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John Brown a Hero- -yet the South are Traitors

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by WhatWouldJacksonDo, Mar 11, 2017.

  1. WhatWouldJacksonDo

    WhatWouldJacksonDo Private

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    I just finished reading James McPherson's battle cry of freedom. Why is it that the northern christian abolitionist section during the war viewed this man as a hero, and yet condemned the south as Traitors to the united states. Brown while celebrated in the north, was a “traitor” in that he left the union and created his own constitution and nation called “the republic of liberated slaves.”

    So the question is why does he get a pass and the south does not? he does not have the best history either.


    Brown was involved in a brutal attack. On May 24, 1856 in Kansas Brown and some men dragged five pro slavery men and boys in the night from their beds at Pottawatomie creek. They split the heads of the men and boys with an axe. Then cut off their hands, cut open their stomachs and laid out their entrails.

    Brown became most famous for his raid into Virginia. Brown had tried to get Fredrick Douglass involved but Douglass saw it as suicidal. Brown led his armed group of 16 whites and six blacks all northers with the attempt at capturing the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry VA. To than to arm thousands of slaves who he thought would rise up and with his army, free even more slave and start a revolt. On October 16 1859 Brown and his men attacked Harpers Ferry. The first person killed by browns group was a free African American named Haywood Shepherd who was working at the rail station. Federal forces were sent in under Robert E Lee and Jeb Stuart. They stormed the arsenal and captured brown. Brown was found guilty on Nov 2 1859 and hung on Dec 2 1859. He was healed as a martyr by many Christian abolitionist in the north. Church bells rang at his death. He even had a song named after his death, John Browns body.

    It was not a slave insurrection. It was an attempt by white men to get up a revolt among slaves., in which the slaves refused to participate, in fact, it was so absurd that the slaves, with all their ignorance, saw plainly enough it could not succeed”

    -Abraham Lincoln Feb 27 1860 cooper union speech
     

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  3. Bruce Vail

    Bruce Vail First Sergeant

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    The premise that Brown "got a pass" for Harper's Ferry from Northerners, or that he was a "hero" to Northern Christian abolitionists on 1859 is wrong in the first instance.

    Brown was roundly condemned in the North for Harper's Ferry and your own post quoting Lincoln in 1860 is evidence against your own premise. True, there were a few small cliques of abolitionists who defended Brown's action, but they were not even in the mainstream of the abolitionist movement of the day.

    It was only after the war was well underway that Brown came to be viewed as a prophet by some. And rightly so. Brown believed that slavery could only be destroyed in a blood bath, and he turned out to be right about that.
     
  4. Bee

    Bee 2nd Lieutenant

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  5. WhatWouldJacksonDo

    WhatWouldJacksonDo Private

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    Yes I meant only among the northern christian abolitionist in the north. Not among the general population. Why is it slavery was able to be abolished everywhere but America in a blood bath? If you say he is the reason for the war than he is more evil than I thought and a mass murderer. I however reject your premise of the cause of the war.
     
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  6. Bruce Vail

    Bruce Vail First Sergeant

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    Oh, and a comment on your use of the word "traitors":

    Brown was convicted of treason in a Virginia court, so he was literally judged a traitor by the competent legal authorities of the day. I'll have to go back to my the library to check, but I think I recall correctly that the US government was prepared to go ahead with a treason case against Brown, but deferred to Virginia state authorities who volunteered to prosecute the case first.
     
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  7. WhatWouldJacksonDo

    WhatWouldJacksonDo Private

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    Interesting thanks.
     
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  8. Bruce Vail

    Bruce Vail First Sergeant

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    That is an excellent question, and own opinions on the subject would be at variance with Brown's.

    Brown was a religious fanatic who flattered himself that he was a modern version of the Bible prophets of old. He believed that America's sin of slavery could only be purged in blood.

    Seems to me there were many other possibilities for abolishing slavery by less violent means. It's all speculative of course, but, as you point out, a number of other countries abolished slavery without resort to a terrible Civil War.
     
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  9. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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    A more detailed and careful reading of history will show that slavery was not to be abolished "everywhere" without blood except America.
     
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  10. WhatWouldJacksonDo

    WhatWouldJacksonDo Private

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    If true its a moot point as Bruce pointed out. Brown thought blood was needed to end slavery. Good point by the way bruce.
     
  11. AndyHall

    AndyHall Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    [​IMG]

    The Commonwealth of Virginia took the lead in every aspect of the Brown case, except for the dangerous part of actually assaulting the engine house where Brown and his group were holed up. Those proud Virginian militiamen were happy to let the feds handle that for them. Once Colonel Lee and the Marines from Washington had Brown securely in custody, the Virginians said, "we'll take over now."

    /s
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
  12. NedBaldwin

    NedBaldwin Captain

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    The emphasis is to show you your answer. To those people it was a crusade against slavery and Brown's motives were righteous.
     
  13. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    John Brown was/is an exemplar of a man of conviction. His heroism is not because of his actions at Harper's Ferry, but his willingness to live and die by the results of that conviction.

    One can argue about his convictions, but not his willingness to live and die by their results.
     
  14. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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    It's not an "if true" but historical fact.

    Even England had to use it's navy to bombard a port or two to enforce the eradication of slavery.
     
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  15. nc native

    nc native Private

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    The same can be said about Bloody Bill Anderson who died charging Union troops
    while mounted upon his horse. While I respect John Brown and Bill Anderson for
    their personal courage, I would never include them in a list of men whose behavior
    towards their fellow man in defense of their personal and moral convictions I would
    emulate.
     
  16. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    True enough, but it was largely President James Buchanan who was glad to wash his hands of the problem by agreeing to turn it over to Virginia's Governor Letcher.
     
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  17. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    I do not believe I would include them together, either. Was Anderson willing to die, unresisting in his own execution, for his convictions?
     
  18. nc native

    nc native Private

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    That's a good question, one we will never find the answer to. John Brown and Bill Anderson
    definitely were on opposite sides of the struggle against slavery and they had different ulterior
    motives for their actions but both men used extreme amounts of violence by the standards of
    most civilizations to advance their cause.
     
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  19. brass napoleon

    brass napoleon Colonel Retired Moderator Member of the Year

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    It all depends on who you ask:

    "Old John Brown has been executed for treason against a State. We cannot object, even though he agreed with us in thinking slavery wrong. That cannot excuse violence, bloodshed and treason. It could avail him nothing that he might think himself right. So, if we constitutionally elect a President, and therefore you undertake to destroy the Union, it will be our duty to deal with you as old John Brown has been dealt with. We shall try to do our duty. We hope and believe that in no section will a majority so act as to render such extreme measures necessary."

    - Abraham Lincoln, speech in Kansas, December, 1859

    Source: <http://www.classicreader.com/book/3766/41/
    As for the abolitionists' attitudes, it's pretty simple. Even though the vast majority of them deplored John Brown's methods, they glorified his cause. When it came to the Confederates, the abolitionists deplored both their methods and their cause.
     
  20. matthew mckeon

    matthew mckeon Brigadier General Moderator

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    The moment when Lee turned to the commander of the militia men and asked if they "wanted the honor of making the assault" and the guy stared back open mouthed is a classic. And they say Lee didn't have a sense of humor!
     
  21. matthew mckeon

    matthew mckeon Brigadier General Moderator

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    All John Brown threads are alike. The issue is simple:

    John Brown did bad things in a good cause.

    Some can't accept he did bad things, some can't accept it was a good cause.
    He was a premature emancipationist.
    He used violence to attack slavery before it was popular.
    He wasn't a racist when being a racist was normal.
    He was a proto-terrorist.
     

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