America in the 1850s

The Emergence of John Brown

How did John Brown escape prison or a worse fate?

He was indicted in Kansas, but the sheriffs were loyal either to the Lecompton government or the Lawrence government. Brown easily skated between the two and left Kansas for a time. In 1858, he conducted a major cross-state raid into Missouri, where he freed a number of slaves and sewed terror among a number of plantation owners. Soon after that success, Brown grew a long gray beard as a disguise; this became one of his trademarks.

By 1858, Brown had earned a small host of nicknames. He was “Captain” John Brown to his militia. He was “Old” John Brown to poets. He was a legend in the making.


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