A Selection from Chapter 4 of Marching On!
by Robert Willis Allen
"Blow ye the trumpet, blow!"
On the morning of December 2, 1859, the supposed day of John Brown’s execution, startling news arrived from America at the town of St. Peter Port on the island of Guernsey thirty miles west of the French coast. Governor Wise had granted Brown a reprieve until December 16. There were rumors that Brown might even be spared.
The news soon reached Victor Hugo at Hauteville House, a gray, four-story building on a granite bluff south of the town, overlooking Havelet Bay and Castle Cornet. In an attempt to save Brown’s life, the French author immediately took up his pen and wrote a long letter to the editor of the London Star.
Hugo praised Brown for seeking to deliver slaves from bondage, an act he considered a "sacred duty." But now, the aging abolitionist would pay a price for his interference, as did Spartacus, the leader of a slave revolt in ancient Rome. "Viewed in a political light, the murder of Brown would be an irreparable fault," Hugo warned. "It would penetrate the Union with a gaping fissure which would lead in the end to its entire disruption."1
As Hugo set down his pen and posted the letter, the people of Charlestown, Virginia, more than four thousand miles to the west, were waking up to a long anticipated morning. No rumors circulated in Jefferson County about Brown being spared or reprieved. Everyone in the village understood that the leader of the Harper’s Ferry insurrection would be executed before noon. As people lined the streets to get a glimpse of the gray-bearded abolitionist, three companies of infantry moved into place around the Charlestown jail. Near eleven o’clock, an open freight wagon carrying a pine box which contained Brown’s oak casket pulled up next to the jail.
When Brown emerged from the building and discovered the streets brimming with soldiers dressed in blue and gray uniforms, some with red or yellow trim, and carrying rifles with fixed bayonets, he said, "I had no idea that Governor Wise considered my execution so important." Turning, he handed one of his jailers a note: "I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty, land: will never be purged away; but with Blood." Then he mounted the wagon and sat on the pine box. An undertaker also climbed onto the wagon and sat with Brown as the vehicle moved slowly through tree-lined streets past brick houses with white-washed wooden fences.
"You are a game man, Captain," the undertaker told the condemned man.
Brown replied, "Yes, I was so trained—it was one of the lessons of my mother; but it is hard to part from friends, though newly made."
The wagon rolled toward the southeast. In the distance, its occupants could see the purple flanks of the Blue Ridge mountains on the opposite side of the Shenandoah River.
"This is a beautiful country," Brown remarked. "I never had the pleasure of seeing it before."
Soon, the wagon pulled into an open field on the outskirts of the town. In the middle of the field stood a gallows. Nearly a quarter of a mile from the place of execution, militia armed with gleaming bayonets held the crowd back at the edge of the field, in fear that northern sympathizers might yet attempt to free the prisoner. "Why are none but military allowed in the enclosure?" Brown asked. "I am sorry the citizens have been kept out."
He climbed down from the wagon and walked toward the gallows in his loose-fitting carpet slippers. At the foot of the steps, he spotted Andrew Hunter, the man who prosecuted his case for the state. Hunter was standing next to the mayor of Charlestown. "Gentlemen, goodbye," Brown said to them in a clear, unfaltering voice. Then he ascended the steps to the platform, followed by Sheriff Campbell and the jailer to whom he had given his last written statement.
Brown shook hands with the two men and thanked them for their kindness. Then he placed a hood over his head and slipped the noose around his neck. The sheriff bound his arms at the elbows, and the jailer asked Brown to step forward onto the trap door which was held in place by hinges on one side and a rope on the other.
"You must lead me," Brown said, "for I cannot see."
Once he was in position over the trap and the noose properly adjusted, a signal was given for the militia units to march into place around the gallows. While they were getting into position, the sheriff asked Brown if he wanted a handkerchief to drop as a signal to cut the rope holding the trap door in place. "No," Brown replied. "I don’t care; I don’t want you to keep me waiting unnecessarily."
Ten minutes passed as the soldiers took up their positions. At fifteen minutes past eleven, all was ready, and the sheriff cut the rope with a hatchet. The trap swung downward with a bang, and Brown’s body fell until the rope around his neck snapped taut. His hands grasped upwards and his muscles twitched for a moment. Then all was quiet as the spectators gaped in horror at the dangling body. Colonel J. T. L. Preston of the Virginia Military Institute broke the silence with the words, "So perish all such enemies of Virginia! All such enemies of the Union! All such foes of the human race!"
