Senator Mason. Can you tell us who furnished money for your
John Brown: I furnished most of it myself: I cannot
others. It is by my own folly that I have been taken. I could easily
myself from it, had I exercised my own better judgment rather than
Mason. You mean if you had escaped immediately?
Brown: No. I had the means to make myself secure
escape; but I allowed myself to be surrounded by a force by being too
should have gone away; but I had thirty odd prisoners, whose wives and
were in tears for their safety, and I felt for them. Besides, I wanted
the fears of those who believed we came here to burn and kill. For this
I allowed the train to cross the bridge, and gave them full liberty to
I did it only to spare the feelings of those passengers and their
to allay the apprehensions that you had got here in your vicinity a
band of men
who had no
regard for life and
property, nor any feelings of humanity.
you killed some people passing along the streets quietly.
sir, if there was anything of that kind done, it was without my
own citizens who where my prisoners will tell you that every possible
taken to prevent it. I did not allow my men to fire when there was
killing those we regarded as innocent persons, if I could help it. They
tell you that we allowed ourselves to be fired at repeatedly, and
A Bystander: That
is not so. You killed an unarmed man at the comer of the house over
the water-tank, and another besides.
Brown: See here, my friend; it
is useless to
dispute or contradict the report of your own neighbors who were my
you would tell us who sent you here,-who provided the means, that would
information of some value.
will answer freely and faithfully about what concerns myself,-I will
anything I can with honor,-but not about others.
Mr. Vallandigham :(
who had just entered). Mr.
Brown, who sent you here?
Brown: No man sent me here; it
was my own
prompting and that of my Maker, or that of the Devil,-whichever you
ascribe it to. I acknowledge no master in human form.
you get up the expedition yourself?
you get up this document that is called a Constitution?
did. They are a constitution and ordinances of my own contriving and
long have you been engaged in this business?
the breaking out of the difficulties in Kansas. Four of my sons had
to settle, but because of the difficulties.
many are there engaged with you in this movement?
questions that I can honorably answer I will,-not otherwise. So far as
myself concerned, I have told everything truthfully. I value my word,
was your object in coming?
came to free the slaves, and only that.
A Volunteer: How
many men, in all, had you?
Brown: I came to Virginia with eighteen men only,
Volunteer. What in the world did you suppose you could
do here in
Virginia with that amount of men?
Brown: Young man, I do not wish to discuss that
Volunteer. You could not do anything.
Brown: Well, perhaps your ideas and mine on military
would differ materially.
Mason. How do you justify your acts?
Brown: I think, my friend, you are guilty of a great
against God and humanity,-I say it without wishing to be offensive,-and
would be perfectly right for anyone to interfere with you so far as to
those you wilfully and wickedly hold in bondage. I do not say this
think I did right, and that others will do right who interfere with you
time and at all times. I hold that the Golden Rule, "Do unto
others as ye
would that others should do unto you," applies to all who would help
to gain their liberty.
Lieutenant Stuart. But don't you believe in the Bible?
you consider this a military organization in this Constitution? I have
Brown: I did, in some sense. I wish you would give
Mason. You consider yourself the commander-in-chief
"provisional" military forces?
Brown: I was chosen, agreeably to the ordinance of a
document, commander-in-chief of that force.
wages did you offer?
wages of sin is death."
would not have made such a remark to you if you had been a prisoner,
wounded, in my hands.
A Bystande:. Did you not promise a Negro in Gettysburg
dollars a month?
Brown: I did
this talking annoy you?
in the least.
Vallandigham: Have you lived long in Ohio?
Brown: I went there in 1805. I lived in Summit
was then Portage County. My native place is Connecticut; my father
Vallandigham: Have you been in Portage County lately?
Brown: I was there in June last.
Vallandingham: When in Cleveland, did you attend the
Law Convention there?
Brown: No. I
was there about the time of the sitting of the court to try the Oberlin
I spoke there publicly on that subject; on the Fugitive Slave Law and
rescue. Of course, so far as I had any influence at all, I was supposed
justify the Oberlin people for rescuing a slave, because I have myself
taken slaves from bondage. I was concerned in taking eleven slaves from
Missouri to Canada last winter. I think I spoke in Cleveland before the
Convention. I do not know that I had conversation with any of the
I was sick part of the time I was in Ohio with the ague, in Ashtuba
you see anything of Joshua R. Giddings there?
