16 October 2009

One Hundred Fifty Years Ago...

Date: October 16, 1859

Place: Harper's Ferry, Virginia



John Brown's Raid on Federal Arsenal at Harper's Ferry


On this date, 19 heavily armed men stole down mist-shrouded bluffs along the Potomac River where it joins the Shenandoah River. Their leader, was a 59 year-old man named John Brown. The raid would be the most daring instance on record of white men entering a Southern state to incite a slave rebellion. According to Fergus M. Bordewich, in military terms, it was barely a skirmish, but the incident electrified the nation.

John Stauffer, Harvard historian states the impact of Harpers Ferry quite literally transformed the nation. The tide of anger that flowed from Harpers Ferry traunmatized Americans of all persuasions, terrorizing Southerners with the fear of massive slave rebellions, and radicalizing countless Northerners, who had hoped that a violent confrontation over slavery could be indefinitely postponed.

Brown and his captured men were charged with treason, first-degree murder and "conspiring with Negroes to produce insurrection." Brown was sentenced on November 2, 1859. Escorted by six companies of infantry, he was transported to a scaffold where, at 11:15, a sack was placed over his head and a rope fitted around his neck. Brown told his guard, "Don't keep me waiting longer than necessary. Be quick."

5 comments:

Daryl said...

As a lover of American history, I remember reading/learning about this and being outraged ...

Frank said...

Thank you for the history lesson for this date. We need to be informed and constantly aware of our past and how it has shaped and defined who we are as citizens today. History is so-o important.

Good post!

Betsy said...

"Be quick"? Yikes! I love history...it was always presented in such a boring way in school, which is such a shame. There's so much more to it than learning the names of battles and their dates. The stories, meanings, and how things shaped our nation are intriguing!

CountryDew said...

Interesting history lesson.

Les said...

This event played such a prominent role in our Va. history leasons in elementary school. It seemed to carry a lot more weight than other events.