But Brown had not yet perished. A doctor examined him and discovered a pulse. That pulse did not cease until his body had been swinging on the gallows for about thirty-five minutes.
Only then was the body cut down and placed in the coffin. It was taken to the train depot where it would be transported by special train to Harper’s Ferry. Brown’s wife Mary waited at the Ferry. Governor Wise had given her permission to take her husband’s body home to North Elba, New York.2
All through the northern states, abolitionists, in remembrance of the old man who had made war on slavery, tolled bells for his execution. In Manchester, New Hampshire, the bell ringers met with opposition. The mayor of the town, ordered James B. Straw and his associates to stop ringing the city bell. When they refused to desist, the mayor dropped Straw through a scuttle, and threatened to do the same to Straw’s companions. They quickly dispersed.3
In Arlington, Vermont, Almera Hawley Canfield woke her grandson early in the morning. "Get up, Jim," she told him. "This is the day John Brown is to be hanged. And I want you to go over and toll the bell for him." Jim Canfield quickly rose and dressed, walked across the street, entered the gray St. James Episcopal Church, and climbed up into the belfry. Not daring to disobey his formidable grandmother, Jim tolled the bell very slowly as was the custom for a death. About two hours later, one of his cousins climbed up into the belfry and said, "It’s my turn. Aunt Almera said toll." Jim gave one last pull on the bell rope and counted out the time between rings for his cousin so that there would be no break in the tempo. Then he climbed out of the tower and went back across the street to get breakfast.
All that day, Mrs. Canfield arranged for boys from the neighborhood to toll the bell in shifts. People from the outlying districts traveling into town that day kept asking, "Who died?" Villagers referred all inquiries to the small stone house in which Almera Canfield resided. Once there, they found Mrs. Canfield sitting in a straight rocking chair holding a huge Bible in her lap from which she read aloud caustic passages from the Old Testament about God’s plans for the evil-doers. Once she had informed the visitors about John Brown’s execution, she continued with her ominous reading. Townspeople understood well Mrs. Canfield’s outspoken views on the abolition of slavery. Rumors circulated that she had even contributed to Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, but she never openly revealed any personal connection with the man whose death she mourned that day.
The bell did not cease ringing until nightfall. Ever after that day, Jim Canfield said that he could still hear in the early morning that "heart-shaking, Day-of-Wrath knell, solemnly filling with its deep resonance all our corner of the Vermont valley."4
John Wallace Hutchinson of the Hutchinson Family Singers, a musical group well known all over the United States, was giving a series of concerts in Barre, Massachusetts, around the time of John Brown’s execution. At their Thursday night concert, Hutchinson had invited the audience to gather with him and his family on the steps of the town hall on Friday morning. The next day, people gathered at the hall on the large common surrounded by white clapboard houses and imposing white churches. John had been unable to persuade any of the conservative ministers of those churches to toll the bells on that day, but he was able to persuade eight boys, including his own son Henry, to sneak into the churches and ring the bells for about five minutes while the crowd was still at the town hall.5 That night, after their second concert, the Hutchinsons invited people to speak about Brown and the abolition of slavery.6
This was the last time for six years that so many bells would be rung across America for a single death. A majority of these bells were taken down and used to make rifles, bullets, and cannons during the conflict which John Brown had predicted would "purge the land with blood." And after the conflict, those same rifles and cannons would be turned into bells again.
Mary Brown waited at Harper’s Ferry along with her escort, Hector Tyndale and J. Miller McKim, for the arrival of the special train carrying her husband’s body on the afternoon of December 2, the same day Victor Hugo wrote his letter in an attempt to save her husband’s life. She had hoped to take her sons Watson and Oliver home as well, but Watson’s body had been donated to the medical college at Winchester, and Oliver’s body had been buried in one of a number of boxes containing the bodies of Brown’s troops. They had been interred somewhere on the other side of the Shenandoah in the woods, and Mary had not the time nor the stamina to locate her fallen sons.7 Toward evening, the train finally arrived, and Brown’s casket was placed on a train for Philadelphia.
