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and so this is a story that really stands at one reason that tells us a lot about his father's house a lot because it's real religious connections well it is an extremely odd story amidst strike and it's startling certainly and maybe i'm reaching as a novelist but this does the imagery of the whip or alive the metaphor for getting are flying seems to run throughout the story or at least it does for me whether it's john brown receiving a weapon from his father as a poem or whether it's john brown a weapon of his own children or in this
instance bizarre as these children to work turn the whip on him towards john brown flagellate hang himself i am literally hot pan or figuratively throw his lot and then as that metaphor on connects in some way some almost metaphysical way to the notion of the bull whip contenders ben and the workings of the slaves were subjected to it can pressure making too much of that hard and i'm in the story in itself certainly striking or arm but the fact that there does seem to be elise from a bomb
on an ocean an image and metaphor that runs around throughout his life of course what he was doing in that instance when he asked his son to turn the whip around him was in fact i think very religious that girl and figuratively maine you had a son who was being whipped had committed whatever send it was by a swiss my mind right and so you had the sun in the role of sinful mankind our would think the father who's plying honestly christ figure and the song that probably was george jr this a letter that he thought in fact that was the purpose was this this illustration of those things this life example these voters giving him
a four pack as a religious lesson but still pro life utterly a lot of fun in summary was john brown was an utterly odd man well connection with you yes i just say it would really was a much connection with religion as much as it was a summer isn't an armory in religion up his brand of religion always his brand of religion is interpretation of the bible after all he was an inveterate readers the bible of scripture are and memorized that i could spell scripture the drop of a hat on
but after all everyone had access to scripture in those days everyone most everyone read the bible for recreation even haram in this is peculiar interpretation of what he was reading and it was his peculiar application of scripture to contemporary events to what was going on around him cause that that was different it you cannot look at john brown's religiosity and then and concluded that it was on account of the fact that he did what he did certainly plays into it but again anyone read the bible only john brown went to
kansas and killed people and only john brown attacked government installations and harpers ferry and use scripture to justify that and to explain it and he was a churchgoer you know i mean early on he gave up organized religion and really had nothing but negative things to say about it he was so much a lot of the high debt limit when it came to a scripture and there's this argument that goes on a puritan was john browne covers the these kinds of distinctions don't really matter committees these labels but so subtle subtle to work
he covered to get you never claim to hear voices you know ah but he did feel he was divinely inspired he did feel that said that he felt he was an instrument of god he did feel anointed that even placed on earth i am that to be in this avenging angel as it were that's what came out of his mouth filled with the holy spirit fear the old or the new testament and as baz and people don't throw history use scripture to two wrestlers and explain what went into us of the poor behavior oh
is that it what about the dresses i was a failure at the same time me and he was like fighting to feed his family inviting celebrities struggle well you know for the first fifty five years of his life he he yeah he talked a lot about fighting slavery but seldom fought slavery i want to say he never lifted a finger he did it but he did a lot more talking and writing and organizing end of them been doing anything about it on and for the first fifty five years of his life for all the rhetoric
engaged in the anti slavery rhetoric he really simply wanted what most people want you wanted to make a success he wanted to have a family and where it in a certain way and he wanted to succeed at the businesses that he was engaged in and to accumulate material well i am and failed and mainland is more an utter failure at everything ready under talk ended up the content of the contemporary equivalent of hundreds and hundreds of files and of dollars in debt
i'm going to do these multiple business failures where there was land speculation or or or farming or whatever business that he would do it attempt to make a go of and that always what bell bellied up is very self convinced that he was a brilliant a businessman and it wasn't obviously and they ended up with creditors running after him up and down the east coast and ended up being bounced from bankruptcy court the bankruptcy court the bankruptcy court attempting to stay one one step ahead of his creditors are constantly moving on around the country for that very reason at the end
the eventual it i mean if the eventual and that became too much harm that he did and he's suffered some sort of disconnect around eighteen fifty one hurricane fifty two and it just sort of caved it in and ended up in a state of rather self stupor into it something something happened when a pusher the record doesn't really spell out what the burden of all was the debt and i think most of the burden of not having not having yet
acted on at that point was still nearly a conviction or a relative to slavery this war on him i think defense of a failure materially benefit african appointed felt was awful failure what when it came to this issue of slavery hadn't really done anything certain prowess or in partnership seized him it was only with the letter from his songs about kansas the finely snipped to smackdown plus a lot of song opportunity and dirt and responded what was it that actually pierces the
rising use a lot of crimea has a lifelong commitment to fight yet it doesn't fall and as mayor do you follow why didn't i say in the book and eighty years the editors of ms lovejoy and brassy why you know was it just you know the next thirty years following his ascent was an affliction of love join this is the surgical units responding to what you want to ask that he be ok because i can remember there was me making the connection that's because the church says slavery growing doesn't really you know what i should know
he doesn't have an odd guy with that with the death we're generally the lynching the murder of all i don't want to join it in thirty seven he publicly declares that that he will dedicate the rest was left to fighting slavery no i mean he doesn't go running out of eighteen thirty seven and and and buy a gun in a bowie knife and and start flailing around no it doesn't i think i think john brown have a sense as some people do cover of the tenor of the times the move the country did not flood of reading you know any other brothers to suppress the library read newspapers haram he seemed to haven't heard over and over again for the country was
