John Brown: The Abolitionist and His Legacy

On October 16, 1859, John Brown and a band of followers, black and white, attacked the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. The raid was part of a larger plan to destroy the slave system by freeing and arming slaves. The raiders were captured and John Brown was executed on December 2, 1859. The unique documents discussed here examine John Brown’s beliefs and actions in the context of growing national divisions over slavery in the 1850s.