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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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Monday, May 31, 2010

A Memorial Day Tribute to the Fallen Slaves of the U.S.A.
While the Memorial Day holiday is focused upon the fallen soldiers of this nation, it is a good thing to remember those who suffered and died under the monstrous regime of Slavery U.S.A., generations and millions of black people who have been overlooked except as subjects for academics to write about.

The soil of the U.S.A. is replete with the bones of African and African American people. These people lived and died as chattel slaves over a period of centuries, victims whose labor was consistently stolen, whose bodies and personal lives were used, abused, and dominated by white society, and whose suffering has been overlooked, trivialized, or sentimentalized by many in white society.

Where is the national monument to the slave in Washington D.C.? What acknowledgement has been made by the federal government, at least in expressing some official regret for imbedding slavery in our nation’s constitution? After all, slavery was not a southern institution in actuality: it was an institution of the U.S.A., and it was perpetrated upon black people in New York as well as South Carolina, in John Brown’s Connecticut as well as Robert E. Lee’s Virginia. But simply raise the issue of reparations in a political context and half the white people of this nation fly into a rage: “Get over it!” they say, “slavery was a long time ago!” And the inevitable: “I never owned a slave, why do I have to apologize!”

Of course, given the fact that slavery was a legal, constitutional matter, there is a basis in law for some kind of reparations discussion. Scholars and activists may argue over the nature of reparations, but certainly we are not so far removed by historical distance from the days of chattel slavery that something cannot be done. At the very least, some kind of official apology, some historical monument, some day of remembrance, ought to be mandated by the federal government and by state governments.

The complete lack of conscience regarding the remembrance of the enslaved of this nation is adding insult to injury. How can we pretend that slavery was a sad and inconvenient arrangement, something we are not quite proud of, yet something we don’t quite feel so badly about—at least not enough to consider the reality of the “peculiar institution” in all its bloody horror and capitalistic benefits. Does it seem a mere inconvenience that generations of black women and girls were systematically manhandled, molested, and raped, and that the offspring of rape were also enslaved? Does it seem a footnote of history that black men were brutalized, emasculated, humiliated, and violated as slaves of white society? Does it seem a small matter that stolen black labor enriched the banks of this nation North and South, and that the just wages of generations of black people were robbed and invested in the economy of this nation, enriching production, commerce, and insurance companies? Does it seem of little matter that all of this was done under the pretense of a Christian and democratic society that pretended itself to be noble, godly, and just?

John Brown, among other devoted anti-slavery people, recognized the malignant nature of slavery in the U.S.A. Yet while he was not the only one to oppose slavery, he was the only one in his era with an actual, functional plan to move against slavery. In this sense, Brown was not literally a revolutionist: he was definitive in not seeking to overthrow the government itself and this he made clear in his papers and official documents. What he sought to do was to destroy slavery in the hopes of saving the nation, to excise it like some cancerous tumor from the body politic of his beloved country. The reason he sought to do so, in part, was because he had a real historical memory that entailed a consciousness of the travesty of slavery—something that typically his greatest critics, even today, do not demonstrate. It is no accident that the people who hate or dismiss John Brown the most in our culture tend to be the least inclined to acknowledge the expansive wickedness of chattel slavery in their nation’s history. Such people would rather re-murder John Brown by way of half-truths and distortions than own up to the truth of their nation’s (and sometimes their ancestors’) barbarity, cruelty, and criminality as it pertains to black chattel slavery.

