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THE long contest against Southern slavery ended at last in a revolution, of which Kansas saw the first outbreak. Then followed a bloody civil war, after which the South was reorganized, - or, as it was called, "reconstructed," - with the corner-stone of its old social structure, negro slavery, left out, and emancipation, "the stone which the builders rejected," at last adopted in its place. In this contest, continuing for almost a century, but active and violent for about fifty years, there were four distinct parties or groups of men, varying in number as the struggle proceeded, but now nearly all merged in one great antislavery party, just as the persecution of the Christians ended in the conversion of the whole Roman world to Christianity. These parties were - (1) the Abolitionists, beginning with Franklin, Jefferson, and George Mason, and ending with Garrison, Lincoln, and Phillips; (2) the proslavery men; (3) the great body of neutrals; and (4) the Brown family, by which I mean John Brown of Osawatomie, his father Owen Brown, and his children. This one household constituted itself an outpost of emancipation when the early Abolitionists had been defeated and Jefferson had grown silent; it was an active force long before Garrison began his agitation (about 1830), and it continued in the service until the freedom of the slaves was assured. There was no discharge in that war for the Brown family. As one generation passed away, another took its place; and when the struggle became one of arms, the sons replaced each other in the fight, as the children of the old clansman in Scott's romance came forward to die one by one for their chieftain. "Another for Freedom!" was as potent a call with them as "Another for [page 188] Hector!" with the sons of the defeated clan. The Browns too were defeated, but only for a time, and in such a way that their renown was increased thereby. From a local leader John Brown became a world-famous martyr.

"Are you Captain Brown of Kansas?" asked the Virginian at Harper's Ferry of the old hero, as he recovered from the stabs and blows of Lee's soldiers.
"I am sometimes called so."
"Are you Osawatomie Brown?"
"I tried to do my duty there."

So long as these manly answers and the manly acts that preceded them remain on the record; so long as the public murder of John Brown for the crime of emancipation is a part of the history of that republic which within five years completed emancipation at the cost of half a million lives, - so long will the deeds and sufferings of the Brown family in Kansas be as important a chapter in the history of that State as any that can be written.

Let us then resume the homely series of family letters in which the father and his children told each other the story of their pilgrimage to Kansas in 1854-55, and what befell them there; beginning with the account given in November, 1883, by the present head of the family, John Brown, Jr., of the circumstances attending and preceding this removal from Ohio and the Adirondac forest to Osawatomie in Kansas. The town of this name is ten miles from the various settlements of the Brown family on the branches of the Pottawatomie Creek (properly a river) ; but the brother-in-law of Brown, the Rev. S. L. Adair, established himself at Osawatomie in 1854, and his log-cabin served as a rendezvous for the family so long as they remained in Kansas. John Brown, Jr., says: -

"During the years 1853 and 1854 most of the leading Northern newspapers were not only full of glowing accounts of the extraordinary fertility, healthfulness, and beauty of the Territory of Kansas, then newly opened for settlement, but of urgent appeals to all lovers of freedom who desired homes in a new region to go there as settlers, and by their votes save Kansas from the curse of slavery. Influenced by these considerations, in the month of October, 1854, five of the sons of John Brown,- John, J., Jason, Owen, Frederick, and Salmon, - then residents of the State of Ohio, made their arrangements to emigrate to Kansas. Their combined property consisted chiefly of eleven head of cattle, mostly young, and three horses. Ten of this number were valuable on account of the breed. Thinking these especially desirable in a new country, Owen, Frederick, and Salmon took them by way of the lakes to Chicago, thence to Meridosia, Ill., where they were wintered; and in the following spring drove them into Kansas to a place selected by these brothers for settlement, about eight miles west of the town of Osawatomie. My brother Jason and his family, and I with my family followed at the opening of navigation in the spring of 1855, going by way of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to St. Louis. There we purchased two small tents, a plough, and some smaller farming-tools, and a hand-mill for grinding corn. At this period there were no railroads west of St. Louis; our journey must be continued by boat on the Missouri at a time of extremely low water, or by stage at great expense. We chose the river route, taking passage on the steamer 'New Lucy,' which too late we found crowded with passengers, mostly men from the South bound for Kansas. That they were from the South was plainly indicated by their language and dress; while their drinking, profanity, and display of revolvers and bowie-knives - openly worn as an essential part of their make-up - clearly showed the class to which they belonged, and that their mission was to aid in establishing slavery in Kansas.

"A box of fruit-trees and grape-vines which my brother Jason had brought from Ohio, our plough, and the few agricultural implements we had on the deck of that steamer looked lonesome; for these were all we could see which were adapted to the occupations of peace. Then for the first time arose in our minds the query: Must the fertile prairies of Kansas, through a struggle at arms, be first secured to freedom before free men can sow and reap? If so, how poorly we were prepared for such work will be seen when I say that, for arms, five of us brothers had only two small squirrel rifles and one revolver. But before we reached our destination other matters claimed our attention. Cholera, which then prevailed to some extent at St. Louis, broke out among our passengers, a number of whom died. Among these brother Jason's son Austin, aged four years, the elder of his two children, fell a victim to this scourge; and while our boat lay by for repair of a broken rudder at Waverley, Mo., we buried him at night near that panic-stricken town, our lonely way illumined only by the lightning of a furious thunderstorm. True to his spirit of hatred of Northern people, our captain, without warning to us on shore, cast off his lines and left us to make our way by stage to Kansas City, to which place we had already paid our fare by boat. Before we reached there, however, we became very hungry, and endeavored to buy food at various farm-houses on the way; but the occupants, judging from our speech that we were not from the South, always denied us, saying, 'We have nothing for you.' The only exception to this answer was at the stage-house at Independence, Mo.

"Arrived in Kansas, her lovely prairies and wooded streams seemed to us indeed like a haven of rest. Here in prospect we saw our cattle increased to hundreds and possibly to thousands, fields of corn, orchards, and vineyards. At once we set about the work through which only our visions of prosperity could be realized. Our tents would suffice for shelter until we could plough our land, plant corn and other crops, fruit-trees, and vines, cut and secure as hay enough of the waving grass to supply our stock the coming winter. These cheering prospects beguiled our labors through late spring until midsummer, by which time nearly all of our number were prostrated by fever and ague that would not stay cured; the grass cut for hay mouldered in the wet for want of the care we could not bestow, and our crop of corn wasted by cattle we could not restrain. If these minor ills and misfortunes were all, they could be easily borne; but now began to gather the dark clouds of war. An election for a first Territorial Legislature had been held on the 30th of March of this year. On that day the residents of Missouri along the borders came into Kansas by thousands, and took forcible possession of the polls. In the words of Horace Greeley, 'There was no disguise, no pretence of legality, no regard for decency. On the evening before and the morning of the day of election, nearly a thousand Missourians arrived at Lawrence in wagons and on horseback, well armed with rifles, pistols, and bowie-knives, and two pieces of cannon loaded with musket balls. Although but 831 legal electors in the Territory voted, there were no less than 6,320 votes polled. They elected all the members of the Legislature, with a single exception in either house, - the two Free-Soilers being chosen from a remote district which the Missourians overlooked or did not care to reach.'

"Early in the spring and summer of this year the actual settlers at their convention repudiated this fraudulently chosen Legislature, and refused to obey its enactments. Upon this, the border papers of Missouri in flaming appeals urged the ruffian horde that had previously invaded Kansas to arm, and otherwise prepare to march again into the Territory when called upon, as they soon would be, to 'aid in enforcing the laws.' War of some magnitude, at least, now appeared to us brothers to be inevitable; and I wrote to our father, whose home was in North Elba, N. Y., asking him to procure and send to us, if he could, arms and ammunition, so that we could be better prepared to defend ourselves and our neighbors. He soon obtained them; but instead of sending, he came on with them himself, accompanied by my brother-in-law Henry Thompson, and my brother Oliver. In Iowa he bought a horse and covered wagon; concealing the arms in this and conspicuously displaying his surveying implements, he crossed into Missouri near Waverley, and at that place disinterred the body of his grandson, and brought all safely through to our settlement, arriving there about the 6th of October."

In August, 1854, when John Brown, Jr., had first mentioned to his father his purpose of emigrating to Kansas, it was not the intention of the father to accompany them, although he was willing and rather desirous his children should go. In a letter written from Akron (Aug. 21, 1854), he said to John: "If you or any of my family are disposed to go to Kansas or Nebraska, with a view to help defeat Satan and his legions in that direction, I have not a word to say; but I feel committed to operate in another part of the field. If I were not so committed, I would be on my way this fall. Mr. Adair [who married Brown's half-sister Florilla] is fixing to go, and wants to find 'good men and true' to go along. I would be glad if Jason would give away his Rock and go. Owen is fixing for some move, I can hardly say what." In fact, the four brothers, - John, Jason, Owen, and Frederick Brown, - as above mentioned, set out for Kansas in 1854, arriving there in the early spring of 1855, and settling near their uncle Mr. Adair. John Brown himself soon changed his mind and prepared to follow them, first visiting North Elba and New England; and at this point his letters to his family at North Elba may be taken up, relating, in their simple way, the domestic history in these removals, and the frugal plans he formed for the maintenance and comfort of those dependent on him or under his guidance. Here will be found little speech of the great objects he had in view, but much concerning cattle and household affairs; as in the correspondence, were it preserved, of some Oriental patriarch migrating from land to land in Scripture times.

John Brown to his Children.

AKRON, OHIO, Jan. 3, 1855

DEAR CHILDREN, - Last night your letters to Jason were received (dated December 26), and I had the reading of them. I conclude from the long time mine to you from Albany was on the way, that you did not reply to it. On my return here from North Elba I was disappointed of about three hundred dollars for cattle sold to brother Frederick, and am still in the same condition, - he having gone to Illinois just before I left to go East, and not having returned nor written me a word since. This puts it out of my power to move my family at present, and will until I get my money, unless I sell off my Devon cattle, - which I cannot, without great sacrifice, before spring opens. Your remarks about hay make me doubt the propriety of taking on any cattle till spring, as I have here an abundance of feed. I am now entirely unable to say whether we can get off before spring or not. All are well here, so far as we know. Owen and Frederick were with their uncle Edward in Meridosia, Ill. (where they expect to winter), on the 23d December, they were well, and much pleased with the country, and with him. You can write them at that place, care of Edward Lusk, Esq. I may send on one of the boys before the family go, but am not now determined. Can write no more now for want of time. Write me, on receipt of this, any and every thing of use or interest.

Your affectionate father, JOHN BROWN.

AKRON, OHIO, Feb. 13, 1855.

DEAR CHILDREN, - I have deferred answering your very acceptable letter of January 30 for one week, in the hope of having some news to write you about Owen and Frederick; but they are so negligent about writing that I have not a word to send now. I got quite an encouraging word about Kansas from Mr. Adair the other day. He had before given quite a gloomy picture of things. He and family were all well. The friends here were all well a few days since. John and Wealthy have gone back to Vernon, John taking with him my old surveyor's instruments, in consideration of having learned to survey. I have but little to write that will interest you, so I need not be lengthy. I think we may be able to get off in March, and I mean to sell some of our Devon cattle in order to effect it, if I can do no better. I should send on Watson within a few days, if I thought I could manage to get along with the family and cattle without his help. I may conclude to do so still before we get away. The last of January and February, up to yesterday, have been very remarkable for uninterrupted cold weather for this section. We were glad to learn that you had succeeded in getting the house so comfortable. I want Johnny should be so good a boy that "95 will not turn him off." Can you tell whether the Stout lot was ever redeemed in December or not by the owners?


DEAR CHILDREN, - I am here with my stock of cattle to sell, in order to raise funds so that I can move to North Elba, and think I may get them off in about two weeks. Oliver is here with me. We shall get on so late that we can put in no crops (which I regret), so that you had perhaps better plant or sow what you can conveniently on "95."[1] I heard from John and Jason and their families (all well) at St. Louis on the 21st April, expecting to leave there on the evening of that day to go up the Missouri for Kansas. My family at Akron were well on the 4th inst. As I may be detained here some days after you get this, I wish you to write me at once what wheat and corn are worth at Westport now, as near as you can learn. People are here so busy sowing their extensive fields of grain, that I cannot get them even to see my cattle now. Direct to this place, care of Shepard Leach, Esq.

[footnote 1] Brown's farm at North Elba.


DEAR CHILDREN, - I write just to say that I have sold my cattle without making much sacrifice, and expect to be on my way home to-morrow. Oliver expects to remain behind and go to Kansas. After I get home I expect to start with my family for North Elba as soon as we can get ready. We may possibly get off this week, but I hardly think we can. I have heard nothing further as yet from the boys in Kansas. All were well at home a few days since.

HUDSON, OHIO, June 18, 1855.

DEAR CHILDREN, - I write to say that we are (after so long a time) on our way to North Elba, with our freight also delivered at the Akron depot; we look for it here to-night. If this reaches you before we get on, I would like to have some one with a good team go out to Westport on next Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday forenoon, to take us out or a load of our stuff. We have some little thought now of going with our freight by the Welland Canal and by Ogdensburgh to Westport, in which case we may not get around until after you get this. All are well here, so far as we know.

Your affectionate father, JOHN BROWN.

To his Wife.

SYRACUSE, June 28,1855.

DEAR WIFE AND CHILDREN, - I reached here on the first day of the convention, and I have reason to bless God that I came; for I have met with a most warm reception from all, so far as I know, and - except by a few sincere, honest peace friends - a most hearty approval of my intention of arming my sons and other friends in Kansas. I received to-day donations amounting to a little over sixty dollars, - twenty from Gerrit Smith, five from an old British officer;[1] others giving smaller sums with such earnest and affectionate expressions of their good wishes as did me more good than money even. John's two letters were introduced, and read with such effect by Gerrit Smith as to draw tears from numerous eyes in the great collection of people present. The convention has been one of the most interesting meetings I ever attended in my life; and I made a great addition to the number of warm-hearted and honest friends.

[footnote l] This was Charles Stewart, a retired captain of the British army, who had served under Wellington in India or Spain, afterwards emigrated to America, and who became one of the zealous associates of Gerrit Smith in the antislavery crusade of 1835-50. He was visiting at Mr. Smith's house in 1855; and I found him there again in February, 1858, when I met Brown in Mrs. Smith's parlor, to hear the disclosure of his Virginia plans. The money given to Brown at Syracuse, in June, 1855, was in part expended by him at Springfield, in July, for arms. He then saw his old friend Thomas Thomas, the Maryland freedman, and urged him to join in the Kansas expedition; but Thomas, who had made his arrangements to live in California, declined, and never met Brown again.

Letters from John Brown's Sons in Kansas to their Father.


[footnote 2] This is now Cutler, in Franklin County.

Friday Morning, June 22, 1855.

