Tuesday, July 10, 2018

John Brown to Andrew Hunter, November 22, 1859

Charlestown, Jefferson County, Va., Nov. 22, 1859.

Dear Sir, — I have just had my attention called to a seeming conviction between the statement I at first made to Governor Wise and that which 1 made at the time I received my sentence, regarding my intentions respecting the slaves we took about the Ferry. There need be no such confliction, and a few words of explanation will. I think, be quite sufficient. I had given Governor Wise a full and particular account of that; and when called in court to say whether I had anything further to urge, I was taken wholly by surprise, as I did not expect my sentence before the others. In the hurry of the moment I forgot much that I had before intended to say, and did not consider the full bearing of what I then said. I intended to convey this idea, — that it was my object to place the slaves in a condition to defend their liberties, if they would, without any bloodshed; but not that I Intended to run them out of the slave States. I was not aware of any such apparent confliction until my attention was called to it, and I do not suppose that a man in my then circumstances should be superhuman in respect to the exact purport of every word he might utter. What I said to Governor Wise was spoken with all the deliberation I was master of, and was intended for troth; and what I said in court was equally intended for truth, but required a more full explanation than I then gave. Please make such use of this as you think calculated to correct any wrong impressions I may have given.

Very respectfully yours,
John Brown.
Andrew Hunter, Esq., Present.

SOURCES: Franklin B. Sanborn, The Life and Letters of John Brown, p. 584

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