Article Title

The Fatal Friday.


Newspaper Title

Chicago Press and Tribune

Publication Date


Publication Place

Chicago, Illinois

Event Topic

John Brown

Political Party



free state


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The man's heroism which is as sublime as that of a martyr

Document Type

Article (Journal or Newsletter)

Full Text Transcription

John Brown dies to-day! As Republicans,maintaining as we do, that neither individualsnor parties in the North have a right tointerfere with slavery where it exists under thesanction of positive law in the States, wecannot say that he suffers unlawfully. The man'sheroism which is as sublime as that of a martyr,his constancy to his convictions, hissuffering, the disgraceful incidents of his trial,the poltroonery of those who will lead himforth to death, have excited throughout all theNorth strong feeling of sympathy in hisbehalf, but no where, within our knowledge, isthe opinion entertained that he should not beheld answerable, for the legal consequence ofhis act. As long as we are a part of theUnion, consenting to the bond by which theStates are bound together, supporting theconstitution and the laws, and using the languageand entertaining the sentiments of loyalty, wecannot join in the execration of the extremepenalty which the unfortunate and infatuatedold man will suffer. We may questionthe wisdom of the method by which he ispunished -- may believe that Virginia would haveadded to her honor and confounded her enemies,by an act of clemency toward him andhis associates -- may condemn in unmeasuredterms the cowardice and blood-thirstinesswhich her people have displayed -- but when wequestion the right of a Sovereign State toinflict a penalty for so glaring and fatal aninfraction of her laws, we are advocating disunionin its most objectionable form. For that weare not prepared. We would be glad to avertthe axe which hangs over the old man's head,if persuasion and entreaty would do it; butwe see no way under Heaven by which, doingour duty as law-abiding citizens, we couldcounsel the use of force for his rescue, or bywhich we could join in a crusade against thoseby whom he has been legally though hastily,and because hastily, shamefully, condemned! We are not debarred, however, the right ofpraising the inherent though mistaken noblenessof the man, of pitying the fanaticismwhich led him into his present strait, ofregretting that a character which might havebeen so illustrious in the history of hiscountry, must be loaded with the consequences ofhis errors.

To our more radical readers these viewswill be unpalatable; but there are such thatRepublicans must entertain. When thefanatical action of the South and the accumulatedaggressions with which she has afflicted theNorth, dissolve the ties the hold the Northand South together, and when we no longerowe allegiance to the constitution and lawswhich the propagandists of Slavery have longtrodden under their feet, then we may havereason, upon the broadest principles of humanright, to not only bless but aid any work thatwill assist in the emancipation, by arms ifnecessary, of every human being on Americansoil. Until that time comes there is but onecourse left. That we have pointed out.

We have firm belief that this execution ofBrown will hasten the downfall of thataccursed system against which he waged war. Throughout all this land, men will not fail tosee that there is a conflict between the principlesof humanity that have obtained a lodgmentin every human heart, and obedience tolaws which all have tacitly agreed to support. The shock caused by his death will be morethan a nine days wonder. The emotionsexcited and the reflections provoked by thetragedy, will go to the very foundations of ourpolitical structure; and in all parts of the Unionmen will ask themselves how long this institutionwhich compels men to put to death theirfellows like Brown, who act upon motives andfor objects that command the approbation ofthe world, shall be suffered to disgrace the ageand the civilization in which we live. Thequestion will reach hearts that have been callousheretofore; and ere many years it willbring the opposing forces which now distractthe country -- right on the one side and wrongon the other -- enlightenment and barbarism --Christianity and Atheism -- Freedom and Slavery --face to face for a final conflict. We haveno apprehension of the result, whenever itcomes. The events of to-day, bring it nearerthan it has ever been before since the strugglebegan at Charlestown,Massachusetts, in 1775. It is ours, as it should have been Brown's tolabor and wait!

Edited/Proofed by

Entered by Lloyd Benson.




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The Fatal Friday.

The man's heroism which is as sublime as that of a martyr