interest and sectional hate.
The term rebellion can never be properly applied to the conduct of a State, acting (through a convention) in its sovereign capacity. It is, however, quite applicable to certain acts of State legislatures, or even to those of the majority of people of such States, when either countenancing, encouraging, or participating in factions and violent resistance, to the execution of established laws. For, such conduct is nothing less than rebellion against the sovereignty of the State in which it occurs; and in this way, also, is it rebellion against the delegated majesty of federal power. Now, the Confederate States, (except Kentucky and Missouri,) have never been even charged with this kind of factious commotion. And, even granting that the perfidy and usurpations of the North had not released the South from the so-called binding obligations of allegiance to the old federal compact; still, the action of the Confederate States in seceding as they did, (through regular conventions,) makes the term rebellion inapplicable to their conduct. The same cannot be said of the northern States. They, both by the conduct of their legislatures, (which no class of politicians have ever regarded as representing the sovereignty of the States,) in denouncing the constitution and in passing statutes which reward treason and punish an obedience to established
laws, and by the mobocratic violence of their respective citizens, in resisting the execution of federal laws, were, for a long time before the commencement of the present struggle, guilty of insurrection and rebellion.
"Rebellion," says Johnson and Walker, "is an insurrection against lawful authority." But what is an insurrection? "It is," says Johnson and Walker, "a factious rising, a rebellious commotion." These definitions, of course, are expressed in words such as will convey, as near as possible, a uniform meaning to different people living under different forms of government. In their most ordinary signification, they more particularly apply to mobs and popular riots. Under governments, in the administration of which the masses have no voice, these are the usual, and sometimes the only modes of redress against real or imaginary oppression. But, in republics, where the vox populi is the wind which drives the vessel of state, no such vulgar things as mobs are necessary to depose lawful authority. At least, when they do occur, they are not called mobs, but "uprisings of the people," "indignation meetings," and such like grand names. Sometimes it is true, the"sovereigns" so far forget their dignity as to intimidate the officers of the law with threatning demonstrations, (as occurred in the rescue of the fugitive slave Burns, at Boston, and upon numerous like occasions,) but, then, they do the thing with so much dignity, shedding, so little blood and smashing so few windows, that it seems more like an exertion of extra-judicial authority, than a riotous outbreak.
Treason, which animates all insurrections, generally suggests the most feasible modes of rebellion. In the old Union, the conspirators against lawful authority, adopted the available means to suit the end in view. They persuaded the people, by exciting their insensate passions with well-drawn pictures of constitutional tyranny, to elect to office none but the professed plotters of rebellion. And these worthies, with treason in their hearts and on their tongues, took the oath of allegiance to a constitution which they were instructed to dethrone, in whatever unlawful manner promised success. By the operation of their political machinery, conspirators soon filled most of the important public offices in the North. The length of the term of offices in the federal senate and judiciary, afforded some check to the progress of the conspiracy. But, their rapid increase in power and influence, assured an early preponderance in the senate, and they did not hesitate to declare that, if the judiciary
dared to refuse their countenance and support, after a numerical majority had been secured in Congress, they would eat their dictums and the obnoxious articles of the constitution with equal contempt.
In those of the northern States, where their supremacy was undisputed, laws were passed openly defying the authority of the constitution. Massachusetts, whose rebellious acts furnish the most glaring instances of this treason of the State legislatures, in 1855, passed an act declaring that, "no person, while holding any office of honor, trust, or emolument, under the laws of this commonwealth, shall, in any capacity issue any warrant or other proof, or grant any certificate under, or by virtue of an act of Congress, approved the 13th day of February, in the year 1793, entitled, 'an act respecting fugitives from justice, and persons escaping from the service of their masters,' or under or by virtue of an act of Congress, approved the 18th day of September, 1850, entitled 'an act to amend, and supplementary to an act respecting fugitives from justice, and persons escaping from the service of their masters,' or shall in any capacity serve any such warrant or other process."
It then proceeds to affix penalties to all possible evasions or violations of this act, by any foolish people who entertain a guilty attachment to the constitution of their fathers. If it be a State officer who is guilty, "his office shall be deemed vacant, and he shall forever thereafter be ineligible to hold any office of trust, honor, (?) or emolument, under the laws of this commonwealth." And all lawyers, who are base enough to appear as counsel for the slave-owner, are disposed of in the following summary manner: "He shall be deemed to have resigned any commission from the commonweath that he may possess, and he shall be thereafter incapacitated from appearing as counsel or attorney in the courts of this commonwealth." Sheriffs, jailers, coroners, constables and other Stale officers, who shall, in any manner, aid in, connive, or wink at, the violation of this law, are to suffer what, in Massachusetts, has generally been considered capital punishment, namely: to be severely fined and imprisoned.
