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incentives that led him to that expedition. We want to know the state of public sentiment, notwithstanding gentlemen representing the Northern States say here that they disapproved it or condemned it. We want to get at those thousand rills which go to make up public sentiment, and which resulted in furnishing an adequate treasure to send a ruffian, with an armed band, and arms enough at his command and in his power to place them in the hands of the slaves, certainly to the amount of two thousand, within one hour after he had collected them. These are facts that we want to get at by this inquiry.
Senator Iverson replied to Senator Wilson's statement that the sympathy of the North with John Brown was due only to his courage.
We might quote thousands of instances where men have died on the gallows, the scaffold, or the cross, or have been gibbeted, who have exhibited some of the finest traits of the human character-bravery and fortitude. Did they excite the sympathy of these men? Ah, sir, Brown died because he was the enemy of slavery, and they can see a great many causes of sympathy in his case which they never thought of feeling or suggesting in the case of others.
Who is John Brown that he should excite the sympathy of any honorable man? A man who, in Kansas for five years, was engaged in no other business but theft and robbery and murder; a man who in cold blood could take out men from their beds at night and, in the presence of their wives and children, murder them upon the spot-that is the man for whom you have sympathy, because he has shown courage.
But, sir, the sympathy extends much beyond the mere personalities of Brown's character. It cannot be disguised that the Northern heart sympathizes with Brown and his fate, because he died in the cause of what they call liberty. There is the truth, and it is unnecessary to disguise it; and no declarations made here or elsewhere can close the eyes of the Southern people to the fact. Look at the conduct of the legislature of Massachusetts. On the 2d day of this month, at the time Brown was to be executed, a proposition was made in the Senate of the State of Massachusetts-grave and dignified body-to adjourn in honor and commemoration of him who was about to be executed for a bloody crime, for theft and robbery and murder, the most heinous crimes that can disgrace humanity; and eight members of that dignified body voted for an adjournment, and the propo
sition was lost by only three votes. Is that no evidence of sympathy with Brown and his designs? What means the expression of the public press of your party in the Northern States? Look at the New York Tribune; you acknowledge that as your organ; it speaks the sentiments of your party. Has it expressed no sympathy for Brown? Show me a paper, any respectable journal of the Republican party, in all the Northern States, that has condemned the act of John Brown; except it is the one that is said to be controlled by one of the Senators from Rhode Island [Mr. Anthony]; and he is entitled to my approbation for his course on this matter, at least, and to the approbation of the Southern people.
But, sir, the tone of sentiment of the Republican press throughout the whole North is sympathy for John Brown and his failure-failure to do that which, if he had succeeded, would have rent this Union asunder. Sir, it is needless to disguise the fact; Senators on this floor may disclaim as much as they please, but their acts speak louder than words.
Here the speaker referred to the candidacy for Speaker in the House of Representatives of John Sherman [O.], who had endorsed Hinton R. Helper's inflammatory anti-slavery book on "The "The Impending Crisis." Owing to the strenuous opposition of Southern Representatives which they manifested in a fiery debate on the contest, the candidacy of Sherman was withdrawn and William Pennington [N. J.], a conservative Republican, was elected Speaker. Senator Iverson continued:
The truth is that it is the intention of the Republican party -their public press avows it, and their political course shows it-it is their settled design to break down the institution of slavery by fair means or foul means; and if they cannot accomplish it in one way they intend to accomplish it in another. If they cannot accomplish it by appealing to the slaveholders themselves, they mean to accomplish it by appealing to the slaves.
I tell Senators that the Southern people are becoming aware of the intention of the Republican party. I know how strong that party is, and the Senator from New Hampshire has very properly said that even the Democrats of the North, some of them, at least, have rejoiced at this incident at Harper's Ferry, because it may have a political bearing in their behalf. I wish that was the only reason and the only motive which many of
the Democratic party of the North have had for rejoicing over what has occurred at Harper's Ferry; but I am afraid that too many of them sympathize against slavery, and are willing to put it down by any means. I am afraid that too many of the Democratic party of the Northern States are going over to the Black Republicans, because the Black Republicans have exhibited more zeal and determination in their war against slavery than the Democratic party itself has. I wish the Democratic party was purer and better than it is. I am afraid that it is becoming itself, if not corrupt, at least corruptible. But, sir, the South will be able to take care of itself like Virginia. In the pride and power of her sovereignty she has spurned all assistance, and stands to-day vindicated as a sovereign State. We are able to protect ourselves, and we intend to do it; and, whatever may be your political action and course against the South and her institutions, rely upon it we shall be prepared to defend ourselves to the last extremity, even at the sacrifice of the Union, which you all pretend so much to revere.
