John Brown Terrorist

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It has been 158 years since John Brown’s raid on Harper’s ferry and to this day historians are questioning whether his actions should deem him a hero or the first true American terrorist. When asking ourselves the question, “Is John Brown a terrorist?” we must first determine what a terrorist is. It is not a term to be used lightly and we must consider both the literal definition of the word and society's understanding of the word before burdening someone with such a heavy title. In comparing Brown’s impassioned steps towards freedom to both the denotation and connotation of the word ‘terrorist,’ we can see that John Brown’s actions do not earn him such a title.
Starting with the denotation of the word terrorist, Merriam-Webster defines terrorism
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The only change the misguided and horrific actions American terrorism brings about is heavier security and a more fearful nation. Schools, offices, and the media discuss terrorists as insane and horrible people who must be stopped. Americans venerated John Brown, they praised him; turning his name into war songs, his deeds made into poems, and his face into works of art. He inspired so much more than fear, he inspired a war that resulted in a slave free nation. To call John Brown a terrorist would muddle the very definition of what a terrorist is to Americans. People of Brown’s time, like Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Louisa May Alcott, and Harriet Tubman did not view him as a terrorist, but as a patriot. Who are we to question that?
While John Brown’s raid was not the most conventional and appropriate way to bring about change, the intentions behind his actions were clear and respectable. He does not fit the literal or social definition of a terrorist, as he never intended to use fear as a tactic and succeeded in bringing about a powerful and honorable social change. Brown’s motivations and actions fall somewhere in the grey area between good and evil, but to call him a terrorist would neglect the powerful step towards justice he died
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