John Brown
Category: History
Level 9.16 11:19 h
John Brown is a 1909 biographical book by W. E. B. Du Bois. The book is a biography of abolitionist John Brown. It contained many insights, but also contained some factual errors, which made the book widely criticized after publication.

John Brown

W. E. Burghardt Du Bois

John BrownJohn Brown


After the work of Sanborn, Hinton, Connelley, and Redpath, the only excuse for another life of John Brown is an opportunity to lay new emphasis upon the material which they have so carefully collected, and to treat these facts from a different point of view. The view-point adopted in this book is that of the little known but vastly important inner development of the Negro American. John Brown worked not simply for Black Men — he worked with them; and he was a companion of their daily life, knew their faults and virtues, and felt, as few white Americans have felt, the bitter tragedy of their lot. The story of John Brown, then, cannot be complete unless due emphasis is given this phase of his activity. Unfortunately, however, few written records of these friendships and this long continued intimacy exist, so that little new material along these lines can be adduced. For the most part one must be content with quoting the authors mentioned (and I have quoted them freely), and other writers like Anderson, Featherstonhaugh, Barry, Hunter, Boteler, Douglass and Hamilton. But even in the absence of special material the great broad truths are clear, and this 8book is at once a record of and a tribute to the man who of all Americans has perhaps come nearest to touching the real souls of black folk.

W. E. Burghardt Du Bois.


Boyhood and Youth

1800 — John Brown is born in Torrington, Conn., May 9th. Attempted insurrection of slaves under Gabriel in Virginia, in September.

1805 — The family migrates to Ohio.

1812 — John Brown meets a slave boy.

1816 — He joins the church.

1819 — He attends school at Plainfield, Mass.

The Tanner

1819–1825 — John Brown works as a tanner at Hudson, O.

1821 — He marries Dianthe Lusk, June 21st.

1822 — Attempted slave insurrection in South Carolina in June.

1825–1835 — He works as a tanner at Randolph, Pa., and is postmaster.

1831 — Nat Turner’s insurrection, in Virginia, August 21st.

1832 — His first wife dies, August 10th.

1833 — He marries Mary Ann Day, July 11th.

1834 — He outlines his plan for Negro education, November 21st.

1835–1840 — He lives in and near Hudson, O., and speculates in land.

1837 — He loses heavily in the panic.

1839 — He and his family swear blood-feud with slavery.

1840 — He surveys Virginia lands for Oberlin College, and proposes buying 1,000 acres.

The Shepherd

1841 — John Brown begins sheep-farming.

1842 — He goes into bankruptcy.

1843 — He loses four children in September.

1844 — He forms the firm of “Perkins and Brown, wool-merchants.”

1845–51 — He is in charge of the Perkins and Brown warehouse, Springfield, O.

1846 — Gerrit Smith offers Adirondack farms to Negroes, August 1st.

1847 — Frederick Douglass visits Brown and hears his plan for a slave raid.

1849 — He goes to Europe to sell wool, and visits France and Germany, August and September.

1849 — First removal of his family to North Elba, N. Y.

1850 — The new Fugitive Slave Law is passed.

1851–1854 — Winding up of the wool business.

1851 — He founds the League of Gileadites, January 15th.

In Kansas

1854 — Kansas and Nebraska Bill becomes a law, May 30th. Five sons start for Kansas in October.

1855 — John Brown at the Syracuse convention of Abolitionists in June. He starts for Kansas with a sixth son and his son-in-law in September. Two sons take part in Big Springs convention in September. John Brown arrives in Kansas, October 6th. He helps to defend Lawrence in December.

1856 — He attends a mass meeting at Osawatomie in April. He visits Buford’s camp in May. The sacking of Lawrence, May 21st. The Pottawatomie murders, May 23–26th. Arrest of two sons, May 28th. Battle of Black Jack, June 2d. Goes to Iowa with his wounded son-in-law and joins Lane’s army, July and August. Joins in attacks to rid Lawrence of surrounding forts, August. Battle of Osawatomie, August 30th. Missouri’s last invasion of Kansas, September 15th. Geary arrives and induces Brown to leave Kansas, September. Brown starts for the East with his sons, September 20th.

The Abolitionist

1857 — John Brown is in Boston in January. He attends the New York meeting of the National Kansas Committee, in January. Before the Massachusetts legislature in February. Tours New England to raise money, March and April. Contracts for 1,000 pikes in Connecticut.

1857 — He starts West, May. He is at Tabor, I., August and September. He founds a military school in Iowa, December.

1858 — John Brown returns to the East, January. He is at Frederick Douglass’s house, February. He reveals his plan to Sanborn in February. He is in Canada, April. Forbes’ disclosures, May. Chatham convention, May 8–10th. Hamilton’s massacre in Kansas, May 19th. Plans postponed, May 20th. John Brown starts West, June 3d. He arrives in Kansas, June 25th. He is in South Kansas, coöperating with Montgomery, July-December. The raid into Missouri for slaves, December 20th.

The Harper’s Ferry Raid

1859 — John Brown starts with fugitives for Canada, January 20th. He arrives in Canada, March 12th. He speaks in Cleveland, March 23d. Last visit of John Brown to the East, April and May. He starts for Harper’s Ferry, June. He and three companions arrive at Harper’s Ferry, July 3d. He gathers twenty-two men and munitions, June-October. He starts on the foray, Sunday, October 16th at 8 P. M. The town and arsenal are captured, Monday, October 17th at 4 A. M. Gathering of the militia, Monday, October 17th at 7 A. M. to 12 M. Brown’s party is hemmed in, Monday, October 17th at 12 M. He withdraws to the engine-house, Monday, October 17th at 12 M. Kagi’s party is killed and captured, Monday, October 17th at 3 P. M. Lee and 100 marines arrive, Monday, October 17th at 12 P. M. Brown is captured, Tuesday, October 18th at 8 A. M.

1859 — Preliminary examination, October 25th. Trial at Charleston (then Virginia, now West Virginia), October 27th-November 4th. Forty days in prison, October 16th-December 2d. Execution of John Brown at Charleston, December 2d. Burial of John Brown at North Elba, N. Y., December 8th.

Chapter I.
Africa and America

“That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet saying, ‘Out of Egypt have I called My son.’”

The mystic spell of Africa is and ever was over all America. It has guided her hardest work, inspired her finest literature, and sung her sweetest songs. Her greatest destiny — unsensed and despised though it be, — is to give back to the first of continents the gifts which Africa of old gave to America’s fathers’ fathers.

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