Digital History>eXplorations>John Brown: Hero or Terrorist?>The Execution>John Brown to Prosecutor Hunter

John Brown to Prosecutor Andrew Hunter, November 22, 1859

Source: Report of the Select Committee of the Senate Appointed to Inquire into the Late Invasion and Seizure of the Public Property at Harper's Ferry. Report Com. No. 278, 36th Congress, 1st Session, "Testimony" (Washington, D.C., 1860), pp. 67 68.

I have just had my attention called to a seeming confliction between the statement I at first made to Governor Wise and that which I made at the time I received my sentence, regarding my intentions respecting the slaves we took about the Ferry. There need be no such confliction, and a few words of explanation will, I think, be quite sufficient. I had given Governor Wise a full and particular account of that, and when called in court to say whether I had anything further to urge, I was taken wholly by surprise, as I did not expect my sentence before the others. In the hurry of the moment, I forgot much that I had before intended to say, and did not consider the full bearing of what 1 then said. I intended to convey this idea, that it was my object to place the slaves in a condition to defend their liberties, if they would, without any bloodshed, but not that I intended to run them out o f the slave States. I was not aware of any such apparent confliction until my attention was called to it, and I do not suppose that a man in my then circumstances should be superhuman in respect to the exact purport of every word he might utter. What I said to Governor Wise was spoken with all the deliberation I was master of, and was intended for truth; and what I said in court was equally intended for truth, but required a more full explanation than I then gave. Please make such use of this as you think calculated to correct any wrong impressions I may have given.


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