Steve Scroggins is a volunteer contributor to the Georgia
Heritage Council who lives in Macon. He is the deranged creative force behind the X-Files parody and satire feature.
John Brown's 150 Years of Martyrdom – Commentary by Steve Scroggins, 10/16/09
"History in Burckhardt's words is 'the record of what one age finds worthy of note in
another.' The past is intelligible to us only in light of the present; and we can fully understand the present only in light of
the past. To enable man to understand the society of the past and to increase his mastery over the society of the present is the dual
function of history." ---Edward Hallett Carr, from What is History?, p.69.
It's appropriate that we remember the events of 150 years ago and observe how their interpretation has developed since then in
light of history before and since.
America's "War Against Terrorism" is certainly nothing new. Americans have been fighting terrorism
in one form or another since our independence from Great Britain, and historically America's only successes have come through the
use of overwhelming force.
American sailors were taken captive and enslaved and had their ships and cargoes seized by the Barbary pirates beginning promptly
after the Treaty of Paris in 1783 when Great Britain ceased paying tribute (protection money) for her former colonies. Given its
lack of naval power, America continued paying tribute to the Pirates of Barbary from 1785 until 1815 when enough force was finally
deployed to convince the pirates to leave American shipping and sailors alone. The US Marine Corps hymn recounts those early
Marine actions in Africa, "...to the shores of Tripoli" in what is known as the first and second Barbary Wars.
"The Policy of Christendom has made Cowards of all their Sailors before the Standard of
Mahomet. It would be heroical and glorious in Us, to restore Courage to ours. I doubt not we could accomplish it, if we should set
about it in earnest. But the Difficulty of bringing our People to agree upon it, has ever discouraged me."
---John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 1786, expressing
distaste with tribute to Barbary pirates
[Source: The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams (Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1959). Ed. Lester J. Cappon]
"Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute." --Rep. Robert Goodloe Harper, (Federalist, SC), 1798
The other European powers (referred to as "Christendom" by Adams) had long found it expedient and perhaps cheaper to pay off the
pirates rather than suffer seizures of ships and cargoes, ransoming of crews and so forth --- or putting enough naval force in
place to defend their shipping. After American independence was established, the U.S. initially fell into the same habit of paying
off the thugs. Though Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson recommended war instead, Washington and later Adams continued to pay
the tributes and ransoms because Congress wouldn't raise the money for an adequate navy. The sums demanded as tribute were almost
fifty percent of the total federal budget. As president, Jefferson sent naval power
to the Med, but it was not enough to permanently stop all the Barbary pirates. In 1815, President James Madison finally sent
enough naval force
(after the War of 1812) to convince the pirates. The British and European powers soon followed suit and stopped paying tributes
as well. [ Source: Jewett, Thomas, "The U.S. Wages War Against The Barbary States" ]
Piracy, it should be noted, was a significant risk justifying the need for a stronger navy and it certainly weighed on the minds of
the Founders when they considered the need for a stronger central government in the mid-1780's ( the
Constitution ) that could raise sufficient revenues and focus the diplomacy and resources of the united States.
A final note on Piracy. If the Southern
Poverty Law Center had existed in 1815, we can be reasonably certain they would have issued a special report, most likely entitled,
Xenophobe/Racist Americans Crush Livelihoods of Barbary Entrepreneurs. We're somewhat surprised that the SPLC hasn't yet issued
a report entitled Racist U.S. Navy attacks Somali Good Samaritans. We know they've been busy working with the DHS and the FBI and
mailing fundraising letters, perhaps they'll address anti-Somali hate soon.
The Pirates of the Potomac - X-Files parody
Unlike the SPLC, we are NOT expanding the definition of Terrorism. On the contrary, we are
limiting it here for the purpose of discussion.
For purposes of discussion, I'm excluding the hostilities between white settlers and native Americans. The French and
later the British found it expedient to incite conflict and raids between natives and white American settlers in their efforts to
win dominance in North America. Eventually, Americans themselves set about removing the Indians by containment or genocide,
completing the dirty job in the early 20th century. [Sidebar: Would the SPLC have called the Indians "nativist racists"? No, of
course not, only whites can be true SPLC 'Hate Groups.']
