James Buchanan - John brown's raid

Still, the common bonds of language, tradition, patriotism, economic interdependence, and religion appeared to be holding firm until October 1859, when the fiery abolitionist John Brown invaded Harpers Ferry, Virginia, with 22 men and some 950 iron-tipped spears. The effort was promptly crushed, but Brown had clearly intended to rouse the slaves to revolt, arm them with guns and spears, and begin an all-out war against the whites. Governor Henry A. Wise of Virginia refused to have Brown examined for insanity, and Brown insisted on the martyrdom Wise was eager to confer. Still suffering from wounds, Brown was carried into the courtroom on a cot, and he flatly denied any purpose beyond helping slaves to escape. He lied with magnificent eloquence and dignity, and the circumstances of his trial, along with his courage on the scaffold, helped mitigate the initial northern feeling that he was a monster and a madman. The abolitionists promptly canonized him. Thoreau compared his execution to the crucifixion of Christ, and others took up the comparison. More important, because Brown had been financed by a handful of rich northerners, southern radicals emphasized the intent, rather than the result, to convince perhaps hundreds of thousands of previously moderate southerners that the North really did intend to invade the South and start a horrible race war similar to that in Haiti from 1791 to 1804.

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