Lincoln’s Election, Southern Secession: 1860 to April 1861

John Brown’s Martyrdom

How did John Brown achieve immortality?

He had already done it by virtue of his heroic performance. But the legends surrounding John Brown had only begun to develop. Take, for example, the words that many of us sing: “John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave, but his soul is marching on!” Yet how many of us know where his body lies?

Mary Day Brown, the widow, asked for her husband’s body. She took it by train from Virginia to Manhattan and from there to Albany. Then the body was placed on a wagon and taken on a very difficult trip into the Adirondack Mountains, all the way to North Elba, New York. Brown was buried in a family plot in the community he had established a decade earlier. Then, too, there was the power of song.


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