How Should John Brown be Remembered?

How Should John Brown be Remembered?


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jgoodguy

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Not a problem in my opinion, but just the reality of what occurred as a result of the Northern victory.
Had the South kept its place in the 1860 government, it would have delayed, perhaps indefinably the Radical Republican interpretation of Federal and Constitutional law. Instead it was "Cry 'Havoc!', and let slip the dogs of war", an appeal to war and subsequent loss.
 
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Had the 'South kept its place in the 1860 government, it would have delayed, perhaps indefinably the Radical Republican interpretation of Federal and Constitutional law. Instead it was "Cry 'Havoc!', and let slip the dogs of war", an appeal to war and subsequent loss.
It is the first tragedy of the ACW in my opinion, that our kindred countrymen could not honestly communicate to resolve their social disagreements, cultural conflicts, and the dispute over the institution of African slavery without resorting to secession, and full-scale bloody warfare. John Brown's actions however well intended, hastened the acceleration into the abyss, but then so did the violent campaigns of the Missouri border ruffians, the KGC, and other pro-slavery guerrillas.
 

wilber6150

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I would agree with that statement up to the point where the secessionist states legislatures voted to formerly separate themselves from the Union. Once their state governments made that decision, and demanded that Federal forces abandon their territory, there was in existence a state of war.

And how about the states in which things were sezied before the states seceeded?
 
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SouthernRebel772

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However, the union victory nullified all that, with a few Supreme Court Decisions, and it was in law an illegal murderous insurrection, differing only in scale.


True to an extent, one could argue that the Supreme Court's decision was an ex-post facto interpretation of law. I would maintain that once a State leaves the Federal Union, that the Federal territory it once held within that State would revert back to that State. It's the equivalent of us saying to the British, we're declaring independence, but you can still keep those dry docks for the royal navy, and those customs houses, and those forts, and those arsenals.....
 

gem

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It is the first tragedy of the ACW in my opinion, that our kindred countrymen could not honestly communicate to resolve their social disagreements, cultural conflicts, and the dispute over the institution of African slavery without resorting to secession, and full-scale bloody warfare. John Brown's actions however well intended, hastened the acceleration into the abyss, but then so did the violent campaigns of the Missouri border ruffians, the KGC, and other pro-slavery guerrillas.

If you believe the statement by Lord Acton, " Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely"

then its easy to see why it took full-scale bloody warefare to resolve the dispute over chattel slavery.
 

jgoodguy

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True to an extent, one could argue that the Supreme Court's decision was an ex-post facto interpretation of law. I would maintain that once a State leaves the Federal Union, that the Federal territory it once held within that State would revert back to that State. It's the equivalent of us saying to the British, we're declaring independence, but you can still keep those dry docks for the royal navy, and those customs houses, and those forts, and those arsenals.....

I would love to secede from my mortgage and keep my house.
 
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And how about the states in which things were sezied before the states seceeded?

Those generally were state ordered seizures or occupations of previous Federal property, and usually organized state or local militia were the personnel making the action. There are probably some fine examples otherwise with the spectrum of events occurring at that hectic time period. In any event, I still see a difference between the unsanctioned martial actions of a lone Robin Hood Abolitionist raider and his band of merry men in October of 1859 a time of relative calm, and the state level seizures or occupations by Southern state governments who in the wake of the Lincoln election of 1860 were almost all actively pursuing a course of secession by early Spring 1861.

As early as November 7, 1860 (the day after Lincoln's victory) Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown said in his Special Message on Federal Relations:
"To every demand for further concessions, or compromise of our rights, we should reply, 'The argument is exhausted,' and we now 'stand by our arms.'"
His intent clear the time for political negotiation with the North had ended, and that the legislatures of the individual Southern states should act individually upon secession, rather than waiting for a centralized Confederacy decision on the matter.
 

jgoodguy

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Ahhh, I gotcha now. Sorry, I'm dense sometimes....

If the Southern secession is viewed as a revolution, it is a wonderful endeavor. Revolution 101 take enough stuff from the sovereign to make the revolution a going enterprise. Viewing it from a legal or moral viewpoint is much more messy and problematic.
 

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After sleeping on this question (literally, I just woke up), I have some more thoughts:

If the victims of John Brown's "massacre" were slaveholders, with their slaves with them in Pottowatamie, then I would say YES, their murders DID set people free. I can't imagine Brown would kill these men right in front of their own slaves and then not say to them, "You are free now. Go and live in freedom." But since so little, if anything is known about who those people were. Did any of the murder victims actually have slaves? Did any of the slaves ever leave a written or oral history of their existence, especially of the killing, etc.? And if they existed, how they were treated by their owners and what happened to them? I could be wrong but it seems hard for me to believe that five men with no slaves would up and move to Kansas to fight for something they believed in but didn't actually have. But then, a lot of Confederate soldiers did the exact same thing. But still, that John Brown would select five guys and not one of them owned a single slave seems a bit curious.

