Article Title

What is "Kansas Work?"


Newspaper Title


Publication Date


Publication Place

New Orleans, Louisiana

Event Topic

John Brown

Political Party



slave state


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viewed in its true light, how there can be any question that it forms a part, and an important part, of the criminal transaction

Document Type

Article (Journal or Newsletter)

Full Text Transcription

Among the papers found in the possessionof the mad fanatic Brown, when he was taken, arms in hand against the peace of theland, at Harper's Ferry, was a letter dated atPeterboro', N. Y., on the 4th of June, 1859,from Hon. Gerritt Smith, lately member ofCongress of the Republican party of the Stateof New York. In this letter the writerencloses a draft for a large sum of money, "inorder," as he expressly says, "to keep Brownat his Kansas work;" and this expressionoccurs no less than four times in the letter.

"I have done," says Mr. Smith to Mr.Brown, "what I could, thus far, for Kansas,and what I could to keep you at your Kansaswork."

"I must continue to do, to keep you at yourKansas work."

"You live in our hearts, and out prayer toGod is that you may have strength to continue in your Kansas work."

"What a noble man is Mr.Kearney! howliberally he has contributed to keep you in your Kansas work!"

Now Brown, to whom this letter isaddressed, a short time ago, had not been inKansas for a year, and there is nothing toshow that he ever intended to go there again. So that this "Kansas work" yet to be done,and in which money is advanced by Mr. Smithand Mr. Kearney, and Heaven is prayed toenable Ossawottomie Brown to continue andbe kept, was work to be done elsewhere. Itwould be insulting to the common sense ofthe dullest reader to suggest to him, perusingthat letter in the light thrown upon it bythe conduct of Brown at Harper's Ferry, thepossibility of its having any other meaningthan the same work in Virginia which hehad formerly carried on in Kansas. Andwhat that was is a matter of history.

Mr. Gerritt Smith makes the distinctionplainly, in this letter, between the past andthe future. He has done what he could forKansas, and also what he could to keepBrown at his "Kansas work." And thereis a significance in this quadruple repetitionof this phrase, implying future action, whichamounts to the clearest exposition of its truemeaning.

Now, if this letter of the distinguishedFreesoil, Republican or Abolitionist leader, atthe North, (it matters not by which of thesenames he is called,) means any thing at all,and we think it fearfully pregnant with meaning,it means just this: that its writer is to allintents and purposes, not only an accessorybefore the fact, but moreover a principal, inthe atrocious crime committed at Harper'sFerry, by the Browns, Cook and Stephens,and their misguided followers. This letterwas written in June, and sent, with the moneyit contained, to Brown, during the latter'sresidence in Virginia. It could mean nothing else than to apply to the "Kansas work" hewas doing, and was about to do, there. We cannot see how there can be any twointerpretations put upon it; and viewed in its truelight, how there can be any question that itforms a part, and an important part, of the criminal transaction, for which, as it seems tous, it would be the extreme of injustice to make this miserable maniac, Brown, and hisfellow fanatics, solely amenable.

An overt act is clearly made out, we think,as against Mr. Gerritt Smith. As yet, therehas no evidence been made public, to the samedegree implicating other persons. That "nobleman," Mr. Kearney, who according toMr. Smith, has so "liberally contributed tokeep Brown in his Kansas work," is yetunrevealed; and the names of those whosubscribed for the Sharpe's rifles, twenty-five ofwhich the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher pledgedhis Plymouth Church, in Brooklyn, to raise,and which were raised, are not known; andthere are other persons and things not yetknown, and yet to be known, which, doubtless, will throw desirable light on the sourcewhence aid for the prosecution of "Kansaswork" inMaryland and Virginia was obtained.But as to this one man's complicity in the plotwe think there can be no doubt.

We notice that the Republican party through its prominent spokesmen and organs, repudiatethis act as none of theirs, and as by no meansincidental to their principles, their teachingsand their purposes. A most strenuous efforthas been made by many of them to produceand stamp this impression upon the publicmind. But had we the time and space atcommand, we think it would be by no meansdifficult to prove, out of their own mouthsand columns, that they are, virtually, thesuggestors, the promoters, the sustainers, theaiders and the abettors, alike of the act andthe actors. Ex post facto, they may hold uptheir hands in holy horror at the crime of thebaffled traitors, but they cannot wipe out therecord of what they have said and done, infomenting the treason.

Why, not to multiply proofs of what we say,on the evening of the very day when Brownand his party were engaged in their murderouswork on the Virginia andMaryland line,Mr. George W. Curtis, one of the mostprominent and eloquent exponents of the principlesof the Republican party, delivered in Beecher'schurch, in Brooklyn, a "Plymouth lecture,"in the course of which he assertedplainly, and in terms, that the Republicanswas but a branch of the Abolition party, andthat the destruction of slavery was the basisof its policy. And as to the Republicannewspaper organs, we could transcribecolumnupon column from their pages, expressing thesame principles, and in language even morespecific and unmistakable. Take, for example,the following, from the Independent Democrat,an organ of the Republicans in NewHampshire:

"The cure for slavery prescribed by Radpath is theonly infallible remedy, and men must foment insurrection among the slaves in order to cure the evils. It mustnever be done by concessions and compromises. It isa great evil, and must be extinguished by still greaterones. It is positive and imperious in its approaches,and must be overcome with equally positive forces. Youmust commit an insult to arrest a burglar, and slaveryis not arrested without a violation of law and the cryof fire."

The speeches we have heard in the Senateof the United States, asserting accountability toa "higher law" than the Constitution andthe statute book; the speeches we have heardon the stump, by eminent party leadersproclaiming the existence of "irrepressible conflicts"between the sections; the appeals wehave heard from the pulpit for the means ofpurchasing Sharpe's rifles for the purpose ofcarrying on such conflicts, and vindicatingsuch law, are all parts of this "Kansas work"-- this glorious work -- to the carrying on ofwhich the Gerrit Smiths, the Whitmans, andthe Kearseys so nobly contribute their means,and for their portion of which the miserablefanatics of the Brown and Cook stamp mustpay with their lives.

Edited/Proofed by

Entered by James Cash. Proofed by Lloyd Benson




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Event Location


What is "Kansas Work?"

viewed in its true light, how there can be any question that it forms a part, and an important part, of the criminal transaction