"Posterity will owe everlasting thanks to John Brown for lifting up once more to the gaze of a nation grown fat and flabby on the garbage of lust and oppression, a true standard of heroic philanthropy, and each coming generation will pay its installment of the debt. . . . John Brown saw slavery through no mist or cloud, but in a light of infinite brightness, which left no one of its ten thousand horrors concealed." Frederick Douglass

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

JOHN BROWN SITES ACROSS THE NATION ARE TIED TOGETHER

by Grady Atwater


John Brown is a nationally known and important historical figure, and there are a network of John Brown related historic sites across the nation. One of the major John Brown historic sites is the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in New York, which is special because it’s holds John Brown’s gravesite. New York Governor David Paterson has placed the John Brown Farm State Historic Site on a list of New York State Parks to be closed due to New York’s budget crisis. Closing the historic site has justifiably created a shockwave of protest across the nation.

The loss of the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in North Elba, New York may seem like a distant problem that really doesn’t have a negative impact on sites in other states, but experience at the John Brown Museum State Historic Site in Osawatomie proves otherwise. Many visitors to the John Brown Museum State Historic Site in Osawatomie are from across the nation, and state that they have become interested in learning about John Brown because they have visited other John Brown related historic sites. The closing of the John Brown Farm State Historic Site will create a gap in the effort to educate the public about the vital role that John Brown and abolitionists played in abolishing slavery and starting the modern civil rights movement.

Individual John Brown historical sites tell different parts of John Brown’s story. The John Brown Farm State Historic Site is not only the gravesite of John Brown, but also demonstrates John Brown’s commitment to helping African American’s achieve freedom and equality. John Brown’s farm was located on 148,000 acres of land that Gerrit Smith set aside to provide new homes for former slaves in 1846. Brown volunteered to help the former slaves to establish farms and become independent, and purchased the farm from Smith in 1848. Brown went to court and stood up with former slaves in legal matters, and worked to help them adjust to freedom. 

Brown’s actions in New York were peaceful, and the John Brown Farm State Historic Site educates the public about the peaceful aspects of Brown’s abolitionist crusade. It is vital to educate the public about all aspects of Brown’s life, and closing the site will close one that works to educate the public about this important part of Brown’s abolitionist crusade.

John Brown is a controversial but important character in American history. His abolitionist crusade sparked the Civil War, and he is a national and international philosophical symbol for ideologically motivated action in the present. Closing the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in New York will impede efforts to educate the public about the vital role that John Brown played in American and world history. The loss of the John Brown Farm State Historic Site will not only hurt New York, it will harm Osaatomie and the entire nation.

Grady Atwater is the director of John Brown Museum State Historic Site in Osawatomie, Kansas.


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