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Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 11, page 245, ca. 1859 [newspaper clipping continued]

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Identifier: DX03206585

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 11, page 245, ca. 1859 [newspaper clipping continued]

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.


[in]struct them. If they neglected their business, I [Hugh Forbes] could not perform my part, and it was a small thing to save them and their agent, JOHN BROWN, from making a fool of himself and each of them, to stop "the sword of the Lord and of Gideon” once and again a second time, and I should again a third time have stopped it if I had not supposed that it had been dead and buried long ago.

Those men who have plundered, betrayed, and calumniated me, ought to have felt the profoundest gratitude; but some minds are so constituted as to be incapable of such a sentiment. They know that they have wronged me, and they hate me from that very knowledge; let them enjoy their feelings if they can. And who are they who have this day resuscitated this wild scheme; I know not. But if they are the same men whom I saved twice, then must I say with the proverb: "Though thou shouldst bray a fool in a mortar, among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him."—PROV. xxvii., 22.

Some may agree that no man should be stopped in any foolish project. When the project is hopeless, or the man incapable of accomplishing it; and when a failure would involve others in ruin, or would jeopardize a great cause, then it is the duty of every friend to consult the best heads in that cause, and act in unison with them. Had I not consulted leading Abolitionists in 1858, and had I not interfered in unison with them to stop the "sword of the Lord and of Gideon" from committing suicide at Harper's Ferry, or unnecessarily and unprofitably risking the lives of such superior men as [John Henry] KAGI, then I should have been blamable. As it is, I did my duty, and I do not choose to be made the scapegoat of the Tribune.

And how did I stop them from doing an act of folly? Not, as the Tribune basely and maliciously stated, by betraying the plot to the Secretary of War, but by appealing to the good sense of influential men of the Abolition cause. In that I did my duty. Did Mr. [Horace] GREELEY do his?

I have been basely plundered, betrayed and calumniated I will condescend to make no reply beyond this present one, knowing that I have done right; I care not a straw for the opinions or threats of any or all of them. I leave now lest I be taken by the State as a witness; not but that those who have so barbarously ill-used my family and have persecuted me do not richly deserve all that I might do against them, yet to punish them for all I should have to attack them on another matter, and it is repugnant for me to testify in such a case, even against those who are vile; therefore do I put myself to the ruinous inconvenience of quitting New-York, just as I find my affairs recovering from the shock which they sustained through the perfidy of the humanitarians.

As to the slaves obtaining their liberty, they are justified in so doing, wherever and howsoever they can, whether by evasion, stampede, or open insurrection. Though some pretended humanitarians have behaved very ill by pillaging others, though every Abolitionist and humanitarian in the world were to turn rascals, that would not make the cause of Abolitionism less true. I hope they may always and everywhere succeed; but to obtain success, I caution them not to count for aid upon impracticable poets and chatterers, nor scheming politicians, cheating speculators, or those animals of neutergender, men in petticoats, and women in breeches, or even in men who expect the Lord will do all for them. Heaven helps those only who help themselves; and all true men should cooperate with those who try to burst their bonds asunder. Only let the mode of operation be practical, and not poetical. A day sooner or a day later, the irrepressible conflict. . . .

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


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