Harper’s Ferry Raider Osborne P. Anderson Returns in Dramatic Portrayal
Feb. 09--Osborne Perry Anderson came right from the 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry to a West Virginia University classroom Tuesday.
Joseph Bundy, dressed in period costume, portrayed Anderson in front of a West Virginia University honors class. Anderson was the only survivor of John Brown's raiding party.
|Osborne Perry Anderson, survived|
the Harper's Ferry Raid and wrote
an account that most scholars have
overlooked and disregarded
During the hour long presentation, Bundy told the students about the raid. In 1859, Brown led others on a raid of what is now the West Virginia town of Harpers Ferry to free slaves and get weapons from the armory. The event helped show the country's emotional split over slavery. Most of the raiders were killed or captured.
"Even though the raid itself was not successful, it did a couple of things," Bundy said, while in character.
The raid, he said, showed that the slave population was able to fight. It also unified those who lived on free soil and the abolitionists, which led to Abraham Lincoln's election.
Bundy used vivid details, saying it was "cold, wet and damp" as he fled from Harpers Ferry to Canada. He spoke of using the Underground Railroad to aid in his escape.
Source: AP/MCT Regional News—Alex Lang, “Man portrays Civil War-era raid survivor for WVU class.” Charleston Daily Mail [WV], 9 February 2011
In 1860, with the help of abolitionists Mary Ann Shadd Cary and Martin Delany, Anderson published A Voice from Harpers Ferry, the only firsthand account of the raid by an eyewitness and participant. Although A Voice is no perfect record (no historical record is), its flaws are minor and can be reconciled to the overall facts, as Jean Libby has shown. More importantly, by ignoring Anderson's recollections, scholars have conveniently ignored his witness as to the support and involvement of enslaved people around Harper's Ferry during the raid
You can view and read a digital copy of the original version on Google books by clicking here, or a transcript provided by the West Virginia University Libraries by clicking here.--Ed.