Writings and Speeches of Eugene V. Debs

By Eugene V. Debs | Go to book overview
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In the presence of this awful plague logic was silent, reason dumb, pity dead.

The wrath of retributive justice, long asleep, awakened at last and hurled its lurid bolt. Old John Brown struck the blow and the storm broke. That hour chattel slavery was dead.

In the first frightful convulsion the slave power seized the grand old liberator by the throat, put him in irons and threw him into a dungeon to await execution.

Alas! it was too late. His work was done. All Virginia could do was to furnish the crown for his martyrdom,

Victor Hugo exclaimed in a burst of reverential passion: " John Brown is grander than George Washington!"

History may be searched in vain for an example of noble heroism and sublime self-sacrifice equal to that of Old John Brown.

From the beginning of his career to its close he had but one idea and one ideal, and that was to destroy chattel slavery; and in that cause be sealed his devotion with his noble blood. Realizing that his work was done, he passed serenely, almost with joy, from the scenes of men.

His calmness upon the gallows was awe-inspiring; his exaltation supreme.

Old John Brown is not dead. His soul still marches on, and each passing year weaves new garlands for his brow and adds fresh lustre to his deathless glory.

Who shall be the John Brown of Wage-Slavery?


Before me lies a copy of the Philadelphia Evening Herald, bearing date of June 21, 1877. On that day the "Mollie Maguires" were executed, six of them--Boyle, McGeghan, Munley, Roarity, Carroll and Duffy--at Pottsville; four of them--Campbell, Doyle, Kelly and Donahue--at Mauch Chunk, and one--Lanahan--at Wilkesbarre. They all protested their innocence and all died game. Not one of them betrayed the slightest evidence of fear or weakening. The issue of the Herald referred to contains a full account of the executions, with portraits of the hapless victims.

Not long ago in the jail at Pottsville I stood on the spot where

Appeal to Reason, November 23, 1907.


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