Carlisle (PA) American Volunteer, "Harper's Ferry Trouble," November 10, 1859

    Source citation
    “Harper's Ferry Trouble,” Carlisle (PA) American Volunteer, November 10, 1859, p. 1: 6.
    Newspaper: Publication
    Carlisle American Volunteer
    Newspaper: Headline
    Harper's Ferry Trouble
    Newspaper: Page(s)
    Newspaper: Column
    Date Certainty
    Matt Dudek, Dickinson College
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.



    Cook Committed for Trial – The Trial of Coppee [Coppoc] Concluded – Sentence of John Brown – Speech of the Prisoner – He denies any Intention to Murder, or of Treason – Brown Sentenced to be Hung on December 2d – Coppee Found Guilty on all the Counts.

    CHARLESTOWN, VA., Nov. 2.

    Messrs. Russell and Sennat, Attorneys from Boston, reached here to-day.


    Cook was brought before the magistrate’s court, but waived an examination. He was committed for trial.


    Coppee’s trial was resumed. No witnesses were called for the defence. Mr. Harding opened the argument for the Commonwealth, and Messrs. Hoyt and Griswold followed for the defendant. Mr. Hunter closed for the prosecution. The speeches were of marked ability.
    Mr. Griswold asked for several instructions, which were all granted by the court. The jury then retired.


    Brown was then brought into the Court House, which was immediately thronged.

    The Court gave its decision on the motion to arrest judgment, overruling the objections made. On the objection that treason cannot be committed against a State except by a citizen, it ruled that wherever allegiance was due, may be committed. Nearly all of the States (we believe all) have passed laws against treason. The objections as to the form of the verdict rendered were also regarded as insufficient.
    The clerk then asked Brown whether he had anything to say why sentence should not be pronounced, when

    Brown stood up, and in a clear and distinct voice said:

    “I have, may it please the Court, a few words to say.

    “In the first place, I deny everything but what I have all along admitted – the design on my part to free the slaves. I intended, certainly, to have made a clean thing of that matter, as I did last winter, when I went into Missouri and there took the slaves without the snapping of a gun on either side, moved them through the country, and finally left them in Canada. I designed doing the same thing again, on a larger scale. That was all I intended. I never did intend to commit murder or treason, or to destroy property, or to excite or incite the slaves to rebellion, and to make an insurrection.

    “I have another objection, and that is, it is unjust that I should suffer such a penalty. Had I interfered in the manner which I admit – and which I admit has been fairly proved (for I admire the truthfulness and candor of the greater portion of the witnesses who have testified in this case – had I so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so called great, or in behalf of their friends, either father, mother, brother, sister, wife, or children, or any of that class, and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have been all right. Every man in this Court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment. This Court acknowledges, as I suppose, the validity of the law of God. I see a book kissed here which I suppose to be the Bible, or at least the new Testament. That teaches me that ‘all things whatsoever I would that men should do to me. I should do even so to them.’ It teaches me further to ‘remember those that are in bonds as bound with them.’ I endeavored to act up to that instruction. I say I am yet too young to understand that God is any respecter of persons. I believe that to have interfered, as I have done, as I have always freely admitted I have done, in behalf of His despised poor, was no wrong, but right. Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children, and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel and unjust enactments, I submit – so let it be done. Let me say one word further. I feel entirely satisfied with the treatment I have received on my trial. Considering all the circumstances, it has been more generous than I expected: but I feel no consciousness of guilt. I have stated from the first what was my intention, and what was not. I never had any design against the life of any person, nor any disposition to commit treason, or excite the slaves to rebel or make any general insurrection. I never encouraged any man to do so, but always discouraged any idea of that kind. Let me say, also, in regard to the statements made by some of those connected with me – I hear it has been stated by some of them that I have induced them to join me, but the contrary is true. I do not say this to injure them, but as regretting their weakness. Not one joined me but of his own accord, and the greater part at their own expense. A number of them I never saw and never had a word of conversation with, till the day they came to me; and that was for the purpose I have stated. Now I have done.”

    While Brown was speaking, perfect quiet prevailed. When he had finished, the Court proceeded to pronounce the sentence. After a few preliminary remarks, in which he said no reasonable doubt could exist as to the prisoner’s guilt, he sentenced him to be hung, in public, on Friday, the 2d. of December.

    Brown received the sentence with composure. The only demonstration made, was with the clapping of hands by one man in the crowd, who is not a resident of Jefferson county. This was promptly suppressed, and much regret was expressed by the citizens at its occurrence.


    After being out an hour, the jury in the case of Coppee returned with a verdict, declaring him guilty on all the counts in the indictment.
    His counsel gave notice of a motion to arrest judgment, as in Brown’s case.

    The court then adjourned.

    How to Cite This Page: "Carlisle (PA) American Volunteer, "Harper's Ferry Trouble," November 10, 1859," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,