I was at Harpers Ferry a week ago (Sunday) so of course I went to the library
and got a few books about the episode of John Brown's insurrection.
One of them describes the idea which swiftly spread that John Brown kissed a
Negro baby on his way to the gallows.
Only one thing - there were no blacks present, or very few, and no women and
children present; the authorities had made sure of that. The author refers
to the whole thing as "mythopoetic" - =our= word!
And there are two or three paintings of the non-event, one of which forms the
frontispiece of the book, very touching. And two or three poems, one of them
by John Greenleaf Whittier.
Interesting to see how myths arise, out of things which are "truer than
truth." Brown had in fact said that if he had his wish, he would wish for
no official chaplains to pray at his death, but an "old slave mother."