Sunday, March 26, 2017

John Brown to Franklin B. Sanborn, October 1, 1857

Tabor, Fremont County, Iowa, Oct. I, 1857.
F. B. Sanborn, Concord, Mass.

My Dear Sir, — Two days since I received your very kind letter of the 14th September; also one from James Hunnewell, Esq., saying he had sent me $72.68 through P. T. Jackson, Esq., of Boston; for both which I am very glad.1 I cannot express my gratitude for your earnest and early attention to my wants and those of my family. I regret that Mr. Hunnewell did not at once send me either a check or a draft on New York or Boston, as it will probably be one month or more before I can realize it; and I have not the means of paying my board bill here, not having as yet received anything from Mr. Whitman toward a balance of five hundred dollars, nor heard from him. If I get the money from Mr. Hunnewell and Mr. Whitman, it will answer my present wants, except the secret service I wrote you about. I have all the aims I am likely to need, but am destitute of saddle-bags or knapsacks, holsters and belts; have only a few blankets, no shovels or spades, no mattocks, but three or four adzes (ought to have been one hundred), and am nearly destitute of cooking utensils. The greater part of what I have just named I must do without till another spring, at any rate. I found here one brass field-piece complete, and one damaged gun-carriage, with some ammunition suitable for it; some seventy to seventy-five old damaged United States rifles and muskets, one dozen old sabres, some powder and lead (enough for present use; weight not known), — I suppose sent by National Committee. Also one dozen boxes and barrels of clothing, boots, etc., with three hand gristmills, sent to Nebraska City, from same source. I also got from Dr. Jesse Bowen, of Iowa City, one old wagon, which broke down with a light load on the way; also nine full-rigged tents, three sets tent-poles (additional), eleven pairs blankets, and three axes, sent there by National Committee. Also from Mr. Hurd I got an order for fifty dollars' worth of tents, wagon-covering, ropes, etc., at Chicago, which was paid me. I find one hundred and ninety-four carbines, about thirty-three hundred ball cartridges, all the primers, but no iron ladles. This, I believe, with the teams and wagon I purchased, will give you a pretty good idea of the stuff I have. I had a gun and pair of pistols given me by Dr. Howe, and some three or four guns made for experiment by Mr. Thayer (a little cannon and carriage is one of them), and one nice rifle by the manufacturing company at Worcester.2 I had also a few revolvers, common guns, and sabres left on hand, that I took on with me in 1855. While waiting here I and my son have been trying to learn a little of the arts of peace from Colonel F., who is still with us. That is the school I alluded to.

Before I reached here, I had written particularly to friends in Kansas, saying that I wanted help to meet me here, and to wait for me should I be detained on the way. I also arranged with Mr. Whitman in regard to it in Chicago. He sent one man with one hundred and fifty dollars; forty of it he kept, and went immediately back. From that time I send you copies of some of the correspondence between Kansas and me, as rather essential to give you a correct idea of things in connection with my statements yet to be made. When I got on here I immediately wrote Mr. Whitman and several others what was my situation and wants. He (Mr. Whitman) has not written me at all since what 1 send. Others have written, as you will see. I wrote the man Mr. Whitman sent me, among the rest, but get no word from him since what I now send.

As to the policy of voting on Monday next, I think Lane hit his mark at the convention of Grasshopper's, if never before; I mean “An escape into the filthy sluice of a prison.” I had not been able to learn by papers or otherwise distinctly what course had been taken in Kansas till within a few days; and probably the less I have to say, the better.

I omitted above to say that I paid out five hundred and fifty dollars on a contract for one thousand superior pikes, as a cheap but effectual weapon to place in the hands of entirely unskilful and unpractised men, which will not easily get out of order, and require no ammunition. They will cost, handles and all complete, a little short of one dollar each. That contract I have not been able to fulfil; and wise military men may ridicule the idea; but “I take the whole responsibility of that job,” — so that I can only get them.

On hearing that Lane had come into Nebraska, I at once sent a young man with a line, saying I had been hurt, and was exceedingly anxious to see him early in September. To this he sent me no reply, unless Redpath's letter be one. I am now so far recovered from my hurt as to be able to do a little; and foggy as it is, “we do not give up the ship.” I will not say that Kansas, watered by the tears and blood of my children, shall yet be free or I fall. I intend at once to put the supplies I have in a secure place, and then to put myself and such as may go with me where we may get more speedy communications, and can wait until we know better how to act than we now do. 1 send this whole package to you, thinking Concord a less offensive name just now than Boston at this end of the route. I wish the whole conveyed to my friend Stearns and other friends, as old Brown's last report.

Until further advised, I wish all communications addressed to Jonas Jones, Esq., Tabor, Fremont County, Iowa, outwardly; and I hope you will all write often.

I had forgotten to say, that day before yesterday one single man, with no team at all, came from Lane to have me start at once for Kansas, as you will see by copies. Ho said he had left ten fine fellows about thirty miles back. The names he gave me were all strange to me, as well as himself. Tabor folks (some of them) speak slightingly of him, notwithstanding that he too is a general.

1 This note explains the source and object of this seasonable contribution.

2 These are the arms mentioned in Eli Thayer's letters.

SOURCE: Franklin B. Sanborn, The Life and Letters of John Brown, p. 398-401

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