John Brown: facts and Information

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Slavery is the worst form of treating fellow humans: God has created all men as equals. But Man, in his own wisdom, chooses to think otherwise. Certain sections of men considered themselves to be superior to others and looked down upon the rest. These down trodden people had a tough time as this was the worst form of slavery. The better part of the eighteenth and the nineteenth century saw slavery being at its peak. There were people who were against slavery of all kinds and who used to fight for its abolition. One such abolitionist has been John Brown.

The abolitionist in John Brown takes root: John Brown was born on May 09, 1800 in Torrington, Connecticut to Ruth Mills and Owen Brown. Owen Brown was a committed Calvinist who ardently believed that slavery was wrong and needed to be abolished. During one of his trips to Michigan as a young boy, John witnessed one of the worst kinds of slavery with an African-American boy being beaten mercilessly. This incident had a haunting effect on John Brown and strengthened his resolve in abolitionism.

The personal life of John Brown: As a youth he studied for the ministry but an eye inflammation forced him to quit studies and join his father in the tannery business. He had two marriages, the first one with Dianthe Lusk and the second one with Mary Ann Day after the death of his first wife. The two wives collectively bore him 20 children out of which only a dozen survived to reach adulthood.

Slavery could be abolished by violence alone: He was committed to abolition of slavery at any cost and believed that slavery could only be destroyed by atonement in blood. He was of the firm belief that only by force could slavery be abolished. He was instrumental in establishing the League of Gileadites, a group formed for the protection of black citizens from slave hunters. He was deeply influenced by famous orator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass and single-mindedly worked towards abolition of slavery.

His attempts to free slaves bore fruit: After years of wandering from place to place, he settled down in Kansas along with his sons in 1855. The Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed in 1854 and there was a controversy whether the territory would be a free or a slave state. Violent as he was, he and his group killed five pro-slavery settlers at Pottawatomie Creek in retaliation. In 1858 he succeeded in liberating many enslaved people from Missouri and helped them relocate to Canada. He declared his plans to set up a free black community in the mountainous region of Maryland and Virginia.

The famous attack on the Harpers Ferry: Many such violent attempts were made to rescue slaves from all over the state. On October 16, 1859, a group of 21 men led by John Brown raided the federal armory of Harpers Ferry in Virginia. Holding dozens of men as hostage, he planned for inspiring a slave insurrection. After holding out for two days against the military forces of Robert Lee, the group was defeated. Many of Brown’s men were killed and he himself with the rest which included two of his sons were captured and sent to trial. The trial was swift and Brown was sentenced to death in November 1859.

His execution which signalled the end of his fight against slavery: In his defense Brown justified his actions as having been sanctioned by God and that he should be spared. A healthy debate ensued which saw the deepening of the crisis between the North and the South. It was argued on his behalf that he be pardoned as he was a man with a questionable mental state which he had inherited from his parents. The judge would have none of it and John Brown was executed on December 02, 1859. Thus ends the chapter on one of the most ardent abolitionist the world has seen.

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