John Brown By Kayla, Emma, Marc and Rachel

Personal Life

John Brown was born into a family with anti-slavery views which shaped his own. He was born in Torrington, Connecticut in 1800, but his family moved to northern Ohio when John was five, an area that would become known for its antislavery views. He moved around the country with his huge family (he fathered 20 children), settling in Pennsylvania, Massachussets and New York after his stay in Ohio. He never was financially successful and filed for bankruptcy in his fourties, but he still did not stop supporting the anti-slavery cause.

How John Brown helped the abolitionist cause

1842: John Brown became a conductor on the Underground Railroad after decalaring bankruptcy

1847: John Brown met Fredrick Douglass, another person supporting the abolitionist cause. Brown outlined his plan to Douglass, to leader a war to free slaves.

"Though a white gentleman, [Brown] is in sympathy a black man, and as deeply interested in our cause, as though his own soul had been pierced with the iron of slavery" -Fredrick Brown, 1847

1851: John Brown helped establish the League of Gileadits, an organization that helped runaway salves escape to Canada.

1856: John Brown and a group of men murdered slave owners, freeing many slaves.

1859: John Brown raided the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry.

May 24, 1856

In response to the sacking of Lawrence, Kansas, an event led by pro-slavery people who ransacked the city, John Brown led a small group of men to Pottawatomie Creek. The men on May 24, 1856 dragged five slave owners out of their homes and murdered them, freeing many slaves.

Ruins of Lawrence, Kansas
"I have only a short time to live, only one death to die, and I will die fighting for this cause. There will be no peace in this land until slavery is done for." -John Brown, 1856

Raid on Harpers Ferry

In 1859 under the alias of Isaac Smith, rented the Kennedy Farmhouse, four miles from Harpers Ferry, Virginia. There, he trained his small 21 man army and planned to capture the Federal Arsenal in Harpers Ferry. On October 16, 1859, he raided the Arsenal. His army captured the Arsenal, but his plan failed and he was captured along with many of his army. The US marine under Colonel Robert E. Lee stopped his raid and was the one who captured John Brown and his army.

John Brown's death

After the failed raid on the Harpers Ferry Federal Arsenal, John Brown was put on trial. He was found guilty of murder, inciting slave insurrection and treason. Before he was hung, he handed his jailer a note.

"I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood." -John Brown, 1859

Primary Source Document

John Brown's final speech, 1859

John Brown Effects

News of the Harpers Ferry's raid spread all over the country. The North was electrified by the news, but the South was outraged by it. In the South, his execution did little to allay spreading fears of slave insurrection. They were growing convinced that Northern America, who was heavily anti-slavery, would continue to stimulate insurrection.

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