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John Brown

Kansas

Fiery abolitionist John Brown dedicated his life to slavery’s destruction.

As Frederick Douglass wrote, posthumously, of Brown, "His zeal in the cause of freedom was infinitely superior to mine…I could live for the slave; John Brown could die for him."

Brown was active in Underground Railroad activity in New York state, and in efforts to keep Kansas free. Brown and his followers even committed the murders of proslavery sympathizers to keep such men out of Kansas.

In 1859, hoping to act as a catalyst for a widespread African American rebellion, Brown, his sons and several free African Americans unsuccessfully attacked the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Brown and most of his cohorts were captured and executed. Only one member of the band, an African American abolitionist named Osbourne Anderson, escaped Harpers Ferry via the Underground Railroad to Canada