DEAR FATHER, - Day before yesterday we received a letter from you dated Rockford, Ill., 24th May, which for some unaccountable cause has been very long delayed on the road. We are exceedingly glad to hear from you, and that you still intend coming on. Our health is now excellent, and our crops, cattle, and horses look finely. We have now about twelve acres of sod corn in the ground, more than a quarter acre of white beans, two and a half bushels seed potatoes planted and once hoed, besides a good garden containing corn, potatoes, beets, cabbages, turnips, a few onions, some peas, cucumbers, melons, squashes, etc. Jason's fruit-trees, grape-vines, etc., that survived the long period of transportation, look very well: probably more than half he started with are living, with the exception of peaches; of these he has only one or two trees. As we arrived so late in the season, we have but little expectation of harvesting much corn, and but few potatoes. The rainy season usually commences here early in April or before, and continues from six to eight weeks, during which a great amount of rain falls. This year we had no rain of any consequence before the 12th or 15th of May; since then have had two heavy rains accompanied with some wind and most tremendous thunder and lightning; have also had a number of gentle rains, continuing from one to twenty-four hours; but probably not more than half the usual fall of rain has yet come. As the season last year was irregular in this respect, probably this will be to some extent. We intend to keep our garden, beans, and some potatoes watered if we can, so as to have something if our corn should be a failure. As it is, the prospect is middling fair, and the ground is ploughed ready for early planting next year. Old settlers here say that people should calculate on having the spring's sowing and planting all done by the middle of April; in that case their crops are more abundant. The prairies are covered with grass, which begins to wave in the wind most beautifully; shall be able to cut any quantity of this, and it is of far better quality than I had any idea.

In answer to your questions: Good oxen are from $50 to $80 per yoke, - have been higher; common cows, from $15 to $25, - probably will not be higher; heifers in proportion. Limited demand as yet for fine stock. Very best horses from $100 to $150 each; average fair to good, $75 to $80. No great demand now for cattle or horses. A good strong buggy would sell well, - probably a Lumberee best. Mr. Adair has had several chances to sell his. Very few Lumberee buggies among the settlers. White beans, $5 per bushel; corn meal, $1.75 per bushel of fifty pounds, tending downward; flour, $7 per hundred pounds; dried apples, 12 1/2 cents per pound; bacon, 12 to 14 cents here; fresh beef, 5 to 6 cents per pound. Enclosed is a slip cut from a late number of the "Kansas Tribune" giving the markets there, which differ somewhat from prices in this section. It is the paper published at Lawrence by the Speers.

I have no doubt it would be much cheaper and healthier for you to come in the way you propose, with a "covered lumber buggy and one horse or mule," especially from St Louis here. The navigation of the Missouri River, except by the light-draught boats recently built for the Kansas River, is a horrid business in a low stage of water, which is a considerable portion of the year. You will be able to see much more of the country on your way, and if you carry some provisions along it is altogether the cheaper mode of travelling; besides, such a conveyance is just what you want here to carry on the business of surveying. You can have a good road here whithersoever you may wish to go. Flour, white beans, and dried fruit will doubtless continue for some time to come to be high. It is believed that a much larger emigration will arrive here this fall than before. Should you buy anything to send by water, you can send it either to Lawrence, thirty-five miles north of us, or to Kansas City, Mo., care of Walker & Chick, sixty miles northeast of us.

A surveyor would soon find that great numbers are holding more land, and especially timber, than can be covered by 160 acres, or even 320, and that great numbers are holding claims for their friends; so that I have no doubt people will find a sufficient amount of timber yet for a long time. Owing to the rapid settlement of the country by squatters, it does not open a good field for speculators.

The land on which we are located was ceded by the Pottawatomie Indians to the Government. The Ottawa lands are soon to be sold, each person of the tribe reserving and choosing two hundred acres; the remainder open to pre-emption after their choice is made. The Peoria lands have been bargained for by the Government, and are to be sold to the highest bidder without reservation. But Missourians have illegally gone on to these Peoria lands, intending to combine and prevent their going higher than $1.25 per acre, and then claim, if they go higher, a large amount of improvements, - thus cheating the Indians. The Ottawas intend to divide into families, and cultivate the soil and the habits of civilized life, as many of them are now doing. They are a fine people. The Peorias are well advanced, and might do the same but for a bad bargain with our Government.

[Here is drawn a plan of the Brown settlement or claim.]

There is a town site recently laid out on the space marked "village plat;" as there are two or three in sight, it is uncertain which will be taken. The semicircle is even ground, sloping every way, and affording a view in every way of from twenty to thirty miles in every direction, except one small point in the direction of Osawatomie; the view from this ground is beautiful beyond measure. The timbered lands on Middle Creek are covered with claims; the claimants, many of them from Ohio, Illinois, and the East, are mostly Free-State folks. There are probably twenty families within five or six miles of us.

Day before yesterday Owen and I ran the Peoria line east to see if there might not be found a patch of timber on some of the numerous small streams which put into the Osage, and which would be south of the Peoria line. We found on a clear little stream sufficient timber for a log-house, and wood enough to last say twenty families for two or three years, perhaps more, and until one could buy and raise more. Here a good claim could be made by some one. The prairie land which would be included is of the very best I have ever seen; plenty of excellent stone on and adjoining it. Claims will soon be made here that will have no more than two or three acres of timber; and after these are exhausted prairie claims will be taken, the claimants depending on buying their timber. Already this is the case, and many are selling off twenty, thirty, and forty acres from their timber claims to those who have none.

The above, though without signature, is in the handwriting of John Brown, Jr.; and the plan of "Brown's Station" is drawn in his neat surveyor's manner. In the same envelope evidently went the two following letters from Jason Brown (familiarly called "Jay" by his family) and Salmon, the eldest son of the second marriage.

OSAWATOMIE, K. T., June 23, 1855.

DEAR FATHER, MOTHER, BROTHERS, AND SISTERS, - We received a few days since a letter from mother, since then one from father, which we were all very glad to get. I should have written you before, but since we laid little Austin in the grave I have not felt as if I could write. I shall not attempt to say much now. We fully believe that Austin is happy with his Maker in another existence; and if there is to be a separation of friends after death, we pray God to keep us in the way of truth, and that we may so run our short course as to be able to enjoy his company again. Ellen feels so lonely and discontented here without Austin, that we shall go back to Akron next fall if she does not enjoy herself better. I am well pleased with the country, and can be as well content here as anywhere else if it proves to be healthy. It is a very rich and beautiful country. I should think it would be altogether best for father to come by land from St. Louis. Salmon has a very good claim (as well as the rest of us), and seems to be very much pleased with it. We are all living together in tents and in the wagon, and have no houses yet. I used all the money I had for freight and passage before I got here, and had to borrow of John. We have no stoves; I wish now that we had brought ours along. We would all like to hear from you often. All well.

Your affectionate son and brother,

P. S. If you should come by Akron on your way here, and could buy and box up a middle-sized stove and furniture, with about four lengths of pipe, and send or bring it to me at Kansas City, I will contrive some way to pay you for it. I think they can be got there and shipped here cheaper than they can be bought here. I would like to have you inquire, if you will.

OSAWATOMIE, K. T., June 22, 1855.

DEAR FATHER, - We received your letter from Rockford, Ill., this week, and are very glad that you are going to get through there soon, and that you are going to be here before fall. In answer to your questions about what you will need for your company, I would say that I have one acre of corn that looks very well, and some beans and squashes and turnips. You will want to get some pork and meal, and beans enough to last till the crop comes in, and then I think we will have enough grain to last through the winter. I will have a house up by the time that you will get here. My boots are very near worn out, and I shall need some summer pants and a hat. I bought an axe, and that you will not have to get. There are slaves owned within three miles of us.

Your affectionate son,

From Oliver Brown to his Mother at North Elba.


DEAR MOTHER, - I just received yours of the 31st, and also of the 1st, and was very much pleased to hear that you were all well. I also received letters from father and Ruth at the same time, which I was very glad to get; but I much more expected to see father than to hear from him. My health is very good at present, but has been very poor for a week or ten days back. I am working now for a man named Goodrich, getting $1.50 per day, which I have to earn, every cent of it. I never worked so hard before. I am quite sorry to hear that you are likely to have rather tough times of it for a year to come. Was I certain that father would not be distressed for money when he gets here, I would send you enough to buy another cow; but I think we must try and see what we can do for you when we get to Kansas. Have written to Salmon twice, but have received no answer as yet. My shirts hold out very well so far, but I think the ones you were going to send by father will come in play in course of the season. I very much hope to see Alexis Hinkley with him. Should much like to have Watson with us, but do not see that it is possible. I hope to see you all in Kansas in the course of a year or two. It has been very dry here, but crops look very well. I received that receipt for cholera medicine, and went at once and got the whole dose mixed up. I do not think of more at present, so please all write me soon; and Wat you must spur up about writing, and Anna too.

From your affectionate son,

From John Brown to his Family at North Elba.

CHICAGO, ILL., Aug. 23, 1855.

DEAR WIFE AND CHILDREN, EVERY ONE, - I see that Henry has given you so full a history of our matters that I have but little to say now, but to add that we start from here this morning, all well. We have a nice young horse, for which we paid here $120, but have so much load that we shall have to walk a good deal - enough probably to supply ourselves with game. We have provided ourselves with the most of what we need on our outward march. If you get this on Tuesday and answer it on Wednesday, some of you directing on the outside to Oliver, at Rock Island, Ill., we should probably get your answer there. Oliver's name is not so common as either Henry's or mine. We shall write you often, and hope you will do so by us. You may direct one to Oliver at Kansas City, Mo., as we may go there, and shall be very glad to hear from you. Write us soon at Osawatomie, Kansas, and may God Almighty bless you all!

Your affectionate husband and father,

SCOTT COUNTY, IOWA, Sept. 4 [1855], in Morning.

DEAR WIFE AND CHILDREN, ALL, - I am writing in our tent about twenty miles west of the Mississippi, to let you know that we are all in good health and how we get along. We had some delay at Chicago on account of our freight not getting on as we expected; while there we bought a stout young horse that proves to be a very good one, but he has been unable to travel fast for several days from having taken the distemper. We think he appears quite as well as he has, this morning; and we hope he will not fail us. Our load is heavy, so that we have to walk most of the time; indeed, all the time the last day. The roads are mostly very good, and we can make some progress if our horse does not fail us. We fare very well on crackers, herring, boiled eggs, prairie chicken, tea, and sometimes a little milk. Have three chickens now cooking for our breakfast. We shoot enough of them on the wing as we go along to supply us with fresh meat. Oliver succeeds in bringing them down quite as well as any of us. Our expenses before we got away from Chicago had been very heavy; since then very light, so that we hope our money will not entirely fail us; but we shall not have any of account left when we get through.

We expect to go direct through Missouri, and if we are not obliged to stop on account of our horse, shall soon be there. We mean to write you often when we can. We got to Rock Island too soon for any letter from you, but shall not be too early at Kansas City, where we hope to hear from you. The country through which we have travelled from Chicago has been mostly very good, the worst fault is want of living streams of water. With all the comforts we have along our journey, I think, could I hope in any other way to answer the end of my being, I would be quite content to be at North Elba.

I have directed the sale of the cattle in Connecticut, and to have the rest sent in a New York draft payable to Watson's order, which I hope will make you all quite comfortable. Watson should get something more at Elizabethtown than the mere face of the draft. He will need to write his name across the back of the draft when he sells it: about two inches from the top end would be the proper place. I want you to make the most of the money you get, as I expect to be very poor about money from any other source. Commend you all to the mercy and infinite grace of God. I bid you all good-by for this time.

Your affectionate husband and father,

[footnote l] The following receipts belong in this portion of the family papers: the first one is for arms purchased with money contributed by Gerrit Smith and others for use in Kansas; the second is for the wagon in which Brown made the journey to Kansas : -

SPRINGFIELD, MASS., July 24, 1855.

Received of John Brown one box firearms and flasks, to be forwarded by railroad to Albany, and consigned to him at Cleveland, Ohio, care of H. B. Spellman of that place.

For W. R. R. Company.

$100. Received of John Brown one hundred dollars in full for a heavy horse wagon, this day sold him, and which we agree to ship immediately to J. B., Iowa City, Iowa, care of Dr. Jesse Bowen.

OSAWATOMIE, K. T., Oct. 13, 1855.
Saturday Eve.

DEAR WIFE AND CHILDREN, EVERY ONE, - We reached the place where the boys are located one week ago, late at night; at least Henry and Oliver did. I, being tired, stayed behind in our tent, a mile or two back. As the mail goes from here early Monday morning, we could get nothing here in time for that mail. We found all more or less sick or feeble but Wealthy and Johnny.[2] All at Brownsville appear now to be mending, but all sick or feeble here at Mr. Adair's. Fever and ague and chill-fever seem to be very general. Oliver has had a turn of the ague since he got here, but has got it broken. Henry has had no return since first breaking it. We met with no difficulty in passing through Missouri, but from the sickness of our horse and our heavy load. The horse has entirely recovered. We had, between us all, sixty cents in cash when we arrived. We found our folks in a most uncomfortable situation, with no houses to shelter one of them, no hay or corn fodder of any account secured, shivering over their little fires, all exposed to the dreadful cutting winds, morning and evening and stormy days. We have been trying to help them all in our power, and hope to get them more comfortable soon. I think much of their ill health is owing to most unreasonable exposure. Mr. Adair's folks would be quite comfortable if they were well. One letter from wife and Anne to Salmon, of August 10, and one from Ruth to John, of 19th September, is all I have seen from any of you since getting here. Henry found one from Ruth, which he has not shown me. Need I write that I shall be glad to hear from you? I did not write while in Missouri, because I had no confidence in your getting my letters. We took up little Austin and brought him on here, which appears to be a great comfort to Jason and Ellen. We were all out a good part of the last night, helping to keep the prairie fire from destroying everything; so that I am almost blind to-day, or I would write you more.

[footnote 2] Son of John Brown, Jr.

Sabbath Eve, October 14.

I notice in your letter to Salmon your trouble about the means of having the house made more comfortable for winter, and I fondly hope you have been relieved on that score before now, by funds from Mr. Hurlbut, of Winchester, Conn., from the sale of the cattle there. Write me all about your situation; for, if disappointed from that source, I shall make every effort to relieve you in some other way. Last Tuesday was an election day with Free-State men in Kansas, and hearing that there was a prospect of difficulty we all turned out most thoroughly armed (except Jason, who was too feeble); but no enemy appeared, nor have I heard of any disturbance in any part of the Territory. Indeed, I believe Missouri is fast becoming discouraged about making Kansas a slave State, and I think the prospect of its becoming free is brightening every day. Try to be cheerful, and always "hope in God," who will not leave nor forsake them that trust in him. Try to comfort and encourage each other all you can. You are all very dear to me, and I humbly trust we may be kept and spared to meet again on earth; but if not, let us all endeavor earnestly to secure admission to that eternal home, where will be no more bitter separations, "where the wicked shall cease from troubling and the weary be at rest." We shall probably spend a few days more in helping the boys to provide some kind of shelter for winter, and mean to write you often. May God in infinite mercy bless, comfort, and save you all, for Christ's sake!

Your affectionate husband and father,

In addition to the account given by John Brown, Jr., of the pilgrimage to Kansas, the following notice of it, written by the father, and found among his papers at North Elba, may here be cited. He wrote thus: -

"In 1854 the four eldest sons of John Brown, named John, Jr., Jason, Owen, and Frederick (all children by a first wife), then living in Ohio, determined to remove to Kansas. John, Jr., sold his place, a very desirable little property, near Vernon, in Trumbull County. Jason Brown had a very valuable collection of grape-vines, and also of choice fruit-trees, which he took up and shipped in boxes at a heavy cost. The other two sons held no landed property, but both were possessed of some valuable stock (as were also the two first-named) derived from that of their father, which had been often noticed by liberal premiums, both in the State of New York and also of Ohio. The two first-named, John and Jason, both had families. Owen had none. Frederick was engaged to be married, and was to return for his wife.

