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chimney doctor, nor soap boiler, nor ambassador, nor printer's devil. Neither was he a deist, and all his children were born in wedlock. The legacies he left were his scythe, his reaphook and his flail. He bequeathed no old and irrevocable debts to an hospital. He has, it is true, been suffered to sleep quietly beneath the greensward; but if his descendants cannot point to his statue over the door of a library, they have not the mortification to hear him daily accused of having been a profligate, a hypocrite and an infidel."
This was too much; he had already, in another case, been bound over as a common libeler and now he was sued on his recognizances. A verdict of five thousand dollars was rendered against him, and to save himself from prison he fled to England, where he soon brought out a large work in 12 volumes, containing those "Porcupine Letters" which he considered the most racy in style and the most anti-republican in doctrine. The work, says Wharton, sold wonderfully well in England from the hatred of democracy, and still better in America, from the love of scandal. This éclat stimulated the author to a parallel commentary on the morals and manners of his own countrymen, and the result was that in 1810 he was sent to Newgate for a year and fined a thousand pounds. He abused all sides; abused the Tories, and was imprisoned by them; abused the radicals and was mobbed by them; was first the bitter denouncer of Napoleon, and then his retained advocate; first wrote down Parliamentary reform, and then wrote it up; and at last, when the reform bill had passed, got into the House of Commons. His genius, however, was not parliamentary; his unrivaled talents for abuse were not available in the new arena; he sank at last, after a few attempts at
invectives, into a speaker of the statistical school, dull, persevering and voluminous, and at last, in June, 1835, died in his 71st year, after a decline brought on by fatigue and disappointment."
The Alien and Sedition laws are usually named together, for the reason that they were passed at the same time and their object was the same. For their enactment there was sufficient provocation; no one, who has not waded through the political literature of the closing years of the Eighteenth Century, can form any conception of the depths of falsehood, of knavery, of calumny and of shameful abuse to which it is possible for writers of pamphlets and editors of newspapers to descend. And the most scurrilous of the writers were emissaries of or exiles from foreign lands, like William Cobbett. So the Alien act gave the President power to banish from the country, without giving any reason and without a trial, any alien whom he considered a dangerous person, and the Sedition act put every editor and writer under the thumb of the Government. It took only a few prosecutions like those of Lyon (p. 687), and Haswell (p. 695), to raise a great cry throughout the country, and from the day the laws began to be enforced the party responsible for them went steadily down to ruin. At the next Presidential election Adams, who had approved the laws, was defeated by Jefferson, who had denounced them.
The Harper's Ferry Raid is one of the most striking and momentous events in American History. John Brown was not only a fanatic, but an insane fanatic. With only a score of followers he went into the most populous and educated of all the Slave States, to lead a servile insurrection, expecting the blacks to flock by
5 Wharton State Tr.
6 McMaster Hist. People U. S.
thousands to his standard. But they all refused to leave their homes or to take up arms against their masters, and those who were taken by force deserted him, as soon as they were able to do so. It was an ill omen indeed for the army of liberation that the first man that it killed was neither a slaveholder nor a defender of slavery, nor one who suffered by it, but a highly respected and well-to-do negro, in full possession of his liberty and treated with respect by the white community.'
In the South, Brown was, of course, denounced as the blackest of criminals, and although by the extreme Northern Abolitionists he was hailed as a saint and a martyr, yet most of the people of the non-slaveholding States recognized that morally his scheme was suicidal folly and that in the eye of the law it was treason and murder. We are concerned here in the trial of John Brown (p. 700) and his white associates, Coppoc and Cook (pp. 806, 814), not with its political, but only with its legal side. That all the judicial proceedings were conducted fairly, calmly and according to law, the record which is presented in the one hundred and sixty-four pages of this volume abundantly proves. At the very seat of the outrage, and among the people whose homes had been invaded and whose neighbors had been slain, there was no denial to the accused of any right to which the most careful judicial procedure could entitle a criminal; they were accorded the assistance of able and zealous counsel, not only from the bar of the State whose sovereignty had been attacked, but from the hostile ranks of the supporters and worshipers of the raid; abundant time was given them to produce their evidence; more than one Vir
7 Shephard Hayward, p. 705,
ginian came voluntarily to the witness stand to testify so far as was possible in favor of the accused," and the Judge in all his rulings was most active in safeguarding their rights under the law. When the verdict of guilty had been rendered, John Brown rose in Court to declare among other things that he was entirely satisfied with the treatment he had received in the trial, and that it had been more generous than he had looked for. And the leading Northern Advocate, Senator Voorhees, the one great orator in the forensic struggle, wrote thirty years after to a friend:
"If justly represented by the pen of the historian, it will pass into history, as the most temperate and conservative judicial tribunal convened, when all the surrounding circumstances are considered. With perfect calmness, forbearing patience and undisturbed adherence to the law as known and decided throughout generations, that court arises upon my mind with increased and increasing claims to the respect and veneration of the American people and of the world."9
A considerable amount of fiction has gotten into the history of these trials. John Brown did not go to his death seated on his coffin, nor did he stop on his way to kiss a negro child, as has been depicted on canvas and made the subject of a poem. But there were many moments from the attack on the armory to the last scene on the field of death, which are worthy of the pencil of the artist, and may well illuminate the pen of the historian. For the young lieutenant, who, in the early morning, went forth to demand the surrender of the band of raiders, was in a few short years to become the cavalry leader-the Murat-of the Confederacy, and the colonel of engineers, whose orders he was carrying, and who stood on an eminence near by to give the signal for the attack, was to be known
8 See testimony of Captain Sinn, p. 771.
9 D. W. Voorhees to Miss Hunter, Jan. 7, 1889.
for all time as one of the great military commanders of the world. And in the crowd of soldiers and citizens who stood at the foot of John Brown's scaffold, were two men whom history will ever love to fondly praise and fiercely execrate. For at the head of the cadets of the Lexington Military Institute, stood Professor Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson, and in one of the companies of militia walked John Wilkes Booth.10
The Boston lawyer whom the Northern Abolitionists sent to Virginia to defend the two negroes, Copeland and Green (p. 809), who had killed Southern men, could not do very much for his clients, though his contention, that a negro could not be convicted of treason, was agreed to by the Court. Virginia law would hardly dignify a black with this high crime, but they were both convicted and hanged for murder on the clearest of evidence.
The conviction of How (p. 865) is a valuable illustration of the weight of circumstantial evidence. The confession of the prisoner, of course, made it certain, but without this, when all the facts fit together, as they did here, there could be no reasonable doubt of the correctness of the jury's decision.
10 Leech, ante, p. 710.