John Brown | W. E. B. Du Bois | Biography & Autobiography | Audio Book | English | 1/7

preface and chronology to John Brown this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit John Brown by w/e Burghardt Du Bois to the memory of Elizabeth preface after the work of Sanborn Hinton Connelly and red paths the only excuse for another life of John Brown is an opportunity to lay new emphasis upon the material which they have so carefully collected and to treat these facts from a different point of view the viewpoint adopted in this book is that of the little-known but vastly important inner development of the Negro American John Brown worked not simply for black men he worked with them and he was a companion of their daily life knew their faults and virtues and felt as few white Americans have felt the bitter tragedy of their lot the story of John Brown then cannot be complete unless due emphasis is given this phase of his activity unfortunately however few written records of these friendships and this long continued intimacy exist so that little new material along these lines can be adduced for the most part one must be content with quoting the author's mentioned and I have quoted them freely and other writers like Anderson and Shaw berry hunter boat ler Douglas and Hamilton but even in the absence of special material the great broad truths are clear and this book is at once a record of and a tribute to the man who of all Americans as perhaps come nearest to touching the real souls of black folk w/e Burkhardt Dubois Knology boyhood and youth 1800 John Brown is born in Torrington Connecticut May 9 at empted insurrection of slaves under Gabriel in Virginia in September 1805 the family migrates to Ohio 1812 John Brown meets a slave boy 1816 he joins the church 1819 he attends school at Plainfield Massachusetts the Tanner 1819 to 1825 John Brown works as a Tanner at Hudson Ohio 1821 he marries diantha Lusk June 21st 1822 attempted slave insurrection in South Carolina in June 1825 to 1835 he works as a Tanner at Randolph Pennsylvania and his postmaster 1831 NAT Turner's insurrection in Virginia August 21st 1832 his first wife dies August 10th 1833 he marries Marian Day July 11th 1834 he outlines his plans for Negro education November 21st 1835 to 1840 he lives in and near Hudson Ohio and speculates in land 1837 he loses heavily in the panic 1839 he and his family swear blood feud with slavery 1840 he surveys Virginia lands for Oberlin College and proposes buying 1,000 acres the Shepard 1841 John Brown begins sheep farming 1842 he goes into bankruptcy 1843 he loses four children in September 1844 forms the firm of Perkins and brown wool merchants 1845 251 he is in charge of the Perkins and Brown warehouse Springfield Ohio 1846 Garrett Smith offers Adirondack farms to Negroes August 1st 1847 Frederick Douglass visits Brown and here's his plan for a slave raid 18-49 he goes to Europe to sell wool and visits France and Germany August and September 18-49 first removal of his family to North Elba New York 1850 the new Fugitive Slave Law is passed 1851 to 1854 winding up of the wool business 1851 he founds the league of gileadites January 15th in Kansas 1854 Kansas and Nebraska bill becomes a law may thirtieth five sons start for Kansas in October 1855 John Brown at the syracuse convention of abolitionists in June he starts for Kansas with a sixth son and his son-in-law in September two sons take part in the Big Springs convention in September John Brown arrives in Kansas October 6th he helps to defend Lawrence in December 1856 he attends a mass meeting at Osawatomie in April he visits Buford's camp in May the sacking of Lawrence May 21st the Potawatomi murders May 23rd through 26th arrest of two sons may 28th Battle of blackjack June 2nd goes to Iowa with his wounded son-in-law and joins lanes army July and August joins and attacks to Loren's of surrounding forts august battle of Osawatomie August 30th Missouri's last invasion of Kansas September 15th Geary arrives and induces Brown to leave Kansas September Brown starts for the east with his sons September 20th the abolitionist 1857 John Brown is in Boston in January he attends the New York meeting of the National Kansas committee in January before the Massachusetts legislature in February tours New England to raise money March and April contracts for 1,000 Pike's in Connecticut 1857 he starts West May he is a Tabor Iowa August and September he founds a military school in Iowa December 1858 John Brown returns to the east January he is at Frederick Douglass's house February he reveals his plan to Sanborn in February he is in Canada april forbes disclosures may Chatham convention may 8th through 10th Hamilton's massacre in Kansas may 19th plans postponed may 20th John Brown starts West June 3rd he arrives in Kansas June 25th he is in South Kansas cooperating with Montgomery July through December the raid into Missouri for slaves December 20th the Harpers Ferry raid 1859 John Brown starts with fugitives for Canada January 20th he arrives in Canada March 12th he speaks in Cleveland March 23rd last visit of John Brown to the east April and May he starts for Harpers Ferry June he and three companions arrive at Harpers Ferry July 3rd he gathers 22 men and munitions June to October he starts on the for a Sunday October 16th at 8 p.m. the town and Arsenal are captured Monday October 17 at 4:00 a.m. gathering of the militia Monday October 17th at 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 Meridian Brown's party is hemmed-in Monday October 17 at 12:00 Meridian he withdraws to the engine house Monday October 17th at 12:00 meridian kgs party is killed and captured Monday October 17th at 3:00 p.m. Lee and one hundred Marines arrive Monday October 17 at 12:00 p.m. Brown is captured October 18th at 8 a.m. 1859 preliminary examination October 25th trial at Charleston than Virginia now West Virginia October 27th during November fourth forty days in prison October 16th through December 2nd execution of John Brown at Charleston December 2nd burial of John Brown at North Elba New York December 8th and of chronology chapter one of John Brown by w/e Burkhardt – boys this LibriVox recording is in the public domain Africa and Amerika that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet saying out of Egypt have I called my son the expel of Africa is and ever was over all America it has guided her hardest work inspired her finest literature and sung her sweetest songs her greatest destiny unsent and despised though it be is to give back to the first of continents the gifts which Africa of old gave to America's fathers fathers of all inspiration which America owes to Africa however the greatest by far is the score of heroic men whom the sorrows of these dark children called to unselfish devotion and heroic self-realization venez a garrison and Harriet Stowe Sumner Douglass and Lincoln these and others but above all John Brown John Brown was a stalwart rough-hewn man mightily yet tenderly Carvin to his making went the stern justice of a Cromwellian Ironside the freedom-loving fire of a Welsh cult and the thrift of a Dutch housewife and these very things it was thrift freedom and justice that early crossed the unknown seas to find asylum in America yet they came late or before them came greed and greed brought black slaves from Africa the Negroes came on the heels if not on the very ships of Columbus they followed DeSoto to the Mississippi saw Virginia with Diu Mexico with Cortez Peru with Pizarro and led the Western wanderings of Coronado in his search for the Seven Cities of Cibola something more than a decade after the Cavaliers and a year before the pilgrims they set lasting foot on the North American continent these black men came not of their own willing but because the hasty greed of new America selfishly and half thoughtlessly sought to revive in the new world the dying but unforgotten custom of enslaving the world's workers so with the birth of wealth and liberty west of the seas came slavery and a slavery all the more cruel and hideous because it gradually built itself on a caste of race and color thus breaking the common bonds of human fellowship and weaving artificial barriers of birth and appearance the result was evil as all injustice must be at first the black man writhed and struggled and died in their bonds and their blood red and the paths across the Atlantic and around the beautiful Isles of the Western Indies then as the bonds gripped them closer and closer they succumbed to sullen indifference or happy ignorance with only here and there flashes of wild red vengeance for after all these black men were but men neither more nor less wonderful than other men in build and stature they were for the most part among the taller nations and sturdily made in their mental equipment and moral poise they showed themselves full brothers to all men intensely human and this too in their very modifications and peculiarities their warm brown and bronzed color and crisp curled hair under the heat and wet of Africa their sensuous enjoyment of the music and color of life their instinct for barter and trade their strong family life and government yet these characteristics were bruised and spoiled and misinterpreted in the rude uprooting of the slave trade and the sudden transplantation of this race to other climes among other peoples their color became a badge of servitude their tropical habit was deemed laziness their worship was thought heathenish their family customs and government were ruthlessly overturned and debauched many of their virtue Jews became vices and much of their vice virtue the price of repression is greater than the cost of Liberty the degradation of men costs something both to the degraded and those who degrade while the Negro slaves sank to listless docility and vacant ignorance their masters found themselves world in the eddies of mighty movements their system of slavery was twisting them backwards towards darker ages of force and caste and cruelty while forward swirled Swift currents of Liberty and uplift they still felt the impulse of the wonderful awakening of culture from its barbaric sleep of centuries which men call the Renaissance they were own children of the mighty stirring of Europe's conscience which we call the Reformation and they and their children were to be Prime actors in laying the foundations of human liberty in a new century and a new land already the birth pains of the new freedom were felt in that land old Europe was beginning in the new continent a vast longing for spiritual space so there was builded into America the thrift of the searchers of wealth the freedom of the