Before a monument is built in remembrance of John Brown, there should be a monument built in memory of the enslaved people of this nation. Were Brown himself alive, he would be the first to say so. The failure of this nation to remember them, or to honor their hardships and unacknowledged and stolen labor, is a blot upon the record of this country.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Captain" South Lynn Honored: He Restored John Brown's Maryland Headquarters

The Kennedy Farm has been restored by "Captain" Lynn
to resemble its appearance at the time Brown used it as
his base of operations prior to the Harpers Ferry raid in 1859
"Captain" South Lynn

HAGERSTOWN, MD. — (AP) The owner of the western Maryland farmhouse from which radical abolitionist John Brown launched his ill-fated raid on a federal arsenal in 1859 is being honored for his restoration work.  South Lynn, owner of a hardwood flooring business in Washington, received the John Frye Historical Preservation Award on Tuesday from the Washington County Commissioners.
Lynn bought the Kennedy Farmhouse near Dargan in the early 1970s and spent more than $100,000 in personal, state and federal funds restoring it.  The log structure was the staging area last October for a 150th anniversary commemoration of Brown's march with 18 followers to Harpers Ferry, W.Va.
Brown was captured and hanged for treason. The raid ignited passions that led to the start of the Civil War 18 months later.

Monday, May 24, 2010

John Brown Activist Martha Swan to Speak in Peterboro, NY, June 12

PETERBORO, N.Y. — Martha Swan, founding director of John Brown Lives! in Lake Placid, will bring reports from the North Country to the Smithfield Community Center in Peterboro on Saturday, June 12 at noon.

During her program “The World that Made John Brown — and The World Yet to be Made,” Swan will review the many activities held throughout 2009 commemorating John Brown and Harpers Ferry.

Swan initiated and produced the "Dreaming of Timbuctoo" Traveling Exhibition that forced a re-thinking of Gerrit Smith’s antebellum “scheme of justice and benevolence” championing black voting rights and the redistribution of land to 3,000 free black New Yorkers. That “scheme” led Brown to settle in the Adirondacks and choose it as his final resting place. The work of John Brown Lives! has been featured in the New York Times, on National Public Radio and in newspapers and other media outlets across the state.

The John Brown program is part of the National Abolition Hall of Fame & Museum (NAHOF) Open House at 5255 Pleasant Valley Road in Peterboro, which will be held during the 18th annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend Saturday and Sunday, June 12-13. Members of the Cabinet of Freedom for the Hall of Fame will be at the abolition exhibit and the newly-installed audio-visual exhibit on the inaugural meeting of the New York State Anti-Slavery Society held Oct. 22, 1835.

Peterboro Civil War Weekend is an educational and fundraising event sponsored by the Town of Smithfield, the Smithfield Community Association, and private donors. Proceeds from the event support the preservation and promotion of the heritage of the Town of Smithfield.

During the event, Peterboro re-lives the period of the mid-1800s when the hamlet held national recognition because of Gerrit Smith’s Underground Railroad station, the visitations of famous abolitionists and the connection with John Brown that sparked the war between the states.

Peterboro sites are on the Heritage NY Underground Railroad Trail and on the National Park Service Network to Freedom Underground Railroad Trail. New exhibits at four sites will be open. Saturday, June 12 hours for the event are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, June 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $3 for ages 6–12, and free for children under 6. Admission to the to the special Civil War concert at 8 p.m. may be paid at the door. Parking is free.

For more information on Peterboro Civil War Weekend, call 315-684-9022 or visit: www.sca-peterboro.org

Source: "John Brown Program June 12 in Peterboro." Oneida Daily Dispatch online (May 21, 2010)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Osawatomie Notebook: Remembering John Henrie Kagi, John Brown’s Noble Lieutenant

John Brown was suffering from ague in the fall of 1858, and his trusted lieutenant, John Kagi, nursed him back to health in the Adair Cabin in Osawatomie.  Ague was a form of malaria that affected Osawatomie’s pioneers because the community was built near the Marais des Cygnes River, which means “marsh of the swans” in French, a marshy river in the 1850s. Mosquitoes bred in the marsh and infected the pioneers with the disease, which was a common illness in early Osawatomie.

