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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Osawatomie Notebook
Jason Brown

Salmon Brown reported in 1913: “We had grown discontent in Ohio. There had been a drought that had caused much damage; Uncle Adair had already moved to Osawatomie, and five of us boys decided to follow, to grow up in a new country and fight if necessary for freedom.”

Jason did not come to Kansas to fight, though, as Salmon reported. “Jason in his quieter way was just as active and busy, but his love for peace was not in sympathy with the spirit of war ... which pervaded the atmosphere on all sides,” he wrote.

Salmon offered insight into that gentleness, relating an incident in which Jason’s spirit trumped virtual starvation when he refused to eat quail his brother had hunted and cooked during the winter of 1855-1856:

“I remember one day after we had been without meat for months, I trapped a bunch of quail in the cornfield. I killed and dressed them, and father cooked them in a big kettle over the fireplace,” Salmon wrote. “It seemed to me I had never tasted anything so good, but Jason would not touch them. He had seen the birds flutter as they were dying, and it so worked on his sympathies that he could not eat them. He was always just so tender of wild things and could never endure the sight of suffering either in man nor brute.”

However, Jason Brown was not a complete pacifist. He was arrested after the Pottawatomie Massacre and was released from pro-slavery custody in June 1856, but he still maintained his pacifism until the Battle of Osawatomie. Wrote Salmon: “Jason was released in June. Up to that time, he had never done any fighting, being a nonresistant and averse to shedding blood; but in the Battle of Osawatomie, which followed, he forgot his nonresistant principles and joined and fought with the fierceness of a old trooper. He was keyed up to it by that time.”

Salmon offered insight into why Jason took up arms in defense of Osawatomie, observing that as a child, “in all our wild pranks on the Western reserve, Jason never took part. I never knew him to engage in a fight. Yet he would always take the part of the underdog. He always demanded justice for everybody and never gossiped or would listen to gossip about anybody. Born with an almost abnormal conscience, he would never do anything he thought was not strictly right to save his life.”

Jason Brown was a gentle, peaceful abolitionist who only fought when there was no other option. He joined in the Battle of Osawatomie in defense of his beliefs and to defend the town. His quiet courage here in Osawatomie and Kansas Territory demonstrates that he was willing to stand up for his beliefs and defend the underdog.

1 comment:

The Witty Mulatto said...

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