Renaissance and the stern morality of the Reformation three lands typify these three things which time planted in the new world England sent Puritanism the last white flower of the Lutheran revolt Holland sent the new vigor and thrift of the Renaissance well Celtic lambs and bits of lands like friends and Ireland and Wales sent the passionate desire for personal freedom these three elements came and came more often than not in the guise of humble men an English carpenter on the Mayflower an Amsterdam tailor seeking a new ancestral City and a Welsh wanderer from three such men sprang in the marriage of years John Brown to the unraveling of human tangles we would gladly believe that God sends a special men chosen vessels which – the world's deliverance and what could be more fitting than that the human embodiment of freedom Puritanism and trade the great new currents sweeping across the back eddies of slavery should give birth to the man who in years to come pointed the way to Liberty and realized that the cost of Liberty was less than the price of repression so it was in Bleak December 16 2010 Terr and a weaver landed at Plymouth Peter and John Brown this carpenter Peter came of goodly stock possibly though not surely from that very John Brown of the early 16th century whom Bluff King Henry the eighth of England burned for his Puritanism and whose son was all too near the same fate 30 years after Peter Brown had landed came the Welshman John Owen to Windsor Connecticut to help in the building of that Commonwealth and near him settled Peter mills the tailor of Holland the great-grandson of Peter Brown born in Connecticut in 1700 had for a son a revolutionary soldier who married one of the Welshman's grandchildren and had internists on Owen Brown the father of John Brown in February of 1771 this Owen brown a neighbor remembers very distinctly and that he was very much respected and esteemed by my father he was an earnest ly devout and religious man of the old Connecticut fashion and one peculiarity of his impressed his name and person indelibly upon my memory he was an inveterate and most painful stammerer the first specimen of that infirmity that I had ever seen and according to my recollection the worst that I had ever known to this day consequently though we removed from Hudson to another settlement early in the summer of 1807 and returned to Connecticut in 1812 so that I rarely saw any of that family afterward I have never to this day seeing a man struggling and half strangled with a word stuck to his throat without remembering good mr. Owen Brown who could not speak without stammering except in prayer in 1800 May 9th wrote this own brown John was born 100 years after his great-grandfather nothing else very uncommon end of chapter one chapter 2 of John Brown by w/e Burkhardt two boys this LibriVox recording is in the public domain the making of the man there was a man called of God and his name was John a tall big boy of twelve or fifteen barefoot and bare headed with buckskin breeches suspended often with one leather strap over his shoulder roamed in the forests of northern Ohio he remembered the days of his coming to the strange wild land the lowing oxen the great white wagon that wandered from Connecticut to Pennsylvania and over the swelling hills and mountains where the wide-eyed urchin of five sat staring at the new world of wild beasts and the wilder brown men then came life itself in its realness the driving of cows and the killing of rattlesnakes and swift free rides on great mornings alone with earth and tree and sky he became a Rambler in the wild new country finding birds and squirrels and sometimes a wild turkeys nest at first the Indians filled him with strange fear but his kindly old father thought of Indians as neither vermin nor property and this fear soon wore off and he used to hang about them quite as much as was consistent with good manners the tragedy and comedy of this broad silent life turned on things strangely simple and primitive the stealing of three large brass pins the disappearance of the wonderful yellow marble which an Indian boy had given him the love and losing of a little bob-tailed squirrel for which he wept and hunted the world in vain and finally the shadow of death which is ever here the death of a ewe lamb and the death of the boy's own mother all these things happened before he was eight and they were his main education he could dress leather and make whiplashes he could herd cattle and talk Indian but of books and formal schooling he had little John was never quarrelsome but was excessively fond of the hardest and roughest kind of plays and could never get enough of them indeed when for a short time he was sometimes sent to school the opportunity it afforded to wrestle and snowball and run and jump and knock off old seedy wool hats offered to him almost the only compensation for the confinements and restraints of school with such a feeling and but little chance of going to school at all he did not become much of a scholar he would always choose to stay at home and work hard rather than be sent to school consequently he learned nothing of grammar nor did he get at school so much knowledge of common arithmetic as the four ground rules almost his only reading at the age of ten was a little history to which the open bookcase of an old friend tempted him he knew nothing of games or sports he had few or no companions but to be sent off through the wilderness alone to very considerable distances was particularly his delight by the time he was twelve years old he was sent off more than a hundred miles with companies of cattle so his soul grew apart and alone and yet untrammeled and unconfined knowing all the depths of secret self-abasement and the heights of confident self-will with others he was painfully diffident and bashful and little sins that smaller Souls would laugh at and forget loomed large and awful to his heart-wrenching vision John had a very bad foolish habit I mean telling lies generally to screen himself from blame or from punishment because he could not well endure to be reproached and I now think had he been oftener encouraged to be entirely frank he would not have been so often guilty of this fault nor been in afterlife obliged to struggle so long with so mean a habit such a nature was in its very essence religious even mystical but never superstitious nor blindly trustful in half known creeds and formulas his family was not rigidly Puritan in its thought and discipline but had rather fallen into the mild hedonism of the hard-working frontier until just before John's birth then his father relates in quaint Calvinistic patois I lived at home in 1782 this was a memorable year as there was a great revival of religion in the town of Canton my mother and my older sisters and brother John dated their hopes of salvation from that summers revival under the ministry of the Reverend Edward Mills I cannot say as I was a subject of the work but this I can say that I then began to hear preaching I can now recollect most if not all of those I heard preached and what their texts were the change in our family was great family worship set up by brother John was ever afterward continued there was a revival of singing in Canton and our family became singers conference meetings were kept up constantly and singing meetings all of which brought our family into a very good Association a very great aid of restraining grace thus this young free man of the woods was born into a religious atmosphere not that of Stern intellectual Puritanism but of a milder and more sensitive type even this however the naturally skeptical bent of his mind did not receive unquestioningly the doctrines of his day and church did not wholly satisfy him and he became only to some extent a convert to Christianity one answer to his questionings did come however bearing its own wonderful credentials and credentials all the more wonderful to the man a few books and narrow knowledge of the world of thought the English Bible he grew to be a firm believer in the divine authenticity of the Bible with this book he became very familiar he read and reread it he committed long passages to memory he copied the simple vigor of its English and wove into the very essence of his being its history poetry philosophy and truth to him the cruel grandeur of the Old Testament was as true as the love and sacrifice of the new and both mingled to mold his soul this will give you some general idea of the first 15 years of his life during which time he became very strong and large of his age and ambitious to perform the full labor of a man at almost any kind of hard work young john brown's first broad contact with life and affairs came with the war of 1812 during which hulls disastrous campaign brought the scene of fighting near his western home his father a simple wandering old soul thrifty without foresight became a beef contractor and the boy drove his herds of cattle and hung about the camp he met men of position was praised for his prowess and let listen to talk that seemed far beyond his years yet he was not deceived the war he felt was real war and not the war of Fame and fairy tale he saw a shameful defeat heard treason broached and knew of cheating and chicanery disease and death left its slimy trail as it crept homeward through the town of Hudson from Detroit The effect of what he saw during the war went so far to disgust him with military affairs that he would neither trained nor drill but in all these early years of the making of this man one incident stands out as for taste and prophecy an incident of which we know only the indefinite outline and yet one which unconsciously foretold to the boy the life deed of the man it was during the war that a certain landlord welcomed John to his home whither the boy had ridden with cattle a hundred miles through the wilderness he praised the big grave and bashful lad to his guests and made much of him John however discovered something far more interesting than praise and good food in the landlord's parlor and that was another boy in the landlord's yard fellow souls were scarce with this backwoodsman and his diffidence warmed to the kindly welcome of the stranger especially because he was black half naked and wretched in John's very ears the kind voices of the master and his folk turned to harsh abuse with this black boy at night the slave lay in the bitter cold and once they beat the wretched thing before John's very eyes with an iron shovel and again and again struck him with any weapon that chanced in wide-eyed silence John looked on and questioned was the boy bad or stupid no he was active intelligent and with