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. He was
    John Brown.

    Since his early childhood in Ohio, 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 Kansas
    Territory in October 1855 and soon made his
    presence known as a religious man and a military
    leader. However, it was in May 1856 that his most
    noted adventure in Kansas occurred. After the
    sacking of Lawrence by pro-slavery forces, Brown
    and seven of his followers set out to seek revenge
    and on May 24 they brutally murdered and
    mutilated five pro-slavery men near Dutch Henry's
    Crossing on Pottawatomie Creek in Franklin
    County. This action was denounced by both the
    free-staters and pro-slavery forces. It was
    reported in the press in both the North and South
    and earned Brown national recognition as "John
    Brown from Osawatomie, Kansas."

    He left Kansas Territory never to return in early
    1859. His plan to capture the armory at Harper's
    Ferry in Virginia 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.
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John Brown