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[newspaper clipping]
     ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE PLOT.
	      LETTER FROM COL. FORBES.
			       SATURDAY, Oct. 29, 1859.
To the Editor of the New-York Times:
  Having by several persons been requested to
make a simple statement of fact, that the public might
be enabled to comprehend what appears a chaos, I
have determined to do so, as far as my own knowledge
enables me to do it.  In consequence of the accusa-
tion in the columns of the Tribune, I had resolved to
adopt this course after the trial of Capt. BROWN was
over, but the publication of my notice to this (dated
Oct. 25,) having precipitated the production of docu-
ments which are already before the public, with
names and circumstances which I could willingly
have withheld, there is no motive for further delay.
All my letters would doubtless have seen the light ere
long, because a copy of each was transmitted by me
to Capt. BROWN, as well as to his backers, and even
some of them likewise have sent him other co-
pies, so that in the carpet-bag, and among the papers
scattered about his house, an abundant supply of my
correspondence may have been procured.  Allow me,
therefore, to ask for a space in your journal.
  About the 20th of March, 1857, Capt. BROWN, bear-
ing an ordinary letter of introduction, applied to me,
in the name of some Kansas Committees and private
citizens, to go west to organize and instruct a certain
energetic portion of the Free State men.  My reply
was, that so far as the purpose went, that was good,
but was not far enough to induce me to move; but
finding that his intention was to act against Slavery
itself, I acquiesced in his demand, provided he could
so manage as to send, for at least one year, to my
family in Europe, each month, the half of what I was
at that time making, and would further send my daugh-
ter to her mother in Europe, for I could not leave her
in New-York all alone, and could get a son out here,
instead of the child I sent home, which, with certain
other preliminary expenses, would amount to six hun-
dred dollars, besides my traveling and other expenses.
  Capt. B. being wholly unknown to me, I inquired
concerning him, and the gentleman who had furnished
him with the introduction assured me that though he
had no means of his own to enter into engagements
with me, yet he was backed by substantial men.  That
appeared to me as sufficient.  Capt. B. returned to
the East to consult his friends, and he reappeared with
$600 about the end of April, 1857.  Mr. GREELEY led
me to hope that I could have my family brought over
here instead of sending home my daughter, but that
was not done.  The preliminary expenses, not on my
account, but that of Capt. B. s exceeded the $600, so
that I could not manage to get my son from Europe,
nor did he join me for upwards of a year indeed I
had difficulties in getting to Tabor to find Capt. B.
  Captain BROWN having been delayed in the East-
ern and Central States, was unable to reach Tabor
earlier than Aug. 7, instead of earlier in June, as had
been anticipated.  I joined him there on the 9th of
August.  The Border Ruffians having just at that
period spread a report that they had abandoned Kan-
sas, the New-England managers allowed Capt. B.
and myself to stay at Tabor without funds, and did
not send the promised remittances to my family, be-
cause a great number of subscribers did not contri-
bute their respective quotas.  During this interval of
suspense, Capt. B. advocated the adoption of his
plan, and I supported mine of stampedes. The con-
clusion arrived at was that he renounced his Har-
per s Ferry project, and I consented to cooperate in
stampedes in Virginia and Maryland instead of the
part of the country I indicated as the most suitable.  I 
perceived, however, that his mind constantly wan-
dered back to Harper s Ferry, and it was not till it had
been definitely settled that neither of us should so any-
thing unless under the direction or with the consent of
a committee, that I felt easy in my mind respecting his
curious notions of Harper s Ferry.  He was very pious,
and had been deeply impressed for many years with the
Bible Story of Gideon, believing that he with a handful
of men could strike down Slavery.  The device to put
an end to Slavery was desirable, but it required to be
judiciously directed, or it may become an absurdity.
Indeed, it would have been just as easy, and could
have produced more  clat, if, instead of barricading
themselves in the engine-house of the arsenal, the
twenty-three had made in the night a descent on the
White House and carried off the President to parts
unknown before the marines could have had time to
open their eyes.
  On the 2d of November I embarked on board a Mis-
souri steamer for St. Louis, and from there went to
Ohio, where I received letters from my family depict-
ing their deplorable condition, which gave me no very
kind feelings towards the Humanitarians.  With diffi-
culty, and very ill, I reached New-York early in De-
cember, 1857, and I went immediately to see Mr. 
HORACE GREELEY and Mr. THADEUS HYATT.  I expected
from them a kind reception, but that proved a delu-
sion no one was responsible; neither could either re-
member anything about the circumstances of my
leaving, though Mr. HYATT had by telegraph author-
ized me to draw on him for fifty dollars, as I was on
my road to Tabor, which fifty I had not drawn for, and
Mr. GREELEY, with whom I had dined at Mr. HYATT S
two days prior to my leaving New-York, walked with
me or some time in the evening, impressing upon
me not to neglect to let him know everything, espe-
cially if there was to be any fighting, because in that
case, he was resolved to be present.  I confess that
when he professed this I grew skeptical, though he
repeated it over and over again.  The reception I met
with from Mr. GREELEY on my return in a dilapidated
condition, has already been depicted in the letter to
Mr. SANBORN, dated January, 1858.  Being through
a tumor on the knee, unable to continue
my journey to Boston, I wrote to Senator
SUMNER, asking him, if his health permitted it, to see
Mr. SANBORN.  Mr. SUMNER was so kind as to see Dr.
