US anti slavery fighter John Brown, 1800-1859

John BrownBy Phil Shannon in Australia:


His soul goes marching on

19 April 2007

John Brown, Abolitionist
By David S. Reynolds
Vintage Books, 2006
578 pages, $34.95 (pb)

John Brown’s body” may lie “mouldering in the grave” but, in the words of the American Civil War song and in the spirit of the battle against race oppression, his “soul goes marching on”.

David Reynolds’ biography of Brown, John Brown, Abolitionist, expertly shows why this fearless man, hung by the state of Virginia for treason, has not been forgotten, why his raid with 21 other comrades on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry in Virginia in 1859 climaxed his war on slavery and kickstarted the Civil War two years later with its emancipation of four million slaves by its end.

Born in Connecticut in 1800 to devout Puritan and anti-slavery parents, Brown knew hard manual labour and failed capitalist enterprise (thanks to a surfeit of honesty), forever treading the poverty line as leather tanner, sheep farmer, cattle trader, horse breeder, lumber dealer, real estate speculator and wool distributor.

His “hardscrabble existence” moulded Brown’s democratic sympathies for small farmers, for working class whites and for women, while his childhood experiences with reservation Native Americans and a maltreated slave boy inflamed his burning hatred of racial abuse.

This music video is called Pete Seeger: John Brown’s body.

A new exhibit on the white anti-slavery activist John Brown opens today at the New-York Historical society, 150 years (minus a month and a day) after he tried to start a slave uprising at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. Brown was executed in December 1859 for his role in that raid, but his actions — at Harper’s Ferry and before — helped to spark the Civil War: here.

W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America 1860–1880: here.

In this video, internationally renowned American basso profundo concert singer, scholar, trade union activist, peace activist and recipient of the Spingarn Medal and Lenin Peace Prize, Paul Robeson sings John Brown’s Body in memory of John Brown, the white American abolitionist who believed so strongly in the cause of freedom that he gave his life so that those stolen from Africa and enslaved in America might be freed from the chains of bondage.

150 years since the execution of John Brown: here.

Did President Lincoln Believe in God? Here.

Elizabeth Van Lew: An Unlikely Union Spy. A member of the Richmond elite, one woman defied convention and the Confederacy and fed secrets to the Union during the Civil War: here.

4 thoughts on “US anti slavery fighter John Brown, 1800-1859

  1. 150th Anniversary of Historic Battle at Harper’s Ferry –
    ‘First Battle of the Civil War’
    fought by Black and white soldiers

    …In his jail cell, just before he was led to the gallows on Dec. 2, 1859, the great soldier for human liberation wrote these last words: “I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.” Indeed, the Civil War began just a year and a half later in April 1861.

    As Union troops marched into battle, they sang the newly penned “Battle Hymn of the Republic” with its famous opening words: “John Brown’s body lies a-moldering in its grave but his spirit marches on.” The war had really begun on Oct. 16, 1859. That was the day of the first battle, when a small troop of Black and white guerrilla fighters took up arms against the slave state.

    By any honest measure, the raid on Harper’s Ferry was a success. It was a clarion call for freedom, and it echoes down the years.
    -from an article on Harper’s Ferry by Shelley Ettinger

    This year marks the 150th anniversary of an event that mainstream media would rather forget, but brought back to life by an eyewittness account written by the only Black soldier to survive the battle for freedom. Osborne P. Anderson’s account, A Voice from Harper’s Ferry clears up misconceptions about the raid, slave participation and John Brown. It highlights one of the most important events in the history of the U.S., told from one of the history makers. You can get it here at


  2. Pingback: Obama presidency, from hope to more war | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Battle of Antietam, 150 years ago | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: US anti-slavery fighter Frederick Douglass, 1818-1895 | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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