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i think john osborn is now moved west and you say that's for the courts to tradition and in our ideas for and wesson curious and you know mccain having been born in the east be in a connecticut yankee brown was still part of this migration that was taking place in the early national period with people from new york new england moving into the western territory and into these new states the most important of which nearly matched the period was ohio and this had an impact on shore on the brown family's anti slavery sentiment and ohio being the states' closest to kentucky was a state in which they would have lots of contact with african americans fleeing bondage and new englanders who were moving to ohio where two
types they were the type who were like the brown family anti slavery and then there were those who felt that slavery was something that should not be talked about because it was divisive and so just as there were people in the north who were both anti slavery and quiet about it as the nation moved west there were those people who wanted to support emancipated african to note those who wanted to keep the issue under the cover what it is that they have perfect harmony about the world into this world today tell me about this situation many of the ohioans coming from the east were puritans and there were those like the brown family who are anti slavery and there are others who
work more into the elite element of the puritan church or to the beach or family who didn't want to talk about slavery they felt that slavery was something that would divide the church's that's really divided the nation didn't mean that they were felt slavery was good at it was something that simply shouldn't be talked about it was political and it was not in the world of religion the brown family didn't feel that way they thought that religion and politics we're very much embedded in the whole slavery issue and so you get these two strains who move into the west and i confronted head on with slavery because of the african americans moving from kentucky into ohio there's challenges brown's father when brown is
anti slavery and sell his first attitude about slavery comes from his father and his father told a wonderful story of his first experience with an african and this was an african born man who became his friend as a little boy used to carry him on his back and how when the man died he cried like a baby this is a story he would tell john brown as a boy and john brown himself had his own story in that regard and that was because his father was involved in tanning he drove cattle for his father enter the army during the war between twelve and in the process of doing that he was given refuge by a man who owned a slave boy and while the man was very kind to young john who was about twelve at the time he was very brutal to the slave boy and john brown watched in horror as the man beat the boys and brown
said that was his first real contact with the heart of slavery and it made him hate it from that day on and it shows that story you know and just talk about how perhaps this is the office of the earliest rocks for it and go through and they were you know like to get all the city saying it's b this was the early influences in johnstown yeah that house that said okay right ok when john brown was about twelve and he was thriving cattle to the army during the war the eighteen twelve he was given refuge by a
man who owned a slave boy about john brown's age and this experience not only brought john brown face to face with slavery but it brought him face to face with the enslavement of a boy who was just about his own age and the two became friends brown had to witness not only the brutal treatment of the boy but a terrible putting on the part of the owner and one can imagine the effect that this would have on a twelve year old boy who see someone whom he considers a friend been brutalized in this way simply because he was owned by another man and simply because his skin was black so this is one of the instances of the instances of the impact of slavery oh boy who already had been taught that slavery was wrong and yet in the situation he comes face to face with it not only in the sense that it's a wrong but in the sense that if he internalized the situation that black boy i
could've been him when this was a strong connection with the service this was history of using the fact that it always that this could this could be a you know a strong connection with another human being that seems so unusual from the zero experience and if we can get the sense that john brown was a humanist and his religion as well as the social upbringing had taught him that human beings touches that the goddess of their skin color or the station in life and this became very important when he dealt with african americans not only as he was growing up that when he became an abolitionist and it was a kind
of humanism that not all abolitionists had as a matter of fact most of them didn't even though they were staunchly anti slavery they still had reservations about black equality and i think he can see throughout john brown's life that he didn't have those kinds of reservations to him that african americans are human beings who are being brutalized and whose individual liberties were being taken away from them the peaks between in ohio you know slows or when you're free man and i'm wondering if you might have been exposed to this world
