Newspaper Title


Publication Date


Publication Place

New Orleans, Louisiana

Event Topic

John Brown

Political Party



slave state


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The whole affair dwindles into utter insignificance as the literal facts are brought out from the uncertainty peculiar to the first demonstration.

Document Type

Article (Journal or Newsletter)

Full Text Transcription

The short, sharp, terrible drama, (says the BaltimoreSun of the 19th inst.,) provoked by a handful ofenthusiasts, fanatics, adventurers, or by whatsoever termthey may be designated, was brought suddenly to aclose up on the first exhibition of military force yesterday morning. A federal retribution dealt out in thesubjugation of the insurgents has left but little for thecivil officers of the law to do in vindication of thisgrievous outrage against society. The whole affairdwindles into utter insignificance as the literal factsare brought out from the uncertainty peculiar to thefirst demonstration. And although so bold, suddenand formidable a course of action, naturally arousedsuspicion of a wide-spread and preconcerted movement,and induced the most efficient means for its suppression, the measures adopted have almost a ludicrousdisproportion to the necessity of the occasion and the result.

The whole movement -- in its origin, in its mode ofdemonstration, the absurd pretences developed indocuments found upon the prisoners and the dead,the weakness of the parties in the attempt to carryout their apparent design, and their miserable end --is degraded beneath sympathy, and excites nothing butcontempt as a miserable caricature of insurrectionaryambition.

The Baltimore Clipper characterizes the affair as the"act of an irresponsible madman, aided by a fewreckless desperadoes, who were infatuated by hisstrange fanaticism."

The American, of the same city, in its remarks uponthis subject says: "Nothing but a wild fanaticism,amounting almost to insanity, could account fortwenty men combining together in such a foolhardyenterprise."

The Exchange regards it "simply as an insane attempt" on the part of a few fanatics to run off anumber of slaves. If the avowal of the ringleader isworth anything, this was his purpose.

The Patriot says:"The insane attempt at servile insurrection atHarper's Ferry has been thoroughly crushed out.Unfortunately not without the cost of life to valuable andhonorable citizens, and with a mistaken mercy to someof the wretches who began the outbreak.

"It seems almost impossible to imagine what couldhave induced Brown to make this desperate attempt.And when we consider that the beginning was made ata point belonging to the United States, on one of theprincipal highways and thoroughfares, with telegraphicand railroad connections to all parts of the country,within a few hours of populous cities and the seat ofGovernment, nothing but consummate madness couldhave suggested the idea."

The following paragraphs from the editorial of theSun already quoted, commend themselves to theserious consideration of those who, at the North,sympathize with movements of this kind:

"Yet it is impossible to contemplate the inevitablefate which these deluded fanatics have brought uponthemselves, without a sentiment of commiserationtowards them, as the victims of that social and politicalerror with which a large proportion of the Northernmind is indoctrinated and imbued. These poorwretches have only carried out to its practicalabsurdity a theory which is gradually diffusing itself, underthe false pretence of a political sentiment among thepeople, and presumes to invite cooperation even in the Soutehrn States.

"Intelligent men, however, will learn in time thatthere can be no compromises with a thing, in itself,hostile to the spirit of our national compact. It maytake more subtle and insidious forms than that inwhich the fanatics at Harper's Ferry have exhibitedit, but it is the same thing, however its hideousdeformity may be disguised to serve the ends of politicalambition; and its fruits must be repulsive sectionalismand internecine strife. The lesson is timely; it maybe profitably taken into careful consideration in viewof the future pregnant with results to which we maycontribute for good or for evil."

To show that, to some extent at least, the spiritrebuked in the paragraphs just quoted, exists at theNorth, we copy from the Philidelphia Press, of the19th inst., a portion of some observations from thepen of a leading anti-slavery man in that city:

"You ask me what I know in regard to this outbreakat Harper's Ferry. I answer -- I know nothing;and yet I am not altogether ignorant concerning it.

"More than a year ago, when the Kansas troubleshad come to an end, a gentleman -- for such he was bybirth and breeding -- fresh from the scene of strife, andready for another contest, called to see me at my office.He was now ready, if an opportunity would offer, to drawhis sword in the same behalf in the mountains of Virginia, or in the swamps of South Carolina. On thisthat point he wanted to know my opinion, which, of course, I was prompt to give.

"Our enterprise," I said, "is a moral one. Itrejects the sword. It seeks to accomplish its end byideas. It appeals to the understanding, the heart,the conscience, the purse. Its object is, by changingpublic opinion, to effect a moral revolution; that tobe followed by a proper political reconstruction, thesame to to be accomplished by the least possible exercise of force." This, he said, was all well enough in theory,but it would not work in practice. It was too slow.In the initiatory stages of the movement it might dowell enough, but the time had come when somethingmore decisive was called for. He was not an Abolitionist in the common sense of the word, but he was afriend of freedom the world over, and was ready, atany time, to unsheathe his sword against oppression."Did I know John Brown of Ossawattomie?" "No Idid not know him , though I had often heard of him."Well, said he, I don't like him: he and I don'tagree. He has treated me badly; but he is a braveman and an efficient soldier. He has come homeburning under a sense of the wrongs he and hiscountrymen suffered in Kansas at the hands of the slaveholders, and is determined to make reprisal. Hewants to organize a band to go South, establish himselfin the mountains, and inaugurate a species of guerilla warfare for the liberation of slavery. Arethere any among your friends that would coöperate in such an undertaking ? To the best of my knowledgeand belief there was not one. Well, he wouldfind them somewhere; for he was bent on fightingthe slaveholders with their own weapons -- the use ofwhich they had so well taught him in the battles ofKansas.

"Such in substance, was the conversation betweenCaptain --- and myself, of whom or from whom I have never heard since that time. But soon after this, I heard from another source that John Brown was stillmeditating a descent on the slaveholders, and was onlywaiting to find coadjutors. And about six weeks ago,a highly respectable gentleman, just returned fromforeign travel, stopped in this city, and, in the courseof a conversation I had with him, dropped rxpressions implying his knowledge of Brown's influences, and,what surprised me most, of his approval of them.Ascertaining my sentiments on the subject, he did not make me a confidant, and not anticipating any seriousresult, nor any immediate result of any kind, I madeno partiular inquiries.

"This is the extent of my knowledge in regard tothis startling affair. When I heard the first rumoryesterday I credited it, and believed that John Brownhad a hand in it, subsequent disclosures have provedthat I was right."

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Entered by James cash. Proofed by Lloyd Benson




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Event Location


The Harper's Ferry Affair.

The whole affair dwindles into utter insignificance as the literal facts are brought out from the uncertainty peculiar to the first demonstration.