The Library of Virginia
George L. Lumsden to Governor Henry A. Wise, 12 November 1859.

St Paul, Minnesota

November 12'/59

To His Excellency

Henry A. Wise

Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia:

My worthy and dear Sir:

Reared in your capital city from childhood to manhood, I there attained to the rights of citizenship; and therefore pray you give heed to my heart's desire.  Sixteen years have passed by since last we met at your Home on the Eastern Shore; and many, many changes have taken place with us both since then.  God's providence moves and directs by various and mysterious ways.

To-day I make an appal to you in behalf of the weal of Virginia.  It is this,- to accept of my life in the stead of that of the noble and honest John Brown.  If blood must be shed, permit me- O, permit me to offer up myself to die in the place of John Brown, who has been sentenced to be hanged on the 2nd of the coming month- (December)

Lay not his blood to your charge.  Oh, spare his life, lest the avenging Angel of God spread desolation over the land.  Take mine instead of his.  God forbid that the wand of desolation should pass over the Old Dominion!  Rather let me die.  Be not partakers, O, Virginia! of the blood of those whom God has seen fit to send into the State.  I have no desire to live beyond that day.  My life is useless but for duty.  Take it rather than spill another drop of John Brown's blood on the soil of Virginia.

Show John Brown Virginia society- let him see for himself the exact relation of each gradation- its dependance upon each other- and its happiness and completeness to all.  In this you have nothing to fear- you have much to gain.  He may then go forth amid his present friends, and teach Truth far more effectually than by all other agencies.  It will be better than shedding his blood.

Give me early answer- few words- affirmative or negative- and believe me, dear Sir-

With sentiments of the highest regard

Your Obedient Servant

Geo. L. Lumsden


I refer you to Thos. H. Wynne, Supt. of the Richmond & Petersburg R.R., for the genuineness & authenticity of the epistle.  I have never ceased to admire you as a man since I saw your letters of condolence to Mrs. Ayres of Pungoteague while you were at Rio, S.A.


Governor's Office, Letters Received, Henry A. Wise, Record Group 3, Library of Virginia.