Secession Era Editorials Project

Furman University Department of History



Nashville, Tennessee, Republican Banner and Nashville Whig [Opposition]

(22 October 1859)

Our telegraphic reports for the last two or three days have contained little else than accounts of the riots at Harper's Ferry. The Washington and Baltimore papers are also full of the same subject, but as their accounts are vague, contradictory and unsatisfactory, we are unable to give our readers any information in addition to what our dispatches have already conveyed. The public mind is too intensely excited now to ascertain the true state of affairs. We can only say that a fearful riot has occurred, blood has been shed, lives have been lost, and property destroyed. The causes of the riot, it is impossible now to determine. By some it is attributed to an insane and fanatical attempt upon the part of the abolitionists to incite an insurrection among the slaves of Maryland and Virginia. Others say it originated in the discontent of the employees of the government engaged in constructing the dam at Harper's Ferry, who have lost their wages by the absconding of the contractor, and the riot is regarded as an effort to pay themselves out of the government treasure deposited in the United States Armory. Others again account for the affair upon the supposition that a large number of slaves were attempting to escape, being assisted by a band of abolitionists under the notorious Ossawatomie Brown, and the conflict arose from an attempt to capture the fugitives. We shall have to wait for the excitement to subside before we can get at the truth of the matter. We will offer no comments nor attempt any explanation until we obtain something more reliable and consistent than any account of the affair we have yet seen.

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