John Brown

As a man of action, John Brown set out on a mission to abolish slavery. He led 21 men, on October 16, 1859 to Harpers Ferry, Virginia where they raided the federal arsenal. He planned to arm the slaves with the seized weapons. Militiamen, local farmers, and Robert E. Lee’s Marines thwarted the attack. In under 36 hours, the majority of the men following Brown had been captured or killed.

Brown’s family was deeply religious. He was born in the year 1800 in Torrington, Connecticut. His father was adamantly against slavery. When he was five years old, the family relocated to Northern Ohio. This district was becoming known for its views on anti-slavery.

For fifty years, he lifted in a variety of locations throughout the country from Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, and Massachusetts. His growing family was at his side. Brown fathered 20 children. He also worked in various occupations throughout his life. He was a wool merchant, farmer, and even a land speculator. He was not what you would consider to be a financial success. In his forties, he filed for bankruptcy. His financial issues did not stand in his way of rallying behind the causes he believed in. He gave slaves that were fugitives land to live on. He and his wife took in a slave youth to raise as their own. Brown participated in the Underground Railroad. He also helped to establish the League of Gileadites. This organization was implemented to help fugitive slaves and protect them from slave catchers.

Even though he made many contributions to the cause of anti-slavery, he was not seen as a major significant figure until after 1855. During that time he went to Kansas territory, following five of his sons. He became the anti-slavery guerillas leader and fought against pro-slavery attacks against the town of Lawrence. In retribution for a prior attack, he went to another town that was pro-slavery and killed five settlers brutally. For the rest of the year, he joined his sons in a fight in that territory that spread into Missouri.

Later he returned to the east. He began making plans and considering very seriously a war against Virginia for slavery. He planned to lead an army and sought funding. His plan was set into motion on October 16th, 1859. Along with 21 other men, the Harpers Ferry federal arsenal was raided. He was quickly captured after being wounded. He was arrested and taken to Charlestown, Virginia. He was tried and convicted of treason. On December 2nd, 1859, John Brown was hanged.