Wednesday, August 17, 2011

John Brown's Body

We've been on a bit of a John Brown tour during our holidays, visiting Charles Town WV (then Charlestown VA, where he was tried and hanged - we saw the courthouse, still in use) and Harpers Ferry, where he tried to seize a federal arsenal to arm slaves in 1859. Today we visited his farm, and the graves of John Brown and his sons, near Lake Placid NY - Brown settled there to be near a colony of freed slaves and free African Americans, although the settlement eventually folded due to the poor farming conditions and harsh weather of New York's North Country. Today the ski jump towers from the 1980 Winter Olympics overlook the simple house and barn of Brown's family.

So we have seen the last resting place of 'John Brown's Body' - lying underneath the gravestone that was originally his father's, a veteran of the American Revolution.

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 any 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; and 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 them 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 not 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!
- John Brown's last speech in court, November 2, 1859

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