John Brown Essay, Research Paper
John Brown’s raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, In October 1859, involved
only a handful of abolitionists, freed no slaves, and was over in two days. Although many
Northerners condemned the raid, by 1863 John Brown had become a hero and a martyr in the
North. The views about John Brown expressed in the documents illustrate the strained
relationship between the North and South before the civil war(1859-1860) and the severely
crippled relationship after the civil war.
In 1859 before the Civil war the Northern-Southern relationship was strained with such
laws as the Kansas-Nebraska act, ‘legalizing’ slavery through popular soveirgnty in the
territories, and the Dredd Scott decision practically legalizing slavery in any territory(without
popular sovereignty). Soon after John Brown’s famous raid, Northerners condemned him(Doc.
A) for combating a ‘great evil’(Slavery) in an ‘unfit way’(through fighting), They said this because
it was unconstitutional to fight without going through the government and there are other ways to
get rid of slavery. This basically was a last ditch effort to save the south from succeeding from
the union and to hold the thread that was holding the relations of the North and South together.
By 1860, the dreaded election of 1860 was here and the Civil war would soon start
due to the ‘Railsplitter’ Lincoln winning the election. Views of John Brown in the North were
gaining more momentum as he became more popular(Doc. D). More Northerners began to feel
it that John Brown had done it the right way. The Democrats at this time were using tactics to
use John Brown against the Republicans that were for it, this failed and showed that most
northerners were with John Brown all the way(Doc. E). He began to be more like a martyr in
the north toward the end of 1860(Doc. F). When Lincoln was elected the South immediatelysucceeded and the Civil war began shortly after. During the Civil War John Brown rose to
Hero and Martyr status and a famous song of the civil war was pledged to him(Doc. G).
In Conclusion, the views of John Brown between 1859-1863 clearly showed how the
North-South relationship was hanging on a thread and was cut as John Brown became more
famous between these periods and into the Civil War.