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The Last Moments of John Brown (detail)
believe that Hovenden read the following account in the
New York Tribune, from December 5, 1859:
leaving the Jail, John Brown had on his face an expression
of calmness and serenity characteristic of the patriot
who is about to die with a living consciousness that he
is laying his life down for the good of his fellow creatures.
As he stepped out of door a black woman, with her little
child in her arms, stood near his way. The twain were
of the despised race for whose emancipation and elevation
to the dignity of children of God he was about to lay
down his life. He stopped for a moment in his course,
stooped over, and with the tenderness of one whose love
is as broad as the brotherhood of man, kissed [the child]
could have also read "Brown
of Osawatomie" by John Greenleaf Whittier.
do not think that the incident is true, however. The article
was meant to inflame readers - especially northern abolitionists.
In the accounts of Brown's execution, civilians - like
the woman holding the baby - were not permitted in the