KanColl: The Kansas
Historical Quarterlies

The Hoogland Examination:
The United States v. John Brown, Jr., et al

by James C. Malin

May, 1938 (Vol. 7, No. 2), pages 133 to 153
Transcribed by lhn;
digitized with permission of the Kansas State Historical Society.


THE spring of 1856, nearly two years after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska act, became the testing period for the enforcement of the territorial laws in Kansas. As the legislature of 1855 had fallen completely into the hands of the Proslavery men the Free-state men had formally repudiated both the legislature and the laws enacted by it. This nullification had been asserted in a series of conventions held in the course of the summer of 1855. The territorialgovernment had not been able to meet the challenge, even if it had been so disposed, because the publication of the statutes was delayed so that distribution of copies to officials was not completed until March and April, 1856, just in time for use in the spring terms of the territorial district courts.

     The territory was divided into three districts, but in only two of these did the court function. The first, Chief Justice S. D. LeCompte's district, comprised the northeastern counties, including Douglas, south of the Kansas river. This was the most populous region and therefore the most important. The second, Judge S. G. Cato's district, comprised the southeastern counties. Anxiety was widespread over the outcome of the first real term of court and the crisis came in Douglas county, the leading Free-state stronghold, during April and May, resulting in the so-called "sack of Lawrence" on May 21.

     In southeastern Kansas the apprehension of Free-state men resulted in a meeting April 16 at Osawatomie, near the intersection of the boundary lines of four counties, Lykins (Miami), Linn, Franklin and Anderson. After bitter debate, which caused the withdrawal of the more conservative element, the radical rump passed resolutions repudiating the territorial government and laws, and the tax laws in particular, declaring a policy of forcible resistance if enforcement were attempted. About the same time military companies were organized, one under the command of John Brown, Jr., its membership being drawn from Free-state settlers of southeastern Franklin and northeastern Anderson counties.



     At the time of the Lawrence crisis that town sent out calls for military companies and individuals from all parts of the territory to march to its assistance. Response to these appeals precipitated the question against whom they intended to fight; the United States troops, a legally constituted posse of the United States marshal, or a Missouri mob. The nature of the proposed warfare and the legal status of the participants depended upon the answer given to that question. The possibility of treasonable intent cannot be dismissed as merely the hallucinations of Border Ruffian partisans. The rifle company of John Brown, Jr., was among those that responded to the call of Lawrence. It was from his camp near Lawrence that John Brown, Sr., set out on a secret expedition Friday afternoon, May 23, and it was to his son's camp that he returned Sunday night, May 25-26. The Pottawatomie massacre, the midnight murder of five Proslavery settlers, occurred in the interval. The Browns were accused and young John and Jason were arrested.

     The search for the murderers threw southeastern Kansas into turmoil. Affidavits were sworn out and warrants issued; the investigation going much beyond the immediate question of the massacre. The Hoogland examination, the subject of this article, is a part of that wider investigation into the affairs of southeastern Kansas, and in particular, into the nature of the Lawrence expedition headed by John Brown, Jr.

     During the summer of 1856 the elder John Brown wrote to his family a most unusual letter, part of which was dated June 26, in which he misrepresented grossly his activities of the past weeks. As so frequently in his writing, Brown practiced his deception by enigmatic statements, half truths, inferences and omissions. The impression he wished to create was confirmed in this case by the misrepresentations of the newspapers. Inspired in this fashion, his daughter Ruth, wife of Henry Thompson, wrote her father July 20 in part as follows:

     The reception of your letters made us all both glad and sorrowful. Glad to hear that all were alive, but exceedingly sorry to hear that any of our friends were taken prisoners, or wounded, or sick. This was indeed sad intelligence, and we still live as we did for the last six weeks, in dreadful suspense. What the next news will be makes us almost sick at heart. But we hope for the best. We have seen for some time accounts of trouble in Kansas, that you were obliged to live in a cave to keep away from the ruffians, that two of your sons were taken prisoners, one of whom feigned insanity, (as they called it), and last that you had fallen into the hands of the border ruffians (or what might prove the same thing, the federal authority of Kansas).

But last week's papers published the trial of John Brown, Jun., by the bogus court, who had been called Captain Brown, which we all supposed to be you, not knowing that John was captain of a company. We here, and at ninety-five, take the New York Weekly Times, which gives us a great deal of Kansas news. It denounces in strong terms the conduct of the administration in reference to Kansas difficulties. Last week's paper gave a description of the horrible treatment of John and Jason and the other prisoners who were taken to Tecumseh. It says that it was a scene which has no parallel in a republican government. You have no doubt heard all the particulars from Jason if you have seen him. We supposed that Frederick was the one the paper spoke of as feigning insanity. This was taken from a St. Louis paper; but the Times said it was John, and was "caused by his inhuman treatment." Oh! my poor afflicted brother, what will become of him? Will it injure his reason for life? We hope not, but have great anxiety for him, and we sympathize most deeply with Wealthy. It is dreadful. I can hardly endure the thought. We felt afraid that if it was Frederick, it would kill him; but we pray that he may escape any such trouble, and that John will entirely recover. I cannot be thankful enough that my dear husband so narrowly escaped being killed, and Salmon also. I cannot attribute it to anything but the merciful preservation of God, . . . I wish John and Jason had been in your company. You must have had very exciting times at the battle you fought, before it was over. I should hardly have thought twenty-three men would have laid down their arms to so small a company. But "might was with the right" at that time. How mean it was in Colonel Sumner not to give up his prisoners after you gave up yours. . . . Gerrit Smith has had his name put down for ten thou- sand dollars toward starting a company of one thousand men to Kansas. We are constantly hearing of companies starting, but do not hear of their getting through without trouble. . . [1]

     The report of the "trial of John Brown, Jr.," to which Ruth referred, has been overlooked by every biographer of Brown, and in spite of the fact that the historian's attention was called to it by Ruth's letter. Not only did the New York Times publish all the testimony taken at the hearing before Com. Edward Hoogland, but the St. Louis Democrat did also. [2] The Times' Kansas correspondent "Randolph" (William Hutchinson) wrote his news letter June 23 and forwarded with it the text of the hearings. He falsified the whole matter by representing the hearings as a trial and by saying that three were convicted. The Times itself compounded the offense by publishing a strong editorial introducing the "Randolph"


letter and the hearings, in which instead of following the text of the hearings the editor followed "Randolph's" copy. In reality, the judicial proceeding referred to was a preliminary hearing, to which every citizen under such circumstances would be entitled under the American code of judicial procedure, for the purpose of determining whether there was sufficient evidence to justify holding the accused for the grand jury. The outcome was that two, John Brown, Jr., and Henry H. Williams, were bound over on the charge of treason to await the action of the grand jury at the September term of court. The editorial is worth reproducing as damning evidence of what lengths the Times was willing to go in sensationalism and falsification of the news when the facts lay before them:      

