Title: 1859 Editorial on John Brown
Start date: 1859-11.05
End date: 1859-11-05
Content: The Natick Observer
Saturday, November 5, 1859
Old John Brown
Our readers are probably aware that the hero at Harper’s Ferry, called “Old John Brown” has been convicted of treason and murder in the first degree, by a jury of the Sate of Virginia, and perhaps before this article has been put to press, his execution will have taken place. We call him a hero because he has performed an act which required all the essential elements of moral and physical courage to perform; because he acted up to his moral convictions of right and duty, even to the peril of his life; because he carried his principles to their logical conclusion without fear; and because in the final history of the Abolition movement in this country, Harper’s Ferry is to take a prominent place, and will stand perhaps in relation to the overthrow of Slavey, as the Boston Massacre now stand in relation to the overthrow of the tyranny of King George.
The movement may have been unwise, and humanely speaking, foolish—that is, in the sense that it was made without any prospect of a successful issue—but it was nevertheless made in behalf of the most just and righteous cause that ever men sacrificed their lives for, and in the Providence of God, may not be so entirely barren of results as the short-sightedness of politicians and time servers now suppose. True, it was the effort of only seventeen men, with a leader reputed to be crazy; and though they are all dead or as good as dead, and were backed by no great political party or ecclesiastical organization, yet none of our readers can remember an event which has so profoundly stirred the depths of society throughout the entire American Union, as this affair at Harper’s Ferry The reason of this is to be found in the fact that the blow, insignificant as it was, was aimed at, and hit the tenderest spot in the social and political institutions in the nation; and feeble though it was, yet it has laid bare a degree of festering rottenness and corruption such as the world never before saw or imagined.
Slavery is a perpetual war. A constant conflict with the right, and unceasing fight, with eternal truths. While it exists, it must remain a fomenter of riots, rebellions, insurrections, murders, assassinations and battles. The stronger it grows, and the longer it continues, the more frequent and ferocious will these become. It exhausts the soil, saps the moral sense of the people, degrades labor, and is driving the working classes of the country to the wall, but shutting them out of the fairest portion of the lands of the Southwest, which should remain open for the surplus population of the older states, for the use of the men who must have cheap land or starve. The killing of old John Brown and his men does nothing to end this war. Their sacrifice turns the thoughts of men to the appalling wickedness of the system with ten-fold intensity, and a thousand John Browns exist today where one existed before the affray at the Ferry
If this nation has not the virtue, courage, sense and decision to put an end to slavery by some concentrated effort of a peaceful nature, then the end must come by violence and blood.
Notable people involved:
Citations: The Natick Observer November 5, 1859 Page 2