Dear Christian Observer Readers,
Dr. Edwin P. Elliott, Publisher, long-time Managing Editor, and reviver of the Christian Observer – first published in 1813, Creator and Publisher of Presbyterians Week, and a pioneer in Internet ministry communications, died 11 October 2009, from the effects of a heart attack suffered two days before. Dr. Elliott was pastor at Reformed Presbyterian Church in Manassas, Virginia, from 1978 until his death. Dr. Elliott’s obituary from the local newspaper in Manassas, Virginia, can be accessed here.
Edwin was my friend, mentor, discipler, and for most of the last two years, my “boss” and co-laborer on Presbyterians Week and the Christian Observer, as we worked to transition the Christian Observer from a printed magazine to an Internet publication, and as he prepared me to assume leadership of the Christian Observer publications when he was no longer able to do so.
That day arrived far too soon in my limited temporal perspective, but God sovereignly called his faithful servant home on the day appointed by him to do so, and I ask all of you to pray that our Sovereign God will guide and direct myself and the rest of the Christian Observer staff to continue the work that Edwin Elliott did so well to God’s honor and glory alone – Soli Deo Gloria.
16 October 2009, the day I began writing this article, marked the 150th anniversary of John Brown’s and his henchmen’s raid on the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, then in Virginia. For several years prior to this infamous act, New York State native John Brown had been one of the leading bloodletters in “Bleeding Kansas.” Under the guise of fighting to abolish slavery, Brown’s band of 19th-century terrorists destroyed the property of, killed, and maimed the people of Kansas and Missouri, whether or not they were slaveholders.
In October of 1859, Brown and his henchmen hid out on the farm of a family named Kennedy that lived across the Potomac River in Maryland just a few miles away from Harpers Ferry. Brown and his men snuck into Harpers Ferry under the cover of darkness and captured a small Federal Army arsenal building with the intent of stealing the weapons and arming slaves so they could violently rebel against their owners. The first casualty of Brown’s Raid was a free-black railroad employee who Brown’s men shot in the back and killed to prevent him from giving away their position in the armory building. The second casualty was the then-mayor of Harpers Ferry, who was kidnapped and later murdered in cold blood by Brown and his henchmen.
Two days later, a small force of soldiers under the command of then U.S. Army Col. Robert E. Lee, recaptured the arsenal, and Brown was later tried and hanged for his crimes. The only U.S. soldier killed in the recapture of the armory building was a young Irish immigrant U.S. Marine who is buried in the Roman Catholic cemetery in Harpers Ferry, and for whom a lighted U.S. Marine Corps flag is flown twenty-four hours a day.
An investigation soon brought to light that Brown and his terrorist band were being financed and directed by a half-dozen prominent citizens of New England dubbed The Secret Six, who were radical abolitionists in the Unitarian tradition, or what author Otto Scott called the “New England Religion.” The six reacted in fear to their new-found publicity, and several left the United States for a time. Influential writers and newspapers though, soon turned the murderous John Brown into a great secular hero, and a song about Brown’s rotting, hanged body became one of the rallying anthems for the radical abolitionists that did so much to incite the War Between the States.
You may be asking yourself at this point what John Brown’s Raid has to do with Dr. Edwin Elliott, the Christian Observer, and my writing this article in honor of my recently-deceased friend. In point of fact, there are several reasons.
Dr. Elliott’s and our predecessor publisher of the Christian Observer, Amasa Converse, published articles several years prior to John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry warning the Presbyterian and Reformed community about the dangers of the apostate “New England Religion,” about the radical abolitionists inciting the bloody fratricidal war that eventually broke out in 1861, and about the totalitarian directions being taken by Abraham Lincoln and his cronies to destroy many provisions of freedom guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution by amassing powers to the federal government not granted to it by the U.S. Constitution.
Two post-John Brown’s Raid articles published in the Christian Observer will be republished on the 150th anniversary of their first publication, first in a 27 October 2009 article titled “A Regular Abolition Conspiracy,” and second in a 10 November 2009, article titled “Character of John Brown.” An earlier Christian Observer article from 1845, a letter from prominent abolitionist and Congregationalist minister Leonard Bacon, was republished in the Christian Observer on 3 January 2009.
On the evening of 16 October 2009, a commemorative walk was taken by about 300 people from the Kennedy Farm in nearby-Maryland to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, in order to commemorate John Brown’s similarly-traveled 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry. The historian leading the walk aimed to make the walk a “soulful” and “reverent” experience.
The overriding perspective taken on John Brown in today’s Harpers Ferry is that of a noble, freedom-fighting, righter of southern wrongs. The current mayor, whose 1859 counterpart was kidnapped and murdered by Brown, extols John Brown as a great freedom fighter for the slaves. The historical exhibits too reflect this romanticized perspective of terrorist John Brown. You will be hard-pressed to find references to Brown’s Midwest terrorist activity prior to the Harpers Ferry Raid, nor to his cowardly murder of the free black railroad worker and the then-mayor, because they are truths inconvenient to the secularists that dominate so much of the current culture.
England’s William Wilberforce, a devout Christian, worked tirelessly throughout his life to have the English slave trade abolished by peaceful means through legislation in the English Parliament. Three days before Wilberforce’s death, he was told that the House of Commons had passed the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, which was soon enacted into law and peacefully ended virtually all slavery in Britain. In the United States, the radical abolitionists and their fellow travelers helped push the nation into a bloody, fratricidal war resulting in one million casualties out of a population of less than thirty-two million.
As the United States draws closer to a grand 150th anniversary celebration of the War Between the States, which killed 400 thousand soldiers, injured another 600 thousand soldiers, and forever destroyed the distributed powers and checks-and-balances republican government created by our founding fathers in favor of the ever-growing federal leviathan we now have inherited, the Christian Observer will strive to provide solid biblical, historical, and theological perspectives on these matters, and will strive to bring to light the Satanic roots of many of today’s pressing problems.
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