Concerning Brown’s convalescence in the Adair Cabin, Kagi wrote to his sister and father: “I have just received your letter of 1st of Sept. — having just arrived in Lawrence. I left the vicinity of [Fort] Scott & [Chanton’s] Trading Post some five or six weeks since, but Old B. was again quite sick while on the road, so that we were compelled to lay up at Osawatomie for a month, during which time, by my taking care of him, I was taken down, but only for a week. I have now acquired a tolerable degree of health. It is quite sickly in all the southern part of the [Territory]. B. has now quite recovered.”

Despite Brown’s and Kagi’s illnesses, and the rigors and dangers of the conflict in Bleeding Kansas, Kagi’s resolve was not weakened, but rather strengthened.

“I am exceedingly sorry to [learn] of your destitute condition and of your failure of health,” Kagi wrote. “But I believe there are better times dawning, to my sight, at least. I cannot now laboring and waiting without present reward, for myself alone, it is a future reward for mankind and my dear father and sister. There can be no doubt of the reward in the end, or of the drawing very near of the success of a great cause which is to earn it. Few of my age have toiled harder or suffered more in this cause than I, yet I regret nothing that I have done; nor am I in any [discouraged] at the future. It is bright and good, and treads on to meet the hopeful with rapid strides.”
John Brown and his men believed that slavery was a malevolent stain on America’s moral and spiritual fabric, and they were willing to endure illness, fight and risk death to end it.
 John Brown was preparing for his Harper’s Ferry raid in 1858, and was gathering arms and support for his Virginia campaign. Kagi worked to gather arms and troops in Kansas Territory in 1858 and wrote: “Things are now quiet, generally. I am collecting arms & c. belonging to J.B. [so] that we may command them at any time. All difficulties in the way of our speculation have now disappeared or have been surmounted, and we only await the favorable season. Do not fear. [Did] you know detail, which I cannot give, you would look upon matters with a different eye. Not one of the most fearful and [cautious] who do know these have the least doubt of a speedy and certain success.”

John Brown and his men believed that slavery was a malevolent stain on America’s moral and spiritual fabric, and they were willing to endure illness, fight and risk death to end it. Osawatomie was the headquarters of Brown’s abolitionist crusade in Kansas Territory. 

Grady Atwater is the administrator of the John Brown State Historic Site in Osawatomie, Kansas

Monday, May 17, 2010

Closed For Now: State Budget Delayed, Brown Farm Shut Down 
The late Charles (37X) Kenyatta, associate of Malcolm X, poses
in front of the John Brown farm house in April 1999 (photo by 
L. DeCaro Jr.) 

Beginning today (May 17), New York is shutting down or keeping closed dozens of parks and historic sites because of the budget crisis.  That means the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid, along with other New York state parks are being closed.

The John Brown Farm, located just outside Lake Placid, is usually open for tours and other programs by May 1 but will remain closed for now, according to caretaker Brendan Mills. "We were holding out hope that the budget would be passed and we could open, but they had to go ahead with that," Mills said.

Most employees at the affected parks and historic sites are being transferred to facilities that will remain open, although Mills said he will continue to work at John Brown Farm and the site's grounds will remain open.

Mills admits he's frustrated that he can't do his job, "I want to give tours to their public," he said.  "I want to do my job to the fullest. We're just waiting for a budget."

The state budget, due April 1, is more than six weeks late.

State Parks spokesman Dan Keefe said the 55 New York parks and historic sites that will be shut down or won't open for the season are the same ones Gov. David Paterson slated for closure or service reductions back in February. Although the Senate and Assembly have voted to restore $11.3 million in parks funding Paterson wanted to cut, lawmakers have yet to adopt a state budget. "So at this point we have no alternative but to go forward with the [closure] plan," Keefe said.

He said there is a chance some of the parks or historic sites could reopen for the season if state lawmakers adopt a budget that restores funding for them.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Khalid Akikiiki Gamba: "Let's Never Forget John Brown"

Last Sunday marked John Brown's 210th birthday. After enduring a month of states celebrating the Confederacy, let's hear it for abolitionist John Brown.

