“All men dream but not equally. Those that dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that is was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible.”
– T.E. Lawrence
I maintain a catalog of inspirational speeches and they speak to me like the epochal union of literature in music and literature in opera or the powerful poems that set fire to our hearts. I love great speeches and have a collection of some of my favorites whether Shakespeare’s Henry V homage to the “band of brothers” or Charlie Chaplain’s speech or Churchill’s magisterial speech condemning the Amritsar massacre in India in 1919 which may very well have paved the way tangentially for the liberation of Eire from the English manacle in 1922. It may have been Churchill’s most masterful speech.
John Brown’s short but powerful and poignant speech is one of the finest in English letters and helped to set the world on fire in the worst way when instead of liberating the slave, the Lincolnian war on Southern secession put every human in the tax jurisdiction known as the USA in shackles that have grown heavier and more oppressive by the decade since. I don’t hold John Brown personally accountable for the tragic conflict from 1861-65 in the USA. Like all history, the causes and effects and the eddying concourses from many sources that joined to effect those very things make a complex tapestry especially in retrospect and professional hindsight.
John Brown fought a fundamentally different fight from the abolitionist campaigns of the likes of Garrison and Douglass. John Brown took a violent fight to an evil so great in his mind that all his campaigns against the slave power were justified. He was that most dangerous man that TE Lawrence spoke of: a visionary who dreamed during the day. Hence, the following speech by John Brown at his trial before he was hanged. Brown was the kind of man you simply don’t find in humanity today. Many would applaud his absence but I would think more men like Brown would inspire the changes that need to be made now. Brown was neither a military genius nor a competent rabble-rouser who could inspire others to follow his lead and actually spark the change.