John Brown’s Women: The Coffee Pot Book Club Blog Tour.
As the United States wrestles with its besetting sin—slavery—abolitionist John Brown is growing tired of talk. He takes actions that will propel the nation toward civil war and thrust three courageous women into history
Wealthy Brown, married to John Brown’s oldest son, eagerly falls in with her husband’s plan to settle in Kansas. Amid clashes between pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers, Wealthy’s adventure turns into madness, mayhem, and murder.
Fifteen-year-old Annie Brown is thrilled when her father summons her to the farm he has rented in preparation for his raid. There, she guards her father’s secrets while risking her heart.
Mary Brown never expected to be the wife of John Brown, much less the wife of a martyr. When her husband’s daring plan fails, Mary must travel into hostile territory, where she finds the eyes of the nation riveted upon John—and upon her.
Spanning three decades, John Brown’s Women is a tale of love and sacrifice, and of the ongoing struggle for America to achieve its promise of liberty and justice for all.
Deaths of young children through illness or accidents (not graphically described); implied heavy petting involving a willing minor.
They disembarked in St. Louis, the smokiest place that Wealthy had been in her life, New York City included, and booked passage on the New Lucy, one of the packets that traveled the Missouri River. As they had a day to spare, they busied themselves buying the supplies that they had deemed too burdensome to purchase earlier—a plow, some farming tools, and two tents, one for each family. Just the sight of the tents made Ellen’s face grow grim. “Surely we’ll build our cabins soon once we get our claims,” Wealthy said by way of comfort.
“I might remind you that we both had perfectly good houses in Ohio without canvas walls.”
Wealthy sighed. “Maybe we can find a stove next.”
John coughed. “My dear, we should save what money we have. The stove can wait a
little, I’m sure.”
“You mean you expect us to cook over open fires? Like savages?”
“Once we get into a cabin, we can buy them at Kansas City.”
“But they’ll probably be more expensive there. They’re expensive enough here. We should have bought one of those nice ones we saw in Pittsburgh.”
“I agree; I wish we had bought one back there, although we would had the additional cost of shipping it. But we must economize, dear.”
Wealthy scowled, and Ellen shot her a commiserating look. “Those Brown men,” she whispered.
Having completed their purchases, they went to the firm of Mr. Slater, a freight agent, to arrange for their transportation to Kansas City. As John signed a paper, Mr. Slater squinted at the signature and said, “Ah, so you’re the gentleman from Ohio with the books. They’re safely on their way, I can assure you.”
“And now we are too,” John said.
“Are you taking the stage or steamer?”
“Passage paid?” They nodded, and Mr. Slater frowned. “Personally, I’d have chosen the stage. The water’s still a bit low, I’m told, and sandbars will be a problem. Which steamer?”
“The New Lucy,” Wealthy said. Another frown. “Is it not a good choice?”
“Well, let me put it this way: she’s a beautiful steamer, and fast in season—you won’t find a prettier lady on the Missouri River. But the captain caters to more of a Southern clientele. I won’t inquire into your politics, but you may want to be discreet if you hold Free-State views.”
“We are abolitionists,” John said, and the others, even little Austin, nodded. “We make no secret of it.”
“Then do yourselves one favor. Say ‘cow’ for me.”
“Cow,” the Browns said in unison.
“You say Ke-ow. Missourians like a drawled out Coooow. They’ll find some excuse to make you say the word, believe me. At least say it to suit them, and perhaps you’ll be left alone.”
“Coooow,” the Browns repeated.
“That’s better,” Mr. Slater said, a bit uncertainly. “Well, I wish you a safe journey. Your things will be in Kansas City waiting for you.”
Susan Higginbotham is the author of a number of historical novels set in medieval and Tudor England and, more recently, nineteenth-century America, including The Traitor’s Wife, The Stolen Crown, Hanging Mary, and The First Lady and the Rebel. She and her family, human and four-footed, live in Maryland, just a short drive from where John Brown made his last stand. When not writing or procrastinating, Susan enjoys traveling and collecting old photographs.
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