History, Research, and Current Themes

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

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Tuesday, February 02, 2021

The Biter is Bitten: A Ross Snaps Back

Well folks, the biter is bitten.  I've been told off, exposed, and rebuked from an angry Canadian named Don Ross in response to my feature on Dr. Alexander Milton Ross (Jan. 12), "Catch Him if You Can: The True Story of John Brown's Fraudulent 'Friend.'"   I appear to have done it this time, and it looks I've offended a descendant.

Today I found this message in my blog mail, and rather than simply publish it under the aforementioned article, I post it here for your reading interest:

This attack on Dr. Alexander Milton Ross is scurrilous and unwarranted from an American pseudo-theologian, who really knows very little about the biography of AM ROSS, Dresden, Uncle Tom, Buxton or any other parts of Black History in Ontario.
Well, it is more than evident that Mr. Don Ross is angry at me for making what he calls a "scurrilous and unwarranted" "attack" upon the late A.M. Ross (AMR), whom I describe as a faker and fraud, at least in regard to his claim of being a friend and associate of John Brown. I said nothing about AMR's actual antislavery role in Canada, his professional attainments, or his life in Canada.  

Certainly, I would like to apologize to Don Ross for offending his family, as it appears he is a descendant of AMR.  It really was not my intention to offend the living in criticizing the dead, and insofar as I have created offense, I do regret it as human feelings go. I once offended the descendant of a miscreant Southern murderer, but I cannot say that I had any sense of regret in interrogating the record of her murderous forebear.  But I do not see AMR as an enemy of Brown's legacy and so I do not see him as an enemy.  Still, insofar as John Brown is concerned, he was a fake and a liar, and I was not the first one to make this claim.

Don Ross responds vindictively with an ad hominem, calling me an "American pseudo-theologian."   I forgive him this bite.  Actually, I am a theologically trained historian and religious educator with two real earned masters degrees in theology and history, and a real earned Ph.D, but nowhere do I claim to be a professional theologian.  As to Don Ross's second charge, that I know "very little" about the biography of AMR and any other aspect of black history in Ontario, it's probably fair to say that I know enough as has been of interest to me thus far, although there's always more to learn.

Finally, Don Ross, if you're going to lambast me, you must also lambast the late great Boyd B. Stutler, whose expertise on the John Brown theme, including his correspondence with Canadian historians in the mid-20th century, drew this conclusion about AMR long before I was born.  As I shared, I found while doing my own subsequent research on the Ross-Brown correspondence that Stutler was correct in calling AMR a liar and a fake. If I thought otherwise were possible, I would have written that too.  

Of course, I would be happy to rescind my publication on Ross if you can prove me and Stutler wrong.  Unlike AMR, I really do prefer the truth to deception and error.  If you have historical evidence that proves both Stutler and me as being incorrect in our readings of the evidence concerning AMR and John Brown, then please do let me know and I will publish it with an apology besides.  

Don Ross, I hope you will accept that I have no intention of wounding your feelings or family pride. But neither am I willing to alter my understanding of history because it is offensive to you or anyone else.  My writing was neither an "attack" nor was it "unwarranted."  It was perfectly warranted by the burden of historical research and the quest to understand the past, particularly as it relates to my study of John Brown.

I turn the other cheek here, Don Ross, but I wonder if you have any substantial evidence beyond insult and accusation.  Otherwise, my response, borrowed from John Brown in Virginia, is simply this: you have your opinion of me, and I have my opinion of you.  

Let's leave it at that.--LD