Carlisle (PA) American Volunteer, "The Slave Insurrection at Harper's Ferry," October 27, 1859

Source citation
“The Slave Insurrection at Harper's Ferry,” American Volunteer, Carlisle, PA, 27 October 1859, p. 2, col. 3-4.
Newspaper: Publication
Carlisle (PA) American Volunteer
Newspaper: Headline
The Slave Insurrection at Harper's Ferry
Newspaper: Page(s)
2
Newspaper: Column
3-4
Type
Newspaper
Date Certainty
Exact
Transcriber
Matt Dudek
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.

THE SLAVE INSURRECTION AT HARPER’S FERRY.


The negro Insurrection at Harper’s Ferry, headed by that distinguished Abolitionist, or “Republican,” as he calls himself, BROWN, of Kansas notoriety, after a conflict in which 15 of the insurgents and 5 citizens were killed, 3 insurgents wounded, and 5 made prisoners, was finally quelled on Tuesday evening, the 11th last. Too much praise cannot be awarded President BUCHANAN for the prompt manner in which he acted in this fearful emergency. As soon as apprised of the insurrection, he gave orders to the Secretaries of War and Navy to send troops to the scene of the disturbance, instructed to quell it in the shortest possible time. The troops and marines and citizen soldiers, on their arrival at Harper’s Ferry, found the men women and children in a wild state of excitement. – Some had been shot, some wounded, and others made prisoners by the insurgents. The timely arrival of the troops, in all probability, saved thousands of lives, for beyond question, it was the design of BROWN and his white and black followers to murder all who refused to join in the insurrection.

The name of John Brown is not unknown to the American public. It was he who became the scourge of Southern Kansas, and with his band of outlaws pillaged Kickapoo City. Since then he has not been heard from until now, when he turns up in a new quarter, but at his old game – not appreciating, however, the difference between an unprotected frontier village and a town in Virginia.
The following commission, taken form the pocket of Anderson, after death, will give an idea of the extent and character of this new organization:

GREETING.
HEADQUARTERS, WAR DEPARTMENT,
Near Harper’s Ferry. 
Whereas, Jere G. Anderson has been nominated a captain in the army established under the “Provisional Constitution.”
Now, therefore, in pursuance of the authority vested in us by said Constitution, we do hereby appoint and commission the said Jere G. Anderson a captain.
Given at the office of Secretary of War, this day, October 15, eighteen fifty-nine.
JOHN BROWN, Commander-in-Chief.
H. KAGI, Secretary of War.

Here we have developed a new Government, under a Constitution, a printed copy of which was also found, and delivered to the Federal authorities. This “headquarters” is a small tract of poor land, rented by Brown, under the name of Smith, for the ostensible purpose of farming, but planting or reaping was never done upon it. It lies six miles northeast of Harper’s Ferry, in the State of Maryland. Here was to be the general rendezvous of the conspirators, and from this point they marched on Harper’s Ferry, on Sunday night.
Soon after the out-break, Mr. MILES [Mills], the master of the U.S. Armory at Harper’s Ferry, was arrested by a party of BROWN’S men, and kept in custody. After his arrest, Mr. Miles [Mills] sent for BROWN, and requested to be made acquainted with his object. BROWN replied as follows:

“We are Abolitionists from the North; we come to take and release your slaves: our organization is large and must succeed; I suffered much in Kansas, and expect to suffer here in the cause of human freedom; slaveholders I regard as robbers and murders, and I have sworn to abolish slavery and liberate my fellow-men.”

Such are the purposes declared by Brown himself to one of his prisoners. He had received his arms and ammunition, he said, from the “Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Society:” they “were the same arms that had been used in Kansas.”

On Tuesday evening a detachment of the marines, accompanied by some of the volunteers made a visit to Captain Brown’s house. They found a large quantity of blankets, boots, shoes, clothes, tents, fifteen hundred pikes, with large blades affixed; and also, discovered documents throwing much light on the affair. Among them are the printed constitutions and by laws of the organization, and indicating a ramification of the Union; and they also found letters from various individuals at the North. One from Fred. Douglass, containing $10 from a lady for the cause: also a letter from Gerrit Smith, about money matters, and a check or draft by him for $100, endorsed by the cashier of the New York Bank.
BROWN, after his arrest, stated that the demonstration made with twenty-two men was only the signal for action. The great body of his army remained to be enrolled and recruits were expected to pour in from all directions.

