Monday, September 28, 2009

John Brown, the Abolitionist: Hero, Villain, Madman, or Saint?

I was surprised to learn that John Brown, the abolitionist who led the raid on Harper's Ferry (and who was executed because of that raid) spent most of his life in Northeastern Ohio. Brown was born in Connecticut but moved at an early age to the Ohio frontier, living in Akron, Hudson, Richfield, and Franklin Mills, which is now called Kent (the site of Kent State University). Brown was a man of action who addressed the most terrible sin of American history, the sin of slavery. His raid on Harper's Ferry and previous actions taken by him and his cohorts were certainly among the cause of the Civil War--and, you might say, of the abolition of slavery. Despite my admiration of Brown, I'm deeply conflicted by his resort to deadly violence in pursuit of his cause.[more coming]

For more on this, see today's Plain Dealer, "Abolitionist Brown Had Northeast Ohio Ties" (28 September 2009), B-1 and B-3. Also, there is a historical marker on the town square in beautiful Hudson, Ohio, and lots of other resources on John Brown in the Greater Cleveland area. The Plain Dealer article might be available online at

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