John Brown Leads his Assault on Harper’s Ferry

John Brown Leads his Assault on Harper’s Ferry October 16, 2021




On Sunday evening on the 16th of October, 1859, John Brown, American visionary and terrorist, led a small band of men in an assault on Harper’s Ferry.

“John Brown was John the Baptist for the Christ we are to see” sang those who saw his Quixotic raid on Harper’s Ferry as the beginning of the end for slavery. This event is generally considered the beginning of the count down to the Civil War.

I think of those who say without the Civil War slavery would have ended on its own in time. And I don’t find that argument particularly compelling. It misses a very important mark. I wonder who would volunteer to make their children and maybe their children’s children chattel slaves to avoid the conflagration that would be the cost of their liberation. I wonder who wouldn’t wade through a sea of blood to free their children and their children’s childre

Of course with that I find myself thinking of the way reconstruction was bungled. And with that the creation of what feels a permanent underclass. And how all revolutions are betrayed. I think of how John Brown’s cause has been betrayed at its heart. And I think of duty. And I think of responsibilities. And I wonder what I would do.

And how that call for liberation for all is a mystery that continues to haunt us.


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