6 pages
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1963 words
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John Brown

February 18, 2018
Amelia Dowling
Dr. Veronica McComb
HIS121: Final Exam
11 December 2016
John Brown: Hero or Terrorist
John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry is a highly discussed topic, especially on John
Brown himself. Some historians and scholars believe that John Brown was a hero while others
believe that he was a terrorist. This paper will examine three opinions on the matter and break
them down to evaluate their legitimacy. This essay will also focus specifically on his raid at
Harpers Ferry. I believe that by today’s standards and definitions that John Brown was in fact an
irrational terrorist.
It was dusk on October 16, 1859. A small group of abolitionist followers trailed after
John Brown as they left the sanctuary of their hide out and headed for Harper’s Ferry. In the wee
hours of the morning the group finally made it to their destination, the federal armory and
arsenal. After capturing many people, the group had apprehended both the armory and the
arsenal in the hopes of stealing and distributing the weapons held there. The desired effect of the
raid was that the resident slave populace living in the area would join the cause, help confiscate
the weapons and then assist in the circulation of said weapons to slaves and other abolitionists
throughout the country. However, the local militia drove the group into the engine house at the
arsenal as they waited for backup. Later in the day U.S. Marines under the command of Colonel
Robert E. Lee arrived and entered the engine house where they killed some of Brown’s followers
and captured Brown himself. He was then put on trial and charged with treason against the state
of Virginia, murder and slave insurrection (John Brown’s Harpers Ferry Raid).
There are many reasons in which this event is relevant and important to history itself, but
also to present times. This raid was one of the many stepping stones towards the Civil War and
added fuel to the fire that was burning for both the north and the south. Abolitionists throughout
the country created a Martyr out of John Brown after his death and he came to be a key figure of
representation for the abolitionist cause. On the other hand, succeeding the raid, southerners
everyway began to militarize in the fear that other raids might occur as a result of Brown’s. John
Brown’s raid was influential to history as a straw on the camel’s back. Why is the raid important

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