"In consequence of an extreme dearth in 1854 the crops in Northern Ohio were almost an entire failure; and it was decided by the four brothers that the two youngest should take the teams and entire stock, cattle and horses, and move them to Southwestern Illinois to winter, and to have them on early in the spring of 1855. This was done at a very considerable expense, and with some loss of stock to John, Jr., some of his best stock having been stolen on the way. The wintering of the animals was attended with great expense, and with no little suffering to the two youngest brothers,- one of them, Owen, being to some extent a cripple from childhood by an injury of the right arm; and Frederick, though a very stout man, was subject to periodical sickness for many years, attended with insanity. It has been stated that he was idiotic; nothing could be more false. He had subjected himself to a most dreadful surgical operation but a short time before starting for Kansas, which had well-nigh cost him his life, and was but just through with his confinement when he started on his journey, pale and weak. They were obliged to husk corn all winter, out of doors, in order to obtain fodder for their animals. Salmon Brown, a very strong minor son of the family, eighteen years old, was sent forward early in 1855, to assist the two last-named, and all three arrived in Kansas early in the spring."

In such patriarchal fashion did the Browns enter the land which they were foreordained to defend. These young men were of the true stuff, worthy sons of such a sire; active, enterprising persons, fond of labor, inured to hardship, and expecting, as their father had taught them, to earn their living with the toil of their own hands. The narrow circumstances of the family made it necessary that these young men should support themselves somewhere. Love of freedom, love of adventure, and a desire for independence in fortune combined to tempt them; but the father, besides his wish to aid them, had constantly in view his main object, as the last letter shows.

More Family Letters.

BROWNSVILLE, K. T., Nov. 2, 1855.

DEAR WIFE AND CHILDREN, EVERY ONE, - We last week received Watson's letter of October 3, too late to answer till now. I felt grateful to learn that you were all then well, and I think I fully sympathize with you in all the hardships and discouragements you have to meet; but you may be assured you are not alone in having trials. I believe I wrote you that we found every one here more or less unwell but Wealthy and Johnny, without any sort of a place where a stout man even could protect himself from the cutting cold winds and storms, which prevail here (the winds, I mean, in particular) much more than in any place where we have ever lived; and that no crops of hay or anything raised had been taken care of; with corn wasting by cattle and horses, without fences; and, I may add, without any meat; and Jason's folks without sugar, or any kind of breadstuffs but corn ground with great labor in a hand-mill about two miles off. Since I wrote before, Wealthy, Johnny, Ellen, and myself have escaped being sick. Some have had the ague, but lightly; but Jason and Oliver have had a hard time of it, and are yet feeble. They appear some better just now. Under existing circumstances we have made but little progress; but we have made a little. We have got a shanty three logs high, chinked, and mudded, and roofed with our tent, and a chimney so far advanced that we can keep a fire in it for Jason.[1] John has his shanty a little better fixed than it was, but miserable enough now; and we have got their little crop of beans secured, which, together with johnnycake, mush and milk, pumpkins, and squashes, constitute our fare. Potatoes they have none of any account; milk, beans, pumpkins, and squashes a very moderate supply, just for the present use. We have also got a few house-logs cut for Jason. I do not send you this account to render you more unhappy, but merely to let you know that those here are not altogether in paradise, while you have to stay in that miserable frosty region. We had here, October 25, the hardest freezing I ever witnessed south of North Elba at that season of the year.

After all, God's tender mercies are not taken from us, and blessed be his name forever! I believe things will a little brighten here before long, and as the winter approaches, and that we may be able to send you a more favorable account. There is no proper officer before whom a deed can be acknowledged short of Lawrence, and Jason and Owen have not been able to go there at all since we got are I want to learn very much whether you have received any return from the cattle of Mr. Hurlbut, in Connecticut, so that I may at once write him if you have not. I trust you will not neglect this, as it takes so long to get letters through, and it will greatly lessen my anxiety about your being made in some measure comfortable for the winter. We hear that the fall has been very sickly in Ohio and other States. I can discover no reason why this country should continue sickly, but it has proven exceedingly so this fall. I feel more and ore confident that slavery will soon die out here, - and to God be the praise! Commending you all to his infinite grace, I remain

Your affectionate husband and father,

[footnote 1] His home was a freezing cabin,
Too bare for the hungry rat;
Its roof was thatched with ragged grass,
And bald enough of that.
HOLMES, The Pilgrim's Vision.

To his Family.

OSAWATOMIE, K. T., Nov. 23, 1855.

DEAR WIFE AND CHILDREN, ALL, - Ruth's letter to Henry, saying she was about moving, and dated 23d October (I think), was received by last week's mail. We were all glad to learn again of your welfare; and as to your all staying in one house, I can see no possible objection, if you can only be well agreed, and try to make each other as comfortable as may be. Nothing new of account has occurred amongst us since I wrote. Henry, Jason, and Oliver are unable to do much yet, but appear to have but little ague now. The others are all getting middling well. We have got both families so sheltered that they need not suffer hereafter; have got part of the hay (which had lain in cocks) secured; made some progress in preparation to build a house for John and Owen; and Salmon has caught a prairie wolf in the steel trap. We continue to have a good deal of stormy weather, - rains with severe winds, and forming into ice as they fall, together with cold nights that freeze the ground considerably. "Still God has not forsaken us," and we get "day by day our daily bread," and I wish we all had a great deal more gratitude to mingle with our undeserved blessings. Much suffering would be avoided by people settling in Kansas, were they aware that they would need plenty of warm clothing and light warm houses as much as in New Hampshire or Vermont; for such is the fact.

Since Watson wrote, I have felt a great deal troubled about your prospects of a cold house to winter in, and since I wrote last I have thought of a cheap ready way to help it much, at any rate. Take any common straight-edged boards, and run them from the ground up to the eaves, barn fashion, not driving the nails in so far but that they may easily be drawn, covering all but doors and windows as close as may be in that way, and breaking joints if need be. This can be done by any one, and in any weather not very severe, and the boards may afterwards be mostly saved for other uses. I think much, too, of your widowed state, and I sometimes allow myself to dream a little of again some time enjoying the comforts of home; but I do not dare to dream much. May God abundantly reward all your sacrifices for the cause of humanity, and a thousandfold more than compensate your lack of worldly connections! We have received two newspapers you sent us, which were indeed a great treat, shut away as we are from the means of getting the news of the day. Should you continue to direct them to some of the boys, after reading, we should prize them much.

Your affectionate husband and father,

These letters disclose the hardships of the first year of pioneer life in Kansas, suffered from the elements and natural causes alone. Yet the troubles of this family were but just begun when the inclemency of the season had been in some measure guarded against. The Browns had "located," as already mentioned, ten or twelve miles from Osawatomie; their kinsman Mr. Adair living between them and the village. James Hanway, another pioneer, living on the Pottawatomie, near Dutch Henry's Crossing, in Franklin County, a few miles southeast of Brownsville (which is now in the township of Cutler), thus speaks of the location: "On North Middle Greek, on the farm of Mr. Day, eight miles southeast of Ottawa, John Brown caused to be erected a cabin for the purpose of pre-empting a claim for his brother-in-law Mr. Day, the father of the present occupant of the farm; but I never learned that Brown lived on it, for after the month of May, 1856, he was never stationary, but all the time on the war-path, until he left Kansas for a season. After the Pottawatomie tragedy occurred, the John Brown, Jr., cabin, with a valuable library, was burned down by the ruffians. This cabin was located a short distance south of the Day cabin. The other sons of John Brown had claims about one and a half miles south, now known as 'Brown's Run.' "The family were therefore within a circuit of two miles of each other, and at some distance from any other settlers. Their post-office was Osawatomie; for there was then no town at Ottawa, which is now a thriving village, with a third part of the whole county population. The township of Pottawatomie, in which the Shermans and Doyles lived, was about as far south from the Browns as Osawatomie was on the east.

Scarcely had the Brown family got over the first hardships of the sickly season and the frosty autumn, when they were called upon to arm and muster for the defence of their threatened neighbors at Lawrence. The murdering of Free-State men had begun (Oct. 25, 1855) with the shooting of Samuel Collins at Doniphan by Pat Laughlin, a noisy proslavery Irishman, who was aided in his attack by three or four armed associates. No attempt was made to punish Laughlin. Four weeks later, November 21, Charles Dow was murdered by Franklin Coleman, a proslavery bully, near Hickory Point. The next night, Jacob Branson, a witness against Coleman, was arrested by the proslavery sheriff Jones, for taking part in a Free-State meeting, contrary to the "bogus laws;" but before Jones and his posse could carry their prisoner to the proslavery capital, Lecompton, they were waylaid by an equal force of Free-State men, who rescued Branson, near Blanton's Bridge, on the very night of his arrest. J. R. Kennedy, now of Colorado, has given a graphic account of the rescue scene, which I will quote in his own words, for the sake of showing what men and what events might be heard of at any time in Kansas.[1] The date is Nov. 22, 1855; the men acting on the Free-State side were Major James B. Abbott, Captain Philip Hutchinson, - Philip Hupp, and his son Miner Hupp, Colonel Samuel N. Wood (an Ohio man, six months resident in Kansas), Elmore Allen, Edmund Curless, Lafayette Curless, William Hughes, Paul Jones, J. R. Kennedy, Collins Holloway, Isaac Shappet, John Smith, and ____ Smith. The party were waiting at Abbot's house at eleven o'clock at night, when the chronicle begins. Kennedy says: -

"While I was standing by the door, still on the watch, I heard Philip Hupp (and no braver man ever lived) say, 'Well, boys, I tell you what's the matter; they have taken Branson and crossed the Wakarusa at Cornelius's Crossing, and have him at old Crane's hotel. All we have to do, and what we ought to do, is to march right down there, and if Branson is in the house, tell him to come out, - that he is a free man, and will he protected.' Just at this time I walked out a little from the door, and looking south saw fifteen or twenty mounted men riding slowly along the road toward the house. Stepping quickly back to the door, I caught Major Abbott's eye, and beckoned him to come out, which he did. I showed him the men, and exclaiming, 'That's the party!' he rushed into the house, telling the boys they were coming, and to go out quick. Mrs. Abbott handed the boys their guns, and they did go out with a rush, Abbott going first, followed by Philip Hupp; then came Captain Hutchinson, Paul Jones, and others. We turned to the left around the corner of the house into the road a few rods in front of the horsemen. Phil Hupp was the first man who crossed the road. He said afterwards he was watching the man on the gray horse, Sheriff Jones; and he did watch him, sure enough. Next to Hupp was Paul Jones, and both were armed with squirrel rifles. Next came Captain Hutchinson, armed with two large stones; next were Holloway and myself, - I thinking Captain Hutchinson was a good man to stay with, as he had been three years in the Mexican War. The rest of the boys ranged along the side of the road near the house. This was about the order we occupied when the party approached close to those in the road, and very close to those by the side of the road. Mr. Hupp being in front, and seeing the boys scattered along from where he was to the side of the house, called out, 'Boys, what the hell are you doing there? Here is the place for you.' They then all crowded rapidly up in front of the other party, when one of these said, 'What's up?' Major Abbott replied, 'That is what we want to know,' - which remark was followed by a shot on our side. (The Major had a self-cocking revolver, and he had, in his excitement, pulled it a little too hard, causing it to go off.) Then the question was asked him again by the other side, 'What's up?' Thinking of what Mr. Hupp had said in the house, I said to Major Abbott, 'Ask them if Branson is there.' He did so, and the answer was, 'Yes, I am here, and a prisoner.' Three or four of our men spoke at once, - Major Abbott, Colonel Wood, and others whom I do not remember, - saying, 'Come out of that,' or 'Come over to your friends,' or perhaps both were said. Branson replied, 'They say they will shoot me if I do.' Colonel Sam Wood answered quickly, 'Let them shoot and be damned; we can shoot too.' Branson then said, 'I will come if they do shoot,' starting his mule. (The man who was leading it let the halter slip through his hands very quietly.) The rest of the proslavery party raised their shot-guns and cocked them. Our little crowd raised their guns, and were ready in as good time as the others. Sam Wood and two or three of our men helped Branson. Wood asked Branson, 'Is this your mule?' 'No,' was the reply, whereupon Wood kicked the mule and said, 'Go back to your masters, damn you.' In the mean time Branson had disappeared, and was seen no more by these brave 'shot-gun' men.

"About this time some one of them said, 'Why, Sam Wood, you are very brave to-night; you must want to fight.' Colonel Wood replied that he 'was always ready for a fight.' Just at this moment Sheriff Jones interposed, saying, 'There is no use to shed blood in this affair; but it will be settled soon in a way that will not be very pleasant to Abolitionists,' and started to ride through those standing in the road. He did not then know old Philip Hupp, but soon made his acquaintance; and I do not think he will be stopped by death any quicker than Phil Hupp stopped him that night. Just as soon as he started, old Philip set the trigger and cocked his old squirrel rifle quicker than he or any other man ever did it before, and said to Sheriff Jones, ' Halt! or I will blow your damned brains out in a moment.' He stopped, and stayed right there, saying gently to Mr. Hupp, 'Don't shoot.' There was then a general talk among all hands, and we were told about the 'Kansas militia, three thousand strong, that in three days' time would wipe that damned Abolition town Lawrence out, and corral all the Abolitionists and make pets of them.' However, Colonel Sam Wood and others out-talked them so bad that they were glad to get away on any terms. Miner Hupp, who wanted to square accounts with his two men,[1] was prevented from doing so. It was not his fault, for he had a 'bead' on them several times; but his father was watching him all the time after he got Sheriff Jones in shape."

[footnote 1 - page 207] Mr. Wilder, the Kansas historian, with the national turn for humor, says: "We had a Kansas war here once, - civil, internecine, fratricidal. Some fellow in long hair and buckskin breeches, armed and mounted like Jesse James, would ride up to you and kill you because you could read and write, and were a Yankee. He controlled the elections in that way for several years. Those who fought you at the polls also counted the votes after the election. There was a proslavery bully here - name happily forgotten - who made it a business to fight on election day, to knock down arid drag out, and to keep timid men from the polls. But at one election the bully woke up the wrong passenger, - namely, John Lawler, of Elwood. When John came home that night, after taking a square Free-State drink, he said he had found the way to carry a Free-State election: 'Break a Democratic leg early in the morning.' And that was just what John had done."

[footnote 1 - page 209] This alludes to a previous saying of young Hupp, that he "wanted to square accounts with two of the posse that had threatened and abused him a day or two before, and was afraid the ball would be over before he got there." The above account is part of a letter written by Kennedy from Colorado Springs, where he was living in 1879, and may not be minutely accurate; but it is the best I have seen.