We publish this morning, together with some interesting Kansas letters, a faithful report of the examination of the Free-State prisoners at Tecumseh, charged with the crime of treason against the United States. The proceedings in a case so novel-carried on in the name of justice and under the formula of law-will be read with some curiosity and no little surprise. At first sight the reader may imagine that the whole story is an absurd farce; but a farce it is not. The report of this examination, it will be observed, is authenticated and verified from beginning to end by the clerk of the Court. All that is here recorded actually occurred. The indictment was originally laid against seven individuals conspicuous among those who have endeavored to make Kansas a Free State. For this crime they were arrested near Osawatomie, and, like a gang of galley slaves, they were chained two and two together and driven from thence to Tecumseh-a distance of sixty-five miles-where they have undergone a barbarous imprisonment and still more barbarous semblance of a trial for treason. One of the prisoners, John Brown, unable to bear up against this misfortune-was driven mad by the treatment he received. The reader will perceive that the evidence adduced on this curious trial is precisely the same against all the prisoners; and yet, strange to say, three have been convicted while five have been unconditionally released. What further proceedings will be taken in regard to those who have been sent back to prison remains to be seen, but the fact that this mock trial has actually taken place is of itself an outrage, under color of law, in the absence of the positive proof we now produce, few would believe.

     There are important facts concerning the examination, which came out clearly in the testimony as printed, that should have set the editor of the Times to thinking. No indictment of a grand jury was involved. The warrants for arrest were issued on the strength of an affidavit sworn to by a Free-state man. All the witnesses examined were Free-state men. Contrary to the editorial statement, the charges were not the result merely of the conspicuous position of the parties in the Free-state movement, but of their participation in the Osawatomie meeting of April 16 which had adopted resolutions


declaring forcible resistance to the enforcement of the laws, and of their subsequent membership in a military organization supposedly designed to resist the government by putting those resolutions into effect. The weak point in the case was the absence of specific evidence that the Lawrence expedition under John Brown, Jr., was designed to execute the Osawatomie resolutions by resistance to legally constituted authority. The evidence made it clear, however, that John Brown, Jr., was insane before he was arrested and therefore that his treatment by the authorities after his arrest was not the cause of his mental derangement as charged by the Times and the Free-state men. Although the evidence already available should have been adequate to establish this point, the force of the "Brown Legend" had been so overwhelming that many have doubted. Hereafter certainly there can be no further question.

     The manuscript of the Hoogland examination came to the Kansas State Historical Society from M. W. Blackman, of Syracuse, N. Y., in 1929. He had received the papers from his father, W. I. R. Blackman, who had come into possession of them in his capacity as an officer in the Kansas Scientific and Historical Society. Edward Hoogland had presented them to the society on January 28, 1861, and upon its demise Blackman had cared for them. At the time he presented the papers to the society in 1861 Hoogland stated that: At my house they [the prisoners] were as well treated as circumstances permitted. The town was full of their political enemies who were much excited, and it was generally understood, before Judge Cato turned them over to me for examination as United States commissioner, that the real object of their arrest was to hold them as principals or participants in the Pottawatomie Murders. Their situation was critical. Judge Cato declined to proceed with the examination and left town. Reports from reliable sources led to the belief that Old John Brown was approaching with a force of 200 or 300 men to rescue them. Marshal Donaldson gave orders to the guards in case of an attack or attempt to escape, that the prisoners should all be shot, instantly. From information sent to him, Old John Brown gave up the idea of attempting a rescue and on the arrival of the witnesses from Osawatomie the examination proceeded. Although I was satisfied that there was not sufficient evidence to convict any of the prisoners in any fairly constituted court yet I knew that surrounding circumstances and considerations for their personal safety would not permit a general discharge of them. The fact that I was a New Yorker and had been appointed commissioner as early as July 1555, and was not in sympathy with the attempts to make Kansas a slave state, was generally known to those by whom I was surrounded, and consequences were inferred which subsequent developments showed would certainly have resulted, had all the prisoners been released at that time. To secure the safety of all, John Brown, Jr. and Henry H. Williams were placed in charge of the


Marshal and the other prisoners discharged and granted safe conduct to their homes.

     It will be seen that the original warrant issued by Judge Cato was withheld, and its absence accounted for by affidavit. An inference may be drawn therefrom in regard to the "regularity of the proceedings."

     Several important considerations induced me to refrain from filing or delivering over to the U. S. District Attorney or to the Grand Jury, the evidence now here placed in your custody.

     It must be admitted that there are a number of difficulties encountered in interpreting the testimony before Hoogland. The record did not contain the transcript of the questions asked. From the answers given, therefore, the reader must infer the form of the questions. Bearing in mind that the witnesses were Free-state men and participants in the Lawrence expedition, the historian would like to be able to satisfy himself whether they were reluctant witnesses answering evasively and giving the minimum of information, or whether their answers represent a full and fair reply to the questions asked. Many points of information are missing which the historian would like to have, but it is impossible to be certain whether the defect lies in the questioning or in the answers. The probabilities would seem to be that the questioning was inadequate. Had the prosecution been aggressive, it would seem that the defense would have challenged questions or entered exceptions, and that the cross-examinations would have brought out facts more in the nature of rebuttals to the direct examination.

     Aside from the direct purpose of the examination, there is much information of interest in the testimony. The Osawatomie men on the Lawrence expedition had no real connection with either John Brown, father or son, and the Browns belonged to the Pottawatomie community, not to the Osawatomie community. This is an important point in geography on which the biographers of Brown have been much confused.

