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anti-slavery cause, and especially to aid Kansas in her struggle. At that time he became acquainted with John Brown. Not only did Mr. Stearns, in his capacity as an officer of the Kansas Aid Society, furnish him with rifles, ammunition and supplies, but he personally contributed Colt's revolvers to the value of thirteen hundred dollars. He did not know of Brown's design to make the Harper's Ferry raid, but as an officer of the Kansas Aid Society, fearing that Brown might make some aggressive move into a slave state, wrote to remind him that he held his rifles in trust, only to be used in Kansas. While John Brown was undergoing his trial, Mrs. Stearns sent Brackett, the sculptor, to take the measurements and make the necessary sketches for a bust of the old warrior in the prison at Charlestown, Virginia. The bust still adorns the Stearns house in Medford.

During the War of the Rebellion Mr. Stearns was a tireless and effective worker on the side of freedom, but, like his friend John M. Forbes, kept his name out of the papers.

Yet he was the founder of the Commonwealth and The Right Way newspapers, and active in the Loyal Publication Society. He had urged the arming of negroes at a time when it was exceedingly difficult to recruit more white troops. When it was decided to raise colored regiments, Governor Andrew made Mr. Stearns chairman of a committee to do so. He assumed the most difficult and delicate part of the work,

the recruiting negroes from Canada, and in the Southwest. In this he was wonderfully successful, and public opinion, at first hostile, rapidly changed. This committee raised the 54th and 55th Massachusetts Regiments of infantry, and the 5th Massachusetts cavalry. Secretary Stanton commissioned Mr. Stearns a major, and he recruited for the regiments of United States

colored troops.

Major Stearns died in middle life in April, 1867. In a notice of his life in the Commonwealth it was truly said of him: " Major Stearns saw the working out and full consummation of the great principles to which his life was devoted; freedom everywhere, the slave free, and a citizen, and a soldier, and a voter all this he saw before he passed on.”

Page 504, note 1. In the Senate Document of the 36th Congress, No. 278, is the report of this committee. At the end of his long examination, fearlessly met, a senator asked Mr. Stearns, “Do you disapprove of such an action as that at Harper's Ferry?” He answered: “I should have disapproved it if I had known of it in advance. Since then I have changed my opinion. I believe John Brown to be the Representative Man of this century, as Washington of the last. The Harper's Ferry affair, and the capacity shown by the Italians for self-government, are the great events of the age; one will free Europe and the other America."

Che Riverside Press


U.S. A

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