0n Monday evening, Colonel Robert E. Lee arrived at Harper's Ferry, with ninety United States marines and two pieces of artillery. The doors of the engine house were forced open, and Brown and his followers were captured. He was speedily indicted for murder and treason was found guilty, and on the A of December (1859) he was hanged at Charlestown, not far from the scene of his exploits. The most exaggerated reports of this raid went over the land. Terror spread throughout Virginia. Its governor (Henry A. Wise) was excited almost to madness, and declared that he was ready to make war on all the free labor States. In a letter to President Buchanan, written on the 25th of November, he declared he had authority for believing that a conspiracy to rescue John Brown existed in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and other States. Brown was suspected of being an emissary of the Abolitionists, and attempts were made to implicate leaders of the Republican party and the inhabitants of the free labor States generally in a scheme for liberating the slaves. A committee of the United States Senate, with the author of the Fugitive-Slave Law (James M. Mason) at its bead, was appointed to investigate the subject. The result was positive proof that Brown bad no accomplices and only about twenty-five followers.
John Brown's attempt to free the slaves was a crazy one in itself, and utterly failed, but it led to events that very soon brought about the result he so much desired. His bitterest enemies acknowledged that he was sincere, and a real hero, and he became, in a manner, the instrument of deliverance of millions from bondage. His effort aroused the slumbering party spirit of the combatants for and against slavery to great activity, and at the beginning of 1860, a remarkable and growing strength of the Republican party was everywhere manifested. Its central idea of universal freedom attracted powerful and influential men from all other political parties, for it bore a standard around which persons differing in other things might gather in perfect accord. The elections held in 1858 and 1859 satisfied the opponents of this party that they were rapidly passing to the position of a hopeless minority, and that the domination in the National Councils which the friends of the slave system had so long enjoyed would speedily come to an end.
The sagacious leaders of the pro-slavery party in the South, who had been for years forming plans and preparing a way for a dissolution of the Union, so as to establish the great slave empire of their dreams within the Golden Circle (to be noticed presently), believed that they would not be able to elect another President of their choice, and that the time had come for the execution of their destructive scheme. A pretext more plausible than that of the violations of the Fugitive-Slave Act at the North afforded them, must be had, for that act had become too odious in the estimation of righteous men and women in all parts of the Union to inspire them With a desire for its maintenance. No such pretext existed, and the politicians in