The North Was the Enemy
The mortal fear of being murdered in their beds drove American Southerners after 1831 to take very seriously the fanatical abolitionists who wanted only bloody massacres in the future. With no peaceful solutions advanced by these abolitionists for eradicating the evil caused by British and New England slave traders, the South took stern defensive measures.
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
The North Was the Enemy:
“Thirty-six hours after [John] Brown’s attempt to lead mass Negro insurrection, the action was over. But for Virginia, and the South, the effects were just beginning.
The more the details came in, the more the South felt the monstrousness of the attack from the North. Responsible citizens of New York State and Massachusetts, knowing the kind of criminally insane egotist they were dealing with, had supported his scheme of loosing on Southern whites – non-slaveholders as well as slaveholders – a race war. When the mad plot miscarried, only one of the eight plotters had sufficient moral courage to admit his part in it. After burning the incriminating papers, the others fled in all directions – Gerrit Smith, the leader, fittingly going into a lunatic asylum.
When several of them were tracked down to Ohio and Iowa, the governors of those States refused to extradite them for trial…In the East, the New York Tribune found no reproach to Brown and his “compatriots; Boston papers awarded him the “crown of martyrdom,” and Louisa May Alcott called him “St. John the Just.” When the fanatic was sentenced to be hanged, Emerson said “he would make the gallows glorious like the cross.”
The ascension of St. John was not a typical attitude of the North, and many conservatives deplored the crime. Yet the fact that he was supported at all, even glorified, and this by the enlightened intellectuals, aroused the Southern masses to a sense of physical and imminent danger from their neighbors to the North. In those thirty-six hours, the murderous fanatic had accomplished what the Southern radicals had not been able to in thirty years; the people believed the North was the enemy.”
(The Land They Fought For, Clifford Dowdey, Doubleday & Company, 1955, pp. 64-65)