Here's some more about John Brown and Julia Ward Howe. On November 6, 1859, she wrote to her sister Annie:
No one knew of Brown's intentions but Brown himself and his handful of men. The attempt I must judge insane but the spirit heroic. I should be glad to be as sure of heaven as that old man may be, following right in the spirit and footsteps of the old martyrs, girding on his sword for the weak and oppressed. His death will be holy and glorious – the gallows cannot dishonor him – he will hallow it."
Mrs. Howe's opinion ("no one knew") is absurd. How could she or anyone else demonstrate the truth of that statement? Julia Ward Howe had welcomed Brown into her home during the 1850s, but women would not have been included in the discussions between Dr. Howe, Brown and others present.