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Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 11, page 244, ca. 1859 [newspaper clipping]

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Identifier: DX03205785

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 11, page 244, ca. 1859 [newspaper clipping]

Description: Newspaper clipping of letter from Hugh Forbes to The New York Times, explaining the origin of John Brown's plot to raid Harper's Ferry.




SATURDAY, Oct. 29, 1859.

To the Editor of the New-York Times:

Having by several persons been requested to make a simple statement of fact, that the public might be enabled to comprehend what appears a chaos, I have determined to do so, as far as my own knowledge enables me to do it. In consequence of the accusation in the columns of the Tribune, I had resolved to adopt this course after the trial of Capt. [John] BROWN was over, but the publication of my notice to this (dated Oct. 25,) having precipitated the production of documents which are already before the public, with names and circumstances which I could willingly have withheld, there is no motive for further delay. All my letters would doubtless have seen the light ere long, because a copy of each was transmitted by me to Capt. BROWN, as well as to his backers, and even some of them likewise have sent him other copies, so that in the carpet-bag, and among the papers scattered about his house, an abundant supply of my correspondence may have been procured. Allow me, therefore, to ask for a space in your journal.

About the 20th of March, 1857, Capt. BROWN, bearing an ordinary letter of introduction, applied to me, in the name of some Kansas Committees and private citizens, to go west to organize and instruct a certain energetic portion of the Free State men. My reply was, that so far as the purpose went, that was good, but was not far enough to induce me to move; but finding that his intention was to act against Slavery itself, I acquiesced in his demand, provided he could so manage as to send, for at least one year, to my family in Europe, each month, the half of what I was at that time making, and would further send my daughter to her mother in Europe, for I could not leave her in New-York all alone, and could get a son out here, instead of the child I sent home, which, with certain other preliminary expenses, would amount to six hundred dollars, besides my traveling and other expenses.

Capt. B. being wholly unknown to me, I inquired concerning him, and the gentleman who had furnished him with the introduction assured me that though he had no means of his own to enter into engagements with me, yet he was backed by substantial men. That appeared to me as sufficient. Capt. B. returned to the East to consult his friends, and he reappeared with $600 about the end of April, 1857. Mr. [Horace] GREELEY led me to hope that I could have my family brought over here instead of sending home my daughter, but that was not done. The preliminary expenses, not on my account, but that of Capt. B.’s exceeded the $600, so that I could not manage to get my son from Europe, nor did he join me for upwards of a year—indeed I had difficulties in getting to Tabor to find Capt. B.

Captain BROWN having been delayed in the Eastern and Central States, was unable to reach Tabor earlier than Aug. 7, instead of earlier in June, as had been anticipated. I joined him there on the 9th of August. The Border Ruffians having just at that period spread a report that they had abandoned Kansas, the New-England managers allowed Capt. B. and myself to stay at Tabor without funds, and did not send the promised remittances to my family, because a great number of subscribers did not contribute their respective quotas. During this interval of suspense, Capt. B. advocated the adoption of his plan, and I supported mine of stampedes. The conclusion arrived at was that he renounced his Harper's Ferry project, and I consented to cooperate in stampedes in Virginia and Maryland instead of the part of the country I indicated as the most suitable. I perceived, however, that his. . . .

Rights: NoC-US


Dates: 1859-10-29

Type(s): Clipping, Newspaper

Maker/Creator: Forbes, Hugh, active approximately 1848-approximately 1857

Subjects: Abolitionists
Slavery, abolition, and emancipation
Harpers Ferry (W. Va.)
John Brown's Raid, 1859
Missouri-Kansas Border War, 1850s


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