Hartford (CT) Courant, “Untitled,” December 5, 1859

    Source citation
    “Untitled,” Hartford (CT) Courant, December 5, 1859, p. 2.
    Original source
    Providence (RI) Journal
    Newspaper: Publication
    Hartford Courant
    Newspaper: Page(s)
    Date Certainty
    Don Sailer, Dickinson College
    Transcription date

    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    It is not to be disguised that there is a large and powerful combination of politicians, scattered through the slave States, who, for reasons of their own, are aiming to use the Harper’s Ferry foray as a lever to excite bitter feelings in the Southern mind against the whole North. There is a degree of plausibility in the arguments the Southern fire-eaters are now able to adduce, which they have long sought for in vain. They now say to their Southern neighbors, “What did we tell you? Did we not say that the pretence of the North that it was fighting simply to prevent the spread of Slavery was all a sham? Did not Brown lawlessly invade a Sovereign State that had never given him the least offence, and feloniously murder unoffending citizens of the South, who were peacefully pursuing their rightful avocations? And is not the North howling and mourning over the death of this convicted malefactor as if he were a saint and a martyr? Are they not glorifying Brown and denouncing the South as if we had been the assailants and not the ruffians who attacked our firesides? Who is to blame this time? Before, the north claimed to be acting on the defensive, and to be “resisting the encroachments of Slavery;” but, pray, who is encroaching now? Were the people of Harper’s Ferry the aggressors, or was John Brown the aggressor? And do not the people of the North make Brown’s cause their own by their bitter taunts against Virginia cowards; their hellish coolness when every white woman in our borders is trembling for life and honor; and we all go armed night and day, and never lay our heads on the pillow without remembering that the tocsin of a Servile Insurrection may be the sound that will wake our slumbers? Are we, men with as much pride of character and as haughty a sense of honor as our northern brethren, tamely to submit to this ridicule piled atop of outrage? There can be no fraternal union with men who thus demonstrate their callous insensibility to our position and their want of sympathy. It was not so when Virginia and Massachusetts went hand in hand in the Revolution; it was not so when Washington led the armies of the North against British power, and when the Rhode Island General, Greene, commanded Southern troops in South Carolina. Times are changed; the fraternal feeling is gone, and it is time the Union went with it!” There is some basis for such talk; it will not do for the North to justify, defend or palliate the gross crimes for which Brown and his associates were condemned. It is painful to hear that religious bodies, churches at formal meetings, and pastors in their pulpits, in some few instances, in Connecticut, have palliated the crimes of Brown, and avowed a sympathy for convicted law-breakers. It is wrong, and such things should be discountenanced by all good men and patriotic citizens in Connecticut. It is very easy to speak well of some traits in John Brown’s character, but very foolish to do so at this time. The ultra politicians of the South, are systematically using the sympathy for Brown to detach the South from the Union. They misrepresent the great body of Northern voters, and put a few crack-brained immediate Abolitionists (who have not patience enough to mind their own business, and leave the Great Ruler of events to mind his, but want to usurp the prerogative of Providence) in the foreground, as if the noisy cacklers represented the great mass of right-minded, clear-headed Northern men. To put ammunition into the pouches of these Southern Fire-eaters is sheer folly; and all public demonstrations of sympathy with Brown are most irritating and insulting to the South. We should so feel it, if we were in their places; and if Southerners had invaded Connecticut, we should be stung by avowals by Southern backers of congenial sentiments. The following from the Providence Journal, a reliable Republican paper, is to the same purport, with what we have heretofore expressed respecting John Brown:

    We have spoken frankly and honestly of the man and of his deed. We have endeavored, as every man should, to discriminate between them so far as is proper. We have aimed to do justice to the bravery, disinterestedness and power of will which he has manifested, and yet not to be blinded by these qualities to the true nature of the work in which they were employed. We think that those Northern men whose admiration of those qualities leads them to overlook his folly and wrong, are as much mistaken as those Southerners whose abhorrence of his deed prevents them from seeing anything human in his character. We have, therefore, objected to public meetings, which would be construed into an endorsement by the North of Brown’s mad course. For that course is really one of open rebellion. Nothing else can be made of it. Under our laws and compacts, we have no more right to imitate him than the Southerners would have to come into Massachusetss [Massachusetts] and murder Wendell Phillips. At any time, therefore, a public and formal approval of such a deed as his could only be followed by unhappy results. It is more than ever to be deprecated in the present excited state of the public mind. Our pity for the man should not lead us to land his fatal and terrible mistake. We must not thus preach a violent and armed crusade against slavery. And if men really do not think it their duty to go and do as Brown did, why commend his act? We despise the noisy blustering of those who incite others to disobey law, and to rush to certain death, and yet keep themselves safely at home, contenting themselves with splendid but empty declamation. Our readers know very well that we are no apologists for slavery; but we do not believe in fighting it with weapons like Brown’s. We have no words but those of emphatic condemnation for any scheme which proposes that we shall enter the South sword in hand to exterminate slavery.

    Brown’s attempt has not been without its effects both upon the North and the South. While it has given opportunity for a few extremists to reiterate their assertion that the Constitution is “a covenant with hell,” and has tempted a few less violent men, who are carried away by their admiration of Brown’s courage, to utter unguarded words, whose force we think they could not have duly weighted, it has also called forth from every part of the North expressions of temperate, sound and conservative sentiments, which ought not to be misunderstood or overlooked by the South.
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