At one o’clock the following day, Mary and the entourage arrived in the "City of Brotherly Love." Black people were gathered at the station along with angry white people who threatened violence. To avoid trouble, the police contrived the expedient of using a large tool box covered with a deer skin as a substitute for Brown’s coffin. They placed the box reverently upon a cart which they then led away from the station, the crowd following. Once the station was cleared, the real coffin was removed to another train bound for New York City.8
When Mary and the casket arrived in New York, a friend of the family arranged to have John Brown’s body transported to the undertakers at McGraw & Taylor at 163 in the Bowery. The friend insisted that Brown was not going to be buried in a southern casket. Here, his body was washed, laid out and wrapped in a linen shroud. Then the undertakers placed him in a walnut coffin and brought him back to the train.9
From New York City, the funeral train proceeded north through Albany to Troy and from there crossed over to Vermont and stopped in Rutland where Mary Brown and her party stayed at the Bardwell House.10 The next day, the party set out by train for Vergennes where they disembarked and crossed Lake Champlain on a ferry to Essex County. The body was taken to Elizabethtown, escorted to the courthouse, and lay in state overnight. It was watched over by an honor guard of six townspeople. One town resident rode to North Elba to alert the family of the impending arrival. On Wednesday, December 7, Mary and her escort made their way through the Adirondacks toward North Elba, arriving at the Brown homestead that evening.11
Sometime in the early afternoon of that same day while walking on the street, Joshua Young, minister of the Congregational Unitarian Church in Burlington, Vermont, met young Lucius Bigelow, son of Lawrence G. Bigelow, the most prominent abolitionist in the city. Lucius expressed interest in the fact that John Brown’s body was soon to arrive in Vergennes on its way to North Elba, not realizing that the body was already close to its final destination. "I want exceedingly to go to his funeral," the youth said. "Only say you will go with me as my companion and my guest, and we will take the next train."
Young quickly agreed to meet Lucius Bigelow at the station at four o’clock and went home to make preparations.12 On telling his wife, Mary, where he intended to go, she questioned the wisdom of such a venture. Some prominent Burlington residents were angry with Brown because he owed money to the city’s woolen mills, money which they could never collect, since Brown’s wool business had gone bankrupt. Others who had business connections with the South were incensed that Brown had tried to free Virginia slaves. But Reverend Young didn’t care. Since the controversial minister had fallen out of favor with Lucius’s father the previous year, he had been looking for an opportunity to get back in the Bigelow family’s good graces. This was his chance.
"It may not be wise," he answered, "but I am going just the same."13
Reverend Young had always been a subject of controversy with his parishioners. While living in Boston he had used his house on Unity Street as a station on the underground railroad. When he moved to Burlington in 1852 to take up his ministry at the Congregational Unitarian Church, he continued hiding runaway slaves in the barn behind his house at the corner of Willard and College streets.14
He had angered the more conservative members of his flock in 1854 by going to Boston to see runaway slave Anthony Burns forcibly removed South. On his return, he gave an impassioned sermon in which he maintained that the continuance of slavery would lead to a breech between the North and the South. "Brethren, in the name of Christ, at whose altar we are worshipping to-day," he told the congregation, "I pronounce American Slavery to be a monstrous wrong, a heinous sin before High Heaven, provoking the righteous indignation of God, who will come in terrible judgment upon this nation, if we do not, away with it!" He further stated that Northerners were to blame for the perpetuation of slavery because of their willingness to return runaways to their southern masters. Any people who dared to speak against it were "branded as fanatics, thrown out of office, dismissed from their parishes, politically proscribed, socially ostracised...."15
In 1858, Reverend Young infuriated the abolitionists in his congregation as well. He and Lawrence Bigelow, along with many others, planned to hold a "Free Convention" which might be used as a platform to promote anti-slavery sentiment. Their proclamation called for "All Philanthropists and reformers in and out of the State, to meet in Free Convention at Rutland, Vt., on the 25th, 26th, and 27th of June next, to discus[s] the various topics of reform that are now engaging the attention and effort of Progressive minds."16
But when Young saw that many of the presenters for the convention were advocates of "free love," spiritualism, and bizarre diets, he became apprehensive and withdrew his support. Lawrence Bigelow and other church members involved in the convention agitated against Young for months afterward, accusing him of being inconsistent and not following through on his obligations.17
Reverend Young resigned in an effort "to carry relief to the mind of the Parish,... and promote the cause of Liberal Christianity in this town."18 On December 11, 1858, Young’s resignation was refused by a vote of 40 to 2. Lawrence Bigelow was one of the two who had voted against him. Young was now determined to prove to Lawrence that he could follow through on an obligation.
