The Tragic Conflict: The Civil War and Reconstruction

By William B. Hesseltine | Go to book overview

4
John Brown: Kansas and Harper's Ferry

Horace Greeley

On the 17th of October, 1859, this country was bewildered and astounded, while the fifteen slave States were convulsed with fear, rage, and hate, by telegraphic dispatches from Baltimore and Washington, announcing the outbreak, at Harper's Ferry, of a conspiracy of Abolitionists and Negroes, having for its object the devastation and ruin of the South, and the massacre of her white inhabitants. A report that President Buchanan had been proclaimed Emperor and Autocrat of the North American continent, and had quietly arrested and imprisoned all the members of Congress and Judges of the Supreme Court, by way of strengthening his usurpation, would not have seemed more essentially incredible, nor have aroused a more intense excitement. Here follow the dispatches which gave the first tidings of this audacious and amazing demonstration.


INSURRECTION AT HARPER'S FERRY!

To the Associated Press:

Baltimore, Monday, Oct. 17, 1859

A dispatch just received here from Frederick, and dated this morning, states that an insurrection has broken out at Harper's Ferry, where an armed band of Abolitionists have full possession of the Government Arsenal. The express train going east was twice fired into, and one of the railroad hands and a negro killed, while they were endeavoring to get the train through the town. The insurrectionists stopped and arrested two men, who had come to town with a load of wheat, and, seizing their wagon, loaded it with rifles and sent them into Maryland. The insurrectionists number about 250 whites, and are aided by a gang of negroes. At last accounts, fighting was going on....

Probably the more prevalent sensation at first excited by this intelligence was that of blank incredulity. Harper's Ferry being the seat of a National Armory, at which a large number of mechanics and artisans were usually employed by the Govermnent, it was supposed by many that some collision respecting wages or hours of labor had occurred between the officers and

HORACE GREELEY, The American Conflict, 2 vols. ( Chicago, 1864-66, Ch. 20.

-81-

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