Mr. Garrison: – In his remarks on “The Fort Pillow and Plymouth Massacres,” (Liberator May 6), in speaking of John Brown, Gerrit Smith says: “Some of the judgments of John Brown – especially such as led him to Harper’s Ferry – were unsound and visionary.”
Is this so? Let us see. Two purposes were in view in this visit to John Brown to Virginia. First, John Brown’s purpose to free, and save slaves; second, God’s purpose to free, and save the nation. Were those purposes both accomplished by that visit! Certainly. How?
It was John Brown’s purpose to free and save slaves by fighting for them, but God’s purpose was that he should give his life for the nation. By his fighting for the slaves, John Brown subjected himself to the punishment of death by Virginia law, and by that death, and not by fighting, he freed and saved the nation, (and consequently the slaves) though it was in consequence of his thus fighting, that he arrived at such a death. So true is it that, though “Calvary” may be “higher than Bunker Hill” or Mount Sinai, and may “command both, it is only by the way of Mount Sinai that Calvary can be reached.
Then “the judgments that led John Brown to Harper’s Ferry were not “unsound and visionary”, but sound and practical.
But. How was the nation saved by the death of John Brown on a Virginia scaffold?
The answer to this question will appear in the future.
Yours Respectfully, Wm. S. Flanders Cornville, Me., May 11th. 1864 (Liberator, June 6, 1864, pg 2)