     Indirectly there is important new light on the meeting of April 16 at Osawatomie at which the famous resolutions were adopted. Heretofore too literal a reliance has been placed upon the official report of the meeting supplied to the press by the chairman, Richard Mendenhall, and the secretary, Oscar V. Dayton, who stated that the meeting was held in pursuance of a call signed by twenty-three citizens to consider action to be taken in view of attempts being made to assess and collect taxes. They represented that the meeting was "large and enthusiastic," and that the resolutions had been


framed by a committee of five, and that they were "adopted unanimously." Now it appears that John Brown was one of the prime movers in urging those resolutions. Also there is confirmation from Free-state witnesses of Martin White's contention that the meeting was sharply divided, many Free-state men opposing the resolutions. White's statements have been ignored usually, because he was branded by Free-state men as a proslavery man, and it was he who, after leaving the Free-state cause, became actively associated with the Proslavery party and shot Frederick Brown the day of the battle of Osawatomie. The evidence goes even further than White's statements, however, in showing that the Osawatomie meeting split up and only a rump of the meeting was present when the resolutions were finally adopted, the Browns being among those who stayed to the end. While on this point, it is surprising how much available John Brown material has been overlooked by the historians and biographers. John Brown, Jr., himself reported on certain phases of these events at the time and printed his letter in the Lawrence Herald of Freedom, May 10, 1856, signing it J. B., Jr. He maintained that the resolutions adopted at Osawatomie had originated at a local meeting on the Pottawatomie and that they had been taken from there to the Osawatomie meeting.

     At this point the historian has good reason to regret the absence of the transcript, of the questions asked at the Hoogland examination. He would like to know, also, whether the prosecuting attorney had read the Herald of Freedom for May 10, 1856, in which the news letter of John Brown, Jr., had been printed. That letter had stated explicitly that the Pottawatomie Rifles had visited Judge Cato's court when it sat at Dutch Henry's, that written inquiry had been made whether the court intended to enforce the territorial laws, and that, on not receiving a satisfactory reply, the Osawatomie resolutions were adopted by the Pottawatomie Rifles as a company and were presented to Judge Cato by a committee delegated for that purpose. Had Judge Cato been present at the Hoogland examination, he could have given this testimony himself, and could thus have established clearly the connection between the military company and the resolutions, together with the deliberate intimidation of the court which was evidently a part of the purpose of this Free-state group.

     In the "Brown Legend," the Pottawatomie murders have usually been justified on the ground of outrages and threats against Free-state men in the Pottawatomie community. The evidence in this


son stated substantially as follows: That he saw both John, Jr., and Jason Brown in camp at Palmyra; that H. H. Williams was elected captain at Ottawa Jones's by the Pottawatomie company; that he saw a grey horse standing hitched. (This is the horse John Brown's party had stolen from Dutch Henry on the night of the massacre.) The transcript of testimony closed with the statement "Evidence same as other." As this record was written on the same sheet of paper as the Amos Hall testimony, the reference is certainly to that. In other words, Jackson made a fourth witness to subscribe to the same testimony as recorded from Hall. There can be no escape from the conclusion that these four men all knew that John Brown, Sr., was the leader of the Pottawatomie massacre party, and that the territorial officers were fully appraised of these facts by Free-state men.

     From this testimony it seems reasonably certain that John Brown, Jr., knew that his father was the leader of the murder party, and that he gave qualified approval at least to the deed. In later years he claimed that he had no knowledge of his father's participation until some months after the Harper's Ferry raid, but in this, as in many other of his statements, the contemporary evidence is quite conclusively against him. If the implication of the Brown family in the massacre was a factor in the resignation of John Brown, Jr., from the captaincy of the Pottawatomie Rifles, it does not find a place in this testimony. This is another specific instance in which the historian would like to know just what questions were asked the witnesses, because the replies refer only to the controversy over the freeing of the negroes as the decisive incident. The testimony brings out a new point, however, concerning the activities of the Browns after the return from the Lawrence expedition.

     John, Jr., and Owen Brown had collected a second herd of horses, stolen, of course, which they expected to run off to Lawrence where they would probably have been disposed of as they had done with the first band of horses, stolen on the night of the massacre and traded off somewhere south of Lawrence, probably in the neighborhood of Ottawa Jones's. John, Jr., was arrested, however, before this second expedition was executed, but there is a strong possibility that Owen carried out the plan. This last point must depend for support, however, on other evidence than the Hoogland hearing, but the probabilities are that it was in connection with this enterprise that the Browns were next heard from in the vicinity of Black Jack and became participants in the famous battle of that name on June 2 following. The nature Hoogland hearing was conclusive to the effect that the Osawatomie men came through that community on Friday afternoon and that they met. Old Brown and his murder squad on their way to the crime, and that they found no evidence of disorders. Furthermore, although they remained in camp at Palmyra until Sunday, they knew nothing of any disturbances on the Pottawatomie until the news of the massacre of the five Proslavery men reached them while on their return homeward.

     The papers in the possession of Hoogland contained important evidence on matters other than the charges at issue in the examination of June 20. Judge Cato had opened court in Lykins county about the time of the Pottawatomie massacre, and in addition to his duties in that connection, turned his attention to an investigation of the murders in Franklin county, which adjoined Lykins on the west. In the course of these investigations, he took affidavits from several men concerning the affair, and these papers, or a part of them, he turned over to Hoogland before the latter began the treason hearing. Hoogland declared that many of the papers which came into his possession in this manner were misplaced or lost, but among those preserved and deposited with the historical society in 1861 were two important affidavits. The first is the testimony of Amos Hall, undated, which is as follows:

     That on last Thursday started up to Otaya Jones Friday met a man on horse back in Company with waggon old man brown was in the waggon some of the party asked him where he was going he said that he was going out on a secret expedition and that he would soon be back. Mr. John Brown, Jun. C. A. Foster Clayton Left camp went to Lawrence (That there was some negroes come to camp John Brown, Jun. Detained the negroes understood so.) Clayton says that this woman made a present of a saddle to him for returning negro I heard John Brown Jun made these remarks that as soon as the news of the murder he said it was good and good news. Testimony nearly same as Holbrook & Woods.[3]

     The last sentence in this affidavit shows that two other witnesses were examined, Holbrook and Woods, and that their testimony was so nearly like Hall's that a separate record of it was not made. In other words, the above statement was supported by three witnesses. A fourth witness was Harvey Jackson, the same man who was examined at length in the treason hearings. Although the handwriting of the scribe is too defective to permit of exact reproduction, Jack-


of this second Lawrence expedition focuses attention on a possible dual purpose associated with the first expedition. If there were no pre-arranged plans, how did the Browns establish their connections to dispose of the first band of stolen horses? In the questioning of witnesses before Hoogland it is evident that the prosecution was pounding at the matter of motives of the John Brown, Jr., company. Of course, the government was trying to establish a treason motive, but the Osawatomie witnesses repeatedly evaded a direct answer and explicitly reiterated that they could speak only of the motives of the Osawatomie men. Although they were successful in concealing something, seems evident that they had a reason for so conspicuously insisting differentiating themselves from the Pottawatomie company. On the face of the matter, the treason charge, which was the issue in the examination, may be sufficient to explain the peculiarity of their answers, but somehow that explanation does seem to be quite satisfying.

