America in the 1850s

The Emergence of John Brown

Did Brown start the troubles in Kansas all on his own?

John Brown was that kind of messianic believer, but even he could not pull that off. Instead, Brown just happened to be in the Kansas Territory at a propitious time, one when the fight between pro-slavery men and abolitionists was picking up speed. By the spring of 1856, there were two governments in the Kansas Territory: a pro-slavery government based at Lecompton and a Free-Soil government based at Lawrence. Recognizing the potential for deadly conflict, Brown organized a militia company at his home, twenty miles out of Lawrence. He became “Captain” John Brown to them, one of his ever-increasing list of names.


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