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"The world needed John Brown and John Brown came, and time will do him justice." Frederick Douglass (1886)

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

In Praise of Pottawatomie: Why May 24th Should Be "Anti-Terrorism Day"

Ever since the skewed, biased biography of Oswald Garrison Villard branded John Brown as a "principled" murderer in 1910, scholars and journalists (usually white) have picked and poked away at Brown's legacy, forever associating him with violent political action. In the later 19th century, Brown was upheld as a forebear of murderous anarchists; in the later 20th century, he was branded "the father of modern terrorism" in association with outbreaks of domestic terrorism in the 1990s directed at the federal government and abortion clinics. Unfortunately the prejudice and error of these assumptions are so pervasive that it is hard to speak otherwise, especially in defense of Brown and his associates, who killed five pro-slavery activists on May 24, 1856 by hacking them to death with military swords.

Ever since "9/11," however, perhaps people in this country are more open to revising their ideas about John Brown, or so one would hope. The reality is that Brown and his family were not terrorists, but targets of terrorism. Their violent strike was not an act of terrorism, but an act of counter-terrorism. Brown and his family were the good guys. The people who died were the bad guys. Sometimes good guys have to kill bad guys to preserve life and prevent the spread of cancerous criminality, injustice, and wickedness.

As one who has studied the story of Brown's activities in Kansas, it is clear to me that we have been blaming the wrong people for too long. Most of this misdirected blame can be traced back to a number of sources or reasons. The first is Brown's "friendly" biographer, Oswald Garrison Villard, who published his "definitive" biography in 1910. Villard concluded that Brown was a "principled" murderer who took the lives of pro-slavery settlers for no morally justifiable reason. In reality, Villard was biased and deliberate in his conclusions, which were far more interpretive than he portrayed them to be. Villard was the grandson of William Lloyd Garrison and evidently had an ax to grind because his own forebear's legendary anti-slavery leadership was overshadowed by Brown's epic strike at Harper's Ferry and subsequent hanging. Brown got to be the hero of the anti-slavery movement in one fell swoop, while Grandpa Garrison's lifetime of service was relegated to second place in the movement's history.

More importantly, Villard was an extreme pacifist whose zeal for that cause increasingly bordered on fanaticism. Villard could sanction no act of violence on behalf of anti-slavery, so Brown was actually guilty in his eyes before he examined the evidence. When Villard did so, he was selective. As one who has worked through his research papers at Columbia University, I would argue that Villard allowed his bias to "prove" that his beliefs were facts. As a result, his "definitive" judgment regarding the Pottawatomie killings set a precedent for scholarship in the 20th century, a precedent that grassroots scholars are still endeavoring to challenge.

Another reason why Brown has been labeled a terrorist is that he had fallen out of favor with the passing of the Civil War generation in the late 19th century. As the nation moved further and further away from advocating for black rights and closer and closer to reconstituting white supremacy for the new century, Brown appeared more as a problem than a hero to white society in general. Along with the delicate Negrophobia of the North that led many to look back on the abolitionist movement as an embarrassing extreme, the bitter, recalcitrant "lost cause" mentality of many southerners also found expression in the early 20th century. As far as John Brown is concerned, these two streams of white supremacy flowed and merged into a cynical, antagonistic biographical monstrosity.

Finally, this negative interpretation of Brown ultimately flowed into popular culture through second-rate histories (Robert Penn Warren's bio of Brown is a good example) and 20th century cinematic portrayals, particularly Santa Fe Trail (see my blog entry, Santa Fe Trail: The Film that Skewed John Brown for the 20th Century," April 23, 2007). This 1940 film presented Brown as a delusional killer and made heroes of the men who would shortly lead the anti-Union and pro-slavery Confederate cause in the Civil War. Mid-20th century historians were hard-nosed, prejudiced, and judgmental when it came to Brown. Given the socio-historical context, it is no surprise that white male intellectuals, from North and South, would presume to slander and misrepresent Brown without even realizing how perverse was their perspective. (Of course it is also no surprise that the judgment of black historians, writers, and activists has always been quite distinct from their malignant interpretations.)

