Wednesday, March 16, 2011

John Brown (1800-1859)

White Man.  Radical Abolitionist.  Courageous Crusader for Social Change.

Henry David Thoreau wrote of John Brown, “It seems as if no man had ever died in America before, for in order to die you must first have lived.”
            - from “A Plea for Captain John Brown”

Ralph Waldo Emerson said of the execution of John Brown: "He will make the gallows holy as the cross."
            -from “A People’s History of the United States”
(Northern Union) soldiers (during the Civil War) marched into battle saying, “John Brown’s Body.”
            -from “Lies My Teacher Told Me.”

W.E.B Du Bois described John Brown as thus, “…he showed one weakness of his character:  he did not know or recognize the subtler twistings of human nature.  He judged it ever for his own simple, clear standpoint and so had a sort of prophetic vision of the vaster and the eternal aspects of the human soul.  But of its kinds and prejudices, its little selfishness and jealousies and dishonesties, he knew nothing.”
            -from “John Brown”

Malcolm X was once asked if any whites could join his organization (OAAU – Organization of Afro-American Unity), and he replied, “If John Brown were alive, maybe him.”
           -from “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”

 "Tragic Prelude" by John Steuart Curry
After being convicted of treason for trying to incite a revolt of slaves, John Brown said, “Had I so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of any of their friends… it would have been all right.”
            -from John Brown’s Speech to the Court (1859)


  1. Somehow that very last comment you quoted resonates in our world, all too unpleasantly.