BTW, I wasn't asking about a scenario where 'somebody had "evidence' that Ariel Castro was going to kidnap three women, rape them, then kill the unborn baby of one of them," as if it hadn't happened yet and somebody hacked him to death right before the decade-long ordeal happened. I was talking about if somebody killed him in the process of rescuing those three women. Big difference.

Anyway, asking the question "Was John Brown crazy?" begs the question, "What was it that drove him crazy?" The poverty he grew up with? The fervency of his religious beliefs? His several failed business ventures? The death of his first wife? His 20 children? (as far as the last one, I've got two children and they're enough to drive me crazy sometimes, LOL) Or all of the above? Was Brown born with some type of mental illness or disorder? It's hard to tell with little to no diagnosis of mental health during John Brown's time.

Maybe the best way to figure out Brown is to NOT isolate his actions from the time in which they took place. In other words, look at the other violence that occurred during the period. The following is an account of the retaliation by White men who came from Richmond, Virginia, to Southampton County, Virginia, to combat Nat Turner's Rebellion in 1831:

They killed Antonio, a slave of Mr. J. Stanley, whom they shot; then they pointed their guns at him, and told him to confess about the insurrection. He told ‘em be didn’t know anything about any insurrection. They shot several balls through him, quartered him, and put his head on a pole at the fork of the road leading to the court.” (This is no exaggeration, if the Virginia newspapers may be taken as evidence.) “It was there but a short time. He had no trial. They never do. In Nat’s time, the patrols would tie up the free colored people, flog ‘em, and try to make ‘em lie against one another, and often killed them before anybody could interfere.

I don't see any difference at all between the actions of John Brown at Pottowatamie and these men from Richmond. But has history ever questioned the sanity of these men or called them terrorists? I am not saying two wrongs make a right; I'm just wondering why these men are not included in the conversation of fanatical terrorism.

The Pottowatamie Massacre of May 24, 1856 was an event that occurred in the sea of violence that was Bleeding Kansas. I don't know if anyone has any idea of how many acts of violence or how many people were killed in this mini-Civil War. Yet John Brown is the only person who has ever been indicted for his actions in that place in time. While his sanity will continue to be questioned, one thing is certain: even though he killed those men with broadswords, John Brown didn't bring a knife to a gunfight. John Brown was a very violent man in a very violent time.


And as we all know, Bleeding Kansas was a war over whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free state or as a slave state. To the extent that Pottowatamie may have helped turn the tide toward the free staters, in that sense it may have helped keep some people free.
 

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Ah, but WE know the truth. John Brown's peremptory self defense "saved" many, many lives. His heroic act of hacking these unarmed men to death, is, we are told, a noble act freeing those in bondage and saving untold lives. His religious zeal, in the righteousness of his cause, led him down a path that has seduced so many others, before and since, to believe that the end justifies the means. A dangerous seduction.

Hacking people to death in Kansas was an innovation of the proslavery side. Brown merely appropriated their tactic.

All people are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Among these rights are the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to pursue happiness.

Governments are established in order to secure these rights.

Whenever a government becomes destructive to the end of securing the natural rights of its people, the people have the right to rebel against it.

Is there any question that there were those in Kansas who wanted to establish a government that denied the natural right of liberty to a group of people in that soon-to-be state?

Is there any question that Virginia had a government that denied the natural right of liberty to a large group of people in that state?
 

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There were tens of thousands of Americans who believed slavery was wrong, and who actively worked against it, without committing or inciting murder. John Brown did more to hurt their cause than to help it, and has stained their good name to this very day.

Perhaps in helping to bring on the Civil War he did more to accomplish their purpose than any hundred of them put together?
 
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And as we all know, Bleeding Kansas was a war over whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free state or as a slave state. To the extent that Pottowatamie may have helped turn the tide toward the free staters, in that sense it may have helped keep some people free.
Brown did some very constructive work helping fugitive slaves escape to Canada on the Underground railroad, and advancing the Abolitionist cause in Springfield, Massachusetts.
 

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Yeah, but Galelio didn't chop people to pieces, try to lead a slave revolt against innocent civilians, or never feel remorse for the crimes he committed.

Galileo didn't have his life threatened by people who chopped people to pieces.
Galileo didn't live in the type of slave society the United States had.
Galileo never felt remorse for being branded a heretic. "Eppur si muove"
 

jgoodguy

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Perhaps in helping to bring on the Civil War he did more to accomplish their purpose than any hundred of them put together?

OTOH, had the North lost or refused the contest, 4 millions would have been carried further from freedom.
 

SouthernRebel772

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Galileo didn't have his life threatened by people who chopped people to pieces.
Galileo didn't live in the type of slave society the United States had.
Galileo never felt remorse for being branded a heretic. "Eppur si muove"


Galileo was threatened with burning instead.

So what that he didn't live in a slave society?

My Latin is poor.....
 
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