HOWE, who transmitted to Mr. SANBORN my letter to
himself, upon which Mr. SANBORN wrote to me, and
the two letters from New-York, written in January
were sent, which letters have been already published.
I next wrote two letters (not published) to young
JOHN BROWN, the same who the Tribune represented
as having died of fever in Kansas, but who is actual-
ly farming in Ashtabula County, Ohio.  Copies were
sent to his father, complaining of the treatment I had
received, and insisting that he put things right for me
with his Boston friends.  Having had offered to me
the occupation of attending to a patent case at Wash-
ington, I seized hold of the first employment which
presented itself to me, and I left for that city about
the 3d of March, 1858.  The very first day of my depart-
ure I learned that Capt. B. had just come from the
East, and that he was going to put his plan into ex-
ecution.  I saw clearly that the project which I sup-
posed was dead had only slumbered.
  Soon after reaching Washington I saw Mr. SUMNER
who was so obliging as to write and endeavor to get
his Boston friends to make amends for their miscon-
duct towards me.  Other gentlemen did the same, but
to no purpose.  Every day I was expecting to hear of
Capt. BROWN at Harper s Ferry; the impression I had
was let him try, it s his own business.  But on mature
reflection I thought differently.  I saw a considera-
ble force of Marines in the barracks with railway
communication and telegraph to Harper s Ferry, all
which convinced me that BROWN S plan must end dis-
asterously, and I, consequently, consulted two Abo-
litionists of very high standing, and one of them, Dr.
BAILEY, of the Era, became alarmed at the mischief
which B. would bring upon Abolitionism and himself.
Dr. B. consulted others, who urged on me to stop 
BROWN.  My reply was, I cannot stop him, for I have
no influence with his backers; stop him yourselves.
How are we to stop him? was the natural question.
Oblige his backers to take their arms from him, was my
reply, (for the arms were theirs not his,) and then his
pet scheme must drop.
  In a letter (not published) from myself to his Boston
backers, written 28th April, 1858, with the approval of
those Abolitionists already alluded to, I dwell es-
pecially on the certainty of BROWN S failure, the con-
sequence to the free colored people, and to Abolition-
ism.  No words could be plainer than the following:
 Therefore I exact that the arms, other materials, and
means to be taken from John Brown. 
  That the impression of my earnestness might be
more felt, I sent copies to al the parties concerned,
and by hamering and hammering on the same spot I
did stop them in their career of folly.  Who besides
Dr. BAILEY aided me in this work I am not very sure,
except that one was a gentleman of great influence
Eastward, and with whom I had two or three inter-
views.  To him Dr. BAILEY communicated the matter;
I did not tell him.
  And the Tribune, with a herd of little barkers at its
heels, has the impudence to tell me I am a beggarman,
because I ask for the pittance of which the human-
itarians defrauded my family, and that my services
were worth nothing.  I went to organize and instruct
the  cream of the Free-State men,  at the request of
JOHN BROWN, who came to me in the name of, and at
the instance of, the Committees.
  It was their place to collect the men, mine to in-
Page
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Eleven: page two hundred and forty-four
Description:Newspaper clipping of letter from Hugh Forbes to the ''New York Times,'' explaining the origin of John Brown's plot to raid Harper's Ferry.
Date:1859-10-29
Subject:Abolition; Bailey, Dr.; Brown, John; Brown, John, Jr.; Forbes; Forbes, Hugh; Forbes, Hugh, Mrs.; Forbes, Miss; Greeley, Horace; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Howe, Dr.; Hyatt, Thaddeus; John Brown's Raid, 1859; Missouri-Kansas Border War; New York times.; New York tribune.; Sanborn; Slavery; Sumner, Charles
Coverage (City/State):Harper's Ferry, [West Virginia]; New York, [New York]
Scan Date:2011-01-31

 

Volume
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Eleven
Description:Includes descriptions of boarding house living at 132 Bleecker Street, his freelance writing and drawing work, the antics of New York literary Bohemians, Fanny Fern and James Parton's marriage, visits to the Edwards family, a Fourth of July excursion with the Edwards family and other friends, letters from Frank Cahill and Bob Gun's mistresses, Jesse Haney's proposal of marriage to Sally Edwards and rejection, Charles Damoreau's return from Boston to live in New York, and attending the Edwards family's 1859 Christmas party.
Subject:Boardinghouses; Bohemians; Christmas; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Marriage; Publishers and publishing; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, New York
Note:Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.
Publisher:Missouri History Museum
Rights:Copyright 2011 Missouri History Museum.
Source:Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.