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    [John Brown of Osawatomie] Oliver Brown Autograph Letter Signed to His Brother John Brown, Jr. Two pages, 7.5" x 9.5", North Elba, Jan. 19, 1858 [but docketed Jan, 19, 1859). Oliver writes to his brother and includes the text of a letter to be passed on to their father, John Brown, Sr. He writes: "I took a letter from the ofice [sic] here for Father. I thought best to send him a copy through you. The letter was from Thomas H Russel No 35 Court St. Boston. I subjoin a copy, 'Dear Friend, I write to know where you are & what you are doing & whether you have any colnization [sic] or other scheme on hand a young man of leisure and properties wishes me to ask. Mrs. Russel & Minnie send thier [sic] love.'
    I saw a letter of yours written to Henry & Ruth in which you say you are resolved to make your home among our mountains & that you are also resolved to make investments in land at the west... if you have means to settle yourself as comfortably as some farmers in this place it would be worse than wildness to burden yourself with land speculations at the west...

    Oliver is writing from North Elba, a small community of freed slaves in the Adirondacks, where Brown, Sr. had moved the family in 1848. The Thomas Russell whose letter Owen is transcribing was a judge in Boston who had hidden John Brown in 1857 when it was rumored that he was about to be arrested. Brown had been touring New England trying to raise money for his cause. When rumors began circulating that a federal marshal had been sent to arrest Brown, he sought refuge in Russell's home; despite Russell's standing as an officer of the courts.

    At the time this letter was written Brown, Sr. was in Missouri about to set journey with a group of slaves he would eventually bring to freedom in Canada. Brown, Jr. was not with his father at this time as he was likely in Kansas; so Oliver's motives in sending Russell's letter are not clear. The family had long been in the practice of writing in cipher code and allusions.

    Oliver would join his father and brother Owen in the attack on the armory at Harper's Ferry. Oliver was mortally wounded during the attack; it is said that upon begging his father to end his suffering, Brown responded, "If you must die, die like a man." Oliver died moments later. It is this type of telling that has fed the long held belief that Brown was a violent religious zealot, but more recent historians are shedding new light and interpretation to Brown's actions.

    The manuscript has light showthrough from writing on the verso, however the paper is clean with crisp ink and is highly legible. A scarce autograph with great associative value.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2009
    6th-7th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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