John Brown

John Brown
Detail of John Brown from a daguerrotype by Augustus Washington, c. 1846-1847 – National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

John Brown (1800-1859)

Few men fought the spread of slavery as violently and audaciously as John Brown. A Torrington native who received little formal education, Brown believed that African Americans belonged free and fully integrated into US society. In 1855, at the age of 55, Brown headed for Kansas to fight proslavery agitators who poured into the state in the wake of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Most famously, in October of 1859, Brown launched an attack on the federal armory in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, intending to incite a slave revolt. His plan ultimately failed and ended in his execution by the State of Virginia. However, the publicity his actions received brought greater attention to the contentious nature of the battle over slavery and fostered anxieties in the South that brought the country closer to war.

LEARN MORE

Websites

“The Avalon Project: Life, Trial and Execution of Captain John Brown; 1859.” Yale Law School, 2008. Link.

Places

“John Brown Birthplace.” Torrington Historical Society, 2016. Link.
“The Amistad Center for Art & Culture.” Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 2016. Link.
“Torrington Historical Society,” 2016. Link.

Documents

“John Brown’s Sharps Rifle.” National Museum of American History, 2016. Link.
Lee, Robert E. “Robert E. Lee’s Demand for Surrender of John Brown and His Party (at Harper's Ferry), October 18, 1859,” 1859. National Archives. Link.

Books

Douglass, Frederick. Admiration & Ambivalence: Frederick Douglass and John Brown: A Manuscript from the Gilder Lehrman Collection. New York, NY: Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, 2005.
Quarles, Benjamin. Allies for Freedom; Blacks and John Brown. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1974.
Du Bois, W. E. B. John Brown. New York, NY: International Publishers, 1962.
Hinton, Richard J. (Richard Josiah). John Brown and His Men; with Some Account of the Roads They Traveled to Reach Harper’s Ferry. New York and London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894. Link.
McGlone, Robert E. John Brown’s War Against Slavery. Cambridge; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Reynolds, David S. John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.
Warren, Robert Penn, and John Brown. John Brown. The Making of a Martyr. New York, NY: Payson & Clarke, 1929.
Villard, Oswald Garrison. John Brown: A Biography Fifty Years After, 1800-1859. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1910. Link.
Abels, Jules. Man on Fire; John Brown and the Cause of Liberty. New York, NY: Macmillan, 1971.
Oates, Stephen B. To Purge This Land with Blood: A Biography of John Brown. New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1970.

Articles

“Editorial Article 1 -- No Title.” Hartford Daily Courant (1840-1887). October 19, 1859, sec. ProQuest - Hartford Courant Historical Newspaper database - Available through requestITCT.org.
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