Public life Essay
Early Years When Brown and his family moved to New York, he learned that the pro-slavery forces in Kansas were confrontational. Brown left for Kansas after learning that the families of his adult sons were completely unprotected from any possible attack. He collected funds and weapons along the way and even held an anti-slavery convention in Albany. Despite the stir because of his support for unrest to liberate, Brown still managed to get financial support. He gathered more anti-slavery forces in Ohio. Brown and his forces were going to stop at nothing to stop the pro-slavery actions in Kansas.
He believed that the pro-slavery forces, or the Border Ruffians, will eventually become violent themselves. He used this as justification for his disregard for the law. Brown was angered by the violence displayed by the Border Ruffians, and also the political manipulations happening to quell the northern abolitionist movement. Brown learned that his family was to be attacked next by the Border Ruffians and the pro-slavery neighbours squealed about the support that his family was giving him. In May 1856, five pro-slavery settlers were killed by Brown’s men.
They were taken from their homes and slashed to death by swords. According to Brown, he did approve of the murder, but he never participated in it. Two of Brown’s sons were captured by Henry Pate, a pro-slavery captain. But Pate was soon captured with twenty-two men. Pate was forced to sign a treaty that exchanges their freedom with the freedom of his two sons. Pate was released, but his sons’ release was to be postponed till September. Pro-slavery forces from Missouri came to Kansas under the command of Major General John Reid.
They headed towards Osawatomie, Kansas, determined to crush the abolitionist forces there. Some of Reid’s men killed one of Brown’s sons in the morning of August 30, 1956. Brown was clearly outnumbered by Reid’s pro-slavery forces, but they still defended their posts. They managed to wound 40 and kill 20 of the Reid’s men. Reid ordered his men to retreat into the forest, and Brown’s men managed to capture four of Reid’s men. This display of bravery in that situation that clearly went against him was viewed as an act of heroism by Northern abolitionist forces. Brown was then known by the nickname, Osawatomie Brown.
A month later, Brown met Free State leaders in Lawrence to help plan for a possible assault by the pro-slavery forces. Pro-slavery forces from Missouri were engaging attacks in Kansas. Battles ensued, though large damages were nipped in the bud when Kansas governor John Geary called for disarmament and offered clemency to soldiers of both sides. Brown fled from Kansas with his sons to gather more funds and support from the north. Brown travelled eastward to collect more funds. In his travels, he met with many prominent abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison and Gerrit Smith.
Some of the wealthy abolitionists he met agreed to provide Brown with funds. This group of financers become known as the “Secret Six”. How much of Brown’s plans the Secret Six knew still remains a mystery until today as these men were just there to fund Brown with “no questions asked. ” On January of the following year, Brown received pledges of weapons from different abolitionist organizations and individuals. He travelled more and continued to look for funding. He received help in forms of numerous pledges but little of these pledges were translated to cash.
Brown met with Hugh Forbes in New York in March. He hired Forbes to be the tactician and drillmaster of his army. Both met in Tabor and formulated a plan for their anti-slavery crusade in the south with them disagreeing with some of the details of the plan. They left for Kansas six months later without Forbes receiving his salary. He decided to leave for the east instead of going with Brown to Kansas. Brown travelled to Ontario to attend a Constitutional Convention. Chatham, Ontario’s population were mostly dominated by slave fugitives. It was here that Brown’s provisional constitution was adopted.
Brown was elected as the commander-in-chief and Elder Monroe, an African man was elected as minister, and shall act as president until a new one was elected. Many of the delegates signed the Constitution, but only a few joined Brown’s forces. Many intended to join but Forbes attempted to reveal the plans to Henry Wilson, a Massachusetts senator. Many of the members of Brown’s inner circle felt fear that their names will go revealed to the public. The members of the Secret Six were divided. Some of them wanted Brown to execute his plans rapidly, while some insisted for postponement.
To derail Forbes’ knowledge of his plan, Brown returned to Kansas and remained there for 6 months. He joined forces with James Montogomery, the leader of the raids in Missouri. Brown led his own attacks, managing to set 11 slaves free. He took the liberated man with him to Detroit and to Canada. He went from city to city to collect more support. He reconnected with the Secret Six, visited his family and departed for Harpers Ferry. Upon arrival in Harpers Ferry, he rented a farmhouse nearby for his new recruits. He never received the number of recruits he expected to come to support him.
He revealed the plan to some of his supporters and some of them expressed their worry and qualms about the plan. One of them, Douglass, already knew of Brown’s plan since 1859 and has tried numerous attempts to avert the enlistment of blacks in Brown’s army. Some of the weapons fit for a thousand men arrived late September, but Brown only had 21 men. A month later, Brown led 19 of his men to attack the armory of Harpers Ferry. He planned to distribute the weapons here to arm the slaves in the locality. He would then lead these men to the south to liberate more slaves.
His plan was to free the slaves of Virginia to maim the institution and kill off the life-line that kept the economy alive in the south. They easily entered the town and they captured the armory with no resistance. They also spread the news to the local slaves they were going to be freed soon. Things went awry when a passenger train arrived in town. One of the train staff warned the passengers about Brown’s men. Brown ordered him to halt then, but seeing that his warning was not heeded, shot him openly. News of the raid reached Washington by late morning.
Brown’s men were held inside the armory by the angry residents of the town. Military men sealed off the bridge, the only escape route available. Brown moved inside the armory and had the doors and windows blocked. The soldiers and townspeople outside prevented the exit of anyone inside the armory, and sometimes, Brown’s men would shoot at the people outside. Brown sent out his son, Watson, and one of his men under the bearing of a white flag and yet the men outside shot them. Exchanges of shots were fired, and Oliver, another of Brown’s sons were wounded and killed.
On October 18, John Brown’s fort was surrounded by the military. They were encouraged to surrender, but Brown refused, saying that he would rather die there. The military men then broke the doors and walls of the armory down and captured the men inside. Brown was charged with murder of 5 men, instigation of a rebellion among the slaves and treason against the state of Virginia. The court found him to be guilty on all three counts on November 2. He was sentenced to be publicly hanged a month later. On November 2, after a week-long trial and 45 minutes of deliberation, the Charles town jury found Brown guilty on all three counts.
Brown was sentenced to be hanged in public on December 2. Before he died, he wrote, “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had, as I now think, vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed it might be done. ” METHODOLOGY The results of this study were obtained via data collection from documents from the internet, several books and journals. Data analysis of the information was performed and some personal opinions of the author were also injected into the analysis of the data gathered.