When Franklin Sanborn brought John Brown to Thoreau’s mother’s house for lunch one cold day in March, 1857, he did not anticipate that Henry Thoreau would make John Brown a fi gure of legendary importance in the chronicles of American literature.2 Thoreau certainly did not indicate that Brown had inspired him like no other man ever had. Though Brown’s tale of the Battle of Black Jack and his exhibition of the chains that Border Ruffi ans had used to inhumanely restrain his captured sons inspired Thoreau to contribute a small sum to the campaigning freedom fi ghter, he did not motivate the prolifi c writer to enter anything enduring in his Journal about Brown during the freedom fi ghter’s two day visit.3 Likewise, when Brown returned to Concord and lectured about the affairs in Kansas a second time in May, 1859, there is no indication that he had captured Thoreau’s enduring attention. Though Thoreau attended Brown’s lecture and attentively listened as the Kansas freedom fi ghter told the story of his liberation of eleven slaves from their captivity in Missouri, he makes no mention of either Brown or his performance in his Journal; instead, he dwells luxuriously upon the early signs of spring and comments indulgently only upon “the swollen leaf-buds of the white pine.”4 Though Bronson Alcott noted that Brown told “his story with surpassing simplicity and sense, impressing us all deeply with his courage and religious earnestness,”5 Thoreau mentions nothing about either Brown’s sense or his courage in his extraordinarily detailed record of “incidents and observations” of the day.