Even judges, who are sworn to support the federal constitution, if guilty of issuing warrants under the acts specified, in accordance with the oath which they have sworn, are to be subject to removal and impeachment.
Such was the glaring act of defiant rebellion which Massachusetts passed in 1855. The arguments which are generally used to justify the right of nullification, do not apply in this case.
They only apply where a State, through a convention, declines to obey an act of Congress, on the ground of its unconstitutionality. But the reason, assigned by Massachusetts and the other northern States, guilty of similar treason, was that the fugitive slave laws of 1793 and 1850, were odious and conflicted with certain articles of their "higher law," which they had already exalted above the constitution. And, yet, this miserable State of Massachusetts, though her whole history is one of perfidy and treason, from the very origin of the federal compact down to the present time, talks more and writes more about the, "damnable treason of secession," and is more prolific of schemes of cruelty for "southern traitors," than any other State in the North. She was the first to propose, in the Hartford convention, to desert the common cause and go over to the enemy, during the war of 1812. She was the leader in every subsequent treasonable movement against the old government; and now, when, by means of a war, of which she is the principal author, her lap is being filled with stolen treasure, she is even untrue to the league of blood to which she owes so much. Even the honor, that thieves profess, is denied her. For, her co-partners in crime, complain most bitterly, that she dodges the draft, while she gets more than the lion's share of the spoils.
The course of Massachusetts but illustrates the general rebellious movement which occurred at the North. Not only the State legislatures, but the bulk of the citizens, in one way or another, countenanced or participated in overt acts of rebellion. For years before the breaking out of the present war, it was impossible for a southerner to obtain, at the North, the protection of the federal law, in the enjoyment of the rights guaranteed to him by the constitution.
If a citizen of Boston wished to move with his family and household goods and chattles, (patent medicines, wooden nutmegs and all,) to any point in the Union, he could travel whatever route be pleased, sure of obtaining, both in the South and in his own section, that security of liberty and property, which the federal compact guaranteed to the citizens of all the States. Similar privileges were, however, not allowed to southerners. If a citizen of Baltimore proposed to emigrate to the State of Missouri with his property, he was obliged to choose some other, than the most direct route to St. Louis. He could neither travel via New York and Chicago, nor via Pittsburg and Cincinnatti. He was not even permitted to go over the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to Wheeling, and thence, through the States of Ohio,
Indiana and Illinois. The condition of chronic insurrection against the federal authority, in all the free States, warned him against the danger of such a course. If he attempted it, he was not only certain of having his servants forcibly torn from him, but there was a strong likelihood of getting his head broken and being thrust into a felon's cell, upon the charge of kidnaping.
The rebels, as it were, held military possession of the free States. They picketed the highways and garrisoned the towns and cities of the same. And so, the inexorable law of military necessity compelled our would-be emigrant to Missouri, to select some circuitous route through the southern States, in order to reach in safety the object of his destination.
Thus was the whole North country "occupied and possessed," by a law-defying, rebellious populace, long before the memorable year of 1860. Moreover, if any person committed a criminal offence against the laws of a northern State, and escaped to a southern State, no difficulty was ever encountered in obtaining, from the civil authorities of the same, the surrender of the fugitive when found, or whatever aid and countenance might facilitate his capture. Both the people and the authorities in the southern States, fulfilled the terms of the federal compact in spirit and in truth. On the other hand, let any enterprising Yankee rogue, steal a slave and make off with him to a northern State; he, invariably, found an asylum anywhere in the North, even though his offence might have been aggravated by the commission of other crimes. The State Governors refused to deliver him up, and the southern gentlemen who made the demand, if they did not travel incog., were apt to meet with rough treatment at the hands of the sovereign people. Among the high northern officials whose conduct furnishes exemplifications of this gubernatorial treason, W. H. Seward is conspicuous.
Nearly twenty years before the secession of the South, this great pillar of legitimacy refused to deliver up, upon the demand of Governor Gilmer, of Virginia, an abolition thief who had escaped to New York. Be it remembered, that Governor Gilmer resigned his office, because the Virginia legislature, at that time, would not resent the insult to the State.
