"A most extraordinary telegraphic bulletin startled the whole country yesterday one importing that an Insurrection had just broken out at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, and that it was the work of negroes and Abolitionists!
"That some sort of disturbance has taken place in that locality is manifest; for it seems that the telegraphic wires are broken at that point, and the running of the trains on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad interrupted; but, as negroes are not abundant in that part of Virginia, while no Abolitionists were ever known to peep in that quarter, we believe the nature of the affair must be grossly misapprehended."
The disbelief faded when it became known that the ardent abolitionist John Brown had indeed led a small band of free blacks and other followers to attack the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Brown intended to spark a slave rebellion he hoped would spread across the South.
President James Buchanan dispatched a military unit led by Col. Robert E. Lee to take back the buildings Brown and his men held. Trapped and surrounded, Brown was taken prisoner, tried, and was hanged less than two months later.
The October 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry would become another step on the road to the Civil War, which would break out less than two years later.
- John Brown and the Raid on Harpers Ferry
- The Underground Railroad
- Abolitionist Senator Attacked in the Capitol
- Uncle Tom's Cabin
Illustration: John Brown/Library of Congress
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