Brown was born on May 9, 1800. When he took over Harpers Ferry on Oct. 16, 1859, he was not only drawing attention to the crime of slavery, he was also trying to provide the spark for a slave rebellion. It was a direct challenge to slaveholders everywhere and to white supremacy.

And even after he was tried and convicted of treason against the state of Virginia, even as he awaited the gallows, he did not relent.

"You may dispose of me easily, but this question is still to be settled -- the Negro question -- the end of that is not yet," he said. Prophetically, he added: "I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood."

Brown's willingness to give his life for equality and freedom puts the lie to all the efforts to recast the Civil War as the "War of Northern Aggression" and to sugarcoat the honoring of the Confederacy with such slogans as "Heritage, Not Hate."

We blacks know in our bones that Confederate History Month is nothing more than the glorification of white supremacy. We shouldn't stand for it. Neither should any American who believes in the words of the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal."

The glorification of the Confederacy is mostly about white resistance to black advances

Let's never forget John Brown. Let's never forget the other abolitionists, black and white, who campaigned against slavery. Let's make sure that their stories are told in our national parks and on the markers and monuments and at the battle sites that serve as tourist attractions for Civil War buffs.

The glorification of the Confederacy is mostly about white resistance to black advances, white resentment at the erosion of white privilege. It's been that way since the 1880s and 1890s.

We should not forget that even during enslavement and the war people of African descent fought back. There were the five black men among Brown's raiding party -- Lewis Leary, Dangerfield Newby, Shields Green, Osborne Perry Anderson and John Anthony Copeland Jr. -- along with the 16 white men who followed Brown to Harpers Ferry.

The fight to protect white privilege goes on. We have to fight back by being honest about the history of our republic. And we have to tell all our stories.

Khalid Akikiiki Gamba (a.k.a. Kevin Alexander Gray) is the author of the recently published books,  Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics and The Decline of Black Politics: From Malcolm X to Barack Obama.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

John Brown's Birthday Celebrated on May 8: Graveside Ceremony Attended by Descendants of the Old Man and Harpers Ferry Raider Copeland

Justus Lucas, a member of the Frederick Douglass Club at James P. Duffy School No. 12 in Rochester, NY, gives one of Douglass’ speeches at a wreath-laying ceremony at John Brown’s gravesite on Saturday, May 8, 2010. Looking on, from left, are state Sen. Betty Little, Brown descendant Alice Keesey Mecoy, John Copeland descendant Brenda Pitts, Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward and North Elba town Supervisor Roby Politi. (Nathan Brown - Adirondack Enterprise photo)

LAKE PLACID, NY - The people who braved Saturday's cold and wind to come to John Brown's 210th birthday party left with some reason to hope that the historic site will stay open.

State Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, told the crowd that Parks Commissioner Carol Ash has said she will do everything she can to make sure the 41 state parks, and especially 14 historic sites, that are being considered for closure remain funded. Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, R-Willsboro, said the state has an "obligation and a duty" to make sure historic sites are kept open.

Numerous speakers and performers took part in Saturday's commemoration at the farm, where Brown and what are believed to be 11 of his followers are buried. Students in the Frederick Douglass Club at James P. Duffy School No. 12 came all the way from Rochester to participate, reciting Douglass' speeches, and students from Newcomb Central School performed "Take it to the Top," a song they wrote about slavery.

Brown's actual birthday was Sunday, May 9. The park closures and service reductions proposed in February would save $6.3 million, of which the John Brown farm represents $40,000.

As well as Brown, the event was meant to honor John A. Copeland, a free black who took part in the raid on Harper's Ferry. Brenda Pitts, a descendant of Copeland, was there and spoke briefly, as did Alice Keesey Mecoy, a descendant of John Brown who was heavily involved in the events last year commemorating the 200th anniversary of the raid and Brown's execution.