was it to give him about other than i think you just sensed it wasn't time yet but he had other concerns you know their concerns and he was still as i think you said too much in are overly concerned with wolf artfully notion to briefly ways i mean he was at that point that despite the rhetoric more concerned with i'm making a life for himself and his family and just scraping bone and then its people who rarely lived for his family and in more than a subsistence existence and the family was large home to that as have also leaked needed to be the breadwinner in use support his family and that's what his party was that is what his
priority was to strike it rich in so many words until eighteen fifty five until eighteen fifty five cd john brown was not john browne the job around that we know our until eighteen fifty five at fifty six he wasn't john brown but for the pepper for that for that for the last three or four years of his life no one who drove her and was part of that art why would they have he was living a private life trying to make a lot of money trying to provide for his family and then yes there was this other thing going on with him which was as an warrants of slavery which was seventeen reared by abolitionist father and an abolitionist family that was always an issue with him but it was talk
until kansas there were some activity and then everywhere where it's not documented precisely how much it was sporadic as well as in ohio as laurel this internal turmoil of the fact that you know he believes it all yet been working on this whole life was internal turmoil end and failure on every front or disappointing himself home that he was not willing to throw it all over to do as he vowed to dedicate his life to slavery turn his back on his family which is eventually about what he felt obliged to do
later on at the same time things so i'm confident that as a provider i mean he was he was lose lose for john breaux offer fifty five years i can all just and as it as it as a husband as a father as a provider as a year it's b as someone who wanted to liberate the slaves i think felt a river found on emotional but empathy
and yet could not screw up the nerve not to act on what he knew he really ought to be acting on the skin or conviction i think in a perilous and torn uncertainty in turmoil over what to do and i'm not doing either brosseau so long or doing both very badly so so low virtually turmoil because of course you can endeavour understand john brown was or why he did the things that you do without understanding slavery or attempting to
understand and slavery slavery was so deformed institutional madness we would say today that madness was not something that and even those torrance was felt or understood friday harbor a lot of people or harm it was only understood why
certain segments of the population those who identify themselves as opposes abolitionists radical abolitionists and this goes to the notion this question this idea that john brown was mad i mean it's it's an idea that seems to have added seems to cling to him like like a barnacle to overhaul the schip i am i don't know what the word means matt was emad is obsessed is fanatical it was mama merkel was a zealot as psychologically and balanced does all of that add up to were to madness i don't know perhaps may only way to
go oppose institutional minuses by the rare individual comes along and his people in that band and chooses to act against any us official madness he was probably slightly cracked by the end of his life in an interesting way i think are very little christ he took it personally he took it personally slavery bought their way that long for my own reading of the record no one no other white male of that time did why did he take it so personally either work or more and comes up
in connection with john brown that he seemed to be calm really non racist and a very contemporary science and in the nineteen nineties science hour we searched the record and can't find it anyone else who was korbel and the room you see a lot of rather famous figures who were anti slavery but this is more than just being anti slavery john brown was not racist he was horrible and where does that come from i don't know that i have an answer to that that question is not enough to say what he was a man his whole life was about loss or being himself disenfranchised a mostly disenfranchise press psychologically disenfranchised or that he was a
victim orbit of this or that or have live the life a lot of hardship or felt in masculine it on some level their love people who felt those things are a lot of people who who who had tough lives they didn't go to kansas and kill people and they can go to harpers ferry nor were they colorblind so it's a i don't know an explanation but one thing you do when you talk about the names that are given to the levels of law signing spread all over was the various iraq the american way and that's true because i think that you know who is grace oh well yes yes tonight the notion that the
nevada notes of negro blunt about major new world power and that this has served twelve are sure to say about this exactly because it's already are it's an attitude that was so insane in this is the anti hero which i think you know so you go into question who really is crazy me tell existed in his day and unless you know well people were concerned on to the extent that they actually calibrated and developed a vocabulary that that concerned the amount of mathematical about
are off black or negro blood that there's that one and went back row and this is a rather elaborate latest at those from like half which as mulatto me woodward were all relatively familiar with that word analyst at that twelve terms rather arcane terms that tracks the mathematics of that one strain of wake up to it i believe it i found one sixty four and that you're considered in fact it to be a negro if you had it won sixty four ths were all of your blood that was it was considered
black you're not i mean you did the other sixty three sixty four its didn't matter that i mean it was and black blood must've been awfully powerful stuff but at the way these people perceive that at the time of her that the guy's arm and in this crisis is underway and say hop in fact is it's a part of that not everybody at the time and recognized as being inside is in fact evidence now you're saying those two and lord john browne did he understood how insane that was why he understood that is an interesting question and we're quite sure why he was so sensitive to where i am but so
American Experience
John Brown's Holy War
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Interview with author Bruce Olds, 2 of 3
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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. Olds talks about Whipping son - religious lesson, odd, John Brown odd, Religion - peculiar application of scripture, sanity, Failure - change in 1851/2 so not a failure re slavery, Lovejoy - impact, but John Brown's priority was supporting family, Failure/Turmoil - failed at business & beliefs for so long, Sanity - barnacle, define mad, took slavery personally, Slavery - John Brown unique in recognizing it was insane
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American history, African Americans, civil rights, slavery, abolition
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Chicago: “American Experience; John Brown's Holy War; Interview with author Bruce Olds, 2 of 3,” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 20, 2020,
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APA: American Experience; John Brown's Holy War; Interview with author Bruce Olds, 2 of 3. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from