Podcast Visiting John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry

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Interested in learning about the history of this shocking event, and curious to hear what it's like to visit today? I'm a former history teacher and run a podcast called The Educator Podcast, which includes a series called Walking History where I visit historic sites, many of them related to the Civil War, and discuss their history and the current condition they're in. I just visited and posted an episode on John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry, one of the most important (and bewildering) events leading up to the Civil War, and includes a who's who of Civil War figures, including Robert E. Lee and JEB Stuart. A Civil War battle was also fought there, which I discuss briefly in the episode. I encourage you to check it out!

I was extremely impressed with the town, they have turned it into a National Historic Park complete with era-accurate buildings and shops, museums, historical exhibits and plaques, and the engine house that served as "John Brown's Fort" still stands, although it was moved about 100 feet from its original location. It's the perfect place to spend an afternoon if you live close by or are traveling in the area.

Below is are links to the episode and the Podcast homepage. Hope you enjoy! Feel free to respond/dm me with any questions or comments.

https://theeducatorpodcast.buzzspro...ng-history-john-brown-s-raid-on-harpers-ferry
https://theeducatorpodcast.buzzsprout.com/1605013
 
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Agreed. I must say I was a little disappointed though that there wasn't much emphasis on Brown's raid as compared to all the other history of the town, Jefferson and Meriweather Lewis' visits and the Civil War battle for example. There's a small museum to John Brown there, the fire engine house which became "John Brown's Fort", still stands, and there are some plaques describing what he did, but you could walk to the whole town and not even realize what had happened there unless you were looking for it.

Interestingly as I was researching for the episode it turns out a number of slaves were actually temporarily freed in connection with the raid. Brown wanted them to be part of the uprising he had envisioned but they were so confused by and skeptical of what he and his followers were doing that most of them refused to participate!
 
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I didn't get a chance to go to Charles Town, that would be interesting. I believe the original Jefferson County Jail he was in is still standing, although I'm not sure.
Look forward to seeing where he met his end in Harpers Ferry and swung in Charles Town this fall.


You know you might be right, Frederick Douglass told him exactly that when John Brown tried to recruit him for the raid. One thing I learned researching this is just how much of an enigma John Brown is/was, getting inside his head and trying to make sense of his actions is a real mystery. He and his followers were convinced hundreds or thousands of slaves were just going to show up once he captured the Armory, but never once did they make plans to inform them. It's a real headscratcher, and something I talk a lot about in the episode.
The raid was a suicide mission. Meant more for shock value than any realistic chance of starting a slave rebellion.
 
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I didn't get a chance to go to Charles Town, that would be interesting. I believe the original Jefferson County Jail he was in is still standing, although I'm not sure.



You know you might be right, Frederick Douglass told him exactly that when John Brown tried to recruit him for the raid. One thing I learned researching this is just how much of an enigma John Brown is/was, getting inside his head and trying to make sense of his actions is a real mystery. He and his followers were convinced hundreds or thousands of slaves were just going to show up once he captured the Armory, but never once did they make plans to inform them. It's a real headscratcher, and something I talk a lot about in the episode.
One seldom understands psychopathic murderers, they like rabid dogs, once they bite, you just put em down......
 
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One seldom understands psychopathic murderers, they like rabid dogs, once they bite, you just put em down......

I don't think it's nearly as simple as that. Take these excerpts of quotes I talk about in the episode for example:


Senator Mason, of Virginia. How do you justify your acts?

Brown:
I think, my friend, you are guilty of a great wrong against God and humanity,-I say it without wishing to be offensive,-and it would be perfectly right for anyone to interfere with you so far as to free those you wilfully and wickedly hold in bondage. I do not say this insultingly.

Mason.
I understand that.

Brown:
I think I did right, and that others will do right who interfere with you at any time and at all times. I hold that the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as ye would that others should do unto you," applies to all who would help others to gain their liberty.

Brown talking to a group of congressmen and others:

“I claim to be here in carrying out a measure I believe perfectly justifiable, and not to act the part of an incendiary or ruffian, but to aid those suffering great wrong. I wish to say furthermore, that you had better—all you people at the South—prepare yourselves for a settlement of that question that must come up for settlement sooner than you are prepared for it. The sooner you are prepared the better.

You may dispose of me very easily. I am nearly disposed of now; but this question is still to be settled—this negro question I mean; the end of that is not yet.”




Opinions of John Brown:


Congressional Representative Vallandingham, described later by Henry David Thoreau as an enemy of Brown, made the following comment after reaching Ohio:

“It is in vain to underrate either the man or the conspiracy. Captain John Brown is as brave and resolute a man as ever headed an insurrection... He has coolness, daring, persistency, the stoic faith and patience, and a firmness of will and purpose unconquerable.”


Virginia Governor Wise

“They are themselves mistaken who take him to be a madman. He is a bundle of the best nerves I ever saw, cut and thrust, bleeding and in bonds. He is a man of clear head, of courage, fortitude and simple ingenuousness. He is cool, collected and indomitable, and it is but just to him to say, that he was humane to his prisoner... and he inspired me with great trust in his integrity, as a man of truth. He is a fanatic, vain and garrulous, but firm, and truthful, and intelligent.”
 

Pete Longstreet

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"John Brown... very important person in history. Important for only one episode, failure of everything in life. Except, he becomes the single most important factor in my opinion in bringing on the war."

- Ed Bearss
 
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Actually it is simple as that, his actions were responsible for over 30 deaths in least three states, none legally excusable....no matter how much lipstick you try to put a murderous criminal, in the end he remains a murderer.
 
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"John Brown... very important person in history. Important for only one episode, failure of everything in life. Except, he becomes the single most important factor in my opinion in bringing on the war."

- Ed Bearss

I wondered about that. It's seems fairly certain the Civil War would have happened without him, Bleeeding Kansas and Harpers Ferry, but some of the research I came across had historians suggesting that without the actions at Harpers Ferry and the change in national sentiment it created, it would have been far less likely Lincoln or similar candidate would have been elected the following year. Then, possibly, who knows?
 

mofederal

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I have been to Harper's Ferry, and to Charlestown, where he was tried in the County Courthouse, and the site where he was hung. The original Charlestown jail was torn down in 1919.

Jeffcocharlestown jail.jpg
 

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