Franny Nudelman, an associate professor in the English Department at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, talked about the treatment of Copeland's body. While Brown's body ended up being given to his family and buried in North Elba, Copeland's was stolen by medical students and dissected. The corpses of black people were frequently treated this way during this time, Nudelman said; medical students got bodies for research from black cemeteries. Virginia Gov. Henry Wise apparently considered giving Brown's body the same treatment, knowing the symbolic power of the corpse, but decided against it. A couple of years later, Union soldiers were singing about "John Brown's body," which was "a-moulderin' in the grave," but "his soul was marching on."

"From the moment he was sentenced to death, his body became a source of controversy and struggle," Nudelman said.

Reggie Harris set to music and sang a letter Copeland wrote to his parents in the days before his execution.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

“His Words Still Point to the Future”: Novelist Terry Bisson Remembers John Brown

This article was published this past October, for the sesquicentennial of the Harper's Ferry raid, and unfortunately I missed it at the time. I'm pleased to present it in the month of John Brown's 210th birthday by permission of the author--LD

I dreamed I saw John Brown last night.

No surprise. The old man is still very much with us. What some saw as his madness, and others as his martyrdom, is still discussed and debated, celebrated and vilified in scores of new articles and books every year. Save perhaps for Lincoln, no American of his day has had more words thrown at him than Old Captain John Brown: the scourge of white supremacy.

Abolition was the great cause of his day. Brown was an abolitionist with a difference. He saw to the heart of the matter: that slavery was war, the war of one portion of humanity against another. Unlike many in the Abolitionist movement, he regarded the humanity of Africans as a given; it was the humanity of the white race that was in question.

Brown wasn’t big on democracy. Or compromise. The federal government was in a contortionist mode those days, trying to accommodate both slavery and expansion, but Brown wasn’t a bender. He wasn’t good at seeing both sides, but he could spot the hinges of history.

Kansas was one.

He carried arms to the new territory, which was under siege by southern “Border Ruffians,” determined to make Kansas a slave state with a campaign of murder and arson. The town of Lawrence was sacked and burned, and the free-staters intimidated, until a single cold-blooded night of terror — five “ruffians” pulled from their beds and put to the sword — gave the Southerners pause and the free-staters heart.

Brown neither claimed nor denied the bloodshed in the Swamp of the Swan, but both sides knew who had done it. It horrified many but brought others to his side. The men who sought the old man out were the best of their day: dreamers perhaps, idealists for sure, but men with grit.

Mounted and armed, Brown’s guerrilla band defeated or held off forces many times their size at Osawatomie and Black Jack. They even conducted cross-border raids into slave Missouri to carry off slaves and smuggle them to Canada. Tubman had done this in silence and secrecy. Brown and his men (who included his sons) did it on horseback with Army colts, frontier style.

The Eastern papers loved it. Osawatomie Brown, Kansas Brown, was feted and feared. Then, like a fox, he disappeared. There was a price on his head but none dared try and collect it. Only his trusted friends saw him as he made his way back East: Frederick Douglass, the “Secret Six,” Emerson and the Concord crowd. Brown was back with bigger plans than Kansas. He meant to take the war to the South, “into Africa.”

Harpers Ferry, then Virginia, was the north of the Old South, where the Potomac plunged through the Blue Ridge only sixty miles from the nation’s capital. Free blacks outnumbered slaves, and the train to DC took only an hour or so. Brown’s target was a federal arsenal. Not for the aged muskets (he had better guns) but for the symbolism, the acknowledgement that slavery was Federal and not just Southern.

He gathered his fighters in a farmhouse in the hills. Seasoned Kansas vets were joined by new recruits, including both escaped slaves and free blacks from Oberlin. Out of respect for their captain they read the Bible, but they knew their Tom Paine and David Walker better.

Brown wanted his friend Frederick Douglass along (to “hive the bees”) but Douglass backed away, convinced that Harpers Ferry was “a perfect steel trap.” Trap or hinge? It was in the balance. The two embraced and parted. Shields Green, an escaped slave who had come with Douglass, left with Brown, saying, “I believe I go with the old man.”