the great warm sympathy of his race did the stranger numerous little acts of kindness so that John readily in his straightforward candor acknowledged him fully if not more than his equal that the black worked and worked hard and steadily was in John's eyes no hardship rather a pleasure was not the world work but that this boy was fatherless and motherless and that all slaves must of necessity be fatherless and motherless with none to protect them or provide for them save at the will or Caprice of the master this was to the half grown man a thing of fearful portent and he asked is God their father and what he asked a million and a half black bond men were asking through the land end of chapter 2 chapter 3 of John Brown but w/e burghard two boys this LibriVox recording is in the public domain the von der yar where is the promise of his coming for since the father's fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation in 1819 a tall sedate dignified young man named John Brown was entered among the students of the Reverend Moses Halleck at Plainfield Massachusetts where men were prepared for Amherst College he was beginning his years of wandering spiritual searching for the way of life physical wandering in the wilderness where he must earn his living in after years he wrote to a boy I wish you to have some definite plan many seemed to have none others never stick to any that they do form this was not the case with John he followed up with great tenacity whatever he said about as long as it answered his general purpose hence he rarely failed in some degree to affect the things he undertook this was so much the case that he habitually expected to succeed in his undertakings in this case he expected to get an education and he came to his task equipped with that rare mixture of homely thrift and idealism which characterized his whole life his father could do little to help him for the war was followed by the hard times which are the necessary fruit of fighting as the father wrote money became scarce property fell and that which I thought well bought would not bring its cost I had made three or four large purchases in which I was a heavy loser it was therefore as a poor boy ready to work his way that John started out at Plainfield the son of the principal tells how he brought with him a piece of sole leather about a foot square which he had himself tanned for seven years to resole his boots he had also a piece of sheepskin which he had tanned and of which he cut some strips about an eighth of an inch wide for other students to pull upon father took one string and winding it around his finger said with a triumphant turn of the eye and mouth I shall snap it the very marked yet kind immovable nests of the young man's face on seeing father's defeat father's own look and the position of the people and the things in the old kitchen somehow gave me a fixed recollection of this little incident but all his thrift and planning here were doomed to disappointment he was one may well believe no brilliant student and his only chance of success lay in long and steady application this he was prepared to make when inflammation of the eyes said in of so grave a type that all hopes of long study must be given up several times before he had attempted regular study but for the most part these excursions to New England schools had been but tentative flashes on a background of hard work in his father's Hudson tannery from 15 to 20 years of age he spent most of his time working at the Tanners and couriers trade and yet naturally ever looking here and there in the world to find his place and that place he came gradually to decide in his quiet firm way was to be an important one he felt he could do things he grew used to guiding and commanding men he kept his own lonely home and was both Foreman and cook in the tannery his close attention to business and success in its management together with the way he got along with a company of men and boys made him quite a favorite with the serious and more intelligent portion of older persons this was so much the case and secured for him so many little notices from those he esteemed that his vanity was very much fed by it and he came forward to manhood quite full of self conceit and self-confidence notwithstanding his extreme bashfulness the habits so early formed of being obeyed rendered him in afterlife too much disposed to speak in an imperious or dictating way thus he spoke of himself but others saw only that peculiar consciousness of strength and quiet self-confidence which characterized him later on just how far his failure to get a college training was a disappointment to John Brown one is not able to say with certainty it looks however as if his attempts at higher training were rather the obedient following of the conventional path by a spirit which would never have found in those fields congenial pasture one suspects that the final decision that college was impossible came to this strong free spirit with a certain sense of relief a relief marred only by the perplexity of knowing what ought to be the path for his feet if the traditional way to accomplishment and distinction was closed that he meant to be not simply a Tanner was disclosed in all his doing and thinking he undertook to study by himself mastering common arithmetic and becoming in time an expert surveyor he early in life began to discover a great liking to fine cattle horses sheep and swine meantime however the practical economic sense of his day and occupation pointed first of all to marriage as his father who had had three wives and 16 or more children was at pains to impress upon him nor was John Brown himself disinclined he was as he himself quaintly says naturally fond of females and withal extremely difficult one can easily imagine the deep disappointment of this grave young man in his first unfortunate love affair when he felt with many another unloved heart this old world through a steady strong desire to die but youth is stronger even than a first love and the widow who came to keep house for him had a grown daughter a homely good-hearted and simple-minded country lass the natural result was that John Brown was married at the age of 20 to Diane thei Lusk whom he describes as a remarkably plain but neat industrious and economical girl of excellent character earnest piety and practical common sense then ensued a period of life which puzzles the casual onlooker with its seemingly aimless changing character its wandering restlessness its planless wavering he was now a land surveyor now a Tanner and now a lumber dealer a postmaster a wood grower a stock raiser a shepherd and a farmer he lived at Hudson at Franklin and at Richfield in Ohio in Pennsylvania New York and Massachusetts and yet in all this wavering and wandering there were certain great currents of growth purpose and action first of all he became the father of a family in the eleven years from 1821 to 1832 seven children were born six sons and one girl the patriarchal ideal of family life handed down by his father's strengthened by his own saturation and Hebrew poetry and by his own bent grew up in his house his eldest son and daughter tell many little incidents illustrating his family government our house on a lane which connects to Main Roads was built under father's direction in 1824 and still stands much as he built it with the garden and orchard around it which he laid out in the rear of the house was then a wood now gone on a knoll leading down to the brook which supplied the tan Pitts father used to hold all his children while they were little at night and sing his favorite songs says the eldest daughter the first recollection I have a father was being carried through a piece of woods on Sunday to attend a meeting held at a neighbor's house after we had been at the house a little while father and mother stood up and held us while the minister put water on our faces after we sat down father wiped my face with a brown silk handkerchief with yellow spots on it in diamond shape it seemed beautiful to me and I thought how good he was to wipe my face with that pretty handkerchief he showed a great deal of tenderness in that and other way he sometimes seemed very Stern and strict with me yet his tenderness made me forget he was Stern when he would come home at night tired out with labor he would before going to bed asked some of the family to read chapters as was his usual course night and morning and would almost always say read one of David's songs whenever he and I were alone he never failed to give me the best of advice just such as a true and anxious mother would give a daughter he always seemed interested in my work and would come around and look at it when I was sewing or knitting and when I was learning to spin he always praised me if he saw that I was improving he used to say try to do whatever you do in the very best possible manner father had a rule not to threaten one of his children he commanded and there was obedience rights his eldest son my first apprenticeship to the tanning business consisted of a three years course at grinding bark with a blind horse this after months and years became slightly monotonous while the other children were out at play in the sunshine where the birds were singing I used to be tempted to let the old horse have a rather long rest especially when father was absent from home and I would then join the others at their play this subjected me to frequent admonitions and to some Corrections for I service as father termed it he finally grew tired of these frequent slight admonitions for my laziness and other shortcomings and concluded to adopt with me a sort of book account something like this John debtor for disobeying mother hate lashes for unfaithfulness at work three lashes for telling a lie eight lashes this account he showed to me from time to time on a certain Sunday morning he invited me to accompany him from the house to the tannery saying that he had concluded it was time for a settlement we went into the upper or finishing room and after a long and two we'll talk over my faults he again showed me my account which exhibited a fearful footing up of debits I had no credits or offsets and was of course bankrupt I then paid about one third of the debt reckoned and strokes from a nicely prepared Blue Beach switch laid on masterly then to my utter astonishment bother stripped off his shirt and seating himself on a block gave me the whip and bade me lay it onto his bare back I dared not refuse to obey but at first I did not strike hard harder he said harder harder until he received the balance of the account small drops of blood showed on his back where the