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Old John Brown: The Man Whose Soul Is Marching On
by Walter Hawkins
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Short Biography of John Brown, who was the first white American abolitionist to advocate and practice insurrection as a means to the abolition of slavery. President Abraham Lincoln said he was a "misguided fanatic" and Brown has been called "the most controversial of all nineteenthcentury Americans." His attempt to start a liberation movement among enslaved blacks in Harper's Ferry, Virginia in 1859 electrified the nation, even though not a single slave answered his call. He was tried for treason (against the state of Virginia) and hanged, but his behavior at the trial seemed heroic to millions of Americans. Southerners alleged that his rebellion was the tip of an abolitionist iceberg and represented the wishes of the Republican Party, but those charges were vehemently denied by the Republicans. Historians agree that the Harper's Ferry raid in 1859 escalated tensions that a year later led to secession and the American Civil War. Later the song John Brown's Body became a Union marching song during the Civil War.
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