In the 21st century, however, John Brown is having a comeback. Three of the four latest biographies or biographical studies published since 2002 are either sympathetic toward or (in my case) supportive of Brown's actions in Kansas. David Reynolds, whose biography has gained the most media attention, has caught a great deal of flack for posing challenging questions about the status quo portrayal of Brown, instead showing him in a very positive light. My own recent (second) book on Brown further challenges, perhaps far more deeply, the assumptions of the conventional academy and media.

In my estimation, May 24th should be remembered as "Anti-Terrorism Day" in the U.S. Instead of remembering Brown as a villain, he should be remembered as a man who chose to fight and kill terrorists rather than succumb to their murderous, racist program. Instead of a terrorist, Brown was a counter-terrorist who was forced to take action because there was neither federal nor local police protection. There was simply no guarantee of "democratic" protection from ruthless racists who hated and earmarked the Browns for assault because they were openly pro-black and militantly anti-slavery.

The people that the Browns killed along the Pottawatomie Creek on May 24, 1856 are the proto-type of domestic and foreign terrorists. They are the kind of people who are driven by evil sentiments and who resort to extreme violence and conspiracy in order to drive out good people and decimate communities devoted to justice and equality. To label Brown as a terrorist is to take the side of slave masters, murderers, fascists, and hateful fanatics against the highest principles we claim for this nation. To recognize Brown as an anti-terrorist is to place him right-side-up on the platform of history, finally recognizing that good people--when faced with desperate circumstances--must sometimes use force to set matters right, particularly when government and constabulary organizations will not or cannot do justice. From the White House down to the territorial government of Kansas, in May 1856 there was no just force to represent the Browns, let alone the enslaved and their reluctant "free state" allies. Brown was not intimidated or defeated. At the moment when evil raised its fist, Brown struck first and struck hard. The vector of terrorism along the Pottawatomie was crushed, and the blood that flowed in the Pottawatomie Creek was red with justice despite its horror. Critics may call it "murder" all they like. It was a desperately heroic act and I, for one, am glad it was taken. I would rather have the Browns alive than the likes of Sherman, Wilkinson, and the Doyles who perished at the blade of the Browns' swords. Sic semper tyrannis. Long live the memory of John Brown and men and women like him.--LD

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

John Brown in Wax

Source: Chris Brown, "Wax museum tells story of John Brown," The Journal [Martinsburg, WV], May 21, 2007. Photo by Jason Turner for The Journal.

HARPERS FERRY — A typical fairground haunted house can not match the eerie thrill of John Brown’s accusing eyes as he heads for the gallows, nor can it teach as much about the area’s history.

The John Brown Wax Museum in Harpers Ferry has been a popular destination for visitors to the area since it in opened in the 1950s, according to manager Freida Kidwell.

Kidwell said the grisly tableaus of Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry and subsequent execution frequently terrify as much as teach. Kidwell said she often hears from visitors about how scared they were during their childhood visits to the museum.

“I get a lot of those. People say their parents brought them through and it scared them,” Kidwell said.

Despite the horror-inducing images, the John Brown Wax Museum remains a popular destination for school-age children, who are often brought through as part of their history lessons.

The museum, which is at 168 High St. in Harpers Ferry, is advertised as an examination of “the exciting life of John Brown, from youth to the gallows,” and the three-story building delivers just that, complete with recorded narration and some other surprises.

With 87 carved wax figures, all arranged in scenes from Brown’s life, one gets a tangible sense of the path toward Brown’s violent raid on Harpers Ferry’s federal arsenal in 1859.

Visitors begin with a scene from Brown’s childhood, during which he befriended the son of a slave, only to see the boy horribly beaten by his master for some minor transgression. The displays lead the viewer through Brown’s career as an abolitionist, operator on the underground railroad that transported slaves to freedom, and as a “fanatical” opponent of slavery-sympathizers.

Some of the more grisly scenes depict Brown leading brutal attacks to avenge the killing of antislavery activists in Kansas; the ironic death of black porter Hayward Shepherd, the first person to die during Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry; and Brown’s last stand, bloody and holed up in the Harpers Ferry Engine House where U.S. Marines led by Robert E. Lee finally captured him.

