Library and Archives Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Institutional links

ARCHIVED - Canadian Confederation

Archived Content

This archived Web page remains online for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. This page will not be altered or updated. Web pages that are archived on the Internet are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats of this page on the Contact Us page.

Towards Confederation

Influence of the American Civil War

John Brown

While in Chatham, Brown sent out the following form letter to a select group of individuals:

Chatham, Canada West
April 29th, 1858

Dear Sir

You are earnestly requested to meet quite a number of the friends of freedom… and bring with you any others that you know to be absolutely true to the cause… There are already so many collected here that it has been decided to make this the point for a most quiet convention…

Very respectfully your Friends
Charles L. Redmond Esqr.
John Brown
M.R. Delaney
J.M. Bell

Source: The Collector No. 2 (1960), Stanley Smith Collection, Regional Room, University of Western Ontario.

At that meeting Brown outlined his plans to attack Harpers Ferry in West Virginia, arm his followers and march south to smash slavery. At further meetings in Chatham the "Provisional Constitution and Ordinances for the People of the United States" was adopted and officers were elected to serve in a provisional government.

One Canadian Black, Osborne Anderson, took part in the disastrous raid on Harpers Ferry. Of the 21 men who fought with Brown, 10 died, 6 escaped (of whom 5 reached Canada and freedom) and 5, including Brown, were later hanged. The Harpers Ferry raid made a big impression in Canada and many felt Brown was a hero.