When Joshua and Lucius arrived in Vergennes, the weather had changed from a drizzle to a downpour, what the locals called a "proper Nor’easter." They were surprised to learn that the funeral procession had crossed the lake the day before and would soon be at its destination. They arranged for a cab to the ferry which docked some six miles from the train station. Having arrived on the shore and located the ferryman, they made known their intentions to cross Lake Champlain to Barber’s Point in order to reach John Brown’s farm in time for the funeral. The ferryman told them he could not cross the lake so late at night in such foul weather. Besides, he felt that John Brown had deserved to be hanged in Charlestown.
"Why?" one of the men asked. "Do you know any evil of him?"
"No," the ferryman answered, "but a great deal of good. I knew John Brown well. He has crossed this ferry with me a hundred times, and a more honest upright, fair man does not exist. We all like him, but he had no business meddling with other people’s niggers."
For two hours, Young and Bigelow pleaded with the ferryman to change his views and help them cross the lake, but the old oarsman was resolute. Suddenly, a brightness from outside lit up the room. Joshua went to the door to see what was happening. The wind had changed direction to the west, and the clouds had broken up. "The stars in their courses fought against Sisera," Reverend Young said. "See, Mr. Ferryman! God’s full-orbed moon has thrown a bridge of silver across the lake. He bids us go, and who shall hinder?"19
To their great relief, the ferryman finally acceded, agreeing to call his assistant out of bed to see if they could operate the boat. But preparing the ferryman’s large scow for service was no easy task. It took some time and effort to thaw and raise the frozen sail. Once raised, the passengers got into the sail boat for the three-mile journey. The boat plowed through the waves, raising a spray of chilly water that dowsed the travelers. Joshua and Lucius arrived safely on Barber’s Point, cold and soaking wet.
After climbing up the bank a few yards from the edge of the water, they saw a light at a farmhouse. Soon they were knocking at the door, and asking the fully dressed young man who opened it if he would help them get to North Elba. "I will if father is willing," the man replied. Joshua and Lucius soon found themselves riding in a wagon with all haste to Elizabethtown.
They stopped in Elizabethtown only long enough to change the horses and learn as much as they could about the passage of Brown’s funeral procession. It was now two o’clock in the morning. Once the new horses were in place, the party proceeded through the valley of Keene, surrounded by some of the tallest peaks in the Adirondacks. "We had come," Young wrote of their journey, "to what is known as ‘Indian Pass,’ a ravine or gorge, formed by close and parallel walls of nearly perpendicular cliffs, fully 200 feet in height and almost black in color." The road ran over rocks and stumps which made the wagon sway from side to side like a boat on a stormy sea.
Toward daybreak near the end of their twenty-five-mile journey from Elizabethtown, the road became smoother and more level. The wagon could move faster now, but the bitter-cold wind had nothing to stop it. They crossed over a bridge and followed a winding, sandy road through the forest to a house in a clearing, the same house that John Brown’s sons had helped him build.
"We entered the house stiff in every limb," Joshua recalled, "I might say, half frozen, and glad enough to feel the genial heat of the small stove around which we found ourselves part of a very considerable company of people, mostly friends and neighbors, who had personally known and admired the man who had gone forth from them a simple shepherd and now was brought back dead with a fame gone out into all the world."
Half the people gathered at the farmhouse for the burial services were free blacks residing in the area, including Lyman Epps, a man who claimed African and Native American ancestry. He had come with his wife and children. John Brown’s three youngest daughters, Annie, Sarah, and Ellen, were there along with Salmon Brown and his wife, and the widows of Watson, Oliver, and Will Thompson.20
Wendell Phillips, a prominent Boston abolitionist and associate of William Lloyd Garrison, came into the room and took Reverend Young aside for a brief discussion. Phillips recognized the great sacrifice Young had made in coming to the farmhouse. He asked Young if he would officiate at the burial service. "It would give Mrs. Brown and the other widows great satisfaction," he explained, "if you would perform the usual service of a clergyman on this occasion." Young agreed.
The funeral began at one o’clock in the farmhouse. The service opened with a hymn which was a particular favorite of John Brown: "Blow Ye the Trumpet, Blow," sung to the tune of Lenox with words by Charles Wesley:
Blow ye the trumpet, blow!
The gladly solemn sound.
Let all the nations know,
To earth’s remotest bound.
The year of jubilee is come!
The year of jubilee is come!