Some of the scenes are depicted with enough realism to be genuinely startling.

When the wax model of the dying Shepherd begins to “breathe” his last, the motion is achieved through hydraulics. However, it is realistic enough to be disturbing to younger or fainthearted visitors.

The final scene on the museum tour depicts Brown being led to the gallows in Charlestown, Va. — now Charles Town, W.Va., on the morning of Dec. 2, 1859, where he was executed for treason. The wax figure of Brown looks defiantly up at visitors as a recording narrates the scene, calling him “majestic” in his efforts to erase the “sin of slavery from the conscience of the United States.”

Mary Jane Vallas, an employee of the museum, said as many as 90 visitors — sometimes more — tour the attraction on any good business day. The museum had a few thousand visitors last year, Kidwell said.

Vallas said school-age children were a large part of the visitors to the museum, but such visits were usually arranged before hand by schools and teachers. She said walk-ins by teenagers were rare.

“All the kids that are here today don’t want to pay,” she said Thursday.

The John Brown Wax Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. all week long, with slightly longer hours in the summer.

— Staff writer Chris Brown can be reached at (304) 725-6581, or at cbrown@journal-news.net

Friday, May 18, 2007

Not At All Troubled by John Brown

I recently made contact with Deb and Tom Goodrich, authors, historians, and expert advocates of prime Americana on their excellent blog, "Mason-Dixon Wild West," which can be viewed at


As the blog subtitle reads, "This is the blog where paths cross--South, West, Civil War, Indian Wars, Peace, Conflict, Saints, Saloon Girls, Myths, Movies, BS, TV. This is where you will find the stories." Obviously John Brown has among those themes, and the Goodriches are quite keen to the fact, especially since Tom is the author of War to the Knife: Bleeding Kansas, 1854-1861, a book which I wish I had known about sooner, and which is now on my must-read list for the summer.

For Brown's birthday, May 9, Deb Goodrich published a thoughtful, reflective entry regarding Brown that I took the liberty of responding to, and which she kindly published on their blog. In exchange, I here publish her entry and my response as well. I send my best to Tom and Deb, and wish them continued success in all their efforts.
William C. Davis called him a "mountain in the path of American history." Henry David Thoreau compared him to Christ as he sacrificed himself for the world's sins. The Commonwealth of Virginia called him a treasonist and hanged him. John Brown, John Brown, He'll trouble 'em more when his coffin's nailed down. John Brown was born on this day in 1800. He was hanged when he was 59 years old, which Tom will tell you is too young to die. But what an impact he made in 59 years. While Tom was writing War to the Knife, he became intimately acquainted with Old Osawatomie, so named because he lived near the Kansas town. While dwelling there, along the creeks and hiding in the woods, he penned this letter to his wife (and I don't know why the Kansas Department of Tourism hasn't appropriated this slogan): We have, like David of old, had our dwelling with the serpents of the rocks and wild beast of the wilderness. . . . Then he became as one of those beasts. In 1856, after the sacking of Lawrence and the beating of Sen. Charles Sumner on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Brown went crazy. Setting his sites on Southerners who had settled near him, he told his sons, It has been ordained by the Almighty God, ordained from eternity, that I should make an example of these men.

His example was to hack them to pieces with broadswords. I am fascinated by John Brown. He sacrificed everything--his future, his life, his children--to end slavery. I don't agree with his methods; I don't understand how he could sacrifice the lives of his children. I don't understand how he could take the children of others and slaughter them as he did with the Doyle family here in Kansas. But, like each of his, he is a product of his time and profoundly affected his time. He troubles us still.

Dear Goodriches:

It was nice finding your web log, "Mason-Dixon Wild West" today, and glad that the John Brown theme is such an essential part of your interests.

Like Tom, I'm also a fairly "acquainted" with the Old Man, being a biographer and student of his life and letters. I look forward to reading Tom's book when I get through a mountain of papers that I'm currently grading. I haven't yet gotten a hold of the Evan Carton book either. My second book has recently been published, a short monograph with 20 letters, including a transcript of the original copy of the letter to which you allude in your blog entry. It was written in pencil and is quite smudged at points, but happily Sanborn's transcription, though highly sanitized, provides the missing phrases.

