Preview

John Brown: Hero? Villain?

Powerful Essays
Open Document
Open Document
1793 Words
Grammar
Grammar
Plagiarism
Plagiarism
Writing
Writing
Score
Score
John Brown: Hero? Villain?
Anthony Trabucco
Coming of the Civil War
Paper #2
Prof. Cimbala
November 29, 2012

John Brown and Spider-Man:
Hero? Villain? America Can’t Decide

Students of history and those merely interested in casual inquiry will often explore a topic, find a legitimate opinion, accept it at face value, and move on. Too often with young or inexperienced historians this is the case. It does, in a way, make sense. Many topics an individual will study have been researched and written on countless times. It is easy to accept an opinion as is and forget about it. John Brown is one of these subjects. Merrill D. Peterson’s John Brown explores the complicated nature of the legacy of this militant abolitionist. Brown has been, in the time since his departure, construed as a hero, a villain, an antihero, a well-meaning lunatic, and so on. The nature of his actions and the divisive context they are found in gives way to many different opinions. Peterson’s book explores these many definitions of John Brown. The opinions of historians, students, politicians, and the like are weighed against the validity of their status as historical interpreters, their knowledge of the subject, their biases, and Peterson’s own interpretations. John Brown’s legacy is an ambiguous and complicated one and Peterson’s book explores the warring opinions of observers on whether John Brown is hero, villain, or both. In the opening chapter, titled “The John Brown Epoch”, Peterson presents the story of John Brown’s life and his raid on Harper’s Ferry. He explores the circumstances by which John Brown came to devote his life to the cause of ending slavery. Peterson traces Brown’s different residences from his birth in Connecticut, to his time in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kansas, and Virginia, among other places. John Brown’s belief in racial equality seems to have been a theme throughout his life. Peterson writes: “He truly believed that black people were the equals of whites, and he conducted himself

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    John Brown was more of villain rather than a hero. John Brown did many, many bad things to America. John Brown had a lot of lawsuits against him, about 40 of them. Also, John had a raid on the Harper’s Ferry killing so much people. That wasn’t enough for him Brown went to cabin to cabin killing people at town, Pottawatomie Creek, killing at least 5 people. In fact, Senator Andrew Jackson, even stated, “This old man Brown …was a more than a murderer, a robber, a thief, and a traitor.” Therefor, John Brown is an villain.…

    • 97 Words
    • 1 Page
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    My Bondage, My Freedom

    • 2133 Words
    • 9 Pages

    First published in 1855, this book tells the story of Fredrick Douglass ' life first as a slave, then as a fugitive, and finally as a free man working to free the rest of the slaves in the American South from bondage. My Bondage and My Freedom is widely considered to be one of the most historically influential documents produced in the midst of the abolitionist movement. Written by a former slave, the memoir served as a moving argument against the inhuman institution of slavery in American history. In this essay, I plan to expound upon occurrences in the book, the political climate of the era,…

    • 2133 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    John brown has been looked upon by many as a hero, but was he really a hero? Let’s look at the thing’s he’s done for abolition and think to ourselves as we read, “is this really what a ‘hero’ would do?” I’ll go into more detail later through out this of course, but for now, let’s review the gist of what he has “done for abolition.” From the third document, it states that he led only 21 men into the military arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia. That was basically suicide for them. Yes, it was very brave of him, but he should have realized 21 men wouldn’t be enough for how many men that military had. He planned to give the weapons from the arsenal to slaves and start a chain reaction of revolts throughout the Southeast. All I have to ask is really? Did he really think that it would be that easy to take from the arsenal? Not only that, but in document two it also states that in 1856, Brown and six of his followers got revenge for the violence in Lawrence by killing five settlers in the pro-slavery camps along the Pottawatomie Creek. He also fled to Kansas, like a coward, to escape prosecution. This should be enough information for you, but let’s go into further detail.…

    • 919 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    In today’s society, racism and stereotyping occur in every aspect of life. No one should ever take anything for face value before they examine it first. In reading the narrative, “The View from the Bottom Rail” by James Davidson and Mark Lytle and “Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas” by Harold Bloom. I became very aware on how American history can be looked at as one sided or bias. Even in today’s society, there is still a lot of biasness presented in American history that is told when it is related to the history of slavery. For us to understand history, we must enable ourselves to look deeper into the articles and examine the prejudices and the source of information that is left out before accepting the validity of the article.…

    • 706 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Bibliography: Drew, Benjamin. A North-Side View of Slavery. Boston: 1856. Genovese, Eugene. Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made. New York: Random House, 1972. Halasz, Nicholas. The Rattling Chains. N.Y.: Van Rees Press, 1966. Henson, Josiah. Uncle Tom 's Story of His Life: An Autobiography of the Rev. Josiah Henson. London: 1877. Northrup, Solomon. Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northrup. Auburn, N.Y: 1853. Roark, James. Masters without Slaves. New York: Norton and Company, 1977. Stroyer, Jacob. My Life in the South. Salem, Mass.: 1898.…

    • 2052 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    This controversial novel was initially written to question slavery, convince people of its immorality and to promote the abolitionist cause. The novel’s rende...…

    • 325 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Upon the publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852, attitudes towards slavery were almost exclusively that slaves were property and should be treated as such. This novel reinvented how Americans viewed slavery and stimulated abolition, opening a discussion about the status of African Americans in society. The ideals and underlying sentiments expressed in this novel are still relevant today; that slavery and racism are institutions that corrupt all participating in them (both unwillingly and willingly), that the abolitionist/liberal North still has racial bias they must face and eliminate, and that emancipation must not only free slaves, but integrate them into society as well. Since the senseless murder of Michael Brown…

