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fact, the active resistance of Brown, Walker, and others to the Missouri invaders had so alarmed the Washington authorities, and particularly the political friends of Mr. Buchanan in Pennsylvania, that they insisted, in order to prevent the defeat of Buchanan for the presidency, that a new governor should be sent out to "stop the fighting.” Such were Geary's private instructions ; and he soon found that the way to stop it was to take the side of the free-state men, as he practically did in September.
The four hundred emigrants, among whom Dr. Howe spent several days, reached Kansas a little sooner than he expected, but delayed in northern Kansas a while, establishing what Mr. Wilder calls “the cordon of forts, - Plymouth and Lexington and Holton." To meet this body of men, and specially to escort General Lane into Kansas, Samuel Walker was sent by Robinson early in August, as he informed me at Lawrence in 1882. John Brown had preceded Walker by a few days, going north with his sick son Owen and a few men, to leave Owen among friends at Tabor in Iowa. Before Walker overtook Brown, an early Kansas resident, Samuel J. Reader, living at Indianola, a town long since disappeared, met Brown under peculiar circumstances, which he recorded in his daily journal at the time. This contemporary testimony is specially interesting, in contrast to the evidence of thirty years later, Mr. Reader, who was living in 1900, showed his journal to the historian William Elsey Connelley, who made these extracts from it in his life of “ John Brown' (Topeka, 1900):
Tuesday MORNING, July 29th.
-... When I returned to the house in the morning, I was told that “Kickapoo Stephens" had been there a few minutes before, to potify us that a party of FreeState men were at the house of Mr. Fouts, in Kansopolis —- about two miles east, or northeast, of where we lived. The object of the party was to march north to the Nebraska line, with the expectation of meeting and escorting into Kansas a Free-State emigrant train, and guard it from possible molestation by the “ Kickapoo Rangers' -a most lawless and bloodthirsty band of border ruffians. It was also reported that Jim Lane was coming with the train; and that he had expressed the wish to have some of the genuine “ Kansas boys” with him when he crossed the line,
There was a small party of mounted men. One was our guide —
Dr. Root. He was a large, fleshy man; jolly, and affable. Another
- the very
Mr. Reader seems to have joined the auxiliary band of “ Kansas boys," and was with them at a camp on Pony Creek, in Nemaha county, on Sunday, August 3. There he met two men for the first time, travelling with a covered wagon drawn by a yoke of oxen. These were Owen, or perhaps Oliver, Brown and their father, John; and the journal says:
One was a young man, somewhat above the ordinary height; the other, quite old. Both were walking, and both were dusty, and travelstained. The team was stopped, and the old man inquired of me: “Do you belong to a Free-State party, in camp near by?” I replied that I did. " Where is your camp?” I pointed in its direction, and
was about to continue on my way, when he detained me, "Your coming has caused a good deal of excitement among the ProSlavery men living on the road. They did n't mind talking with us about it, as we are surveyors.” He motioned with his hand toward
I looked, and noticed for the first time a surveyor's chain hanging partly over the front end-board of the wagon. Just behind was a compass and tripod, standing up under the wagon cover. It struck me that he might possibly be Pro-Slavery himself, ... (80) I answered his direct questions, but ventured to make no remarks myself. I had been cautioned, to be very careful what I said to men living along our line of march. The ox team naturally led me to suppose that these men were settlers (near by ). ..."Where do you live?” he asked “Indianola." “O) yes ! I know. It is a hard place, and has got a very bad reputation. I have heard of it.”
** Have you ever been in a fight?” he next inquired. "No." Well," he continued, “ you may possibly see some fighting, soon. If get in a battle, always remember to aim low. You will be apt to overshoot at first." perhaps I smiled a little, for he added : Maybe you think me a little free in offering advice; but I am somewhat older than you, and that ought to be taken in account.” He said this gravely and pleasantly. The younger man, behind him, was looking at me, with a broad grin on his face, ... had not a word to say, but seemed vastly amused at something. We separated. They forded the [Pony) creek, and went in the direction of (our) camp, while I continued my hunt. I shot nothing, and soon returned. I met one of our boys, and told him I had seen an old man inquiring the way to camp, "Yes, --- and do you know who it was? ... that was old Joho Browo ; we are
you ever do
to break camp, and move farther on." My delight and astonishment
[In the afternoon) we formed in marching column, and started for-
. But I fear he looked upon such things as vainglorious, for if he responded by word or act I failed to see or hear it. . . . I looked at him closely. He was rather tall, and lean, with a tanned, weather-beaten aspect . . . like a rough, hard-working old farmer; . . . He appeared to be unarmed; ... His face was shaven, and he wore a cotton shirt, partly covered by a vest. His hat was well worn, and his general appearance, dilapidated, dusty, and soiled. He turned from his ox teain and glanced at our party from time to time as we were passing him. ... At the top of the next ridge I glanced backward, and looked again at the homely, humble figure, following in our wake at a snail's pace (pp. 286–289).
