Haymarket Incidents: John Brown, Jr. Writes to August Spies

[There is a direct route from John Brown and the fight to abolish slavery to the martyrs of Haymarket and the attempt to restrict wage slavery.  Old Brown himself was executed, as

John Brown, Jr.

were his spiritual descendants 30 years later, so Brown’s words, written shortly before his death, were a fitting communication, this time from his son to August Spies, awaiting the hangman’s noose in Chicago.  John Brown, Jr. was the eldest son of John Brown.  He fought with his father in Kansas and, 3 years after his father was executed, moved to Put-in Bay, Ohio, where he lived until his death in 1895.  He farmed and was listed on the census as a grape grower. The letter is reprinted from The Haymarket Scrapbook, edited by Dave Roediger and Franklin Rosemont (Charles Kerr, 1986)]

From John Brown, Jr. to August Spies, Haymarket martyr

Put-in-Bay Island Lake Erie,

Ottawa Co. Ohio, 7th Nov. 1887


I send you by to day’s Boat, a basket of  Catawba grapes, pre-paid through, as per Express receipts enclosed. These grapes, 1 beg you to accept as a slight token of my sympathy for you, and for the cause which you represent.

   Four days before his execution, my Father  wrote to a friend, the following.

August Spies

“Charlestown, Va., Jail,

Nov. 28th 1859

It is a great comfort to feel assured that I am permitted to die for a cause,-not merely to pay the debt of nature, as all must.

John Brown”

That a like assurance may be a comfort to you, is the earnest desire of

Ever yours, for the cause of the faithful, honest laborer.-

John Brown, Jr.

Faithfully yours,

John Brown, Jr.


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