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A little history - he lies “ a mouldering in his grave”

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John Brown

Abolitionist John Brown

Profession: Abolitionist

Nationality:  United States of America American

Why Famous: John Brown believed armed insurrection was the only way to overthrow the institution of slavery in the United States.

Brown was at the forefront of a number of incidents during the Bleeding Kansas crisis in 1856. In 1859 he led an attack on the armory at Harper's Ferry after which he was captured, tried and hung. 

Brown's actions and raid on Harper's Ferry, Virginia are regarded as major causal factors in the secession of the Southern States a year after his death and the move towards the civil war between the North and South.

Born: May 9, 1800
Birthplace: Torrington, Connecticut, USA 
Star Sign: Taurus

Died: December 2, 1859 (aged 59)
Cause of Death: Execution by hanging

Biography: John Brown was an American abolitionist who believed armed insurrection was the only way to overthrow the institution of slavery in the United States. During 1856 in Kansas, Brown commanded forces at the Battle of Black Jack and the Battle of Osawatomie. Brown's followers also killed five pro-slavery supporters at Pottawatomie. In 1859, Brown led an unsuccessful raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry that ended with his capture. Brown's trial resulted in his conviction and a sentence of death by hanging.

Brown's attempt in 1859 to start a liberation movement among enslaved African Americans in Harpers Ferry, Virginia electrified the nation. He was tried for treason against the Commonwealth of Virginia, the murder of five men and inciting a slave insurrection. He was found guilty on all counts and was hanged. Southerners alleged that his rebellion was the tip of the abolitionist iceberg and represented the wishes of the Republican Party to end slavery. Historians agree that the Harpers Ferry raid in 1859 escalated tensions that, a year later, led to secession and the American Civil War.

Brown first gained attention when he led small groups of volunteers during the Bleeding Kansas crisis. Unlike most other Northerners, who advocated peaceful resistance to the pro-slavery faction, Brown believed that peaceful resistance was shown to be ineffective and that the only way to defeat the oppressive system of slavery was through violent insurrection. He believed he was the instrument of God's wrath in punishing men for the sin of owning slaves.

Dissatisfied with the pacifism encouraged by the organized abolitionist movement, he said, "These men are all talk. What we need is action—action!" During the Kansas campaign he and his supporters killed five pro-slavery southerners in what became known as the Pottawatomie Massacre in May 1856 in response to the raid of the "free soil" city of Lawrence, Kansas. In 1859 he led a raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry. During the raid, he seized the armory; seven people were killed, and ten or more were injured. He intended to arm slaves with weapons from the arsenal, but the attack failed. Within 36 hours, Brown's men had fled or been killed or captured by local pro slavery farmers, militiamen, and U.S. Marines led by Robert E. Lee. Brown's subsequent capture by federal forces seized the nation's attention, as Southerners feared it was just the first of many Northern plots to cause a slave rebellion that might endanger their lives, while Republicans dismissed the notion and said they would not interfere with slavery in the South.

Historians agree John Brown played a major role in the start of the Civil War. Historian David Potter has said the emotional effect of Brown's raid was greater than the philosophical effect of the Lincoln–Douglas debates, and that his raid revealed a deep division between North and South. Some writers, such as Bruce Olds, describe him as a monomaniacal zealot, others, such as Stephen B. Oates, regard him as "one of the most perceptive human beings of his generation." David S. Reynolds hails the man who "killed slavery, sparked the civil war, and seeded civil rights" and Richard Owen Boyer emphasizes that Brown was "an American who gave his life that millions of other Americans might be free." The song "John Brown's Body" made him a heroic martyr and was a popular Union marching song during the Civil War.

Brown's actions prior to the Civil War as an abolitionist, and the tactics he chose, still make him a controversial figure today. He is sometimes memorialized as a heroic martyr and a visionary and sometimes vilified as a madman and a terrorist. Historians debate whether he was "America's first domestic terrorist"; many historians believe the term "terrorist" is an inappropriate label to describe Brown. 

