John Brown Raid Analysis

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“Had I so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of any of their friends, [...] every man would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment,” stated John Brown in his closing speech on November 2nd, 1859 of his raid on Harper’s Ferry. Though his goal of emancipation was progressive and well-intended, taking into consideration his motives and actions, John Brown is in fact the first notable terrorist in American history. His subsequent arrest and hanging turned him into a martyr and worsened the already strained issue of slavery between the North and the South, which ultimately culminated in the Civil War. John Brown’s strict religious upbringing and poor personal…show more content…
After the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed settlers of Kansas to decide on the question of slavery, was passed, pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers alike poured into Kansas to turn the tide towards their own end. The result was widespread violence and crime, known as “Bleeding Kansas”. In an act of revenge, Brown and his sons traveled to Pottawatomie Creek and killed five “pro-slavery” men, none of whom actually owned slaves., His raid on the Federal armory at Harper’s Ferry, resulted in the death of an African American, who confronted Brown and three other civilians. Brown believed that other slaves would come to his aid and escape together to the Alleghany (Appalachian) Mountains, where they would be able to subsist and defend themselves from attack; when the slaves were sold further south, slavery would be purged from one county, making his attack a success. Brown’s attack was not only meant to free hundreds of slaves, but also to send a clear political message: he was going to drive slavery out of the United States by coercion. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”, clearly defining John Brown as a terrorist. However, Brown differs from…show more content…
In many ways, John Brown’s death was the galvanizing agent of the long-brewing tensions over slavery. In his words, “If it is deemed necessary that [he] should forfeit [his] life for the furtherance of the ends of justice [...]—let it be done!” John Brown became the first martyr of the Civil War, attracting the support of many. Transcendentalist writers such as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson released speeches and pamphlets on his behalf, forever memorializing him. Thoreau gave the speech “A Plea for Captain John Brown” on October 30th, 1859 deifying Brown: “Some eighteen hundred years ago Christ was crucified; this morning, perchance, Captain Brown was hung. [...] He is not Old Brown any longer; he is an angel of light.” Additionally, the following letter written by a housewife to the Liberator newspaper, an abolitionist newspaper founded by William Ford Garrison in Boston, Massachusetts clearly exhibits the common belief of Northerners that a war was imminent: “Whether they put him to death, or he escapes from their hands, I think that this will prove the ‘Concord Fight’ of an impending revolution, and that ‘Bunker Hill Battle’ will surely follow.” This analogy proved to be true, as just two years later in April of 1861 the Civil War had already begun. Suspicion of Northerners
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