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ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND JOHN BROWN—A PARALLEL Boyd B. Stutler Tue FiTFiJL fifties was an era of ferment in the United States with one disturbing incident piling upon another. Most of them had their basic roots in the issue of slavery; all of them built up to a sharp cleavage and civil war at the break of the next decade. It was an age of hates and jealousies arising from issues and actions in many forms—the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, the Fugitive Slave Law, passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the territorial wars in Kansas, the assault on Senator Charles Sumner in the Senate chamber, the Dred Scott decision, John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, and finally the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. It was a tragic era that called for the best and the worst in men. Both elements were reflected in the bitter debates and even in physical encounters in the halls of the National Congress. All of this added fuel to the flames. Out of that seething cauldron of sectional, political, economic , and social dissension emerged strong men whose names are yet household words, though more than a century has passed since they worked for good or ill. First was Abraham Lincoln, a small-town lawyer and local politician, well-known in Illinois and on the fringes of neighboring states, and who had been but recently introduced to the wide American public largely through his 1858 series of debates with Senator Stephen A. Douglas. When the crisis came, this man was raised up to save the National Union through sheer native statesmanship. And there was John BrownOld John Brown of Osawatomie and Harpers Ferry—the homely old farmer and tanner, guerrilla leader in Kansas and raider at Harpers Ferry in militant actions to hasten freedom for the slaves held in the South. He was the forerunner of armed intervention in the slavery issue and thus did much to precipitate the crisis. His name in history is linked with that of Lincoln in aspirations and accomplishments. These two men—so unlike in their thinking and in their methods of operation—were Boyd B. Stutler, retired editor of the American Legion Magazine, has been a John Brown schohr for more than fifty years. He boasts the largest collection of Browniana in existence. 290 dominant figures in the national scene at the close of the lS50's and through the next decade. As William Dean Howells wrote: "There are two men in the history of our States whose lives are of such lasting spell that whenever you see their names in print you must stay and read what is said of them. To the end of imaginable time, mankind will be bound by an inesistible fascination when men write or speak of John Brown and Abraham Lincoln . So different as they were in their lives, in their deaths they were not divided, because both died by the power of slavery—slavery in its supremacy, slavery in its extremity."1 Senator John J. Ingalls of Kansas added a third name, that of General Ulysses S. Grant. The names of this triumvirate—Lincoln, Grant, and Brown—he predicted, "will loom forever against the horizon of time, as the pyramids above the voiceless desert, or mountain peaks over the subordinate plains."2 In later years William E. Barton, distinguished Lincoln biographer, stated: "We cannot think of John Brown without remembering Abraham Lincoln; we cannot tell the story of Lincoln's work of emancipation without remembering John Brown."3 The liberals of Europe, both contemporary and in more recent years, have joined the names of Lincoln and Brown together in a bond of unity. The differences in their policies and methods, if clearly understood , are brushed aside in the broader view of two champions of human liberty. On receiving news of the Emancipation Proclamation, Italian liberator Giuseppi Garibaldi hailed Lincoln as "heir of the aspirations of Christ and of John Brown."4 Victor Hugo, bowed with grief at the news of Lincoln's death, nevertheless wrote: "Let not the American people weep for Lincoln. This martyr has his place between John Brown and Jesus Christ as...


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