John Brown is a notable American abolitionist, who believed that armed insurrection was key in ending slavery. in 1859, he led the armory raid at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia in hopes of starting a liberation movement. While his raid was successful, it did not lead to the insurrection he hoped for and he became the first person in the United States to be convicted of treason for it. Brown's raid and the ensuing trial are credited with escalating the tensions between the North and the South which eventually led to the secession of the Southern states.
Prior to the Harper's Ferry raid, John Brown and his supporters were very active in Kansas from 1855 to 1856. During this time, tensions were at an all-time high with slavery supporters and abolitionists, and new territories out west became battlegrounds over whether or not slaves would be accepted there. Brown and his soldiers battled pro-slavery forces in an attempt to keep slavery out of Kansas.
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In 1911, the students of Western University, an all-black college in Kansas City, fundraised money to build a large sculpture of John Brown. The statue was built in and delivered from Italy, and although the university eventually closed, the statue remains. There are multiple sites and memorials to John Brown, but this one in Kansas City is unique to his abolition work and violent uprisings in Kansas and throughout the U.S. in the dawn of the Civil War. Brown and his men fought multiple battles against a much larger pro-slavery military force, and his bravery and tactics made him a national figure and inspiration to other abolitionists.
Cover Image by Frank Thompson is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.