Front Matter The Beginning of the U.S Franklin's Return Troubles After the War The Constitution The First President Washington's Troubles A Wonderful Invention Death of Washington The U.S. Buys Land War With African Pirates Death of Somers The First Steamboat The Gerrymander The War of 1812 "Don't Give Up the Ship" The Star-Spangled Banner Clinton's "Big Ditch" More Land Bought Jackson Stories Jackson's Presidency New Inventions Whitman's Ride The Mormons The First Telegraph The Mexican War The Slavery Quarrel Daniel Webster's Youth Webster's Speeches Early Times in California Discovery of El Dorado Rush to California The Underground Railroad The First World's Fair John Brown's Raid Lincoln's Youth The First Shot The Call to Arms The President's Decision Admiral Farragut The Monitor and Merrimac The Penninsular Campaign Barbara Frietchie Lincoln's Vow The Battle of Gettysburg The Taking of Vicksburg Riots, Raids, and Battles The Burning of Atlanta The March to the Sea Sheridan's Ride The Doings of the Fleet Lee's Surrender Decoration Day Lincoln Stories Lincoln's Rebukes A President's Son A Noble Southerner Hard Times in the South The Atlantic Cable Best Way to Settle Quarrels Our One Hundredth Birthday Gold for Greenbacks A Clever Engineer Death of Garfield The Celebration at Yorktown The Great Statue A Terrible Flood Lynch Law The Great White City The Explosion of the Maine The Battle of Manila Hobson's Brave Deed Surrender of Santiago The Hawaiian Islands The Annexation of Hawaii The Philippine War Assassination of McKinley The Panama Canal Roosevelt's Administration Two Presidents German Views The World War Since the World War

Story of the Great Republic - Helene Guerber

John Brown's Raid

The slavery question created such very strong and bitter feeling that the next election saw the rise of what is still called the Republican party, which soon included all those in favor of free soil. The Democrats proving the stronger, however, James Buchanan, their candidate, became the fifteenth President of the United States.

As Buchanan was already sixty-six and unmarried, he is sometimes called the "Bachelor President." Many had hoped that his election would put an end to all quarrels. But he was neither firm nor tactful, and things had already reached such a state that it seemed as if no Power could prevent the terrible events which were soon to take place.

In the beginning of Buchanan's term a dispute was settled which was to be talked about in all parts of the country. A Doctor had taken his slave, Dred Scot, north. After living in a free territory several years, this slave fancied he was free, and when his master took him south again, and sold him, he appealed to the courts.

The question was finally laid before the Supreme Court of the United States, which decided that a man's slaves belonged to him, no natter where he happened to live. When people in the free states heard this, they made a great outcry, because, as they said, slaves could now be held anywhere.

The people in the South, on the other hand, were greatly pleased, for this was just what they wanted. The result was that both parties felt all the more determined, the one to stop the spread of slavery, the other to extend it over the whole country. Fiery speeches were again made on both sides of the question, and people grew more and more excited.

Now, one man who was against slavery was named John Brown. He was a religious man, but not very wise. He went to settle in Kansas, where he spoke his mind so freely that the slavery people there soon learned to hate him. In a fight at Osawatomie, John Brown was victorious, but lost one of his relatives. This loss almost crazed him, and made him all the more anxious to put an end to slavery. Indeed, he finally imagined that the Lord had specially chosen him to do this work.

As he could not stay in Kansas, where a price had been set upon his head, John Brown of Osawatomie went to Harpers Ferry, in Virginia, in 1859. There, with the help of a few well-meaning but very unwise persons in the North who supplied him with money, John Brown made a plan to free the slaves. As he knew they would need arms to resist capture, he and twenty followers seized the United States armory at Harpers Ferry. Then they seized and imprisoned a few slaveholders.

Brown at Harper's Ferry


This was against the laws of both state and country. Before John Brown could escape, he was caught by our troops, tried for treason and murder, and hanged. "John Brown's Raid," as his expedition in Virginia is generally called, created a great excitement, for the Southern people did not realize at that time that it was merely the plan of a man half-crazed by suffering. Some Southerners fancied that all the abolitionists in the North were in league with John Brown, and as they had lived through the horrors of small negro revolts, they were naturally indignant.

In fact, most people in the North thought it very wrong of John Brown to take the law into his own hands or to try to free slaves by violence. They did long to see slavery ended, but they wanted it to be done by vote, and not by force. Besides, they knew, as well as the Southerners, that an uprising of the negroes was greatly to be dreaded, for the latter were so ignorant at that time, and so easily led, that they might have been urged on to commit the most horrible crimes.

John Brown's attempt only made slavery quarrels worse, and when the time came for a new election, four candidates were proposed. One of these men, Breckinridge, was in favor of allowing slaves to be carried into all the territories, but another, Stephen A. Douglas, said that the new territories ought to be opened to slaveholders and free men, the settlers themselves deciding for or against slavery. The third man declared merely in favor of union and peace. The fourth, Abraham Lincoln, claimed that, while the laws of states should be respected, slavery ought not to spread any farther, because it was morally wrong.



Now, by the last census made, there were thirty-one million inhabitants in our country, only twelve million of which lived in slave states. You will therefore not be surprised to learn that Abraham Lincoln, the Republican candidate, was elected sixteenth President of the United States (186o).

It was in 1861 that Kansas joined the Union as a free state, and the thirty-fourth star was added to our flag. In mentioning Old Glory, Senator Charles Sumner once spoke these words, which every American citizen should remember: "The stripes of alternate red and white proclaim the original union of thirteen states to maintain the Declaration of Independence. Its stars, white on a field of blue, proclaim the union of states constituting our national constellation, which receives a new star with every new state. These two signify union, past and present. The very colors have a language which was officially recognized by our fathers. White is for purity, red is for valor, blue is for justice."