Brown: Hero or Terrorist?>The
Public Response>Chicago Press and Tribune
Press and Tribune, October 21, 1859
squad of fanatics whose zeal is wonderfully disproportioned
to their sense, and a double handful of slaves whose ignorance
is equalled only by their desire for the freedom of which they
have been robbed, -all commanded by a man who has for years
been as mad as a March hare, unite in making an insurrection
at Harper's Ferry. They break into and take possession of an
United States Armory, stop a railway train, kill a few citizens,
assume command ing positions about the town; and for a few hours
meet with none to dispute their right: They are guilty of the
most incomprehensible stupidity and folly as well as unpardonable
criminality in all these acts; and when their career is arrested,
their leader shot down and his followers are dispersed, there
is not a public journal of any party, or public man of any shade
of opinion found to approve their means or justify their ends.
But what matters is that the stark mad enterprise was the product
of addled brains: -that in itself is is incontestible evidence
of the insanity of its originator; that its chief in his confession
claims all the credit and all the criminality for himself; that
the purposes of the emeute are foreign to Republican policy;
that the means chosen for its consummation are utterly repugnant
to Republican sense of right and wrong, in spite of these, the
journals of the bogus Democracy have already begun their lying
assertions that for the insurrection and its consequences the
Republican party are to be held accountable! Human mendacity
could go no further.
supposes that such an outbreak would have been possible in 1853?
. . . What disturbed that era of good feeling? What stirred
up the bitter waters anew? What produced that aggression in
the South that gives fanaticism like that of Brown a pretext
for such deeds as have just been done in Virginia? Are the Republicans
responsible? Did they break up the old compact between the North
and the South? Did they disregard the policy and forget the
traditions of the Fathers? Did they seek out new and strange
excuses why the action of the Government should be reversed,
and Slavery made paramount to Freedom? Did they contrive that
Dred Scott decision by which the civilized world was shocked
and four millions of men were cast out of the pale of humanity?
Did they renew the war, the agitation, the strife? Did they
carry bloodshed to Kansas in the attempt to plant Slavery there
by fire and the sword? Did they awaken the passions of hate
and revenge by which the country has been torn, and by which
slave insurrections with the aid of white men are made possible?
Let the Democrats reply! . . .
. . Brown is no worse, with all his crimes on his head, than Jeff.
Davis. He is less a traitor to day. His confederates have not
half the criminality of many men who occupy seats in Congress
or give advice in the councils of the Democratic party. But we
excuse nor justify neither. We class them all together -Black
Douglases and white, old Brown and Senator brown, tfe insurrectionists
at Harper's Ferry and the secessionists of Mississippi -all disturbers
of the public peace howlers who care nothing for country or consequences
all traitors dyed in the wool. Brown, braver than the others,
has attempted what his compeers in the South only threaten. Dissolution
of the Union is the object of all.