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Antislavery Poetry from San Francisco

Running man image from workshop poster

The Pacific Appeal was the leading African American newspaper on the West Coast during the early 1860s.  A newly-published set of eight antislavery poems from the journal's inaugural 1862 volume captures the sense of expectancy within the African American community for the imminent end of US slavery.  These poems include the work of James Madison Bell, a San Francisco plasterer, brickmason, and poet.  Read more... 
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Ossawatomie Brown (XHTML)

An 1859-60 essay by Charles Farrar Browne, writing as Artemus Ward. Digitized by the Antislavery Literature Project.

 

Source: Charles F. Browne, Artemus Ward: His Book (New York: Carleton, 1862)

 

[page 157]

OSSAWATOMIE BROWN

I don’t pertend to be a cricket, & consekently the reader will not regard this ere peace as a Cricketcism. I cimply desine givin the pints & Plot of a play I saw actid out at the theater tuther nite, called Ossywattermy Brown, or the Hero of Harper's Ferry. Ossywattermy had varis failins, one of whitch was a idee that he cood conker Virginny with a few duzzen loonatics which he had pickt up sumwhares, mercy only nose whare. He didn't cum it, as the sekel showed. This play was jerkt by a admirer of Old Ossywattermy.

First akt opens at North Elby, Old Brown's humsted. Thare's a weddin at the house. Amely, Old Brown's darter, marrys sumbody, and they all whirl in the Messy darnce. Then Ossywattermy and his 3 suns leave fur Kansis. Old Mrs. Ossy-


[page 158]

 

wattermy tells em thay air goin on a long jurny & Blesses em to slow fiddlin. Thay go to Kansis. What upon arth thay go to Kansis fur when thay was so nice & comfortable down thare to North Elby is moren I know. The suns air next seen in Kansis at a tavern. Mister Blane, a sinister lookin man with his Belt full of knives & hoss pistils, axes one of the Browns to take a drink. Brown refuzis, whitch is the fust instance on record whare a Brown deklined sich a invite. Mister Blane, who is a dark bearded feroshus lookin person, then axis him whether he's fur or fernenst Slavery. Yung Brown sez he's agin it, whareupon Mister Blane, who is the most sinisterest lookin man I ever saw, sez Har, har, har! (that bein his stile of larfin wildly), & ups & sticks a knife into yung Brown. Anuther Brown rushes up & sez, "You hav killed me Ber-ruther!" Moosic by the Band & Seen changes. The stuck yung Brown enters supported by his two brothers. Bimeby he falls down, sez he sees his Mother, & dies. Moosic by the Band. I lookt, but couldn't see any mother. Next Seen reveels


[page 159]

 

Old Brown's cabin. He's readin a book. He sez freedum must extend its Area & rubs his hands like he was pleesed abowt it. His suns cum in. One of em goes out & cums in ded, havin bin shot while out by a Border Ruffin. The ded yung Brown sez he sees his mother and tumbles down. The Border Ruffins then surround the cabin & set it afire. The Browns giv then-selves up for gone coons, when the hired gal diskivers a trap door to the cabin & thay go down threw it & cum up threw the bulkhed. Their merraklis scape reminds me of the scape of De Jones the Coarsehair of the Gulf—a tail with a yaller kiver, that I onct red. For sixteen year he was confined in a loathsum dunjin not tastin of food durin all that time. Then a lucky thawt struck him! He opened the winder and got out. To resoom—Old Brown rushes down to the foot lites, gits down on his nees, & swares he'll hav revenge. The battle of Ossywattermy takes place. Old Brown kills Mister Blane, the sinister individooal aforesed. Mister Blane makes a able & elerquent speech, sez he don’t see his mother much,


[page 160]

 

and dies like a son of a gentleman, rapt up in the Star Spangled Banner. Moosic by the Band. From Kansis to Harper's Ferry. Picter of a Arsenal is represented. Sojers cum & fire at it. Old Brown cums out & permits hisself to be shot. He is tride and sentenced to be hung on the gallus. Tabloo— Old Brown on a platform, pintin upards, the staige lited up with red fire. Goddiss of Liberty also on platform, pintin upards. A dutchman in the orkestry warbles on a base drum. Curtin falls. Moosic by the Band.