At any rate, I was moved by your words, your reflections, and I dare to venture my own understanding--not that it will change your mind, but simply to let you know how another person feels having studied the man's life "up close and personal."

You say there are two things you do not understand about Brown--how he could sacrifice his children's lives, and how he could slaughter other peoples' children. You trace some of this to his being a product of his time, but ultimately conclude he troubles you still. Historian William McFeely similarly wrote that Brown is "vexing" to the nation, and many others harmonize with you that he is troubling to them.

Speaking for myself, however, I am not at all troubled by Brown, and while Brown was a man of his times and responded within that framework, I think there are certain "eternal" aspects to his humanity that we could all appreciate given the right circumstances, or with the same presuppositions.

First I would say that Brown NEVER sacrificed his children to the anti-slavery cause. The young men who died at Harper's Ferry and Kansas (the latter being the murdered Frederick Brown), both his sons and those who followed him as a father-leader, did so as adults and did so willingly and with great passion for the cause. Brown never coerced, cajoled, exploited, or deceived anyone into giving their lives for the anti-slavery cause. It is true that he did not fully reveal his Harper's Ferry plans to his men until quite late in the game, but even so those young men had already made a decision to live and die (if necessary) for the cause; once apprised of the full plan for Virginia, they decided nevertheless to follow him. When his sons John Jr., Jason, and beloved son-in-law Henry Thompson opted not to join him in Virginia, Brown accepted it and moved forward. So I don't think it's quite fair to say he ever sacrificed anyone except himself, and he did so willingly. As to the impact of his absence upon the family, there was sacrifice there too. But again Mary Brown and the family as a whole had long made that commitment to give their "all" for the anti-slavery cause.

One important element in understanding this sacrificial mentality is to see Brown as the deeply religious man that he was. This is not an element that is generally viewed rightly, or even taken seriously because so many contemporary scholars are alienated from or indifferent to religion, particularly Christianity. Christianity suffers from the "condemnation of proximity" in western scholarship--that is, because it is most familiar, it is most easily dismissed and blamed, most likely misrepresented, and the least likely to be appreciated for its positive elements, while other "world" religions are treated romantically because they are exotic to the "American experience."

Nevertheless, John Brown was a strong, Bible-believing Christian and his theology was premised on living for the gospel, dying for Christ, and having a strong hope in the resurrection. Brown did not fear death or the gallows because he was truly convicted of the hope of the resurrection and the sovereign purpose of God. This may or may not seem bizarre to you (I do not know what your religious views are), but I share a very similar theology to Brown and I understand his faith. Many Christians have thus given their lives for "the gospel," whether being persecuted, or in life-time service to the poor and sick, or in spreading the teachings of Jesus to the world, or in pursuing social reform and justice. Brown's genius, however, was that he fused evangelical witness with militant reform in the cause of black people. To Brown, esp. in the late 1850s, to live for Christ was to live for liberty, and to die for Christ was a happy ending because he held the hope of the believer, not just in going to heaven, but in the resurrection to come.