Thus did the South, for a whole generation, respect the articles of a compact which the masses at the North habitually disregarded, and trampled under foot. But she did more than this. For the sake of domestic tranquility, she submitted to the passage of unconstitutional acts which robbed her of that
equality in the territories which the constitution guarantied. The "compromise acts" as they were called, passed as they were by an unauthorized body, could not affect the substantial terms of the original compact. And such was the decision of the judiciary time and again. In 1860, as in 1793, in all of its original grand proportions, the constitution stood intact, until altered according to the mode provided for IN IT. Congressional legislation was powerless to change it. So that, every violation of it which had been committed, might have been properly treated as such, whenever a power arose to vindicate its authority. Indeed, it would have been perfectly proper for all the loyal States of the Union, long ago to have repudiated all those "compromise acts" which politicians had patched up for their own purposes, and treated as rebels all who persisted in carrying out such "statutes of Congress."
But there was no power to vindicate the authority of the violated constitution, because the motive for loyalty was not sufficient. It was not until the very integrity of the political and social institution of the South was threatened with destruction by these same rebels, that a re-establishment of legitimate authority was contemplated. Then the motives of safety became superior to those of loyalty, and the South simply seceded, instead of attempting to restore, by force of arms, the authority of the constitution.
Thus did treason gradually insinuate itself into places of influence and power; and by familiarizing the public with its form and appearance, came finally, when it got possession of the symbols and sceptre of legitimacy, to be recognized by foreign nations as the true representative of the old government.
If it is assumed that the old Federal Congress were, all along, invested with the powers of a convention of the States, the hypothesis of the legitimacy of the Lincoln government might possess some degree of plausibility. But every school-boy knows the absurdity of such an assumption. It was nothing more than a contrivance for carrying out the will of the confederate sovereigns, as expressed in the written articles of agreement. They had no more authority to set aside their "letter of instructions" than any other equal number of American citizens. A convention of railroad agents, preachers, or constables, were equally authorized to issue unconstitutional edicts. For what Congress had no right to do was as wrong in them as it could be in others. And, when impelled by hate, lust of power and plunder, the rebels went from one degree of lawlessness
to another, until they substituted for the constitution the dogmas of platforms and the articles of "the higher law" they were guilty of open rebellion and impartial history will so decide.
When the insurrection of the malignant malcontents of the North had accomplished the overthrow of the authority of the constitutional league, and seized upon the official insignia and seals of the legitimate powers at Washington, it became necessary for the loyalists of the South, whose destruction was one of the avowed objects of the rebels, to devise some mode of self- preservation. The violent seizure of the substantial majesty of the government, and the illegal and mutinous appropriation of all the emblems and badges of federal authority, put at the disposal of the rebels the civil and military power of the sovereign whose throne they had filled with a usurper. The emergency admitted of no faint-heartedness, no hesitation on the part of the southern loyalists. The interest of humanity, as well as their own, demanded prompt and decided action. The substitution of the capricious will of some hundred and forty desperate bad men for the constitution, whose venerable form was still dear to many, released the loyalists from any obedience to the infernal similitude of legitimacy which wielded the power and wore the image of the old government. But two alternatives remained short of cowardly submission to the revolutionary supremacy of the rebels. One was to raise the "flag of the Union," and call upon the loyalists of the whole country to come to the rescue of the constitution and laws; the other was a formal resumption of their delegated powers by the southern States and the formation of a new league among them, for the purpose of self-defence.
The first method would, undoubtedly, have enlisted the sympathy and material assistance of a large number of the northern democrats. Many would gladly have rushed to arms to restore
to its seat of power, the despised and banished constitution of their fathers. But it would certainly have plunged the country into a civil war, and installed a conflict which, in ferocity and savage brutality, would, in all probability, have exceeded that which rages now.
The South shrunk from an alternative, the contemplation of which peopled the future with such horrors. In the innocence of a heart, which was bent on peace, though firm in its purpose of freedom, it was fondly dreamed that the adoption of the second alternative would prove a remedy for all the evils which threatened her. It not only promised peace, but opened up the delightful prospect of a permanent separation from political partners, who were mean, treacherous, and oath-breaking; whose covetousness was insatiable, and whose love of fault-finding and hypocritical cant made their companionship, not only disagreeable, but absolutely loathsome. If this desire of separation, in the judgment of the disinterested, argues a want of lofty forgetfulness of self in the South, it should be remembered how, for the sake of domestic tranquility, she had submitted for thirty years, to be swindled, abused and insulted, by their political brethren, and, not until the safety of her life was threatened, did she finally resolved to assert, and, by the help of God, maintain "a separate and equal station."