The next day, and once more on August 7, Reader saw
We .. were about ready to start, when Col. Dickey came over to
1 He then called himself Whipple.
emigrant train. It will never do to have it escorted by armed men. As soon as we are across the line, there will be no objection to your retaking your arms. Let us all stay together. Your services may be needed.”
[There was] more to the same effect. Capt. Whipple said but little in reply. He was striking the ground at his feet with the point of his sword, during most of the conversation. He looked obstinate, and sullen - something like a big school-boy when taken to task by his teacher.
“ Perhaps," added Brown, “ you don't know me; you don't know who I am?"
“Yes I do,' exclaimed Whipple; “I know who you are, well enough; but all the same, we are not going to part with our arms.
We came armed, and we're going back armed.”
I was somewhat surprised to learn by this conversation that Brown and Whipple were strangers to each other. . . . Brown saw that further entreaty would be useless. He turned, and rode away. It was the last time I ever saw [him] (pp. 290, 291).
This is a complete refutation of the charge that Brown was always seeking occasion to fight the soldiers of the army. Here were five or six hundred men, mostly well armed, who might be met by General Smith with the troops; here was Whipple, an old soldier, in partial command; what better chance would there be to fight the flag of his country? Brown had no wish to do so, but argued in favor of laying arms aside when they might bring on such a conflict. And where was Brown going? He was in company with the brave Walker (who told me the story) to escort Lane, apart from the emigrants (from whom Dr. Howe had detached him) into Kansas in safety. When Walker, some days before the 7th, had told Lane in Nebraska that he must not come into Kansas with the emigrants, for if he did he would surely be arrested by the troops, Lane said:
Then I will shoot myself to-night; for I have told the Kansas people that I am coming back, and I have told these emigrants that I am going in with them; if I give it up now it will be said that I deserted them, and there will be no way of disproving it. I must go back into Kansas.
No resisting this appeal; but Walker told Lane he must disguise himself.
1 F. B. Sanborn, Life and Letters of John Brown, 337, 338.
So we tried nitrate of silver on his face, but it would not change him; and then we tried putting old clothes on him; but the worse clothes we put on, the more like Jim Lane he looked.
Then Walker said he would take Lane back under escort, with Brown's help, and they started south so, with twenty or thirty men and Brown among them. On this expedition this conversation occurred, as Walker told me:
As we rode along together, Brown was in a sort of study; and I said to him, " Captain Brown, I would n't have your thoughts for anything in the world.” Brown said, " I suppose you are thinking about the Pottawatomie affair." Said I, “Yes.” Then he stopped and looked at me, and said, " Captain Walker, I saw that whole thing, but I did not strike a blow. I take the responsibility of it; but there were men who advised doing it, and afterward failed to justify it, ..." [I believed him] for Brown would never tell me what was not true, and would not deny to me anything he had really done.
This conversation was about August 9, 1856. I published the substance of it in the Boston Transcript in December, 1884, — having got Walker's permission in 1882 to make it public. Being appealed to by Robinson or Mr. Lawrence to contradict it, Walker wrote to Robinson in a letter of December 16, 1884, from Lawrence:
Mr. Sanborn's article in the Boston Transcript is in the main correct, except that Lane and you advised me to go down to the Pottawatomie and kill those men. . . . What I said was that Brown told me that you and Lane advised him to strike a blow, and now when he had done it you would not sustain him. I told him (Brown) such a plan bad been proposed to me, but there was no place or party mentioned, but you was not one of the gentlemen that talked to me about it, and I do not wish to say who they were.?
It is quite possible that Lane was one of them; for he was
1 F. B. Sanborn, Life and Letters of John Brown, 338.
3 This Colonel Titus, though a vehement pro-slavery man, was of northern