Writings and Speeches of Eugene V. Debs

By Eugene V. Debs | Go to book overview

JOHN BROWN: HISTORY'S GREATEST HERO1

The most picturesque character, the bravest man and most self- sacrificing soul in American history, was hanged at Charleston, Va., December 2, 1859.

On that day Thoreau said: "Some eighteen hundred years ago Christ was crucified. This morning, perchance, Captain Brown was hung. These are the two ends of a chain which is not without its links. He is not 'Old Brown' any longer; he is an Angel of Light. I foresee the time when the painter will paint that scene, no longer going to Rome for a subject; the poet will sing it, the historian record it, and with the landing of the Pilgrims and the Declaration of Independence it will be the ornament of some future national gallery, when at least the present form of slavery shall be no more here. We shall then be at liberty to weep for Captain Brown."

Few people dared on that fateful day to breathe a sympathetic word for the grizzled old agitator. For years he had carried on his warfare against chattel slavery. He had only a handful of fanatical followers to support him. But to his mind his duty was clear, and that was enough. He would fight it out to the end, and if need be alone.

Old John Brown set an example of moral courage and of single- hearted devotion to an ideal for all men and for all ages.

With every drop of his honest blood he hated slavery, and in his early manhood he resolved to lay his life on Freedom's altar in wiping out that insufferable affliction. He never faltered. So God-like was his unconquerable soul that he dared to face the world alone.

How perfectly sublime!

He did not reckon the overwhelming numbers against him, nor the paltry few that were on his side. This grosser aspect of the issue found no lodgment in his mind or heart. He was right and Jehovah was with him. His was not to reckon consequences, but to strike the immortal blow and step from the gallows to the throne of God.

Not for earthly glory did John Brown wage his holy warfare; not for any recognition or reward the people had it in their power to bestow. His great heart was set upon a higher goal, animated by a loftier ambition. His grand soul was illumined by a sublimer ideal. A race of human beings, lowly and despised, were in chains, and this festering crime was eating out the heart of civilization.

____________________
1
Appeal to Reason, November 23, 1907.

-280-

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Writings and Speeches of Eugene V. Debs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Contents xv
  • Proclamation to American Railway Union 1
  • Labor Omnia Vincit 4
  • Liberty 6
  • The Martyred Apostles Of Labor 20
  • Prison Labor - Its Effect on Industry and Trade 24
  • Outlook for Socialism in the United States 34
  • Martin Irons, Martyr 41
  • How I Became a Soclialist 43
  • Stopped the Blacklist 47
  • What's the Matter with Chicago? 50
  • The Western Labor Movement 54
  • The Negro and His Nemesis 66
  • The rape-fiend? Horrible! 73
  • The American Movement 76
  • Unionism And Socialism 95
  • The Socialist Party and The Working Class 125
  • The Federal Government and the Chicago Strike Reply to the Article on "The Government in the Chicago Strike of 1894" in Mcclure's Magazine, July, 1904, by Grover Cleveland, Ex-President of the U. S. 140
  • An Edeal Labor Press 161
  • Labor Day Greeting 163
  • Childhood 165
  • The Crimson Standard 166
  • Growth of the Injunction 167
  • Craft Unionism 171
  • Class Unionism 189
  • Revolutionary Unionism1 209
  • You Railroad Men 242
  • Arouse, Ye Slaves! 256
  • The Growth of Socialism 259
  • Open Letter to President Roosevelt 268
  • Prince and Proletaire 271
  • Roosevelts Labor Letters 274
  • December 2. 1859 279
  • John Brown: History's Greatest Hero 280
  • Looking Backward 281
  • Mother Jones 285
  • Thomas Mcgrady 286
  • Revolution 291
  • The Issue 293
  • Railroad Employees and Socialism 311
  • The Socialist Party's Appeal 317
  • Industrial Unionism 323
  • A Letter from Debs 326
  • A Letter from Debs on Immigration 326
  • Industrial Unionism 328
  • Working Class Politics 331
  • Danger Ahead 333
  • The Crisis in Mexico 337
  • Labor's Struggle for Supremacy 340
  • The McNamara Case And The Labor Movement 343
  • Sound Socialist Tactics 350
  • This is Our Year 358
  • Speech of Acceptance 361
  • Revolt of the Railroad Workers 373
  • Homestead And Ludlow 378
  • The Gunmen And The Miners 383
  • The Knights of Columbus 387
  • The Prospect for Peace 391
  • Fantine in Our Day 392
  • Letter Of Acceptance 395
  • Politicians and Preachers 398
  • Ruling Class Robbers 399
  • The Class War And Its Outlook 400
  • Tom Mooney Sentenced To Death 403
  • The I. W. W. Bogey 405
  • John Swinton: Radical Editor and Leader 409
  • The Canton, Ohio Speech 417
  • Address To The Jury 433
  • Statement To The Court 437
  • The Day of the People 440
  • Serving the Labor Movement 443
  • Sacco and Vanzetti 450
  • Woman--Comrade And Equal 453
  • The Relation of Society to the Convict 456
  • My 1920 Campaign for President 463
  • Leaving The Prison 468
  • Capitalism and Crime 473
  • Poverty and the Prison 477
  • Socialism and the Prison 481
  • Bibliography 485
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