America in the 1850s
Abraham Lincoln Appears on the Scene
Wasn’t Brown himself a Puritan?
He was indeed. Brown’s strange and remarkable life pointed forward, to a new kind of America, but he also harkened backward, to earlier and more difficult times. Those who knew Brown best considered him a new type of Oliver Cromwell, the hero of the English Puritans during their Civil War in the 1640s: a stern, inflexible person who demanded that other people view the world with his set of eyes (as well as values).
After the rejection of Brown by the literary leaders of Massachusetts, Brown disappeared from sight for a while. His supporters in the North—who were rather small in number—knew only that the “Old Man,” as they called him, had contracted with a weaponmaker to produce 1,500 pikes (shades of Oliver Cromwell!).