     The evidence brought into the judicial proceedings is supplemented by testimony of a Free-state man, only recently available, which shows even more conclusively that the Free-state men knew perfectly well about John Brown's part in the massacre. A private letter of Edward P. Bridgman, dated May 25, 27 and 28, 1856, has been published by M. M. Quaife. Bridgman had just arrived in Kansas May 10 and was one of the Osawatomie men who went on the Lawrence expedition. He was writing for the eyes of his family and not testifying before a Proslavery court and consequently his letter recording the same events as were covered by the Hoogland examination is illuminating, and provides a much needed standard or measuring stick for comparison with the testimony of his associates in court. The first installment of this letter was written at Palmyra on May 25, but before the news of the massacre had arrived. The second installment was written on May 27 after the return to Osawatomie, and in it he declared that the massacre was barbarous and that his party, on the way to Palmyra had met the expedition who said they were on a secret mission. Regarding the murdered men, he said that they had thrown out threats and insults, but he did not specify what or against whom. Regarding the murderers, he said that tomorrow, May 28, something would be done to arrest them; "perhaps they had good motives, some think they had, how that is I don't know." He then added that horses were being stolen on all sides. In his final installment Bridgman wrote:

     Since yesterday I have learned that those men who committed those murders were a party of Browns, one of them was formerly in the wool business in Springfield, John Brown his son, (Jr) has been taken today, tho he had no hand in the act, but was knowing to it. . . . [4]

     In later years after the "Brown Legend" had gained the ascendancy, and some of the Free-state men were faced with the fact that they had denounced Brown, they claimed that their action was merely to hoodwink the Proslavery party and to gain time. The Bridgman letter coincides so closely, however, with the testimony given before Commissioner Hoogland that it would seem to leave little doubt but that in 1856 these Free-state men were acting in good faith.

     The conduct of Edward Hoogland in the Brown case is a matter of more than passing interest. He was a Northern Democrat and in 1856 stood publicly with the national administration in their Kansas policy. By 1861 the Kansas scene had changed. The territory was long since in the hands of the Free-state men, and more recently, of the Republican party. When Hoogland gave the explanation in 1861 that he had been personally Free-state in sentiment in 1856, that he had been under suspicion among his Proslavery associates because of his Northern origin, and that he had committed John Brown, Jr., and H. H. Williams to prison to be held for grand jury action, not because he was convinced of their guilt, but, on the contrary, to save from a worse fate men whom he believed to be innocent, the historian must be forgiven if he raises a question of doubt. Was Hoogland sincere in 1861 in these allegations, or was he again doing what he confessed doing in 1856,-suppressing his personal convictions in order to hold his place and curry favor with the majority party? In examining his record, the investigator finds that he left little tangible evidence that will clarify the problem. He appears to have followed a moderate course during the days of Kansas troubles and kept clear of the extremes of partisan wrangles. Probably the strongest argument in his favor lies in this direction. He was prominent in territorial affairs under both regimes and yet survived with a good reputation. In spite of the peculiar circumstances, then, it appears that he must be given the benefit of the doubt unless or until specific evidence to the contrary is forthcoming.

     The conduct of Judge Cato raises another question. Why did he withdraw from the preliminary examination of the accused on the treason charges after having already conducted quite successfully


the investigation of the Pottawatomie murders and traced the crime to the Browns? Did he fear that his Southern origin would intensify bitterness and possibly precipitate events which might defeat. altogether the course of judicial procedures and that Hoogland's Northern origin might allay excitement and avert the possibility of an attempted rescue, which Hoogland mentioned, and open insurrection in the territory? Unfortunately for historical certainties, not a single scrap of evidence has been found to explain the situation. The bare facts alone are sure; Cato stepped out of the picture, and Hoogland conducted the examination. And if Hoogland's subsequent explanations are dependable, his suppression of the evidence prevented further action. [5] At any rate, whether guilty or innocent, Hoogland had to bear the brunt of the abuse which the Free-state party heaped upon the territorial judiciary in connection with the treatment of the younger John Brown.


Discharged on bail by Judge Lecompe.
Question In Which District is the Matter Indictable?


Territory of Kansas
Shawnee County

     William Barbee, Prosecuting Atty for the second Judicial District of the Territory of Kansas, and acting as United States Attorney for the Territory of Kansas, being duly sworn doth depose and say, that upon complaint and information made by one Grant 6 on or about the 29th day of May A. D. 1856 before the Hen. Sterling G. Cato, associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the said Territory, and Judge of the second Judicial District thereof. A warrant

was issued by the said District Judge on the complaint aforesaid made in due form of Law against John Brown Jr., Jason Brown, Poindexter Maness, S. W. Kilborn, Henry H. Williams, Simian [Simian] B. Morse & William Part- ridge commanding the arrest of them and each of them, to answer to a charge of treason against the United States, in levying War against the United States and the citizens thereof or to that effect & substance which said Warrant was placed in the hands of the United States Marshal for the District of Kansas, in the person of T. W. Hays Deputy, and thereupon, said Marshall on or about the 29th day of May aforesaid on and by virtue of said warrant arrested the said John Brown Jr., Jason Brown, Poindexter Maness, S. W. Kilborn, Henry H. Williams, Simeon B Morse & Wm Partridge arrested was held in custody of said Marshall, some days as prisoner at the town of Paola in the Co of Likins in said Territory, until by order of Wilson Shannon Governor of said Territory, the said Prisoners together with the Warrant aforesaid was by the said Marshall delivered over to Captain Wood command a Company of United States troops for protection & safe keeping that since that time said Prisoners was by order of said Governor brought before the said Judge to be put upon an examination for said charge of treason, but the United States Deputy Marshall Samuel Cramer, who received said Prisoners from said United States troops and brought them before said Judge at the Town of Tecumseh in the County of Shawnee, did not return the said warrant, with said Prisoners, that the deponent has good reason to believe and does believe that said Warrant is lost or mislaid,7 and deponent does not know nor can he ascertain where said warrant is

     Sworn to and subscribed before me [Signed] WILLIAM BARBEE

this 20th day of June 1856

          Edwd. Hoogland, J. P.

