CANADA A REFUGE FOR THE SLAVE. 143
myself—were ready to co-operate in his plan as thus limited. Of the wider organization and membership afterwards formed by him in Canada we of course knew nothing" .l
This wider organization took place in a Negro church at Chatham, where he arrived about the middle of March, 1859, accompanied by twelve colored people carried off from slave owners in Missouri, who through arrival in Canada became legally as well as practically free. At a secret convention in May, called by himself and attended only by such whites and blacks as he believed in thorough sympathy with his views, a " Provisional Constitution for the People of the United States " was adopted. It was of course drafted by Brown, and aimed directly at slavery and slave-holders, while in it any intention to interfere with or destroy any state or federal government was distinctly disclaimed. Brown was elected commander-in-chief : with some high-sounding titles conferred upon others, the more moderate one of treasurer was given to Brown's son, Owen. This action was said, according to the preamble, to have been taken by " citizens of the United States and oppressed people who by a recent decision of the Supreme court are declared to have no rights which the white man is bound to respect ".' It is not strange that this defiance of the United States government, carried into effect a few months later within easy reach of Washington, has led an admirer and friend of John Brown to regard it as obvious that the long delay of an "opportunity of fulfilment had disturbed the delicate balance of the zealot's mind ".
The long and anxious procession northward continued to the outbreak of the civil war in the United States. It was in 1862 that the British Parliament. influenced by the decision of the Upper Canada court of common pleas on a
' " Cheerful Yesterdays", p. 1st.
2 Greeleds " American Conflict vol. q p. 287.