thumbnail of American Experience; John Brown's Holy War; Interview with author Edward J. Renehan, 4 of 4
Transcript
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
<unk> ers <unk> <unk> you're just saying years after harvest theyre a writer would look back and make a very interesting point this writer compared harpers ferry and the boston massacre he said
that the boston massacre was to the american revolution what harpers ferry was to the civil war it was the first little plug the first small altercation that made inevitable a devouring battle that was to follow i think it is a non song was i want to say that what he was attempting started doing it and it's what you know i get the sense of john brown starting in kansas starting with hot water me that he was orphaned trying to go to the brink from which there was no turning back not just himself but he was trying to take the country to the precipice to that point where things would rupture and jeff
beck i get the sense with john brown starting in kansas and starting with paloma creek that he's always trying to take things to the brink not just on in his own daily fight against slavery but he's trying to bring the country to the brink of the precipice from which there is no turning back he's trying to get the country to the to that point where the final battle in which slavery or no slavery will be decided he wants to get to that point where that battle will before it's almost like you think he regretted some models and it's like his desire above all else has to get but there's something eerie feel like he
i don't think john brown was embarrassed by pot was a man i don't think he regretted how to walk me i think he found after the fact that pot a lot and it was something of an inconvenience it was something he had to master something he had to lie about but he very gamely lied about it and his northeastern backers accepted those laws not just immediately but for decades later when aspects of the story a pot of water may were published in the eighteen eighties in eighty nine these and after the turn of the century john brown surviving backers would routinely rushed into print to say no no john brown did not participate in part i wanted that's pro slavery propaganda laws a few weeks after which basically was also in line i mean it was there was a
propaganda machine that browning and bigger than just himself and ed helms in a vehicle which is it and it's interesting to think about well at some point i believe john brown started understanding itself as a vehicle and it has as has as a device by which the kind of country could not only be brought to a point where you want to get it to a devoutly hear a device i think he saw himself and his activities as a device designed to bring this simmering issue of slavery to a boil i think everything john brown was ever trying to do from kansas on was to throw more wood on to the fire and get
that water boiling who was it you know what's interesting is all about you know you made up of many different pieces in a time that is a complicated and a passionate that so much for judging by today's standards but you haven't see this i don't think there's any more enigmatic fellow our national pastime john brown look all his many faces the devout christian the lying swindling businessman a con the selfless mortar
the murder to terrorize or kill or a father's what while children walk on his all these people that he's a very hard guy to get a bead on nachos now so many decades later but i think even then there were mixed confused emotions about brown i'm awed by his supporters from the word go but thomas wentworth higginson writing about brown many decades after brown was dead talked about the insanity that's sat within the great hero the selfless more and he listened always blame them sank higginson in retrospect the side of the john brown was a self destructive force and higginson blamed himself
for not realizing that john brown was bound to do himself in some way shape or form on his fight an end in the end higginson viewed it as an unnecessary martyrdom that john brown had surrendered himself to go ironically one is much more successful in those martyrdom well but higgins and his view was that the snow is simmering part of the slavery issue could have been brought to a boil in other ways without john brown sacrificing his life and then he gets his view in retrospect was that more anonymous terrorist
approaches could have been employed to do the way higginson said it was the heat he thought some carefully placed bombs could've blown up some very well placed southern gentleman and the ascent of sunshine would've been the correct assumption that northeastern abolitionists had done this and the inevitable result would have been the rupture the final rupture of the north from this between the north and the south and civil war so if the ambition was to ferment civil war higginson retrospect saw different ways that it could have been done without brown's mortar them before president arthur announces the evidence against his backers and it seems like this is probably were sent into the celebrated self
connection to in a society well i don't think it was because it was new in my view it was not an accident that john brown left those papers behind in maryland for the officials to find after the raid many people have written and said oh this is an example of how how many people over and said this is an example of how brown didn't plan things well but i think it's an example of how he planned at least one thing very well brown understood on some level i think that he was going to fail from a technical point of view on the ground at harpers ferry i think somewhere down on his consciousness he knew that he was going to fail
he also knew that if there was a documentary evidence of prominent northeastern abolitionists underwriting an incursion an armed incursion into a sovereign southern state to fight the institution of slavery that this would be a huge issue with southern chrysler a politician's he knew this for a fact that it was right so once again we're back to getting that helps boy or a boy and this was another blog for the fire and we of course browns backers in the north were horrified that their names were in the paper and that they were implicated in this plot and perhaps that's another aspect of what was going on in john brown's mind when he left those incriminating documents in that farm house in maryland we've talked about