As the affair, thus described, was the first instance of combined and forcible resistance to the usurping authorities created by the fraudulent elections of March 30, 1855, it was naturally looked upon as very serious by both parties Sheriff Jones (the notorious ruffian who afterward led the successful attack on Lawrence in May, 1856) was full of wrath and cursing. He rode on with his posse that night to a little village near Lawrence, then called Franklin, where they decided to appeal both to Wilson Shannon (the drunken governor of Kansas, who had superseded Governor Reeder), and to Colonel Boone, of Westport, Mo. (Jones's father-in-law and a descendant of Daniel Boone), for aid in punishing the rebellious Yankees. Jones wrote a despatch to Westport, which he sent by a mounted messenger, saying, as the man rode off, "That man is taking my despatch to Missouri, and, by God! I will have revenge before I see Missouri again." Being reminded that he had not notified his official superior Governor Shannon, he next sent a message to him at the Shawnee Mission by one Hargous, who was an accessory to the murder of Dow two days before. Meantime the Free-State men were not idle. They held a public meeting, November 27, at Lawrence, at which Branson the rescued prisoner spoke, telling the story of his friend's murder and his own arrest. Dow, he said, was a mild and peaceable young man, esteemed by those who knew him, - an immigrant from Ohio. who was boarding at Branson's house. Coleman had repeatedly threatened to kill him, and on the morning of the 21st, when Dow went on some errand to the blacksmith's shop, Branson advised him to take his gun, but Dow did not. On his return to Branson's, and when a few steps from the shop, hearing the click of a gun, he turned round, and received in his breast the charge of a double-barrelled shot-gun loaded with slugs. This happened about one o'clock; and the body was left lying by the side of the road where he fell until sundown, when some of the accessories sent word to Branson "that a dead body was lying by the roadside." He had begun to fear some ill had befallen his friend, and at once recognizing the body, conveyed it to his house. Coleman then took refuge with Governor Shannon at the Shawnee Mission, and was nominally arrested by Jones, who was serving as sheriff of Douglas County in Kansas, while living at Westport, and acting postmaster there. Branson had taken no part in the affair; but the next morning a proslavery justice at Lawrence, named Cameron, issued a "peace-warrant" against Branson on the complaint of a proslavery neighbor at Hickory Point, where the murder occurred. That evening, after Branson had gone to bed with his family, Sheriff Jones, with a party of mounted men, rode up to his lone cabin upon the prairies, a half-mile from neighbors, knocked at the door, and to the question "Who is there?" replied, "A friend." "Come in then;" and the little cabin was at once full of rough, savage, armed men. Jones went to the bedside, and, presenting his pistol to Branson's breast, said, "You are my prisoner." Branson asked, " By what authority?" Oaths, and the threat "I will blow you through," were the only answer; the ruffians, with guns cocked, gathered round, and took him prisoner, - an innocent, defenceless man, kidnapped from his home and family by a gang of twenty-five half-drunken men, showing no papers of arrest, and answering with oaths and threats of death any question of their authority.

Such was the story told by Branson and the other speakers at the Lawrence meeting. Branson, a plain elderly farmer, "of quiet and modest deportment," says Mrs. Robinson,[1] then went on to say, "with tears at times stealing down his weather-beaten cheeks," that he had been requested by some friends to leave Lawrence, to seek some other place of safety, so that no excuse could be given to the enemy for an attack upon Lawrence. He said he would go, - Lawrence should not be involved in difficulty on his account; if it was the decision of the majority, he would go to his home, and die there, and be buried by the side of his friend. This statement was met by cries of "No! no!" The principal speakers after Branson were Grosvenor P. Lowry, a young lawyer from Pennsylvania, who proposed a committee of ten for the common defence; Colonel Wood, who had taken part in the rescue; and Martin F. Conway (born in Maryland in 1828), who had emigrated to Kansas in October, 1854, and had resigned his seat in the fraudulent Territorial Council of 1855.[2]

[footnote 1] Kansas: Its Exterior and Interior Life, pp. 105-110.

[2] Mr. Conway was among the ablest of the men who made Kansas a free State, and was a steady friend of John Brown. He had been bred a Democrat, and was a protege of Henry May, a Democratic Congressman from Baltimore, but was hostile to slavery, and a radical in his construction of the Constitution and laws. He was chosen Chief-Justice of Kansas under the Topeka Constitution, and was the first Congressman from the State. He died at Washington in 1883.

What Mr. Conway said had much weight, as coming from the best lawyer in Kansas. He advised them to move cautiously, but boldly, having a care to take every step properly. They had ignored and repudiated the Legislature at the Shawnee Mission: they would never give their allegiance to such a monstrous iniquity. To the United States authorities, to the organic act, to the courts created under it, and to the judges and marshals appointed by the President, they would yield obedience. These might oppress them, but they would submit, and seek redress for grievances at the United States Supreme Court, which would give them a fair hearing.[1]

[footnote 1] Judge Conway then supposed - what the events of the next year sadly disproved by Taney's atrocious Dred Scott decision - that the court of Marshall and Story would decree justice, and not hasten to make itself the mere tool of the slave-power, as Pierce and Buchanan were. In fact, the United States Court in Kansas anticipated Taney in this submission.

He did not dissuade them from defending their rights and insisting on all the safeguards of the law. Fortunately, however, the friends of Kansas in New England and New York had not suffered their emigrants to rely wholly upon what proved to be a broken reed, - the protection of the; courts. Notwithstanding the protest of Mr. Amos Lawrence and others before the Congressional Investigating Committee of May and June, 1856, that "the Emigrant Aid Company had never invested a dollar in cannon or rifles in powder or lead, or in any of the implements of war," the truth is, that the officers and agents of this company (and Mr. Lawrence among the foremost) raised money and purchased arms, which were sent to Kansas in May, 1855, in August, 1855, and at other times. The chief agent of this company in Kansas was Charles Robinson, who despatched G. W. Deitzler to Massachusetts in April, 1855, to obtain weapons, and again sent Major Abbott (already mentioned as the leader in the rescue of Branson) in July for the same purpose. Robinson gave Abbott a letter to Eli Thayer, the originator of the Emigrant Aid Company, in which he told Mr. Thayer that "the rifles in Lawrence [the so-called 'Beecher Bibles'] have had a very good effect, and I think the same kind of instruments in other places would do more to save Kansas than almost anything else." This was John Brown's opinion also, as was shown by his starting for Kansas at that time with a supply of weapons. Mr. Branscomb, a Boston agent of the Emigrant Aid Company, indorsed Robinson's suggestion, and "cheerfully recommended Mr. J. B. Abbott to the public," under date of August 10, 1855. Mr. Lawrence, vice-president of the company, on the next day (August 11) wrote to Major Abbott at Hartford, Conn. (where Sharpens rifles were then made), as follows: -

"Request Mr. Palmer to have one hundred Sharpe's rifles packed in casks, like hardware, and to retain them subject to my order; also to send the bill to me by mail. I will pay it either with my note, according to the terms agreed on between him and Dr. Webb,[1] or in cash, less interest at seven per cent per annum."

August 20.

This instalment of carbines is far from being enough, and I hope the measures you are taking will be followed up until every organized company of trusty men in the Territory shall be supplied. Dr. Cabot [2] will give me the names of any gentlemen here who subscribe money, and the amount, of which I shall keep a memorandum, and promise them that it shall be repaid, either in cash or rifles, whenever it is settled that Kansas shall not be a province of Missouri. Therefore keep them in capital order, and, above all, take good care that they do not fall into the hands of the Missourians after you once get them into use. You must dispose of these where they will do the most good; and for this purpose you should advise with Dr. Robinson and Mr. Pomeroy.[3]

August 24.

The rifles ought to be on the way. Have you forwarded them? How much money have you received? The Topeka people will require half of these.

[footnote l] Secretary of the Emigrant Aid Company, and a devoted friend of free Kansas.

[2]Samuel Cabot, Jr., M.D., a noted surgeon in Boston, and one of the most active in raising money for rifles and other material aid to the Kansas farmers in 1855-57. He has preserved a list of the subscribers to the arms fund, which the historian of Kansas should print in his volume.

[3] In view of these manly letters of Mr. Lawrence, his statements to the Massachusetts Historical Society (May 8, 1884) in praise of the peaceful character of Charles Robinson are very grotesque. Mr. Lawrence then said: "Charles Robinson never bore arms, nor omitted to do whatever he considered to be his duty. He sternly held the people to their loyalty to the Government, against the arguments and the example of the 'higher law' men, who were always armed." One of these "higher law" men was Major Abbott, who rescued Branson contrary to law, and who was armed by Mr. Lawrence himself, at the urgent request of Robinson! Sad is the effect of time on the human memory.

In presenting these letters of Robinson and Lawrence to the Kansas Historical Society in 1882, Major Abbott said, among other things: "I went to the Emigrant Aid folks in Boston, and to Amos A. Lawrence, who immediately gave the money for the purchase of one hundred Sharpe's rifles. His action and these letters show what a friend of Kansas he was at that early period, and how quick he was to comprehend the character of the struggle into which we had been precipitated. When I reached home, the latter part of September, I found the rifles, which I had sent ahead of me, at Lawrence, and ready for use. The howitzer came later, but was in time to be brought to the defence of Lawrence at the invasion in December, 1855, the pretence for which was the rescue of Branson,- which rescue, as it happened, I had a hand in." To meet this invasion Robinson was made a major-general, and in that capacity commissioned John Brown as captain.[1]

[footnote 1] The position of Robinson towards Major Abbott and the rescuers of Branson may be inferred from the fact that they reported at Robinson's house, ten miles from Blanton's Bridge, before sunrise, November 23, the day after the affair. Mrs. Robinson thus tells the story in her book: "The slight form of the leader stood a little nearer the door; and when his peculiarly dry manner of speech fell upon the ear in his brief inquiry, 'Is Dr. R. in?' his identity was also known. The Doctor opened the door and invited them in. The fact of the rescue was stated, and Mr. Branson, being in the ranks, was ordered to 'step forward and tell his story,' which he did with much feeling, and with the appearance of a person who is heart-broken. I shall never forget the appearance of the men in simple citizen's dress, some armed and some unarmed, standing in unbroken line, just visible in the breaking light of a November morning. This little band of less than twenty men had, through the cold and upon the frozen ground, walked ten miles since nine o'clock of the previous evening. Mr. Branson - a large man. of fine proportions - stood a little forward of the line, with his head slightly bent, which an old straw hat hardly protected from the cold, looking as though, in his hurry of departure from home in charge of the ruffianly men, he took whatever came first."

The story of the arms earlier sent out by the "Emigrant Aid folks" may here be given as told by General Deitzler and the Rev. Edward E. Hale in 1879. General Deitzler said: -

"Some six weeks after my arrival in the Territory, and only a few days after the Territorial election of March 30, 1855, at which time Kansas was invaded by an armed force from the Southern States and the actual Free-State settlers were driven from the polls, Governor Charles Robinson requested me to visit Boston with a view to securing arms for our people, to which I assented. Preparations were quickly and quietly made, and no one knew of the object of my mission except Governor Robinson and Joel Grover. At Worcester I presented my letter from Governor Robinson to Mr. Eli Thayer, just as he was leaving his Oread Home for the morning Boston train. Within an hour after our arrival in Boston, the Executive Committee of the Emigrant Aid Society held a meeting, and delivered to me an order for one hundred Sharpe's rifles, and I started for home on Monday morning. The boxes were marked 'Books.' I took the precaution to have the (cap) cones removed from the guns, and carried them in my carpet-sack, which would have been missing in the event of the capture of the guns by the enemy. On the Missouri River I met John and Joseph L. Speer for the first time. They did not know me, but may remember the exciting incidents at Booneville and other points along the river. I arrived at Lawrence with the 'Beecher Bibles' several days before the special election in April, called by Governor Reeder. But no guns were needed upon that occasion, as the ruffians ignored said election; and when the persons elected upon that day presented their credentials at Pawnee, they were kicked out without ceremony. . . . It was perhaps the first shipment of arms for our side; and it incited a healthy feeling among the unarmed Free-State settlers, which permeated and energized them until even the Quakers were ready to fight."[1]

[footnote l] Kansas Memorial, 1879, pp. 184, 185.

Mr. Hale gave his recollections as follows: -

"In the spring of 1855 my friend Mr. Deitzler came on in haste to New England, to say that fighting was certain, and that you must have more weapons. The breech-loading rifle was then a new and costly arm. It was then that we gave to the Sharpe's Rifle Company the first of a series of orders which became historical. In the next year Henry Ward Beecher won the nickname which he has never lost, 'Sharpe's Rifle Beecher;' and I fancy there is no nickname of which he is more proud. With your permission I will read the answer of the company to that order, and then I will ask our friend Mr. Adams to accept that letter as an historical document for his Society."[2]

[footnote 2] Ibid., p. 147.

HARTFORD, May 7, 1855.

DEAR SIR, - Annexed find invoice of one hundred carbines, ammunition, etc., delivered Mr. Deitzler this morning. For balance of account, I have ordered on Messrs. Lee, Higginson, & Co., at thirty days from this date, for $2,155.65, as directed by you. We shall be pleased to receive farther orders from you, and will put up arms at our lowest cash prices to the trade, with interest added for time. The sample carbine for your use shall go forward immediately. Our negotiations with you I trust will be entirely confidential, as the trade in Boston and elsewhere might take offence if they understood that we had made you better terms than we grant to others.

Your obedient servant,
J. C. PALMER, Pres.


Dr. Webb was then, and continued to be, the secretary of the Emigrant Aid Company; and when Mr. Hale said "we," he meant the managers of that company, whose best title to the gratitude of Kansas and the nation is this very gift of arms to the emigrants, without which the invasion of Lawrence in December, 1855, could not have been met. This invasion was made under a proclamation issued by Governor Shannon, November 29, calling out the "Kansas militia." He meant thereby the Missouri men, as appears by an early message sent from Woodson, the governor's secretary, to a proslavery commander at Leavenworth, named Eastin, who had been appointed by the usurping Legislature to be general of the Territorial militia.


DEAR GENERAL, - The Governor has called out the militia, and you will hereby organize your division, and proceed forthwith to Lecompton. As the Governor has no power, you may call out the Platte Rifle Company. They are always ready to help us. Whatever you do, do not implicate the Governor.


On the same day (November 27) a despatch was sent from Westport to the capital of Missouri in these words : -

HON. E. C. McCLAREM, Jefferson City, - Governor Shannon has ordered out the militia against Lawrence. They are now in open rebellion against the laws. Jones is in danger.

From another border town in Missouri, this despatch was sent: -

WESTON, Mo., November 30.

The greatest excitement continues to exist in Kansas. The officers have been resisted by the mobocrats, and the interposition of the militia has been called for. A secret letter from Secretary Woodson to General Eastin has been written, in which the writer requests General Eastin to call for the Rifle Company at Platte City, Mo., so as not to compromise Governor Shannon. Four hundred men from Jackson County are now en route for Douglas County, K. T. St. Joseph and Weston are requested to furnish each the same number. The people of Kansas are to be subjugated at all hazards.

The invasion took place, and resulted in threats on the Missouri side, fortifications and drilling on the Lawrence side; and finally this little "Wakarusa war " was ended by a treaty with Shannon, who conceded all that the Free-State men had asked. Brown and his family rallied to the defence of their neighbors and their cause, and were said to he the best-armed men that came forward for service. They were mustered in as Kansas militia; John Brown was made captain, and his son John lieutenant, in the Osawatomie company. His own report of this affair is as follows: -


OSAWATOMIE, K. T., Dec. 16, 1855.
Sabbath Evening.

