Civil War (detail of painting 'First Battle of Bull Run' by Kurz & Allison)

John Brown

In the mid-1850s, abolitionist John Brown went to Kansas Territory to fight against the spread of slavery. Then in 1859, he came east to Virginia, hoping to liberate slaves. On October 16, he and a small group of militants seized the federal armory in Harper’s Ferry and its weapons, but waited in vain for the uprising they hoped would follow. The next day, U.S. Army officers Robert E. Lee and J. E. B. Stuart brought in a company of marines and stormed the fire-engine house where Brown had retreated. They captured him and his band, and killed two of his sons. Brown was hanged, along with six other conspirators. In death he became a martyr for abolitionists. “I am worth inconceivably more to hang,” he said, “than for any other purpose.”

Broadside advertising the sale of “Young Negroes”
Private Gordon, a former slave who fought for the Union, showing the scars on his back
Map showing distribution of slaves in the Southern states in 1861
Slave family, about 1862
Slave pen on Duke Street, Alexandria, Virginia
Insurrection at Harpers Ferry
John Brown going to his death
William Chinn, a branded slave from Louisiana

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