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religiosity associated with the Puritan character and a firm faith in the Bible, of which he was a constant reader and quoter; he was a religious man and a kindly one, as religion and kindliness presented themselves to such a soul, which, when fired with an idea, recked little of the law and morality which lay across his way.

Six of Brown's seven living sons and a son-inlaw migrated to Kansas in 1855. The wretched conflict, which was the forerunner of the greater war later, caused Brown to find the true métier for which nature had fitted him-that of the partisan leader.

Whatever other dark and savage deeds were done in the dark period, none, it must be said in the truth of history, was more savage and more ruthless than the murder (for it can be called nothing else) at Pottawatomie during the night of May 24, 1856, (when five men were taken at midnight from their beds and their heads split open by a heavy, old-style navy cutlass, but one shot being fired. Even Sanborn, the intimate associate of Stearns and Higginson on the Boston Kansas committee, and Brown's biographer and ardent admirer, can find no better excuse for this outrage than that Brown "knew-what few could believe that slavery must perish in blood; and though a peaceful man, he had no scruples about shedding blood in so good a cause we who praise Grant for those military movements which caused the bloody

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death of thousands, are so inconsistent as to denounce Brown for the death of these five men in Kansas." 1

The savagery of Kansas conditions roused the fighting instincts of the man, and he reverted to views expressed to Frederick Douglass as early as 1847 regarding a scheme of an Appalachian stronghold: "To take at first about twenty-five picked men and begin on a small scale; supply them with arms and ammunition, and post them in squads of five on a line of twenty-five miles, the most persuasive and judicious of whom shall go down to the fields from time to time, as opportunity offers, and induce the slaves to join them, seeking and selecting the most reckless and daring.

11 2


Brown's three guerilla years in Kansas may be regarded as a preliminary study for his work of 1859. His organization of a corps of "Kansas Regulars" in 1856 and the rules for their government are much in keeping with his later action. In January, 1857, Brown first came in contact with the Massachusetts Kansas committee, of which Mr. G. L. Stearns was chairman, and he received the custody of certain arms in western Iowa belonging to the committee and was furnished with a considerable sum of money to transport them. Later


1 Sanborn, John Brown, 268.

2 Douglass, Life and Times (ed. of 1881), 280.
Sanborn, John Brown, 287-290.

4 Sanborn, in Atlantic Monthly, XXXV., 232.

in the same month he was urging in New York, before the national Kansas committee, the organization of a company of a hundred mounted rangers.

The chaotic conditions of public feeling is shown by the effort to induce the Massachusetts legislature to vote ten thousand dollars for use in Kansas; and Brown, in February, 1857, appeared before the committee appointed to consider such petitions, and gave a powerful description of Kansas outrages,' omitting, however, a description of his own. In the fall of 1857 Brown was in Iowa, associated with an English adventurer, Forbes, who had been Italian silk merchant, Garibaldian, and New York fencingmaster, and who was engaged by Brown as an instructor in military matters. In November, 1857, Brown was again in Kansas. He was soon back in Iowa, where his views were revealed to a small following of nine persons besides Forbes; a revelation which caused a good deal of wrangling." The property of the Massachusetts committee, consisting of about two hundred Sharps rifles, a like number of revolvers, blankets, clothing, and ammunition, were shipped to Ashtabula County, Ohio, whence they finally found their way to the Kennedy farm in Maryland.

Brown's plan was fully revealed Monday, February 22, 1858, at the house of Gerrit Smith, at Peterboro, New York, where Brown had asked to meet


1 Redpath, John Brown, 176–184.
'Çook's confession, in Ibid., 198.

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him Theodore Parker, George L. Stearns, T. W. Higginson, and F. B. Sanborn, all of Boston, and his intimate supporters. Sanborn alone came, but was empowered to represent the others. "After dinner," says Sanborn, "I went with Mr. Smith, John Brown, and my classmate Morton [Smith's secretary] to the room of Mr. Morton in the third story. Here in the long winter evening which followed, the whole outline of Brown's campaign in Virginia was laid before our little council . . . the middle of May was named as the time of the attack. To begin this hazardous enterprise he asked for but eight hundred dollars, and would think himself rich with a thousand." 1

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The colloquy lasted late into the night and was resumed next day, with the result that Smith and Sanborn agreed that funds must be raised and Brown supported. Sanborn continues: "I returned to Boston on the 25th of February and . . . communicated the enterprise to Theodore Parker and Wentworth Higginson. At the suggestion of Parker, Brown, who had gone to Brooklyn, N. Y., was invited to visit Boston secretly, and did so on the 4th of March, taking a room at the American House, in which he remained for the most part during a four days' stay." Brown could write to his son John, March 6: "My call here has met with a most hearty response, so that I feel assured of at least tolerable success. . . . All has been effected by quiet


1 Sanborn, John Brown, 438,

Brown's letters

meeting of a few choice friends." 1 at this time to his family show how fully he was possessed with the spirit of his project, and also illustrate the wildness of his views, which included a possible return after the accomplishment of "the great work of my life" and "rest at evening.

))) 2

Sanborn makes it clear that at least Higginson, Stearns, Parker, and Howe were informed at this period of Brown's plans of attack and defence in Virginia, though he does not know that any besides himself knew of his purpose to surprise the arsenal and town of Harper's Ferry.3

May 8, 1858, found Brown (known for some time for safety as Shubel Morgan) at Chatham, Canada, with eleven young white associates and one colored man whom he had attached to himself and who had been with him in Kansas and elsewhere. At Chatham, by these men and thirty-four colored persons, was adopted an extraordinary "Provisional Constitution and Ordinance for the people of the United States," which was written in January, 1858, at the house of Frederick Douglass, in Rochester, a paper in itself a witness of the abnormality of the mind of the author.4 Brown was elected commander-in-chief, Richard Realf, secretary of state; J. H. Kagi, secretary of war; George B. Gill, secretary of the treasury. Two colored men were

• Ibid.,

1 Sanborn, John Brown, 440. 2 Ibid., 441. 450. For this constitution in full, see Hinton, John Brown and His Men, 619-634.

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