Secession Era Editorials Project
Furman University Department of History
|HOME > John Brown's Raid on Harper's Ferry>New Orleans, Louisiana, Times-Picayune [Democratic] (16 November 1859)|
Pardon for John Brown.
New Orleans, Louisiana, Times-Picayune [Democratic]
(16 November 1859)
A story of the middle ages is, somewhere, told after this fashion: In those times, when ecclesiastics were sometimes of the church militant, and did not shun their share in deeds of arms, or, at times, of rapine -- a band, assailing a fortress for the purposes of plunder, were captured, and sentenced to summary execution, as taken with the "red hand." One of them was found to be a monk, and the Superior of the district sent urgently to require that he should be given up, as a son of the church. The captor, who had hanged up his man, sent back the trooper's boots and bloody clothes in which the priest was taken, with the grim inquiry: "Be these thy son's garments?"
Now from the free States comes a loud and
earnest invocation to Virginia to be merciful
to this man. Journals and public men,
unaffectedly desirous to calm down excitement,
and professing the most thorough abhorrence
To this appeal, when it is well meant, Virginia may answer in all courtesy, pointing to piles of pikes sharpened for the slaughter, and to the clothes dripping with the blood of her children already spilt, and ask whether these be proofs or signs of a temper or a purpose to be forgiven, without signs or penitence or recantation of error. Whether the marauder who stands up to avow and justify his deeds, with no other extenuation than that murder is only an incident of his plan, which was simply to rob and to protect robbery, is a fit subject for uncommon indulgence, on his merits as a thorough ruffian, and defying and insolent and uncompromising in his villainies.
These are not pleas likely to have weight
with a Southern constituency, where these
things have been done, and where the laws
would be inexorably enforced against a meaner
criminal convicted of offences of one-tenth
of the enormity of
Perhaps this may be true in part, although we believe it to be greatly exaggerated. It is true that the extreme anti-slavery journals and the most rabid among the lecturers, fanatics and demagogues of that faith, are beginning to prepare for such a crusade of agitation, and have begun to hold up the Ossawattamie ruffian, murderer, and robber, as worthy to be ranked with the noblest victims to freedom, and canonized as a saint and martyr.
But we are not persuaded that such
demonstrations are going to carry off the whole North
in a whirlwind of fury, into the ranks of
political abolitionism; and if there were any such
peril, we should treat it as the sign of a state
of the Northern mind, on Southern subjects, so
utterly perverse, as to be hopelessly
incurable -- a proof that there is no longer possibility
to live with them on any terms of amity, more
During the dark days of the American Revolution a British spy was round in the camp; he was arrested and condemned to be hung. The British General sent to demand this release, with the threat of a dreadful retaliation. The answer was brief:
"Your man was caught in my camp as a spy -- he has been tried as a spy -- and he will be hanged as a spy!
"P. S. He is hanged."
Like this would be the instant response from
any part of the South to a demand for the
release of an arrested Abolition insurrectionist,
with warnings of the peril of executing the
law upon him. He would be hanged for
example while the messenger was
In the case of