- He was an abolishionist
- He led a raid on Harpers Ferry before the Civil War
- He was hanged
- His body lies a'mouldering in the grave
So what have I learned about John Brown since last month? Tons. For instance:
- The Harpers Ferry raid was not the first incident in which John Brown killed innocent people. He already had a long history of violent acts in Kansas. He was a zealot who believed that any actions taken to free the slaves was justified by God. He met with escaped slave, orator and writer Frederick Douglass but Douglass refused to participate in his activities.
- Robert E. Lee, then a Colonel in the U.S. Army, led the sucessful attack on the armory where John Brown, his men, and his hostages were sequestered. His second in command was Lt. J.E.B. Stuart. Major Thomas Jackson was among the soldiers fighting John Brown. Major Jackson would later be known as "Stonewall" Jackson.
- John Brown sustained significant injury during the attack but survived. He orated eloquently at his trial and many people had great respect for his bravery during his confinement in jail, his trial, and most especially during his hanging.
- Henry David Thoreau gave an oration on Brown's behalf, It was later published as "A Plea for Captain John Brown."
- Louisa May Alcott wrote of John Brown, "Living he made life beautiful - Dying, made death devine."
- Herman Melville, on the other hand, called John Brown "The Meteor of War."
- John Wilkes Booth stood among the citizens watching the hanging of John Brown.
I have listed only a few points but unless you are a history professor or buff it is a certainty that you will learn a great deal about the Harpers Ferry raid and what it meant and how it affected our nation's history.
I have often repeated that one of the very best things about retirement is having the time to read. At a given time I usually have three books in process; a novel, a biography, and a non-fiction book. When I started reading Midnight Rising I did not read anything from the other two books in process.
Next up? In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. My husband enjoyed this story about the American Ambassador to Hitler's Germany in 1933. And on the shelf waiting a turn is LOST IN SHANGRI-LA BY Mitchell Zuckoff. Another true story about WWII, this book details an amazing rescue mission in the Pacific.
I hope you can find some time to read something that expands your knowledge about our country. I think it was Mahatma Gandhi who said, "Live as if you will die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."