The United StatesWarrant issued
againstby Hon. S. G. Cato, Associate Jus. of Supreme Court K. T. and
John Brown Jr,Judge of 2d Judicial District,
Jason Brown,May 29th 1856
Poindexter Maness,for Treason.
Samuel W. Kilborn,
Henry H. Williams,
Simeon B. Morse
& William Partridge

     Examination of witnesses taken at Tecumseh Court House in the county of Shawnee in the Territory of Kansas, on the Twentieth day of June A. D. 1856 before Edward Hoogland an United States commissioner within and for the District and Territory of Kansas, in the matter of a complaint made upon the oath of Grant against the above named John Brown, Jr, Jason Brown, Poindexter Maness, Samuel W. Kilborn, Henry H. Williams, Simeon B Morse &

William Partridge, who are charged upon the oath aforesaid with Treason against the United States.

     Wm Barbee Actg Dist Atty of U. S. read affidavit explaining absence of warrant.

Joseph B. Higgins called for Prosecution & sworn - I know of a Public meeting being held at Osawatomie some time in April last. the action of the meeting was called in relation to the payment of assessments or taxes. It was not my understanding of it that meeting was intended to set aside all laws passed by the last Legislature. The question was whether the citizens should pay taxes or not. John Brown was one of the persons influential in raising the question. I was not in the meeting when the meeting was first called. After the meeting had proceeded some time I was asked into the meeting by a citizen of the town. At first I refused to go but finally did so. I found the meeting organized and some resolutions drawn up, the purport of which resolutions was to the effect that they the persons there assembled repudiated the payment of any taxes under the Laws of Kansas, and would use any & all means to keep from the payment of any such taxes to any officer or officers who might attempt to collect such taxes, that any means that was available to repel any such officer should be used to that end. Further than that I do not know about the meeting except that action was taken to carry into effect or rather that the question on adoption was put and I understood that the resolutions were adopted. That is all. I think Mr. Partridge was not present. I do not know. He may have been. I do not remember of seeing him there. I have a faint recollection of seeing one of the Mr Partridges there but which one I do not know,-only a faint recollection. I was present only about 30 minutes. John Brown Jr was present at that meeting. I think Mr John Brown Jr was in the meeting that passed the resolutions mentioned and remained there to the close. There was a kind of squabble or opposition to the resolutions & a kind of a split, but John Brown Jr remained.

     I think Alexander Gardiner was also in that meeting. I know nothing about John Brown Jr. being at the head of a rifle company after that, only from report. It was generally understood that John Brown was at the head of a company,-understood so from persons professing to belong to the company on Pottawatomie Creek who recognized him as captain. Do not know what the company was raised for. Knew nothing of such a company until about the time of the meeting at Osawatomie. Next time after seeing him at the above meeting I saw John Brown Jr at Prairie City. I saw Mr Williams, Mr Partridge & Mr Morse part of these prisoners with John Brown Jr at Prairie City. John Brown Jr was in there in command of that company. Only know Mr Williams position in the company from report. At Mr. Jones's at Ottawa Creek on return of the company from Prairie City to Pottawatomie, I was some distance from where the company were paraded, but I there heard Mr Brown tender his resignation as captain to the company. Mr Williams the prisoner was then and there elected captain in place of Brown, and had command of the company as far as my knowledge goes. I separated from them.

     I know nothing in relation to a man named Jones being ejected from his claim further than what I heard others say. About 9 A.M. Sunday morning about 20[25]th May last there came a gentleman riding into John Brown Jr's camp,-I was there-this man complained of the treatment that this Jones

had received from Mr Brown or his men. It was some time before he and Mr Brown got into conversation. I think he desired Mr Brown to have Mr Jones to come back,-to use means to that effect. Mr Brown refused thus to do, justified himself at the expulsion of Jones. This was whilst Brown had command of the company. The Sunday before his resignation. Two gentlemen rode down the Santa Fe road after Jones,-they seemed like friends of his,-*#38; were opposed to his being turned off. Mr Brown found considerable fault about those men riding through and wanted them pursued & arrested. This is all that I heard Mr Brown or any of his men say about the matter. Do not know of Brown driving off any other settlers. A saddle was brought into camp but whose it was I do not know. William Partridge was there with the company. Only knew him as a member of the company from report. Mr Williams was then there; I also saw there Simeon B. Morse. Dont know Maness. Never heard of Mr. Benjamin till a few days ago. Dont remember seeing Jason Brown there.

     On this same Sunday morning about 20th May there seemed to be considerable confusion in the crowd assembled at Prairie City-it may be Palmyra. The places Palmyra, Prairie City & Hickory Point are near together but distinct localities & settlements. John Brown Jr & others, who they were or whether of other parties than his own or not I cannot say, manifested a disposition to remain there or in that vicinity. The portion of the crowd from Osawatomie manifested a strong disposition to disperse retire & go home. After considerable discussion the whole crowd moved off in a southerly direction from Palmyra. After moving about a mile a column of U. S. troops was discovered coming up the Santa Fe road, apparently going to Palmyra where these men had started from. Brown and the whole crowd moved on to about two miles or 2½ from Palmyra where Brown called a halt. I understood from Mr Brown himself that the officer commanding the troops mentioned had sent for him to come & see him. In the course of half an hour afterwards Brown started in that direction & on his return said he had been to the troops or in consultation with the officer of the troops; that the officer told him he had been sent there to see what was going on and to disperse armed bodies and prevent collisions between parties; and that the officer desired the company under Brown to disperse and retire from that point. I have heard Brown declare that he did not approve or intend to submit to the Territorial laws unless they were sanctioned by the General Government, and conversations to that effect. Never heard Partridge say a word about the Laws that I remember. Have heard Brown speak of the President's Proclamation of January or February last concerning Kansas affairs, that he did not regard it as a document worth paying attention to. Never heard Williams or Partridge say anything about the laws of Kansas or the Proclamation, except that Williams has remarked that he did not consider the Territorial Laws of Kansas just. Never heard Williams use language implying that he intended to resist the Territorial laws by force.