In addition to the so-called "Indian wars" that spanned well over a century, I'm excluding the actions of Sherman's looters and
others of the yankee barbarian horde in uniform. The debate over their war crimes against civilians is a discussion for another time.
That being said, let's turn our attention to the 19th century and the period leading up to John Brown's infamy as a terrorist
(or martyr) and eventually to the "irrepressible conflict."
Fear of a violent uprising among slave populations was ever present among all nations holding a significant population of slaves. Keep
in mind that only five percent of the 12-13 million African slaves sold out of Africa came to North America (1440-1780); the rest
were taken to Spanish, French, English and Portuguese holdings in the Caribbean and South America.* The
Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804,
in which the slaves slaughtered their white (French) masters (whom they outnumbered ten to one), made these fears all the more
real. The idea was reinforced by the Virginia rampage of Nat Turner in 1831 (55 murders).
*[ Sources: Thomas, Hugh: The Slave Trade; Sobran, Joseph:
"Slavery in Perspective" ]
A large part of the rancor slave-holding
planters (and many neutral observers) held against the radical abolitionists was not that they favored abolition, or used
slanderous rhetoric, but that they advocated
abolition by way of a murderous uprising or by "any means necessary." Many radicals were encouraging such an uprising. Certain wealthy
abolitionists (the "Secret Six"
et al) even funded madmen and terrorists like John Brown to commit violence for their cause. Their
actions severely curtailed abolitionist sentiment and expression in the South, and were clearly counter-productive.
The mid-1850s were a violent time in Bleeding Kansas and Brown was right in the
middle of it. Brown himself acknowledged his approval of the murders of several Kansas families committed by his associates. Brown
was also known for his less famous (but still murderous)
raid into Vernon County, Missouri.
There were radical abolitionists and then there were RADICAL (and murderous) abolitionists like John Brown.
funding and support for his Harper's Ferry plan more than a decade prior to 1859 from such noted figures as Harriett Tubman and
Frederick Douglass. Brown's plan to end American slavery by murdering all
slave holders didn't end there. He went on to draft his own version of a
which presumably would be ratified after all the evil had been purged from the United States.
Despite the murder and
terrorism committed by Brown and his followers, he was lionized by black leaders and many white abolitionists in the North. In their minds, one surmises,
they saw the killing of slave owners and their families as some form of moral "justice." Brown was lauded by yankee poets such as
Thoreau and Emerson. There are memorial parks
named for Brown (Kansas), statues erected in his honor (Kansas) as well as memorial plaques placed by the NAACP and W.E.B. DuBois
in Harpers Ferry. Commissioned artwork of Brown depicts him in the pose of Moses with a Bible and a rifle. [Source:
"The Saint, whose fate yet hangs in suspense, but whose martyrdom, if it shall be perfected, will make the gallows as glorious
as the cross." ---Ralph Waldo Emerson, describing terrorist John Brown in a lecture at Tremont Temple, Nov. 11, 1859.
A well-known tune was even adapted to a song to praise the murderous Brown as a "martyr" and to condemn "the evil south" which the author's
lyrics referred to as a serpent. The worst part, the outrage, is that it's sung in many churches across America (north and south) to
this day on the pretense that it is "Christian" and "patriotic." Perhaps you've heard it: The Battle Hymn of the Republic
(by Julia Ward Howe, wife of Secret Six member Dr.
Samuel G. Howe). Jeff
Davis wrote a commentary entitled,
The Battle Hymn: Its Falsehood Marches On,
a few years back which includes a number of references and links. Laurence M. Vance referred to the Battle Hymn as
Blasphemy In Song. Judge for yourself. (See more links, info at bottom.)
Brown's Infamous Raid
October 16, 2009 marks the 150th anniversary of what is arguably the best known instance of domestic terrorism in America in the
19th century (again, excluding the Indian wars and Sherman's crimes). I am writing, of course, of the infamous Harper's Ferry Raid
led by fanatical terrorist John Brown. Fortunately, the body count was lower in total than Brown's raids in Kansas and
Missouri or even the Nat Turner rampage in Virginia.
