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