     The crowd stayed at Ottawa Jones's on Sunday night and the next morning Monday I saw John Brown Senior there. Did not hear either John Brown Sr or John Brown Jr speak of the murder of Wilkinson & others at Pottawatomie at that time. I did not hear Brown Sr speak of the murders at any time. At Osawatomie I got in conversation with John Brown Jr at night and was speaking of the murder of Wilkinson & others. I said to him I thought it

was a very desperate thing, an outrageous act for any one to be guilty of and that I repudiated all such actions & all such men no matter what party they belonged to. John Brown Jr. said he did not repudiate the crime altogether, although he said he could not justify it altogether; that there was an excuse in part for it. I told him I could not abide any such conduct & then I turned away and left him.
     I live at Osawatomie K. T. 65 or 70 miles from here; never was at his house but suppose I live 9 or 10 miles from John Brown Jr. First saw him I think about 1st March last. I am a House carpenter by trade. I was a member of the Topeka legislature. I know the people about Pottawatomie Creek & Marais des Cygnes pretty generally. After the company had gone I went to Palmyra, arrived at Prairie City or Palmyra Saturday night & left there Sunday morning and joined in the crowd. I was not in command of a company or connected with any organized party there whatever. I was in command of a company got up at Osawatomie in February last or thereabouts for amusement & becoming acquainted with military tactics but not for hostile intentions. This had nothing to do with Brown. I do not know for what J. Brown Jr's Co. assembled precisely. Brown was at Osawatomie two or three days before they started towards Lawrence & said there was a good deal of trouble at Lawrence and that it was desirable for citizens of other parts of the Territory to aid them in resisting what he called outrages against the town. Do not know that Brown had then heard the truth about affairs at Lawrence, -only that he had heard many rumors and that he was going himself and intended to get all to go with him that he could. Understood from him that there were parties from Missouri and elsewhere encamped near Lawrence with the intention of burning the town. Did not hear him say anything that implied a knowledge on his part that the United States Marshal was at Lawrence or that United States troops were there. Understood from Brown that there were armed parties from Missouri & elsewhere assembled and unlawfully arrayed and assembled against Lawrence and he wanted all to go who could. Did not hear him say anything on that occasion about resisting United States *or Territorial authorities. He was there only a short time. Next time I saw him was at Palmyra with his company-he paraded them and called them up on parade. He had been to Lawrence the night previous to learn the facts in reference to the difficulties there and reported publicly to his men and all others what he had learned.

     After seeing the company of U. S. troops mentioned as coming up the Santa Fe Road the crowd moved on further, Brown having reported the conversation with the officer that the latter had orders to disperse all armed parties & prevent collisions,-the Osawatomie people went home and I presume Brown's did too,-heard Mr Brown say he would not resist the U. S. officers. Said nothing about the Territorial authorities or any other authorities on that occasion Brown's party left us- Brown gave no instruction to any organized body at that time (Sunday morning) to resist or any operation whatever at that time. I was at Palmyra only a short time and cannot declare the existence of any intention to resist laws by the crowd. Could not judge of their general feelings. The party from Pottawatomie was under control of John Brown Jr. The party from Osawatomie had no organization, only advised with a Mr Dayton.

     In vicinity of Osawatomie the general rumors were for several days that Lawrence was being or had been destroyed,-that every house had been burned down, & then heard it disputed. The rumors were greatly exaggerated. Did not hear prior to the dragoons being seen on the Santa Fe road that U. S. authorities were destroying Lawrence. On Sunday morning mentioned I heard the facts of the matter from Mr Brown on his return from Lawrence after the companies had assembled at Palmyra. Brown reported what had been done to Lawrence & who had done it & what the people had suffered &c. There was then confusion & discussion in the crowd. It was near 12 M. when they left Palmyra. Brown advised the men to go home & attend to their work, "but for himself he was going to be in the saddle!" I understood Brown's remarks concerning the proclamation to the effect that it would have no influence upon him or control his future actions at all,-that it would have no bearing on his actions about obeying or disobeying the Laws of Kansas.

     William Partridge was in the company. S. B. Morse one of these prisoner was also there. Do not know P. Maness. Dont recollect seeing Jason Brown there, nor Samuel Kilborn. Saw Henry H. Williams there. Dont know Jacob Benjamin.

     I heard no expression of intention by any organized body or officer to resist the laws of Kansas whilst at Palmyra. The people from Osawatomie went up to see & learn what was going on at Lawrence. What the people from Pottawatomie went for I do not know precisely further than already stated I know of no acts of violence to persons or property committed by the crowd assembled at Palmyra, of my own knowledge. There was also another party or company besides the Osawatomie & Pottawatomie companies,-one commanded by Brown one by Mr Shores and Mr Dayton was leader of a part of the company from Osawatomie. At the time of moving from Palmyra the companies all agreed to be controlled by John Brown Jr.

     John Brown Jr. was a member of the Free Soil Legislature held at Topeka. The same man was in the meetings at Osawatomie. Mr Williams was also a member of that Legislature and was a member of Brown's Co. & was afterwards chosen captain thereof. The affair concerning Mr. Jones and his expulsion was the cause of the "split" between the Osawatomie & Pottawatomie companies. The men mentioned had desired Brown to have Jones recalled & restored, but he justified & approved the act against Jones and the circumstances mentioned about the two men desiring Jones to be recalled as mentioned by me in the early part of my examination took place.

