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so where were only rob brannan is set all these in the spring of eighty fifty six is a highly frustrating time the us beef free soil movement in kansas is not having a good time about the free soil capital lawrence kansas has just been sacked by pro sex slavery mobs in washington charles sumner has been brutally attacked on the floor of the senate by preston brooks of south carolina charles sumner is senator from massachusetts a stronger abolitionists these two things the sacking of lawrence kansas and the beating of summer on the floor of the senate seemed to have said brown off
really live his fuse upon hearing about these two events brown goes off into the woods as he does want to do and communes with his god comes back a few hours we're back to brown station and tells his son's and his son or will thompson to grab their broadswords but he brought with him when he came was then come with him they have a mission they have been astonishing god has prescribed something for them to do god has sent them a message they go down to the pub one knee creek which is not far from brown station and there is a cluster of homes they're settlers' homes they go to the home of the settler by the name of william doyle who is a roman catholic who came west from tennessee i believe to get away from slavery as an
institution but brown dislikes doyle both because of his catholic faith which brown find support and because of his suspicious southern accent brown assumes doyle was pro slavery brown knocks on the door of the boy home when the doors answered brown takes doyle and his two oldest sons prisoner and mortars them away from the house tore the part won the creek on the banks of the creek around her husband kneel down the man in the two sons their heads are struck open with the broadswords and one of the songs has both his arms cut off they go to two more houses on the banks of the creek and repeat this performance twice with the heads of each household five men died that night with their families looking on
this crime outrage the kansas countryside he didn't just outraged the pro slavery forces it outraged the free soil leaders in lawrence who were horrified that this act have been perpetrated in the name of the free soil movement they were just outraged and both sides although warren kansas put a bounty on brown's head both sides wanted him brought in both sides wanted brown's operations shut down it's almost like he was like a situation brown who definitely ratcheted up the violence with his episode apollo one creek
and this event would always for the rest of his life which one was only three years but it would always come back to haunt him because no one could adequately justify what grounded along the banks of the creek that night and when he went for aid to abolitionists when he went to to abolitionists for aid in other agendas that he had he would always thereafter half to deny his complicity and the parliament for the peace of the world you never got honestly with what happened because of something shorter it clear that it's an interesting thing
in order to enjoy the support of abolitionists in the future after pot water may john brown had to lie about his complicity in the crime because no one would give him support this was an outrageous crime it was the mail i massacre of eighteen fifty six and to be associated with it was to be a mortar man to be branded some brown had no choice but to my complicity and to lie about it but he's also just starting to be publicized and you know it's an interesting combination of what we eat it after potter want me we see john brown starting to enjoy
this aspect of being an outsider of being a renegade of being a terrorist on the fringes of being a man who has authority and to himself and define says all mores and his own agenda and and his own morality shortly after potter want me is when brown meets the journalists the scottish journalist james redd path and james ridpath was brought by a circuitous route the circuitous route to john brown's hide out in the forest and it's all very cloak and dagger action all very dramatic and john brown gives read an interview and you start to see john brown building his meth christians road path became john brown's cheap
cheap of course james redd path became john brown's chief popularizer and myth maker where but it began in kansas in eighteen fifty six the way he's doing well you're going to refresh on the details on the canvas is right who died yet or red red path was met at an appointed place by one of john brown's militia men and blindfolded and carted through the woods to brown secret camp where he was granted an interview and it was all very hush hush it was all very cloak and dagger it was it was the academy a lot of
chaos and a derelict terrorists hide out on the fringe of society i am a place where few men got two and few men left a lot of the roots of this field to the whole evening but ultimately brown starting to appear on one hand he's operating as a free agent he's not part of the other and he's not accepted in the anti slavery free soil ortiz but he's still fighting on his own and starting to succeed doesn't watch it becomes sort of sorts it's interesting when we talk about the battle of blackjack so called that we start to see brown smith really being built up what in fact was the that'll blackjack a federal marshal frederick paid i think
his name was is a sleep with that night with a small contingent of men they had been sent to find brown and the brain into custody four the party won a massacre they're asleep in their camp john brown and his men surrounded the sleeping contingent and fire off a few rounds and wake them up and paid under a white flag comes out to talk to browner negotiate with brown and brown levels a guard a paid and says you are my prisoner it says but i am under a white flag brown says you are my prison or puts a gun the tapes had walked paid up back up to his men insist that the men put down their arms or brown will shoot take this is the battle of blackjack subsequently brown was interned surrounded by federal troops who insisted that paid