Brown: I did
you converse with him?
Brown: I did. I would not tell
you, of course,
anything that would implicate Mr. Giddings; but I certainly met with
had conversations with him.
that rescue case?
I heard him express his opinions upon it very freely and frankly.
sir; I do not compromise him, certainly, in saying that.
you answer this; did you talk with Giddings about your expedition here?
I won't answer that; because a denial of it I would not make, and to
affirmation of it I should be a great dunce.
Vallandigham: Have you had correspondence with parties at
on the subject of this movement?
have had correspondence.
A Bystander: Do
you consider this a religious movement?
is, in my opinion, the greatest service man can render to God.
you consider yourself an instrument in the hands of Providence?
Brown: I do.
what principle do you justify your acts?
Brown: Upon the Golden Rule. I pity the poor in
have none to help them: that is why I am here; not to gratify any
animosity, revenge, or vindictive spirit. It is my sympathy with the
and the wronged that are as good as you and as precious in the sight of
But why take the slaves against their will?
did in one instance, at least. [Stephens,
the other wounded prisoner, here said, "You are right. In one case I
the Negro wanted to go back."]
Bystander: Where did you come from?
Stephens. I lived in Ashtabula County, Ohio.
Vallandigham: How recently did you leave Ashtabula County?
Stephens. Some months ago. I never resided there any
time; have been through there.
Vallandigham: How far did you live from Jefferson?
Brown: Be cautious, Stephens, about any answers that
commit any friend. I would not answer that. [Stephens turned partially
with a groan of pain, and was silent.]
Vallandigham: Who are your advisors in this movement?
cannot answer that. I have numerous sympathizers throughout the entire
more than anywhere else; in all the Free states.
you are not personally acquainted in southern Ohio?
A Bystander. Did
you ever live in Washington City?
Brown: I did not. I want you to understand,
[to the reporter of the "Herald"] you may report that,-I want
you to understand that I respect the rights of the poorest and
colored people, oppressed by the slave system, just as much as I do
the most wealthy and powerful. This is the idea that has moved me,
alone. We expected no reward except the satisfaction of endeavoring to
those in distress and greatly oppressed as we would be done by. The cry
distress of the oppressed is my reason, and the only thing that
prompted me to
did you do it secretly?
I thought that necessary to success; no other reason.
you read Gerrit Smith's last letter?
letter do you mean?
"New York Herald" of yesterday, in speaking of this affair, mentions
a letter in this way: "Apropos of this exciting news, we recollect a
significant passage in one of Gerrit Smith's letters, published a month
ago, in which he speaks of the folly of attempting to strike the
the slaves by the force of moral suasion or legal agitation, and
the next movement made in the direction of negro emancipation would be
insurrection in the South."
Brown: I have not seen the "New York Herald" for
some days past; but I presume, from your remark about the gist of the
that I should concur with it. I agree with Mr. Smith that moral suasion
hopeless. I don't think the people of the slave States will ever
subject of slavery in its true light till some other argument is
than moral suasion.
Vallandigham: Did you expect a general rising of the slaves
of your success?
Brown: No, sir; nor did I wish it. I expected to
up from time to time, and set them free.
Vallandigham: Did you expect to hold possession here till
Brown: Well, probably I had quite a different idea.
I do not
know that I ought to reveal my plans. I am here a prisoner and wounded,
I foolishly allowed myself to be so. You overrate your strength in
could have been taken if I had not allowed it. I was too tardy after
the open attack-in delaying my movements through Monday night, and up
time I was attacked by the government troops. It was all occasioned by
desire to spare the feelings of my prisoners and their families and the
community at large. I had no knowledge of the shooting of the Negro
Vallandigham: What time did you commence your organization
Brown: That occurred about two years ago; in 1858.
Vallandigham: Who was the secretary?
Brown: That I would not tell if I recollected; but I
recollect. I think the officers were elected in May, 1858. I may answer
incorrectly, but not intentionally. My head is a little confused
by wounds and
my memory obscure on dates, etc.
Dr. Biggs. Were you in the party at Dr. Kennedy's house?
