Greetings Cosmic Americans!
The John Brown story is well known - I will not get too in to details here. I will in a later Cosmic America's Civil War show, however - thanks to a special request by my friend Lori (@LoriJantzi).
For the sake of this post - John Brown was a white abolitionist who in 1859 attempted to start an armed slave uprising by first seizing the United States Arsenal at Harper's Ferry in Virginia. His plan was to then move through the countryside arming black people (that he and his band had liberated) as he went - killing anyone who stood in his way. Suffice to say - his plan failed. Brown was found guilty of treason against the Commonwealth of Virginia and hanged on December 2, 1859.
Three cheers for John Brown! He laid down his life for the noblest of causes - abolition. To us - this seems worthy of praise. In 1859, people lauded his actions too. Quite a few northerners - especially abolitionists - came down in favor of his raid. Yes - Brown's attempted slave revolt was of the violent sort - people were killed. But the cause, to some, justified the actions.
But lets take a look - just for a second - at the other side of the coin. Brown violently seized a United States military installation in an attempt to incite insurrection. He broke the law big time - and did it on government property. Now I know that calling Brown a terrorist would be a bit of an anachronism. That is a 20th/21st century term. But what he did, by definition , was an act of terrorism. Brown - in very short order - became a domestic enemy of the United States.
Mine is a tough...and controversial question to ask. Did America need a John Brown to act as a catalyst? Did the era need the spark to push a volatile issue in to war - and ultimately emancipation? Perhaps...but the states may have been heading in that direction - war - already. We will never know what would have happened had Brown not staged his raid.
We do know this, however. Brown's 1859 raid put the slavery issue in people's faces more so than any other single event - both in the North and the South. And I suppose for that we owe him a debt of gratitude.
I am very interested in your comments - what do you think about John Brown? And by the way - in case you are wondering where I come down on this one, let's just say..."his truth is marching on."