The Significance of John Brown's Raid

The Significance of John Brown's Raid

The Meteor of the War

On the night of October 16, 1859, 21 men (including five African Americans), led by abolitionist John Brown, made their way across the covered B&O Railroad bridge leading into Harper's Ferry. Their target was the United States arsenal and armory at Harper's Ferry. Brown hoped that slaves would join him, and he could arm them with the captured guns and the 1,000 pikes. Unfortunately for Brown, slaves did not join him. In fact, the first man killed during the raid was Heyward Sheperd, an employee of the B&O and a former slave. The first raider killed was Dangerfield Newby, a former slave who wanted to free his wife and kids. Militia men trapped Brown's men at the arsenal's engine house and Hall's Rifle Factory on October 17. By October 18, 90 U.S. Marines, led by Robert E. Lee and accompanied by J.E.B. Stuart, arrived from Washington. Lee offered the militia the chance to storm the engine house, but they believed that the paid soldiers should risk their lives. Lieutenant Israel Greene gathered 12 marines for the storming party. After a failed negotiation attempt by Stuart, Greene and his men attacked. They broke through the door with sledge hammers and a ladder used as a battering ram. Greene was the first one in, followed by Private Luke Quinn who was killed immediately. The next Marine, Private Matthew Rupert, was shot in the face. Greene beat Brown with his sword and the Marines overwhelmed the remaining raiders. The final confrontation lasted only three minutes, and John Brown's raid was over.

The raid ended with ten raiders, five townspeople, and one marine killed. Brown and five other men were captured, tried, and executed for the charges of treason against the state of Virginia, murder, and attempting to incite a slave insurrection (five others escaped and were never captured). With 22 killed and very little building damage, John Brown's raid may not look like a significant event, however some historians consider it to be one of the most important forces that resulted in the Civil War.

The only charge against Brown and his conspirators that required the death penalty was attempting to incite a slave insurrection. Slave insurrections had happened in Virginia before; in fact, Nat Turner's Rebellion was much deadlier with 100-200 rebels killed and 55-65 whites killed, so why didn't Herman Melville call them meteors of the war? For one, John Brown's raid was unlike the other insurrections. Although five African Americans, including two former slaves, participated in the raid, the majority of the participants were northern abolitionists. Southerners didn't only see the raid as a slave insurrection, they also saw it as a northern invasion. To make matters worse, it was discovered that six prominent northerners had funded Brown's men. The South was not only fearful of future slave rebellions, but also future northern invasions. As a result, southern states began to militarize, which was the beginning of the Confederate Army.

John Brown's raid also effected the election of 1860. On February 27, 1860, Abraham Lincoln gave his Cooper Union Address in New York. In this address, Lincoln referenced Brown's raid in his moderate stance against slavery. Following the speech, the Republican Party believed they had found their nominee, and ten months later, he was elected president of the United States. Without John Brown's raid, it is unlikely that the one-time Congressman from Illinois would have been considered for the nomination, and without Lincoln's election, the onset of the war and the end of slavery would have been prolonged.

Although many northerners, including Lincoln, did not agree with the methods John Brown used in 1859, they all agreed that the peculiar institution of slavery needed to end. Without Brown, the war to end slavery may have begun much later than 1861, and slavery in America would have persisted. Today, the engine house, now called John Brown's Fort, is considered to be one of the most important buildings in the United States by Howard University. Northern politicians may not have believed that Brown's violence was the right way to end slavery, but ultimately it was the driving force behind its end.

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A Country, Divided

Hate will only fuel hate

With the latest school shootings, election investigations, and the Time's Up and #MeToo movements flooding social media and the news outlets, it's almost impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The people of our country are divided over personal beliefs, as usual, but have now insisted on using social media to belittle each other. While this is not new, each day I find new things people are complaining about on Facebook, especially the gun laws and problems with the NRA. While strict gun laws mean nothing to a country full of hatred, promoting and fighting for your rights with a heart full of hate will not make anything better for us.

It's one thing to support gun rights, but it's another to attack someone for wanting something different. All you have is an opinion. What you have to say is not fact, and it doesn't matter how many stats you find on the NRA's website to prove your point. Attacking students who watched their classmates die in front of them does not make you a great citizen because you're "protecting your rights." You sound like a jerk fighting with a 14 year old who is grieving.