Edwin Copie [Coppoc], another wounded captive, states:
“ I am from Cedar county, Iowa, and am twenty four years old; I am a Republican philanthropist, and came here to aid in liberating Negroes: I made the acquaintance of Captain Brown in Iowa, as he returned from Kansas, and agreed to join his company: Brown wrote to me in July to come on to Chambersburg, where he first revealed the whole plot: the whole company was opposed to making the first demonstration at Harper’s Ferry, but Captain Brown would have it his own way, and we had to obey orders; he promise large reinforcements as soon as we made a demonstration; our rifles are some of those furnished by the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Society and sent to Kansas; they were reshipped to Chambersburg, and thence hauled, with ammunition, by teams, to our ‘headquarters.’”


All these statements were fully confirmed by Capt. Aaron Stevens, of Norwich, Conn., who is supposed to be mortally wounded.
It will be seen from the confessions of BROWN and other prisoners, that this insurrection had been long planned, and, as the Abolitionists engaged in it supposed, well matured. They were amply provided with arms and ammunition, “from the Emigrant Aid Society of Massachusetts:” the “same arms that had been used in Kansas!” Fortunate was it then, that President BUCHANAN and Gov. WISE acted with discussion and promptness. Had they failed to do so, a good portion of Virginia and Maryland would doubtless have been bathed in the hearts blood of their citizens.

This insurrection, by which twenty fellow-mortals were killed, and several others (now prisoners,) will expiate their crimes upon the gallows, is the first fruits of the Abolition “victories” that have recently been achieved in the Northern States. These “Republican” fanatics, who are constantly making war upon the Southern States, have at last made a bold attempt to put their threats into execution, and in doing so have stained the soil of Virginia with the blood of her people. And yet this infamous Abolition organization is already at work in the Northern States, organizing and drilling for the campaign next fall, and are confident in the hope of being able to elect their candidate for President. God help our country should this dire calamity befall her. The election of an Abolitionist to the Presidency would be the signal for a general slave insurrection in half the Southern States, and a scene would follow such as never been witnessed in this country. Let the people, then, pause and reflect, before it is too late!

From Harper’s Ferry we learn that peace is completely restored, and the citizens of the surrounding country are once more resuming their occupations, confident that all cause of alarm has passed. Old Brown is considered out of danger. The following is the most important of the letters found among his effects:

“PETERBORO,’ June 4th, 1859.
“CAPTAIN JOHN BROWN. – My dear friend: I wrote to you a week ago, directing my letter to the care of Mr. Kearney.
“He replied, informing me that he had forwarded it to Washington. But as Mr. Morton received last evening a letter from Mr. Sanborn, saying your address would be your son’s home, viz. – West Andover, I therefore write to you without delay, and direct my letter to your son. I have done what I could thus far for Kansas, and what I could to keep you at your Kansas work. Losses by endorsement and otherwise have brought me under heavy embarraasments [sic] the last two years.
“But I must nevertheless continue to do, in order to keep you at your Kansas work. I send you herewith my draft for two hundred dollars. Let me hear from you on the receipt of this letter.
“You live in our hearts, and our prayer to God is that you may have strength to continue in your Kansas work.
“My wife joins me in affectionate regard to you, dear John, whom we both hold in very high esteem.
“I suppose you put the Whitman note into Mr. Kearney’s hands. It will be a great shame if Mr. Whitman does not pay it.
“What a noble man is Mr. Kearney. How liberally he has contributed to keep you in your Kansas work.
Your friend. GERRIT SMITH.”

How to Cite This Page: "Carlisle (PA) American Volunteer, "The Slave Insurrection at Harper's Ferry," October 27, 1859," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/index.php/node/595.