America in the 1850s

The Emergence of John Brown

Who was John Brown, and what had he accomplished up to this point in life?

Born in rural Connecticut, Brown (1800–1859) came from a deeply religious family that claimed descent from the early Puritans. He moved west with his family to Ohio at a young age and spent several years on the frontier, which was where he developed his lifetime loathing for the institution of slavery. At some time during the War of 1812 (we cannot be more precise) Brown saw a militia captain badly mistreat his black slave, who was about Brown’s age. The scene was so ugly and violent that Brown became a lifetime opponent of slavery, even though he had little opportunity to fight it.

Brown’s first wife died and he quickly remarried; between them, his wives bore him twenty children. Most of Brown’s energy was spent tending to his large family, but sometime in the 1840s he took up the abolitionist cause with fervor, and when he first met Frederick Douglass in 1847, Brown proposed a plan for freeing the slaves.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Civil War Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App