Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Gerrit Smith, August 16, 1858

I have often thought that the industrious efforts to persuade the people that I have been untrue to freedom in Kansas, present the most remarkable instances of the success of a lie against the truth. Having done what I could for her in Congress, I came home to do much more for her. My use of men and money to keep slavery out of that territory has been limited only by my ability.

The true history of Kansas is yet to be written. The impression that she has been preserved from the grasp of slavery by the skill of party leaders and by speeches in Congress, is as false as it is common. She has been preserved from it by her own brave spirits and strong arms. To no man living is so much praise due for beating back the tide of border ruffianism and slavery as to my old and dear friend John Brown of Osowatomie. Though he has had at no time under his command more than one hundred and fifty fighting men, yet by his unsurpassed skill and courage he has accomplished wonders for the cause of freedom. Small as have been the armed forces, which have saved Kansas, their maintenance has nevertheless taxed some persons heavily. My eye at this moment is on one merchant in Boston, who has contributed several thousand dollars to this object. What, compared with him, has gaseous oratory, in or out of Congress, done for Kansas?

No man out of Kansas has done so much as Eli Thayer to save her; and no man in Kansas as John Brown — Old John Brown, the fighter. Kansas owes her salvation to no party — to no speeches and no votes either in Congress or elsewhere. She owes it to her ample preparations to repel by physical force the aggressions of slavery. She believed slavery to be a pirate — the superlative pirate; and she prepared herself to deal with it in just that common sense way that every persistent pirate is to be dealt with.

SOURCE: Octavius Brooks Frothingham, Gerrit Smith: A Biography, p. 233-4

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