"Were I asked to say, in the fewest and plainest words, what Brown was, my answer would be that he was a religious man. He had ever a deep sense of the claims of God and man upon him, and his whole life was a prompt, practical recognition of them."
Gerrit Smith, "John Brown" [a broadleaf], Peterboro, N.Y., 15 August 1867

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reading Between the Lines of History
RICH MAN, POOR MAN: The Surviving Sons of John Brown and Abraham Lincoln in 1914

Robert Todd Lincoln
A single son still survives to cherish the names of the two great abolitionists [sic], Abraham Lincoln and John Brown.

The only living son of ex-President Lincoln is Robert T. Lincoln, and the only living son of John Brown of Harper's Ferry is Salmon Brown.  A span of several thousand miles separates the homes of these two sons of two world famous men, for Robert Lincoln lives at Manchester, Vt., and Salmon Brown at Portland, Ore.

Both are aged men.  Mr. Lincoln this last summer celebrated his seventieth birthday, and Mr. Brown, grizzled and gray, and crippled from an accident of several years ago, staggers about his little farm on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon, a man past the 80 mark.

Salmon Brown
Robert Lincoln, the son of Abraham Lincoln, is rich.  Salmon Brown, the son of John Brown, is poor. Mr. Lincoln, who has money, is head of the Pullman Car Company, lives in a royal $100,000 mansion in one of the most beautiful country towns in New England and spends about all of his leisure playing golf.  Salmon Brown is obliged to labor long hours on his farm at Portland to make a living.  Neither has ever seen the other, and it is doubtful if one knows the other is alive.

Salmon Brown in giving an account of the incidents of his father's life cites a singular circumstance.  He said: "Robert E. Lee captured John Brown in Virginia.  At the close of the war Lee laid down his arms to General Grant, a fifth cousin of John Brown.  Grover Cleveland was a sixth cousin to my father, and both he and Grant not long thereafter became presidents of the United States."

Mr. Brown, in closing an interesting interview concerning his father said: "With more than a half century intervening since the tragedy at Harper's Ferry, during which time public judgment has calmed and changed materially, I feel that no apology is needed on behalf of John Brown, husband and father, kind and true, however much some may still doubt the saneness of his work for the abolition of that horrible national curse, slavery."

Source: "Son of Lincoln, Rich; John Brown's Son, Poor," Topeka Capital (Apr. 12, 1914)

1 comment:

James said...

It is doubtful if our society will ever recognize true integrity, courage and conviction such as John Brown was eager to display. Lincoln will ever be the martyred hero, and Brown the suicidal madman. Fortunately, justice and reward will come in the life beyond for Brown and his children.