Today is the birthday of abolitionist John Brown

Originally published at: Today is the birthday of abolitionist John Brown | Boing Boing


John Brown remains a great source of pride in my home state of Kansas (and especially around Lawrence) to this day. He was a rare hero who deserves a much larger place in history.


This series is worth checking out.


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Came here to make the same recommendation.


Shaved John Brown looks a lot like shaved Lincoln (though admittedly facial recognition is a weak spot for me). Allow me to start a new conspiracy that argues they were the same person, that this person is immune to bullets, and that this person is currently running a falafel cart that serves the downtown Branson area. He catches Yakov Smirnov shows every chance he gets.


Me, too! :smiley: Was unprepared for how rollicking this series was. Great stuff.


I loved the little comedic touches. Especially though Brown had strong moral convictions, he was irritating as hell to be around personally.


Ah, John Brown, Kansas hero! Amazing mural of him in the capitol building by John Stueart Curry.


“many believed helped spark”? There’s no objective doubt about it. The question is just one of degrees. The CW was a long time coming. Had events been different, it could’ve started in 1856 or 1864 or 2024 (round 2?). But, Brown’s actions, combined w/ Lincoln’s election, clearly settled the question.


Brown was an American terrorist in the service of a great cause.
Google “Bleeding Kansas.”


So many folks talk about the violence Brown “brought” to the abolitionist struggle, when they fail to recognize the comparison to the sheer volume of violence that was already occurring in the service of slavery. :man_shrugging:


John Brown was right.

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I disagree with the characterization of John Brown as a terrorist. Terrorism is aimed at accomplishing political goals indirectly by inflicting fear on a population, usually though acts of violence on the population itself. John Brown was a revolutionary. His plan was quixotic, but it had a direct political goal.


Ayup, a radical, a terrorist, and pretty undeniably spot on correct. We’re generally a lot more comfortable celebrating his ally Harriet Tubman, who, after being introduced to Brown by Frederick Douglass, wholeheartedly endorsed his project and was tapped to be one of the leaders of the Harpers Ferry action (but was unable to attend for reasons not entirely clear). She went on to have a long life of bravery and sacrifice and service and will eventually be on the twenty dollar bill, unless of course a racist fascist regime comes back into power again. Tubman, Douglass and Brown all acknowledged that the political system’s clumsy dance of compromises was completely failing to address the evils of slavery, and that nothing short of a horrible war had any chance of doing so. 150 years later we still haven’t got this shit worked out, and the prospect of open warfare remains one very viable and plausible outcome.


Or that Brown’s action’s were a direct response to violence kicked off by pro-slavery factions and apparent support for them by Kansas authorities.

We put a lot on John Brown, but there were already scattered attacks and heavily armed pro-slavery militias roving around Kansas.


Yep, Bleeding Kansas. I was both impressed and icked out by the Missouri Town 1855 living history players commenting about going to Kansas to vote - sometimes more than once. :confused:

Most people view Kansas as where Dorthy is from, and where we grow all the wheat, but it did play some important parts in American History.


The book, as well. The Good Lord Bird | James McBride


Honestly, the difference between terms like “terrorist,” “radical,” “revolutionary,” “freedom fighter,” etc. is and always has been largely a matter of semantics, and which term is used to describe historical figures typically depends on who won or lost.

They made point of that in an old Star Trek: TNG episode:

It’s not inconsistent at all to say that Brown fought and gave his life for a righteous cause, and also that the slavers were probably legitimately terrorized by him and his cause.

(Also, George Washington was absolutely terrorizing to the people he enslaved. Weird that Dr. Crusher would jump to his defense.)


My favorite spot to enjoy a pint in Lawrence, Kansas, which was more or less razed by the Bushwhackers as a result of their pro-slavery raid, is Free State Brewing Company. They used to routinely feature on their menu John Brown Ale. It’s no longer available, though I was going to suggest raising a pint.

Now elsewhere, he is still celebrated in craft brew form: