Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Franklin B. Sanborn to Hugh Forbes, January 15, 1858

Concord, Jan. 15, 1858.

Sir. — Yours of the 9th and 14th is received. I regret that you 1 should have continued the abusive strain of your letter to Mr. Sumner, towards a person of whom you are wholly ignorant, and whose character you so greatly mistake. Let me give you some facts, which you may believe or not, as you choose. I became acquainted with Captain Brown a little more than a year ago, and have since been his warm friend and admirer. Being a member of the Massachusetts Kansas Committee, I interested myself with my colleagues in his behalf, and we furnished him with some five thousand dollars in arms and money. As a temporary member of the National Committee, I procured the passage of a resolution appropriating five thousand dollars from that committee also, of which, however, only five hundred dollars has been paid. I also introduced him to a public meeting of my townsmen, who raised something for him. In the summer I visited Mr. Gerrit Smith, and made arrangements with him for the settlement of property worth one thousand dollars on the wife and daughter of Captain Brown. The money was raised in Boston by the men whom you calumniate. I visited the families in the wilderness where they live, and arranged the transfer of property. Mr. Smith first mentioned your name to me, — unless it were a member of his family, Mr. Morton. Captain Brown had never done so, nor did any one hint to me that there was any agreement between you and him of the kind you mention. I think I wrote to Brown from Peterboro', informing him that you were at Davenport, having seen your letter to Mr. Smith announcing that fact. On September 14 I received Mr. Smith's letter, asking that some money be raised for your family, but merely on general grounds. I was pledged to aid and support Brown, and could not give money to persons of whom I knew little or nothing. Had Brown or yourself informed me of your agreement, the case would have been different. I kept Mr. Smith’s draft just a week, returning it to him September 21; it was out of his hands just eleven days. Since then, I have had a few letters from Brown, and have seen some from you, but have heard nothing of any compact. To answer Brown's call for “secret service” money, I procured about six hundred dollars to be sent him, which, as he has not yet come into active operations, has probably been sufficient. My property is small, — my income this year hardly up to my expenses; but to carry out the plan which Captain Brown has matured, if the time seemed favorable, I would sacrifice both income and property, as he very well knows. But it is probable that Captain Brown placed too much confidence in the expectations of others, and that he may have mistaken hopes for promises. Does he join in your vituperation of his Boston friends? I know he does not.

I can excuse much to one who has so much reason for anxiety as you have in the distress of your family. Yet be assured that if you had written to me (or if Captain Brown had done so) the true nature of your compact with him, I would have supported your wife and children rather than have allowed what has happened to take place. You knew my address, — why, then, did you not write to me rather than send a slanderous letter to Mr. Sumner?

As for your threats, you are at liberty to speak, write, and publish what you please about me, — only be careful to keep within the limits of your knowledge; do not tax your imagination for facts. I have written to Captain Brown for his statement of the relation between you, and have also sent to Mr. Gerrit Smith for any information in his possession. In the mean time I send you ten dollars, promising that if I find you have any further claim on me, either in law, justice, or humanity, I will discharge it to the uttermost.

The gentlemen with whom I am associated, and for whose action I am in any way responsible, are honorable men, and as far from deserving the vulgar slanders you heap upon them as your language is lacking in common courtesy and justice. They always keep and always will keep their engagements; but they have made none with you. You cite the people of New Haven. I have nothing to do with them, nor with the other towns which have failed in their promises.

SOURCE: Franklin B. Sanborn, The Life and Letters of John Brown, p. 429-30

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