But, disregarding the weight if the reason which southern inclination and interest furnished as a sufficient justification of secession, there was another which, alone should, in the eyes of all the world, vindicate the conduct of the South. This was the probability of preserving the public peace, by a formal separation. She proposed to leave her political brethren to themselves, and let them enjoy, in undisturbed bliss, the self-imposed curse of republicanism. If the North were willing to receive, as their rulers, the daring traitors who had deposed the constitution, the South thought that, for the sake of peace, she would not interfere in the matter. She would leave the North to shape her own destiny, and would, without drawing anything from the common stock, go out into the world and set up for herself.
Had the rebels aimed at mere political reform, the withdrawal of the South would have satisfied them. But the sequel shows that behind their perjury and treason lay something worse than a mere factious and criminal zeal for political change. To an inordinate desire for the power and the spoils of office, they united a malignant hostility to the southerner, which envy and covetousness inflamed to an incredible degree of intensity.
After the triumph of their treason in their own section, the destruction of the South became the paramount object of the insurrectionists. They converted the secession of the South into a means of strengthening their own usurpation of power. Occucupying the attention of the northern masses, with lugubrious and heart-rending lamentations over the breaking up of the dear old political family, and the horrible crime of secession, they diverted the public observation from their own villainous treason. Artfully mingling, with solicitations of patriotic effort, insidious appeals to the worst passions of humanity, they commanded the enthusiastic support of the frenzied people of the North, though promulgating their edicts from amid the ruins of the strongholds of freedom.
Day after day, still repeating the same political strategy, which ever characterizes the growth of despotisms, they have gradually succeeded in destroying every bulwark of northern liberty. Only the hollow forms and cherished images through which the banished spirit once manifested itself, has survived the general ruin; and to these, the corrupt and degraded populace yet cling, as if the spirit which once animated them had not long since been expelled. By what precise indirection and crooked paths the rebels have gradually succeeded in becoming absolute masters of the whole military strength of the North, Heaven only knows. Though it would be hardly considered indiscreet or audacious to hazard the conjecture that the unrevealed history of their rise to power would exhibit, if possible, greater evidences of human depravity than what has been brazenly exposed to the public gaze.
Theologians say that the sense of shame is generally the rear-guard of virtue in its final evacuation of the human bosom. So that, when its presence can no longer be discovered, it is safe to conclude that sin holds undisturbed possession of the premises. Now, the rebels at Washington, even in those public documents wherein the most vicious and abandoned pretenders to the dignity of a legitimate government, profess to respect the human instincts of decency and propriety, exhibit a total loss of the sense of shame. This "Washington concern" actually seems to take pleasure in defying and outraging those common instincts of our species--which stand like sentinels on the outposts of virtue to guard us from the utter beastliness of insensate brutes. If, then, they dare to display to the world, with iron faces, such a moral condition, what seas of death and corruption, what inconceivable pictures of wickedness, would the history of their
inner life reveal. No doubt, if we could penetrate the mystery which envelopes the dark and crooked ways of the leading conspirators, we would learn much that would be interesting, though little that would more clearly explain their designs than that which has already transpired. We would find that, like the Chatham rebels, they agreed upon a "plan of action," and on one equally as audacious and radical. No doubt, anticipating the future, they apportioned the expected plunder and power, and agreed upon a system of oppression as unnatural and odious as has since been put in practice. But, since language is confessedly inadequate to describe the well-known hellish features of their revealed system, it would be vain to attempt to portray the imagined horrors of their theoretical plan. It is plain, however, that they have entertained from the beginning, and do now cherish, above every other purpose, the design of appropriating the estates of the southern slaveholder, and extirpating the most insignificant scion of southern chivalry. An inborn, cultivated and indulged hatred of the southern gentleman, combined with an intense desire of his property, are the ruling passions. In whatever respect they may be turned from the prosecution of their other purposes by a cowardly and disgraceful submission from these two master designs, nothing short of southern triumph will drive them.
