Tuesday, October 16, 2018

John Brown Raids Harpers Ferry


John Brown launched his consequential raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, on this day in 1859.  The latest in a series of events that jolted the nation in that decade, this dramatic attack helped hastened the Civil War.  

Brown’s four-day episode ended in failure and Brown was executed on December 2.  Before leaving for his hanging, the abolitionist wrote this prophetic statement:  “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.”

The marine contingent sent to stop him was commanded by Colonel Robert E. Lee.  Future Confederate leaders Stonewall Jackson and Jeb Stuart also were there and John Wilkes Booth was at the hanging.  Many books have been written about Brown, the raid, the execution, and the impact of Harpers Ferry.  But a terrific new book by Gene Meyer, Five for Freedom: The African American Soldiers in John Brown’s Army, adds another dimension to this vastly important event.

More than thirty years ago I purchased this artifact.  I will leave the credibility of its authenticity up to you, but I enjoy having it on a bookshelf in my library.  Ah, I believe the word “possion” is meant to mean “possession.”

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