An American Lynching: December 2, 1859

“Any man comes between me and what I think is right, I’ll kill him just as easily as I eat my morning breakfast.”

Are these the words of a madman?

If the man who dared to rise up (in arms) against the vilest stain on American history (slavery) is mad, then maybe we ought to open the doors to the insane asylum.

John Brown was born on May 9, 1800.

John Brown was hung (for treason) on December 2, 1859.

In a country so starved for true patriots, it’s a shame so few of us have ever heard of this man. And even more shameful is the fact that so many of us (who have heard of him) view him to be nothing more than a murderer. Especially down south.

Which is understandable, I guess. For John Brown did orchestrate the brutal killing of five pro-slavery sympathizers. And John Brown did attempt to raid the federal armory in Harper’s Ferry Virginia, to use the weapons there to further his war against slavery.

But I don’t believe those acts are why he has been so thoroughly whitewashed from American history. I believe it was the simple fact that he used violence–period. And if there’s one thing our forefather’s didn’t want repeated, it was to follow their lead in using violence to eradicate an injustice; Especially one that so many of them were profiting from.

And so it has continued for over a hundred and fifty years; America’s (what some might call) conspiratorial silence towards one of its greatest citizen’s. John Brown, the man who (Frederick Douglass and many others rightfully claimed) started the Civil War.

If you’d have thought Hollywood might be interested in such a story… you’d of thought wrong. The last thing our government wants (or will allow) is a movie glorifying the use of (justified) violence. Hollywood might get away with doing a glamorized (and sanitized) version of Edger J. Hoover, but any telling of Brown without the unavoidable justification of his cause–would be a wasted effort.

And the sad truth is that John Brown was so much more than that. A scribbled note that he passed to his jailer on the way to the gallows said it all: “I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had as I now think: vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed; it might be done.”

Not only was he a martyr, but a prophet as well. Such was the man named John Brown.

Marty Zupan is a a foundry worker from Seattle. He can be reached at Read other articles by Marty.