Thursday, March 23, 2017

William A. Phillips to John Brown [alias James Smith], June 24, 1857

Lawrence, K. T., June 24, 1857.

My Dear Friend, — I received your letter, dated from Ohio the 9th instant, a few days ago. I fear I shall not be able to meet you at Tabor. I have just received (on the 13th) the task of superintending and taking the census for the State election. As means are limited, those who can must do this. I have therefore assumed the task, which will require my presence and most active efforts until the 15th of July. I have tried to arrange it so as to get off for a week; but it is impossible without a sacrifice of duty. Should it be so, or if no one else can go, I will still try. Holmes I have seen; he is busy, and will not be able to come up. Several of those you mentioned are gone, and others cannot go to Tabor. I sent a message to Osawatomie, and enclosed your letter to Mr. Adair; told him that Holmes and the others could not go, and urged that some go from Osawatomie, if possible. I have not yet heard from him. I start to Osawatomie when I finish this; I will make it on my round, appointing deputies and taking the census. Two young men from this place have promised me that they will go if possible; but they have no horses, and horses cannot be hired for such a journey. I still hope to have a few friends at Tabor to meet you in a week.

As to your future action, for fear I should be prevented from going to meet you, let me say I think you should come into Kansas, provided you desire to do so. I think it will be our duty to see you protected. There is no necessity for active military preparations at this time; but so far as you have the elements of defence at your command, I think they are safer with you than with any one else. Your old claim has, I believe, been jumped. If you do not desire to contest it, let me suggest that you make a new settlement at some good point, of which you will be the head. Lay off a town and take claims around it. You would thus rally round you a class of useful men, who could be prepared for an emergency at the same time that they furthered their own interests, which they have a right to do. Any information I could render as to the best sites or otherwise you may cheerfully call upon. Should I not be able to come to meet you, I hope at least to see you shortly after you enter. I have not time to detail the present condition of the Free-State party.

Until I see you, adieu. Respectfully,
William A. Phillips.
James Smith.1

1 Indorsed by John Brown: “William A. Phillips. Requires no reply. No. 1.” The tone of this letter shows how Brown was regarded in Kansas as the custodian of arms, — which, of course, was the “furniture” mentioned by Mr. Whitman.

SOURCE: Franklin B. Sanborn, The Life and Letters of John Brown, p. 397-8

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