tip end of the tangling beach cut through thus ended the account and settlement which was also my first practical illustration of the doctrine of the atonement even the girls did not escape whipping he used to whip me often for telling lies says a daughter but I can't remember his ever punishing me but once when I thought I didn't deserve and then he looked at me so Stern that I didn't dare to tell the truth he had such a way of saying tut tut if he saw the first sign of a lie in us that he often frightened us children when I first began to go to school she continues I found a piece of calico one day behind one of the benches it was not large but it seemed quite a treasure to me and I did not show it to anyone until I got home father heard me then telling about it and said don't you know what girl lost it I told him I did not well when you go to school tomorrow take it with you and find out if you can who lost it it is a trifling thing but always remember that if you should lose anything you valued no matter how small you would want the person who had found it to give it back to you he showed a great deal of tenderness to me continues the daughter and one thing I always noticed was my father's peculiar tenderness devotion to his father in cold weather he always tucked the bedclothes around grandfather when he went to bed and would get up in the night to ask him if he slept warm always seeming so kind and loving to him that his example was beautiful to see especially were his sympathy and devotion evident in sickness when his children were ill with scarlet fever he took care of us himself and if he saw persons coming to the house would go to the gate and meet them not wishing them to come in for fear of spreading the disease when any of the family were sick he did not often trust Watchers to care for the sick one but sat up himself and was like a tender mother at one time he sat up every night for two weeks while mother was sick for fear he would oversleep if he went to bed and then the fire would go out and she take cold the death of one little girl shows how deeply he could be moved he spared no pains in doing all that medical skill could do for her together with the tenderest care and nursing the time that he could be at home was mostly spent and caring for her he sat up nights to keep an even temperature in the room and to relieve mother from the constant care which she had through the day he used to walk with the child and sing to her so much that she soon learned his step when she heard him coming up the steps to the door she would reach out her hands and cry for him to take her when his business at the wool store crowded him so much that he did not have time to take her he would steal around through the woodshed into the kitchen to eat his dinner and not go into the dining room where she could see or hear him I used to be charmed myself with his singing to her he noticed a change in her one morning and told us he thought she would not live through the day and came home several times to see her a little before noon he came home and looked at her and said she is almost gone she heard him speak opened her eyes and put up her little wasted hands with such a pleading look for him to take her that he lifted her up from the cradle with the pillows she was lying on and carried her until she died he was very calm closed her eyes folded her hands and laid her in her cradle when she was buried father broke down completely and sobbed like a child Dyanne 'they lusk john brown's first wife died in childbirth August 10th 1832 having borne him seven children two of whom died very young on July 11th 1833 now 33 years of age he married Mary and a a girl of seventeen only five years older than his oldest child she bore him thirteen children seven of whom died young thus seven sons and four daughters grew to maturity and his wife Mary survived him twenty-five years it was all told a marvelous family large and well disciplined yet simple almost to poverty and hard-working no sooner were the children grown then the wise father ceased to command and simply asked or advised he wrote to his eldest son when first he started out in life in characteristic style I think the situation in which you've been placed by Providence at this early period of your life will afford to yourself and others some little test of the sway you may be expected to exert over minds and after life and I'm glad on the whole to have you brought in some measure to the test in your youth if you cannot now go into a disorderly country school and gain its confidence and esteem and reduce it to good order and waken up the energies and the very soul of every rational being in it yes of every mean ill-behaved ill governed boy and girl that compose it and secure the good will of the parents then how are you to stimulate asses to attempt a passage of the Alps if you run with footmen and they should weary you how should you contend with horses if in the land of peace they have wearied you then how will you do in the swelling of Jordan shall I answer the question myself if any man lack wisdom let him ask of God who giveth liberally and upbraideth not not that Brown was altogether satisfied with his method of dealing with his children he said to his wife if the large boys do wrong called them alone into your room and expostulate with them kindly and see if you cannot reach them by a kind but powerful appeal to their honor I do not claim that such a theory Accords very well with my practice I frankly confess it does not but I want your face to shine even if my own should be dark and cloudy the impression which he made on his own family was marvelous a granddaughter writes me of him saying the attitude of John Brown's family and descendants has always been one of exceeding reverence toward him this speaks for something Stern unyielding puritanic requiring his wife and daughters to dress in sober Brown disliking show and requesting that morning colors be not worn for him a custom which still obtains with us laying the rod heavily upon his boys for their boyish pranks he still was wonderfully tender would invariably walk uphill rather than burden his horse loved his family devotedly and when sickness occurred always installed himself as nurse in his personal habits he was austere severely clean sparing in his food so far as to count butter an unnecessary luxury once a moderate user of cider and wine then a strong teetotaler a lover of horses with harassing scruples as to breeding racehorses all this gave an air of sedateness and maturity to john brown's earlier manhood which belied his years having married at 20 he was but 21 years older than his eldest son and while his many children and his varied occupations made him seem prematurely aged he was in fact during this period during the years from twenty to forty experiencing the great formative development of his spiritual life this development was most interesting and fruitful he was not a man of books he had rollins ancient history Josephus and Plutarch and lives of Napoleon and Cromwell with these went Baxter's Saints rest Henry on meekness and pilgrims progress but above all others the Bible was his favorite volume and he had such perfect knowledge of it that when any person was reading he would correct the least mistake into john brown's religious life entered to strong elements the sense of overruling inexorable fate and the mystery and promise of death he pored over the old testament until the freer religious skepticism of his earlier youth became more formal and straight the brother of his first wife says Brown was an austere fellow and when the young man called on the sister and mother sundays as his only holiday Brown said to him Milton I wish you would not make your visits here on the Sabbath when the panic of 1837 nearly swept Brown from his feet he saw behind it the image of the old Hebrew God and wrote his wife we all must try to trust in him who is very gracious and full of compassion and of almighty power for those that do will not be made ashamed Ezra the Prophet prayed and afflicted himself before God when himself and the captivity were in a strait and I have no doubt you will join with me under similar circumstances don't get discouraged any of you but hope in God and try all to serve Him with a perfect heart when Napoleon the third seized France and kashat came to America Brown looked with lofty contempt on the great excitement which seems to have taken all by surprise I have only to say in regard to those things I rejoice in them from the full belief that God is carrying out his eternal purpose in them all the gloom and horror of life settled early on John Brown his childhood had had little formal pleasure his young manhood had been serious and filled with responsibility and almost before he himself knew the full meaning of life he was trying to teach it to his children the iron of bitterness entered his soul with the coming of death and a deep religious fear and foreboding bore him down as it took away member after member of his family in 1831 he lost a boy of four and in 1832 his first wife died insane and her infant son was buried with her in 1843 for children burying in ages from 1 to 9 years were swept away two baby girls went in 1846 and 1859 and an infant boy in 1852 the struggle of a strong man to hold his faith is found in his words God has seen fit to visit us with the pestilence and four of our member sleep in the dust four of us that are still living have been more or less unwell this has been to us all a bitter cup indeed and we have drunk deeply but still the Lord reigneth and blessed be his holy name forever again three years later he writes his wife from the edge of a new-made grave I feel assured that not withstanding that God has chastised us often and sore yet he is not entirely withdrawn himself from us nor forsake on us utterly the sudden and dreadful manner in which he has seen fit to call our dear little kitty to take her leave of us is I need not tell you how much in my mind but before him I will bow my head in submission and hold my peace I have sailed over a somewhat stormy sea for nearly half a century and have experienced enough to teach me thoroughly that I'm a most reasonably buckle up and be prepared for The Tempest Mary let us try to maintain a cheerful self command while we are tossing up and down and let our motto still be action action as we have but one life to live his soul gropes for light in the great darkness sometimes my imagination follows those of my family who have passed behind the scenes and I would almost rejoice to be permitted to make them a personal visit I have outlived nearly half of