28
28
Brown, John, of Osawatomie
Estimate
12,00018,000
LOT SOLD. 11,250 USD
JUMP TO LOT
28
Brown, John, of Osawatomie
Estimate
12,00018,000
LOT SOLD. 11,250 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

|
New York

Brown, John, of Osawatomie
Autograph letter signed ("John Brown"), 2 pages (9 3/4  x 7 7/8  in.; 248 x 200 mm), Charlestown, Va., 28 November 1859, to his brother Jeremiah; paper loss affecting one word on verso, slightly faded. Half blue morocco gilt clamshell case.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Elsie O. and Philip D. Sang Foundation, sold Sotheby Parke Bernet, 29 April 1980, lot 10 (letter only).

Catalogue Note

John Brown writes to his brother four days before his execution. concerning the disposition of some of his possessions.  Brown (1800–59) remains one of the most polarizing figures in American history: viewed by many as a liberator and freedom fighter, and by others as a terrorist and murderer.  In Bloody Kansas, the abolitionism that Brown had espoused almost his entire life turned wildly violent.  In October 1859 Brown and a small band of followers seized the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, planning on leading an armed slave insurrection across the South.  Two days later, Brown was in custody and ten of his men, including two of his sons, were dead.  Brown was tried and executed on 2 December 1859.  Brown's death sentence prompted protest and outcry both in American and in Europe.  Victor Hugo wrote from his exile in Gurnsey on the day of execution, "Let America know and ponder on this: there is something more frightening than Cain killing Abel. and that is Washington killing Spartacus."

From prison, the condemned man writes to his brother, Jeremiah Brown, "... I am greatly obliged to you for what you have done for my four Boys especially; & for all the kindness expressed towards me in my bonds.  I have written to Judge Tilden at some length expressive of my feelings in general .... I have concluded to send to his care by express my watch & double-glass for my Boys to be given them by you as I will here-after direct & also $15.00 to refund to you the money you advanced to them.  The watch I want given to Jason & the glass to his next younger brother.  I intend making some special provision for the last named to be paid him in money from the proceeds of my Father's estate in consideration of his dreadful sufferings (as well as losses) in Kansas and his crippled condition from childhood.  I enclose an order on H. A. Thompson Esq. for any thing that may be coming to out of my Father's Estate to be here after divided as I may yet direct unless I may yet during my life time think of something that might lead me to revoke the order now sent.  You can for that purpose retain the order without presenting it untill a few days after I am disposed of ...."

with: a three-volume scrapbook of contemporary newspaper clippings relating to John Brown's abolitionist activities in Kansas, the Harper's Ferry raid, his trial and execution for treason, the execution of his followers, and letters and tributes from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Theodore Parker, T. W. Higginson, Lydia M. Child, and others.  Over 300 pages, bound in half cloth (2 vols.) and half morocco. 

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

|
New York