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Osawatomie Graphic-News

May 16, 1935

Dedicate Statue To John Brown

5,000 People Present For Unveiling Ceremonies In Park Last Thursday

Gov. Landon Speaks

Judge G. A. Roberds Presided At All-Day Program; Many Prominent Persons Present

John Brown of Kansas:
He dared begin;
He lost;
But losing, won.

The above poem by Eugene F. Ware which is inscribed on the base of the life-sized bronze statue which was dedicated in John Brown Memorial Park here Thursday aptly describes the militant abolitionist from Osawatomie whose memory was honored on his 135th birthday anniversary. The statue was erected by the Woman's Relief Corps of Kansas and sculptured by George Fite Waters in Paris. The officers of the Osawatomie Corps are Mrs. Etta Lester, president; Mrs. J. L. Perrin, secretary and Mrs. Fred Smith, treasurer.

More than 5,000 persons gathered for the all-day program and approximately 1,000 marched in the parade, which formed at the city hall and marched through town to the park. School was dismissed and the children with their teachers marched in the parade. They carried flags given them by W. H. Weber, president of the school board. The children from rural schools carried flags given them by Charles A. Davis, a nephew of John Brown and Miss Ada Remington gave the teachers large flags.

The program began in the morning with a concert by the Haskell Institute band from Lawrence.

The first speaker was David C. Doten, state representative from Miami county. Eulogizing John brown, he said, "There have been many attacks made upon his character, but let it be remembered that Brown did not deny his errors and faults.

"As we search through history, even the Bible, there are few lives that could not be attacked from some angle. Whenever a leader takes a stand for humanity, he always is falsely attacked by selfish interests, and so it was with John [Brown.]

"It was his sincere belief that God had placed him here to fight the cause of the slaves, and to this conviction he unceasingly adhered, even to giving his life to the cause."

Governor Alf M. Landon, who made a hurried trip to attend the dedication services, praised Brown for fighting for the cause he thought was best for the country.

"We Americans," Governor Landon said, "are slow in establishing traditions and often neglect heroic figures until many years after their death. Our institutions and the principles on which these institutions were founded can best be safeguarded by recal[l]ing the courage and unselfishness of those who made them possible.

"It is well to pay homage to traditions of the past, not only for the sake of honoring leadership, but in order that we may properly determine the demands on real leadership of today.

"For, in the truest sense, commemoration of great achievements can do little for those who achieved and who now are gone, but such recognition is of tremendous benefit to the present generation in analyzing the progress we have made and in stimulating further progress in the days ahead."

Bishop W. T. Vernon, superintendent of Western university (Negro), spoke in behalf of the Negro.

"Sleeping or walking, John Brown could not, and did not, try to shut out the vision of slavery," he said.

"He had moved his family to North Elba to train Negroes, runaway Negroes, to farm. John Brown's words to his family show the man as he was. 'I want to plan with you a little, and I want you all to express your minds. I have a little money to spare. Shall we use it to furnish the parlor or spend it to buy clothing for the Negro people who may need help here in the North in another year'."

In describing John Brown's attitude a few days before he was executed, Bishop Vernon said:

"As he lay in his cell in Charles Town, Va. (now West Virginia), awaiting executioners, Brown was asked by a Virginian: 'Why did you come to Harper's Ferry?'

"'It was to help my fellowmen out of bondage,' he replied 'You know nothing of slavery. Ever since I have been in this cell I have heard the cry of slave children torn from their parents. I now am worth infinitely more dead than alive."

The dedication program was presided over by Judge G. A. Roberds. Mrs. Ida Heacock Baker, Parsons, gave the history of the statue project. The unveiling ceremony was performed by Boy Scouts while Mrs. T. T. Solander read a poem, "The Pioneer," written by Mrs. Anna L. January.

The Osawatomie Chamber of Commerce presented Miss Ada Remington, a grandniece of John Brown, with a bouquet in recognition of her work toward the statue. The W. R. C. gave Mrs. January flowers in recognition of her efforts in the accomplishment.

More than 1,000 persons signed the registration book in the cabin where they saw many historical relics and records of the man who struck the first blow of the civil war at Harper's Ferry.

John Brown was a native of Connecticut, born May 9, 1800, at Torrington. During his manhood he had two wives who bore him twenty children, seven by his first wife and thirteen by the second. He went to Ohio in early manhood, and in 1825 moved to Pennsylvania in the first of the ten migrations which he undertook and which ended with his hanging at Charles Town, W. Va., after his raid upon the government arsenal at Harper's Ferry.

Even as a boy and a young man John Brown was opposed to slavery and about 1850 the record discloses him as an abolitionist. He had aided in the escape of slaves to the North. At one time he joined the colony in New York founded for freed slaves and their protectors. His home in Pennsylvania was, at one time, a station on the underground railway.

Later he helped in the founding of the League of Gileadites, an organization for the sole purpose of freeing the slaves, or asssiting [sic] slaves in escaping from bondage. He also became the promoter of a "serville [sic] insurrection," which Brown at one time thought would be the easiest and most successful method of breaking down the hold of slavery upon the South. He felt that if the Negroes had proper leadership and equipment that they could be aroused and themselves throw off slavery without the interference of governmental agencies. It was that belief which led him into the raid at Harper's ferry and his hanging. He was seeking to get arms with which to arm his army of slaves which he proposed to raise if the raid had been successful.

Source: clipping in John Brown Scrapbook, compiled by Boyd Stutler, folder 1, Boyd B. Stutler Collection, West Virginia State Archives.

Chapter Fourteen: His Soul Goes Marching On

His Soul Goes Marching On

West Virginia Archives and History