all my numerous family and I ought to realize that in any event a large proportion of my life is travelled over then there rose grimly as life went on in a tum drum round of failure and trouble the thought that in some way his own sin and shortcomings were bringing upon him the vengeful punishment of God he laments the fact that he has done little to help others and the world I feel considerable regret by turns that I've lived so many years and have in reality done so little to increase the amount of human happiness I often regret that my manner is not more kind and affectionate to those I really love and esteem but I trust my friends will overlook my harsh rough ways when I cease to be in their way as an occasion of pain and unhappiness the death of a friend fills him with self-reproach you say he expected to die but do not say how he felt in regard to the change as it drew near I have to confess my unfaithfulness to my friend in regard to his most important interest when I think how very little influence I've even tried to use with my numerous acquaintances and friends and turning their minds toward God and heaven I feel justly condemned as a most wicked and slothful servant and the more so as I very seldom had anyone refused to listen when I earnestly called him to here I sometimes have dreadful reflections about having fled to go down to Tarshish especially did the religious skepticism of his children so like his own earlier wanderings worry and dismay the growing man until it loomed before his vision as his great sin calling for mighty atonement he pleads with his older children continually my attachments to this world have been very strong and divine providence has been cutting me loose one coil after another up to the present time notwithstanding I have so much to remind me that all ties must soon be severed I am still clinging like those who have hardly taken a single lesson I really hope some of my family may understand that this world is not the home of man and act in accordance why may I not hope this for you when I look forward as regards the religious prospects of my numerous family the most of them I am forced to say and feel too that I have little very little to cheer that this should be so is I perfectly well understand the legitimate fruit of my own planting and that only increases my punishment some ten or twelve years ago I was cheered with the belief that my elder children had chosen the Lord to be their God and I relied much on their influence and example in atoning for my deficiency and bad example with the younger children but where are we now several have gone where neither a good nor a bad example from me will better their condition or prospects or make them worse I will not dwell longer on this distressing subject but only say that so far as I have gone it is from no disposition to reflect on anyone but myself I think I can clearly discover where I wandered from the road how now to get on it with my family is beyond my ability to see or my courage to hope God grant you thorough conversion from sin and full purpose of heart to continue steadfast in his way do the very short season you will have to pass and again he writes one word in regard to the religious belief of yourself and the ideas of several of my children my affections are too deep-rooted to be alienated from them but my gray hairs must go down and sorrow to the grave unless the true God forgive their denial and rejection of him and open their eyes and again I would fain hope that the Spirit of God has not done striving in our hard hearts I sometimes feel encouraged to hope that my sons will give up their miserable delusions and believe in God and in his son our Savior all this is evidence of a striving soul of a man to whom the world was a terribly earnest thing here was neither the smug content of the man beyond religious doubt nor the carelessness of the un– her ask on chance to him the world was a mighty drama God was an actor in the play and so was John Brown but just what his part was to be his soul in the long agony of years tried to know and ever and again the chilling doubt assailed him lest he be unworthy of his place or had missed the call often the brooding masculine mind which demanded action action sought to pierce the mystic bale his brother-in-law became a spiritualist and he himself hearkened four voices from the other land once or twice he thought he heard them did not the spirit of diantha Lusk guide him again and again in his perplexity he once said it did and so this saturation in Hebrew prophecy the chastisement of death the sense of personal sin and shortcoming and the voices from nowhere deepened darkened and broadened his religious life yet with all this there went too peculiar common sense a spirit of thrift and stick lling for detail a homely shrewd attention to all the little facts of daily existence sometimes this prosaic tinkering with things burdened buried and submerged the spiritual life and striving there was nothing left except the commonplace unstable Tanner but ever as one is tempted thus to fix his place in the world there Wells up surging spiritual life out of great unfathomed depths the intellectual longing to see the moral wistfulness of the hesitating groping doer this was the deeper true or man although it was not the whole man certainly I never felt myself in the presence of a stronger religious influence than while in this man's house said Frederick Douglass in 1847 end of chapter 3 chapter four of John Brown by w/e Burghardt Du Bois this LibriVox recording is in the public domain the Shepherd of the sheep and there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field keeping watch over their flock by night and lo the angel of the Lord came upon them and the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were sore afraid the vastest physical fact in the life of John Brown was the Allegheny Mountains that beautiful mass of Hill and crag which guards the somber majesty of the Maine coast crumples the rivers on the rocky soil of New England and rolls and leaps down through busy Pennsylvania to the misty Peaks of Carolina and the red foothills of Georgia in the Alleghenies John Brown was all but born their forests were his boyhood wonderland in their villages he married his wives and begat his clan on the sides of the Alleghenies he tended his sheep and dreamed his terrible dream it was the mystic awful voice of the mountains that lured him to Liberty death and martyrdom within their wildest vastness and in their bosom he sleeps his last sleep so too in the development of the United States from the war of 1812 to the Civil War it was the Alleghenies that formed the industrial center of the land and lured young men to their waters and mines valleys and factories as they lured John Brown his life from 1805 to 1854 was almost wholly spent on the western slope of the Alleghenies in a small area of Ohio and Pennsylvania beginning 80 miles north of Pittsburgh and ending 25 miles southeast of Cleveland here in a half-dozen small towns but chiefly in Hudson Ohio he worked in his young manhood to support his growing family from 1819 to 1825 he was a Tanner at Hudson then he moved 70 miles westward toward the crest of the Allegheny's in Pennsylvania where he set up his tannery again and became a man of importance in the town John Quincy Adams made him postmaster the village school was held at his log house and the new feverish prosperity of the postbellum period began to stir him as it stirred this whole Western world indeed the economic history of the land from the war of 1812 to the Civil War covers a period of extraordinary developments so much so that no man's life which fell in these years may be written without knowledge of and allowance for the battling of gigantic social forces and welding of material out of which the present United States was designed three phases roughly mark these days first the slough of despond following the war when England forced her goods upon us at nominal prices to kill the new sprung infant industries secondly the new protection from the competition of foreign goods from 1816 to 1857 rising high in the prohibitory schedules of 1828 and falling to the lower duties of the 40s and the free trade of the 50s and stimulating irregularly and spasmodically but tremendously the cotton woolen and iron manufactories and finally the three whirl winds of 1819 1837 to 1830 nine and 1857 marking frightful maladjustments in the mushroom growth of our industrial life John Brown coming to full industrial manhood and the buoyant prosperity of 1825 soon began to sense the new spirit after ten years work in Pennsylvania he again removed westward nearer the projected transportation lines between East and West he began to invest his surplus and land along the new canal routes became a director in one of the rapidly multiplying banks and was currently rated to be worth twenty thousand dollars in 1835 but his prosperity liked out of his neighbors and indeed of the whole country was partly fictitious and built on a fast expanding credit which was far out stretching the rapid industrial development jackson's blind tinkering with banking precipitated the crisis the storm broke in 1837 over six hundred banks failed 10,000 employees were thrown out of work money disappeared and prices went down to a species on brown his tannery and his land speculations were sucked into the maelstrom the overthrow was no ordinary blow to a man of 37 with eight children who had already trod the ways of spiritual doubt and unrest for three or four years he seemed to flounder almost hopelessly certainly with no settled plan or outlook he bred racehorses till his conscience troubled him he farmed and did some surveying he inquired into the Commission business and various lines and still did some tanning then gradually he began to find himself he was a lover of animals in 1839 he took a drove of cattle to Connecticut and wrote to his wife I have felt this stressed to get my business done and returned ever since I left home but know of no way consistent with duty but to make thorough work of it while there is any hope things now look more favorable than they have but I may still be appointed his diary shows that he priced certain farms for sale but especially did he inquire carefully into sheep raising and its details and eventually bought a flock of sheep which he drove home to Ohio this marked the beginning of a new occupation that of Shepherd being a calling for which in early life he had a kind of enthusiastic longing he began sheep farming near Hudson keeping his own and a rich merchants sheep and also buying wool on commission