By Brian McGinty

Blending idealism with violence, abolitionist John Brown reduce a large swath around the usa sooner than completing in Virginia, the place he led an assault at the U.S. armory and arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Supported through a “provisional military” of 21 males, Brown was hoping to evoke the slaves in Virginia to uprising. yet he used to be speedy captured and, after a brief yet stormy trial, hanged on December 2, 1859. Brian McGinty offers the 1st accomplished account of the trial, which raised very important questions on jurisdiction, judicial equity, and the character of treason lower than the yankee constitutional process. After the jury back its accountable verdict, an allure used to be quick disposed of, and the governor of Virginia refused to furnish clemency. Brown met his demise now not as an enemy of the yankee humans yet as an enemy of Southern slaveholders. Historians have lengthy credited the Harpers Ferry raid with rousing the rustic to a fever pitch of sectionalism and accelerating the onset of the Civil warfare. McGinty sees Brown’s trial, instead of his raid, because the genuine turning element within the fight among North and South. If Brown have been killed in Harpers Ferry (as he approximately was), or condemned to loss of life in a precis court-martial, his raid might have had little impression. simply because he survived to face trial sooner than a Virginia pass judgement on and jury, and argue the case opposed to slavery with an eloquence that reverberated around the globe, he grew to become a logo of the fight to abolish slavery and a martyr to the reason for freedom. (20090815)

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Brown spent some time in North Elba with his wife and younger children and then visited Boston, where his reputation as a Kansas freedom fighter had preceded him. He was introduced to prominent abolitionists and invited to address a committee of the Massachusetts legislature, which was considering a proposal to lend financial support to the abolitionists in Kansas. In nearby Concord, he met the Transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. He gave lectures at public gatherings in Massachusetts and Connecticut, soliciting aid for the freedom fighters in Kansas.

After he took up residence on Gerrit Smith’s land in North Elba, he worked closely with local blacks, helped them build houses and plant crops, and invited them into his home. One day three men from Boston who had been tramping through the nearby woods came up to the Brown house, explained that they had lost their way and had walked all night without eating. Brown’s oldest daughter, Ruth, welcomed them, gave them food, and told them that her father would soon be home. In a little while Brown drove up in a buckboard wagon, two blacks riding with him.

Thus, ironically, the first blood spilled in Harper’s Ferry was that of a man who belonged to the very race Brown had come to Harper’s Ferry to liberate. As morning approached, armory employees began to report for work, not suspecting that the complex had been seized by Brown and his men. As they arrived, they were met with rifles pointed in their direction and ordered into the engine house with the other hostages. Eventually, the little building held about forty men, whites and blacks, confined under guard of Brown’s Provisional Army.

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