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"No Pardon or Commutation of Sentence for Old Brown," Raleigh Register, November 9, 1859


"No Pardon or Commutation of Sentence for Old Brown," Raleigh Register, November 9, 1859


Raleigh Register


"No Pardon or Commutation of Sentence for Old Brown," Raleigh Register, November 9, 1859, Secession Era Editorials Project, accessed December 13, 2011,





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Newspaper Article


While we are not at all surprised at it, we are nevertheless very glad to see the decided manner in which the Richmond Enquirer rebukes the efforts which the Northern sympathizers with murder, treason and every other dreadful crime, are now making to save the life of Old Brown. The conduct of these Northern people presents a most extraordinary compound of villainy and impudence. They deeply sympathize with Old Brown, no doubt regret he didn't succeed in his designs, deride and laugh at the Virginians, from the very pulpits of their country, as a pack of cowards who were frightened by a handful of men, and then ask the Governor of Virginia, either to let Brown go scot free, that he may try again and do better next time, or dock him up in the Penitentiary, to remain while he lives, standing capital for the Abolitionists! If Old Brown is crazy, his madness has affected some of his Northern friends and admirers. Thus, the New York Times thinks that Brown is so very crazy that it never occurred to him that the pikes and other weapons, with which he provided himself, would be used for deadly purposes by those in whose hands he intended to place them. The Times, while its hand for sympathy is "in," had better go a step further, and express its belief that Brown, when he fired and induced others to fire the Sharpe's Rifles at Harper's Ferry, had no idea that they had balls in them, and was greatly astonished when he saw those at whom they were aimed tumble down dead! Again, we ask, if the New York Times is not ashamed of its miserable twaddle? But we will ask the Times a question: Suppose Brown had been killed in the engagement at Harper's Ferry, would he not have been canonized as a martyr? Would his Northern sympathizers have breathed a word about this being a miserable crazy old fool? Not one syllable. But now, when his neck is about to be twisted, he is to escape under the plea of insanity. We fear that there are a great many just such insane people as Brown at the North, and deeply regret that they cannot be subjected to the treatment which is to be applied to his case. It is a very effectual treatment, inasmuch as it keeps the patient from doing any more mischief, or giving any more trouble. But suppose, for the sake of the argument, and for nothing else, that Brown is crazy, what say his friends at the North to the following proposition of the Richmond Examiner:

Violated laws and murdered citizens demand a victim at the hand of justice; if Brown is a crazed fanatic, irresponsible either in morals or law, there are yet guilty parties. He is then the agent of wicked principals. If the Northern people believe Brown insane, what punishment is due to those who have poisoned his mind with the "irrepressible conflict," and spurred his fanaticism to deeds of blood and courage? He may be insane, but there are other criminals, guilty wretches, who instigated the crimes perpetrated at Harper's Ferry. Bring these men, bring Seward, Greeley, Giddings, Hale and Smith to the jurisdiction of Virginia, and Brown and his deluded victims in the Charlestown jail may hope for pardon. In the opinion of Virginia the five Republican leaders, above mentioned, are more guilty than even John Brown and his associates. An ignorant fanaticism may be pleaded in palliation of the crime of Brown, but the five Republican leaders would spurn such assoltifying plea! They would not compromise their intelligence even at the cost of their morality. Let the friends of Brown, let all who believe him to be insane, and all who intend to represent him as a crazy fanatic, for whose folly no party is responsible, deliver up Seward, Greeley, Giddings, Smith and Hale. A fair trial, at their own time, with their own counsel, will be freely given them, and if Virginia does not prove them guilty, they too, shall go unhurt.

The New York Times & Co., see now a feasible way of saving the life of their crazy old friend Brown. Of course (!) they will adopt the mode suggested.


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Raleigh Register, "No Pardon or Commutation of Sentence for Old Brown," Raleigh Register, November 9, 1859, Civil War Era NC, accessed April 14, 2024,