I'm not writing this as a call to action, or to voice my opinion, because my opinions don't matter. In our country today, it seems like the only opinions that matter are those who are the rich, or those who are in support with our government. Anyone who goes against them are deemed liars and "wrong."

I'm glad that those who have wronged women are being punished. I'm glad that kids are finding their voices and are refusing to be silent. But if you fight with a CHILD, and tell them that their opinion doesn't matter, who ever told you yours did? Who made you feel like you were above everyone else because you support a big corporation, or a big government power? Hate to break it to you, but that's what they want. You're a dollar sign.

So the next time you log onto Facebook, Twitter, or whatever, think before you write a hateful post to your "friend" because you don't agree. Think before you yell at a child you've never met for using their freedom of speech and freedom to act, the same right that you're fighting for. Just because you're on opposing sides, doesn't mean you have to hate each other. Violence equals violence, and as of right now, I see no end.

Cover Image Credit: Sherry Boas

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Are Adults Using Children To Further Their Political Agenda?

They're smarter than kids, and it shows.

Since the national student walkout on March 14, there has been an increased sense of "pride" in the children of the United States.

Adults and politicians praise students for standing up for what they believe, even though these same children are too young to vote for those exact things that they believe in. Rolling Stone wrote an article that criticizes adult Americans for doing nothing since the Parkland mass shooting that killed 17. Articles like these are more than common lately - children are being worshipped while adults take the full blame for gun violence and the lack of change.

I, however, want to offer a new perspective. Columnist Megan McArdle wrote an opinion post titled "The student walkout said more about adults than kids," and it challenged me to think out of the box and offer a new opinion regarding this upcoming generation of students. (Give her article a read because it's really thought-provoking!)

When the walkout took place, not everyone participated. There were schools that fully supported it, but many threatened to punish students for leaving class. My sister's high school didn't organize a walkout, but many students still decided to participate on their own. The media, of course, highlighted the schools that had hundreds of students marching on school property, waving signs and chanting for change.

More importantly, the walkout symbolized a new era of student's voice. Never before had so many underage children stood up for what they believed in. But was it really what they wanted? Had every single one of the thousands of students nationwide been educated on gun usage, firearm statistics, and the actual definition of a mass shooting? Or had their parents, teachers, and the media just told them what to believe?

If children started protesting against the drinking age, how would the adults respond? They'd probably disagree and put down the protests. It would make media headlines for a day or two and then dissolve into nothing. What if 12-year-olds demanded the right to drive cars? Ridiculous, the adults would say. Children's opinions rarely matter because their knowledge and experience are weak compared to that of their superiors.

BUT, when a child stands up for something that the adults are also passionate about, all of sudden, that child is "wise beyond years" and "more mature than most." It would seem, then, that the adults are the ones shaping children and controlling what they support.

This isn't a new concept, of course. Adults are smarter than children, in my opinion, and you'd be dumb to argue against that. And yet, people are basically worshipping the walkout students for organizing such a huge event on their own, except it wasn't on their own. The entire walkout depended on the support and aid of adult teachers, parents, and organizations. Adults spread the word of the event via Facebook, Twitter, news outlets, and text messages. Adults provided security at the schools during the walkouts. Adults showed up to video the event and provide news coverage. Without adults, the walkout on March 14 would have been nothing. It wouldn't have happened.

This wouldn't even be a problem if people weren't blaming adults for being retroactive in regards to gun control. But they are. Liberals are saying that children are more grown-up than most adults, simply because they decided to skip school for 17 minutes. Yes, there are certainly children who really do want gun control, but I have a bad feeling that the majority of them participated in the walkout because they felt pressured by their parents, teachers, and peers. The adults were in full control; the students were just puppets.

If we're going to let kids walk out of the classroom, lose quality learning time, and march for what they're "passionate" about, we better be prepared for it to happen again with issues that are more childish.

Imagine if these same kids organized a walkout to protest the length of the American school day - would they be so smart and mature then?

On a side note, the walkout is going to do nothing politically. The adults have government control, and they'll do what they want. Stay in school, kids, because your opinion does not have an influence, no matter how much mom and dad says it does.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia

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