John Brown American Abolitionist Icon

“I don’t think the people of slave states will ever consider the subject of slavery in its true light till some other argument is resorted to other than moral  persuasion.” –John Brown


John Brown advocated the use of armed insurrection to overthrow the institution of slavery in America. John Brown is best known for his daring, brazen and outrageous attempt in 1859 to overtake the federal armory at Harpers Ferry where he led 21 armed men. John Brown dissatisfied with the pacifism of the abolitionist movement led a raid at Harpers Ferry. His plan was to take arms from the armory and then provoke an insurrection in Northern Virginia, in which escaped slaves could flee and also join in the insurrection with the hope that force maybe multiplied. The great novelist Herman Melville said of John Brown, “John Brown was the meteor of the Civil War.” Today when we reflect on the Civil War we would be remiss to ignore the great contribution John Brown made to its birth and the birth of freedom for all non white people in America. During John Brown’s boyhood years is where he first discovered the gross injustice of slavery.

Recently, the subject of slavery, and the very question of slavery was re-examined by one, Kanye West. The very provocative rapper claimed on national television that slavery was in fact a choice.

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years.
400 years?
That sound like a choice.”
–Kanye West

The Twitter orbit was set ablaze and hence America is reminded again of the blasphemy of slavery. I would make the proposition that Kanye West does not even know who John Brown was or what he did. I would further say that Kanye West is ignorant of American history for his comments about slavery are too twisted to consider seriously. During John Brown’s early adulthood years he moved many times from the 1820’s to the 1850’s; he took part in the Underground Railroad, and he even donated land to free Black Americans.
In 1850 John Brown attended lectures by Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth at the “Free Church” in Springfield, Massachusetts. Today the Church is known as St. John’s Congregational Church, and John Brown’s Bible is still on display there today.

The failed attempt at Harpers Ferry electrified the nation; many did not understand why John Brown went to such great lengths like murder and such. John Brown firmly believed that peaceful resistance was ineffective and the only way to conquer the system of slavery was to meet it with violence.

John Brown and his men were quickly surrounded at Harpers Ferry by U.S. Marines, Pro-Slavery Farmers. John Brown and his men were greatly out numbered and after 36 hours they were taken into custody.
John Brown’s insurrection held out for two days; many of the men he led were killed, including two of his sons. During his trial before he was sentenced to death by hanging he spoke to the court on November 2, 1859.

“If it 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 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.”
–John Brown

A month later while seated on top of his coffin, John Brown rode quietly to his execution and his final utterance was:
“This is a beautiful country.” –John Brown
(December 2nd, 1859)

Historian Richard Boyer states:
“John Brown was an American who gave his life that millions of other Americans might be free.”

John Brown was a man who deeply believed in God, John Brown is also the most revered anti-slavery icon in American history.

John Brown was born on  May 9th 1800.

Each year on December 2nd the beloved Dick Gregory would go stand in front of the tree where they hung John Brown. 

Charles Micheaux



Author: Charles Micheaux

Charles Micheaux is an orator & philosopher. Charles has been a professional speaker since September 9th 1997. His highest honor is receiving a personal letter from Rosa Parks for his work in Baltimore, Maryland. Charles was a contributor at Yahoo for three-years.

4 thoughts on “John Brown American Abolitionist Icon”

  1. This is an excellent essay. The greatest fear of the slave holders was a rebellion. John Browns’ rebellion was a step on the way to freedom.


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