And so it was. Could twenty-two men, well armed, disciplined, determined — change the course of history? Brown thought so. His plan was to strike and then fade into the mountains: to embolden the slaves, to terrify the slaveowners, and to force the wavering abolitionists to see the issue for what it was: war. Had he succeeded, the Civil War would have been started not by the secessionists but by the abolitionists, and the issue from the first shot would have been freedom, not union. The conflict might have been shorter and the outcome less bloody.

But it was not to be.

At Harpers Ferry, Brown faltered. He let the train go through. He took hostages. He dithered, he delayed too long in the town, to the dismay of his lieutenants. After a string of brilliant successes, Brown failed only once, but as Che noted a century later, once is all you get.

Wounded, captured, surrounded by his enemies and his dying men, Captain Brown fought on with the only weapons left to him: his words. He was generous to his adversaries, gallant and unremorseful to the end, conscious both of his failure (“By my own folly”) and the righteousness of his deeds.

Kentucky sent a hemp rope and John Brown was hanged. Bells tolled throughout the North; the South was silent, apprehensive, and though they knew it not, doomed. Old Captain John Brown’s cortege was attended by mourners all the way to the Adirondacks, where he was buried. The blacks he loved knew him well and mourned him as a fallen fighter. Victor Hugo, Thoreau, and Emerson mourned him as a martyr. The abolitionists, Unionists now, marched into the Americas’ greatest and most terrible war under his banner, singing “John Brown’s Body.”

He was a man of his time, far removed from ours in spirit and substance: and yet his deeds still shape our present and his words still point to our future, as America boils in rage and uncertainty under its first black president.

“You may dispose of me very easily. I am nearly disposed of now. But this question is still to be settled, this Negro question, I mean. The end of that is not yet....”

John Brown.

Alive as you or me.

About the author: Terry Bisson is a science fiction writer [visit his website, Terry Bisson of the Universe]. His “alternate history” of what might have happened if John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry had succeeded, Fire on the Mountain (1988), has been republished in a new edition by PM Press.

Friday, May 07, 2010

John Brown's descendant to visit farm

LAKE PLACID, NY — The John Brown Farm historic site will host the annual celebration of John Brown's birth Saturday, May 8, 2 p.m.

The keynote address will be provided by Franny Nudelman, author of "John Brown's Body: Slavery, Violence and the Culture of War," and performances will be given by Reggie Harris, Ness White, and the Frederick Douglass Student lub of Rochester.

The celebration will be highlighted by a visit from Alice Keesey McCoy, Brown's great-great-great-granddaughter, and Brenda Pitts, a descendant of John A. Copeland, a Black American Harper's Ferry Raider.

John Brown Day is being organized by John Brown Lives! in cooperation with John Brown Coming Home, the John Brown Farm Historic Site, the New York State Archive's Partnership Trust and the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism. John Brown Farm is located at the end of the John Brown Road, just off Old Military Road and behind the Olympic Jumps.

John Brown Day 2010 is free, open to the public, and will be held outdoors. People are urged to dress for the weather. For more information, contact Martha Swan at 962-4758 or Naj Wikoff at 523-2445 ext. 108.

Source: Denpubs.com (May 4, 2010)

Thursday, May 06, 2010

A Quick Entry on Latest Movie.com: "Santa Fe Trail"

The screenplay for this film was written by a native Virginian who believed in the “unnecessary” view of the Civil War. It portrays the future Confederate leadership as completely heroic and perhaps gave the 20th century its worst popular notion of John Brown. There is not only a lack of faithfulness to historical detail in this film, but its interpretation is patently anti-Brown, indifferent to the real issues that Brown understood, and completely ignorant (as are most people who think they know) of the real John Brown in history. Perhaps people may find this film entertaining, but you have to be someone who enjoys old films and screen stars; apart from that, there is nothing of enduring value and it is long overdue for a serious cinematic endeavor to engage the Harper’s Ferry raid and Raider and put the Southern officers (who shortly betrayed the Union and did far more damage than John Brown ever would have done) who arrested him in a fairer light. Movies, after all, aren’t going to give you solid history. If you want to know who John Brown was, read my biography, or that of Evan Carton or David Reynolds. But surely we are ready for a more fair and realistic portrayal of the last days of the antebellum era and the man who represents freedom to blacks and (curiously) insanity and “terrorism” to whites. I wonder why?