DEAR WIFE AND CHILDREN, EVERY ONE, - I improve the first mail since my return from the camp of volunteers, who lately turned out for the defence of the town of Lawrence in-this Territory; and notwithstanding I suppose you have learned the result before this (possibly), will give a brief account of the invasion in my own way.

About three or four weeks ago news came that a Free-State man by the name of Dow had been murdered by a proslavery man by the name of Coleman, who had gone and given himself up for trial to the proslavery Governor Shannon. This was soon followed by further news that a Free-State man who was the only reliable witness against the murderer had been seized by a Missourian (appointed sheriff by the bogus Legislature of Kansas) upon false pretexts, examined, and held to bail under such heavy bonds, to answer to those false charges, as he could not give; that while on his way to trial, in charge of the bogus sheriff, he was rescued by some men belonging to a company near Lawrence; and that in consequence of the rescue Governor Shannon had ordered out all the proslavery force he could muster in the Territory, and called on Missouri for further help; that about two thousand had collected, demanding a surrender of the rescued witness and of the rescuers, the destruction of several buildings and printing-presses, and a giving up of the Sharpens rifles by the Free-State men, - threatening to destroy the town with cannon, with which they were provided, etc.; that about an equal number of Free-State men had turned out to resist them, and that a battle was hourly expected or supposed to have been already fought.

These reports appeared to be well authenticated, but we could get no further account of matters; and I left this for the place where the boys are settled, at evening, intending to go to Lawrence to learn the facts the next day. John was, however, started on horseback; but before he had gone many rods, word came that our help was immediately wanted. On getting this last news, it was at once agreed to break up at John's camp, and take Wealthy and Johnny to Jason's camp (some two miles off), and that all the men but Henry, Jason, and Oliver should at once set off for Lawrence under arms; those three being wholly unfit for duty. We then set about providing a little corn-bread and meat, blankets, and cooking utensils, running bullets and loading all our guns, pistols, etc. The five set off in the afternoon, and after a short rest in the night (which was quite dark), continued our march until after daylight next morning, when we got our breakfast, started again, and reached Lawrence in the forenoon, all of us more or less lamed by our tramp. On reaching the place we found that negotiations had commenced between Governor Shannon (having a force of some fifteen or sixteen hundred men) and the principal leaders of the Free-State men, they having a force of some five hundred men at that time. These were busy, night and day, fortifying the town with embankments and circular earthworks, up to the time of the treaty with the Governor, as an attack was constantly looked for, notwithstanding the negotiations then pending. This state of things continued from Friday until Sunday evening.[1] On the evening we left Osawatomie a company of the invaders, of from fifteen to twenty-five, attacked some three or four Free-State men, mostly unarmed, killing a Mr. Barber from Ohio, wholly unarmed. His body was afterward brought in and lay for some days in the room afterward occupied by a part of the company to which we belong (it being organized after we reached Lawrence). The building was a large unfinished stone hotel, in which a great part of the volunteers were quartered, who witnessed the scene of bringing in the wife and other friends of the murdered man. I will only say of this scene that it was heart-rending, and calculated to exasperate the men exceedingly, and one of the sure results of civil war.

[footnote 1] December 7-9.

After frequently calling on the leaders of the Free-State men to come and have an interview with him, by Governor Shannon, and after as often getting for an answer that if he had any business to transact with any one in Lawrence, to come and attend to it, he signified his wish to come into the town,[1] and an escort was sent to the invaders' camp to conduct him in. When there, the leading Free-State men, finding out his weakness, frailty, and consciousness of the awkward circumstances into which he had really got himself, took advantage of his cowardice and folly, and by means of that and the free use of whiskey and some trickery succeeded in getting a written arrangement with him much to their own liking. He stipulated with them to order the proslavery men of Kansas home, and to proclaim to the Missouri invaders that they must quit the Territory without delay, and also to give up General Pomeroy (a prisoner in their camp), - which was all done; he also recognizing the volunteers as the militia of Kansas, and empowering their officers to call them out whenever in their discretion the safety of Lawrence or other portions of the Territory might require it to be done. He (Governor Shannon) gave up all pretension of further attempt to enforce the enactments of the bogus Legislature, and retired, subject to the derision and scoffs of the Free-State men (into whose hands he had committed the welfare and protection of Kansas), and to the pity of some and the curses of others of the invading force.

[footnote 1] December 7, 8.

So ended this last Kansas invasion, - the Missourians returning with flying colors, after incurring heavy expenses, suffering great exposure, hardships, and privations, not having fought any battles, burned or destroyed any infant towns or Abolition presses; leaving the Free-State men organized and armed, and in full possession of the Territory; not having fulfilled any of all their dreadful threatenings, except to murder one unarmed man, and to commit some robberies and waste of property upon defenceless families, unfortunately within their power. We learn by their papers that they boast of a great victory over the Abolitionists; and well they may.[2] Free-State men have only hereafter to retain the footing they have gained, and Kansas is free. Yesterday the people passed upon the Free-State constitution. The result, though not yet known, no one doubts.

[footnote 2] Brown seems to have been divided in mind concerning this treaty with Shannon, at first denouncing it strongly, as well as the manner of making it, and afterward seeing the respite it gave the Kansas farmers to make good their position. Mr. E. A. Coleman writes me:

"When Lawrence was besieged, we sent runners to all parts of the Territory, calling on every settler. We met at Lawrence. Robinson was commander-in-chief; I was on his staff, appointed of course by order of the commander. We had gathered to the number of about two hundred and fifty, all told. The ruffians were gathered at Franklin, four miles east, with four or five hundred men. We were not well armed, all of us, - at the same time being somewhat afraid of getting into trouble with the General Government. Robinson sent to Shannon, at Lecompton, to come down and see if something could not lie done to prevent bloodshed. He came; we all knew his weakness. We had plenty of brandy, parleyed with him until he was drunk, and then he agreed to get the ruffians to go home, - which he did by telling them we had agreed to obey all the laws, which was a lie. As soon as Brown heard what had been done, lie came with his sons into our council-room, the maddest man I ever saw. He told Robinson that what he had done was all a farce; that in less than six months the Missourians would find out the deception, and things would be worse than they were that day (and so it was); that he came up to help them fight, but if that was the way Robinson meant to do, not to send for him again." Mr. Foster, of Osawatomie, meeting Brown on his return from Lawrence, asked him about Robinson and Lane. "They are both men without principle," said Brown; "but when worst comes to worst. Lane will fight, - and there is no fight in Robinson."

One little circumstance, connected with our own number, showing a little of the true character of those invaders: On our way, about three miles from Lawrence, we had to pass a bridge (with our arms and ammunition) of which the invaders held possession; but as the five of us had each a gun, with two large revolvers in a belt exposed to view, with a third in his pocket, and as we moved directly on to the bridge without making any halt, they for some reason suffered us to pass without interruption, notwithstanding there were some fifteen to twenty-five (as variously reported) stationed in a log-house at one end of the bridge. We could not count them. A boy on our approach ran and gave them notice. Five others of our company, well armed, who followed us some miles behind, met with equally civil treatment the same day. After we left to go to Lawrence, until we returned when disbanded, I did not see the least sign of cowardice or want of self-possession exhibited by any volunteer of the eleven companies who constituted the Free-State force; and I never expect again to see an equal number of such well-behaved, cool, determined men, - fully, as I believe, sustaining the high character of the Revolutionary fathers. But enough of this, as we intend to send you a paper giving a more full account of the affair. We have cause for gratitude in that we all returned safe and well, with the exception of hard colds, and found those left behind rather improving.

We have received fifty dollars from father, and learn from him that he has sent you the same amount, - for which we ought to he grateful, as we are much relieved, both as respects ourselves and you. The mails have been kept back daring the invasion, but we hope to hear from you again soon. Mr. Adair's folks are well, or nearly so. Weather mostly pleasant, but sometimes quite severe. No snow of account as yet. Can think of but little more to-night.

Monday Morning, December 17.

The ground for the first time is barely whitened with snow, and it is quite cold; but we have before had a good deal of cold weather, with heavy rains. Henry and Oliver and, I may [say], Jason were disappointed in not being able to go to war. The disposition at both our camps to turn out was uniform. I believe I have before acknowledged the receipt of a letter from you and Watson. Have just taken one from the office for Henry that I think to be from Ruth. Do write often, and let me know all about how you get along through the winter. May God abundantly bless you all, and make you faithful.

Your affectionate husband and father,

[footnote 1] Soon after this "Wakarusa war," and perhaps in consequence of his service therein, Brown became the owner of one small share in the Emigrant Company, as appears by this certificate

No. 638. BOSTON, Jan. 15, 1856.
This is to certify that John Brown, Lawrence, K. T., is proprietor of one share, of the par value of twenty dollars each, in the capital stock of the New England Emigrant Company, transferable on the books of said Company, on the surrender of this Certificate.

JOHN M. S. WILLIAMS, Vice-President.
THOMAS H. WEBB, Secretary.

This paper is indorsed, in John Brown's handwriting, "Emigrant Aid Co., Certificate," and was found among his papers after his death. He derived no profit from it, as indeed was the case with the other shareholders; but it perhaps gave him some standing among his Kansas neighbors to have even this connection with a corporation supposed to be very rich.

During this arctic winter Brown wrote as follows to the family at North Elba, where it was still more arctic: -

John Brown to his Family.

OSAWATOMIE, K. T., Feb. 1, 1856.

DEAR WIFE AND CHILDREN, EVERY ONE, - Yours and Watson's letters to the boys and myself, of December 30 and January 1, were received by last mail. We are all very glad to hear again of your welfare, and I am particularly grateful when I am noticed by a letter from you. I have just taken out two letters for Henry [Thompson], one of which, I suppose, is from Ruth. Salmon and myself are so far on our way home from Missouri, and only reached Mr. Adair's last night. They are all well, and we know of nothing but all are well at the boys' shanties. The weather continues very severe and it is now nearly six weeks that the snow has been almost constantly driven, like dry sand, by the fierce winds of Kansas. Mr. Adair has been collecting ice of late from the Osage River, which is nine and a half inches thick, of perfect clear solid ice, formed under the snow. By means of the sale of our horse and wagon, our present wants are tolerably well met, so that, if health is continued to us, we shall not probably suffer much. The idea of again visiting those of my dear family at North Elba is so calculated to unman me, that I seldom allow my thoughts to dwell upon it, and I do not think best to write much about it, suffice it to say, that God is abundantly able to keep both ns and you, and in him let us all trust. We have just learned of some new and shocking outrages at Leavenworth, and that the Free-State people there have fled to Lawrence, which place is again threatened with an attack. Should that take place, we may soon again be called upon to "buckle on our armor," which by the help of God we will do, - when I suppose Henry and Oliver will have a chance. My judgment is, that we shall have no general disturbance until warmer weather. I have more to say, but not time now to say it; so farewell for this time. Write!

Your affectionate husband and father,

OSAWATOMIE, K.T., Feb. 6, 1856.

DEAR WIFE AND CHILDREN, EVERY ONE, -. . . Thermometer on Sunday and Monday at twenty-eight to twenty-nine below zero. Ice in the river, in the timber, and under the snow, eighteen inches thick this week. On our return to where the boys live we found Jason again down with the ague, but he was some better yesterday. Oliver was also laid up by freezing his toes, - one great toe so badly frozen that the nail has come off. He will be crippled for some days yet. Owen has one foot some frozen. We have middling tough times (as some would call them), but have enough to eat, and abundant reasons for the most unfeigned gratitude. It is likely that when the snow goes off, such high water will prevail as will render it difficult for Missouri to invade the Territory; so that God by his elements may protect Kansas for some time yet. . . . Write me as to all your wants for the coming spring and summer. I hope you will all he led to seek God "with your whole heart;" and I pray him. in his mercy, to he found of you. All mail communications are entirely cut off by the snowdrifts, so that we get no news whatever this week. . . .

OSAWATOMIE, K. T., Feb. 20, 1856.

DEAR WIFE AND CHILDREN, EVERY ONE, - Your letter to Salmon, and Ruth's to Henry and Ellen, of 6th and 16th January, were received by last week's mail. This week we get neither letter nor paper from any of you. I need not continually repeat that we are always glad to hear from you, and to learn of your welfare. I wish that to be fully understood. Salmon and myself are here again, on our way back from Missouri, where we have been for corn, - as what the boys had raised was used up, stock and families having to live on it mainly while it lasted. We had to pay thirty cents per bushel for corn. Salmon has had the ague again, while we have been gone, and had a hard shake yesterday. To-day is his well day. We found Henry and, Frederick here helping Mr. Adair; and I have been helping also yesterday and to-day. Those behind were as well as usual a day or two since. I have but little to write this time, except to tell you about the weather, and to complain of the almost lack of news from the United States. We are very anxious to know what Congress is doing. We hear that Frank Pierce means to crush the men of Kansas. I do not know how well he may succeed; but I think he may find his hands full before it is all over. For a few days the snow has melted a little, and it begins to seem like early March in Ohio. I have agreed either to buy the line-backed cow of Henry, or to pay five dollars for the use of her and keep her a year, whichever may hereafter appear best; so that, if she lives, you can calculate on the use of her. I have also written Mr. Hurlbut, of Connecticut, further in regard to the cattle, and think you will soon hear something from him. No more now. May God Almighty bless you and all good friends at North Elba!

Your affectionate husband and father,

Brown seems to have written about this time to his former representative in Congress, Mr. Giddings of Ohio, to inquire the purpose of the Government, and was thus answered: -

March 17,1856.

MY DEAR SIR, - We shall do all we can, but we are in a minority, and are dependent on the " Know Nothings"[1] for aid to effect anything, and they are in a very doubtful position; we know not how hey will act. All I can say is, we shall try to relieve you. In the mean time you need have no fear of the troops. The President never will dare employ the troops of the United States to shoot the citizens of Kansas. The death of the first man by the troops will involve every free State in your own fate. It will light up the fires of civil war throughout the North, and we shall stand or fall with you. Such an act will also bring the President so deep in infamy that the hand of political resurrection will never reach him. Your safety depends on the supply of men and arms and money which will move forward to your relief as soon as the spring opens. I am confident there will be as many people in Kansas next winter as can be supplied with provisions. I may be mistaken, but I feel confident there will be no war in Kansas.

Very respectfully,


[footnote 1] A political party (the "Native Americans") so designated.