Starting around 11pm on the 16th, John Brown led a small group of 15 or so white men and five blacks to seize the federal armory in
Harper's Ferry, Virginia (now the illegal West Virginia). After seizing the armory itself and its guard, Brown and his men took
about forty citizens of Harper's
Ferry as hostages during the wee hours of October 17th and into the next day. Though Brown's raiders had cut the telegraph wires,
they released a passing railroad freighter which sounded the alarm upon its arrival at Baltimore, notifying the governor of Virginia
and President James Buchanan.
Brown's purpose was to seize the weapons
of the armory arsenal and to spark a murderous slave uprising in Virginia and across the South
by arming the slaves. He had hoped that many if not most slaves in the area, upon hearing of Brown's raid, would join his group
and seek freedom by way of the violent deaths of their masters. President Buchanan dispatched Colonel
Robert E. Lee and a force of U.S. Marines to deal with Brown's raid (local militia were already on the scene surrounding the insurgents).
A portion of Lee's after action report is posted below.
[ Lee's full report ]
Brown's raiders were overpowered and most of the hostages were rescued. The
surviving raiders including Brown were put on trial and convicted. John Brown was hanged for his Harper's Ferry crimes Dec. 2, 1859,
or as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, Brown's martyrdom was "perfected" making the "gallows as glorious as the cross." Most of
Brown's Harper's Ferry accomplices, apparently not quite deities of Brown's stature, were hanged with less fanfare within a month.
Frederick Douglass suggested later that Brown did not fail in his purpose; that he gave his life for it, that he brought on the war that ended
slavery. I contend that Brown's bloody
approach was the worst that could be taken. It hardened the antagonism between the sections and convinced the southern states that
radical abolitionists would not stop until they had incited mass murder and widespread violence. Hence, the southern states believed they were
safer out of the union.
Brown's raid undermined the chances that peacemakers of both sides could negotiate a peaceful settlement (including most importantly a compromise
on tariffs) to prevent the "irrepressible conflict." Slavery was
the 1850s; its end in America was inevitable. No other country in the world required war to end it. I won't say that Brown
caused the war--- he did not --- but he galvanized the southern states in their resolve to secede for tax relief and safety.
Lincoln had the option to let the
southern states go in peace; instead, he chose war (and 650,000 American deaths) as preferable to losing the tax revenues paid
by the southern states (75+% of the total). Lincoln, seeking election support when the raid occurred, characterized Brown as
a "delusional lunatic justly hanged."
"The principle is not that a human being cannot justly own another, but that he cannot own him unless he is loyal to the
United States." --The London Spectator, 1863, describing the political war measure known as the
Super Power Status and Terrorism
Prior to and during WWII, Americans knew there were formidable foreign threats of conquest or attack. We emerged from WWII as a world
superpower and from the Cold War as the world's only superpower. No sane nation or entity would attack us in the open. Terrorism and
guerilla insurgency became the only practical way to attack or oppose the United States.
Prior to the latter half of the 20th century in America, acts of terrorism were relatively uncommon but not rare. Since 9/11 of 2001,
terrorism is a word or concept that we encounter almost daily, due in part to reality (our worldwide interests and adventurism) and
due in part to the alarmism and
sensationalism to today's mass media. Mencken's maxim of practical politics holds especially true in today's America. It's
essentially identical to Morris Dees' maxim of fundraising.
"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence
clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." --H.L. Mencken,
from In Defense of Women, 1918
Attention Spans and News-based Memory
Jacob Burckhardt once wrote that "history is the record of what one age finds worthy of note in another." By the same token,
"news" can be said to be what most news editors find worthy of note in current events. Obviously, events that capture more news
coverage and generate more controversy are generally more likely to be deemed "worthy of note" by future historians.
If an event like the Harper's Ferry Raid occurred today (a seizure of weapons for a violent political cause), would people remember
it 150 years from now? Would they remember it in context?
As a test of this query, a brief quiz: How many airliners were hijacked to Cuba in the 1970s and why? What happened at Ruby Ridge?
