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"Gov. Wise and the Harper's Ferry Banditti," Raleigh Register, November 5, 1859


"Gov. Wise and the Harper's Ferry Banditti," Raleigh Register, November 5, 1859




Raleigh Register


"Gov. Wise and the Harper's Ferry Banditti," Raleigh Register, November 5, 1859, Secession Era Editorials Project, accessed December 13, 2011,






Raleigh, North Carolina
Wake County, North Carolina



Original Format

Newspaper Article


We take the following article from the Richmond Dispatch. We are not at all surprised at the manner in which Gov. Wise has been approached. Threats on the one hand, and allurements on the other, are the only means left to the Northern conspirators for taking the necks of their "forlorn hope" out of the noose which is twisted for them.

These last means will be found just as desperate as was the onslaught made by Brown and his Banditti upon the persons and property of the people of Virginia. Brown & Co. must abide the fate they have courted, and it is a matter of grave regret that the cowardly villains who sent them on their desperate venture cannot grace the same gallows from which they will swing. We feel, as every other Southern man must feel, indignant at the great and uncalled for change of tone on the part of that portion of the Northern Press which was at first so indignant at the conduct of Brown and his gang and so clamorous for the infliction of condign punishment upon them. What has occurred to induced the change of tone? Has one palliating circumstance come to light? Has not Brown had a fair trial, and will not a trial equally fair be given his confederates? -- With what show of reason then can the New York Times, which but the other day depreciated the idea of any thing being done which might change Brown from a culprit into "a martyr," echo the Journal of Commerce and ask a committal of Brown to the Penitentiary instead of to the gallows, to which he rightfully belongs, and to which he should go if every man, woman, and child North of the Potomac said nay? Are treason, murder and robbery less detestable, would a servile insurrection, with the concomitants of house burning and rape, (and this Brown & Co. attempted to incite) have been less dreadful, because, forsooth, in the language of the New York Times, "Brown's personal bearing throughout his trial -- his courage, his courtesy, his self-possession and his evident conviction of the rightfulness of his acts, have awakened a personal sympathy for him, even in the hearts of those who most detest his principles and his conduct?" All of this translated into common sense means, that because Brown glories in what he has done and would if he could repeat his acts a thousand times, his life would be spared. Is not the New York Times ashamed of itself? Does it not feel conscious that for the sake of pandering to the depraved sympathy of the community in which it is located, it has not only talked most nonsensically, but most wickedly? A man should be saved from the gallows, not because he is penitent and promises to do better, but because he is "convinced of the rightfulness of his acts, and ready to repeat them." O! most beguiled and sympathetic Times.

Brown, when he does die, will die with a lie in his mouth. He denies that he designed a servile insurrection. What then were the spears for? Did he not believe that the masters would endeavor to prevent the escape of the slaves, and did he not intend the spears and other weapons, to be used by the slaves in resistance of the authority of the masters? And if this would not be a servile insurrection, will the learned Pundits of the North graciously inform us what constitutes such an insurrection?

Governor Wise neither will nor can, in the cases of Brown and his confederates, step between the gallows and its rightful victims. This is a matter that by no means concerns the State of Virginia alone. The whole South is deeply and vitally interested in the condign punishment of these men. Virginia was invaded on the 16th October by these ruffians. If they are not made to expiate their offence by the most terrible punishment known to the law, it may be the turn of each and every State to see the lives and property of its citizens subjected to a like or more imminent danger. Gov. Wise is in a most responsible position, and we believe he will be equal to the duties imposed upon him.

We, as our paper will show, were anxious to believe that outside the ranks of unmitigated abolitionism, the whole North would frown indignantly on Brown's outrage, and hail with pleasure his punishment after legal conviction. This opinion, we deeply regret to say, we have had reason to change, and to come to the conclusion, that if the South would maintain her rights, her property, and the lives of her citizens and the honor of her daughters, she must rely upon herself, and not look North for aid or sympathy. There is no use in being mealy-mouthed or speaking with "bated breath" in a case like this.


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Raleigh Register, "Gov. Wise and the Harper's Ferry Banditti," Raleigh Register, November 5, 1859, Civil War Era NC, accessed July 12, 2024,