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A PLEA FOR CAPTAIN JOHN BROWN

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Mindwarp
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« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2009, 04:47:02 pm »

Any man knows when he is justified, and all the wits in the world
cannot enlighten him on that point. The murderer always knows that
he is justly punished; but when a government takes the life of a man
without the consent of his conscience, it is an audacious
government, and is taking a step towards its own dissolution. Is it
not possible that an individual may be right and a government wrong?
Are laws to be enforced simply because they were made? or declared
by any number of men to be good, if they are not good? Is there any
necessity for a man's being a tool to perform a deed of which his
better nature disapproves? Is it the intention of law-makers that good
men shall be hung ever? Are judges to interpret the law according to
the letter, and not the spirit? What right have you to enter into a
compact with yourself that you will do thus or so, against the light
within you? Is it for you to make up your mind- to form any resolution
whatever- and not accept the convictions that are forced upon you, and
which ever pass your understanding? I do not believe in lawyers, in
that mode of attacking or defending a man, because you descend to meet
the judge on his own ground, and, in cases of the highest
importance, it is of no consequence whether a man breaks a human law
or not. Let lawyers decide trivial cases. Business men may arrange
that among themselves. If they were the interpreters of the
everlasting laws which rightfully bind man, that would be another
thing. A counterfeiting law-factory, standing half in a slave land and
half in a free! What kind of laws for free men can you expect from
that?

  I am here to plead his cause with you. I plead not for his life, but
for his character- his immortal life; and so it becomes your cause
wholly, and is not his in the least. Some eighteen hundred years ago
Christ was crucified; this morning, perchance, Captain Brown was hung.
These are the two ends of a chain which is not without its links. He
is not Old Brown any longer; he is an angel of light.

  I see now that it was necessary that the bravest and humanest man in
all the country should be hung. Perhaps he saw it himself. I almost
fear that I may yet hear of his deliverance, doubting if a prolonged
life, if any life, can do as much good as his death.

  "Misguided!" "Garrulous!" "Insane!" "Vindictive!" So ye write in
your easy-chairs, and thus he wounded responds from the floor of the
armory, clear as a cloudless sky, true as the voice of nature is:
"No man sent me here; it was my own prompting and that of my Maker.
I acknowledge no master in human form."
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