In this last prediction Mr. Giddings was wide of the mark; for within two months from the time this letter reached Kansas, the Territory was again invaded, Lawrence was captured and pillaged, and the Pottawatomie executions had taken place. These events had been preceded by many others, which can here be noticed only briefly, though they were of great importance. An election had been held, Jan. 15, 1856, for State officers and a Legislature, under the Free-State constitution adopted at Topeka in 1855. At some points in Kansas, particularly at Leavenworth, the usurping proslavery men forbade this election; and an adjourned election was held for that county at Easton (a few miles northwest of Leavenworth and near Kickapoo, where that infamous Border-Ruffian military company, the "Kickapoo Rangers," had their headquarters) on the 17th of January. That night, very late, while a Free-State, man named. Sparks was returning home with his sons, he was surrounded by the ruffians, and rescued by R. P. Brown (no relative of John Brown), who was a leader of the Free-State men in Leavenworth County, and a member elect of the Topeka Legislature, as Sparks also was. The next morning, as Brown, with seven other Free-State men, - among whom was Henry J. Adams, afterward Mayor of Leavenworth, - was returning to his home, about half-way between Easton and Leavenworth, and near Kickapoo, he was surrounded by a force of fifty men or more, all armed, and some of them drunk, who took them prisoners. The drunken ruffians tried to kill the Free-State men, but were prevented by their leaders, among whom were several persons holding Territorial or United States office. The prisoners were carried by this howling mob back to Easton; but Brown was separated from them. A rope was purchased and shown to the prisoners, who were threatened with hanging. Unwilling that all these men should be murdered, Martin, the Kickapoo captain, allowed Adams and the other prisoners to escape. Adams hastened to Fort Leavenworth in hopes of getting United States troops to rescue Brown, but was refused. Meantime Brown had surrendered his arms, and was helpless. His enemies, who dared not face him the night before, though they had a superior force, crowded around him; and one of the "Rangers," a drunken wretch named Gibson, inflicted the fatal blow, - a large hatchet gash in the side of the head, penetrating the skull and brain. The gallant man fell, while his enemies jumped on him and kicked him. Desperately wounded, he said, "Don't abuse me! it is useless; I am dying." One of the mob (afterward United States deputy marshal) stooped over the prostrate man, and spat tobacco juice in his eyes. Finally a few of the ruffians, whom a little spark of conscience or fear of punishment animated, raised the dying man, still groaning, and placing him in a wagon, in a cold winter day, drove him to the grocery, where they dressed his wounds; but seeing the hopelessness of his case they took him home to his wife, to whom he said, "I have been murdered by a gang of cowards in cold blood."

To one of the neighbors who came to Brown's house at three o'clock on the morning of January 19, and found him lying on the floor soaked in blood, the murdered man said, "I am dying, but in a good cause." "I sat down," says this neighbor, "took his head upon my lap, and examined the wound in his head; opened his vest, but found no other wound. He raised apparently from one side, as if he wanted to turn over, exclaimed, 'I am dying,' and immediately died, with his head on my lap. Charles Dunn [a Border-Ruffian 'captain,' who brought Brown home] told me that after receiving the wound Brown had made his escape, fled to the woods, had been caught and brought back, and that he [Dunn] had been instrumental in keeping them from shooting or hanging him. Dunn was at that time very much intoxicated."

The offence that this murdered man had committed was, first, voting; second, defending the ballot-box from drunken ruffians who tried to break up the election; and, finally, with fifteen men, rescuing his neighbor Sparks from twenty or thirty of these ruffians. A proslavery man of the better class, Pierce Rively, who kept a store near Brown's farm in "Salt Creek Valley," testified before the Congressional Committee, four months later: "I do not know that the grand jury has made any inquiry into this matter, or has ever attempted it. I have been a member of the grand jury since, and nothing was said about it;" yet Rively was present when Brown received his death-blow, and helped the drunken Dunn to put him into the wagon. The wife and child of Brown went to live with a neighbor until spring, and then went back to Michigan. The wife of Stephen Sparks, the Free-State man whom Brown rescued, testified that on the day Brown was murdered a party of proslavery horsemen, commanded by Dunn, rode up to her cabin on Stranger Creek, four miles south of Easton. They first gave chase to two Free-State men near by, shooting at them and shouting, "Kill the damned Abolitionists," and then returned to the Sparks cabin, where Dunn cried, "Now we will take the house: shoot Captain Sparks at sight!" Whereupon, Mrs. Sparks says: -

"I then told them I had an afflicted son, and that anything that excited him threw him into spasms right at once, and that his father and all but him were away from home. When I stepped hack to the door and looked in, I saw Captain Dunn with a six-shooter presented at my son's breast. I did not hear the question asked, but I heard my son's answer, 'I am on the Lord's side; and if you want to kill me, kill me! I am not afraid to die.' Dunn then left him, and turned to my little son, twelve years old, put the pistol to his breast, and asked him where his father's Sharpe's rifle was. My son told him he had none. Dunn then asked where those guns were, - pointing to the racks, - and told him if he did not tell the truth he would kill him. My son told him 'the men-folks generally took care of the guns.' When they came out, I asked Captain Dunn, 'What does all this mean?' He answered that 'they had taken the law into their own hands, and they intended to use it.' Late in February eight men came to the house; two men came up first, and the others followed. They asked for Mr. Sparks, and left a paper with me, ending thus: 'Believing that your further residence among us is incompatible with the peace and welfare of this community, we advise you to leave as soon as you can conveniently do so.' This was signed by forty men, only one of whom is an actual resident in the neighborhood; most of them are Kickapoo Rangers and Missourians. One of the two who first came to the door said his name was Kennedy, from Alabama; the other, I think, emigrated from Missouri. I asked him what he had against Mr. Sparks. He said he had nothing against him; but he 'was too influential in his party, and they intended to break it down;' that I must tell Mr. Sparks to leave by March 10 or abide the consequences. A night or two before the 10th of March four men came into the house, about ten o'clock, and searched for Mr. Sparks, but did not find him. They asked for the 'notice to leave,' and if I had given it to Mr. Sparks, - and made many threats, and charged us to leave at that time, saying that if he was there they would cut him to pieces."[1]

[footnote 1] This testimony was given by Mrs. "Esseneth" Sparks (who signed with a mark because she could not write), May 24, 1856, - the very day that Brown with his party was executing the Doyles and other ruffians on the Pottawatomie. Stephen Sparks was a Missourian, who had lived in Platte County from 1845 to 1854, then moved into Kansas, and was in 1856 elected to the Free-State Legislature. He was a man of cool courage, who behaved well throughout the violent scenes of January 17-19, and told the Congressional Committee, "I belong to the Free-State party, but am no Abolitionist, either." On the night of the 17th, as he said, "My son was wounded (and knocked down within six or eight feet of me) in the arm and head slightly: but he raised and fired." See Report of the Special Committee on the Troubles in Kansas, 1856, pp. 981-1020.

The Topeka Legislature (of which Sparks and the murdered Brown were members, as well as John Brown, Jr., and Major Abbott, the rescuer of Branson) met on the 4th of March, and remained in session four days, adjourning to July 4. During this session they elected James H. Lane (who had commanded an Indiana regiment in the Mexican War and distinguished himself at Buena Vista) one of the United States senators from Kansas, not yet admitted as a State. On the 19th of March the House of Representatives at Washington voted a special committee (W. A. Howard of Michigan, John Sherman of Ohio, and M. N. Oliver of Missouri) to investigate the troubles of Kansas; and on the 24th of March General Cass presented in the United States Senate the Topeka Free-State Constitution. Early in April, Jefferson Buford, of Eufaula, Ala., who had left his home in March, reached Kansas with a large force of Southern men, armed champions of slavery, and encamped not far from Osawatomie; while on the 16th of April the Free-State men round there - John Brown and his son John, O. V. Dayton, Richard Mendenhall, Charles A. Foster of Massachusetts, and others - met in public assembly, and agreed not to pay taxes to the usurping Legislature, for which they were afterward indicted as conspirators. These occurrences should be borne in mind when reading John Brown's next letter.

John Brown to his Family at North Elba.

BROWN'S STATION, K. T., April 7, 1856.

DEAR WIFE AND CHILDREN, EVERY ONE, - I wrote you last week, enclosing New York draft for thirty dollars, made payable to Watson; twenty dollars of which were to be given to Ruth, in part payment for the spotted cow, the balance to be used as circumstances might require. I would have sent you more, but I had no way to do it, and money is very scarce with me indeed. Since I wrote last, three letters have been received by the boys from Ruth, dated March 5 and 9, and one of same date from Watson. The general tone of those letters I like exceedingly. We do not want you to borrow trouble about us, but trust us to the care of "Him who feeds the young ravens when they cry." I have, as usual, but little to write. We are doing off a house for Orson Day, which we hope to get through with soon; after which we shall probably soon leave this neighborhood, but will advise you further when we do leave, lt may be that Watson can manage to get a little money for shearing sheep if you do not get any from Connecticut. I still hope you will get help from that source. We have no wars as yet, but we still have abundance of "rumors." We still have frosty nights, but the grass starts a little. There are none of us complaining much just now, all being able to do something. John has just returned from Topeka,[1] not having met with any difficulty; but we hear that preparations are making in the United States Court for numerous arrests of Free-State men.[2] For one, I have no desire (all things considered) to have the slave-power cease from its acts of aggression. "Their foot shall slide in due time." No more now. May God bless and keep you all!

Your affectionate husband and father.

[footnote 1] The meeting of the Free-State Legislature.

[2] James Hanway, of Pottawatomie, speaking of his old log-cabin, not far from Dutch Henry's Crossing, said, some years since: "It was in this cabin that the Pottawatomie Rifle Company, under Captain John Brown, Jr., stacked their arms when they paid a friendly visit to Judge Cato's court, in April, 1856. The Free-State settlers were anxious to learn what position Judge Cato would take, in his charge to the grand jury, concerning the celebrated 'bogus laws' of the Shawnee Mission. This visit of our citizens was construed by the court as a demonstration unfavorable to the execution of the bogus laws. Before daylight the next morning Cato and his proslavery officials had left (they were on their way to Lecompton), and the grand jury was dismissed from further labor. This was the first and the last time that this section of the country was visited by proslavery officials." But we shall see, when we come to consider the Pottawatomie executions, that this court did take action; and perhaps Their action led to the killing of the five proslavery men near Dutch Henry's.

It was in the early part of May that John Brown executed a manoeuvre which has often been related, not always in the same manner, and which he may have repeated when necessary, - his visit to the camp of the proslavery men in the guise of a land-surveyor. Mr. Foster, now living in Quincy, Mass., but then a young lawyer at Osawatomie, newly married and beginning to practise in Miami County, is authority for one version of it Mention has just been made of the arrival of Jefferson Buford from Alabama, with an armed company, which divided into colonies. Two of these directed their course towards the town of Osawatomie, - one settling in a block-house on the Miami Reserve, about a mile and a half from the town; the other, and larger, colony made their first halt in the Osage bottom, near the town of Stanton, about eight miles from where the Shermans, Wilkinson, and the Doyles lived. At this time John Brown was not generally known, although he had been in the country six months. It was a matter of importance to the Free-State men to know what was the purpose of these bodies of armed men, so that they might shape their action accordingly. Brown, without consulting any one, determined to visit their camp and ascertain their plans. He therefore took his tripod, chain, and other surveying implements, and with one of his younger sons started for the camp. Just before reaching the place he struck his tripod, sighted a line through the centre of the camp, and then with his son began "chaining" the distance. The Southern men supposed him to be a Government surveyor (in those times, of course, proslavery), and were very free in telling him their plans. They were going over to Pottawatomie Creek to drive off all the Free-State men; and there was a settlement of Browns on North Middle Creek, who had some of the finest stock, - these also they would "clean out," as well as the Dutch settlement between the two rivers.[1] They were asked who had given them information about the Browns, etc., and who was directing them about the county; and without any hesitation the Shermans, Doyles, Wilkinson, George Wilson, and others were named. In the midst of the talk these men walked into the camp, as Mr. Foster says, and were received with manifestations of pleasure. A few days after, the camp was moved over to Pottawatomie Creek, and the men began stealing horses, arms, etc. This had been going on for some weeks when the attack upon Lawrence was made in May.[1]

[footnote 1 - page 230] This was the neighborhood where Benjamin, Bondi, and Wiener had settled, and where the valuable warehouse of Wiener was afterward burned. The Doyles and Wilkinson were not far off, and the Shermans at Dutch Henry's Crossing were between the "Dutch settlement " and Buford's camp.

[1 - page 231] See Mr. Coleman's version of this surveying adventure in the next chapter.

The immediate occasion of the invasion of Lawrence a second (or rather a third) time was the resistance of the Lawrence Free-State men to an attempt made by Sheriff Jones, as deputy marshal of the United States, to arrest S. N. Wood, one of the rescuers of Branson the previous November. Jones made the first attempt April 19, tried again on the 20th, and on the 23d came with a file of United States troops to support him. He arrested several citizens, but not Wood, and at night was himself shot at and wounded slightly. Advantage was taken of this act to inflame the minds of the Missourians; and the United States District Court, which was organized by this time, with Judge Lecompte at its head, took up the matter as an affair of rebellion and treason. Early in May Lecompte gave a charge to the grand jury at the town named for him (Lecompton), in which he said : -

"This Territory was organized by an act of Congress, and so far its authority is from the United States. It has a Legislature elected in pursuance of that organic act. This Legislature, being an instrument of Congress by which it governs the Territory, has passed laws. These laws, therefore, are of United States authority and making; and all that resist these laws resist the power and authority of the United States, and are therefore guilty of high-treason. Now, gentlemen, if you find that any persons have resisted these laws, then you must, under your oaths, find bills against them for high-treason. If you find that no such resistance has been made, but that combinations have been formed for the purpose of resisting them, and individuals of influence and notoriety have been aiding and abetting in such combinations, then must you still find bills for constructive treason."

It was under this monstrous instruction, by which usurpation was made legal and put on a level with the existence of the United States, that indictments were soon found against the Browns, Robinson, and others for treason, conspiracy, etc. Robinson, who was seeking to leave Kansas, was arrested May 10, and held a prisoner four months, when he was released on bail. The grand jury then proceeded to indict other persons, and even the new hotel at Lawrence - thus giving an air of burlesque to the tragedy they had begun. One of this jury, a Free-State man named Legate, who has since been conspicuous in Kansas now in one way and now in another, has told this amusing story of the secret proceedings at the Lecompton court-house:[1] -

"I was honored, as I have been oftentimes, by holding distinguished positions in the State of Kansas, - being a member of the grand jury; and what a sweet-scented jury it was! Uncle Jimmy McGee and myself were members from Lawrence. We had a caucus semi-occasionally. There were seventeen members, all told. Uncle Jimmy and I were temperate, but there were at least fifteen bottles of whiskey in the room all the time. The first and most important case to be tried was the indictment of Sam Wood and John Speer. I have forgotten whether it was John Speer for assuming to hold an office that he was not legally elected to, and Sam Wood for resisting an officer, or vice versa. Attorney-General Isaacs was sent for. Like a great many Yankees I was inquisitive, and there was a very important point to be decided, in my mind; so I said to him, 'You have John Speer charged with treason. Under what law or circumstance do you make his offence treason?' 'Well, sir,' said he, taking hold of the flask of whiskey, 'the facts are these: a man who pretends to hold an office, having once held that office, and is defunct, and assumes to still hold it against the constituted authorities, commits treason.' Said I, 'What about Sam Wood?' He replied, 'If a man undertakes to carry out the decrees of such an officer, he commits treason also.' I thought that was good enough. There were thirteen votes, - Stuart not voting. Uncle Jimmy McGee and I voted no.[2]

[footnote 1] See "The Kansas Memorial, 1879, pp. 62, 63. This volume contains much material for history, undigested and ill-arranged, along with some worthless stuff.

