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

John Brown’s Martyrdom

How many people went to see Brown executed?

Something in the neighborhood of two thousand, but virtually none of them were casual onlookers. Fearing a rescue attempt would be made, the Commonwealth of Virginia had militia regiments from all over the state on the scene.

Brown was taken from his jail and led to a wagon on which there was a coffin (he rode on the coffin on the fifteen-minute ride). Arriving at the place for his execution, Brown exchanged heartfelt goodbyes with Captain John Avis, who had been his jailer. Brown handed Avis a note that read: “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had, as I now think, vainly flattered myself that without very much blood shed, it might be done.” Minutes later, Brown was led to the gallows and hanged.


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