     In regard to the occurrences at Lawrence Mr Brown's report to his company & others assembled at Palmyra was to the effect that Lawrence was destroyed by a mob or posse under Sheriff Jones. I do not think in his speech he advised the men to go home. He said the war had now commenced in Kansas and the only way to get out of trouble was to fight out-to conquer or be conquered, the thing was understood & no more compromise could be endured. Williams & Partridge were present. no one made objection or response to Brown's speech- Mr Morse I think was also there. The men were armed and equipped. I know nothing about what had been done at Palmyra or vicinity before the Osawatomie party got there.
[Two words blurred out. Apparently
intention was to continue, but desisted.]            [Signed]           J. B. Higgins

     Daniel W. Collis sworn. I reside in Osawatomie. I went with the people from Osawatomie as individuals to Hickory Point or Palmyra as mentioned in the evidence of Mr Higgins on this Examination. All I know about the expulsion of Mr Jones was that a Mr. Clayton came riding down on a horse with six chickens & a side saddle which he said a woman gave him. The chickens I cooked & the saddle he took down to the camp. He said Mrs. Jones gave them to him. Did not hear Mr. Brown or either of these prisoners speak about Jones's Degrees. We all left Palmyra & got to Ottawa Jones's on Sunday night the side saddle with us. At about 2 miles from Palmyra I first heard of the murder of Wilkinson & others. Just as Brown Jr was going into Pottawatomie Brown Jr remarked concerning the murders that it was not best to talk about them much that it would agitate the minds of the people. I was cooking in the camp-I next saw Mr Brown, after I reached Osawatomie back of Adair's on the Marais des Cygnes bottom in the woods where I had a conversation with him. Mr. Adair said Brown had crossed the creek. I went down to see if he had. After a while on coming back I heard some one talking. I had then come up the bank & on looking across the ravine I saw Mr Brown with a rifle in his hand. He asked me who I was-whether I was a proslavery man? I asked him if he did not know me. He said yes he believed he did. I had ridden a horse down to the bank in company with another man, in whose charge I left the animal while I went to see Brown. About this time the man in whose care I left my horse rode off with the animal. Brown then asked me if the man mentioned was a pro-slavery or free state man. I answered a Free State man. Brown said then "it is all right." He then told me to go to Osawatomie and raise what men I could and go to Lawrence as the road was clear. I told him I could not raise many men. I asked him if his brother was there with him-he said yes, that he was there in the brush with him-that his brother was going right on to Lawrence. Mr Hughes rode up then and I had no more conversation with him at that time. Have had no conversation with Brown at any time concerning the laws nor heard him express his intentions. Before I went to the woods to see him Mr Adair had told me that John Brown Jr was a little deranged-that he was crazy. I went across the ravine then to see his brother-not this one here John Brown Jr came across to see me. His brother said if I would come on that evening he would wait for me and go through to Lawrence as they had more horses than they had men to mount-this was in the presence of John Brown Jr. This prisoner John Brown Jr was in command of the Pottawatomie Co at Palmyra. Did not know that John Brown Sr had any command under John Brown Jr. Williams, Partridge & Morse were present at the camp as part of Brown's Co. at Palmyra. Dent know, but understood Williams was Lieutenant in the Company. I was not there at the time & consequently do not know what created disturbance or division between the Osawatomie & Pottawatomie men.
     When I saw Brown in the Bottom as mentioned was two or three days after our return from Palmyra. I thought while I was talking with him that he was in his right mind; but when I saw him in the camp next day I thought he was not. He had been taken prisoner that morning. He seemed excited when I saw him in the Bottom & wilder than I had ever seen him before. I knew

him previously,-had spoken with him several times.

     The object of the assembling of the companies was that two or three messengers had come down from Lawrence asking for assistance as Lawrence was to be burned and all Free State people were to be driven out. Understood these things were to be done by a mob from Missouri and a part of Buford's party. It was to prevent the burning of Lawrence that these companies assembled. We had no intention of resisting the laws in any way whatever. I speak of those from Osawatomie. At Palmyra for a time all three of the camps were subject to John Brown Jr's orders. I knew of no insurrectional object then existing in the camp as thus combined-nor in any of the companies separately before or afterwards. I think I knew the designs & intentions of the several companies.           [Signed] D. W. Collis

     Harvey Jackson sworn. I was at the camp at Palmyra. reside near Osawatomie. We got to Palmyra after dark Saturday night. I went to sleep. In the morning I found John Brown Jr in our camp. This was Sunday morning. Concerning the difficulties at Lawrence Brown made a speech to the camp saying that the difficulties-the Free State Hotel and other property at Lawrence had been destroyed by a posse that Sheriff Jones had dismissed in the town. He advised the members of the companies in that speech to return home & go to work, that the U. S. authorities were in Lawrence or about Lawrence & intended to keep off collisions between the different parties. Mr Brown was then in command of the Pottawatomie Co.

     On Sunday morning I understood a man named Jones had passed through the camp who was fleeing the Territory on his return to Missouri. There was some difficulty & conversation concerning calling Jones back &c. A gentleman residing in Palmyra had sent a messenger after Jones to tell him to come back. Mr Brown learned this and objected to it & wanted the man to send a messenger to countermand the first one, but to let Jones pass on. Brown was unwilling to have Jones come back. Dent know whether Williams, Partridge & Morse were present & heard Brown's conversation, but they were present in the camp at the time. Dont know Williams's position in the Company. Williams was with the Company at Ottawa Jones's, and was there elected Captain of the Pottawatomie men. I saw William Partridge the prisoner in Brown's Company at Palmyra. I do not remember of hearing John Brown Jr express any opinion or say anything about the murders of Wilkinson & others when we heard of them. After arriving at Ottawa Jones's Mr Williams had command of the Pottawatomie Co. I saw Mr Morse the prisoner in Palmyra camp. I understand John Brown Jr. Mr Williams, Mr Partridge and Mr Morse to be citizens of the United States. Never heard Brown or either of the others say any thing about abiding by the laws.

