Who Taught John Brown?
New York, New York, Tribune [Republican]
(12 November 1859)
The Herald says it was Mr. Seward:Wendell
Phillips that is was the Abolitionists; but Virginia
has a better right to the distinction than either.
any one doubts this, let him look at the seal of the
Old Dominion. We have before us an impression
of this seal, countersigned by Henry A. Wise
himself and by the Secretary of the Commonwealth,
George W. Munford.
Thousands of such
impressions have been scattered through Virginia by Gov.
Wise, to teach their lessons to slaveholders and
slaves. What is the device?
An insurgent slave,
his liberty cap flaunting in the air, his left hand
grasping a pike, his right hand brandishing a sword over
the prostrate master whom he tramples under foot.
What is the motto?
"Sic semper tyrannis,"
which, freely translated, means "So perish every
"slaveholder," or, more freely, "Hurrah for John
"Brown!" though the popular Virginia translation
is, "Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God."
The religious tone of this would suit the stern old
Puritan of Harper's Ferry. His Massachusetts
admirers who propose to erect a monument to his
memory may perhaps find a model in the seal
which Gov. Wise will affix to the warrant for his
execution. That seal is the solemn official
affirmation by a great State of the insurrectionary
right of the enslaved; it is a deliberate,
time-hallowed approval of John Brown's appeal
to force in behalf of the oppressed. Henry A.
Wise has John Brown in his power; the champion
of the slaveholding class will put to death the champion
of the slave. So he said to the veteran
who lay upon the stone floor, his blood
flowing from many wounds. But we protest, in
the name of truth and honesty, against the
Governor's affixing the insurrectionary seal of Virginia
to the official order for the execution of an
insurgent. Let us have no hypocrisy. Virginia
has reached a crisis in her history. She should go
where she belongs -- among the oppressors of the
human race -- and have the honesty to admit her
position. She should break her present seal and
adopt another more true to fact. The new one
should represent in the fore-ground a slave-driver,
whipping his drove to the field; in the back-ground,
Gov. Wise hanging John Brown; and the motto
should be "Death to all champions of equal liberty."
This is really what the Governor holds to.
he the manliness to act out his principles? Or will
he continue scattering broadcast his insurrectionary
imprints and hanging those who believe their
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