Port Hope, November 28, 1836

Mr. Editor

Observing that your last number contains some strictures on the course that the Editor of the Port Hope “Gazette” found it his painful duty to pursue in his castigation of Mr Brown, whose proposed vindication of his conduct (in your columns), regarding the melancholy death of Mr. O’Neill, is altogether lost site of, and superseded by a sweeping accusation against the Magistrates and Merchants of this town, for having made him the subject of an “unprincipled and relentless persecution", I feel called upon, as my name appears in that letter, not only as a chief sufferer in the late outrages, but in Justice to myself, that Editor, and the numerous body of intelligent men alluded to in that communication, to request a space in your columns while I prove by a few undeniable facts, that that gentleman has been himself the AGENT and not the OBJECT of “malignant persecution.”

In performing this painful duty, I shall be guided by your golden maxim of British jurisprudence, “that every man should be considered innocent until found guilty” ---exhibiting him, in one instance acknowledging his guilt, and pleading for mercy, and on another occasion, convicted by Laws of his country.

It can scarcely yet be forgotten by a single inhabitant residing in this District in 1832, that on the 18th of August of that year, during the raging of the Cholera, a violent procession, marshalled by John Brown, himself, and armed with murderous weapons, marched through the streets of Port Hope and drew up in front of the residence of most of the respectable inhabitants, whom they disturbed and terrified by yells, groans, hisses and most abusive language, regardless even of the sufferings of the sick and dying inmates. This inhuman proceeding terminated in a wanton and unproked <sic> attack upon my person, in my own store, by which my collar bone and several ribs were broken; and this under the eyes of Mr. Brown, who was about or at the time harranguing <sic> the mob from his own verandah opposite. For this outrage, I was determined, as well as other fellow sufferers, to bring Mr. Brown before the next Assizes - his repeated and abject entreaties were unfortunately listened to, at the very hour that the cause was absolutely called on for trial, on the condition, that he would sign a document expressive of his contrition, and determination to abandon a course of life which had proved so injurious to his fellow townsmen.

This humiliating document was accordingly signed by him and witnessed by J.G. Bethune and Morgan Jellet Esquires, and can be produced as a proof that so far from being the victim of persecution, this ungrateful man has been treated with too much lenity and forbearance. For some months, this voluntary humiliation had the desired effect, and better things were hoped for, but as if the elements of discord were as necessary to his existence as the air he breathes, he returned with redoubled energy to his wanton acts of aggression; abusing, injuring and assaulting his neighbors <sic>, and to so great a pitch has his effrontery arrived that he now hesitates not to accuse others of those very offences of which he has been himself found guilty. He tells you for example, Mr Editor, when complaining of persecution, that about a month ago he was violently beaten by persons in my employment at the pier, and that his nephew was so severely injured that his life was dispaired of: in contradicting and exposing this false assertion I call upon the four Magistrates, who gave that affair a patient and impartial hearing to say whether Mr. Brown was not himself the aggressor, and found guilty of assaulting Wm. Reilley one of my men, and further, if it is not a fact that his nephew Wainright, resisted the constable when attempting to arrest him for that and other offences of no less flagrant a nature. Mr. Brown stated that the Merchants withdrew from the Harbour Company, alleging as a reason that he was seeking to obtain an undue influence in its affairs, - it is however well known here; and may be inferred by others from the above facts, that nothing short of exclusive controul <sic> could satisfy the domineering and rapcaious <sic> spirit of this man, and that to effect this, he has long countenanced a band of ruffians from whose outrages the merchants still continue to suffer, when obliged to transact business at the wharf; he has the modesty to say that this wharf cost him £10,000., when far better accommodation for shipping could have been provided, under other management for £3,000., so says an experienced engineer, who has examined the place. How can Mr. Brown account for the expenditure of £10,000., when it is known that government paid £2,000., that Mr. Hector holds £1,000., and the Bank of Montreal £1,400. leaving out of account a large quantity of Stock nominally held by various stock holders in this company?

With respect to the burning, destroying of Boats &c. &c., Mr. Brown has again reversed the picture. I have been an inhabitant of this town since before the commencement of the wharf, and in the way of hearing all the transactions of the place, and I most solemnly declare, that till the appearance of Mr. Brown’s letter, I never heard it asserted that any of his timber, boats or scows, were on any occasion destroyed; that no person is allowed the privilege of having a boat upon these waters but himself, abundant proof has been furnished by the destruction of a valuable boat belonging to the Merchants of this place by Mr. Brown’s men, as would appear by an affidavit now in a magistrate’s possession, and more recently by the wanton and malicious destruction of the boats belonging to Capt. Kingsmill, the Messrs. Ward, Brent and Wilder - immediately subsequent to the burning of Capt. Kingsmill’s house.

Mr. Brown’s whining attempt to excite public sympathy by asserting that his opponents will not rest satisfied with anything short of the utter ruin of himself and family, deserves no other refutation that to request persons interested to call to mind that during the whole contention and discussion of which he has been the notorious cause, not a solitary allusion has been made to any other member of his family than himself and the unfortunate young man his nephew now in prison.

Outrage upon outrage might be enumerated, were it not more my object to rebut the imputation cast upon myself and others than to enter into the disgusting details of his public transgressions. The heartless attempt to deprive the late lamented Mr. O’Neill (“who has been prematurely hurried to that place where the wicked cease from troubling”) of all he had to depend upon in this world - his good name - by gratuitously stating, before a court of Justice in Toronto that he was not to be believed on oath is but a minor act in his life's Tragedy. Broken and shattered, as he is, on the wheel of public opinion, I now leave him to the healing and too “flattering unction of an approving conscience.”

JOHN CRAWFORD

Next - Letter from John Brown re Murder


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