John Brown's Raid at Harpers Ferry

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At the point where Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet, there lies Harpers Ferry, which is today located in West Virginia. The town was a thriving industrial center late in the 1850’s. The town hosted a federal armory where weapons were made and an arsenal to store the manufactured weapons. One night, as most of the citizens of Harpers Ferry were sleeping, shots rang outside after midnight. The residents of this town ran into the streets only to find out that a gang of abolitionists had held hostage the armory and captured some hostages. For the next several days, the residents of Harpers Ferry experienced anxiety that resulted from being invaded encompassed with fear, not knowing it was just the beginning of tough days ahead. (Reynolds, 2009)

The residents of Harpers Ferry soon learnt that the raid was spearheaded by John Brown, whose name was already in people’s lips for his reputation for violence. He has moved to Kansas as a vowed abolitionist three years earlier in the support of those who strived to keep that territory free. He also oppose anyone who wished to establish slavery. John brown was born on May 9th 1800 as an American. He believed and advocated for armed insurrection as the one way that could be used to overthrow slavery in the United States. He started gaining attention when he was the leader of small groups of volunteers during the crisis of Kansas in 1856. Brown later formed and commanded an anti-slavery force in June and august 1856 respectively. (Reynolds, 2009)

The raid that he led at Harpers Ferry was an action aimed at commencing a liberation movement among the slaves enslaved there. Having in mind his violent nature, his idea was to seize the weapons and launch a slave revolt. He wanted to arm the slaves with the weapons that they raided from the armory but his attack failed. Within one and a half days, all his men had fled, captured by the police or killed by local farmers. He was later captured and tried for treason against the well-being of Virginia islands, the murder of five men out of which there were blacks and the incitement of slave insurrection. He was found guilty at all counts and hence hanged. (Finkelman, 1995).

Many people will today agree with me that the raid in Harpers Ferry and the trial of john brown led to the commencement of the American civil war. Browns raid held the nation under siege. People feared that it might have been just the first of many raids aimed at establishing a slave rebellion that could put the lives of many people at danger. His actions as an abolitionist and his tactics made him a controversial figure. (Scott, 1979).

Brown was an optimistic individual. He, together with the free setters thought that they could bring the city of Kansas to a state of being free from slavery. Brown should be considered as a freedom fighter (Scott, 1979). In layman’s language, a freedom fighter is a person who fights for the freedom of other enslaved people. John Brown started his raids with the aim of freeing people from oppression. This is a true definition of a freedom fighter. The raids at Harpers Ferry were aimed at liberating the slaves and consequently encourage other slaves to be rebellious and hence end slavery all together. Brown had a righteous idea: believing that he was carrying the will of God. Thus, he was committed to die in the quest of achieving his mission.

In conclusion, Brown played a crucial role in ending the slavery regime. His demeanor and fierce character helped him in his commitment to the anti­slavery regime. It would therefore be insane to consider John Brown as a villain. In my opinion, I would gladly consider brown as a true hero.

Work cited.

Finkelman, Paul, Ed. His soul goes marching on: response to John Brown and the Harpers Ferry raid. University press of Virginia, 1995.

Reynolds, Davis S. John Brown abolitionist: The man who killed slavery, sparked the civil war and seeded civil rights. Vintage, 2009.

Scott Otto J. the secret six: John Brown and the abolitionist movement. Uncommon books. 1979.

November 13, 2023

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John Brown Civil War

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