Lastly, if you will kindly bear with me, we have a different "read" of Pottawatomie. I believe there is ample argument--more than conventional scholarship has allowed--for the killings as a counter-terrorist effort. The late Boyd Stutler, the foremost John Brown documentarian, once referred to the Doyles as "bad eggs that needed killing." I argue that Doyles, Wilkinson, and Sherman were collaborators with terrorists, and that it is time to stop labeling Brown as the terrorist--as has become fashionable these days (among white scholars, I should add). The Pottawatomie five were not killed because they were pro-slavery people; there was another criterion involved and it had to do with their imminent designs and agenda, and it was this that Brown and his men cut off at the root. It is ugly and bloody, but I think that, at the very least, Brown should be given the consideration of having come to the conclusion (and not in a vacuum) that this had to be done to secure their own lives and security as a particularly despised abolitionist family. There were many pro-slavery people in the territory in those days, but the Browns attacked only certain people because they had specific reason to do so. Bear in mind too, that the men who followed Brown were fully persuaded, especially Henry Thompson, who always argued until his dying day that the killings were absolutely necessary even though he himself was sickened by the bloodshed. Theodore Weiner, a former slave owner turned free state man, also participated in the killings, so that should also serve as a barometer of the intent and circumstances. In an age of terrorism, I think it is time that we start recognizing that Brown's position was the sympathetic one, not the Doyles and their ilk. Mahala Doyle had a right to resent Brown's homicidal action--even bad people have a right to grieve. But at the time she knew her husband and sons were up to NO GOOD and said as much; later in years she lied, even though Brown had actually spared her youngest son, who was likely a terrorist thug in training. As I mention in my latest book, the Doyle who lived was afterward willing to die for the Confederate cause and for slavery, so the apple didn't fall far from the tree. These were not good people and frankly in a world where good and bad people live, I vote for the Browns, who took their own security in hand in the midst of a politically chaotic and white supremacist flux. I am not at all troubled by Brown. Every nation has its killers, and at least Brown was among those who did not go to war for love of money, theft of land, oppression of human souls, or boastful pride. He killed necessarily and he killed minimally by intention. Had Brown had his way, there would have been far less blood shed and slavery would have collapsed with far less human loss.

Regardless, congratulations and best wishes for the book, the fine blog, and all your endeavors. . . .--LD

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Pictured above: The house where Brown was born in Torrington, Conn., 207 years ago today. The house is no longer standing but the site is designated with a historical marker

Happy Birthday Old Man,
Marvelous Old Man!

May 9, 1800-May 9, 2007

"God makes him the text, and all he asks of our comparatively cowardly lips is to preach the sermon, and say to the American people that, whether that old man succeeded in a worldly sense or not, he stood a representative of law, of government, of right, of justice, of religion, and they were pirates that gathered about him, and sought to wreak vengeance by taking his life. . . ."

Wendell Phillips

"He could not have been tried by his peers, for his peers did not exist."

Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, May 06, 2007

John Brown's Liberation Theology: How and Why He Left Markings in His Jail House Bible

In the last days of his life, John Brown--a prisoner awaiting his execution in CharlesTown, Virginia (today, West Virginia)--was absorbed with the reading of the Bible. While this was nothing new for Brown, it is not clear whether the particular Bible he had on hand was one that he brought with him during the raid on Harper's Ferry (Oct. 1859), or if he acquired it during his imprisonment. His failure and defeat at Harper’s Ferry are well known matters of historical record, culminating in his arrest, conviction, and execution on December 2, 1859. In contrast, few know about his jailhouse Bible. (Oswald G. Villard made note of it in the notes of his 1910 biography, but subsequently historians have overlooked it, being generally disinterested in the relevance of Brown’s religious life.) It seems more likely the Bible was given to him by his captors in fulfillment of a request, for if he did not have a Bible in jail, then most certainly he would have asked for one from his jailer.

John Brown’s jailhouse Bible was the standard English version at the time for Protestants (and for many years to come)--the Authorized, or King James Version of 1611. Brown's Bible was printed by the American Bible Society of New York, and measures 6 by 4 inches, and has a brown leather cover. The chapter numbers are set off by Roman numerals and the verses by Arabic numbers.

Those who observed or visited John Brown in jail could not help but see his devotion to reading the Bible. His guards, the jailor's staff, his physicians and other attendants, and even curious onlookers inevitably would have seen Brown poring over the pages of his King James Bible. Like all evangelical Christians, he believed (as he put it in his 1857 autobiographical sketch) in “the divine authenticity of the Bible.” In contemporary terms, we would say that Brown believed that the Bible was divinely-inspired in its writing by the infallible guidance of the Holy Spirit. A Calvinist, Brown believed in the great themes of the Protestant Reformation–sola fide (by faith alone) and sola scriptura (by scripture alone). Indeed, he ate, slept, and drank the Bible, so to speak, and in his last will and testament, he even set aside the little money he had acquired for the purchase of Bibles for his children and grandchildren. When he left home to return to the troubled Kansas territory in 1857, Brown had similarly left an inscribed Bible for his young daughter Ellen, writing:
This Bible presented to my dearly Beloved Daughter, Ellen Brown is not intended for common use; but to be carefully preserved for her and by her in remembrance of her father (of whose care and attentions she was deprived in her infancy, he being absent in the territory of Kansas, from the summer of 1855.