how brown felt like he was doing the parlor abolitionist work for them maybe at some level john brown thought it was time for the parlor room abolitionists to get their hands dirty to put their lives on the line to get their names in the papers to have their households disrupted this is speculation on my part but i think on some level it's true hosted by getting their hands dirty that you're building a whole wave of people towards lessons flesh and certainly moving south direction oh yes i am it's because big
what is the situation just grow so large kansas on words when we first see john brown developing into the john brown that we know and talk about today and make documentary films about we see developing a persona and developing they say an image that is fairly carefully constructed over time and and and by the by by eating fifty nine by by three years into his softness watching sickened by age fifteen
by eating fifty nine three years into his public career he's become a real master of creating himself and presenting himself and his performance in the trial and on the gallows is perfection he he he he has become john brown has finally become john brown and the stage upon which he is john brown is that courtroom and is that cows so he's not follow john sears is the people who support or ground and would spread his message had a lot to work with at the same time john brown had some variable stripes james read half wrote the
public life of captain john brown with the cooperation of john brown from his jail cell that was published very shortly after john brown's execution and was an enormous publishing success fair and eldridge the publishers sold seventy five thousand copies in eighteen fifty nine that's a that's a big problem now imagine what was an eighteen fifty nine also many of john brown's northeastern backers were writers and rope thomas wentworth higginson re wrote eloquently on john brown franklin sanborn wrote eloquently and john brown wayne lloyd garrison wrote of john brown and down through the decades william lloyd garrison as grandson oswald derose into lard at the turn of the century
was working on john brown biography of favorable biography and so it goes so you had wonderful material you have the true story of this man john brown who have perfected and self waiting fifty nine and you had the scots you also you also had people like walt whitman and herman melville writing poems about brown you had famous painters or do rendering him on the gallows he was a public relations phenomenon he was famous and and it remains so although they've now through town over the year the most of a century and a half ago the debate has come up there and we now view him as more of an enigma than it was initially but that stamp that stamp of joy was indelibly placed
in the american memory in the most immediately following his death and will never be remote wilbon debate the image but the image remains that's a good thing i think that's now it's just i'm going through tone you really can't it's been
brown was shrewd enough to know that many in his audiences in the northeast were willing but reluctant to endorse or support violence in the cause of anti slavery and tellingly in his concord speech and i suspect in other speeches that he gave around the northeast he put in a statement that he and poured war and violence on a personal level but that he accepted it as god's will and this is a species that is winning over the past this week scientists have any idea that this is actually a way to connect with in it it was for the worse
yes here you have john brown and henry favreau john brown and henry longfellow john brown and ralph waldo emerson unlikely assembly of characters but it i think it was browne spirit i think it was the view of abortion illegal i think was brown's you and i think it was the view of the boston to lead who welcomed him into their presence that extraordinary times sometimes create extraordinary bedfellows and this was a case that they did not have much in common but what they did have in common was a big item the agenda of ending the institution of slavery in the united states
for the patients because garrison and other pacifist abolitionists who had not been active supporters of john brown or his staff seized upon his martyrdom and his symbol after his death i dont doubt that this was in some measure sincere but it was also this more practical thing to do the anti slavery movement needed a great symbol needed a mortar and people like wendell phillips and gerritsen and douglas who had not thought brown to be the most useful fellow before he died i found him invaluable after he died john brown was a much
Series
American Experience
Episode
John Brown's Holy War
Raw Footage
Interview with author Edward J. Renehan, 4 of 4
Contributing Organization
WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
AAPB ID
cpb-aacip/15-x05x63c87v
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/15-x05x63c87v).
Description
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 Mission/H Ferry - John Brown started to see himself as a vehicle, Mission - vehicle to get issue of slavery to a boil, Character - John Brown enigmatic, conflicted support for , Carpetbag letters/Vindication of Raid - Carpetbag letters - not an accident they were left, John Brown knew he would fail, Trial/Hanging/Redpath - Brown mythologized, Boston - extraordinary times create extraordinary bedfellows, Martyr - death his biggest success, icon
Topics
Biography
History
Race and Ethnicity
Subjects
American history, African Americans, civil rights, slavery, abolition
Rights
(c) 2000-2017 WGBH Educational Foundation
Media type
Moving Image
Duration
00:21:42
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Credits
Release Agent: WGBH Educational Foundation
AAPB Contributor Holdings
WGBH
Identifier: barcode174037_Renehan_04_SALES_ASP_h264 Amex.mp4 (unknown)
Duration: 0:21:09
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Citations
Chicago: “American Experience; John Brown's Holy War; Interview with author Edward J. Renehan, 4 of 4,” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 20, 2020, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-15-x05x63c87v.
MLA: “American Experience; John Brown's Holy War; Interview with author Edward J. Renehan, 4 of 4.” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 20, 2020. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-15-x05x63c87v>.
APA: American Experience; John Brown's Holy War; Interview with author Edward J. Renehan, 4 of 4. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-15-x05x63c87v