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consciousness of guilt? If the defendants were innocent, would they not feel indignation at this unjust accusation? If they saw an attempt to produce false evidence against them, would they not be angry? And, seeing the production of such evidence, might they not feel fear and alarm? And have indignation, and anger, and terror no power to affect the human countenance or the human frame?

Miserable, miserable, indeed, is the reasoning which would infer any man's guilt from his agitation when he found himself accused of a heinous offense; when he saw evidence which he might know to be false and fraudulent brought against him; when his house was filled, from the garret to the cellar, by those whom he might esteem as false witnesses; and when he himself, instead of being at liberty to observe their conduct and watch their motions, was a prisoner in close custody in his own house, with the fists of a catchpoll clenched upon his throat.

From the time of the robbery to the arrest, five or six weeks, the defendants were engaged in their usual occupations. They are not found to have passed a dollar of money to anybody. They continued their ordinary habits of labor. No man saw money about them, nor any circumstance that might lead to a suspicion that they had money. Nothing occurred tending in any degree to excite suspicion against them. When arrested, and when all this array of evidence was brought against them, and when they could hope in nothing but their innocence, immunity was offered them again if they would confess. They were pressed, and urged, and allured, by every motive which could be set before them, to acknowledge their participation in the offense, and to bring out their accomplices. They steadily protested that they could confess nothing because they knew nothing. In defiance of all the discoveries made in their house, they have trusted to their innocence. On that, and on the candor and discernment of an enlightened jury, they still rely.

If the jury are satisfied that there is the highest improbability that these persons could have had any previous knowledge of Goodridge, or been concerned in any previous concert to rob him; if their conduct that evening and the next day was marked by no circumstance of suspicion; if from that moment until their arrest nothing appeared against them; if they neither passed money, nor are found to have had money; if the manner of the search of their house, and the circumstances attending it, excite strong suspicions of unfair and fraudulent practices; if, in the hour of their utmost peril, no promises of safety could draw from the defendants any confession affecting themselves or others, it will be for the jury to say whether they can pronounce them guilty.


Published in Depew's "Library of Oratory," E. J. Bowen and Company, New York, publishers.


Who is John E. Cook?

He has the right himself to be heard before you; but I will answer for him. Sprung from an ancestry of loyal attachment to the American government, he inherits no blood of tainted impurity. His grandfather, an officer of the Revolution, by which your liberty, as well as mine, was achieved, and his gray-haired father, who lived to weep over him, a soldier of the war of 1812, he brings no dishonored lineage into your presence. Born of a parent stock occupying the middle walks of life, and possessed of all those tender and domestic virtues which escape the contamination of those vices that dwell on the frozen peaks, or in the dark and deep caverns of society, he would not have been here had precept and example been remembered in the prodigal wanderings of his short and checkered life.

Poor deluded boy! wayward, misled child! An evil star presided over thy natal hour and smote it with gloom.

In an evil hour--and may it be forever accursed!--John E. Cook met John Brown on the prostituted plains of Kansas. On that field of fanaticism, three years ago, this fair and gentle youth was thrown into contact with the pirate and robber of civil warfare.

Now look at John Cook, the follower. He is in evidence before you. Never did I plead for a face that I was more willing to show. If evil is there, I have not seen it. If murder is there, I am to learn to mark the lines of the murderer anew. If the assassin is in that young face, then commend me to the look of an assassin. No, gentlemen, it is a face for a mother to love, and a sister to idolize, and in which the natural goodness of his heart pleads trumpet-tongued against the deep damnation that estranged him from home and its principles.

John Brown was the despotic leader and John E. Cook was an ill-fated follower of an enterprise whose horror be now realizes and deplores. I defy the man, here or elsewhere, who has ever known John E. Cook, who has ever looked once fully into his face, and learned anything of his history, to lay his hand on his heart and say that he believes him guilty of the origin or the results of the outbreak at Harper's Ferry.

Here, then, are the two characters whom you are thinking to punish alike. Can it be that a jury of Christian men will find no discrimination should be made between them? Are the tempter and the tempted the same in your eyes? Is the beguiled youth to die the same as the old offender who has pondered his crimes for thirty years? Are there no grades in your estimations of guilt? Is each one, without respect to age or circumstances, to be beaten with the same number of stripes?

