Ohio History Journal

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218 Ohio Arch

218       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications


beyond the common average and level of trivial earthliness.

"No matter how inconsistent, impossible, and desperate a thing

might appear to others, if John Brown said he would do it, he

was sure to be believed. His words were never taken for empty

bravado," wrote Frederick Douglass.  That enthusiasts like

Gerrit Smith should be carried away was perhaps natural. But

Emerson was not an enthusiast, Thoreau was not, Theodore

Parker was not. All these men spoke of Brown as one gifted

for some divine purpose beyond mortality. All of them thanked

the humble farmer and shepherd for that thrill of exaltation

which is one of the greatest forces that can touch the heart.

No one will call John A. Andrew an enthusiast. He was a

practical man of the world, versed in the hard conduct of every-

day affairs. Yet Andrew said: "Whatever might be thought of

john Brown's acts, John Brown himself was right."

And the influence of such a man and such a life and such

a death flowed out and on beyond the men who obeyed him,

beyond the men who met him, to those who never knew, him

and had hardly even heard of him, to the whole country, to the

wide world. The song that carries his name inspired millions

throughout the great Civil War, it has inspired millions since,

and John Brown's soul and sacrifice were back of the song. That

is what Brown meant when he said, "I am worth inconceivably

more to hang than for any other purpose." That is what men

of his type achieve by their fierce struggle and their bitter self-

denial and their ardent sacrifice. They make others, long years

after, others who barely know their names and nothing of their

history, achieve also some little or mighty sacrifice, accomplish

some vast and far-reaching self-denial, that so the world, through

all its doubts and complications and perplexities, may be lifted

just a little towards ideal felicity. Whatever their limitations,

their errors, whatever taint of earthly damage has infected their

souls, it may justly be said that "these men, in teaching us how

to die, have at the same time taught us how to live."




We not infrequently hear from those "who speak

with authority" that history is not written as in former

years; that the old method of placing before the reader

the record of the past has materially changed; that the

productions in this department bearing dates a decade