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Collection Reference Number GLC05508.051
From Archive Folder Collection of documents relating to religion and spirituality 
Title Address of John Brown to the Virginia Court, when about to receive the sentence of death, for his heroic attempt at Harper's Ferry, to give deliverance to the captives, and to let the oppressed go free
Date December 1859
Author Brown, John (1800-1859)  
Document Type Broadside
Content Description Small broadside with lithograph signature of Brown produced by the Liberator, reprinting his address to the Virginia Court before sentencing. Brown denies wanting to murder or cause an uprising. He argues that his raid on Harper's Ferry was just and aligned with the teachings of the Bible.
Subjects Law  John Brown  Slavery  African American History  Abolition  Death Penalty  Judiciary  Rebellion  Religion  
People Brown, John (1800-1859)  
Place written Boston, Massachusetts
Theme Slavery & Abolition; Religion; Law; African Americans
Sub-collection The Gilder Lehrman Collection, 1493-1859
Additional Information At 8 o'clock, Sunday evening, October 16, Brown led a party of approximately 21 men into Harpers Ferry where they captured the lone night watchman and cut the town's telegraph lines. Encountering no resistance, Brown's men seized the federal arsenal, an armory, and a rifle works. Brown then sent out several detachments to round up hostages and liberate slaves. But his plan soon went awry. As news of the raid spread, angry townspeople and local militia companies cut off Brown's escape routes and trapped his men in the armory. Two days later, U.S. Marines commanded by Colonel Robert E. Lee arrived. Brown and his men took refuge in a fire engine house. Lee's marines stormed the engine house and rammed down its doors. Five of Brown's party escaped, ten were killed, and seven, including Brown himself, were taken prisoner. A week later, Brown was put on trial in a Virginia court, even though his attack had occurred on federal property. He was found guilty of treason, conspiracy, and murder, and was sentenced to die on the gallows. The trial's high point came at the very end when Brown was allowed to make a five-minute speech, which helped convince many Northerners that this grizzled man of fifty-nine was a martyr to the cause of freedom.
Copyright The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
Module Settlement, Commerce, Revolution and Reform: 1493-1859
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