(CIVIL WAR in the UNITED STATES – continued)

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CIVIL WAR in the UNITED STATES (5 of 12)

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John Brown, Terrorism in Kansas and the Assault at Harper's Ferry, 1854-59

In 1854, five sons of an abolitionist, John Brown, went to Kansas, and on their way, in Missouri, they met hostility from people who identified them by their Northern speech and, perhaps, dress. The boat captain, a southerner, cheated them, leaving them stranded in Missouri. And people there would not sell them food, saying "We have nothing for you."

The sons made it to Kansas, and their opinion of the southerners entering the state was that they were drinkers and men of profane language with Bowie knives and revolvers. And the sons worried about the security of people going to Kansas to pursue the occupation of peace: farming.

In 1855, amid the fighting in Kansas, John Brown joined his sons. He witnessed the passivity of Northerners who were intimidated by the pro-slavers. He thought of these passive folks as cowards, and he organized a militia that began killing those he deemed to have been bullying the anti-slave settlers.

Migration from northern states was greater than the migration of people from Missouri and elsewhere from the South, and in 1857 the US Army sent in peacekeeping troops. Southerners with slaves lacked interest in taking their slaves into Kansas, which, like California, was unsuited for slavery. A majority of the people in Kansas voted against slavery, and southern politicians began delaying admission of the territory to statehood.

Brown left Kansas in 1856, believing he had done well there. Then, with his hatred of slavery and his belief in action, and with money from a few wealthy abolitionists, he planned to seize the US armory at Harper's Ferry – 50 miles northwest of Washington (at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers). His purpose was to begin a war for the liberation of all slaves in the United States. Thirteen whites and five blacks joined him, and they attacked on October 16, 1859. The local mayor and a few others were killed, a few of Brown's men died, and Brown was captured, ending Brown's rise against slavery within 36 hours. Southerners saw Brown's raid as an example of what Northerners wanted to do with the South. Brown was tried and convicted that same month, and on December 2 at Charlestown Virginia he was hanged.



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