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

John Brown’s Martyrdom

What was the verdict in Brown’s trial?

On the first of November, 1859, the judge sent the jury to consider the evidence. Less than forty-five minutes later, they returned with a verdict of guilty. Allowed some last words, Brown spoke eloquently about the need for social and racial justice in the United States. His mission was to free the slaves, he declared, and he would do it again if he had the chance. The Commonwealth of Virginia came off rather poorly during the trial; it looked as if all the power of the state and its officials was afraid of one old man.

Appeals for mercy began coming in from different parts of the country, but the Virginia judge, and those who advised him, were adamant. John Brown must die.


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