May the Holy Spirit of God incline your heart in earliest infancy to receive the truth in the love of it; and to govern your thoughts, words, and actions by its wise and holy precepts is my best wish and most earnest prayer to Him in whose care I leave you. Amen

From your affectionate Father,

John Brown
April 2, 1857.
In a similar manner–shortly before his execution--Brown thus inscribed some thoughts and signed his jailhouse Bible, making a gift of it to John Frederick Blessing, a baker and confectioner. Blessing had ministered to the needs and tastes of Brown and the other Harper's Ferry raiders awaiting execution in the Charles Town jail and became friendly with the old man throughout his several weeks of imprisonment. Brown so inscribed the flyleaf:
John F Blessing Esq of Charlestown Va. with the best wishes of the undersigned and his sincere thanks for many acts of kindness, received. There is no commentary in the world so good in order to a right understanding of this blessed book as an honest Childlike and teachable Spirit. John Brown, Charlestown, 29th Nov 1859.
Blessing kept John Brown's Bible in his family for many years, but it was later sold to a collector in Chicago, whose materials on Brown ended up in the Chicago Historical Museum, where the Bible is located today.

--- --- ---

Prisoner Brown not only read the Bible constantly, but he marked its pages in several different ways, although no margin notes of any kind appear throughout this Bible. Throughout the Bible, at certain precise points, Brown deliberately folded page corners (dog-eared) to mark a text. More often, he drew ink lines along larger sections of text, or enclosed individual verses in ink lines shaped like parentheses. Apparently, when he read a section that he wished to underscore or mark, he must have first bent the page corners. Usually, chapters with dog-eared pages are also marked at points with ink lines, but not always. For instance, Brown bent the page corners in the epistles of Paul to the Romans, chapter 11, and Galatians, chapter 6, but made no marks in ink.

By my counting, there are about 35 dog-eared pages, with nine only from the New Testament. The overwhelming majority of ink marks and dog-eared markings are in the Old Testament. The Old Testament books John Brown preferred in this case were: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Judges, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel--of which Judges, at chapter 12, and Psalms, at Psalm 42, are marked only by dog-eared pages. The New Testament books marked are Matthew, Luke, John, Romans, Galatians, I & II John, and Revelation. In fact, only passages in Matthew and Revelation are marked with ink lines.

The markings may seem inexact on occasion, but for the most part the verses are clearly set off by Brown's ink marks. There are also periodic ink spots throughout the text that suggest that as Brown was reading he rested his pen point on the pages. These may also constitute markings too, but more likely reveal a habit that Brown exhibited while reading through the Bible.

While Brown’s reasons for marking and bequeathing the Bible were clearly spiritual, his intention was probably also to provide a spiritual witness and justification for his attack on Harper's Ferry. That Brown's passage marks ended up being noted in the New York Illustrated News eight days after his death would have pleased him. This may have been what he actually hoped would happen--that his markings, like his words, would posthumously present his case and stand as a witness on his behalf, and on behalf of the sacred cause of anti-slavery. On the flyleaf opposite Brown's dedication, he seems to have written of himself in the third person, adding: "These leaves are turned down & marked by him while in prison at Charlestown, Va. But a small part of those passages which in the most positive language condemn Oppression & violence are marked."

John Brown knew that he had won a high level of celebrity during his imprisonment, at least in the North. But he also apparently intended that his Bible speak for him after his death, and that by guiding the curious observer across the pages of his Bible, his ink line notes and dog-eared pages would serve as a kind of spiritual autobiography and apologetic.

By emphasizing verses that "condemn Oppression & violence," Brown was hardly presenting the whole scope of his interests or beliefs as a Christian. The Bible's pages are curiously lacking in markings pertaining to matters that were of equal importance to him, such as the doctrines of divine election and predestination, the divinity of Jesus Christ, and other essentials of his Reformed faith. The Bible Brown passes into Blessing is itself a message to the world should they have eyes to see and ears to hear. It is John Brown's theology of liberation, just as it is a rejoinder to the Christianity of his critics in the North and South.

