Friday, March 17, 2017

Augustus Wattles to John Brown, August 21, 1857

Lawrence, K. T., Aug. 21, 1857.

Dear Sir — Your favor of August 8 came duly to hand, as did yours to Dr. Prentice. The business you speak of was put into the hands of Mr. Realf. Mr. Whitman and Mr. Edmonds1 are both gone East. In regard to other inquiries, I can hardly tell you satisfactorily. I think Dr. Robinson's failure to meet the legislature last winter disheartened the people so that they lost confidence in him and in the movement. Although in the Convention we invited him to withdraw his resignation (which he did), yet the masses could never be vitalized again into that enthusiasm and confidence which they had before. Another mistake which he made, equally fatal, was his attack upon George W. Brown and the Herald of Freedom; “thus leading off his friends into a party by themselves, and leaving all who doubted and hated him in another party. This war between the leaders settled the question of resistance to outside authority at once. Those who had entertained the idea of resistance have entirely abandoned it. Dr. Robinson was not alone in his blunders. Colonel Lane, Mr. Phillips, and ‘The Republican’” made equally fatal ones. Colonel Lane boasted in his public speeches that the Constitutional Convention would be driven into the Kaw River, etc., by violence. Mr. Phillips boasted this, and much more, in the “New York Tribune.” “The Republican” boasted that old Captain Brown would be down on Governor Walker and Co. like an avenging god, etc. This excited Walker and others to that degree they at once took refuge under the United States troops. Whatever might have been intended, much more was threatened and boasted of than could possibly have been performed, unless there was an extensive conspiracy. This, I believe, Governor Walker says was the case.

I saw Conway to-day. He says he thinks all will go off quietly at the election. Phillips, you will see by the “Tribune,” has come out in favor of voting in October. They intend to cheat us; but we expect to beat them. Walker is as fair as be can be, under the circumstances.

Yours truly,
A. Wattles.2

1 Two names for the same man.

2 Indorsed by John Brown: “A. Wattles, No. 6.” The rest of these letters are not in my hands. The election mentioned was to occur in October, and was carried by the Free-State men. “Walker” was the new Governor, — R. J, Walker, of Pennsylvania.

SOURCE: Franklin B. Sanborn, The Life and Letters of John Brown, p. 394-5

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