Shadowy Monticello

Works by John Lesage


A Country without Memory

List of places visited
List of topics discussed
About the writer
Get the book

Other short works

Maryhill and Celilo
Ewing Young & Champoeg
Ghost Mountain

More photography

Death Valley
The Cascades

2011 John Lesage

        Harpers Ferry

About two months before the raid, Brown met with his friend and supporter, the freed slave Frederick Douglass. Asked to join one last time, Douglass again expressed his reservations about the practicality of the effort. As he declined, Douglass must have understood the true nature of the endeavor. I’m willing to live for the slaves, but he’s willing to die for them.
        For his part, Brown had hinted that he meant to martyr himself. In a letter to his eldest son, he once related that if they are to be tried in Kansas, “I would much rather it should be with irons
in rather than upon our hands,” figuratively nailing himself to a cross. As Plan A for the raid on Harpers Ferry, Brown planned to succeed. As Plan B, he planned to fail. Failing was a spectacular success.
        John Brown succeeded in martyring himself after Harpers Ferry. John Wilkes Booth waited in the crowd gathered to watch his hanging, as did one Thomas Jackson, before he became a Stonewall. Brown was of course vilified in the South. However, the reaction differed in Northern towns with abolitionist sympathies. A
t the appointed hour of Brown’s execution, church bells rang in solidarity.