Brown: I was
the head of that party. I occupied the house to mature my plan. I have
in Baltimore to purchase caps.
Dr. Biggs. What
was the number of men at Kennedy's?
decline to answer that.
Dr. Biggs. Who
lanced that woman's neck on the hill?
did. I have sometimes practiced in surgery when I thought it a matter
humanity and necessity, and there was no one else to do it; but I have
Dr. Biggs. It was done very well and scientifically.
been very clever to the neighbors, I have been told, and we had not
suspect them, except that we could not understand their movements. They
represented as eight or nine persons; on Friday there were thirteen.
were more than that.
Q. Where did you get arms?
Q. In what State?
will not state.
Q. How many guns?
hundred Sharpe's rifles and two hundred revolvers, a little under navy
Q. Why did you not take that swivel you left
occasion for it. It was given to me a year or two ago.
Q. In Kansas?
nothing given to me in Kansas.
Q. By whom, and in what State?
decline to answer. It is not properly a swivel; it
is a very large rifle with a pivot. The ball is larger than a musket
is intended for a slug.
Reporte: I do not wish to annoy you; but if you have
further you would like to say, I will report it.
Brown: I have nothing to say, only that I claim to
be here in
carrying out a measure I believe perfectly justifiable, and not to act
of an incendiary or ruffian, but to aid those suffering great
wrong. I wish to
say, furthermore, that you had better-all you people at the
yourselves for a settlement of this question, that must come up for
sooner than you are prepared for it. The sooner you are prepared the
You may dispose of me very easily,-I am nearly disposed of now;
question is still [to] be settled,-this negro question I mean; the end
is not yet. These wounds were inflicted upon me-both saber cuts on my
bayonet stabs in different parts of my body-some minutes after I had
fighting and had consented to surrender, for the benefit of others, not
own. I believe the Major would not have been alive; I could have
just as easy as a mosquito when he came in, but I supposed he only came
receive our surrender. There had been loud and long calls of
"surrender" from us,-as loud as men could yell: but in the confusion
and excitement I suppose we were not heard. I do not think the Major,
anyone, meant to butcher us after we had surrendered.
An Officer: Why
did you not surrender before the attack?
Brown: I did not think it was my duty or my interest
so. We assured the prisoners that we did not wish to harm them, and
be set at liberty. I exercised my best judgment, not believing the
wantonly sacrifice their own fellow-citizens, when we offered, to let
on condition of being allowed to change our position about a quarter of
The prisoners agreed by a vote among themselves to pass across the
bridge with us.
We wanted them only as a sort of guarantee of our safety,-that we
should not be
fired into. We took them, in the first place, as hostages and to keep
doing any harm. We did kill some men in defending ourselves, but I saw
fire except directly in self-defense. Our orders were strict not to
not in arms against us.
suppose you had every nigger in the United States, what would you do
intention was to carry them off and free them?
A Bystander: To
set them free would sacrifice the life of every man in this community.
Brown: I do
not think so.
know it. I think you are fanatical.
Brown: And I
think you are fanatical. "Whom the gods would destroy they first make
mad," and you are mad.
it your only object to free the Negroes?
our only object.
demanded and took Colonel Washington's silver and watch?
intended freely to appropriate the property of the slaveholders to
our object. It was for that, and only that, and with no design to
ourselves with any plunder whatever.
you know Sherrod in Kansas? I understand you killed him.
killed no man except in fair fight. I fought at Black Jack Point and at
Osawatomie; and if I killed anybody, it was at one of these places.
[The New York Herald reported
on November 1 that the following exchange also took place during the
Governor Wise. Mr. Brown, the silver of your hair is
reddened by the
blood of crime, and it is meet that you should eschew these hard
think upon eternity.
I have, from all appearances, not more than fifteen or twenty years the
of you in the journey to that eternity of which you kindly warn me; and
my tenure here shall be fifteen months, or fifteen days, or fifteen
hours, I am
equally prepared to go. There is an eternity behind and an eternity
the little speck in the centre, however long, is but comparatively a
The difference between your tenure and mine is trifling and I want to
tell you to be prepared; I am prepared. You all have a heavy
and it behoves you to prepare more than it does me.