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Author: Cary Holmes

Title: The John Brown Meeting

City: Natick

State: MA

Start date: 1859-12-10

End date: 1859-12-10

Content: The Natick Observer
December 10, 1859

John Brown Meeting in Natick!

Agreeably to previous arrangements, a meeting was held in School House Hall on Friday evening of last week, to express sympathy for Old John Brown, who was that day executed in Virginia for following the Christian impulses of his heart in efforts to rescue from bondage the down-trodden and oppressed.

At an early hour, the hall was filled to overflowing, and many went away unable to find admittance. Among the audience we observed many from out of town. The general aspect of the audience was such as to indicate to the most casual observer that the occasion which had convened it was one of no ordinary interest.

The meeting was called to order by J. B. Mann, Esq. who presented a list of officers (which had been agreed upon by the committee of arrangements) consisting of E. C. Morse Esq. for President, a long list of Vice Presidents, and J. B. Mann, Esq. for Secretary.

The President, upon taking the Chair, addressed the meeting in a speech characterized with deep feelings of sympathy and profound respect for the Christian firmness and moral heroism of John Brown; while at the same time he regarded his action as unfortunate and mistaken, as regarded himself and the cause he designed to promote. While such efforts as he had made might be the occasion of good to the Anti-Slavery cause, he thought that the legitimate results would be all wrong. He did not hesitate to say that there was much in the character of John Brown, deserving of our highest admiration; still in regard to his acts at Harper’s Ferry, he thought him mistaken in judgment. In short that while his heart wall all right, his head was all wrong.

The President then introduced Rev. N. D. George, who spoke earnestly from previously prepared notes—taking the conservative side of the question, regarding both the head and heart of John Brown as wrong, and the results of his actions disastrous to the Anti-Slavery cause.

Hon. J. W. Bacon followed Mr. George and defended Brown in an eloquent and forcible speech, regarding him as activated by the highest, best and purest of motives. That he followed the golden rule of doing to others he would that others should do to him---that he remembered those in bonds as bound with them. Today he had paid the penalty of his acts upon the gallows, and such would have been the fate of George Washington, Patrick Henry, John Hancock, and John Adams, had they fallen into the hands of the mother country. Old Brown had done the same thing,---had taken up arms to rescue slaves from Virginia bondage, that our government had done to rescue white slaves in Algiers. Mr. Bacon was interrupted by frequent and hearty applause.

Rev. C. M. Tyler was the next speaker, and he expressed his sympathy for John Brown, his admiration for his Christian firmness and martyr like devotion to the cause of liberty; his hatred to slavery, and his belief in the abstract right of revolution in certain contingencies.

Dr. Russell spoke of the martyrs of liberty, instancing the case of the Rev. E. P. Lovejoy, who more than twenty years ago was driven from St. Charles, Missouri for publishing an Anti-Slavery religious newspaper, and fell, bravely fighting, rifle in hand in the defense of his property and principles in Alton, in Illinois. Missouri had furnished the first martyr in the Anti-Slavery cause, and was the first to set about becoming a free State. He hoped that the martyrdom of old John Brown would be followed by like results in Virginia. At the close of his remarks, he offered the following preamble and resolutions:

“Whereas, we, the citizens of Natick have assembled, recognizing the principles
of Thomas Jefferson as enunciated by him in the Declaration of Independence,
“that all men are created free and equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain
inalienable rights---among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, and
whereas, believing in Virginia’s celebrated motto that resistance to tyrants is
obedience to God, ---therefore,
Resolved, That in conflict between the master and the slave, there is the
attribute of God that can take sides with the oppressor.
Resolved, That the devotion of the principles of liberty and the heroic self-
scarifies of Old John Brown in behalf of the down-trodden and oppressed,
is deserving of our highest admiration.
Resolved, That while we recognize the rights of revolution, when all other
means have failed to correct long admitted governmental evils and insupportable wrongs, we fully believe that political, moral and religious agencies are the best, and will be the most effectual means in removing the blighting curse of Slavery from
our land.”

The above resolutions were passed previous to the close of the meeting, the following being opposed by G. L. Sawin, Esq. and for want of perspicuity was declared rejected by the Chairman.
“ Resolved, That we regard all attempts to incite a servile insurrection with no less abhorrence than we do the Southern bluster about dissolving the Union, or the wicked and insane threat of Gov. Wise that he would incite and insurrection and take possession of the archives of the general government, n the event of the election of a Republican President, and form a Slaveholding confederacy.”

Rev. Mr. Babcock of South Natick presented his views in a series of resolutions in which he took strong grounds and defended them in an able speech, which was frequently applauded. He defended the American Anti-Slavery Society, and expressed the opinion that that Society and Mr. Garrison had done more for the Anti-Slavery cause than all the churches and pulpits in the country.

Rev. Wm. H. Walker took the stand and made on of the best and strongest Anti-Slavery speeches of the evening. He repudiated the Fugitive Slave Law and Dred Scott decision. He denied that ministers and church members were more pro-Slavery than other men, but contended that a vast majority of the ministers and church members of the free States were voting, active Anti-Slavery men and were far in the advance of the masses outside of the churches in their devotion to freedom.

Wm. Adams, Jr. of Boston, electrified the audience with a recital of what he had witnessed of the horrors of Slavery.

Mr. S. S. Foster of Worcester, mad a strong Anti-Slavery speech, eulogizing John Brown. He approved of what he had done, and believed that he had been directed by an overruling Providence. While his conscience would not allow him (Foster) to use carnal weapons, he being a non-resistant, he believed that Old Brown did right in using the sword of steel. He preferred ballots to bullets and while it was snot right for him to vote, he urged all those who consciences would allow them to vote, to do it in behalf of the Slave, but not by supporting the Republican party, as that party did not contemplate the interference with Slavery within the Slave States but merely to exclude it from the Territories.

Dea. John O. Wilson, our Representative elect, in a neat and happy speech expressed his admiration for John Brown, and his admiration for his Christian fortitude under troubles and trials that would overwhelm ordinary men. Mr. Wilson was heartily applauded.

Rev. Mr. Smith, G. E. Rockwood and R. E. Fawell made eloquent and pertinent speeches, when after considering the resolutions that had been previously been offered, the meeting adjourned.

The meeting was a successful one, and on the whole satisfactory. Perfect freedom of speech was allowed, and sentiments not in harmony with the majority of the meeting were loudly applauded by those who were pleased with them.

Notable people involved: John B. Mann Natick Selectman
Rev. C. M. Tyler (Secretary of the Antislavery Society of Massachusetts
Dr. Ira Russell
Rev. Babcock
Rev. Wm. H. Walker
Wm. Adams jr.
S. S. Foster

Citations: The Natick Bulletin Dec. 10, 1859 pp. 1 & 2

ID: 8888888944