Return, ye ransomed sinners, home.21
After the hymn, Young offered an extemporaneous prayer in which he asked God to "cause the oppressed to go free" and to "hasten on the day when no more wrong or injustice shall be done in the earth."22
J. Miller McKim who had helped Mrs. Brown bring her husband home for burial said a few words of comfort for the family after Young’s prayer, and then Wendell Phillips delivered the eulogy. "History will date Virginia Emancipation from Harper’s Ferry," Phillips told Brown’s friends and family. "True, the slave is still there. So, when the tempest uproots a pine on your hills, it looks green for months,—a year or two. Still, it is timber, not a tree. John Brown has loosened the roots of the slave system; it only breathes,—it does not live,—hereafter." He went on to describe scenes from the raid and asked the listeners to consider why it failed. Only God could proclaim that the "work is done," and that Brown had "proved that a Slave State is only fear in the mask of despotism." Such an achievement could not be a failure. "Insurrection," Phillips continued, "was a harsh, horrid word to millions a month ago. John Brown went a whole generation beyond it, claiming the right for white men to help the slave to freedom by arms."23
Another hymn followed, during which the casket was brought outside, placed on a table and opened so that the onlookers could get one last glimpse of the martyr. "It was almost as natural as life," Young wrote in his memoir of the funeral. "There was a flush on the face, resulting probably from the peculiar mode of his death, and nothing of the pallor that is usual when life is extinct."
The casket was closed and carried to the burial site by the huge boulder near the house. As the casket was lowered into the grave and the friends’ and family’s grief had reached its height, Young quoted from Second Timothy (4:7-8). "I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." Nothing more was said as the people watered the ground with their tears and slowly departed.
Shortly after his return, at a party given in the Burlington Town Hall, Reverend Young approached a group of women he knew, but they "turned their backs upon him without even a frigid bow."24 That Sunday, Young discovered his Burlington congregation was a lot smaller than it used to be. Six of the wealthiest families had joined another church. Many others were disaffected. Still, Young had the strong support of the abolition community in Burlington at least up to the time the Civil War came and abolitionists like Lucius Bigelow and his brother George joined the army. The minister would endure the snubs and backbiting of the people of Burlington until March of 1863. Then, he would leave for Massachusetts and a new ministry.25
Victor Hugo’s letter had not yet reached an American newspaper when the distressing news of Brown’s execution reached him at Hauteville House. The gray winter storms that obscure the coast of France had descended on the island of Guernsey as if in sympathy with Hugo’s gray mood. He spent the rest of the day doing a wash drawing of a man hanging from a gibbet. At the bottom of the drawing, he wrote the Latin word "Ecce" in remembrance of what Pontius Pilate had said while introducing Jesus to the mob that called for His death. "Ecce homo," Pilate had said. "Behold the man."
Later, his wife would turn the sketch into an engraving which would be used to fund Hugo’s favorite charities. In a few years, the same engraving would help provide money for medical supplies for the Union Army during the American Civil War.26
Ausable River near Lake Placid
1. Letter of Victor Hugo to the London Star as found in The New York Times, Friday, December 23, 1859, 2; Matthew Josephson, Victor Hugo: A Realistic Biography of the Great Romantic (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc., 1942), 432-433.
2. Scenes at the execution of John Brown taken from Stephen B. Oates, loc. cit., 351-352; Edward Stone, Incidents at Harper’s Ferry (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1956), 157-158; the story of John Brown’s pulse being taken is not found in Oates’s book, but can be found in other sources, particularly Warch and Fanton, loc. cit., 103.
3. Barre Gazette, Friday, December 9, 1859, 3.
4. Dorothy Canfield Fisher, "One Side of My Great-grandmother’s Character," Memories of Arlington, Vermont (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1957), 84-85.
5. John Wallace Hutchinson, Story of the Hutchinsons (Tribe of Jesse), 2 vols. (Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1896), 1:365.
6. Barre Gazette, Friday, December 9, 1859, 2.
7. Oates, loc. cit., 356. Watson and Oliver were eventually buried at North Elba. Oliver’s body, along with those of other raiders, arrived for burial in 1899. Watson’s arrived in 1882 by a much more circuitous route. During the Civil War, an army officer discovered Watson’s body at the medical college in Winchester and removed it north where he gave it to a lodge he belonged to. For years, the lodge used the body for its secret rituals. But upon hearing that Mary Brown, who then resided in California, would be traveling through his area in 1882, the officer moved the body to a doctor’s office and arranged for Mrs. Brown’s son, John Jr., to identify it. This done, Mary took Watson’s body to North Elba for burial. This information was graciously provided by Edwin N. Cotter, Jr., Superintendent of the John Brown Farm in Lake Placid, New York.
