Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Betrayal of Capt John Brown

"Had I so interfered on behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great...and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have been all right..." 
- John Brown (to the Virginia Court in Charlestown on Nov 2, 1859)

"Reminiscences of the Civil War by a Confederate Staff Officer"
In Harper's Ferry there was an armory and arsenal belonging to the government. At the time of the raid large quantities of arms, 100,000 stand of rifles, had been made there and were stored in the arsenal for use when needed.
The north easternmost end of the Valley of Virginia was settled by families mainly from Eastern Virginia, attracted by the fertility of the soil. They brought with them the institution of slavery, which, no matter what its faults may have been, gave to the people a phase of social life, an immunity from the drudgery of existence, a leisure for the cultivation of mind and manners. People opposed to slavery were simply ignorant of the subject. They said slavery was brutal, therefore slave-owners were brutal. Bad men are brutal often, and some slave-owners were brutal; but that they were brutal as a class, I deny.
Slavery wasn't that miserable (for grownups) but slavery requires capture-bonding (early childhood traumatic abuse to induce emotional bonding between victim and aggressor, presenting as selfless love).
There was a great deal of affection between the whites and blacks which could have been only the result of kindness. Cruelty in our section was the exception and was universally-condemned. I remember one man in our neighborhood who was cruel to his slaves. He was not a bad looking man, was always well dressed, and his manners were courtly in the extreme; but I have seen that man walk the streets of Charlestown on court days, when the streets were crowded, without having a friend to speak to him.
It's unfortunate for the man's slaves that Charlestown society failed to communicate their disapproval in explicit terms. Silence isn't golden, it's just creepy. Victims of stigma endure traumatic social penalty without being given the chance to speak in their own defence or even given a clear explanation for why they've been excluded.

In this instance, it seems unlikely the brute would have valued his cruelty above social inclusion. It's entirely possible he was only venting his frustration at being shunned by Charlestown society. He was clearly desperate to please. He wasn't told his cruelty was at fault. So he put stock into his appearance and dress, taking pains to remain courteous and pleasant, only to be shunned whenever he came to town. 

Polite Society creates ALL the confusion in the minds of children. Civility demands accurate, unemotional communication. If you can't efficiently communicate, you might find yourself at war instead. 

Shirley Temple movies are creepy, not because of any sleazy
 agenda to promote slavery but because there wasn't any.
That kindness was the rule was fully proved during the civil war; for when all men had gone to the front, and only the women and negroes were left, the negroes were the only protectors and supporters the women had, and it is a historical fact that they performed their duties faithfully to the end, and not one single instance of outrage has been recorded.
This is quite remarkable. All the men had gone to the front, so by Third Wave feminist logic, all the women should have been getting raped. And yet, it is a historical fact that not one single complaint was recorded.
One of my slaves followed me for four years through the war and, though given his freedom twice by our being captured, refused to be free and came back to me. And why should this not be so? I was the best friend he had in the world and he knew it.

