Well… I’ll Be John Brown

“Skeeter, didn’t I tell you to move that thar wheel barrow before I trip over it!!” “Well Bill I did. I moved it over yonder.” “Skeeter, you possum brained nit wit.. you moved it in front of the door to the outhouse I was using!!,” “Well I will be John Brown. I didn’t know you was in thar. Let me get you a rag so you can get that off yore face.”

On December 2, 1859 they put John Brown in the back of a horse drawn wagon and hung him somewhere in the woods outside of Charles Town, Virginia. From that time on the name John Brown has been used as a cuss word, mostly by Southerners. In the example above the nit wit uses John Brown instead of the word “damn.” If you go deep down South where they still fly the rebel flag over the State House and tell everyone they keep the coloreds only fountain in there because its part of their heritage, then you might hear another version of the phrase, “I’ll be John Browned.” If someone says that to you, then get the @##@! outta there fast. If that particular phrase is used, it means “I’ll be hanged,” and they just gave you a hint that that somebody somewhere is making a phone call.

John Brown was a white abolitionist who raided the Harpers Ferry Armory in Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in 1859 to get weapons for a slave revolt. West Virginia did not secede from Virginia until 1863, almost four years after the Brown trial, so at the time Harpers Ferry was in Virginia. During the raid a faithful negro named Heyward Shepherd was the first one killed defending the town against the black heathens fighting for their freedom… god bless his heart. I heard they shot him so many times, he had more holes in him than a screen porch. In a tribute for his bravery the United Daughters of the Confederacy dedicated a monument to him entitled the “Faithful Slave Memorial.” Well, all I can say Heyward is thank you for that. Anywho, Brown was charged with treason. He was the first person convicted of treason in the United States. Although Benedict Arnold was the first to commit treason, he did it before the United States was formed. Brown’s trial began on October 25, 1859.

Skeeter: Bill you coming wit me to see that ni**er lovin fella John Brown hanged today? Bill: Now hold yo britches Skeeter, this is still the United States of America!!. We give our ni**er lovers a trial first.. probably won’t be hung till tomorrow.

Although Brown and his co defendants had attempted to remove by force weapons located on federal property, the trial was not in a federal court. The Governor of Virginia ordered the trial held in a state court because of anti slavery sentiments in the North which could apply pressure on the federal level and lead to a possible not guilty verdict or pardon. Presiding over the trial was Circuit Court Judge Richard Parker. Brown was not allowed to choose his own attorneys, but instead was appointed an attorney by Judge Parker. It was reported that in an opening statement to the jurors Judge Parker said, “I will not permit myself to give expression to any of those feelings which at once spring up in every breast when reflecting on the enormity of the guilt in which those are involved who invade by force a peaceful, unsuspecting portion of our common country, raise the standard of insurrection amongst us, and shoot down without mercy Virginia citizens defending Virginia soil against their invasion.

Bill: Skeeter aint dat Judge “25 Slaves” Parker residing? Skeeter: Yep, and dat man standing behind him is “Velvet Rope Lester.” Lester got some French in him on a count of his daddy who “was” the head of dat French family named Guillotine. Bill: Hush now Sketter, they gittin ready to bring em in.

As reported in the New Yorker by Robert M.De Witt on the first day of the trial, “The prisoners, as brought into the Court, presented a pitiable sight –Brown and Stephens being unable to stand without assistance. Brown has three sword-stabs in his body, and one saber-cut over the heart. Stephens has three balls in his head, and had two in his breast and one in his arm. He was also cut on the forehead with a rifle bullet, which glanced off leaving a bad wound.” Before the raid Brown had asked Harriet Tubman for assistance. No one knew the countryside like Tubman and he needed her knowledge in order to prepare his attack. He also asked if she could get any newly freed slaves from Canada to assist, to which she complied. Frederick Douglas had known of the attack in advance but did not support it and implored blacks not to enlist. In the end Brown attacked Harpers Ferry with 18 men. They were well equipped having been sent the latest weapons from abolitionist in the North. Brown’s plan was to seize the guns from the armory which totaled about 100,000 weapons and arm the local slaves. He would then go from plantation to plantation freeing and arming slaves until the Virginia slave economy collapsed. He hoped his crusade would spread to other Southern States compromising their economies as well and finally put an end to slavery. Everything was going well for them when the raid started. They had cut the telegraph line, took a few hostages and sent word to the slaves on nearby plantations that it was about to go down and they would soon be free. Yes everything was going fine until the Faithful Negro steeped in…

Bill: Skeeter stand up and bow yo head. Skeeter: What fo Bill? Bill: That’s a picture of the Faithful Negra the judge is showing. Skeeter: Bill who is the Faithful Negra? Bill: You know when yo barn is on fire, he’s the ni**er that puts it out and den he puts da lips on da ni**er dat done it. Skeeter: Even without a whoopin? Bill: Yep, den he fetches the rope and ties him to the whoopin pole. Skeeter: Gosh darn!!! The Faithful Negra!!

