Was John Brown a Terrorist?

John Copeland and Lewis Leary have been the final two males to affix John Brown’s small band gathering on a Kentucky farm in October 1859. Each free Blacks, they arrived simply in the future earlier than Brown launched his raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Copeland and Leary have been natives of North Carolina, associated by marriage, who moved to Oberlin, Ohio, a city based round a university in 1833 that turned a haven for abolitionists by the 1850s. They met Brown in 1858 and determined on the final minute to affix his ill-fated effort to grab weapons on the arsenal and distribute them to enslaved individuals he hoped to recruit from close by plantations. Leary suffered a deadly gunshot in the course of the raid, and Copeland, who insisted that he was merely doing what George Washington had achieved in the course of the American Revolution — preventing for his freedom — was hanged two months to the day after the raid.  
Blacks started attending Oberlin Faculty in 1835 following an inflow of scholars from Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati who struck a novel cut price with the financially struggling faculty in 1834. These “Lane Rebels” left Cincinnati after Lane’s trustees banned anti-slavery actions on campus. They agreed to enroll at a newly fashioned theological college at Oberlin on three circumstances: One, the board would respect college students’ freedom of speech. Two, the faculty wouldn’t intrude with the theological college’s administration, and third, Oberlin would settle for Black college students. In 1835, Oberlin fulfilled that  final dedication by admitting two college students of shade, Gideon Quarles and Charles Henry Langston. 
Oberlin served as a station on the Underground Railroad. Native abolitionists took benefit of state laws defending these accused of being fugitive enslaved individuals till a newly elected Democratic state legislature repealed a regulation granting fugitives the precise to hunt a writ of habeas corpus in Ohio courts. When John Worth, a fugitive enslaved particular person, was arrested in September of 1858 and held in a Wellington, Ohio jail, a large bi-racial group of scholars and Oberlin townspeople seized Worth and smuggled him to freedom. President James Buchanan insisted that the perpetrators of the jailbreak be prosecuted. Though 37 folks have been indicted, Charles Henry Langston was one among solely two males tried for aiding Worth’s escape. Langston was convicted however obtained a lightweight sentence when the choose responded emotionally to Langston’s arguments concerning the injustice of slavery. It’s unknown — probably unknowable — why Leary and Copeland determined to affix Brown’s ill-fated mission in Virginia; however maybe it was the profitable rescue of John Worth that impressed them. 
For over 15 years, I’ve been a member of a historical past e-book membership — affectionately identified to its members because the Hysterical Guide Membership. Members rotate deciding on a e-book and internet hosting a month-to-month dinner/dialogue. Final month’s choice was Tony Horowitz’s Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil Battle. Horowitz, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who died in 2019, was a talented storyteller who knew methods to depart his readers shaking their heads on the “too good to be true” tales woven all through American historical past. He concludes Midnight Rising with that type of story. Lewis Leary, the free Black man from North Carolina who joined Brown on the final minute, left his dwelling, spouse and toddler daughter in Oberlin with out telling his spouse the place he was going. Upon studying of his demise, supporters of Brown raised some cash to supply help for Lewis’s widow Mary, who later married Charles Henry Langston. The couple moved to Kansas, the place Mary raised her grandson. She took the boy to Osawatomie, KN , the place Brown and several other of his sons slaughtered a bunch of pro-slavery settlers and fought unsuccessfully to guard the city from being burned by pro-slavery forces..  She advised him the story of John Brown in Kansas and at Harpers Ferry, displaying him a bullet-riddled scarf she stated her first husband had worn in the course of the raid. The boy, named for his grandfather, turned one of the vital gifted American poets of the 20th century, Langston Hughes. His ode to the Brown Raid, “October the 16” begins: 
You’ll keep in mind
John Brown
Chapter 14 in Instructing American Historical past’s Paperwork and Debates in American Historical past and Authorities, vol. 1, 1493-1865, asks American historical past college students to think about how John Brown needs to be remembered. Certainly, the chapter’s first Dialogue Query asks: Was John Brown a martyr, a madman, or each? It’s maybe an unanswerable query — one destined to be debated ceaselessly in e-book golf equipment and American historical past school rooms.  We debated it in my historical past e-book membership, and our solely conclusion was that it’d assist college students attain a conclusion to separate the query into two questions. First, was he a terrorist in Kansas when he dragged pro-slavery settlers from their beds and killed them with broadswords—but not a terrorist in Harpers Ferry, as a result of he was preventing for the liberation of an oppressed folks? Second, did he obtain martyrdom by his efforts to free enslaved folks and  dying for the trigger? Or, by embracing violence as a tactic of abolitionism, did he cross an imaginary line dividing noble trigger and terrorism? 
The paperwork on this chapter, John Brown’s Raid, cleverly interact college students within the timeless query—Do the ends justify the means? They embrace a captivating correspondence between abolitionist Lydia Maria Little one and pro-slavery Governor Henry Smart of Virginia; opposing assessments of Brown by Horace Greeley and Frederick Douglass; and the lyrics of John Brown’s physique — a sworn statement to his martrydom.  Doc E, an excerpt from Abraham Lincoln’s Cooper Union Deal with in 1860, helps college students recognize context. Did Lincoln construction his remarks at Cooper Union to guard his probability to win  the Republican nomination for President? 
Paperwork on this chapter embrace:
A. Lydia Maria Little one, Governor Henry Smart of Virginia, and John Brown, Correspondence, October 1859
B. D. H. Strother, A Southern Planter Arming His Slaves to Resist Invasion, November 19, 1859
C. Horace Greeley, “The Entire Affair Appears the Work of a Madman,” October 19, 1859
D. Frederick Douglass, “John Brown Not Insane,” November 1859
E. Abraham Lincoln, Cooper Union Deal with, February 27, 1860
F. William W. Patton, Lyrics to John Brown’s Physique, December 16, 1861
We’ve additionally supplied audio recordings of the chapter’s Introduction, Paperwork, and Examine Questions. These recordings help literacy improvement for struggling readers and the comprehension of difficult textual content for all college students.
Instructing American Historical past’s We the Lecturers weblog will characteristic chapters from our two-volume Paperwork and Debates with their accompanying audio recordings every month till recordings of all 29 chapters are accomplished in August of 2021. In right now’s submit, we characteristic Quantity I, Chapter 14: John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry.  On July 27, we are going to spotlight Chapter 28: Carter and Reagan Reply to an Financial Disaster, from Quantity II of Paperwork and Debates in American Historical past. We invite you to observe this weblog carefully, so you’ll be able to benefit from this new characteristic as every recording turns into accessible.

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