The kindly relations which existed between master and slave were quite natural. The negro in a state of slavery was docile, gentle, and easy-going. In slavery he was content as long as he did not suffer. Fire to warm him in winter and food to satisfy his hunger were the limits of his ambition. He loved to laugh and dance and sing songs. He loved approbation, and would do far more and better work for his master's smile than his frown. And the master's part was not difficult. He was kind because kindness paid him well. He took care of his slave because it was money in his pocket to do so, and money out of his pocket if he did not. Of course, there were other and higher motives in individuals, but we must look for a motive for the multitude. That the negro was better housed, better fed, better clothed, and better looked after in sickness than now, was simply because the owner had money at stake. He had warm clothing, plenty of wholesome food, and a good doctor when ill, because of that money.
What motive did the cruel owner have to take money out of his pocket? Being shunned by Charlestown society seems a safe bet. But the Confederate officer here has just contradicted himself. By his own prior admission, there was no guarantee that the value of slaves afforded them protection.
After the harvest was ended each hand was paid one day's wages in gold and silver, down to the little boy who carried the sheaves. If the neighbors had not finished their harvest the force was allowed to go and help them out, receiving for themselves the usual wages. The thrifty negro was never without money in his pocket, and some have even been known to have money enough to buy their own freedom, or that of a wife or child who was in danger of being sold for the debts of their owner.
They had to buy their children off Massa, after indulging in sex that bred slaves for him.
Upon these people living peacefully and happily in that beautiful valley, the Brown Raid came in 1859 as a clap of thunder from a clear sky. At the time of the Raid I was living on a farm six miles southwest from Charlestown, and therefore fourteen miles from Harper's Ferry. On the Monday morning of the 20th of October, 1859, I noticed that the men often turned their eyes on me as I followed behind them in their work, a thing I had never observed in them before. Their glances were stolen glances, and made me feel uncomfortable and doubtful, an entirely new sensation in my experience as a slave owner.  
Harper's Ferry had been invaded the night before by a band of armed men, who had arrested some citizens, and killed several, and now held possession of the town and of all the trains on the B&O Railroad. Sentinels were posted at the street corners. All citizens on the street were told to go home and remain in their houses. The men wore short cloaks or blankets, under which they concealed the short Sharp's rifles with which they were armed.
John Brown and his men had complete control of the town, the amory and the 100,000 stand of rifles. Capt John Brown held up his end. But where were the slaves?
But the reign of John Brown's party was of short duration. The wires were busy during the night, and in the morning Harper's Ferry was invested by military companies from Charlestown, Winchester, Shepherdstown, Martinsburg, and Frederick. Brown was forced to take refuge in the engine house in the U.S. armory yard, taking his prisoners as hostages with him. Everybody seemed to have heard of these things except me, who had remained at home all that Monday and had seen nobody and heard nothing. I returned home, passing through the field where my men were at work, and observed that their covert glances were more frequent and more eager, and I now knew well the cause. It was a well-known fact that the negroes had some means of getting news which white people did not have, and I was sure my men knew as much about the Raid and more, probably, than I did. In fact it was ascertained afterwards that John Brown's emissaries in the shape of peddlers, book agents, etc, had been among the negroes for a year past, and had acquainted them with his plan, even the day he would take Harper's Ferry.
After an entire year of organisation and planning, John Brown would not have carried out his plan if he did not have the slaves' firm commitment to rise up and join him if his raid was successful. 

John Brown was betrayed by the slaves he was trying to free.
Brown told me in the jail at Charlestown that he looked for at least five hundred slaves to join him at Harper's Ferry, that his army would be five thousand in a few days, and that he would have one hundred thousand in a month, all armed with Harper's Ferry rifles he had captured, and that then five million slaves being in revolt, the whites would be at their mercy.
It was a brilliant plan. John Brown delivered on his promise. He did all the hard and dangerous work for the slaves, they only had to want to be free. But for what must have been two agonising days of bewildered confusion and frustration, John Brown waited...and waited...refusing to surrender, fighting right down to the wire as his sons died at the hands of Marines commanded by one Robert E. Lee. John Brown was injured and taken prisoner. Law and order was restored.

The slaves chickened out. That's why they were behaving strangely, they were wracked with guilt. After a year of careful planning, John Brown was left hanging (literally) when the slaves he was risking his life to free got cold feet.

You can't free slaves from slavery. If they didn't want to be slaves, they would be free, dead or in shackles. By definition, slaves want to be slaves or at least, they're not willing to do anything to free themselves. John Brown only had 100,000 rifles and the best goddamn plan imaginable, but the slaves would have had to learn how to fire the rifles and that's a lot of effort. Not to mention the likely chance of violent conflict. Slaves much prefer to bully children, they shy away from serious conflict. Someone could get hurt.

The historical record shows that when the slaves were handed freedom on a platter, they turned it down. John Brown was trapped, left holding the platter as federal troops raced to restore the status quo.

John Brown freed the slaves in 1859. There were no slaves to free.

Almost every organized and armed body of men in the State was present, and Charlestown became a military camp. Batteries of artillery were stationed on the outskirts. Cavalrymen patrolled the whole county and especially the northern border, thousands of infantry were camped in and around the town, and the sleepy little village awoke to the sights and sounds of war. 
Rumors were afloat of a rising of John Brown's friends in the North, that they were approaching the town in large bodies with the intention of rescuing him, and apprehension and excitement pervaded the whole community. Cavalry scouts increased their activity and vigilance; artillery was so placed as to sweep by its fire all the approaches, the infantry was often kept under arms all night.
But nothing came of the rumors; excitement died down gradually, and confidence was again restored. In the meantime, John Brown's men were recovering from their wounds and were speedily brought to trial. Able defenders did all they could for them before the juries but they were all found guilty, condemned, and hanged.

As John Brown stepped to the gallows, December 2, 1859, a woman thrust a pen and paper into his hand for an autograph, or a blessing. Brown scribbled a moment, and handed the paper back.

"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."
Capt. John Brown's final words proved to be prophetic. On November 6, 1860, not one year after repudiating the violence and mission of John Brown, the warlord Abraham Lincoln was elected President. Within two months of Lincoln's election, seven slave states had seceded from the Union. On April 12, 1861, Charlestonians attacked Fort Sumter, triggering four years of bloodshed. More American soldiers died in the Civil War than in all other US wars combined. The "blood" that John Brown predicted was indeed shed. The crimes have yet to be purged.