this industry in the United States had at that time passed through many vicissitudes the change from household to factory economy and the introduction of effective machinery had been slow and one of the chief drawbacks was ever the small quantity of good wool consequently our chief supply came from England until the embargo and war cut off that supply and stimulated domestic manufacture between 1810 and 1815 the value of the manufacture increased fivefold but after the war when England sent goods over here below price Americans rightly clamored for tariff protection this they got but their advantage was nearly upset by the wool farmers who also got protection on the commodity although less on low than on better qualities and it was the low grades that America produced from 1816 to 1832 the tariff wall against wool and woolens rose steadily until it reached almost prohibitive figures save on the cheapest kind in this way the wool manufacturer had by 1828 recovered its wartime prosperity by 1840 the mills were sending out 20 and a half million dollars worth of goods yearly and nearly 50 millions by 1860 despite the fact that meanwhile the tariff wall was weakening thus by 1841 when John Brown turned his attention to sheep farming there was a large and growing demand for wool especially of the better grades and by the abolition of the English in 1824 there was even a chance of invading England because then of his natural liking for the work and the growing prosperity of the wool trade John Brown chose this line of employment but not for this alone his spirit was longing for air and space he wanted to think and read time was flying and his life as yet had been little but a mean struggle for bread and that to only partially successful already he had had a vision of vast service already he had broached the matter to friends and family and at the age of 39 he entered his new life distinctly and clearly with the idea that as a business it bid fair to afford him the means of carrying out his greatest or principal object his first idea was to save enough from the wreck of his fortune to buy and stock a large sheep farm and in accordance with his already forming plans as to Negro emancipation he wanted this farm in or near the South a chance seemed opening when through his father a trustee of Oberlin College he learned of the Virginia lands lately given that institution by Garrett Smith whom Brown came to know better Oberlin College was dear to John Brown's heart for it had almost from the beginning taken a strong anti-slavery stand the titles to the Virginia land however were clouded by the fact of many squatters being in possession which gave ample prospects of costly lawsuits Brown wrote the trustees early in 1840 proposing to survey the lands for a nominal price provided he could be allowed to buy on reasonable terms and establish his family there he also spoke of school facilities which he proposed for Negroes as well as White's according to a long cherished plan the college records in April 1940s a communication from brother John Brown of Hudson was presented and read by the secretary containing a proposition to visit survey and make the necessary investigation respecting boundaries etc of those lands for one dollar per day and a moderate allowance for necessary expenses said paper frankly expressing also his design of viewing the lands as a preliminary step to locating his family upon them should the opening proof of favorable one whereupon voted that said proposition be acceded to and that a commission and needful outfit be furnished by the secretary and treasurer the treasurer sent John Brown fifty dollars and wrote his father as a trustee of Oberlin commending the sons purpose and hoping for a favorable issue both for him and the institution he added should he succeed in clearing up titles without difficulty or lawsuits it would be easy as it appears to me to make provision for religious and school privileges and by proper efforts with the blessing of God soon see that wilderness bud and blossom as the rose thus John Brown first saw Virginia and looked upon the rich and heavy land which rolls westward to the misty Blue Ridge that he visited Harpers Ferry on this trip is doubtful but possible the lands of Oberlin however lay two hundred miles westward in the foothills and along the valley of the Ohio he wrote home from Ripley Virginia in April for he had gone immediately I like the country as well as I expected and its inhabitants rather better and I have seen the spot where if it be the will of Providence I hope one day to live with my family worthy inhabitants as resolute and industrious as the northern people and did they understand how to manage as well they would become rich by the summer of 1840 his work was accomplished with apparent success he had about selected his dwelling place having found on the right branch of big battle a valuable spring good Stone coal and excellent bottoms good timber sugar orchard good Hill land and beautiful situation for dwelling all right cores of this branch at the forks is south 21 degrees west from a beautiful white oak on which I marked my initials 23rd April the Oberlin trustees in August voted that the Prudential Committee be authorized to perfect negotiations and convey by deed to brother John Brown of Hudson one thousand acres of our Virginia land on the conditions suggested in the correspondence which has already transpired between him and the committee here however negotiations stopped for the renewal of the panic in 1839 over through all business calculations until 1842 and later and forced John Brown to take refuge in formal bankruptcy in 1842 this step his son says was wholly owing to his purchase of land on credit including the Hamaker farm at Franklin which he bought in connection with Seth Thompson of Hartford Trumbull County Ohio and his individual purchase of three rather large adjoining farms in Hudson when he bought those farms the rise in value of his place in Franklin was such that good judges estimated his property worth fully twenty thousand dollars he was then thought to be a man of excellent business judgment and was chosen one of the directors of a bank at Cuyahoga Falls probably after the crash of 1837 Brown hoped to extricate enough to buy land in Virginia and move there but things went from bad to worse through endorsing a note for a friend one of his best pieces of farm property was attached put up at auction and bought by a neighbor brown on legal advice sought to retain possession but was arrested and placed in the Akron Jail the property was lost legal bankruptcy followed in October 1842 but Brown would not take the full advantage of it he gave the New England woolen company of rockville connecticut a note declaring that whereas i john brown on or about the 15th day of june ad 1839 received of the new england company through their agent george kellogg Esquire the sum of 2,800 dollars for the purchase of wool for said company and imprudently pledged the same for my own benefit and could not redeem it and whereas I have been legally discharged from my obligations by the laws of United States I hereby agree in consideration of the great kindness and tenderness of said company toward me in my calamity and more particularly of the moral obligation I am under to render to all their due to pay the same and the interest thereon from time to time as divine providence shall enable me to do he wrote mr. Kellogg at the same time I am sorry to say that in consequence of the unforeseen expense of getting the discharge the loss of an ox and the destitute condition in which a new surrender of my effects has placed me with my numerous family I fear this year must pass without my effecting in the way of payment what I've encouraged you to expect he was still paying this debt when he died and left $50.00 to ward it in his will it was a labyrinth of disaster in which the soul of John Brown was well-nigh choked and lost we hear him now and then gasping for breath I have been careful and troubled with so much serving that I have in a great measure neglected the one thing needful and pretty much stopped all correspondence with heaven he goes on to tell his son my worldly business has borne heavily and still does but we progress some have our sheep sheared and have done something at our hang have our tanning business going on in about the same proportion that is we are pretty fairly behind in business and feel that I must nearly or quite give up one or the other of the branches for want of regular troops on whom to depend he again tells his son I would send you some money but I have not yet received a dollar from any source since you left I should not be so dry of funds could i but overtake my work and then follows the teeth gritting word of a man whose grip is slipping but all is well all as well gradually matters began to mend his tannery perhaps never wholly abandoned was started again and his wool interests increased early in 1844 we seem to be over taking our business in the tannery he says and I have lately entered into a Co partnership with Simon Perkins jr. of Akron with a view of carrying on the sheep business extensively he is to furnish all the feed and shelter for wintering as a set-off against our taking all the care of the flock all other expenses we are to share equally and to divide the property equally John Brown and his family were to move to Akron and he says I think that is the most comfortable and the most favorable arrangement of my worldly concerns that I ever had and calculated to afford as more leisure for improvement by day and by night than any other I do hope that God has enabled us to make it in mercy to us and not that he should send leonis into our souls our time will all be at our own command except the care of the flock we have nothing to do with providing for them in the winter excepting harvesting rutabagas and potatoes this I think will be considered no mean alliance for our family and I most earnestly hope they will have wisdom given to make the most of it it is certainly endorsing the poor bankrupt and his family three of whom were but recently in Akron jail in a manner quite unexpected and proves that notwithstanding we've been a company of belted Knights our industrious and steady endeavors to maintain our integrity and our character have not been wholly overlooked indeed the offer seemed to John Brown a flood of light a beloved occupation with space and time to think to study and to dream to get acquainted with himself and the world after the long struggle for bread and butter and the deep disappointment of failure almost in sight of success by July 1844 Brown