The South may accept infamy; she may surrender every principle for the maintenance of the right of which she first drew her loyal sword; she may clothe herself in the habiliments of humility and, loading her abject body with the fetters of a slave, go and kneel at the feet of her foe, supplicating for mercy with all the eloquence of wretched despair--it will avail her nothing. She will then learn, to her shameless sorrow, what marble-hearted demons avarice and hate have made of the Yankees. Spurned and spit upon, and rudely hustled from the conqueror's presence she will be left a homeless, penniless wanderer, with no resort but to forever abandon her native soil, or drag out a dreary life of bondage to the hated northerner.
Nothing but heroic effort, in her own behalf, can save her from eternal infamy and destruction. Let her but once pause in that high career which has wrung admiration from a hostile world, let her once consent to compound her fair name, or sully, by one act of meanness, the brightness of a glory which the precious blood of earth's aristocracy has purchased, then will the fountain of her strength be poisoned, the sun of her system be darkened
and, like a tuneless harp, bereft at once of its charm and its power, she will be despised, neglected, and forgotten.
Honor is the spirit which animates, sustains, and dignifies her being. It is her national source of vitality, as her trust in God is her battle armor. Stain it, and the spell is broken, the citadel is lost; and, like the shorn Sampson of old, the mighty giant, who once defied a world in arms, falls a deluded and helpless victim into the hands of her malignant and perfidious enemies.
Whereas slavery, throughout its entire existence in the United States, is none other than a most barbarous, unprovoked, and unjustifiable war of one portion of its citizens upon another portion, the only conditions of which are perpetual imprisonment and hopeless servitude, or absolute extermination, in utter disregard and violation of the eternal and self-evident truths set forth in our declaration of independence; Therefore--
We, citizens of the United States, and the oppressed people who, by a recent decision of the supreme court, are declared to have no rights which the white man is bound to respect, together with all other people degraded by the laws thereof, do, for the time being, ordain and establish for ourselves, the following provisional constitution and ordinances the better to protect ourselves, property, lives, and liberties, and to govern our actions:
All persons of mature age, whether proscribed, oppressed, and enslaved citizens, or of the proscribed and oppressed races of the United States, who shall agree to sustain and enforce
the provisional constitution and ordinances of this organization, together with all minor children of such persons, shall be held to be fully entitled to protection under the same.
The provisional government of this organization shall consist of three branches, viz: legislative, executive, and judicial.
The legislative branch shall be a Congress, or House of Representatives, composed of not less than five nor more than ten members, who shall be elected by all citizens of mature age and sound mind, connected with this organization, and who shall remain in office for three years, unless sooner removed for misconduct, inability, or by death. A majority of such members shall constitute a quorum.
The executive branch of this organization shall consist of a President and Vice President, who shall be chosen by the citizens or members of this organization, and each of whom shall hold his office for three years, unless sooner removed by death, or for inability or misconduct.
The judicial branch of this organization shall consist of one chief justice of the supreme court, and of four associate judges of said court; each constituting a circuit court. They shall each be chosen in the same manner as the President, and shall continue in office until their places have been filled in the same manner by election of the citizens. Said court
shall have jurisdiction in all civil or criminal causes arising under this constitution except breaches of the rules of war.
All enactments of the legislative branch, shall, to become valid during the first three years, have the approbation of the President and of the commander-in-chief of the army.
A commander-in-chief of the army shall be chosen by the President, Vice-President, a majority of the Provisional Congress and of the supreme court, and he shall receive his commission from the President, signed by the Vice-President the chief justice of the supreme court, and the Secretary of War; and he shall hold his office for three years unless removed by death, or on proof of incapacity or misbehavior. He shall, unless under arrest, (and until his place is actually filled as provided for by the constitution,) direct all movements of the army, and advise with any allies. He shall, however, be tried, removed or punished, on complaint to the President by at least three general officers, or a majority of the House of Representatives, or of the supreme court. Which House of Representatives, (the President presiding,) the Vice President, and the members of the supreme court, shall constitute a court martial, for his trial; with power to remove or punish, as the case may require, and to fill his place as above provided.
A Treasurer, Secretary of State, Secretary of War and Secretary of the Treasury, shall each be chosen for the first three years, in the same way and manner as the commander-in- chief; subject to trial or removal on complaint of the President, Vice-President, or commander-in-chief, to the chief justice of the supreme court; or on complaint of a majority of the members of such court, or the Provisional Congress. The
supreme court shall have power to try or punish either of these officers, and their places shall be filled as before.