This may not get posted. See Latestmovie.com

Sunday, May 02, 2010

John Brown and "The Story of Us": More Docu-Crap

My brother-in-law called me at 10:45 P.M. to tell me that there was something about John Brown on the History Channel, so I quickly switched the channel just in time to see the first few minutes of the segment on the Old Man.  I was appalled.  In those few minutes, "The Story of Us" not only visually misrepresented John Brown by using an actor that didn't resemble him in the least (not even have his famous but cropped beard), but misrepresented the facts and extended conventional errors that have plagued the story of Brown and the Harper's Ferry raid for many years.  It was almost as if the script was written by a careless college sophomore and one of those National Park Service "authorities" at Harper's Ferry.  Honestly, it was so bad, so poorly framed and presented that I didn't wait until after the station break before I switched back to the movie I was watching before.   In plain words, it stunk.  It sucked.  It was docu-crap, the kind pseudo-educational material that will get bought up by public schools and shown to countless school kids over the next decade, further misleading and undermining everything that serious scholars are trying to accomplish.

If I haven't been clear enough, let me reiterate that the official rating by this blogger of "The Story of Us" as far as its John Brown segment is concerned is zero, nada, nothing--less than nothing.  Don't watch it.  Don't record it and save it for later.  And my goodness, don't buy it to show to your students.  It offers nothing worth watching regarding John Brown.  Indeed, whoever wrote the script should be driven out of town at the sharp end of a pike.
Historic John Brown Photo Chronology Exhibit Featured at the Kansas State Historical Society Until July: A Note from Jean Libby

Dear friends,

I am honored to announce the move of the traveling copy of the John Brown Photo Chronology exhibition for its next display at the Kansas State Library and Archives Historical Research Gallery in Topeka from April 26, 2010 to July 31, 2010.

Much gratitude is expressed to the National Archives and Records Administration at Philadelphia for hosting the exhibition from mid-November 2009 to April 2010 and greatly improving it with frames (which they donated) and educational text panels.

An exhibition is a living thing because it has the elasticity of change and improvement with contribution by the archives which own the originals. The biggest change is the addition of the reproduction of a salt print of the bearded John Brown by M. M. Lawrence, the original daguerreotype photographer.

The Curator of Photography at the Library of Congress, Carol M. Johnson, placed the M. M. Lawrence print online for research in November 2009. As well as a new panel for the exhibition (including the permanent exhibition at the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park) I have created an insert page for the published catalog, which is the "Look Inside the Book" feature for an upcoming conference.

The revelation of the M. M. Lawrence print and the continued contribution of historian friends and John and Mary Brown's descendants, Paul Keesey and his daughter Alice Keesey Mecoy, provide the frame for the timetable of the making of the bearded photograph into discrete versions from one portrait sitting, which occurred in late May, 1858, in New York City.

What is intriguing for historians and biographers is that these versions were directed by John Brown himself in the spring of 1859 as he was preparing to liberate slaves in Virginia in the coming months, beginning at Harpers Ferry.

I welcome communication on these findings and will be pleased to mail copies of the complete academic narrative of the exhibition at individual request.

Many thanks to Leslie Simon and Andrea Reidell at NARA in Philadelphia; to Pat Michaelis and Nancy Sherbert at the Kansas State Library and Archives in Topeka, and to Debbie Piscitelli and the Harpers Ferry Historical Association in West Virginia for hosting the John Brown Photo Chronology exhibition. The permanent exhibition is at Harpers Ferry NHP, also nicely framed as a contribution by the HFHa.

Jean Libby

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