Forbes's alliance with the young Republican party in this its first presidential campaign, besides separating him from his former associates, the merchant Whigs, gave him, through sympathetic activities, new friends among Abolitionists and Free-Soilers, men outside the pale of Boston conservatism. It is curious and significant to read letters to him from that knight of the radicals, Dr. S. G. Howe, proposing a meeting between himand John Brown; it is still more curious and significant to know that the meeting actually took place. Brown, coming to Forbes's house in Milton, filled a long evening with a recital of the deeds in Kansas that make the word Ossawatomie so memorable, and departed the next morning not without aid. On the following night, says the host in his Reminiscences, with an eye for contrasts, railroad business brought to Milton Hill as an occupant of the same guest-room the pro-slavery governor of Missouri, who had set a price of three thousand dollars on John Brown's head! When the Senate investigation into the Harper's Ferry raid caused a flurry among Massachusetts Abolitionists, Forbes stood by them, at this time becoming fast friends with the radical and philanthropic lawyer, John A. Andrew. His value as an asset to a radical party fighting in a conservative community was publicly recognized in the presidential campaign of 1860 when, being free of his railroad entanglements in Missouri, he allowed his name to be used on the Republican ticket for the position of elector at large.