The Secretary of War shall be under the immediate direction of the commander-in-chief; who may temporarily fill his place in case of arrest or of inability to serve.
The House of Representatives shall make ordinances providing for the appointment (by the President or otherwise) of all civil officers excepting those already named; and shall have power to make all laws and ordinances for the general good, not inconsistant with this constitution and these ordinances.
The Provisional Congress shall have power to appropriate money or other property actually in the hands of the treasurer, to any object calculated to promote the general good, so far as may be consistent with the provisions of this constitution; and may, in certain cases, appropriate, for a moderate compensation of agents, or persons not members of this organization for important services, they are known to have rendered.
It shall be the duty of Congress to provide for the instant removal of any civil officer or policeman, who becomes habitually intoxicated, or who is addicted to other immoral conduct, or any neglect or unfaithfulness in the discharge of his official duties. Congress shall also be a standing committee of safety, for the purpose of obtaining important information; and shall be in constant communication with the commander-in-chief; the members of which shall each, as also the President, Vice President, members of the supreme court,
and Secretary of State, have full power to issue warrants, returnable as Congress shall ordain, (naming witnesses, etc.,) upon their own information, without the formality of a complaint. Complaint shall be immediately made after arrest, and before trial; the party arrested to be served with a copy at once.
The President and Vice President, may either of them be tried, removed or punished, on complaint made to the chief justice of the supreme court, by a majority of the House of Representatives, which House, together with the associate judges of the supreme court, (the whole to be presided over by the chief justice in cases of the trial of the Vice President,) shall have full power to try such officers, to remove or punish, as the case may require, and to fill any vacancy so occurring, the same as in the case of the commander-in-chief.
The members of the House of Representatives may, any and all of them, be tried, and, on conviction, removed or punished, on complaint before the chief justice of the supreme court, made by any number of the members of the said House exceeding one third, which House, with the Vice-President and associate judges of the supreme court, shall constitute the proper tribunal, with power to fill such vacancies.
Any member of the supreme court may also be impeached, tried, convicted or punished, by removal or otherwise, on complaint to the President who shall, in such case, preside; the Vice President, House of Representatives, and other members of the supreme court, constituting the proper tribunal, (with power to fill vacancies,) on complaint of a majority of
said House of Representatives, or of the supreme court; a majority of the whole having power to decide.
The President, with the Secretary of State, shall, immediately upon entering upon the duties of their office, give special attention to secure, from amongst their own people, men of integrity, intelligence, and good business habits and capacity, and, above all, of first rate moral and religious character and influence, to act as civil officers of every description and grade, as well as teachers, chaplains, physicians, surgeons, mechanics, agents of every description, clerks and messengers. They shall make special efforts to induce, at the earliest possible period, persons and families of that description to locate themselves within the limits secured by this organization, and shall, moreover, from time to time, supply the names and residence of such persons to Congress, for their special notice and information, as among the most important of their duties; and the President is hereby authorized and empowered to afford special aid to such, from such moderate appropriations as the Congress shall be able, and may deem it available, to make for that object. The President and Secretary of State, and, in case of disagreement, the Vice President, shall appoint all civil officers, but shall not have the power to remove any officer. All removals shall be the result of a fair trial, whether civil or military.
It shall be the duty of the President and Secretary of State to find out, as soon as possible, the real friends, as well as enemies of this organization in every part of the country; to secure among them inn-keepers, private postmasters, private mail contractors, messengers and agents, through whom may be obtained correct and regular information constantly, recruits for the service, places of deposit and sale, together with all needed supplies; and it shall be matter of special regard to secure such facilities through the Northern States.
It shall be the duty of the President, as well as the House of Representatives, at all times, to inform the commander-in-chief of any matter that may require his attention, or that may affect the public safety.
It shall be the duty of the President to see that the provisional ordinances of this organization, and those made by the Congress, are promptly and faithfully executed, and he may, in cases of great urgency, call on the commander-in-chief of the army, or other officers, for aid; it being, however, intended that a sufficient civil police shall always be in readiness to secure implicit obedience to law.
The Vice President shall be the presiding officer of the Provisional Congress; and, in cases of tie, shall give the casting vote.