8. Mary C. Crawford, The Romance of Old New England Churches (Boston: L. C. Page & Co., 1904), 341-342.
9. Bill of sale for John Brown’s Coffin and other services dtd. Dec. 5th, 1859, in the collection of Edwin N. Cotter, Jr., John Brown Farm, Lake Placid, New York.
10. Loyal C. Kellogg, a newly appointed Vermont Supreme Court judge, wrote in his diary for December 5, 1859, that he saw "Wendell Phillips and Mrs Brown, widow of John Brown, at the Bardwell House this evening—they accompanying the corpse of John Brown, who was executed at Charlestown, Virginia, on Friday last on their way to North Elba, Essex County, New York, for burial." The Kellogg diaries are found at the Vermont Historical Society, Montpelier, Vermont.
11. Oates, loc. cit., 357.
12. Joshua Young, "The Funeral of John Brown," New England Magazine, reprint (April, 1904), 9. Unless otherwise specified, this section on the funeral of John Brown is taken from this article, 9-13.
13. Crawford, loc. cit., 342.
14. Robert E. Senghas, "Joshua Young: Burlington Abolitionist" (Burlington, Vt.: First Unitarian Universalist Society, December 6, 1981), 1.
15. Joshua Young, God Greater Than Man: A Sermon Preached June 11th, after the Rendition of Anthony Burns (Burlington, Vt.: Samuel B. Nichols, 1854), 20-21.
16. The Burlington Free Press (Weekly ed.), June 4, 1858, 2.
17. Minutes of meeting held Dec. 11, 1858, Papers of the First Unitarian Church, Special Collections, Bailey/Howe Library, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt.
18. Joshua Young’s resignation dtd. Nov. 28, 1858, Papers of the First Unitarian Church.
19. Here, Young is quoting from the Bible, Judges 6:20. Sisera fought against the Israelite leader Barak, who defeated Sisera’s army. Sisera escaped, only to die at the hands of Jael, the wife of Heber. The confrontation is described in the fourth chapter of Judges.
20. Oates, loc. cit., 357.
21. Text can be found in The Methodist Hymnal: Official Hymnal of the Methodist Church (Nashville, Tenn.: The Methodist Publishing House, 1964, 1966), hymn 100. It is easy to see why John Brown loved this particular hymn so much. Wesley based the hymn on passages from Leviticus (25:8-17) which mention the great year of "jubile" during which the people were supposed to "proclaim liberty throughout all the land." Among other things, masters freed their servants during this year.
22. New York Daily Tribune, December 12, 1859, 6.
23. A John Brown Reader, 283.
24. Letter of John H. Metcalf published in The Burlington Free Press, March 15, 1902, 4.
25. Letter of Joshua Young to the First Cong. Society of Burlington, Vt., dtd. April 27th, 1862, Papers of the First Unitarian Church. Young’s own description of his treatment after officiating at Brown’s funeral is found in Young, "The Funeral of John Brown," 14. Elizabeth Dow, Special Collections librarian at the Bailey/Howe Library, University of Vermont, has an interesting theory about Young’s second resignation concerning the Winooski Cotton Mill which had no trouble getting southern cotton from the British during the Civil War. Ms. Dow speculates that the illicit shipments might have come from blockade runners shipping out from Savannah, Georgia, Mobile, Alabama, or even better, Galveston, Texas. The runners would drop their loads off in Bermuda where they would be transferred to British merchant vessels headed for Canada. The vessels would then enter the Canadian interior on the St. Lawrence River and head down the Richelieu River just above Montreal. This river connects directly into Lake Champlain which would give them access to the harbor at Burlington, Vermont. If Reverend Young had learned of these illegal shipments, he would not have been able to keep his mouth shut about them. It is also possible that some members of his congregation may have had connections either with the Winooski mill or the illicit cotton trade. But so far, no records have been uncovered to prove Dow’s theory. Historian David J. Blow, who has a list of people who voted to accept Young’s resignation in 1862, has failed to connect any of them with the cotton trade. Blow says that no records were ever kept of foreign imports at Burlington Harbor during that period, and that Young’s sermons for that period cannot be found. We leave it to future historians to discover the truth of these matters. My thanks to Elizabeth Dow and David J. Blow for discussing this theory with me.
26. Josephson, loc. cit., 433.
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