Secession Era Editorials Project

The Trouble at Harper's Ferry

Albany, New York, Evening Journal [Republican]

(19 October 1859)

At last we have more definite information as to the origin of the outbreak at Harper's Ferry. It seems that some fifteen or twenty misguided and desperate men engaged in a plot to bring about a revolt of the Slaves. Nor did they stop at the crime of seeking to plunge a peaceful community into the horrors of a servile insurrection. Seizing Government arms and turning them against Government officers, they intended, if they did not accomplish Treason, of the gravest sort. But as might be expected, the attempt failed to gain supporters; the entire community was thrown into a panic, and an overwhelming force of Troops, of the State and the United States, a hundred to one, crushed the riot, and either shot down the rioters or took them prisoners.

Such is the version which comes over the telegraphic wires. While panic has evidently exaggerated the affair in many details, yet if the conspirators were guilty of but half what is attributed to them, the authorities did no more than their duty in dealing with them as sternly and summarily as they have done.

The leader of the conspiracy is stated to be Captain BROWN, of Kansas notoriety. This fact affords an explanation of some points in it otherwise inexplicable. BROWN was one of the victims of the Border Ruffian Invasion from Missouri. He was robbed of his property, maltreated, his house was burned, and three of his sons were murdered in cold blood. It is not strange that these wrongs kindled in him a thirst for revenge amounting to monomania. Brooding over them, he has conceived the wildest plans for repaying them, not only upon the guilty authors of his own misery, but upon all Slaveholders. The whole transaction at Harper's Ferry evinces this. None but a madman could seriously expect that twenty men could make head against the whole Union, and none but those whose sense of justice was blunted by deep passion could fail to see that they were committing a crime against Innocent men, women and children, which would inevitably meet, and justly deserve, universal condemnation.

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