National Capital Region: Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
- Cultural Landscape: Chambers-Murphy Farm
- Park: Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
- Periods of Significance:
1861 - 1865 Civil War era1895 - 1909 Period when John Brown's Fort was located at Chambers-Murphy Farm
- Featured Artwork: Marching to a Monument for Freedom, Richard Fitzhugh, 1994
- Associated Cultural Landscape Reports:
Nearing the small brick building, a physician from Brooklyn bent and respectfully removed his shoes and socks. Others followed him as they approached the hallowed ground, marching single-file around the fort to the sounds of The Battle Hymn of the Republic and John Brown's Body.
The building was acquired by the National Park Service in 1960 and has stood at its present location since 1968, now just east of the original site at the armory in Lower Town.
In 1994, Washington, D.C. artist and illustrator Richard Fitzhugh was commissioned by the Harpers Ferry Historical Association and the West Virginia Branch of the NAACP to create this painting, which accompanied "The Call for Justice and the Struggle for Equality: Niagara and Beyond" exhibit at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
The painting depicts a procession of Niagara Movement delegates making their way toward John Brown's Fort on August 17, 1906. Ceremonies at the historically significant building were devoted to the memory of well-known abolitionist John Brown. The meeting was an important cornerstone in the foundation of the modern civil rights movement.
John Brown's Raid remains a part of the legacy of our nation's struggle with slavery and civil rights, directing the nation's attention on the moral issue of slavery as it marched towards civil war.
The painting was informed by a variety of sources, including photographs taken of the fort in the late nineteenth century, a group photograph of the men taken as they returned from the march, and a description of the morning's ceremony from "Allies for Freedom" by Dr. Benjamin Quarles.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Located the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers and including land in three states, the themes of history at Harpers Ferry are equally difficult to distinguish from each other.
The landscape has been a backdrop to manufacture, the arrival of the first successful American railroad, John Brown's fight against slavery, and education of former slaves in one of the earliest integrated schools in the country. Thomas Jefferson remarked upon the natural features of this landscape, and Meriwether Lewis traveled here in 1803 to gather supplies from the United States Armory and Arsenal for the transcontinental expedition.
The landscape of Lower Town, one of many cultural landscapes identified and documented within the park, is defined by five major periods of growth and development. It is a landscape shaped by the complex forces of natural and human influence. Commercial development in the town developed alongside industrial development, and the influence of technology and engineering stand beside the picturesque impressions of a rural landscape. The scene is traversed by rivers and railroads, its history framed by forces of conflict, floods, settlement, industry, and recreation.
Did you know?
John Brown's Fort was moved four times.
Originally located at the Armory Grounds/Musket Factory in Lower Town Harpers Ferry, it was moved to Chicago for the 1893 Chicago World Exposition, to the Murphy Farm about two miles outside the town of Harpers Ferry (the location depicted in this painting), to Storer College, and then to its present location in Lower Town.
Discover how you can visit the fort and the many cultural landscapes of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park at the park website.
Last updated: June 28, 2018