Digital History>eXplorations>John Brown: Hero or Terrorist?>The Public Response>New York Daily Tribune

Kansas Fruits

The New York Daily Tribune, October 28, 1859

Those who are now straining every nerve to make party capital out of Old Brown, are careful not to look back so far as to see how and why he became a monomaniac. They look away from the fact that his attempt to get up an insurrection in Virginia is a legitimate consequence of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, and, but for the passage of that measure, would never have happened. President Pierce and Judge Douglas are thus the real authors of the late insurrection . . . .

John Brown is a natural production, born on the soil of Kansas, out of the germinating heats the great contest on the soil of that Territory engendered. Before the day of Kansas outrages and oppression, no such person as Ossawatomie Brown existed. No such person could have existed. He was born of rapine, and cruelty, and murder. Revenge rocked his cradle, disciplined his arm, and nerved his soul. We do not mean to say that revenge alone was the motive power that actuated him. His moral nature was roused, and its instincts and logic backed his determination with a profound power. But Kansas deeds, Kansas experiences, Kansas discipline, created John Brown as entirely and completely as the French Revolution created Napoleon Bonaparte. He is as much the fruit of Kansas as Washington was the fruit of our own Revolution.

Let those, then, who have reproaches to heap upon the authors of the Harper's Ferry bloody tumult and general Southern fright go< back to the true cause of it all. Let them not blame blind and in evitable instruments in the work nor falsely malign those who are in no wise implicated, directly or indirectly; but let them patiently investigate the true source whence this demonstration arose, and< then bestow their curses and their anathemas accordingly. It is childish and absurd for Governor Wise to seize and sit astride the wounded, panting body of Old Brown, and think he has got the villain who set this mischief on foot. By no means. The head conspirators against the peace of Virginia are ex President Franklin Pierce and Senator Douglas. They are the parties he should apprehend, confine, and try, for causing this insurrection. Next to them, he should seize upon Senators Mason and Hunter of Virginia, as accessories. Let him follow up by apprehending every supporter of the Nebraska bill, and when he shall have brought them all to condign punishment, he will have discharged his duty, but not till then ....

Copyright Digital History 2018