Digital History>eXplorations>John Brown: Hero or Terrorist?>The Trial of John Brown> "The Virginia Judiciary"

“The Virginia Judiciary”
Editorial in The New York Times, October 24, 1859

We are very glad to see, if we may judge from the charge to the Grand jury, which is to find the bill against Brown and his confederates, that the Virginian judiciary are likely to do justice to themselves and the State in dealing with the Harper's Ferry "insurrection." Nothing could be clearer, calmer, wiser, and more impartial, than the terms in which the duty of those who are charged with the administration of the law in this unfortunate affair has been laid down; nothing could be more patriotic than the manner in which the supremacy of the law itself, over all popular passions and prejudices, has been asserted. Whatever disgrace Brown's emeute and the panic which it has inspired may reflect upon Virginia (and Gov. Wise thinks it serious), she derives nothing but credit from the attitude so far taken by the Bench. If this spirit be maintained throughout the trial, she may almost thank the terrible Abolitionists for giving her a chance of proving to the world that she still can show the surest indication of strength and greatness the ability to give her bitterest foe a fair trial in open court, without fear or favor, on a charge of having aimed a blow at her very existence. We know of no better test of the civilization and soundness of a State than the tone of her judges and Bar, in dealing with a case of this kind in a time of great popular excitement. If they cling to the law and the Constitution, and hold the scales of justice with a steady hand, it matters little how mobs may rave or riot. The world will always take it for granted that a community which produces judges, who preserve their composure, their honor, in the midst of tumultuous passions, is sound at the core, and has still a great future in store for it . . . .

 

Copyright Digital History 2016