was reporting 560 lambs raised and 2,700 pounds of wool for which he had been offered 56 cents a pound showing it to be of high grade he began closing up his tanning business the general aspect of our worldly affairs is favorable hope we do not entirely forget God he writes his daughter says as a shepherd he showed the same watchful care over his sheep I remember one spring a great many of his sheep had a disease called grab in the head and when the lambs came the ewes would not own them for two weeks he did not go to bed but sat up or slept an hour or two at a time in his chair and then would take a lantern go out and catch the ewes and hold them while the lambs sucked he would very often bring in a little dead looking lamb and put it in warm water and rub it until it showed signs of life and then wrap it in a warm blanket feed it warm milk with a teaspoon and work over it with such tenderness that in a few hours it would be capering around the room one Monday morning I had just got my white clothes in a nice warm suds in the wash tub when he came in bringing a little dead looking lamb there seemed to be no sign of life about it said he take out your clothes quick and let me put this lamb in the water I felt a little vexed to be hindered with my washing and told him I didn't believe he could make it live but in an hour or two he had it running around the room and calling loudly for its mother the next year he came from the barn and said to me Ruth that lamb I hinted you with when you were washing I have just sold for one hundred dollars it was a pure-blooded Saxony lamb by 1845 wealth again seemed all but within the grasp of John Brown the country was entering fully upon one of the most remarkable of many noteworthy periods of industrial expansion and the situation in the wool business was particularly favorable the flock of Saxony sheep owned by Perkins and brown was said to be the finest and most perfect flock in the United States and worth almost twenty thousand dollars the only apparent danger to the prosperity of the Western wool growers was the increasing power of the manufacturers and their desire for cheap wool the tariff on woollen goods was lower than formerly but until war time remained at about 20 to 30-percent ad valorem which afforded sufficient protection the tariff on cheap wool decreased until in 1857 all wool costing less than 20 cents a pound came in free and in 1854 Canadian wool of all grades was admitted without duty this meant practically free trade in wool the manufacturers of hosiery and carpets increased and the demand for domestic wool was continually growing there were however many difficulties in realizing just prices for domestic wool it was bought up by the manufacturers agents dealing with isolated untrained farmers and offering the lowest prices it was bought in bulk ungraded and as wool differs enormous ly in quantity and price the lowest grade often set the price for all no sooner did John Brown grasp the details of the wool business then he began to work out plans of amelioration and he conceived of this amelioration not as measured simply in personal wealth to him business was a philanthropy we have not even today reached his idea but urged on by the Socialists we are faintly perceiving it Brown proposed nothing quixotic or unpractical but he did propose a more equitable distribution of the returns of the whole wool business between the producers of the raw material and the manufacturers he proceeded first to arouse and organize the wool growers he traveled extensively among the farmers of Pennsylvania and Ohio I am out among the wool growers with a view to next summer's operations he writes March 24th 1846 our plan seems to meet with general favor and then thinking of greater plans he adds our unexampled success in minor affairs might be a lesson to us of what unity and perseverance might do in things of some importance for what indeed were sheep as compared with men and money weighed with Liberty the plan outlined by Brown before a convention of wool growers involved the placing of a permanent selling agent in the East the grading and warehousing of the wool and a pooling of profits according to the quality of the fleece the final result was that in 1846 Perkins and brown sent out a circular saying the undersigned commissioned wool merchants wool graders and exporters have completed arrangements for receiving wool of growers and holders and for grading and selling the same for cash at its real value when quality and condition are considered John Brown was put in special charge of this business while his son ran the sheep farm in Ohio the idea underlying this movement was excellent and it was soon started successfully John Brown went to live in Springfield with his family in December 1846 he writes we are getting along with our business slowly but prudently I trust and as well as we could reasonably expect under all the circumstances and so far as we can discover we are in favor with this people and also with the many we have had to do business with in two weeks during 1847 he has turned about $4,000 worth of wool into cash since I returned she'll probably make it up to 7,000 by the sixteenth yet great as was this initial prosperity the business eventually failed and was practically given up in 1851 why it was because of one of those strange economic paradoxes which bring great moral questions into the economic realm questions which we evaded yesterday and are trying to evade today but which we must answer tomorrow here was a man doing what everyone knew was for the best interests of a great industry grading and improving the quality of its raw material and systematizing its sale his methods were absolutely honest his technical knowledge was unsurpassed and his organization efficient yet a combination of manufacturers forced him out of business in a few months why the ordinary answer of current business ethics would be that John Brown was unable to corner the wool market against the manufacturers but this he never tried to do such a policy of financial freebooting never occurred to him and he would have repelled it indignantly if it had he wished to force neither buyer nor seller he was offering worthy goods at a fair price and making a just return for them that this system was best for the whole trade everyone knew yet it was weak it was weak in the same sense that the merchants of the Middle Ages were weak against the lawless on slots of robber barons any compact organization of manufacturers could force John Brown to take lower prices for his wool that is to allow the farmer a smaller proportion of the profit of the business of clothing human beings in other words well organized industrial highwayman could hold up the wool farmer and to make him hand Oh some of his earnings but John Brown knew as did indeed the manufacturing gentlemen of the road that the farmers were getting only moderate returns it was the mill men who made fortunes now it was possible to oppose the high woman's demand by counter organization like the middle-aged hanza the difficulty here would be to bring all the threatened parties into an organization they could be forced in by killing off or starving out the ignorant or recalcitrant this is the modern business method its result is arraying to industrial armies in a battle whose victims are paupers and prostitutes and whose victory comes by compromising whereby a half-dozen millionaires are born to the philanthropic world on the other hand to offer no opposition to organized economic aggression is to depend on the simple Justice of your cause in an industrial world that recognizes no justice it means industrial death and that was what it meant to John Brown the tariff of 1846 had cut the manufacturers profits the growing woolen trade would more than recoup them in a few years but they were not in business for their health that is they recognized no higher moral law than money-making and therefore determined to keep present profits where they were and to add possible future profits to them they continued their past efforts to force down the price of wool and got practical free trade in wool by 1854 meantime local New England manufacturers began to boycott John Brown they expected him to see his danger and lower his prices on the really fine grades he carried he was obdurate his prices were right and he thought just as counted in the wool business the manufacturers objected he was not playing according to the rules of the game he was as a fellow merchant complained no traitor he waited until his wolves were graded and then fixed a price if this suited the manufacturers they took the fleeces if not they bought elsewhere yet he was a scrupulously honest and upright man hard and inflexible but everybody had just what belongs to him Brown was in a position to make a fortune and a regular bread merchant would have done so thereupon the combination turned the screws a little closer Browns clerks were bribed and other competitive methods resorted to but Brown was inflexible and serene the prospect of great wealth did not tempt but rather repelled him indeed this whole warehouse business successful and important as it had hitherto been was drawing him away from his plans of larger usefulness it took his time and thought and his surroundings more and more made it mere money getting the manufacturers were after dollars of course his clients were waiting simply for returns and his partner was ever anxiously scanning the balance sheet this whole aspect of things more and more disquieted Brown he therefore writes soberly in December 1847 our our business seems to be going on middling well and will not probably be any the worse for the pinch and the money concerns I trust that getting or losing money does not entirely engross our attention but I am sensible that it quite occupies too large a share in it to get a little property together to leave as the world would have done is really a low mark to be firing at through life a Noblet oil may I sustain a nobler satisfaction gain the next year however came a severe money pressure one of the severus known for many years the consequence to us has been that some of those who contracted for wool of us are as yet unable to pay for and take the wall as they agreed and we are on that account unable to close our business this brought a fall in the price and complaint on all sides on the part of the wool growers because their profits were not continuing to rise and for manufacturers who demurred more and more clamorously at the prices demanded by Brown he writes early in 18-49 we have been selling wool middling fast of late on contract at 1847 prices but he