The American Civil War remains the deadliest war in American history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 750,000 soldiers and an undetermined number of civilian casualties. One estimate of the death toll is that ten percent of all Northern males 20–45 years old, and 30 percent of all Southern white males aged 18–40 perished.

Brown had with him in the Raid not over nineteen in all. That he should have attempted so much with so small a force would argue that he was not of sound mind, but it seems he had worked out his proposition quite thoroughly in his own head, and on plausible if not practical lines.

His theory was that the negroes in bondage were all thirsting for freedom.
That was John Brown's only mistake.
He neglected to estimate the true character of the negro and the real conditions of his bondage:
  • the negroes were comfortable and happy,
  • there was such a thing as love between master and slave,
  • many negroes loved their homes and were proud of the families who owned them.
As a consequence, not one slave joined him at Harper's Ferry, although they had ample notice of his coming. 
For a year before the Raid, Brown and his men had been living on a mountain farm on the Maryland side of the Potomac, about a mile from Harper's Ferry. There he formed his plans and sent his emissaries through the South. Being so near, he acquainted himself with all the conditions at Harper's Ferry, the number and quality of the arms stored in the arsenal, etc. There, on the farm, he made thousands of pikes with which to arm the ignorant slaves until he could teach them the use of firearms, and from there, on the day appointed, he marched at night into Harper's Ferry and took possession. 
The only thing wanting to success was the rising of the slaves.
When the armies of the North came, they saw freedom and embraced it.
When Brown came, they turned their backs upon him to a man.
The difference was:
  • John Brown was an outlaw, in breach of Authority's law. 
  • The Union armies legally changed the law by killing all who disagreed.
Slaves are raised by their mothers to respect the law of Authority. They will gladly kill and die in Authority's wars but they will not fight to free themselves from slavery as that would be against the law.

Lincoln understood this and in the third year of the Civil War, when Northern morale was flagging (a fact simply ignored by historians who argue the Civil War was intended to free the slaves), Lincoln signed a mock law into 'effect'. The Emancipation Proclamation technically freed no slaves as Lincoln had no authority in states under Confederate control. He might as well have signed a law prohibiting the binding of girls' feet by their mothers in China. Until the Union's armies swept through to establish a new law and order, the Emancipation Proclamation was legally redundant.
If freeing the slaves was Lincoln's goal, why would he wait until the third year of the War?

And why would the Emancipation Proclamation exclude all slaves in states already under Lincoln's control?

It's utterly puerile to imagine Lincoln was motivated to free the slaves when the Emancipation Proclamation only applied to states in which it didn't apply. It was a crafty political ploy to shore up Abolitionist support for a flagging war in danger of being called off. The Civil War was never about slavery until Lincoln was about to lose it.

The difference was:
  • John Brown offered them the chance to free themselves. 
  • The Union soldiers forced the slaves to accept freedom.
When I got home after the war there was one able-bodied negro on the farm who had never left it. I asked him why he had not gone with the others, and he said,
"I thought that if I was to be a slave I would rather be a slave here than anywhere else; and if I was to be free, I would rather be free here than anywhere else. I have a comfortable home, plenty to eat and am cared for when I am sick, and I don't see that any of those who went away have anything more, and some of them have much less."
These are sound views and argue for the negro more sense than Brown gave him credit for. That negro is living in his cabin on that farm to this day. In all that I have said upon the subject of slavery, it must not be understood that I have sought to justify or defend it. The negro was a knotty problem then and will remain a knotty problem for ages to come.

- A. R. H. Ranson. Catonsville, Maryland.
The slaves were brought to slavery by their mothers.

The bias of this Confederate officer is telling. He concludes his justification in defence of slavery with a declaration that he hasn't sought to justify or defend it. 

Humans aren't naturally blind but ask any professional sports umpire or referee whether humans are capable of perceiving objective reality. In the Confederate officer's bias, the truth is revealed to anyone with eyes to see it. 

Ranson was a slave. 

Objective reality: The vast majority of slaves were not captives shipped from the Old World to the New by Christian slave-traders. The villains responsible for the lion's share of misery and suffering were not white nor were they men.

Sojourner Truth: "Ain't I A Woman?" (1851)
"I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?"
Women of color brought the slaves to slavery. 

Slaves are betrayed by their mothers, hijacked out of peace into a life of slavery by women who choose pleasure > children's interests.

Massa can only work with what he's given.