Tragic Prelude, John Brown


PERHAPS IN retaliation for this violence an abolitionist named John Brown led a raid in Pottawatomie, Kansas, a pro-slavery settlement, and killed five people.  Brown was captured in 1859 at Harper's Ferry, Virginia and sentenced to hang for treason.


Today, for reasons of their own, history books often portray Brown as a fanatical lunatic.  However, most people living in the 1850's did not consider Brown crazy, and depending on their viewpoint that made him either all the more terrifying or all the more heroic.  In the North, Brown was seen as a martyr, willing to fight and die for his beliefs.  In Savannah and the rest of the South, he was seen as a terrorist who could perhaps spark further abolitionist attacks.


When the trial of the Wanderer began, John Brown and all he represented to the Savannah jurists was alive and well in a Virginia jail cell.


"Old John Brown's body lies moldering in the grave, While weep the sons of bondage who he ventured all to save: but tho he lost his life while struggling for the slave, His soul is marching on."

- "John Brown's Body"

Union marching song during the Civil War

By William Weston Patten

To the tune of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic"


(Image: "Tragic Prelude," by John Stewart Curry)