Hellraisers Journal: Eugene Debs on John Brown, “the bravest man and most self-sacrificing soul in American history.”

John Brown by EVD, AtR, Nov 23, 1907


Hellraisers Journal, Monday November 25, 1907
Eugene Debs on John Brown: “He resolved to lay his life on Freedom’s alter.”

From the Appeal to Reason of November 23, 1907:



John Brown, ab 1846, by A Washington, wiki

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 alter 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 illuminated 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.

In the presence of this awful plague logic was silent, reason dumb, pity dead.

The wrath of retibutive 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 he sealed his devotion with his noble blood. Realizing that his work was done, he passed serenely, almost with joy, form 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?

[Photograph added.]

Eugene Debs on the Execution of John Brown:

DECEMBER 2, 1859


John Brown Last Moments by Thomas Hovenden ab 1885, LOC
Last Moments of John Brown by Thomas Hovenden

This is the immortal date upon which John Brown was led to execution. Louisa M. Alcott on that day christened him “Saint John the Just.” On that same day Longfellow wrote: “This will be a great day in our history; the date of a new revolution, quite as much needed as the old one. Even now, as I write, they are leading Old John Brown to execution in Virginia for attempting to rescue slaves! This is sowing the wind to reap the whirlwind, which will come soon.”

How prophetic these words!

Within a month the mutterings of the storm were heard in the land, and within a few months it broke forth in all its fury.

December 2, 1859, had spoken!

John Brown was the spirit incarnate of the Revolution, and his execution changed the destiny of the universe.

The hated agitator is now the sainted savior, and his name ranks highest among the immortals.

[Photograph added.]


Appeal to Reason
(Girard, Kansas)
-Nov 23, 1907
Page 1: John Brown by EVD
Page 2: December 2, 1859 by EVD

John Brown, ab 1846, by A Washington, wiki

John Brown Last Moments by Thomas Hovenden ab 1885

The description of of “Last Moments of John Brown” from LOC reads:

…depicts John Brown leaving the jail enroute to his execution. The moment is based on an account in the New York Tribune, published on December 5, 1859.

See also:

Augustus Washington

New York Daily Triune
(New York, New York)
-Dec 5, 1859
Page 5: “John Brown’s Invasion”
Page 8, Column 1: scroll down to “Execution” for story of
JB kissing the child as he is led to his death.

As he stepped out of the door a black woman, with her little child in arms, stood near his way. The twain were of the despised race, for whose emancipation and elevation to the dignity of children of God, he was about to lay down his life. His thoughts at that moment none can know except his acts interpret them. He stopped for a moment in his course, stooped over, and, with the tenderness of one whose love is as broad as the brotherhood of man, kissed it affectionately. That mother will be proud of that mark of distinction for her offspring, and some day when, over the ashes of John Brown the temple of Virginia liberty is reared, she may join in the joyful song of praise which on that soil will do justice to his memory.


John Brown’s Body

“They hung him for a traitor, themselves a traitorous crew.”

Battle Hymn of the Republic

“Let the Hero born of woman crush the serpent with his heel.”

Solidarity Forever

“All the world that owned by idle drones
is ours and ours alone;
We have laid the wide foundation,
built it skyward, stone by stone.
It is ours not to slave in,
but to master and own,
For the Union makes us strong.”