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Radical screwball.

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In the 70's my Dad had a friend named John Brown. John lived in PA and we lived in Arkansas. My Dad hired John to come and work for him in Arkansas. My Dad was a general contractor.

 

When John moved there he complained that every time he told someone his name he got lots of dirty looks and crass comments. One day I brought home my history book and showed him the historical write up of "John Brown". After that he used to tell people "My name is John Brown, no relation  of  that scalliwag John Brown".

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If you get the chance, take a tour of historic Harpers Ferry, WV.  Not only is it absolutely stunning scenery, with great historic representations of the armory and other industry there, but the building where John Brown holed up and was eventually captured is there.

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John Brown was captured by a detachment of U.S. Marines, commanded by a colonel...named Robert E. Lee!

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Robert E Lee was at the War Department when word of John Brown's raid on the Harpers Ferry, Virginia armory reached Washington, DC. James Ewell Brown Stuart (JEB) was also there discussing a patent (IIRC). Colonel Lee was ordered to Harpers Ferry to quell the insurrection. Lt Stuart volunteered to be Lee's aide. The only Federal troops available were the Marines stationed at the Navy Yard or at HQ USMC, located at 8th & I. (I have found conflicting sources on where the Marines were stationed.) Lieutenant Israel Greene USMC commanded the Marine detachment.

 

Since JEB Stuart had encountered John Brown while JEB was stationed in Kansas, he was selected to approach the building holding Brown, his followers and the hostages.

 

Interesting tidbits: one of the hostages was kin to George Washington and Lieutenant Greene joined the Confederate States Marine Corps when the War of Northern Aggression started.

Edited by Muley Gil SASS # 57795

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Am surprised that in this day and time given the revisionist twist that Brown hasn't been reincarnated as a martyr and statues put up.

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Am surprised that in this day and time given the revisionist twist that Brown hasn't been reincarnated as a martyr and statues put up.

 

Well, it IS history and most people today have difficulty spelling the word let alone studying history...

 

Someone however, will eventually do exactly what you mention, I have no doubt. Probably get a trainload of support too.

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I live about 10 miles west of Charles Town, WV. They had a reenactment of his hanging in 2009 using the original wagon that carried him from the Jefferson County Courthouse to the actual hanging ground a few blocks away. The wagon resides in the museum next to the Courthouse. Anyhow the event was really moving except for the Black Lives Matter speakers eulogizing the traitor. A trivia fact: Brown's followers killed in Harpers Ferry by the citizens were mostly shot with Sharps rifles and then left in the streets to be eaten by wild hogs. Apparently the citizens did not view them as saviors.    

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Whatever his motives, John Brown was an extremist of questionable sanity who hacked men to death with a sabre in front of their families.  I could be wrong about this part but I think he expected to start an uprising to murder.

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Raymond Massey made a great John Brown though.

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One of the things I find interesting about the Harper's Ferry raid is that the raid occurred in mid-October, and Brown was hanged in early December -- about a month and a half between capture and execution.

 

Nowadays, he'd sit on Death Row for at least 10 years or more while the lawyers, activists, and media worked every possible angle.

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Raymond Massey made a great John Brown though.

 

He made a great Abe Lincoln too, on both stage and screen. As a matter of fact Robert Todd Lincoln once went to one of his plays where Massey was playing Abe Lincoln, and Robert Todd said his voice was so similar to his father's that it was haunting.

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He made a great Abe Lincoln too, on both stage and screen. As a matter of fact Robert Todd Lincoln once went to one of his plays where Massey was playing Abe Lincoln, and Robert Todd said his voice was so similar to his father's that it was haunting.

Seeing as how he died in 1926 and the stage play “Abe Lincoln in  Illinois”with Massey as Lincoln was written in 1938, I don’t think that’s possible unless it was some other play.

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