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Author Topic: A PLEA FOR CAPTAIN JOHN BROWN  (Read 562 times)
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Posts: 1663

« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2009, 04:46:36 pm »

It was his peculiar doctrine that a man has a perfect right to
interfere by force with the slaveholder, in order to rescue the slave.
I agree with him. They who are continually shocked by slavery have
some right to be shocked by the violent death of the slaveholder,
but no others. Such will be more shocked by his life than by his
death. I shall not be forward to think him mistaken in his method
who quickest succeeds to liberate the slave. I speak for the slave
when I say that I prefer the philanthropy of Captain Brown to that
philanthropy which neither shoots me nor liberates me. At any rate,
I do not think it is quite sane for one to spend his whole life in
talking or writing about this matter, unless he is continuously
inspired, and I have not done so. A man may have other affairs to
attend to. I do not wish to kill nor to be killed, but I can foresee
circumstances in which both these things would be by me unavoidable.
We preserve the so-called peace of our community by deeds of petty
violence every day. Look at the policeman's billy and handcuffs!
Look at the jail! Look at the gallows! Look at the chaplain of the
regiment! We are hoping only to live safely on the outskirts of this
provisional army. So we defend ourselves and our hen-roosts, and
maintain slavery. I know that the mass of my countrymen think that the
only righteous use that can be made of Sharp's rifles and revolvers is
to fight duels with them, when we are insulted by other nations, or to
hunt Indians, or shoot fugitive slaves with them, or the like. I think
that for once the Sharp's rifles and the revolvers were employed in
a righteous cause. The tools were in the hands of one who could use

  The same indignation that is said to have cleared the temple once
will clear it again. The question is not about the weapon, but the
spirit in which you use it. No man has appeared in America, as yet,
who loved his fellow-man so well, and treated him so tenderly. He
lived for him. He took up his life and he laid it down for him. What
sort of violence is that which is encouraged, not by soldiers, but
by peaceable citizens, not so much by laymen as by ministers of the
Gospel, not so much by the fighting sects as by the Quakers, and not
so much by Quaker men as by Quaker women?

  This event advertises me that there is such a fact as death- the
possibility of a man's dying. It seems as if no man had ever died in
America before; for in order to die you must first have lived. I don't
believe in the hearses, and palls, and funerals that they have had.
There was no death in the case, because there had been no life; they
merely rotted or sloughed off, pretty much as they had rotted or
sloughed along. No temple's veil was rent, only a hole dug
somewhere. Let the dead bury their dead. The best of them fairly ran
down like a clock. Franklin- Washington- they were let off without
dying; they were merely missing one day. I hear a good many pretend
that they are going to die; or that they have died, for aught that I
know. Nonsense! I'll defy them to do it. They haven't got life
enough in them. They'll deliquesce like fungi, and keep a hundred
eulogists mopping the spot where they left off. Only half a dozen or
so have died since the world began. Do you think that you are going to
die, sir? No! there's no hope of you. You haven't got your lesson yet.
You've got to stay after school. We make a needless ado about
capital punishment- taking lives, when there is no life to take.
Memento mori! We don't understand that sublime sentence which some
worthy got sculptured on his gravestone once. We've interpreted it
in a grovelling and snivelling sense; we've wholly forgotten how to
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