Why were The Branch Davidians in Waco incinerated? What happened at Columbine? What motivated the D.C. Snipers? Were McVeigh and
Nichols the only terrorists in the Oklahoma City bombing? Will these events
of the 1980s and 1990s be remembered in 50 or 100 years?
If such a Raid happened today, we can be fairly certain that it wouldn't be widely or deeply reported, much less condemned, by selective and
biased "watchdogs" such as the
Poverty Law Center. It would be a backpage story in less than a week.
Since Brown was white and professed to be a Christian, he thus meets the intitial SPLC litmus test as a hate group. However, since
he was critical of the South and Southerners and professed that his crimes were for the benefit of blacks, he would get a free pass
on having his crimes assigned to "hate." Given all the noise of alarmist warnings and predictions of right wing terrorism coming
from the SPLC machine, a Harper's Ferry Raid today would be little noted.
Why do you think that, Scroggins, you ask? Let's look at a few examples, shall we? The SPLC looks the other way when real acts of
hate are committed against approved targets, that is, people who disagree with SPLC's agenda. It might be a crime, it's just not a
"hate crime" that interests them. The SPLC has mastered the "art" of
smearing its targets
using "guilt by association" and rhetorical innuendo as its primary M.O...but while utilizing a group of writers whose anti-American
backgrounds are conveniently whitewashed or omitted. The truth would enrage the law enforcement community that assists in distributing SPLC's
propaganda and smears. GHC will be publishing a
on some of these characters and their anti-American backgrounds.
The SPLC didn't see anything hateful about The New Black Panther Party, when they were intimidating white voters in November 2008
in Philadelphia. No special reports, not even a mention in their volume of publications.
Charges Against 'New Black Panthers' Dropped by Obama Justice Dept. - FoxNews, 5/29/09
The Obama Regime's Private Cheka -- William Grigg. 8/13/09
Justice Dept. pressed to explain Panthers dropped charges - Washington Times, 8/7/09
The US Department of INJustice - Michele Malkin, 6/5/09
The SPLC writes nothing about the various hispanic hate groups who advocate killing 'gringos' but SPLC labels every citizen who
might be concerned about illegal
immigration a "racist" or a "nativist." The SPLC wants its readers/contributors to believe there are skinheads, klansmen and militia
rightwingers lurking behind every weedpatch and bush. SPLC spends all their ink mapping "hate crimes" such as graffiti and literature
distributions all the while ignoring volumes of violent urban gang crime (mostly hispanic and black) that is often racially motivated.
The SPLC has picked up the hypocrisy torch where Julia Ward Howe left off. They want to lead the U.S. government (DHS, FBI, etc.)
to use its "terrible swift sword" against American citizens who oppose SPLC's political agenda and preferences. The April 2009 DHS
report on "Rightwing Extremism," sourced extensively to SPLC, demonstrates that our
national intelligence and law enforcement agencies have been co-opted to serve as propaganda engines and persecution tools of the left.
SPLC benefits in that its
fundraising and scare-mongering gain credibility in some quarters and their targeted "enemies" undergo more scrutiny and surveillance at
taxpayer expense. Meanwhile, our limited intelligence assets are squandered on witch hunts while the real threats and real hate
violence gets little or no attention.
Homeland Security Report Warns Of Rising Right-Wing Extremism - Huffington Post 4/14/09
DHS report on Rightwing Extremism
Southern Poverty Law Center Tries to Cash in on DHS Report - Matthew Vadum, spectator.org 4/16/09
The Obama Role in the DHS Assault on Freedom: When Did He Know, and Why Didn't He Stop It? - GetLiberty.org, 8/12/09
Rep. Hoekstra Asks the Director of National Intelligence to Investigate DHS Report - 4/16/09
Rep. Hoekstra's letter to Janet Napolitano on DHS penetration by SPLC - 4/15/09
Watchdog group urges Congress to investigate racist extremists in the military SouthernStudies.org 7/2009
SPCL letter to Congress on Extremists - SPLC
DHS Report on Rightwing Extremism - 2nd source
Honoring Hate and Demagoguery
The University of Alabama Law School and a local law firm selects an annual recipient of the "Morris Dees Justice Award." Ken
Silverstein, in his article entitled
"The Southern Poverty Business Model"
published in Harper's Magazine Nov. 2007, quotes Atlanta attorney Stephen B. Bright from a letter Bright sent to the Dean of the Law
School at the University of Alabama. In the letter, Bright refers to Dees as "a con man and fraud" and to the Dees Justice Award as
"another Dees scam." Perhaps the Law School
should devise another award and name it the John Brown Peace & Tolerance Award. The first award might go to the leader of
The New Black Panther Party or perhaps the head pimp or madame at ACORN, or maybe to SPLC Board Chairman
Some future Julia Ward Howe may one day write a song about Morris Dees and the SPLC crusades...