     I went up with some of the citizens from Osawatomie to Palmyra, found Brown & his company and another company there. As to the intentions of the companies in going there I cannot answer except in regard to myself & those that went with me from Osawatomie. The general understanding of the men in gathering there was that Lawrence and vicinity was threatened with

an invasion by men from Missouri & other places. We were going up to assist the people of Lawrence in protecting themselves against mob violence. It was my understanding that the camp generally was assembled at Palmyra for that purpose. I cannot say that I know of any expression in the companies of an intention to resist the laws. I saw the U. S. troops mentioned by Higgins. We moved on a mile & a half or two miles after we saw said troops, when we came to a halt. I then learned that Capt John Brown Jr had received a message from the Captain of the troops who wished to see Brown. Brown soon started & on his return reported an interview he had had with the commander that the officer desired a disbandment of the armed companies. The companies started immediately for home. We went until we got within 7 or 8 miles of Osawatomie when the Pottawatomie Co left us. John Brown Jr's family was then at Mr Adairs near Osawatomie. Brown went with us toward Osawatomie. I went with the company to within 21/2 miles of the town when I left them. I did not see him again until 2 hours after dark that evening. As to disbanding I cannot speak concerning the intentions of the Pottawatomie Co. Our Osawatomie Co. considered it a breaking up & we disbanded.
     I judged of the feeling in the other camps about protecting Lawrence from mob violence from the expressions of the men in the other camps besides our own. The dispatches first mentioned about free state men being driven off, were recd,-one I believe from Mr Brown, and two from other persons whom I do not recollect. On arriving at Palmyra I could not learn of any Free State men having been driven away as represented in Brown's dispatch. I now correct the language above to this effect I do not remember positively that any of the dispatches represented that Free State men had been driven off, but that there were troubles threatened there and in that vicinity. These three companies numbered a hundred men or more all armed.
     I heard no particulars of affairs at Lawrence until Mr Brown gave his explanation on Sunday morning. In two or three hours after that we started southward. The state of affairs at Lawrence was found not to be as bad as had been represented before. I understood from him there had been a posse taken in there by Sheriff Jones to make some arrests &; after he was through with the posse he dismissed them in the town & that these outrages were committed by the men after they were dismissed. [Signed] H. Jackson Joseph B. Higgins recalled. (A set of resolutions offered in evidence and hereunto attached marked A received and read by Prosecuting Attorney.) So far as these resolutions are concerned they are, I think, word for word with those passed at the meeting mentioned by me in my examination in chief. They are to the same effect certainly. As to the Preamble I do not recollect precisely.           [Signed] J. B. Higgins

     [In the interest of continuity, the resolutions mentioned above as Appendix A are inserted here. These are the same resolutions that were printed in the Kansas Free State, Lawrence, May 5, 1856, and in the Herald of Freedom, Lawrence, May 17, 1856.]


     At a meeting of the settlers of Osawatomie and vicinity held at Osawatomie April 16th 1856 the following Preamble and Resolutions were unanimously adopted.

     WHEREAS several invasions from the Border State have been made into this Territory to subjugate it, and make it subservient to Slavery, and whereas said invasions were made for, and resulted in, the prostration of our civil and political rights and the entire pollution of the Ballot Box, and foisted upon us a set of pretended and tyrannical Legislators who unlawfully assembled at the "Shawnee Mission" on the Indian Reservation and there attempted to impose upon the settlers cruel and tyrannical laws, and appointed officers contrary to the fundamental principles of our Government for the term of six years; and whereas we are credibly informed that attempts have been made and are still being made to assess and collect taxes of us by men appointed for this purpose by the Territorial Legislature so called. Therefore RESOLVED-That we utterly repudiate the authority of that Legislature, as a body emanating not from the People of Kansas; but, elected and forced upon us by a foreign vote, and that the officers appointed by the same have therefore no legal power to act.

     RESOLVED-That we pledge to one another mutual aid and support in a forcible resistance to any attempt to compel us into obedience to those enactments, let that attempt come from whatever source it may; and that if men appointed by that Legislature to the office of Assessor or Sheriff shall hereafter attempt to assess or collect taxes of us they will do so at the peril of such consequences as shall be necessary to prevent the same.

     RESOLVED-That a committee of three be appointed to inform such officers of the action of this meeting by placing in their hands a copy of these Resolutions.

     RESOLVED-That a Copy of these resolutions with the proceedings of this meeting be furnished to the several newspapers of Kansas with a request to publish the same.

     Here the Prosecution rests-

     Defendants decline calling any witnesses-

     The Prosecuting Attorney declares that he no further prosecutes against either of the prisoners except John Brown Jr, Mr Williams Mr Partridge &

Mr. Morse.

     Counsel heard pro and con.

     Ordered that the prisoners John Brown Jr and Henry H. Williams be held to answer any Indictment that may be preferred against them on the charge aforesaid, &c.

     Mittimus for John Brown Jr & Henry H. Williams issued & delivered to U. S. Marshal.

      I, Edward Hoogland do hereby certify that the above is a correct statement and account of an examination taken by & before me as above stated and of the testimony of the several witnesses produced sworn and examined thereupon-and that the paper hereunto annexed mark "A" is the one referred to in the foregoing Depositions. Given under my hand at Tecumseh K. T.
June 20th 1856.           [Signed] Edwd. Hoogland, U. S. Commr.


     1. Brown's letter is printed in F. B. Sanborn, Life and Letters of John Brown, pp. 236-241. Ruth's letter is found in an English biography of Brown, relatively little known in the United States-R. D. Webb, Life and Letters of Captain John Brown . . . With Notices Of Some Of His Confederates (London, 1861), pp. 423-426. The ignorance of the Eastern members of the Brown family of what had occurred in Kansas is only too plainly shown by the wish expressed by Ruth that the brothers John and Jason had been in their father's company-participants in the Pottawatomie massacre-but she did not know what her father's company had been doing.

     2. New York Semi-Weekly Times, July 8, 1856. St. Louis Democrat, July 4, 1856. O. G. Villard, in his John Brown, referred to the manuscript record of the hearing (see p. 613, note 14) but obviously he did not snake any use of it in his book.

     3. In his endorsement on this package of papers, Hoogland wrote that this testimony was taken before the grand jury. In this he must have been mistaken, because the Lykins county grand jury, then in session, did not have jurisdiction. The Pottawatomie murders were committed in Franklin county and the Lawrence expedition reached into Douglas county. The affidavits were made at the instance of Judge Cato.

     4. M. M. Quaife, ed., "Bleeding Kansas and the Pottawatomie Murders," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, v. VI (March, 1920), pp. 556-560.

     5. Certainly Hoogland's claim that he suppressed the evidence and prevented thereby further judicial action is seriously weakened by the fact that the transcript of the record was published m both St. Louis and New York. Obviously, however, that publication received no publicity in the territory, and even the historians have overlooked it for some seventy-five years.

     6. The story of Grant is reserved for another time and place.

     7. In the manuscript two phrases were crossed out at this point, showing that the witness revised his language as he proceeded. First, he said "or in the hands [or house?] of the said Captain Wood" and then that "Deputy Marshal Cramer has failed in finding." The third Phrasing is the one that closes the sentence as printed here.

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