America's Militant Abolitionist Executed – 12/2/1859

US History |


On this day in 1859, an American abolitionist by the of the name John Brown, a man who believed in use of force was the only way to stop slavery in the United States is executed on charges of treason, murder and insurrection in Charles Town, Virginia.

Born on May 9, 1800, in Torrington, Connecticut to the family of Owen Brown and the forth of eight children, Brown, became a militant in the mid-1850s, and was elected the leader of Free State forces in Kansas. After making little progress in his battle against slavery in Kansas, he was happy with the result, and Brown settled on a more aggressive plan in 1859.

With a group of racially mixed supporters, Brown set out to Harpers Ferry in present-day West Virginia, planning to capture the Federal armory of weapons and withdraw to the Appalachian Mountains of Maryland and Virginia, where they would build up an abolitionist republic of freed slaves and abolitionist whites. The aim of their republic is to create a revolutionary armed force to battle slave masters and spark the revolution fire in their hearts, hoping that this would make the republic grow in number and strength as freed slaves find their way to the republic.

On 16, October, Brown and his well-trained soldiers began seizing major key points in the town, which was successful at first, however his near-victory experience was cut short when his army stopped a train going to Baltimore but allowed it passage afterwards. Quickly, the news of the assault spread rapidly, and within few minutes, private military companies from Maryland and Virginia arrived the following day, killing or catching the rebels. On October 18, U.S. Marines led by Colonel Robert E. Lee and Lieutenant J.E.B. Stuart, both of whom would later become Civil War generals, recaptured the state armory, taking John Brown and a few of his soldiers alive. On November 2, Brown was sentenced to death by hanging.

16 months before the beginning of the Civil War, when John Brown was finally executed he had prophetically written, "The sins of this land will never be cleansed away but with blood."

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