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"The world needed John Brown and John Brown came, and time will do him justice." Frederick Douglass (1886)

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

John Brown: What is Your Point of View?

"It all depends on your point of view.  If you're smug, conservative, satisfied with things as they are, John Brown was a blood-stained madman.  If human liberty means more to you than anything else, if oppression and slavery make you want to go out and do something about it, then John Brown was a glorious figure who did the right thing in the wrong way, but who nevertheless did something."

Emanuel Garrett, "Out of the Past: John Brown," The Socialist Appeal [New York], 9 May 1939.

"A good critic has justly said, 'Throughout the whole life of John Brown, there is not so much of invective and bitterness as is found in a single page of Mr. Garrison.'  The habitual mildness of John Brown's language, even under very strong provocation, was as wonderful as was the might of his acts.  His most terrible deeds were as devoid of personal vindictiveness as the sheriff's solemn execution of a sentence. . . .  [I]t was the due and necessary execution of law, when one of the noblest men in the world's history went from his prison to the death of a criminal, having the confidence of a certain faith and the comfort of a reasonable, religious and holy hope, in favor with God, and in perfect charity with all the world.  But that verdict will stand which was rendered at the time by John A. Andrew, afterward 'the war governor' of Massachusetts: 'Whatever may be thought of John Brown's acts, John Brown himself was right.'"

Leonard W. Bacon, "John Brown," The Advance (22 April 1886).

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