On this day in 1859 John Brown was executed for leading an anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, part of the radical movement of tens of thousands of Americans struggling to undermine the institution of slavery in America before the Civil War. [Read more…] about On December 2, 1859 John Brown Was Hanged
This week marks the anniversary of John Brown’s execution. Had Brown escaped from Harpers Ferry rather than been captured he might well today be just a footnote, one of the tens of thousands that struggled to undermine the institution of slavery in America before the Civil War.
It’s often said that just one thing secured Brown’s place in the hearts of millions of Americans that came after him – his execution and martyrdom. There is another equally important reason Americans will celebrate the life of John Brown this week however – he was right that slavery would end at a heavy price. [Read more…] about The Last Days of John Brown: Martyr, Revolutionary or Terrorist?
Following the capture of John Brown and his associates at Harpers Ferry they were first held in the armory’s guardhouse.
The next day, October 19th, 1859, they were taken to the County Jail in Charles Town, about eight miles away. On October 25th (after being questioned by Virginia Governor Henry A. Wise, Virginia Senator James M. Mason, and Representative Clement Vallandigham of Ohio) John Brown was led into court for arraignment. He was manacled to Edwin Coppoc and escorted by some 80 militiamen with bayonets fixed. Brown was still suffering from his wounds and needed to be supported at the bench. [Read more…] about The Last Days of John Brown: A Speedy Trial
While John Brown waited to hang for leading the raid to free people enslaved near Harpers Ferry, Virginia, his compatriots were led to the Charles Town court and tried before Judge Andrew Parker. [Read more…] about The Last Days of John Brown: Brown’s Fellow Prisoners
There were about 4 million slaves in the United States at the time of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia in 1859.
Slavery in the United States, and especially in the South, rested on complex and often convoluted political, social, and economic systems, enforced by violence.
Perhaps because forcing people to work for you for free was so dependent on violence, the South was continuously racked with fear – fear that the people one kept enslaved (or those enslaved by others) would rise up against them. [Read more…] about The Last Days of John Brown: Southern Fears
For reasons of political expediency, Republicans in the North initially distanced themselves from John Brown and his raid to free people enslaved around Harper’s Ferry.
Many joined the chorus of (often pro-slavery) voices proclaiming Brown insane, no doubt in part to protect their own political party, for as John Brown’s biographer David S. Reynolds put it, “the implication was that Republicans, and by extension many Northerners, were lawbreakers who threatened national peace.”
The truth of course, was that Brown had probably already planned a raid into Virginia to free slaves there before the Republican Party was founded in 1854. [Read more…] about The Last Days of John Brown: The Famous Beard
Ten men were killed during John Brown’s anti-slavery raid in Virginia in October 1859. All but two were buried in a common grave on the Shenandoah River, Harpers Ferry.
The body of Jeremiah Anderson, who was bayoneted in the final storming of the engine house, was handed over to a local medical school – his last resting place remains unknown. Watson Brown’s body was given over to Winchester Medical College where it remained until Union troops recovered it during the Civil War and burned the school in reprisal. [Read more…] about The Last Days of John Brown: Prisoners And Fugitives
As the first full day of John Brown’s raid dawned almost no one in the village of Harpers Ferry knew what was happening. Charles White for instance, a Presbyterian minister who had spent the evening the raid began on an island between the rifle works, and the armory and arsenal reported that he “knew nothing until daylight when the gentleman with whom we were staying came into our room and notified us.” [Read more…] about John Brown’s Defeat And Capture (The Last Days of John Brown Series)
October 16th is the anniversary of the anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry that ended in the trial and execution of John Brown of North Elba. You can read the entire “Last Days of John Brown” series here.
In 1859, John Brown and the men he led from atop a wagon loaded with supplies went undiscovered on their march from the Kennedy Farm to Harpers Ferry. John Cook and Charles Tidd went forward to cut the telegraphs wires into the village from the east and west.
As Brown reached the Ferry Bridge, he sent his most experienced men, Aaron Stevens and John Kagi, to the front of the small column and onto the bridge. There they encountered William Williams and held him.
In early October, 1859 John Brown and his small militia were making their final preparations for a raid on the slaveholders of Virginia.
The time and place for a raid seem right even now. It was the harvest season in the south and the fields would be filled with disgruntled and overworked slaves bringing in the crops, a perfect opportunity to turn them to revolt.
Harpers Ferry was lightly guarded and the arsenal there contained about 100,000 muskets and rifles – enough to carry on a lengthy guerrilla war against southern slaveholders. [Read more…] about The Last Days of John Brown: Final Harpers Ferry Preparations