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Jefferson County Courthouse Jefferson County Courthouse
Photograph by Edwin A. Fitzpatrick, courtesy of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
The Jefferson County Courthouse in Charles Town, West Virginia (formerly Virginia), was the site of the 1859 trial of John Brown after his raid and subsequent capture at Harpers Ferry. Brown had attempted to lead a slave rebellion and establish a free black stonghold in the Appalachians. The trial drew great attention, especially from northern sympathizers who campaigned for his acquittal. Attempting to evade trial by claiming illness, Brown was pronounced competent to stand trial by a physician, but was allowed to lie on a cot to deliver his testimony. Brown's illness, however, did nothing to sway the court and he was found guilty of conspiring with slaves to rebel, of murder and of treason against Virginia. Sentenced to death, Brown was hanged near the courthouse and his body was removed by train to his farm in upstate New York. John Brown's violent protest against slavery set the stage for the bloody national conflict that would erupt three years later.

The Jefferson County Courthouse is located at N. George and E. Washington Sts. in Charles Town, West Virginia. Guided tours are given weekends, April-November. For more information and special tours call 304/728-7713.

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