Below are the citations–book, chapter, and verse--that follow the ink line markings of John Brown's 1854 edition of the Bible. A careful study of these verses will provide a sense of how John Brown read the Bible, at least as it pertained to his struggle against slavery. However, they will also provide a means to shape our understanding of him, both explicitly and implicitly. Of course these are biblical texts, first and foremost. But they also serve as a kind of reflection of John Brown. Just as Thomas Jefferson's textual excisions of the supernatural from the New Testament gospels tell us something of his religious and moral character, John Brown's biblical markings tell us about his religious and moral conviction and character. Indeed, they may very well prove to provide a unique and brilliantly crafted self-portrait--a self-portrait that Brown certainly intended as part of his legacy.–Louis A. DeCaro, Jr.


5:19-6:13; 6:1-13; 15:13-14; 18:13-14; 41:11-13; 42:21-22; 50:15-21

1:9-22; 2:11-15; 3:6-9, 16-18, 22; 4:24-28; 5:13-23; 6:4; 9:4-5; 15:1-13; 18:9-11; 21:2-11, 15-16, 26-28; 22:21-24; 23:1-9

19:13, 15, 18, 34-37; 25:8-17, 30-55; 26:35-37

1:17; 9:17-19; 15:12-19; 16:11-14, 18-20; 21:10-14; 24:7, 14-15, 22; 26:6-10

24:17-19; 29:12-14; 31:7-8, 13-16; 31:38-32:5; 32:1-5

14:20-21, 31; 22:16; 22:22-23

1:1-4; 3:16-18; 4:1-2; 5:8; 7:7

1:2, 16-20, 23; ; 4:1-6; 9:13-17; 33:15; 40:7-8; 42:7; 49:14-16, 24-26; 52:5; 54:14; 56:1; 58:3-8; 59:3-10, 13-16

2:7-8, 34-35; 2:34-35; 5:13, 25-31; 6:13-17; 7:1-9; 7:24-30; 9:1-9; 10:17-21; 22:1-4

7:1-27; 8:12-18; 18:1-32


9:13; 12:7; 21:37-38; 23:14, 23, 29-34; 25:44-46


Saturday, May 05, 2007

John Brown Spirit of Freedom Weekend in Crawford County, Pa., May 5-6, 2007

The sixth annual John Brown Spirit of Freedom Weekend opens Saturday and continues through Sunday. The freedom weekend celebration coincides with the abolitionist's birth on May 9, 1800.

Donna Coburn, who operates the old farm site with her husband Gary, said that ever since they opened the museum in 2001, "I have just been amazed at how many people are aware and follow the story of John Brown to this day."

Brown is best remembered for his raid at Harpers Ferry in what was then Virginia on Oct. 16, 1859. Brown, and 21 followers, intended to free slaves in nearby plantations and spark a general rebellion against slavery throughout the south.

Their effort was unsuccessful and he and his surviving followers were executed within months of the raid.

Years earlier. however, Brown had a farm and a tannery business near the Crawford County community of New Richmond. The farm is located on one side of John Brown Road and the tannery is located directly across the road. John Brown Road is located off of Route 77. The farm and tannery are 12 miles from Meadville and eight miles from Cambridge Springs.

"He spent more time here than any other place," Donna Coburn said.

Food will be available throughout the weekend. It will be cooked by members of the New Richmond United Methodist Church. The proceeds from the food will help the church's building fund.

"There will be dinners each day for $5, Saturday will be pulled pork and on Sunday barbecue chicken," Coburn said. "Throughout the day will be hot dogs, hamburgers, meatballs and the like."

All events are free of charge.

Know Before You Go
What: Sixth annual John Brown Spirit of Freedom Weekend
Where: John Brown farm, off Route 77 (signs will be posted)
When: Saturday through Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m.

Source: Greg Spinks, "Festival coming this weekend," GoCrawford County.com [Crawford County, Pa.], Retrieved on May 4, 2007 from: