A Comprehensive Review of
It Wasn't About Slavery, Exposing the Great Lie of the Civil War by Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr.
Part Seven of Ten
John Brown, Terrorist and Lightning Rod
by Gene Kizer, Jr.
At the end of this article, beneath the notes I have cited, is "Actual Citation from Book," Mitcham's endnotes for Chapter IX.
ON MONDAY, October 17, 1859 in Arlington, Virginia Colonel Robert E. Lee was "working on the financial accounts of his late father-in-law, George Washington Custis" who had died and left Lee executor of his "unprofitable and entangled mess" of an estate.
Of course that estate would later become our nation's most sacred burial ground, Arlington National Cemetery.
Lee was surprised to see Lieutenant James E. B. "Jeb" Stuart who was not clean shaven as he had been in the 1850s at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point when Lee was superintendent and Stuart was one of his favorite cadets.1
Stuart's father had been a "lawyer who was famous locally as a bon vivant and heavy drinker" but Stuart was a "teetotaler and devout Episcopalian."
Stuart and his wife had each been given a slave but the "Stuarts did not believe in slavery and quickly freed both of the African Americans."2
Stuart fought the Cheyenne in Kansas and took a bullet in the chest but recovered. He also did peacekeeping between "John Brown and other abolitionists hooligans and the Missouri "Border Ruffians."3
Stuart and Lee were both on leave in 1859 and Stuart had a lot he wanted to do including trying to sell his invention, "Stuart's Lightning Horse Hitcher," to the War Department. It was a device to attach a saber "to a horseman's belt."
Instead, he was given orders to "go to Arlington to fetch Colonel Lee" because there was serious trouble at Harper's Ferry. On hearing, Lee left immediately for Washington without even putting on his uniform.4
President Buchanan and Secretary of War John Floyd said a man named Smith "and some 'Kansas "Free-Staters"' were inciting a slave insurrection at Harper's Ferry" and had already "seized the government arsenal." State militiamen, a battalion of troops, detachment of Marines and ninety sailors were heading to Harper's Ferry and Lee was to take command and put the "revolt" down:
Lieutenant Stuart offered to serve as a volunteer aide, and Colonel Lee accepted. The two future Rebel generals left D.C. by a special train at five o'clock p.m.5
Smith was actually John Brown, a failure in life, who "'in ordinary times he would have been interesting mainly in a clinical sense'" according to Dr. Ludwell H. Johnson.6 Brown was "born in Connecticut in 1800" and descended from Puritans. Mitcham writes:
He became a fanatical abolitionist and recruited a small following. After securing funding in New England and Ohio, Brown went west, where he and his people took part in the turmoil that was "Bleeding Kansas," and murdered five men in cold blood, most hacked to death by swords in front of their screaming wives and children.7
Brown and his gang became robbers then "fled Kansas for New England, where he obtained funding for a terrorist attack in Virginia" which he planned to make into a multi-state "slave rebellion throughout the South" as they gathered followers.
Of course, Brown's New England funding violates the Constitution which is supposed to "insure domestic tranquility" and not murder and rape against fellow citizens.
Where is New England's plan for gradual, compensated emancipation, the way they "ended slavery" in New England? Ended slavery is in quotes because they didn't really end it there.
It is provable conclusively that most New Englanders sold their slaves back into slavery in the South just as they were to be freed, such as before the slave's 21st birthday. New Englanders just changed the slave's master from a Northern to a Southern one as noted by contemporaries such as Charles Dickens. See Black Bondage in the North by Edgar J. McManus (NY: Syracuse University Press, 1973), and Complicity, How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery (NY: Ballantine Books, 2005), and other works.
The hypocrisy of New England and the North and many historians today with their "woke" history defending New England and the North, is breathtaking.
New England brought virtually all the slaves here and made huge fortunes in the process. They built much, perhaps most, of the infrastructure of the Old North with profits from the slave trade, and they are directly responsible, with the British before them, for forcing the horrendous Middle Passage on poor Africans.
On the Middle Passage, Africans were chained to decks in filthy stinking slave ships with feces, vomit, dead people, all baked in a stifling hot oven with no air circulation in the bowels of slave ships for months on end. They had been sold into slavery in Africa by their fellow black Africans.
So rather than work on a plan of emancipation that would work --- and, as stated, New Englanders knew how to do it --- they supported a terrorist and murderer to murder fellow citizens in the South.
The North was already at war with the South. By seceding, Southerners were protecting themselves.
Mitcham writes that Brown tried to recruit Frederick Douglas and others but Douglas thought better.
Brown also approached Harriett Tubman who "consented to help Brown and recruited slaves in southern Ontario to join the invasion. (Brown liked her and called her 'General Tubman.')". But Tubman disappeared and did not participate.8
Brown miscalculated because the blacks around Harper's Ferry were not "badly treated compared to those on some of the cotton, tobacco, and rice plantations of the Deep South." They "were house servants and free people of color. They would not be enthusiastic about joining a dubious revolt."9
Brown going by "'Isaac Smith'" gathered up 22 men and his weapons "four miles north of Harper's Ferry" and on Sunday, October 16, at night, "he struck." They captured Colonel Lewis Washington's plantation but his slaves were not interested in joining Brown. That should have told Brown he was in trouble.10
Next, they seized the Harper's Ferry arsenal:
The first casualty occurred when Hayward Shepherd, a highly respected free man of color and a baggage master for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, realized what was happening. Rather than join the raiders, he tried to run away, so Brown's men shot him in the back. Shepherd died of his wounds. Also murdered was Thomas Boerly, an arsenal worker on his way to work.11
The incredibly ignorant Brown captured a B&O train but let it go so naturally it spread the alarm that terrorists had captured Harper's Ferry:
Individual militia companies from nearby communities quickly assembled and joined the fray. Local black people refused to join the battle, but local whites did---against Brown.12
More civilians were killed "including the unarmed mayor, Fontaine Beckham, and George W. Turner, who had attended West Point with Robert E. Lee." Brown "and his men took refuge in the armory, which was soon surrounded by local farmers and shopkeepers" who quickly realized Brown didn't have much of a force. They "recaptured the arsenal and loosely surrounded the terrorists in the nearby fire engine house."13
At 10 p.m. Lee and Stuart got there and "walked across the dark railroad bridge to the armory where Colonel Lee decided to wait until daylight to attack. He sent Jeb Stuart to demand "Smith" surrender. Stuart entered the engine room, startled at what he saw. 'Why, aren't you old Osawatomie Brown of Kansas, whom I once had there as my prisoner?'"
Brown would not surrender so, "At first light on October 18, Stuart again advanced to the engine house double doors under a flag of truce. 'Are you ready to surrender, and trust to the mercy of the government?' he asked."14
Brown said no but wanted to negotiate safe passage out, promising to release his hostages later.
Several of the hostages and captured workmen cried out to Lee and Stuart, urging them not to use force or Brown would kill them. Above their voices came the roar of Colonel Washington: 'Never mind us! Fire!'
'The old Revolutionary blood does tell,' an admiring Robert E. Lee remarked. He was sitting on a horse, about fifteen yards from the firehouse.15
Stuart "stepped aside and dropped his hat---the signal for the attack" and "A dozen Marines rushed forward" but heavy hammers didn't work so they rammed the doors "with a heavy ladder" and that splintered them.
Marine Lieutenant Israel Greene rushed in with his men and two were shot dead immediately. Colonel Washington pointed out Brown to Greene and Greene rushed him "and swung his saber hard, intent on splitting Brown's skull" but Brown dodged then stood up and "the lieutenant gave him an under-thrust with his sword midway up his body, lifting him completely off the ground" but it hit Brown's belt buckle which broke the ceremonial sword Greene was carrying.16 Greene had not been told they were assaulting terrorists this day. He had thought they were attending a ceremonial function:
If he had been carrying his combat sword, Brown's splattered insides would have been all over the fire engine house's floor. There would never have been a John Brown trial....17
Mitcham points out that had there not been a John Brown trial, Southerners might not have realized the effectiveness of abolitionist propaganda and Northern hatred toward them thus might not have reacted to Lincoln's election by seceding.
Brown was badly wounded and other terrorists killed or they surrendered:
The marines hauled Brown and his surviving men outside to the grass and treated their wounds. In all, ten abolitionists were dead---including two of Brown's sons---three were immediately captured, four were captured later, and five escaped. Six civilians died and nine were wounded, as were two marines, one fatally. There were militia casualties as well, but their exact numbers are not known.18
The bloody hands of the New Englanders who financed Brown's terrorism includes hundreds of thousands more deaths because Brown's raid and the North's adoring attitude toward Brown helped greatly to bring on the War Between the States.
Those same hypocritical Yankees would have been better off developing a realistic plan to end slavery but that was never the North's desire. They didn't want slavery ended then all the slaves move to the North and be job competition.
They wanted to hurt the South. They were drooling for political control of the country so they could keep taxing the South and spending the South's money in the North. Southerners were paying 85% of the taxes yet over 75% of the tax money was being spent in the North.
All of this agitation and the war itself were about political power and money like all wars are. There was nothing whatsoever moral about the North's war against the South. Contemporaries like Charles Dickens knew it and stated it clearly.
Following the raid, investigators examined the Kennedy Farm. They found Brown's correspondence with the Secret Six, a.k.a. the Secret Committee of Six---the abolitionists who funded John Brown. They also discovered maps of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee. The maps had notes pasted to the margins showing the black population. Counties with predominantly African-American populations had been highlighted. They also found the provisional Constitution for Brown's new government and 900 pikes.19
Edmund Ruffin "got hold of some of the pikes and sent one to the legislature of each Southern state with the inscription: 'Sample of the favors designed for us by our Northern Brethern.'"20
Brown's trial began October 27, 1859. Brown "was defended by a team of New England lawyers, led by Massachusetts abolitionist John Albion Andrew." On October 30 Brown was found guilty of "treason, conspiring with and telling slaves to escape and revolt, and first-degree murder." He was sentenced to death and hanged December 2, 1859.21
The North's worship of terrorist Brown woke the South up and shocked it:
Church bells rang in his honor, women wore black mourning clothes, men wore black armbands, politicians lauded him, businesses closed, and ladies cried on the day of his execution. Henry David Thoreau and Wendell Phillips praised him, as did Ralph Waldo Emerson and the rest of the New England literary elite.22
Emerson said Massachusetts prison inmates "were superior human beings to the leaders of the South" and Thoreau compared Brown to Jesus Christ. Brown's lawyer, John Albion Andrew, "was elected governor of Massachusetts."23
This "proved to the South that the Republican party was not distancing itself from its extremist members but was embracing them" and apparently "endorsing anti-Southern violence and servile insurrection."
