Date of this Version
In 1855, John Brown went to Kansas “for the sole purpose of fighting if need be for liberty." He soon had occasion to teach the "Border Ruffians" that he could strike hard blows in behalf of free homes and an enslaved race. In repeated encounters, with a handful of men, he worsted the pro-slavery forces that came against him, and his success at the battle of Black .Tack, and Ossawatomie, and Lawrence made old John Brown of Ossawatomie, one of the foremost men of Kansas. The Missouri slave holders recognized him as the most vigorous and uncompromising of all their enemies. He was the most to be feared, because on all matters pertaining to this contest his convictions were intensely sincere. He believed in the god of battles and conceived his mission in life to be to free the slaves. In religion and conduct he was a puritan of the sternest sect. He was sixth in descent from Peter Brown, who landed from the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock in 1620, and the same motive that induced his ancestor to flee from the tyranny and persecution of king and clergy actuated John Brown to begin an armed resistance to the slave power-the love of liberty. He was true to the inherited instincts of his race, and in the language of James Redpath “He planted his feet on the Rock of Ages, the eternal truth, and was therefore never shaken in his policy or principles." He was not satisfied merely to defend Kansas against invasion, but, leagued with kindred spirits, carried on a predatory warfare against Missouri, releasing slaves and aiding them to escape to a place where their freedom would be secure. To get these freed men away from Missouri is what brought John Brown to Richardson county. A passage for him through Missouri was impossible, and to reach Canada, it was necessary to make a wide detour through Nebraska and Iowa, where public sentiment was on the side of the runaway slaves, and though Judge Taney had held that good citizens ought to return these fugitives, the people of Falls City in those early days thought otherwise; consequently a warm friendship grew up between our people and Brown. He had been in Kansas somewhat more than a year when he made his first trip to Falls City. It was in the autumn of 1855 that his wagon, containing a single fugitive slave, crossed the :Nemaha near the falls. He was on his way to New England in search of aid and friends to use in the Kansas troubles. A large portion of the journey was made in his wagon. It was on this trip he made the preliminary survey of the famous underground railroad, which afterwards became well worn by the feet of those who fled in fear and trembling from cruel task-masters. A route along the Missouri river was impracticable, for Leavenworth, Atchison, and other river towns were full of pro-slavery men, as was also Lecompton, on the Kaw, and then, too, the Iowa Sac and Fox Indian reservation stretched directly across this route. The negroes were afraid of the Indians, and perhaps they had good grounds for their fear. Doniphan, only a short distance from Atchison, was a hot-bed for abolitionists, among whom were Gen. Lane, afterwards U. S. Senator, James Redpath, the historian, and John Martin, present governor of Kansas. This town would have been on the river route, but taking all things into consideration it was thought to have too many pitfalls for the unwary African.