Such is not the law, human or divine. We are all to be rewarded according to our works, whether in punishment for evil, or blessings for good that we have done. You are here to do justice, and if justice requires the same fate to befall Cook that befalls Brown, I know nothing of her rules, and do not care to learn. They are as widely asunder, in all that constitutes guilt, as the poles of the earth, and should be dealt with accordingly. It is in your power to do so, and by the principles by which you yourselves are willing to be judged hereafter, I implore you to do it!


Published in "Depew's Library of Oratory," E. J. Bowen and Company, New York, publishers


May it please your honors, and you gentlemen of the jury,--We have at length gone through the evidence in behalf of the prisoners. The witnesses have now placed before you that state of facts from which results our defense.

I stated to you, gentlemen, your duty in opening this cause--do not forget the discharge of it. You are paying a debt you owe the community for your own protection and safety: by the same mode of trial are your own rights to receive a determination; and in your turn a time may come when you will expect and claim a similar return from some other jury of your fellow subjects.

How much need was there for my desire that you should suspend your judgment till the witnesses were all examined? How different is the complexion of the cause? Will not all this serve to show every honest man the little truth to be attained in partial hearings? In the present case, how great was the prepossession against us? And I appeal to you, gentlemen, what cause there now is to alter our sentiments? Will any sober, prudent man countenance the proceedings of the people in King Street,--can any one justify their conduct,--is there any one man or any body of men who are interested to espouse and support their conduct?

Surely, no! But our inquiry must be confined to the legality of their conduct, and here can be no difficulty. It was certainly illegal, unless many witnesses are directly perjured: witnesses, who have no apparent interest to falsify,--witnesses who have given their testimony with candor and accuracy,--witnesses whose credibility stands untouched,--whose credibility the counsel for the king do not pretend to impeach or hint a suggestion to their disadvantage.

I say, gentlemen, by the standard of the law are we to judge the actions of the people who were the assailants and those who were the assailed and then on duty. And here, gentlemen, the rule we formerly laid down takes place. To the facts, gentlemen, apply yourselves. Consider them as testified; weigh the credibility of the witnesses-- balance their testimony--compare the several parts of it--see the amount of it; and then, according to your oath, "make true deliverance according to your evidence." That is, gentlemen, having settled the facts, bring them truly to the standard of the law; the king's judges, who are acquainted with it, who are presumed best to know it, will then inspect this great standard of right and wrong, truth and justice; and they are to determine the degree of guilt to which the fact rises.


May it please your honors, and you gentlemen of the jury,--After having thus gone through the evidence and considered it as applicatory to all and every one of the prisoners, let us take once more a brief and cursory survey of matters supported by the evidence. And here let me ask in sober reason, what language more opprobrious, what actions more exasperating, than those used on this occasion? Words, I am sensible, are no justification of blows, but they serve as the grand clew to discover the temper and the designs of the agents; they serve also to give us light in discerning the apprehensions and thoughts of those who are the objects of abuse.

"You lobsters!"--"You bloody-back!"--"You coward!"--"You dastard!" are but some of the expressions proved. What words more galling? What more cutting and provoking to a soldier? But accouple these words with the succeeding actions,--"You dastard!"--"You coward!" A soldier and a coward!

This was touching "the point of honor and the pride of virtue." But while these are as yet fomenting the passions and swelling the bosom, the attack is made; and probably the latter words were reiterated at the onset; at least, were yet sounding in the ear. Gentlemen of the jury, for Heaven's sake, let us put ourselves in the same situation! Would you not spurn at that spiritless institution of society which tells you to be a subject at the expense of your manhood?

But does the soldier step out of his ranks to seek his revenge? Not a witness pretends it. Did not the people repeatedly come within the points of their bayonets and strike on the muzzles of the guns? You have heard the witnesses.

Does the law allow one member of the community to behave in this manner towards his fellow citizen, and then bid the injured party be calm and moderate? The expressions from one party were--"Stand off, stand off!"--"I am upon my station."--"If they molest me upon my post, I will

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