« The gaze of Europe is fixed at this moment on America. Hanging Brown will open a fissure that will finally split the Union asunder. The punisment of John Brown may consolidate slavery in Virginia, but it will certainly shatter the American Democracy. You preserve your shame but you kill your glory. »
Just the facts 1.Born in Connecticut, 1800 2.November 7, 1837 – Minister and abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy is murdered by a mob in Illinois. Brown publicly vows, « Here, before God, in the presence of these witnesses, from this time, I consecrate my life to the destruction of slavery! » 3.1837-1846 – Raises sheep and becomes and expert in fine sheep and wool, bringing him into contact with other fervent anti-slavery people. 4.1846 – Moves to Springfield, Massachussets, a town whose white leaders are all abolitionists.
Just the facts 5. While in Springfield, he joins Sanford Street « Free Church », an African American church where he heard famous abolitionist speeches from Frederick Douglas and Sojourner Truth. 6. 1846-1847 – He helps make Springfield one of the safest and most significant stops along the Underground Railroad.
Just the facts 7.1850 – The U.S. passes the Fugitive Slave Act, which mandates that authorities in free states aid in the return of escaped slaves or be punished. As a reaction, Brown forms the « League of Gileadites » to ensure that no one be taken back into slavery from Springfield. 8.1855- Brown’s adult sons are living in Kansas, as it is being attacked by militant pro-slavery forces who want Kansas to be a slave state. Hearing that they are being threatened, Brown goes to Kansas.
Just the facts 9.1856-Hundreds of pro-slavery « ruffians » raid Kansas, killing two, burning down a hotel and destroying two printing presses. 10. His father dies, Charles Sumner is beaten in court and he learns that his sons are targets for the next pro-slavery massacre. 11. Five pro-slavery advocates are killed. Brown is not there, but he approves. 3 months of raids and battles ensue (Bleeding Kansas).
Just the facts 12. – Also in 1856-His town (Osawatomie) is attacked by over 300 people. His son and neighbor are killed. He and 38 neighbors fire from cover, then flee to the woods as his town is plundered and burned. He becomes famous among abolitionists in the north. 13. 1856-1859- He gathers ammunition, forces, and trains for a raid on Harper’s Ferry in Virginia.
Just the facts 14. 1858-He returns to Kansas for 6 months to throw off those who were suspecting him to act in Virginia. While there, he liberated 11 slaves and grew a beard. 15.1859- Back in Virginia, He plans to have 4,500 men raid the Armory in Harper’s Ferry, where there are 10,000 muskets and rifles that they intend to arm slaves with throughout all of Virginia. Instead, only 21 people show up. 16. They successfully take the armory, but are soon captured. Two of his sons are killed.