America in the 1850s

The Emergence of John Brown

Who wrote the first commentary favorable to John Brown?

James Redpath was a Scottish journalist who had moved first to New York City and then to Kansas. Like most journalists, he was in search of a good story, and he found it in John Brown. About ten days after the Massacre at Pottawatomie, Redpath came across Brown and his men in the Kansas wilderness. They were perfectly aware of what they had done, and the possible consequences, but they were also jubilant over having struck the first blow against slavery in the Kansas Territory. Redpath quoted John Brown as follows:

“I would rather have the small-pox, yellow fever, and cholera all together in my camp, than a man without principles. It is a mistake, sir, that our people make, when they think that bullies are the best fighter, or that they are the men fit to oppose these Southerners. Give me men of good principles, God-fearing men; men who respect themselves; and with a dozen of them, I will oppose any hundred such men as these Buford ruffians.” Of course, a truly objective journalist would have inquired of Brown why men of such strong principles would carry out a massacre, but in times like Kansas 1856, some things were better left unsaid.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Civil War Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App