SENATOR HALE.-I do not want to occupy the attention of the Senate; but the honorable Senator from Georgia has made a statement at the close which does honor to his heart. I, for one, certainly freely forgive him for all the injustice he did the Republicans for the little modicum of justice which he did the Democrats. [Laughter.]
In reply to Senator Iverson's charge that the North had expressed no sympathy for Virginia, in her crushing an insurrection against not only herself but the Federal Government, Senator Fessenden said:
Gentlemen ask why have we not heard of public meetings. tendering aid to Virginia in this matter. Because the people of the free States thought the tender of aid to Virginia would be a gross insult to Virginia. Think of the idea of holding meetings in the free States to tender aid of men and money on the occasion of a foray made by some twenty-odd men, the greater number of whom were killed almost at once and the rest of whom were to be hanged in a very short time! Why, sir, we can hardly understand what the occasion of all this alarm We thought the result of this expedition would be to strengthen the State of Virginia, and every other State, against which any such expedition might be directed. The men who composed the expedition were conquered; the largest portion of them were killed on the spot; the rest were in the hands of the
State authorities; the slaves did not rise; they had proved, as the Senator from Virginia says, their loyalty; there was no danger anywhere, no reasonable ground for apprehension, that we could see, from any quarter.
SENATOR IVERSON.-The Senator misunderstood me. I did not have any reference to a want of tender of aid. No, sir; I said that no parties at the North had given any public demonstration of sympathy for Virginia and the South. Virginia Iwould have considered it an insult to have aid tendered to her. She was able to take care of herself.
Senator Fessenden then addressed himself to the charge of Senator Hunter that the North and its Senators approved of John Brown's act.
I represent the public sentiment of my State. Sir, from the beginning to the end, from the time this affair happened down to the present day, although I have conversed with all classes of men, I have not met the first man of any party, of any sect, who has not denounced the act of John Brown and his associates as criminal in the highest degree, and who has not said that in the eye of the law-leaving out of the question magnanimity and all which might address itself to the minds of the people of the State of Virginia and the executive of that State-that, in the eye of the law, if John Brown was a sane man when he committed those acts, he deserved death; and that I will venture to say is the all but universal sentiment of the people of the States of this Union, and yet gentlemen refuse to hear it.
Gentlemen of the South, if you give us an opportunity to unite in the investigation, we shall endeavor to aid you. Even if you shall endeavor to do it yourselves in your own way, and to your own extent, I trust that you will succeed, and that there will be an end to everything of this description; but I beg Senators here, and I beg those whom they represent elsewhere, to remember that nothing is to be gained by denunciations of opponents. We are not to be put upon the defensive. We are not responsible, and we do not mean to admit our responsibility in one way or another. We stand as clear and as clean and as pure, with reference to this matter, as the most ultra-slavery man among you. We have our objects, constitutional, legal, as we believe, rightful. They are avowed by us as a party; we have stood by them; and let me tell Senators that, in spite of all the excitement which may be raised on this question, we are prepared to stand by them yet,
Senator Brown, while reiterating that he accepted the repudiation of John Brown's act by Northern Senators, held that the act was not repudiated by the North in general, but, on the contrary, was endorsed.
Is it usual for notorious malefactors, murderers, robbers, and traitors to have sympathy expressed for them through the leading journals of the Senator's party at the North?
If John Brown, instead of engaging in a foray against slavery, and against the peace and quiet of Virginia, because she was a slave State, had made a similar foray into Massachusetts, with a view of overturning the government of that State, would the Tribune, would the Evening Post, would other Republican journals have expressed the sympathy for him which they have expressed? Would New England clergymen have called their congregations together in prayer-meetings for the soul of such a man? Would there have been in public meetings, religious and political, the same sympathy expressed for him which we have heard? Suppose an expedition should be fitted out from Virginia and Carolina to go and capture the armory at Springfield and hold it with the avowed object of overturning the government of Massachusetts, and the whole government of the New England States and of the North, and planting slavery there; then suppose, when you had captured the leader and gibbeted him upon the gallows, the Southern people should hold meetings, religious and political, to express sympathy with the man; suppose every wind that swept from the South should bring upon its wings the tolling of Southern bells over the fate of such a man: Senators of New England, what would be your conclusion? Suppose I came before you under such circumstances, professing that I had no sympathy with this man, that my people had no sympathy with him: what would be your reply? "Why, sir, we believe you speak honestly." I am sure you would say so to me; but you would ask, as I ask you, why have you not rebuked these things at home? You did not owe it to Virginia, you did not owe it to the South to say anything; but you will allow me to say that I think you owed it to yourselves. Why allow the impression to become almost universal in the South that the sympathy expressed for this wretched old man was a reflection of Northern sentiment? Why do you not rebuke your newspapers now? Why is the Tribune allowed from day to day to offend even your sentiments, the sentiments of every honest man in the whole community, by holding up this man Brown as a martyr to the sacred cause of liberty?