abolitionist crusade in Kansas
had a dramatic impact on both state and national history and kept slavery in
the forefront of political discussion which sparked the Civil War. 1800-1859.
John Brown an abolitionist who used violence to end slavery lead several antislavery attacks during the territorial
period of Kansas. Photo taken between 1850 and 1859, courtesy Kansas Historical Society
Since his early childhood
Brown had taken to heart the doctrine that all of "God's" creations
should be free. He used his home to hide runaway slaves and often spoke openly
for the abolition of slavery. He followed five of his sons to KansasTerritory
in October 1855 and soon made his presence known as a religious man and a
John Brown led Free State
Forces at the Battle of Black Jack on May 2, 1856. Though he was outnumbered
four to one, won the battle against pro-slavery forces.
It was later in May 1856 that his
most noted adventure in Kansas
occurred. After the sacking of Lawrence
by pro-slavery forces Brown sought revenge by leading a raid against proslavery
activists during which five pro-slavery activists were killed. However, Brown
spared the lives of two men, and one young pro-slavery activist during the raid,
which became known as the Pottawatomie Massacre. This action was denounced by
both the free-staters and pro-slavery forces.
John Brown's identity as a
Kansan was firmly established at the Battle of Osawatomie on August 30, 1856.
This was the largest armed conflict of Bleeding Kansas, during which John Brown
and approximately 30 others attempted to protect the town of Osawatomie against approximately 250
pro-slavery forces. Although Brown lost the battle, from that point on he was
known as "Osawatomie Brown of Kansas."
He left KansasTerritory
never to return in early 1859. His plan to capture the armory at Harper's Ferry
and ignite a slave insurrection failed. Brown was tried for treason and
executed by hanging on December 2, 1859. His stirring speeches at his trial and
brave composure while being executed, made Brown a martyr for the
abolitionists. Poems, ballads and songs were written in his honor and his
legend grew in popularity through the Civil War.
He was called a
"misguided fanatic" by Abraham Lincoln, a "blood-thirsty murderer"
by Jefferson Davis and considered a 19th-century "Christ"
by intellectuals like Emerson and Thoreau.
Adair Cabin, located at the John Brown Museum State Historic Site. Exterior photo courtesy Travis Perry; Interior photo courtesy Dr. Doug McGovern.
POINTS OF INTEREST ABOUT JOHN BROWN IN KANSAS
Historic Site, 10th
and Main.913.755.4384. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday 1-5 p.m., or by appointment A stone pergola encloses the Adair Cabin,
which was John Brown's headquarters during "Bleeding Kansas." The
Adair Cabin was owned by John Brown's half Sister Florella Adair and her husband,
Reverend Samuel Adair.
JohnBrownPark, 10th and Main. The
Battle of Osawatomie was fought on this site on August 30, 1856.
John Brown statue, 10th and Main.
A life-sized statue of John Brown, sculpted by George Fite Waters, stands near
the park entrance.
Soldiers' Monument, 9th and Main.
Five town defenders killed during the Battle of Osawatomie, including John
Brown's son Frederick, are buried here.
OsawatomieMuseum, 628 Main. 913.755.6781. Open Tuesday-Sunday 1-4 p.m. In a
reconstructed Missouri Pacific depot, are many railroad and local history
displays, including a display about John Brown.
Kansas State Capitol, 300 S.W. 10th. See John Steuart Curry's mural Tragic Prelude, featuring John Brown.