John Brown Illustrated: The Fight Against Slavery


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Citation Information

John Brown. Going to Execution. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs. Brown launched his raid on October 16, , with nineteen men. He met with little resistance in the beginning, capturing the armory without a fight. Brown then chose to stay and wait for a groundswell of support from newly freed slaves, but that support never came.

Lee to end the standoff.

John Brown

Brown tried several times to negotiate for his freedom and refused to surrender, forcing an eventual storming of his position that brought the raid to an end on its third day. For their part, Republicans scrambled to disassociate themselves from Brown and the controversial raid. Through the moral, political, and religious conflict he created among both abolitionist and pro-slavery factions in America, Brown managed to polarize the nation in a way unique to any man of his time.

The Virginia courts saw it otherwise, however. They tried him on three counts: conspiracy to incite a slave insurrection, treason against the state of Virginia, and first-degree murder. It took a jury only forty-five minutes to find Brown guilty and on December 2, , officials hanged Brown for his offenses. Our Programs. Lee, Robert E. National Archives. Douglass, Frederick. Quarles, Benjamin. Allies for Freedom; Blacks and John Brown.

Du Bois, W. Hinton, Richard J.

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Richard Josiah. Reynolds, David S. Knopf, One week after the raid, Brown and four of his raiders, two black and two white, were brought to court under heavy guard. The state appointed two Virginia defense attorneys. The next day, the court read the grand jury indictment. Brown and his followers were charged with treason against the government of Virginia, conspiracy to induce slaves "to rebel and make insurrection against their masters and owners," and premeditated murder.

The five pleaded not guilty, and each was given a separate trial. In the afternoon John Brown, still suffering from his wounds, was carried into court on a cot to open his trial.

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Prospective jurors were examined and anyone who had been at Harper's Ferry during the raid was eliminated. The final jury was made up of 12 men, some of whom were slave owners. As the trial opened, one of the court-appointed defense attorneys surprised Brown. He read a telegram from an Ohio resident who claimed that several of Brown's close relatives suffered from insanity.

Brown protested.

John Brown Essay Example

He wanted the trial to be a forum to attack the institution of slavery. He insisted that the insanity defense was "a miserable artifice and pretext" to avoid discussing slavery. The judge ordered the trial to continue. The prosecution called as witnesses many Harper's Ferry townspeople and those Brown had held hostage. Under cross-examination, the hostages admitted that Brown had treated them well and had ordered his men not to shoot unless fired upon.

Hoyt to help defend Brown. He was also told to scout the possibility of a rescue, but when the lawyer arrived, Brown refused to be rescued.

The Fight Against Slavery, Part I

He knew he would not have his forum if he escaped. He seemed to feel that he had to become a martyr in order to stir up more anti-slavery feeling. The prosecution introduced into evidence Brown's anti-slavery constitution, letters from his backers, and other materials found at the farmhouse. After a few defense witnesses were called, Brown denounced his Virginia attorneys. He asked for a delay because more legal help was being sent from the North. The two appointed lawyers withdrew, but Judge Parker ruled against a delay.


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They asked for a delay to prepare, but the judge refused again. The remaining defense witnesses were examined, but Brown himself did not testify. Griswold and Chilton made the closing arguments for the defense. They said that the state had failed to prove the charges. Since the state had kept the trial focused on the legal issues of treason and murder, the defense had to respond to simple questions of evidence.

Brown showed little interest in this defense. He wanted to attack slavery, but had not yet found a way to do so in court. The jury deliberated for less than an hour and found John Brown guilty of all the charges. Two days later, Judge Parker sentenced Brown to be hanged. At the sentencing, Brown finally found his forum. He stood in court and made a passionate attack on slavery. Brown brushed aside questions of treason and other legal issues. He said he was simply trying to free slaves, as he had done the previous year in Missouri. He insisted that fighting against slavery was the right thing to do.

His statement was published in papers all over the country. A gaunt but defiant John Brown walked to the gallows at age On this last walk, he had one more chance to argue his views. He offered a terrible prophecy: "I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away , but with Blood. John Brown and the Valley of the Shadow The story and links to newspaper articles of the time, eyewitness accounts, and pictures. John Brown A biography and primary documents.

From Spartacus.


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  4. From the John Brown Historical Foundation. John Brown's Final Address to the Court. Divide the class into small groups and have them discuss whether it is acceptable to break the law in the following situations. Each group should report back and give reasons for its decisions. Diversity Pipeline More. The Challenge of Democracy. Username Password Remember me Forgot login? Kingsley Dr.

    CRF web sites. World History.

    John Brown Essay

    Professional Devt. Resources Survey. Username Password Remember me. Forgot login? The Raid On Sunday night, October 16, , Brown and 18 others, swept down on the armory and took several prisoners. Why or why not? Do you think John Brown received a fair trial and a just sentence?

    Supporting Questions

    John Brown wrote, "I am worth inconceivably more to hang than for any other purpose. For Further Information John Brown and the Valley of the Shadow The story and links to newspaper articles of the time, eyewitness accounts, and pictures.

    You are homeless, you have no job, and you are hungry. You steal a loaf of bread from a mini-market. You received terribly unfair grades in a class, so you break into the teacher's desk to check the grading sheets. You believe nuclear weapons will destroy all humanity. You sneak into a military base and smash part of a missile radar. You believe abortion is wrong. You lie down in front of an abortion clinic to block the entrance. You think a grove of old-growth sequoia trees is being destroyed just to raise profits. You sabotage tree-cutting machinery.

    You believe all war is immoral, so you refuse to register for the draft. Debriefing questions: What would happen to society if people only obeyed the laws they agreed with?

    John Brown Illustrated: The Fight Against Slavery John Brown Illustrated: The Fight Against Slavery
    John Brown Illustrated: The Fight Against Slavery John Brown Illustrated: The Fight Against Slavery
    John Brown Illustrated: The Fight Against Slavery John Brown Illustrated: The Fight Against Slavery
    John Brown Illustrated: The Fight Against Slavery John Brown Illustrated: The Fight Against Slavery
    John Brown Illustrated: The Fight Against Slavery John Brown Illustrated: The Fight Against Slavery
    John Brown Illustrated: The Fight Against Slavery John Brown Illustrated: The Fight Against Slavery

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