[2] "Uncle Jimmy McGee" was a Kansas settler of Scotch-Irish descent, a Methodist of some property, who when the defenders of Lawrence were throwing up rifle-works said to them, "Work away, boys! there's two thousand bushels of corn in Jimmy McGee's crib, and while it lasts ye sha'n't starve." James F. Legate himself is a Massachusetts man (born in Leominster in 1829), who saw a great deal of the machinery that in 1855-56 was used to produce political effect in Kansas and in the East. He said in this speech of 1879: "I remember, twenty-five years ago, when the Free-State men of Kansas (that meant Lawrence, Topeka, and a few fellows over in Leavenworth) would hold a convention as often as the Yankees eat in hay-time, - and that is, three regular meals a day and a luncheon between. And a solemn convention it would be, with 'Dr. Charles Robinson, president,' 'George W. Brown, secretary' (now and then Joel K. Goodin or John Speer for secretary), and about a dozen awfully ragged, deplorably forlorn-looking cusses (who wanted to get back East again, and had n't the money to take them there) to make up the audience. And W. A. Phillips, Jim Redpath, and Hinton would report it, and it would make two and a half and sometimes three columns in the 'New York Tribune.' "It was after coming out of some such convention that John Brown said, "Great cry and little wool, - all talk and no cider."

"The next thing was this 'cussed' Emigrant Aid Society. They had built a hotel here in Lawrence with about a foot and a half of wall above the roof, and fitted it up with port-holes, and they called that the Fort. It was designed to protect the town against the officers of the law from executing the decrees of court, they said. About that time I remembered that I had a pressing engagement out at old Judge Wakefield's. So I went out afoot (that is the way we used to ride a good deal in those days), and got a pony and saddle there, rode up to Tecumseh, where I had a talk with John Sherman, Governor Robinson, and Mr. Howard; and I gave them a pretty clear idea of what was going on,- that is, I intimated it to them. I then went back to Judge Wakefield's, slept about an hour, walked over to Lecompton, and was arrested for contempt of court. I went into the court-room, and the court wanted to know what excuse I had. I gave a truthful answer, as I always do. I said I went over to Judge Wakefield's, went to sleep, and had overslept myself. I was excused; and I went back to Judge Wakefield's, got the pony, and came over to Lawrence. I do not think Governor Robinson was there at the time. I believe he had pressing duties which called him East, and he went as far as Lexington, where he found a stopping-place. He came back by way of Leavenworth to Lecompton. They made some arrests in Lawrence, and then they went about abating the nuisance of the Fort hotel. They had a cannon on the opposite side of the street; and old Atchison got down on his knees, took deliberate aim at the hotel, and shot clear over it, and struck the hill near where a crowd of women were, who had left the town for safety. Their gunners were so good (?) that they could not hit the whole side of a hotel across the street. However, they finally demolished it."

In this humorous chronicle Mr. Legate has comprised all the time from the 8th to the 20th of May, closing with the attack on Lawrence by the United States marshal and his posse, - Sheriff Jones, too, with his posse, - including the Border Ruffians, and Atchison, lately Vice-President of the United States, at their head. The marshal, Donaldson, acted under Judge Lecompte, and collected his men by this proclamation, dated May 11 : -

"Whereas certain judicial writs have been directed to me, by the First District Court of the United States, etc., to be executed within the county of Douglas, and whereas an attempt to execute them by the United States deputy marshal was violently resisted by a large number of the citizens of Lawrence; and as there is every reason to believe that an attempt to execute these writs will be resisted by a large body of armed men, - now, therefore, the law-abiding citizens of the Territory are commanded to be and appear at Lecompton, as soon as practicable, and in numbers sufficient for the proper execution of the law."

Atchison, on the morning of May 20, made a foul speech near Lawrence to five hundred Border Ruffians,[1] among whom were the Kickapoo Rangers, who had murdered Brown at Easton. He said: -

"Boys, this day I am a Kickapoo Ranger, by God! This day we have entered Lawrence with 'Southern Rights' inscribed upon our banner, and not one damned Abolitionist dared to fire a gun. Now, boys, this is the happiest day of my life. We have entered that damned town, and taught the damned Abolitionists a Southern lesson that they will remember until the day they die. And now, boys, we will go in again, with our highly honorable Jones, and test the strength of that damned Free-State Hotel, and teach the Emigrant Aid Company that Kansas shall be ours. Boys, ladies should, and I hope will, be respected by every gentleman. But when a woman takes upon herself the garb of a soldier by carrying a Sharpe's rifle, then she is no longer worthy of respect. Trample her under your feet as you would a snake! Come on, boys! Now do your duty to yourselves and your Southern friends. Your duty I know you will do. If one man or woman dare stand before you, blow them to hell with a chunk of cold lead."

[footnote 1] I quote this speech, with all its profanity and drunken gravity, because in no other way than by reading their utterances can the men of to-day understand how vile and coarse were the men who were carrying out in Kansas the behests of the Southern slaveholders and their willing tools at Washington. The term "Border Ruffians" is also used for the same purpose, since none could be so descriptive of these men who followed Atchison and his comrades. Among their leaders were men of cultivation, wealth, and humanity; and such persons did much to mitigate the horrors of the brutal mob-despotism which then prevailed, by intervals, where the flag of the nation should have secured peace and justice to all who lived under it. But from the rabble who filled the ranks came in due time such outlaws as Quantrell, who in 1863 sacked Lawrence and murdered one hundred and fifty of its people ; and the James brothers, who were in his band.

As soon as Atchison concluded, the men moved towards the town until near the hotel, when the advance company halted. Jones said the hotel must be destroyed; he was acting under orders; he had writs issued by the First District Court of the United States to destroy the Free-State Hotel, and the offices of the "Herald of Freedom" and "Free State." The grand jury at Lecompton had indicted them as nuisances, and the court had ordered them to be destroyed. Here is the indictment : -

"The Grand Jury sitting for the adjourned term of the First District Court, in and for the County of Douglas, in the Territory of Kansas, beg leave to report to the Honorable Court, from evidence laid before them showing it, that the newspaper known as 'The Herald of Freedom,' published at the town of Lawrence, has from time to time issued publications of the most inflammatory and seditious character, denying the legality of the Territorial authorities; addressing and commanding forcible resistance to the same; demoralizing the popular mind, and rendering life and property unsafe, even to the extent of advising assassination as a last resort.

"Also, that the paper known as 'The Kansas Free State' has been similarly engaged, and has recently reported the resolutions of a public meeting in Johnson County, in this Territory, in winch resistance to the Territorial laws even unto blood has been agreed upon. And that we respectfully recommend their abatement as a nuisance. Also, that we are satisfied that the building known as the 'Free-State Hotel' in Lawrence has been constructed with the view to military occupation and defence, regularly parapeted and portholed for the use of cannon and small arms, and could only have been designed as a stronghold of resistance to law, thereby endangering the public safety and encouraging rebellion and sedition in this country, and respectfully recommend that steps be taken whereby this nuisance may be removed.

"OWEN C. STEWART, Foreman."

Incredible as it may now appear, this indictment was carried out: the hotel was destroyed, the offending newspaper had its type and press thrown into the Kansas River; and all this was done under the cover of United States authority. The President (Pierce), his Cabinet, in which Jefferson Davis was a controlling member, the Senate of the United States, and the national courts appeared as the accomplices of murder, arson, and pillage, and as the champions of pettier tyrants who would hesitate at no crime. It was under these circumstances that John Brown now took the field; and he shall be his own reporter.


NEAR BROWN'S STATION, K. T., June, 1856.

DEAR WIFE AND CHILDREN, EVERY ONE, - It is now about five weeks since I have seen a line from North Elba, or had any chance of writing you. During that period we here have passed through an almost constant series of very trying events. We were called to go to the relief of Lawrence, May 22, and every man (eight in all), except Orson, turned out; he staying with tlie women and children, and to take care of the cattle.[1] John was captain of a company to which Jason belonged; the other six were a little company by ourselves. On our way to Lawrence we learned that it had been already destroyed, and we encamped with John's company overnight. Next day our little company left, and during the day we stopped and searched three men.

[footnote 1] "Orson" was Mr. Orson Day, a brother of Mrs. John Brown. The "other six" were probably John Brown, Owen, Frederick, Salmon, Oliver, and Henry Thompson.

Lawrence was destroyed in this way : Their leading men had (as I think) decided, in a very cowardly manner, not to resist any process having any Government official to serve it, notwithstanding the process might be wholly a bogus affair. The consequence was that a man called a United States marshal came on with a horde of ruffians which he called his posse, and after arresting a few persons turned the ruffians loose on the defenceless people. They robbed the inhabitants of their money and other property, and even women of their ornaments, and burned considerable of the town.

On the second day and evening after we left John's men we encountered quite a number of proslavery men, and took quite a number prisoners. Our prisoners we let go; but we kept some four or five horses.[1] We were immediately after this accused of murdering five men at Pottawatomie, and great efforts have since been made by the Missourians and their ruffian allies to captare us. John's company soon afterward disbanded, and also the Osawatomie men.[2]

[footnote 1] This is all that Brown says in this letter about the events of that night in May when the Doyles were executed. Doubtless his text for the next morning was from the Book of Judges: "Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the Lord had said unto him; and so it was that he did it by night. And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold the altar of Baal was cast down. And they said, one to another, Who hath done this thing? And when they inquired and asked, they said, Gideon, the son of Joash, hath done this thing."

[2] In the original something has been erased after this, to which this note seems to have been appended: "There are but very few who wish real facts about these matters to go out." Then is inserted the date "June 26," as below.

Jason started to go and place himself under the protection of the Government troops; but on his way he was taken prisoner by the Bogus men, and is yet a prisoner, I suppose. John tried to hide for several days; but from feelings of the ungrateful conduct of those who ought to have stood by him, excessive fatigue, anxiety, and constant loss of sleep, he became quite insane, and in that situation gave up, or, as we are told, was betrayed at Osawatomie into the hands of the Bogus men. We do not know all the truth about this affair. He has since, we are told, been kept in irons, and brought to a trial before a bogus court, the result of which we have not yet learned. We have great anxiety both for him and Jason, and numerous other prisoners with the enemy (who have all the while had the Government troops to sustain them). We can only commend them to God.[3]

[footnote 3] John Brown, Jr.'s, own account of this campaign, as given by him to a reporter of the "Cleveland Leader," April, 1879, is as follows: "During the winter of 1856 I raised a company of riflemen from the Free-State settlers who had their homes in the vicinity of Osawatomie and Pottawatomie Creek, and marched with this company to the defence of Lawrence, May, 1856, but did not reach the latter place in time to save it from being burned by the Missourians at that time. On this march I was joined by three other companies, and was chosen to the command of the combined forces. Returning to our homes, we found them burned to the ground by Buford's men from Alabama, who had marched in from Missouri on our rear. Our cattle and horses were driven off and dispersed, there only being three or four which we ultimately recovered. In that destruction of our houses I lost my library, consisting of about four hundred volumes, which I had been accumulating since I was sixteen. Reaching Osawatomie, my brother Jason and I were arrested on the charge of treason against the United States, by United States troops, acting as posse for the marshal of the Territory, and taken to Paola, where Judge Cato was to hold a preliminary examination; but he did not hold his court. It was from the latter place that I was tied by Captain Wood of the United States cavalry, and driven on foot at the head of the column a distance of nine miles at full trot to Osawatomie. My arms were tied behind me, and so tightly as to check the circulation of the blood, especially in the right arm, causing the rope, which remained on me twenty-seven hours, to sink into the flesh, leaving a mark upon that arm which I have to this day. The captain of that company was, I think, a Georgian, and finally, I believe, entered the Confederate service during the late war. From there we were marched, chained two by two, carrying the chain between us, to a camp near Lecompton, where we met the other treason prisoners and were turned over to the custody of Colonel Sacket, who had command of a regiment of United States cavalry. We were held here until September of 1856, when we were released on bail; and a few days after I took part in the defence of Lawrence against the third attack. At that time Franklin was burned, a few miles from Lawrence."

The cowardly mean conduct of Osawatomie and vicinity did not save them; for the ruffians came on them, made numerous prisoners, fired their buildings, and robbed them. After this a picked party of the Bogus men went to Brown's Station,[1] burned John's and Jason's houses, and their contents to ashes; in which burning we have all suffered more or less. Orson and boy have been prisoners, but were soon set at liberty. They are well, and have not been seriously injured. Owen and I have just come here for the first time to look at the ruins. All looks desolate and forsaken, - the grass and weeds fast covering up the signs that these places were lately the abodes of quiet families. After burning the houses, this self-same party of picked men, some forty in number, set out as they supposed, and as was the fact, on the track of my little company, boasting, with awful profanity, that they would have our scalps. They however passed the place where we were hid, and robbed a little town some four or five miles beyond our camp in the timber.[2] I had omitted to say that some murders had been committed at the time Lawrence was sacked.

[footnote 1] Ten miles west of Osawatomie.

[2] This town was Palmyra.

On learning that this party were in pursuit of us, my little company, now increased to ten in all, started after them in company of a Captain Shore, with eighteen men, he included (June 1). We were all mounted as we travelled. We did not meet them on that day, but took five prisoners, four of whom were of their scouts, and well armed. We were out all night, but could find nothing of them until about six o'clock next morning, when we prepared to attack them at once, on foot, leaving Frederick and one of Captain Shore's men to guard the horses. As I was much older than Captain Shore, the principal direction of the fight devolved on me. We got to within about a mile of their camp before being discovered by their scouts, and then moved at a brisk pace, Captain Shore and men forming our left, and my company the right. When within about sixty rods of the enemy, Captain Shore's men halted by mistake in a very exposed situation, and continued the fire, both his men and the enemy being armed with Sharpe's rifles. My company had no long-shooters. We (my company) did not fire a gun until we gained the rear of a bank, about fifteen or twenty rods to the right of the enemy, where we commenced, and soon compelled them to hide in a ravine. Captain Shore, after getting one man wounded, and exhausting his ammunition, came with part of his men to the right of my position, much discouraged. The balance of his men, including the one wounded, had left the ground. Five of Captain Shore's men came boldly down and joined my company, and all but one man, wounded, helped to maintain the fight until it was over. I was obliged to give my consent that he[1] should go after more help, when all his men left but eight, four of whom I persuaded to remain in a secure position, and here busied one of them in shooting the horses and mules of the enemy, which served for a show of fight. After the firing had continued for some two to three hours, Captain Pate with twenty-three men, two badly wounded, laid down their arms to nine men, myself included, - four of Captain Shore's men and four of my own. One of my men (Henry Thompson)[2] was badly wounded, and after continuing his fire for an hour longer was obliged to quit the ground. Three others of my company (but not of my family) had gone off. Salmon was dreadfully wounded by accident, soon after the fight; but both he and Henry are fast recovering.

[footnote 1] By "he" is apparently meant Captain Shore.

