Research Paper: John Brown's Raid in Harper Ferry

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John Brown's raid in Harper' Ferry

John Brown was the famous abolitionist who is often mentioned as the man who killed slavery, sparked civil war and seeded civil rights (Reynolds 2005, John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights). He also led to the secession and the wide divide in between the northerners and southerners. He is one of the most controversial figures of American history. The African-American historians and writers consistently extolled his violent personal warfare against slavery. He was considered as a "good terrorist," one can argue that a terrorist is a terrorist, terrorism can never be good. John Brown was strictly against the Northern pacifist abolitionists too and he had a strong view of a bloody revolution against pro-slavery Southerners (Sinha 2006, 12). John Brown had collected both man and money to execute his aggressive plans to abolish slavery in 1858, yet he was forced to postpone his war (PBS Resource Bank).

What was the Northern and Southern responses to the raid as well as to Brown's execution?

The Southern and Northern fratricidal division was inevitable irrespective of John Brown's terrorist activities. Southern block had declared slavery as a positive good and they were hoping that their slaves and men will remain dutiful and peaceful. Southern wealthy slaveholders were in opposition to the abolitionist's attempts to end slave trade because of the huge investments they had made in the slave market. The northern abolitionists were actively against the slavery yet, their opposition was pacifist and they weren't meant to act violently. John Brown's raid paved way for the violent and murderous action against the slavery supporters. Most of the Northerners were the advocates of peaceful moralistic resistance against the pro-slavery Southerners. John Brown declared the entire pacifist as of little value and claimed: "These men are all talk. What we need is action -- action!" (Rhodes 1892, 385).

In May 1856, Brown and his men captured five pro-slavery Southern leaders and killed them brutally with the broadswords repeated blows. Brown had modern ammunition but he chose to use archaic broadswords for the heinous murders because he considered use of broadswords as better symbol for his hatred and anger against the Southerners (Maryland State Archives 2000).

Southern writers often had explained John Brown as a "New England abolitionist, who was a horse thief, a madman, and a self-serving and dishonest lay-a-about, who used the antislavery cause to disguise his personal and business failures" (Sinha 2006, 14).

John Brown's raid on Harper Lee caused an unstoppable sensation across the nation. The Southern stronghold pushed speedy trial, conviction and execution of John Brown and his cohorts which proved to be a wrong step against the pacifist movement against slavery. After the execution of John Brown the North and South experienced further polarization.

Why was this event a turning point for both sections (North and South)?

John Brown was very famous amongst the wealthy and politically well-connected northern abolitionists. Although most of the Abolitionists were pacifist and were in support of Abraham Lincoln's peaceful pacifist endeavors to throw away slavery, yet they were feeling the futility of the pacifist movement. Because of his political motives, Lincoln was very polite and tried for peaceful moderation between the Southern and Northern blocks during the early stage of his presidency. He supported Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 so that he may abort the secession of North and South. Many of northern abolitionists started feeling that Abraham Lincoln may fail to motivate a true freedom against slavery. Many abolitionists including John Stearns, Garrison and Phillips started organizing John Brown's party instead of an Abraham Lincoln's party (Reynolds 2005, John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights).

Most of the intellectuals around the world criticized the execution of John Brown. Victor Hugo personally tried to obtain pardon for John Brown and sent letters in London Newspapers and authorities (Encyclopedia 2010). When John Brown was sentenced to death, he handed a note to one of his jailers before he was executed.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/john-brown-raid-harper-ferry/60172.