and his men be surrendered back this to my mind doesn't seem like a brilliant military affair but it was built up by brown and by brown's myth makers especially read plath as a huge success for the anti slavery movement in kansas when brown was visiting boston a couple years later one year later and met young franklin's son born of concord who has one of these to become one of his great supporters in boston brown told sanborn the story of the battle of blackjack and sanborn wrote to a friend that same evening that the battle blackjack from the way brown describes it as second only to the conquered fight of seventeen seventy five
well the idea how these battles in a more precise themselves is a few i know but that battle black jack was indeed probably brown's great best moment as a military commander that senses first a great success and one of the few successes already oh yeah no so again see what is it that excites these people you know brent thompson he sees the side of the body and the connection to the american revolutionaries something as he released for their fans shortly after arriving in boston vinci and
shortly after arriving in boston in search of support for his endeavors john brown gave a speech at the townhouse in concord massachusetts he'd lose that townhouse in concord has a few hundred yards away from the bridge of concord where the great revolutionary war fight wars and it's about a mile or two away from what's into grains and it's interesting that in that landscape john brown delivered a speech where he said that the two most important documents in the world where the bible and the declaration of independence and was better than an entire generation of americans pass away in violent death then one word of why the document should go on for phil brown knew that this was a message that was going to resonate a with the people in the
boston area in the greater message massachusetts area that he was seeking to cultivate and to get support from you take one look at the leaders of the abolitionist movement in boston who wound up supporting brown consider feel parker consider theodore parker the great unitarian minister who lived in boston but hadn't worn are raised in lexington theodore parker his grandfather was the captain parker who commanded the minutemen on lexington green consider dr samuel gridley howe another prominent boston abolitionist who wound up supporting brown samuel gridley is house grandfather how was a i n samuel gridley house grandfathered
that were constant how was a boston tea party indian his great uncle richard really was a civil engineer who designed the fortifications a bunker hill so many of the intelligentsia in boston who are the biggest supporters of the abolition movement in that region had these sorts of connections samuel gridley howe as a young man in boston knew paul revere and as a young medical student in france samuel gridley howe knew the elderly laughter yep so when john brown started talking about for filling the goals the ideals of the declaration of independence he was talking to the right audience and walston these were men these boston abolitionist with these close ties to the american revolution who did not view violent
revolution against authority against him just authority as a negative they viewed such actions as they viewed such actions as part of the great tradition a tradition that had spawned among other things the united states of america and they were ready for what many were already calling the second american revolution to bring to file fulfillment the ideals of the declaration of independence so john brown was very exciting figure to want to announce once again as when we can talk about frederick douglass and john brown we're talking about contrast when we talk about john brown and the affluent boston abolitionist when you cultivate
they were worlds apart virtually all of john brown's boston supporters were not only educated men most of them a harvard graduate samuel gridley howe and attended brown and the harvard medical school was married to the poet as julia ward howe thomas wentworth higginson was a descendant of the first colonial governor of new hampshire and came from a very affluent household in cambridge george luther strands of what very wealthy industrialist george mr stearns a very wealthy industrialist and a beautiful mansion in medford others of this ilk were the people the john brown cultivating cops know and befriended and they were attracted by john brown's lack of orthodoxy
by john brown's willingness to put his body his life on the line for the sake oh defeating slavery as an institution many of these gentleman in boston view themselves as as parlor abolitionists they've they had a nagging sense that they really weren't doing everything that they could hood to put an end to this great problem of slavery and john brown appeared as a mechanism a device by which they could more directly attack the peculiar institution and they latched onto this opportunity and brown found great support in the boston area well the few stores you're thinking you get a sense of grounded sport of
rowing in to get rolling as a matter of knowing what it is that you know two i think the broader story of sitting at a table isn't going to feel the rolling used to play notes i think brown was very shrewd in cultivating a persona for himself that his boston supporters would find both intriguing and unforgettable the wife of a massachusetts supreme court judge who harbored john browne in her home in boston a very fine townhouse in boston when he was being sought by federal marshals for his involvement in the plot alarming affair so that later when interviewed wraparound said that she thought brown delighted in making his wealthy backers feel uncomfortable
and keeping them on edge when he walked into this woman's find home is this is a tax when he walked into mrs russell's flying home on the first day of his stay there he pulled out what she described as a long evil looking knife and as well he also pulled out two revolvers and laid them on her find table in the living room look down at your rug and set our hate to spoil this beautiful rug that if they come for me i'm not going to be taken alive this was the type of thing that he would do routinely to transfer of dramatize himself as as a revolutionary leader in the anti slavery cause on this is russell also said that he seemed to delight at the dinner table mrs ross also said that he seemed to delight at the dinner table in describing awful things that he may or may not have beaten while on the