[2] Brown's son-in-law, the husband of Ruth Brown. The agreement with Pate, referred to above, is still in existence to confirm this letter; both copies of it having found their way to the Historical Library at Topeka, where Mr. F. G. Adams, the secretary, showed them to me in 1882. Here is a copy: -

This is an article of agreement between Captains John Brown, Sr., and Samuel T. Shore of the first part, and Captain H. C. Pate and Lieutenant W. B. Brockett of the second part; and witnesses that, in consideration of the fact that the parties of the first part have a number of Captain Pate's company prisoners, that they agree to give up and fully liberate one of their prisoners for one of those lately arrested near Stanton, Osawatomie, and Pottawatomie, and so on, one of the former for one of the latter alternately, until all are liberated. It is understood and agreed by the parties that the sons of Captain John Brown, Sr. - Captain John Brown, Jr., and Jason Brown - are to be among the liberated parties (if not already liberated), and are to be exchanged for Captain Pate and Lieutenant Brockett, respectively. The prisoners are to be brought on neutral ground and exchanged. It is agreed that the neutral ground shall be at or near the house of John T. (or Ottawa) Jones of this Territory, and that those who have been arrested and have been liberated will be considered in the same light as those not liberated; but they must appear in person, or answer in writing that they are at liberty. The arms, particularly the side arms of each one exchanged, are to be returned with the prisoners; also the horses, so far as practicable.

PRAIRIE CITY, K. T., June 2, 1858.

A day or two after the fight, Colonel Sumner of the United States army came suddenly upon us, while fortifying our camp and guarding our prisoners (which, by the way, it had been agreed mutually should be exchanged for as many Free-State men, John and Jason included), and compelled us to let go our prisoners without being exchanged, and to give up their horses and arms. They did not go more than two or three miles before they began to rob and injure Free-State people. We consider this as in good keeping with the cruel and unjust course of the Administration and its tools throughout this whole Kansas difficulty. Colonel Sumner also compelled us to disband; and we, being only a handful, were obliged to submit.

Since then we have, like David of old, had our dwelling with the serpents of the rocks and wild beasts of the wilderness; being obliged to hide away from our enemies. We are not disheartened, though nearly destitute of food, clothing, and money. God, who has not given us over to the will of our enemies, but has moreover delivered them into our hand, will, we humbly trust, still keep and deliver us. We feel assured that He who sees not as men see, does not lay the guilt of innocent blood to our charge.

I ought to have said that Captain Shore and his men stood their ground nobly in their unfortunate but mistaken position during the early part of the fight. I ought to say further that a Captain Abbott, being some miles distant with a company, came onward promptly to sustain us, but could not reach us till the fight was over. After the fight, numerous Free-State men who could not be got out before were on hand; and some of them, I am ashamed to add, were very busy not only with the plunder of our enemies, but with our private effects, leaving us, while guarding our prisoners and providing in regard to them, much poorer than before the battle.

If, under God, this letter reaches you so that it can be read, I wish it at once carefully copied, and a copy of it sent to Gerrit Smith. I know of no other way to get these facts and our situation before the world, nor when I can write again.

Owen has the ague to-day. Our camp is some miles off. Have heard that letters are in for some of us, but have not seen them. Do continue writing. We heard last mail brought only three letters, and all these for proslavery men. It is said that both the Lawrence and Osawatomie men, when the ruffians came on them, either hid or gave up their arms, and that their leading men counselled them to take such a course.

May God bless and keep you all!

Your affectionate husband and father,

P. S. Ellen and Wealthy are staying at Osawatomie.

The above is a true account of the first regular battle fought between Free-State and proslavery men in Kansas. May God still gird our loins and hold our right hands, and to him may we give the glory! I ought in justice to say, that, after the sacking and burning of several towns, the Government troops appeared for their protection and drove off some of the enemy.

J. B. June 26. Jason is set at liberty, and we have hopes for John.

Owen, Salmon, and Oliver are down with fever (since inserted); Henry doing well.

With this chapter of Brown's commentaries on the Kansas war may properly go the following papers, although they were not written until some months later, - the first in August, 1856, and. the second after Brown left Kansas in October, 1856. The first is addressed to his friend Edmund B. Whitman, who then lived at Lawrence.

For Mr. Whitman.

Names of sufferers and persons who have made sacrifices in endeavoring to maintain and advance the Free-State cause in Kansas, within my personal knowledge.

1. Two German refugees (thoroughly Free-State), robbed at Pottawatomie, named Benjamin and Bondy (or Bundy). One has served under me as a volunteer; namely, Bondy. Benjamin was prisoner for some time. Suffered by men under Coffee and Pate.

2. Henry Thompson. Devoted several months to the Free-State cause, travelling nearly two thousand miles at his own expense for the purpose, leaving family and business for about one year. Served under me as a volunteer; was dangerously wounded at Palmyra, or Black Jack; has a bullet lodged beside his backbone; has had a severe turn of fever, and is still very feeble. Suffered a little in burning of the houses of John Brown, Jr., and Jason Brown.

3. John, Jr., and Jason Brown. Both burned out; both prisoners for some time, one a prisoner still; both losing the use of valuable, partially improved claims. Both served repeatedly as volunteers for defence of Lawrence and other places, suffering great hardships and some cruelty.

4. Owen and Frederick Brown. Both served at different periods as volunteers under me; were both in the battle of Palmyra, both suffered by the burning of their brothers' houses; both have had sickness (Owen a severe one), and are yet feeble. Both lost the use of partially improved claims and their spring and summer work.

5. Salmon Brown (minor). Twice served under me as a volunteer; was dangerously wounded (if not permanently crippled) by accident near Palmyra; had a severe sickness, and still feeble.

6. Oliver Brown (minor). Served under me as a volunteer for some months; was in the battle of Palmyra, and had some sickness.

7. [B. L.] Cochran (at Pottawatomie). Twice served under me as a volunteer; was in the battle of Palmyra.[1]

8. Dr. Lucius Mills devoted some months to the Free-State cause, collecting and giving information, prescribing for and nursing the sick and wounded at his own cost. Is a worthy Free-State man.

9. John Brown has devoted the service of himself and two minor sons to the Free-State cause for more than a year; suffered by the fire before named and by robbery; has gone at his own cost for that period, except that he and his company together have received forty dollars in cash, two sacks of flour, thirty-five pounds bacon, thirty-five do sugar, and twenty pounds rice.

I propose to serve hereafter in the Free-State cause (provided my needful expenses can be met), should that be desired; and to raise a small regular force to serve on the same condition. My own means are so far exhausted that I can no longer continue in the service at present without the means of defraying my expenses are furnished me.

I can give the names of some five or six more volunteers of special merit I would be glad to have particularly noticed in some way.


[footnote 1] Better known as Black Jack.

The second paper is part of the notes which Brown drew up for his speeches at Hartford, Boston, Concord, and other New England towns, in the spring of 1857. In this speech he laid stress not only on the sins of the Border Ruffians and the unpatriotic conduct of the National Government, but on the pecuniary loss which he and. the other settlers had undergone in being kept from their work, at the busiest season of the year, by the raids from Missouri. This gives a strange air to the paper, which is otherwise noticeable for the facts set forth.


I propose, in order to make this meeting as useful and interesting as I can, to try and give a correct idea of the condition of things in Kansas, as they were while I was there, and as I suppose they still are, so far as the great question at issue is concerned. And here let me remark that in Kansas the question is never raised of a man, Is he a Democrat? Is he a Republican? The questions there raised are, Is he a Free-State man? or,. Is he a proslavery man?

I saw, while in Missouri in the fall of 1855, large numbers on their way to Kansas to vote, and also returning after they had so done, as they said. I, together with four of my sons, was called out to help defend Lawrence in the fall of 1855, and travelled most of the way on foot, and during a dark night, a distance of thirty-five miles, where we were detained with some five hundred others, or thereabout, from five to fifteen days, - say an average of ten days, - at a cost to each per day of $1.50 as wages, to say nothing of the actual loss and suffering it occasioned; many of them leaving their families at home sick, their crops not secured, their houses unprepared for winter, and many of them without houses at all. This was the case with myself and all my sons, who were unable to get any house built after our return. The loss in that case, as wages alone, would amount to $7,500. Loss and suffering in consequence cannot be estimated. I saw at that time the body of the murdered Barber, and was present when his wife and other friends were brought in to see him as he lay in the clothes he had on when killed, - no very pleasant sight!

I went, in the spring of last year, with some of my sons among the Buford men, in the character of a surveyor, to see and hear from them their business into the Territory; this took us from our work. I and numerous others, in the spring of last year, travelled some ten miles or over on foot, to meet and advise as to what should be done to meet the gathering storm; this occasioned much loss of time. I also, with many others, about the same time travelled on foot a similar distance to attend a meeting of Judge Cato's court, to find out what kind of laws he intended to enforce; this occasioned further loss of time. I with six sons and a son-in-law was again called out to defend Lawrence, May 20 and 21, and travelled most of the way on foot and during the night, being thirty-five miles. From that date none of us could do any work about our homes, but lost our whole time until we left, in October last, excepting one of my sons, who had a few weeks to devote to the care of his own and his brother's family, who had been burned out of their houses while the two men were prisoners.

From about the 20th of May of last year hundreds of men like ourselves lost their whole time, and entirely failed of securing any kind of crop whatever. I believe it safe to say that five hundred Free-State men lost each one hundred and twenty days, at $1.50 per day, which would be, to say nothing of attendant losses, $90,000. I saw the ruins of many Free-State men's houses at different places in the Territory, together with stacks of grain wasted and burning, to the amount of, say $50,000; making, in lost time and destruction of property, more than $150,000. On or about the 30th of May last two of my sons, with several others, were imprisoned without other crime than opposition to bogus enactments, and most barbarously treated for a time, - one being held about one month, the other about four months. Both had their families in Kansas, and destitute of homes, being burned out after they were imprisoned. In this burning all the eight were sufferers, as we all had our effects at the two houses. One of my sons had his oxen taken from him at this time, and never recovered them. Here is the chain with which one of them was confined, after the cruelty, sufferings, and anxiety he underwent had rendered him a maniac, - yes, a maniac.

On the 2d of June last my son-in-law was terribly wounded (supposed to be mortally), and two other Free-State men, at Black Jack. On the 6th or 7th of June last one of my sons was wounded by accident in camp (supposed to be mortally), and may prove a cripple for life. In August last I was present and saw the mangled and shockingly disfigured body of the murdered Hoyt, of Deerfield, Mass., brought into our camp. I knew him well. I saw several other Free-State men who were either killed or wounded, whose names I cannot now remember. I saw Dr. Graham, who was a prisoner with the ruffians on the 2d of June last, and was present when they wounded him, in an attempt to kill him, as he was trying to save himself from being murdered by them during the fight of Black Jack. I know that for much of the time during the last summer the travel over a portion of the Territory was entirely cut off, and that none but bodies of armed men dared to move at all. I know that for a considerable time the mails on different routes were entirely stopped, and that notwithstanding there were abundant United States troops at hand to escort the mails, such escorts were not furnished as they might or ought to have been. I saw while it was standing, and afterward saw the ruins of, a most valuable house, full of good articles and stores, which had been burned by the ruffians for a highly civilized, intelligent, and most exemplary Christian Indian, for being suspected of favoring Free-State men. He is known as Ottawa Jones, or John T. Jones. In September last I visited a beautiful little Free-State town called Stanton, on the north side of the Osage or Marais des Cygnes River, as it is called, from which every inhabitant had fled (being in fear of their lives), after having built them, at a heavy expense, a strong block-house or wooden fort for their protection. Many of them had left their effects liable to be destroyed or carried off, not being able to remove them. This was a most gloomy scene, and like a visit to a vast sepulchre.

During last summer and fall deserted houses and cornfields were to be met with in almost every direction south of the Kansas River. I saw the burning of Osawatomie by a body of some four hundred ruffians, and of Franklin afterward by some twenty-seven hundred men, - the first-named on August 30, the last-named September 14 or 15. Governor Geary had been for some time in the Territory, and might have saved Franklin with perfect ease. It would not have cost the United States one dollar to have saved Franklin.

I, with five sick and wounded sons and son-in-law, was obliged for some time to lie on the ground, without shelter, our boots and clothes worn out, destitute of money, and at times almost in a state of starvation, and dependent on the charities of the Christian Indian and his wife whom I before named.[1] I saw, in September last, a Mr. Parker, whom I well know, with his head all bruised over and his throat partly cut, having before been dragged, while sick, out of the house of Ottawa Jones, the Indian, when it was burned, and thrown for dead over the bank of the Ottawa Creek.

I saw three, mangled bodies of three young men, two of which were dead and had lain on the open ground for about eighteen hours for the flies to work at, the other living with twenty buckshot and bullet-holes in him. One of those two dead was my own son.

[footnote l] Notwithstanding the losses and charities of this good Indian in 1856, he was the next year in condition to make further gifts to Brown, as appears by this letter: -

OTTAWA CREEK, K. T., Oct. 13, 1857.

DEAR SIR, - Respecting the account you have against us as a band, I would respectfully inform you that I have presented the matter before them two or three different times, and I cannot persuade them but what was paid by them was all that could be reasonably demanded of them, from the bargain they entered into with Jones the agent. For my part I think the charge is just, and it ought to be paid. The Ottawa payment comes off some time this week, and I will present your case before them again, and do what I can to induce them to attend to the account, though I entertain no hopes of its being allowed: but nothing like trying. In contributing my mite in aiding you in your benevolent enterprise, I enclose you ten dollars on the State Bank of Indiana (I presume it is good, though hundreds of other banks are worthless), and throw in the young man's bill and horse-hire, which amounts to four dollars. Accept it, sir, as a free-will offering from your friend.

Times are coming round favorably in Kansas. Mr. Parrott for Congress will have 8,000 to 10,000 majority over Ransom, and both branches of the Legislature the same in proportion. I am quite encouraged that all things will work together for good for those who are trying to work out righteousness in the land. May God bless you in your work of benevolence and philanthropy; and may God reward you more than double for your toil and losses in the work to bring about liberty for all men! Write me if you can, and let me know how you are getting along, etc.

I remain your sincere friend, JOHN T. JONES.

By "us as a band" is meant the Ottawa tribe of Indians, and their "payment" was the allowance periodically given to them by the Federal Government. I saw one of the last nomadic Indians of this tribe sitting bareheaded on his pony in the busy streets of Ottawa, in August, 1882, staring with his stolid eye at the white man's way of life.

Here, then, we may pause to review the position of the Brown family in Kansas, twelve months after John Brown had set forth from Illinois to support his children in making free and peaceful homes on those beautiful prairies. One of his sons was dead; another a prisoner charged with treason; a third was desperately wounded; a fourth stricken down with illness; all had lost their cabins, their crops, their books and papers; their wives and children were scattered or far away. Only one son of the six remained in fighting condition; all were in extreme poverty; the cause of freedom, for which they had ventured so much. seemed almost lost. Everything was subdued except the inexorable will of John Brown.[1] That remained; his faith in God and his obedience to the voice of God were as quick as ever; and he had begun the warfare against slavery by a dire blow, which was destined in its consequences to make Kansas free, even as his master-stroke in Virginia, three years later, was to set in motion the avalanche that destroyed slavery in the whole land. This blow was the execution at Pottawatomie on the 24th of May.

[1] Audire magnos jam videor duces
Non indecoro pulvere sordidos,
El cuncta terrarum subacta
Proeter atrocem animum Catonis.

HORACE, Odes, lib. ii. car. i.


His Soul Goes Marching On

West Virginia Archives and History