adds scenting the coming storm we have in this part of the country the strongest proves that the great majority have made gold their hope their only hope evidently a crisis was approaching the boycott against the firm was more evident and the impatience of wool farmers growing the latter kept calling for advances on their stored wool if they had been willing to wait quietly there was still a chance for Perkins and Brown had undoubtedly the best in the American market and as good as the better English grades but the growers were restive and in some cases poor the result was shown in the balance sheet of 18-49 Brown had bought a hundred and thirty thousand pounds of wool and paid for it including Freight and commissions fifty-seven thousand eight hundred and eighty four dollars and forty eight cents his sales had amounted to forty nine thousand nine hundred and ninety two dollars and sixty seven cents leaving him seven thousand nine hundred and eighty one dollars and eighty one cents short and two hundred thousand pounds of wool in the warehouse Perkins afterward thought Brown was stubborn it would have been easily possible for them to have betrayed the growers and accepted a lower price their Commission's would have been larger the manufacturers were friendly and the sheep men too scattered and poor to protest indeed low prices and cash pleased them better than waiting but John Brown conceived that a principle was at stake he knew that his wool was worth even more than he asked he knew that English wool of the same grade sold at good price says why not then he argued take the wool to England and sell it thus opening up a new market for a great American product then too he had other and to him better reasons for wishing to see Europe he decided quickly and in August 18-49 he took his two hundred thousand pounds of wool to England he had graded every bit himself and packed it in new sacks the bales were firm round hard and true almost as if they'd been turned out in a lathe in this English venture John Brown showed one weakness of his character he did not know or recognize the subtler twistings of human nature he judged it ever from his own simple clear standpoint and so had a sort of prophetic vision of the vaster and the eternal aspects of the human soul but of its kinks and prejudices its little selfishness ah's and jealousies and dishonest ease he knew nothing they always came to him as a sort of surprise uncalculated for and but partially comprehended he could fight the devil and his angels and he did but he could not cope with the million miss births that hover between heaven and hell thus to his surprise he found his calculations all at fault in England his wool was good his knowledge of the technique of sorting and grading unsurpassed and yet because Englishmen believed it was not possible to raise good wool in America they obstinately refused to take the evidence of their own senses they seemed highly pleased they said that they had never seen superior wools and that they would see me again but they did not offer decent prices then two American woolen men had long arms and they were tipped with gold they fingered busily across the seas about this prying Yankee and English wool growers responded very willingly so that John Brown acknowledged mournfully late in September I have a great deal of stupid obstinate prejudice to contend with as well as conflicting interests both in this country and from the United States in the end the wool was sacrificed at prices 50% below its American value and some of it actually resold in America the American woolen man chuckled audibly a little incident occurred in 1850 Perkins and Browns his clip had come forward and it was beautiful the little compact Saxony fleeces were as nice as possible mr. Musgrave of the Northampton woollen mill who is making shawls and broad cloths wanted it and offered Uncle John Brown 60 cents a pound for it no I am going to send it to London Musgrave who is a Yorkshire man advised Brown not to do it for American wool would not sell in London not being thought good he tried hard to buy it but without a veil some little time after long enough for the purpose news came that it was sold in London but the price was not stated Musgrave came into my counting room one forenoon all aglow and said he wanted me to go with him he was going to have some fun then he went to the stairs and called Uncle John and told him he wanted him to go over to the Hartford Depot and see a lot of wool we had bought so Uncle John put on his coat and we started when we arrived at depo and just as we were going into the freight house Musgrave says mr. Brune I want you to tell me what you think of this lot of wool that stands me in just 52 cents a pound one glance at the bags was enough Uncle John wheeled and I can see him now as he put back to the lofts his brown coattails floating behind him and the nervous strides fairly devouring the way it was his own clip for which Musgrave some three months before had offered him sixty cents a pound as it lay in the loft it had been graded new bagged shipped by steamer to London sold and reshaped and was in Springfield at eight cents in the pound less than Musgrave offered it was a great joke and it made American woolen man smile this English venture was a deathblow to the perkins and brown wool business it was not entirely wound up until four years later but in 1849 Brown removed his family from Springfield up to the silent forests of the farthest Adirondacks were the great vision of his life unfolded itself it was however not easy for him to extricate himself from the web wound about him two currents set for his complete undoing the wool growers whom he had over advanced and who did not deliver the promised wool and certain manufacturers to whom the firm had contracted to deliver this wool which they could not get claims and damages to the amount of $40,000 appeared and some of these got into court while on the other hand the scattered and defaulting wool growers were scarcely worth suing by the firm long drawn-out legal battles ensued intensely distasteful to Browns straightforward nature and seemingly endless collections and sales continued hard and slow and Perkins began to get Restless John Brown sighed for the older and simpler life of his young manhood I can look back to our log cabin at the center of Richfield with a supper of porridge and johnnycake as a place of far more interest to me than the masa so it of Springfield he says to his children on the Ohio sheep farm I am much pleased with the reflection that you are all three once more together and all engaged in the same calling that the old patriarchs followed I will say but one more word on that score and that is taken from their history see that ye fall not out by the way and all will be exactly right in the end I should think matters were brightening a little in this direction in regard to our claims but I have not yet been able to get any of them to a final issue I think too that the prospect for the fine wool business rather improves what burdens me most of all is the apprehension that mr. perkins expects of me in the way of bringing matters to a close what no living man can possibly bring about in a short time and that he is getting out of patience and becoming distrustful meanwhile Brown was racing from court to court in Boston New York Troy and elsewhere seeking to settle up the business and know where he stood financially and above all to keep peace with and do justice to his partner cases were now settled and now appealed and the progress was miserably slow my journeys back and forth this winter have been very tedious then – his mind was elsewhere the nation was in turmoil and so was he at the time Anthony Burns was arrested in Boston he was advising with his lawyers at Troy red path says the morning after the news of the Byrnes affair reached here Brown went at his work immediately after breakfast but in a few minutes started up from his chair walked rapidly across the room several times then suddenly turned to his counsel and said I'm going to Boston going to Boston said the astonished lawyer why do you want to go to Boston old Brown continued walking vigorously and replied Anthony burns must be released or I will die in the attempt the council dropped his pen in consternation then he began to remonstrate told him the suit had been in progress a long time and a verdict just gained it was appealed from and that appeal must be answered in so many days or the whole labor would be lost and no one was sufficiently familiar with the whole case except himself it took a long iron is to talk with old Brown to persuade him to remain his memory and acuteness in that long and tedious lawsuit not yet ended I am told often astonished his counsel while here he wore an entire suit of snuff colored cloth coat of a decidedly Quaker –is– cut-in collar and skirt he wore no beard and was a clean-shaven scrupulously neat well-dressed quiet old gentleman he was however notably resolute in all that he did he spent the time not taken up by his lawsuits at Akron and in the manner of a patriarch of old temporarily brought his family back to Ohio I wrote you last week that the family is on the road the boys are driving on the cattle and my wife and little girls are at Oneida Depot waiting for me to go on with them he returned to farming again with interest taking prizes for his stock at state fairs and raising many sheep he had 550 lambs in 1853 and Perkins is urging him to continue with him but things changed and on January 25th 1854 he writes this world is not yet freed from real malice and envy it appears to be well settled now that we go back to North Elba in the spring I have had a good-natured talk with mr. Perkins about going away and both families are now preparing to carry out that plan his departure was delayed a year but he was finally able to remove with a little surplus on hand back then to the crests and forests of the Alleghenies came John Brown at the age of 54 a tall gaunt dark complexioned man a grave serious man with a marked countenance and a natural dignity of manner that dignity which is unconscious and comes from a superior habit of mind end of chapter 4

One thought on “John Brown | W. E. B. Du Bois | Biography & Autobiography | Audio Book | English | 1/7

  1. John Brown | W. E. B. Du Bois | Biography & Autobiography | Audio Book | English | 1/7
    0: [00:00:00] – Preface & Chronology
    1: [00:10:37] – Africa and America
    2: [00:20:12] – The Making of the Man
    3: [00:31:01] – The Wanderjahre
    4: [01:04:12] – The Shepherd of the Sheep

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