Heyward Shepherd was a freed slave who was the baggage master at the railroad in Harpers Ferry. In the middle of the raid, Shepherd rush toward the train to warn them that Brown and his men had taken over the armory and were about to arm the slaves on the nearby plantations. As he approached the train Brown’s men warned him to stop and when he didn’t, they opened fire on him. Shepherd was killed and inexplicably Brown allowed the train to continue. After leaving Harpers Ferry, the conductor sent the following telegraph to  W.P. Smith, Master of Transportation of the B. & O. R. R., Baltimore, “Express train bound east, under my charge, was stopped this morning at Harper’s Ferry by armed abolitionists. They have possession of the bridge and the arms and armory of the United States. Myself and Baggage Master have been fired at, and Hayward, the colored porter, is wounded very severely, being shot through the body, the ball entering the body below the left shoulder blade and coming out under the left side.” Of course after the word reached Washington DC that an armed group of abolitionist were trying to seize the armory at Harpers Ferry, it was on. But in the meantime local farmers, shopkeepers, and militia pinned down the raiders in the armory by firing from the heights behind the town. If you haven’t been to Harpers Ferry, the armory is surrounded by mountains on all sides. Why they would put an armory in that location is beyond me. Anyone who is commanding a position above the armory can fire down on it without virtually any opposition. That’s a picture of it on the below. Anywho the fighting went on for a couple of days until  Colonel Robert E. Lee arrived. Lee would go on to become the military leader of the Confederate Army of the United Traitors Of America. He sent another traitor, JEB (F**ked Up At Gettysburg Leading to Lee Losing The Civil War) Stuart to tell the men holed up in the armory, that they would not be harmed if they surrendered. At the Battle of Gettysburg, then General Stuart commanded Lee’s cavalry, the men who fought on horses. His job was to report the Union’s positions and come back and tell Lee. Instead he went out and in the name of glory made useless attacks on the Union army supply lines. It was three days before he reported back to Lee. It gave the Union army time to position its troops on the hills overlooking the battlefield and would force an arrogant Lee into a frontal assault against overwhelming firepower. Until Gettysburg the Civil War had been fought in the South. After the devastating loss at Gettysburg, Lee would never invade the North again.

Skeeter: Bill I hat a funny dream last night. I dreamt that some black boys wearing blue soldiers uniforms was chasin me wit bayonets. They was white gals showing em where I were. One of dem boys grab me and pulled me out da hollow. I closed my eyes finning for the end when he say… did I know what time Popeyes closed? Bill: Will you hush dat trap of yo’s. I’m trying to listen to da trial heah!!

After Stuart’s had given them Lee’s option to leave peacefully, Brown refused, saying, “No, I prefer to die here.” Okay I need to tell you something about the armory before we proceed. The armory was about as big as a Walmart bathroom, except where you have the mirrors and sink, there would be two barn doors there. Let’s continue… So Stuart gave the signal and his men broke down the doors. Brown was struck several times by rifle fire and in a few minutes they were all captured. Brown’s men killed four people, and wounded nine. Ten of Brown’s men were killed (including his sons Watson and Oliver). Some escaped but were later captured. So after a doctor pronounced the still-wounded Brown fit for trial, he was charged with murdering four whites and a black, conspiring with slaves to rebel, and treason against Virginia.  Brown knew that it was no way he was coming out this alive. On the first day of the trial he gave this riveting opening statement. “Virginians, I did not ask for any quarter at the time I was taken. I did not ask to have my life spared. The Governor of the State of Virginia tendered me his assurance that I should have a fair trial: but, under no circumstances whatever will I be able to have a fair trial. If you seek my blood, you can have it at any moment, without this mockery of a trial. I have had no counsel: I have not been able to advise with any one. I know nothing about the feelings of my fellow prisoners, and am utterly unable to attend in any way to my own defense. My memory don’t serve me: my health is insufficient, although improving. There are mitigating circumstances that I would urge in our favor, if a fair trial is to be allowed us: but if we are to be forced with a mere form—a trial for execution—you might spare yourselves that trouble. I am ready for my fate. I do not ask a trial. I beg for no mockery of a trial—no insult—nothing but that which conscience gives, or cowardice would drive you to practice. I ask again to be excused from the mockery of a trial. I do not even know what the special design of this examination is. I do not know what is to be the benefit of it to the Commonwealth. I have now little further to ask, other than that I may not be foolishly insulted only as cowardly barbarians insult those who fall into their power.

Skeeter: Bill did he call us barbarians? Bill: Yep. Skeeter: Did you bring the popcorn and blankets? Bill: Yep.

On November 2, after a week-long trial and 45 minutes of deliberation, the Charles Town jury found Brown guilty on all three counts. He was sentenced to be hanged in public on December 2. On the day of his death Brown passed a note to his jailer who had asked for an autograph, it said, “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had, as I now think, vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed it might be done.” A few years later Lincoln said something similar in his second inaugural address, ” Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” John Brown was hanged at 11:15 a.m. and pronounced dead at 11:50 a.m. His body was placed in a wooden coffin with the noose still around his neck. His coffin was then put on a train to take it away from Virginia to his family homestead in New York for burial. He was supposed to be embalmed in Philadelphia, through which the train would pass. However, because of demonstrations expected from both sides—there were many Southern pro-slavery medical students in Philadelphia—Mayor Alexander Henry “made a fake casket, covered with flowers and flags which was carefully lifted from the coach and the train. which sped onward in its destination … In reality the train carrying Brown’s body never actually stopped in Philadelphia, and thus violence was averted by a ‘sham coffin’.” As a direct result, many Southern medical students and professors left Philadelphia en masse on December 21, 1859, for Southern medical schools, never to return. Brown was interred at the John Brown Farm Grounds, North Elba, Essex County, New York, USA.

Skeeter VIII: Lock Her Up!! Lock Her Up!! Bill this is the greatest rally I have ever been to!! Did you bring the hats and signs? Bill VIII: Yep!!

References:

  • Wikipedia
  • American Heritage
  • Famous Trials
  • American Battlefield Trust
  • The Culture Trip

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