Morris, Morris, hallelujah! Morris, Morris, hallelujah! Morris, Morris, hallelujah! His dupes are marching on....
Terrorist John Brown has statues, plaques, websites and memorial parks erected in his "honor." He has a
popular song that mentions him by name. He met justice at the end of a rope. Smear Merchant and conman Morris
Dees has a "Justice Award" named for him and has erected several huge
Poverty Palaces in Montgomery.
He's accumulated between $150 and
$200 million in the SPLC endownment fund and he has a propaganda machine cranking out smears on a regular basis.
Which one do you think
will be remembered most favorably in 150 years?
We can only hope that the future answer is, "Morris Who?" Given a little more time distance from slavery and
the civil rights movement, I trust that
Uncle Mo will be judged a
greedy hypocrite and demagogue and a black eye on the civil rights movement and that history will properly adjudge John Brown more of a
fanatical terrorist seeking "justice" through murder and less a martyr of a noble cause.
Steve Scroggins lives in Macon and contributes most of GHC's parody
and political cartoons and graphics.
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John Brown & Harper's Ferry
The federal forces that rushed to rescue Harper's Ferry were led by Colonel Robert E. Lee - soon
to become commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Lee described the action at Harpers Ferry in a report to his
"...on arriving here on the night of the 17th instant,I learned that a party of insurgents, about 11pm on the 16th, had seized
the watchmen stationed at the armory, arsenal, rifle factory, and bridge across the Potomac, and taken possession of those points.
They then dispatched six men, under one of their party, called Captain Aaron C.V. Stevens, to arrest the principal citizens in the
neighborhood and incite the Negroes to join in the insurrection. The party took Colonel L. W. Washington (the great-grand-nephew
of George Washington) from his bed about 1 1/2 am on the 17th, and brought him, with four of his servants, to this place. Mr. J. H.
Allstadt and six of his servants were in the same manner seized about 3 am, and arms placed in the hands of the Negroes.
Upon their return here, John E. Cook, one of the party sent to Mr. Washington's, was dispatched to Maryland, with Mr. Washington's
wagon, two of his servants, and three of Mr. Allstadt's, for arms and ammunition, &c. As day advanced, and the citizens of Harper's
Ferry commenced their usual avocations, they were separately captured, to the number of forty, as well as I could learn, and
confined in one room of the fire-engine house of the armory, which seems early to have been selected as a point of defense...
These companies forced the insurgents to abandon their positions at the bridge and in the village, and to withdraw within the
armory enclosure, where they fortified themselves in the fire-engine house, and carried ten of their prisoners for the purpose
of insuring their safety and facilitating their escape, whom they termed hostages...
I determined to summon the insurgents to surrender. As soon after daylight as the arrangements were made Lieutenant J. E. B.
Stewart, 1st cavalry, who had accompanied me from Washington as staff officer, was dispatched, under a flag, with a written
summons... Knowing the character of the leader of the insurgents, I did not expect it would be accepted. I had therefore
directed that the volunteer troops, under their respective commanders, should be paraded on the lines assigned them outside
the armory, and had prepared a storming party of twelve marines, under their commander, Lieutenant Green, and had placed
them close to the engine house, and secure from its fire. Three marines were furnished with sledge-hammers to break in the
doors, and the men were instructed how to distinguish our citizens from the insurgents; to attack with the bayonet and not
to injure the blacks detained in custody unless they resisted."
