John Brown and the Civil Rights Movement

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1857, John Brown and the Jim Crow Laws, the reversal of the 14th and 15th Amendments, and the Civil Rights movement

John Brown was an abolitionist that had the belief of using violence to eradicate slavery in America. He was also one of the most famous individuals that led the attack on the federal arsenal at Virginia, Harper Ferry in 1859. Even though he was unsuccessful in abolishing slavery in South America, he raided the area by fueling tension in the national debate concerning slavery (Mcdaniel 143). Brown’s brilliant tactics on overcoming slavery were facilitated by public discussions, surrounded by his legacy and trial by hastening the Civil war and the Southern secession. In this paper, we will discuss Brown’s message by using the reversal of both the 14th and 15th amendments, the Peonage, the Reconstruction, the Civil Rights movement and Jim Crow’s laws to eradicate slavery in America.

Between the years 1820 to 1855, Brown engaged himself in some occupations such surveying, livestock trade, and tanning to increase the anti-slavery movement to Massachusetts. During this time, he made Fredrick Douglas the (famed abolitionist) to escape from prison and founded the League of Gileadites and the Underground Railroad to prevent the slaves from being captured by the militant group due to the Fugitive Slave Act (Mcdaniel 150). This eventually forced Brown to join his sons in 1855 who lived in the Kansas Territory.

In 1859, Brown and twenty men joined and attacked the Federal Arsenal which was located at Harpers Ferry and began the destroying the slave system that was enacted in the South. Even though they were victorious in capturing the Arsenal, they ended up losing their superior position because of the delay of the raiding group from leaving the Arsenal to head the mountains which were above the Harpers Ferry. The following day, the Virginia militia surrounded the group, destroyed the engine house and captured Brown and his comrades. During this raid, five men escaped, ten men were killed, and the remaining seven including Brown were hanged.

Before all this took place, Brown had cautioned Harriet Tubman and Fredrick Douglas that if they gave the whites the chance to dominate, they would forever beg for freedom for over 200 years. The story began in the 1850s when the treaties were developed next to the land of the Native Americans for the settlement of the Whites. The government motivated most of them who came to form the East. Due to this, there was a great influx of both migrant workers and settlers. As a result, slavery was institutionally legalized. But then in 1865, when the Civil War ended, slave proclamation later followed. When the government heard this, it quickly established the New States in the South.

In 1865-66, the governments also hastened to establish the ‘black codes’ legislation to facilitate the continuity of the whites to enjoy the special accommodation and preferences. However, the laws were negotiated in 1868 by the passing of the 14th amendment as well as the 1870 15th

amendment. During this time the 14th Amendment gave citizenship to the slaves while the 15th Amendment outlawed the racial terms. During the raid at the Harpers Ferry, things were considered to be serious by the defenders and abolitionists of slavery (Mccluskey 51). Brown was also assisted by various prominent abolitionists with weapons and money to prepare for the early fight of in the ‘bleeding Kansas’ as well as the Harpers Ferry.

In 1869, the reconstruction began by transferring John Brown’s Fort which was located on the Murphy farm by purchasing the National Park Service from the Trust for Public Land. By 1909, the Harpers Ferry bought Brown’s fort for $900 and located it to the nearby college. The National Park Service later acquired the building in 1968 and moved closer to the original area under the railroad embankment. The Fort later became part of the National Historical Park under the management of the NPS.  The structures enacted by Brown were however not entirely authentic because they were always reassembled, moved and dismantled. This was also the reason why most structures were reconstructed backward.

Harriet Tubman and Fredrick Douglas later agreed with Brown to participate and join the raiders. Even though there was a reaction to the raid, part of the less active militant abolitionists applauded the action by supporting the invaders. This made the invasion influential at the Harpers Ferry because it persuaded the Northern abolitionists and the moral suasion to end the slave system. By 1877, the Jim Crow laws legalized the racial segregation (Johnson 215). These laws got its name after the African Americans were insulted through a song before the post-Civil war in 1968.

The reason why this song was composed was to make the African Americans go back to the southern states because the black Americans marginalized it. Black individuals and communities who attempted to deny the laws were met with death and violence. However, the same year, the Southerners enacted the law to disenfranchise and segregate the blacks. The African Americans were later denied their voting rights due to the Jim Crow laws until the Voting Right Act was embraced in 1965. Mostly, the Southern governments used terror and violence to enforce segregation thus lynching most black Americans that lived in the South (Johnson 200).

Before Brown went to the gallows in Charles town after imprisonment, he wrote a note that stated that “ I am very sure that the crimes committed because of the guilty lands shall never be purged away, but the blood must be poured,” (Johnson 218). Sixteen months later, the war began. Before the war, Brown had started the Harpers war to cover for issues such as Brown and civil rights, the media, and the Northern abolitionists. However, the majority that funded and supported Brown later abandoned him. The sixties radicalism and the civil rights movements then created a repercussion of Brown’s reputation but made him become a fringe figure today.

 Due to the civil rights movement, Brown lived among the Blacks, manifested no racial prejudice, differed for the antislavery figures and envisaged Americans to have full rights, despite their sex and race (Kernodle 105). The blacks revered none of the Whites because of the influence of the civil rights movement enacted by Brown since his brother Fredrick Brown supported the Greely campaign. This reflected significantly on the concern of peace and unity to the white society than the considerable systemic and inequity changes that were meant to elevate the oppressed individuals of political and human satisfaction (Kernodle 119).

Through this pattern, many whites began questioning about the ameliorating white society’s instability and how it could be restored to support the black populace without administering the real punishment to the black people and the traitors because of the ‘free’ segregation, peonage as well as the terror that existed in the hands of the former rebels murderous and masks. The betrayal of the liberated community which was facilitated by the like of Horace Greeley supported Fredrick Brown and the black people in the U.S.

Works Cited

Johnson, Kimberley. “Jim Crow Reform and the Rebirth of Black Political Citizenship.” Reforming Jim Crow, 2010, pp. 190–222., doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195387421.003.0009.

Mccluskey, Clare. “IFLA Information Literacy Satellite Meeting, Limerick, 14th-15th August 2014.” Journal of Information Literacy, vol. 8, no. 2, 2014, pp. 45–107., doi:10.11645/8.2.1947.

Mcdaniel, W. Caleb. “The Case of John L. Brown: Sex, Slavery, and the Trials of a Transatlantic Abolitionist Campaign.” American Nineteenth Century History, vol. 14, no. 2, 2013, pp. 141–159., doi:10.1080/14664658.2013.805551.

November 13, 2023


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