"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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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Reflection
Virginia and Slavery: What John Brown Intended

Allen Gathman, who keeps a blog on the U.S. Civil War sesquicentennial entitled “Seven Score and Ten,” has done us a favor of great interest by resurrecting a New York Times editorial from August 20, 1860,1 written about ten months after the Harper’s Ferry raid.  In this historic piece, the Times editor opines about the unforeseen economic consequences of John Brown’s raid, and how they would have a definitive impact in undermining slavery in Virginia and promoting the triumph of free labor of chattel slavery in the Old Dominion and beyond.  It is a backhanded salute to the Old Man, suggesting that despite the alleged madness of his effort, the impact of the raid had unanticipated consequences that would hasten the decline of slavery in Virginia.  He was wrong to a great extent, but his observations are useful.

[The complete entry is available only in the forthcoming book, John Brown: Emancipator]

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