In the case of death, removal, or inability of the President, the Vice President, and next to him the chief justice of the supreme court, shall be the President during the remainder of the term; and the place of the chief justice, thus made vacant, shall be filled by Congress from some of the members of said court; and the places of the Vice President and associate justice, thus made vacant, filled by an election by the united action of the Provisional Congress and members of the supreme court. All other vacancies, not hereafter specially provided for, shall, during the first three years, be filled by the united action of the President, Vice President, supreme court, and commander-in-chief of the army.
The punishment of crimes, not capital, except in case of insubordinate convicts or other prisoners, shall be (so far as may be) by hard labor on the public works, roads, &c.
It shall be the duty of all commissioned officers of the army to name candidates of merit for office or elevation to the commander- in-chief, who, with the Secretary of War, and, in case of disagreement, the President, shall be the appointing power of the army; and all commissions of military officers shall bear the signatures of the commander-in-chief and Secretary of War. And it shall be the special duty of the Secretary of War to keep, for constant reference of the commander-in-chief, a full list of names of persons nominated for office or elevation, by the officers of the army, with the name and rank of the officer nominating, stating briefly, but distinctly, the grounds for each notice or nomination. The commander-in-chief shall not have power to remove or punish any officer or soldier; but he may order their arrest and trial, at any time, by court martial.
Courts martial for companies, regiments, brigades, etc., shall be called by the chief officer of each command, on complaint to him by any officer, or any five privates in such command, and shall consist of not less than five nor more than nine officers, non-commissioned officers and privates, one half of whom shall not be lower in rank than the person on trial, to be chosen by the three highest officers in the command, which officers shall not be a part of such court. The chief officer of any command shall, of course, be tried by a court martial of the command above his own. All decisions affecting the lives of persons, or office of persons holding commissions, must, before taking full effect, have the signature of the commander-in-chief,
who may, also, on the recommendation of at least one third of the members of the court martial finding any sentence, grant a reprieve or commutation of the same.
No person connected with this organization shall be entitled to any salary, pay or emolument, other than a competent support of himself and family, unless it be from an equal dividend, made of public property, on the establishment of peace, or of special provision by treaty; which provision shall be made for all persons who have been in any active civil or military service, at any time previous to any hostile action, for liberty and equality.
Before any treaty of peace shall take full effect, it shall be signed by the President and Vice President, the commander- in-chief, a majority of the House of Representatives, a majority of the supreme court, and a majority of all the general officers of the army.
It shall be the duty of the commander-in-chief, and all officers and soldiers of the army, to afford special protection, when needed, to Congress or any member thereof; to the supreme court, or any member thereof; to the President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, and Secretary of War; and to afford general protection to all civil officers, or other persons having right to the same.
All captured or confiscated property, and all property, the product of the labor of those belonging to this organization and of their families, shall be held as the property of the whole, equally, without distinction, and may be, used for the common benefit, or disposed of for the same object; and any person,
officer, or otherwise, who shall improperly retain, secrete, use, or needlessly destroy such property, or property found, captured, or confiscated, belonging to the enemy, or shall willfully neglect to render a full and fair statement of such property by him so taken or held, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, on conviction, shall be punished accordingly.
All money, plate, watches, or jewelry, captured by honorable warfare, found, taken, or confiscated, belonging to the enemy, shall be held sacred, to constitute a liberal safety or intelligence fund; and any person who shall improperly retain, dispose of, hide, use, or destroy such money or other article above named, contrary to the provisions and spirit of this article, shall be deemed guilty of theft, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished accordingly. The treasurer shall furnish the commander-in-chief, at all times, with a full statement of the condition of such fund and its nature.
The commander-in-chief shall also have power to draw from the treasury the money and other property of the fund provided for in article twenty-ninth, but his orders shall be signed also by the Secretary of War, who shall heep strict account of the same, subject to examination by any member of Congress or general officer.
It shall be the duty of the commander-in-chief to advise the President of any surplus of the safety and intellipence fund; who shall have power to draw such surplus (his order being also signed by the Secretary of State) to enable him to carry out the provisions of article seventeenth.
No person, after having surrendered himself or herself a
prisoner, and who shall properly demean himself or herself as such, to any officer or private connected with this organization, shall afterwards be put to death or subjected to any corporeal punishment, without first having had a fair and impartial trial; nor shall any prisoner be treated with any kind of cruelty, disrespect, insult, or needless severity; but it shall be the duty of all persons, male and female, connected herewith, at all times, and under all circumstances, to treat such prisoners with every degree of respect and kindness the nature of the circumstances will admit of; and to insist on a like course of conduct from all others, as in the fear of Almighty God, to whose care and keeping we commit our cause.