but because it doesn't ohio my rely on in ohio as a frontier state and it was a free state who was also a state that had three african americans as well as african americans who were fleeing bondage and sell the brown family given their anti slavery attitude was so they have come in contact and only with people when they were helping to free bondage flee bond is also african americans who lived in ohio now ohio was one of those states that had black codes african americans even those who were freed head many restrictions some more to the kinds of restrictions that free african americans have in the south couldn't be out after a certain time they couldn't gather in numbers more than three they couldn't ride the same conveyance is that whites road so the african american population in ohio even the free
african americans lived approx pro scripted life and brown certainly saw that at the same time africans will welcome in the brown household as beans beans were even grasp a chorus of slavery unless it decides is good it was that when the scene just listen and sentence aside what was in that role in city centers so much a year of the civil institutions came home rouse attitude is anti slavery attitude his staunch abolitionism that seemed to be something that he had ever since he was able to articulate it certainly came from
what he saw his experiences his sense of humanity and also came from a very strong religious convictions and i don't think we can over emphasize that religious conviction that hat it came from the way john brown read his bible on the way the bible was taught to john brown and it came from those aspects of the bible which john brown emphasized which of course he got from his father swire brown and that emphasis was an old testament emphasis an emphasis on the importance of freedom set scriptures as the viet the scripture that he that still a command to be put to death obviously the militant nationalism of the old testament an eye for an eye and a two for two but also the idea of enslaved
people fighting their oppressor so john brown was a very religious man not a churchgoer but very religious nevertheless maybe in a context where was this religious was the unusual in the sense that he was religious religion permeate american society in the nineteenth century in a way that it's difficult to imagine in contemporary times but this is a nation that was founded to a large extent on religious principles and religious principles guide at the brown family certainly guided john brown and you have to understand american society as a religious society as a society of many denominations but spiritual and religious nevertheless and live and the many religious traditions of protestantism in america none was more
important in puritanism and i think it was so julia ward howe who called john brown a puritan of the puritans she took puritanism very seriously and out of puritanism the idea that god had chosen america for something great came his spirit of anti slavery came his sense that god would bring rap on the nation if they did not do his well if they did not deal justly not only with god but with a fellow human beings so this was part of the american ethos now each group interpret that ethos differently but it is important to remember and to understand that much of the ethos the religious ethos of american society and john brown's air was this period well if you're
back another major influence on john brown need to buy sell some assets to the world the early sixties byrd and kenny fletcher because it was things like to start with the influence of black revolt says also plenty of black revolutionaries also played i think a very important role in john brown's assessment of anti slavery and what was possible as far as ending slavery was concerned he was an avid reader
he read the library there and he read many anti slavery tracks he read black newspapers and in the process of this reading he came across a tradition of black rebellion nat turner was born the same year as john brown eighteen hundred nat turner's insurrection in eighteen thirty one was the talk of the entire nation nat turner was a messianic figure nat turner was a man who quoted the old testament that was the basis of his rebellion and then there were other individuals gabriel's rebellion occurred in eighteen hundred the year that it cut it got back was a rebellion was conspiracy is a big difference on my pay gabriel's conspiracy occurred in eighteen hundred which is the year of john brown's birth and it
was written about in the library during the anti slavery standard subsequently was also david walker a very important early black nationalists who wrote an appeal to the colored people of the united states in eighteen twenty nine in which he called for resistance and he challenged african american man to be a man and to rise up against their oppressors and of course that was henry highland garnet who was a blacklist that you're a minister and who at the by convention movement in eighteen forty three called out to the black people to let resistance be a model that they had to move away from moral suasion and use their own strong hands to in bondage so there was a tradition of black resistance that john brown could feed into to come up with this idea that like should fight for that freedom can i
American Experience
John Brown's Holy War
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Interview with historian Margaret Washington, 1 of 5
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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. Washington talks about Slave Boy Story - imagine effect on 12 yr. old, Religion - permeated society, guided Brown
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 historian Margaret Washington, 1 of 5,” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 21, 2024,
MLA: “American Experience; John Brown's Holy War; Interview with historian Margaret Washington, 1 of 5.” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 21, 2024. <>.
APA: American Experience; John Brown's Holy War; Interview with historian Margaret Washington, 1 of 5. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from