    • 962 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    It has been the task of biographers ever since to deplore that image of Lincoln as the sort of extremist rhetoric that abolitionism was generally renowned for; or to insist that Lincoln may have had elements of racism in him but that he gradually effaced them as he moved on his "journey" to emancipation; or to suggest that Lincoln was an abolitionist all along who dragged his feet over emancipation for pragmatic political reasons.…

    • 5760 Words
    • 24 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    The View from the Bottom Rail” After the Fact, Volume II James West Davidson and Mark Hamilton Lytle Copyright 1986 by Alfred A. Knopf Inc. Pages 177-210 Grant Hopkins AP U.S. History II September 11, 2000 The Lewinsky Scandal… A perfect example as to why we cannot accept everything at face value before carefully examining it first. Everyone thought President Clinton was behaving himself in the White House, but, as it turns out, he was most definitely not. This can be the same for history. We must carefully consider different aspects of articles so that we do no make the mistake of believing everything we read. In order to fully understand an article, we must understand the author that wrote it. It is necessary to examine prejudices, sources, information left out, and missing background information before accepting an article. This method of critical analysis allows us to better understand the article and therefore history because we are more aware of the authors and their possible mishaps. “The View from the Bottom Rail”, an article in After the Fact, provides an opportunity to examine different aspects of analysis. If we look at it carefully, then we will be able to determine if the thesis was proven effectively. In “The View from the Bottom Rail”, the authors, James Davidson and Mark Lytle, proposed, “For several reasons, that debased position has made it unusually difficult for historians to recover the freedman’s point of view.” Within the article, Davidson and Lytle cycled through different aspects as to why it is hard for historians to determine the “view from the bottom rail”. They questioned the validity of many sources that, if accurate, would have contained the perspective of an ex-slave. These sources included both white and black testimony. In order to examine these sources, the authors traced the topics using microcosm. Because they were covering a topic and not an event, microcosm was the most appropriate method of examining the subject. Davidson and…

    • 1463 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Historians are seen as individuals telling the common folks of the world, in this case the common folk of the United States, the events of the past. Historians do not just regurgitate facts, they create a narrative; mostly made up of facts, but also from their perspective. What individuals do not realize is historians do not miraculously know the information; they must research the information from evidence, from a certain period, making historians a type of detective. A detective investigates evidence to decipher the events that took place; just like a historian. In Jackson’s Frontier-and Turner’s, each historians individual perspective, and their present circumstances, had an impact on the evidence they used for their research, and the outlook they had on the evidence about Andrew Jackson and what kind of man he was seen as.…

    • 570 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Cited: Horton, James Oliver, and Lois E. Horton. Slavery and the Making of America. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005. Print.…

    • 1403 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    The Enigma of John Brown

    • 1504 Words
    • 7 Pages

    John Brown was an American abolitionist, born in Connecticut and raised in Ohio. He felt passionately and violently that he must personally fight to end slavery. This greatly increased tension between North and South. Northern mourned him as a martyr and southern believed he got what he deserved and they were appalled by the north's support of Brown. In 1856, in retaliation for the sack of Lawrence, he led the murder of five proslavery men on the banks of the Pottawatomie River. He stated that he was an instrument in the hand of God. On October 16, 1859, he led 21 men on a raid of the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. His plan to arm slaves with the weapons he and his men seized from the arsenal was thwarted, however, by local farmers, militiamen, and Marines led by Robert E. Lee. Within 36 hours of the attack, most of Brown's men had been killed or captured. Brown was hanged on Dec. 2, 1859. He became a martyr for many because of the dignity and sincerity that he displayed during his popular trial. Before he was hanged he gave a speech which was his final address to the court that convicted him. And he was thankful to Bob Butler for letting him send that text in electronic form. "This court acknowledges, too, as I suppose, the validity of the law of God. I see a book kissed, which I suppose to be the Bible, or at least the New Testament, which teaches me that all things whatsoever I would that men should do to me, I should do even so to them. It teaches me, further, to remember them that are in bonds as bound with them. I endeavored to act up to the instruction. I say I am yet too young to understand that God is any respecter of persons. I believe that to have interfered as I have done, as I have always freely admitted I have done, in behalf of his despised poor, I did not wrong but right. Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingles my blood further with the blood of my children and…

    • 1504 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Genovese, Eugene D. “Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made” In Taking Sides: Clashing Views in United States History. Vol. 1. 13th edition. Edited by Larry Madaras and James M. SoRelle, 255-263. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2009.…

    • 1591 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Nat Turner Essay

    • 1196 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Throughout the colonial period and the time leading up to the American civil war, one of the most important and controversial topics facing Americans was the idea of slavery. The notion of slavery is an odd and incredibly horrifying concept, that one man can own another man, or two men, or an entire family, just because of the color of their skin. No doubt the idea was racist and repulsive, but to many Men and Women in history, across the country and across the world, slavery was just a part of everyday life: they knew no different. So when those people who were being stripped from their homeland and brought over on ships to be sold at auction to the highest white bidder, began to question the sacredness of this terrible operation, it should have come as no surprise when a rebellion ensued like that of Nat Turner in South Hampton County, Virginia in August of 1831. Stephen B. Oates’s account of this gruesome slave rebellion was put into text in “The Fires of Jubilee: Nat Turner’s Fierce Rebellion.”…

    • 1196 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Best Essays

    Coffin vs Tubman

    • 3237 Words
    • 13 Pages

    Gara, Larry. "The Professional Fugitive in the Abolitionist Movement." The Wisconsin Magazine of History, Spring1965, http://www.jstor.org/stable/4634052 (accessed November 20, 2012).…

    • 3237 Words
    • 13 Pages
    Best Essays