John Brown

Born 1800 Torrington, Connecticut Died December 2, 1859 Charlestown, Virginia

Radical abolitionist Led an unsuccessful attempt to ignite a slave uprising in the South in 1859

I ohn Brown was a highly controversial member of the I movement to abolish (put an end to) slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War. He believed that slavery was morally wrong and committed himself to doing anything in his power to destroy it. "Slavery throughout its entire existence in the United States is none other than a mad, barbarous [cruel], unprovoked, and unjustifiable war of one portion of its citizens upon another portion, in utter disregard and violation of those eternal and self-evident truths set forth in our Declaration of Independence," he stated.

As Brown grew more and more furious about slavery, he came to believe that violence was both necessary and justified in the fight to abolish it. In 1856, he participated in the cold-blooded murder of five slavery supporters in Kansas. Three years later, he led a raid on a federal armory (a storage facility for weapons and ammunition) in Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Known as "John Brown's Raid," this was the first step in a plan to arm slaves and lead them in a violent uprising throughout the South. Brown's plan failed, and he was captured and executed. But his actions added to the bit-

"Slavery . . . is none other than a mad, barbarous, unprovoked, and unjustifiable war of one portion of its citizens upon another portion. . . ."

John Brown. (Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.)

ter feelings between the North and the South that led to the Civil War.

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