The Attack on the Engine House
Lieutenant Stewart was also directed not to receive from the insurgents any counter propositions. If they accepted the terms
offered, they must immediately deliver up their arms and release their prisoners. If they did not, he must, on leaving the
engine-house, give me the signal. My object was, with a view of saving our citizens, to have as short an interval as possible
between the summons and attack. The summons, as I had anticipated, was rejected. At the concerted signal the storming party
moved quickly to the door and commenced the attack. The fire engines within the house had been placed by the besieged close
to the doors. The doors were fastened by ropes, the spring of which prevented their being broken by the blows of the hammers.
The men were therefore ordered to drop the hammers, and, with a portion of the reserve, to use as a battering-ram a heavy
ladder, with which they dashed in a part of the door and gave admittance to the storming party.
US Marines storm the engine house
The fire of the insurgents up to this time had been harmless. At the threshold one marine fell mortally wounded. The rest, led
by Lieutenant Green and Major Russell, quickly ended the contest. The insurgents that resisted were bayoneted. Their leader,
John Brown, was cut down by the sword of Lieutenant Green, and our citizens were protected by both officers and men. The whole
was over in a few minutes...
From the information derived from the papers found upon the persons and among the baggage of the insurgents, and the statement
of those now in custody, it appears that the party consisted of nineteen men - fourteen white and five black. That they were
headed by John Brown, of some notoriety in Kansas, who in June last located himself in Maryland, at the Kennedy farm, where he
has been engaged in preparing to capture the United States works at Harper's Ferry.
He avows that his object was the liberation of the slaves of Virginia, and of the whole South; and acknowledges that he has
been disappointed in his expectations of aid from the black as well as white population, both in the Southern and Northern
States. The blacks whom he forced from their homes in this neighborhood, as far as I could learn, gave him no voluntary
assistance… The result proves that the plan was the attempt of a fanatic or madman, which could only end in failure; and its
temporary success was owing to the panic and confusion he succeeded in creating by magnifying his numbers."
Robert E. Lee's account appears in: Hart, Albert B., American History Told by Contemporaries vol.4 (1928); Furnas, J.C. The Road
to Harper's Ferry (1961); Nelson, Truman John, The Old Man: John Brown at Harper's Ferry (1973).
Lee's full report - UMKC.edu
The Death of Robert E. Lee - Calvin Johnson
Battle Hymn: Its Falsehood Marches On - J.A. Davis
Barbary Pirates, Old and New - Edward Cline, Capitalism Magazine 8/26/07
The U.S. Wages War Against The Barbary States - Thomas Jewett
"His Soul Goes Marching On" - The Life and Legacy of John Brown - West Virginia Archives & History Online exhibit
Blasphemy in Song - Laurence M. Vance
The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Updated - Mark Twain parody
The Battle Hymn Refuted - David O. Jones
‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ - What It Really Means - Michael Dan Jones
‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ - What It Really Means - Michael Dan Jones
The Battle Hymn of the Republican - Lydia McGrew
Battle Hymn a Christian hymn? - SCVCamp469
America’s Jacobin Ideologues - Thomas DiLorenzo
WHY THE SOUTH SECEDED - Hon. John H. Reagan (1903)
Should Southern Christians sing this? - Roland Mann
Echo Chamber of Lies: Open Letter to Leonard Pitts on SPLC - Steve Scroggins 9/17/09
Malaise The Magnificent: Mindreader...Knows All...Sees All - X-Files parody
SPLC's Reputation as Frauds & Conmen Grows - J.A. Davis & Steve Scroggins 8/21/09
Homeland Security Veteran's Smear - Jim Dean, GHC 8/27/09
Wolves in Watchdog Clothing: SPLC's Fellow Travelers - Jim Dean 9/10/09
SPLC Smears the Sons of Confederate Veterans...again - J.A. Davis, GHC 9/14/09
Why the SPLC Is So Very Dangerous in the Obama Era - Frank Conner, GHC 9/16/09
Uncle Mo vs. Uncle Jo - X-Files parody
Blathering Storm by Morris Dees - X-Files parody
SPLC advises DHS In Secret Meeting - April 2009 - X-Files parody
Montgomery County pays $1.3M to settle Dees/EEOC harassment case - X-Files parody
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