The Secret Six cowards who when safe in Massachusetts with their compound interest on their money from the slave trade safely in their pockets mostly ran rather than face their crimes:
The Secret Six who funded Brown were Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Dr. Samuel G. Howe, Theodore Parker, Franklin B. Sanborn, Gerrit Smith, and George Luther Steams. Brown's captured documents and subsequent investigations of him revealed that they had financed the Harper's Ferry Raid, perhaps to the tune of $25,000 ($679,000 in 2017 dollars).24
Frederick Douglas fled to Canada since he knew about the planned attack.
Higginson stayed in Massachusetts where he knew he would not be prosecuted.
The "Republican governors of Iowa and Ohio refused to extradite" the seven of Brown's raiders who escaped. This proved to Southerners that the North was not going to obey the law. To these Northerners, Southerners were already the enemy, and "To many [in the South], it was a harbinger of what to expect under Republican rule."25
South Carolina, Georgia and Texas mentioned this Northern harboring of terrorists in their declarations of causes for seceding.
The South had become certain it could not depend on a Republican administration to obey the law and protect them from those who wanted the slaves to rise up and slaughter them in the night as had happened in Haiti. Thomas Jonathan Jackson of VMI and others began thinking seriously about secession and "Many Southern moderates started to believe the 'fire-eaters' had been right all along."26
A Comprehensive Review of
It Wasn't About Slavery, Exposing the Great Lie of the Civil War by Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr.
Part Eight of Ten
(Click Here to go to previous week: Part Six: Chapter VII, Agitation and Compromise; Chapter VIII, The Chasm Grows)
(Scroll down for:
It Wasn't About Slavery, Actual Citation from Book)
1 Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr., It Wasn't About Slavery, Exposing the Great Lie of the Civil War (Washington, DC: Regnery History, 2020), 91.
3 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 91-92.
4 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 92.
6 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 92-93.
7 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 93.
9 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 94.
10 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 94-95.
11 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 95.
14 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 96.
17 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 97.
18 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 97-98.
19 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 98.
21 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 99.
24 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 100.
25 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 100-101.
26 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 101.
Am a Newbie to SC.
Might you or someone on your staff recommend a good book on the history of SC?
Start with the great Southern writer, William Gilmore Simms’s: The History of South Carolina: Its European Discovery and Colonization, Battles with the Native Americans, the Revolutionary War of Independence, and Statehood.
Here is a link: https://www.amazon.com/History-South-Carolina-Colonization-Revolutionary/dp/1789873053/ref=sr_1_18?keywords=south+carolina+history&qid=1639077368&sr=8-18
Here is the write-up on Amazon:
This formidable history of South Carolina stretches from the territory’s discovery, through its earliest years, its nascence as a prospering colony, and finally its statehood in the United States of America.
Published in 1860, this history benefits from several sources and texts which are seldom drawn upon in modern history books. William Gilmore Simms was a politician and writer whose affiliation with the American South afforded him possession of documents gained from local connections. This is a history not merely interested in the broad strokes of conflicts with Native American and waves of settlements that defined colonial North America, but a meticulous record of anecdotes, lives and deeds sometimes scarcely remembered and almost lost to time.
Although fighting is the most recurrent theme of the history, Simms includes descriptions of life in South Carolina of old, describing how its towns and villages grew and prospered. We are given impressions of pioneer life, trades, the rugged wilderness, setbacks and struggles against hardship. Perhaps the most intense passages of the history recall the Revolutionary War, a conflict whose intensity outstripped the periodic wars with Native American tribes, which the author richly relates, his narrative imbued with official accounts and blow-by-blow anecdotes of skirmishes and heroisms.
In all, this history of South Carolina is unique, with valuable information little-seen in modern-day treatments of the state, its peoples and its achievements.
Some of the later histories are too politically correct.
William Gilmore Simms did a series of novels on the Revolutionary War and you can NOT get better history anywhere. They are exciting and incredibly descriptive. There are nine or ten of them such as The Partisan, Joscelyn, Mellichampe, et al. Here’s a link to The Partisan on Amazon. Do check it out. There are cheaper new paperback:
Robert Rosen’s books on Charleston are outstanding.
I’ve always liked Louis B. Wright’s: South Carolina, A History.
David Duncan Wallace did a multi-volume set in the 1930s that is excellent.
Start with Simms’s The History of South Carolina mentioned above, then go from there.
Gene Kizer, Jr.