All persons who may come forward and shall voluntarily deliver up their slaves, and have their names registered on the books of the organization, shall, so long as they continue at peace, be entitled to the fullest protection of person and property, though not connected with this organization, and shall be treated as friends and not mearly as persons neutral.
The persons and property of all non-slaveholders, who shall remain absolutely neutral, shall be respected so far as the circumstances can allow of it; but they shall not be entitled to any executive protection.
The needless waste or destruction of any useful property or article by fire, throwing open of fences, fields, buildings, or needless killing of animals, or injury of either, shall not be tolerated at any time or place, but shall be promptly and properly punished.
The entire personal and real property of all persons known to be acting, directly or indirectly, with or for the enemy, or
found in arms with them, or found wilfully holding slaves, shall be confiscated and taken, whenever and wherever it may be found, either in free or slave States.
Persons convicted, on impartial trial, of dersertion to the enemy, after becoming members, acting as spies, or of treacherous surrender of property, arms, ammunition, provisions or supplies of any kind, roads, bridges, persons, or fortifications, shall be put to death, and their entire property confiscated.
Persons proven to be guilty of taking up arms after having been set at liberty on parole of honor, or, after the same, to have taken any active part with or for the enemy, direct or indirect, shall be put to death and their entire property confiscated.
All persons connected in any way with this organization, and who may be entitled to full protection under it, shall be held, as under obligation, to labor in some way for the general good; and persons neglecting or refusing so to do, shall, on conviction, receive a suitable and appropriate punishment.
Profane swearing, filthy conversation, indecent behavior, or indecent exposure of the person, or intoxication, or quarreling, shall not be allowed or tolerated, neither unlawful intercourse of the sexes.
Persons convicted of the forcible violation of any female prisoner, shall be put to death.
The marriage relation shall, at all times, be respected, and families kept together as far as possible, and broken families encouraged to re-unite; and intelligence offices established, as soon as may be, for the purpose of religious and other instruction; and the first day of the week regarded as a day of rest and appropriated to moral and religious instruction, and improvement, relief of the suffering, instruction of the young and ignorant, and the encouragment of personal cleanliness; nor shall any person be required, on that day, to perform ordinary manual labor, unless in extremely urgent cases.
All persons, known to be of good character, and of sound mind, and suitable age, who are connected with this organization, whether male or female, shall be encouraged to carry arms openly.
No persons within the limits of the conquered territory, except regularly appointed policemen, express officers, officers of the army, mail carriers, or other fully accredited messengers of the Congress, President, Vice-President, members of the supreme court, or commissioned officer of the army--and those only under peculiar circumstances--shall be allowed, at any time, to carry concealed weapons, and any person not specially authorized so to do, who shall be found so doing, shall be deemed a suspicious person and may at once be arrested by any officer, soldier, or citizen, without the formality of a complaint
or warrant, and may at once be subjected to thorough search, and shall have his or her case thoroughly investigated, and be dealt with as circumstances, or proof, may require.
Persons within the limits of the territory holden by this organization, not connected with this organization, having arms at all, concealed or otherwise, shall be seized at once, or be taken in charge of some vigilant officer, and their case thoroughly investigated, and it shall be the duty of all citizens and soldiers, as well as officers, to arrest such parties as are named in this and the preceding section, or without the formality of complaint or warrant; and they shall be placed in charge of some proper officer for examination or for safe keeping.
The foregoing articles shall not be construed so as in any way to encourage the overthrow of any State government, or of the general government of the United States, and look to no dissolution of the Union, but simply to amendment and repeal. And our flag shall be the same that our fathers fought under in the revolution.
No two of the offices specially provided for, by this instrument, shall be filled by the same person, at the same time.
Every officer, civil or military, connected with this organization, shall, before entering upon the duties of his office, make oath or affirmation to abide by and support this provisional constitution and these ordinances. Also, every citizen and soldier, before being fully recognized as such, shall do the same.
The President of this convention shall convene, immediately on the adoption of this instrument, a convention of all such persons as shall have given their adherence, by signature, to the constitution; who shall proceed to fill, by election, all offices specially named in said constitution, the President of this convention presiding, and issuing commissions to such officers elect. All such officers being thereafter elected in the manner provided in the body of this instrument.