Letter to Mary N. Collamer, December 19, 1859

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Washington City Dec.19. 1859Dear Sir,

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I recd. yours of the 16th inst. You say "the people of Vermont cannot realize how 15 whites & 3 negroes can frighten the nation, & Virginia in particular."

The people of Virginia & South are not alarmed & excited by what was done by John Brown & his associates. Indeed the circumstances & results were essentially calculated to give them confidence & security. It showed that their slaves are not inclined to revolt & that when taken away by force they run back to their masters. In the next place it shows that men who engage in such attempts, relying on the cooperation of the slaves, meet only disappointment & death.

The matter of their excitement and

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and alarm is this. They found Brown had there new Sharps Rifles & pistols to the amount in value of eight or ten thousand dollars &near 1000 pikes & money. Now all this implies countenance; support, and "immaterial aid," exclusive & effective, involving wealth & numbers. With this they are alarmed, and they have become anxious to know who has been &who is willing to contribute to a civil & servile war. It seems but just that instead of leaving the whole law abiding people of the north to lay under this imputation that those, if any, who have really & intentionally promoted such a transaction should be disclosed. (I much doubt whether any who have given him contribution understood he was to apply it in the way he did.)

This is what is professed to be affected & you see the whole Republicans in the Senate voted in favor of the investigation.

So long as it is pursued to this end we shall not embarrass it. It may be possible that another sinister purpose may be entertained by some, that is,

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to make of it political capitol for the Presidential election. against that we must, as far as practicable, guard; but I must in candor & sincerity say to you this was an untimely as well as criminal affair & can do our party no good unless it appear that it was not promoted, aided, advised or approved by the Republican party. I shall use my best exertions to this, because I believe it true.

I have heard no suggestion yet of sending to Vermont for witnesses.

C. H. Chapman, Esquire

I am, respectfully, Your Humble ServtJ. Collamer