John Brown (1800-59)

  In many ways, John Brown’s Kansas of 150 years ago has not changed.  Generally today’s issues are not as clearly divided between good and evil as slavery was. Today there are no convienant state borders to mark these boundaries, as exemplified in the “Free-Staters” in Kansas territory, versus the pro-slavery interests across the border in Missouri.

“Bleeding Kansas” of the 1800’s was at the center of the issue that was to define the future of the American moral ideal. Could we, as a predominately christian nation,  tolerate the glaring analogy of our nation as Pharoah?

 Brown’s religious upbringing became the spark of faith that set African-Americans free, and led to a terrible and inglorious bloodbath, concluding with Sherman’s ‘March To The Sea’ and Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.  Since Lincoln’s time, and through ‘BROWN vs. the TOPEKA Board of Eduction’, Kansas has continued to be at the center of passionate religiously inspired issues; abortion, prayer and creationism in schools, as well as gay rights. When these issues raise hatred and violence in Kansas, JESUS WEEPS.

 May Bleeding Kansas and Captain John Brown stand as a reminder that hatred and separateness have brought humanity to the present conditions. ~sekanblogger

John Brown's Kansas home, postcard dated 1909

Martyr, madman, murderer, hero: John Brown remains one of history’s most controversial and misunderstood figures. In the 1850s, he and his ragtag guerrilla group embarked on a righteous crusade against slavery, based on religious faith — yet carried out with shocking violence.

 His execution set off a chain of events that led to the Civil War.

In support of John Brown – By Henry David Thoreau
  I am here to plead his cause with you. I plead not for his life, but for his character, – his immortal life; and so it becomes your cause wholly, and is not his in the least. Some eighteen hundred years ago Christ was crucified; this morning, perchance, Captain Brown was hung. These are the two ends of a chain which is not without its links. He is not Old Brown any longer; his is an angel of light.

  Letter from Mahala Doyle – to John Brown in Jail, waiting to be hanged.
 Altho’ vengeance is not mine, I confess that I do feel gratified to hear that you were stopped in your fiendish career at Harper’s Ferry, with the loss of your two sons, you can now appreciate my distress in Kansas, when you then and there entered my house at midnight and arrested my husband and two boys, and took them out of the yard and in cold blood shot them dead in my hearing. You can’t say you done it to free slaves. We had none and never expected to own one…My son John Doyle whose life I begged of you is now grown up and is very desirous to be at Charlestown on the day of your execution.

Letter from John Brown – Charlestown, Va, 2nd, December, 1859 on the day of his hanging.

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.

Early Kansas Militia

Early Kansas Militia

 John Brown’s closing speech at his trial  November 2, 1859 

This was John Brown’s last speech during his trial by by the Commonwealth of Virginia in Charles Town, Virginia (now part of West Virginia). Brown was executed exactly one month later. An interesting fact of history is that, the evening before Brown was executed, a group of soldiers slept in the courtroom. One of them was John Wilkes Booth. Brown was, of course, executed for seizing the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry in October, 1859, for the purpose of arming slaves for an insurrection.

I have, may it please the court, a few words to say. In the first place, I deny everything but what I have all along admitted — the design on my part to free the slaves. I intended certainly to have made a clean thing of that matter, as I did last winter when I went into Missouri and there took slaves without the snapping of a gun on either side, moved them through the country, and finally left them in Canada. I designed to have done the same thing again on a larger scale. That was all I intended. I never did intend murder, or treason, or the destruction of property, or to excite or incite slaves to rebellion, or to make insurrection. 

I have another objection; and that is, it is unjust that I should suffer such a penalty. Had I interfered in the manner which I admit, and which I admit has been fairly proved (for I admire the truthfulness and candor of the greater portion of the witnesses who have testified in this case)–had I so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of any of their friends–either father, mother, brother, sister, wife, or children, or any of that class–and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have been all right; and every man in this court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment. This court acknowledges, as I suppose, the validity of the law of God. I see a book kissed here which I suppose to be the Bible, or at least the New Testament. That teaches me that all things whatsoever I would that men should do to me, I should do even so to them. It teaches me, further, to “remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them.” I endeavored to act up to that instruction. I say I am yet too young to understand that God is any respecter of persons. I believe that to have interfered as I have done–as I have always freely admitted I have done–in behalf of His despised poor was not wrong, but right. Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments–I submit; so let it be done!Let me say one word further. I feel entirely satisfied with the treatment I have received on my trial. Considering all the circumstances it has been more generous than I expected. But I feel no consciousness of guilt. I have stated that from the first what was my intention and what was not. I never had any design against the life of any person, nor any disposition to commit treason, or excite slaves to rebel, or make any general insurrection. I never encouraged any man to do so, but always discouraged any idea of that kind.Let me say also a word in regard to the statements made by some of those connected with me. I her it has been stated by some of them that I have induced them to join me. But the contrary is true. I do not say this to injure them, but as regretting their weakness. There is not one of them but joined me of his own accord, and the greater part of them at their own expense. A number of them I never saw, and never had a word of conversation with till the day they came to me; and that was for the purpose I have stated.Now I have done.

 The ending of Dr. King’s prophetic speech.

The good Dr. was assasinated the next day.


11 responses to “JOHN BROWN’S KANSAS

  1. Pingback: First Kansas Colored Infantry « KANSAS MEDIOCRITY

  2. Sekan; I being a foreginer have been of the notion that Brown was pro-slavery! How stupid is that?

    Thank’s for the update!!!!!


  4. Pingback: Antique Postcards ~ John Brown’s Cabin « KANSAS MEDIOCRITY

  5. Damn good history. What a violent freak show on our hands, living through the ages.

  6. I hadn’t seen this. Good job. I plan to look at it more this evening.

    • Brown is a fascinating historical figure. I regret that I have not had more time to study his life and writings.
      I drove right by the John Brown Museum at Osawatamie, Kansas twice yesterday, as I have many times before.

      If you liked this page, you’ll probably like the posts I’ve done about the Osage Indians, who are native to this area. Try this link:
      Did you know that the word “Topeka” is an Osage word that means: “Place where we dig potatoes.”

      Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  7. Hey Tracy

    Saw this neat, though unorthodox, history of Kansas and thought of you.
    Up to Speed: Kansas & Missouri: In the Middle of the Middle of the Midwest

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