trail in the woods in kansas on the run swirls and state's andy telling how they were cooked or how they were not cooked and yet he devoured them and he seems to be to get a rush making his protectors and talk more on this one we're going to set to sell it this far and their yap the understory and you know he clearly viewed john brown clearly viewed himself as being a blog these wealthy people in boston whom he viewed just as they viewed themselves he viewed them as parlor abolitionists as people who were not really willing to go the last mile as he was he had the sense as well and he had a sense that he was doing their work for them and they should darn well support him he would it's very interesting when you see john brown
speeches the tax where he's asking for money has really not asking for money it's not please will you give me this its this is your duty to give me this morning that i made to go out and fight this great wrong i'm on a mission and it is your responsibility to give me the support that i require that is the tone of john brown's appealed for support if you have a burner where you're talking about how we're going to their houses and set up the chairs you know and re enact his battles in kansas is such a delight to these people to be around such a hero and a half yes one of the parlor tricks that john brown were often demonstrate in his visits to various affluent homes in boston area was to set up
chairs to represent mountains lakes streams are various other aspects of kansas geography and then dance around them in the king the movements of various forces in famous battles of the kansas civil war and at his its wealthy supporters delighted in this as did broaden their songs are from georgia you first rooms the industrialist had poppa son frank preston stearns who many many years later fifty years later we're still writing and talking about what was like to hear john brown tell these wonderful stories of daring do on the kansas front here quite the impression that and then the dealers that certain cities tables were really get the sense that he's wise refusing water no i'm
sorry it's been two members of the audience at john brown's conference speech or ralph waldo emerson and henry david thoreau both these men were much taken with brown amerson said his impression was brown a brown amerson said his impression of brown was that he was brave man and that he would quote do write a row believed that brown was worthy of support as well but it's interesting an essence said after after it's interesting emerson although he had good things to say about brown says in his
diary that after the speech he only says subscribe to trifle to john brown's cause and we know for a fact that henry david thoreau also get next to nothing although he endorsed brown and lead to brown and unfortunately for brown this was much the response that he got as he toward the northeast looking for jared i'm not sure that this is all a comment on the view the northeastern abolitionists had of john brown was what he sought to do on the kansas frontier it's more likely a reflection of very troubled economic times which were going on just as a financial panic going on at the time and people were short well what's interesting the boston abolitionist but also other religions each other which is an
interesting dynamic this dusty place sure john brown ms cultivating the northeastern lead for financial aid at the same time many of brown's most influential backers most prominent backers are not being altogether candid with brown and what their ambitions are specifically with the the plan for the raid at harpers ferry brown believed that the rate of at harpers ferry would be a success brown believed that some black sea waves from the region are going to flock to him at the armory that he was going to arm them
and that they will retreat into the woods and form a militia that would go on to do it daring dudes on the anti slavery fraud he firmly believe this most of john brown's supporters in the boston area who were prized of his plan for harpers ferry and gave him the financial backing necessary for harpers ferry really did not share his optimistic appraisal of what was going to happen at harpers ferry the one influential back of the john brown had who shared his belief that the plant have a shot at success was thomas wentworth higginson but the balance of brown's supporters samuel gridley howe jarrett smith europe parker and others really thought that it was going to be a failure from the start and thought that it would be worth doing nonetheless because it
American Experience
John Brown's Holy War
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Interview with author Edward J. Renehan, 3 of 4
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WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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Martyr, madman, murderer, hero: John Brown remains one of history's most controversial and misunderstood figures. In the 1850s, he and his ragtag guerrilla group embarked on a righteous crusade against slavery that was based on religious faith -- yet carried out with shocking violence. His execution at Harpers Ferry sparked a chain of events that led to the Civil War. Renehan talks about Pottawatomie - both sides of war in Kansas outraged, Pottawatomie - John Brown had to lie about his complicity, Pottawatomie - afterwards, John Brown enjoys being a renegade, Black Jack - story of "battle", Boston/Sanborn, John Brown Speech - Bible & Dec. of Independence most imp documents, Boston/Revolution/Dec of Independence - right audience, Boston/Revolution/Dec of Independence - "2nd revolution" , Boston/Secret Six - Brown a device for more involvement, Mrs. Russell - thought John Brown enjoyed making rich uncomfortable, Mrs. Russell - John Brown's weapons, dramatized himself, Mrs. Russell - gross food stories @ dinner table , Secret Six - John Brown made it duty not favor for them to give him mone, Parlor chairs - story , Secret Six - save Higginson, thought plan doomed but worthwhile
Race and Ethnicity
American history, African Americans, civil rights, slavery, abolition
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Chicago: “American Experience; John Brown's Holy War; Interview with author Edward J. Renehan, 3 of 4,” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 20, 2020,
MLA: “American Experience; John Brown's Holy War; Interview with author Edward J. Renehan, 3 of 4.” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 20, 2020. <>.
APA: American Experience; John Brown's Holy War; Interview with author Edward J. Renehan, 3 of 4. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from