Wednesday, February 15, 2012

John Brown and Anti-Slavery

John Brown and Anti-Slavery: Although the above video is largely unrelated to the antebellum history of John Brown the abolitionist, its anti-war message resonates powerfully. Bob Dylan's lyrical talents are unique, as he articulates poignant views on socio-political events in the form of folk poetry. Similarly, the story of radical abolitionist John Brown has undergone a kind of folk transformation. Beginning with his three-day raid on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, (West) Virginia in October 1859, Brown epitomized the growing intensity of the American anti-slavery movement. The raid's main purpose was to acquire weapons (rifles and pikes) for African-American slaves in the surrounding communities. In fact, Brown believed the raid would be a quick stop followed by a strong push southward along the Appalachian Mountains. He also believed that hundreds of slaves would join. He was wrong. Before Harper's Ferry, however, Brown's interest in abolition had developed over many years. Having been inspired by notions of religious equality and anti-slavery, which emerged in the Second Great Awakening of the 1820s and 1830s, he wanted to be a Congregationalist minister and preach about abolition. But the 1837 murder of abolitionist Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy pushed Brown to radicalize his anti-slavery views. And by 1854, Brown was ready to clash with pro-slavery forces in Bleeding Kansas, which served as a dress rehearsal for Harper's Ferry.

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