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John Brown: America's First Terrorist? - Spring 2011

John Brown: America's First Terrorist? - Spring 2011

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Published by Prologue Magazine
As we celebrate the beginning of the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, it is worthwhile to remember, and contemplate, the most important figure in the struggle against slavery immediately before the war: John Brown. In an age of rising incidents of terrorism, numerous scholars, and more important, much of the general public, have again asked if John Brown was America’s “first terrorist.”
As we celebrate the beginning of the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, it is worthwhile to remember, and contemplate, the most important figure in the struggle against slavery immediately before the war: John Brown. In an age of rising incidents of terrorism, numerous scholars, and more important, much of the general public, have again asked if John Brown was America’s “first terrorist.”

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Published by: Prologue Magazine on Apr 25, 2011
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07/26/2011

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16
Prologue
 J
 By Paul Finkelman
America’s First Terrorist?
ohn Brown
 
Prologue
17
 w clba h bgiig  h qicial h Amica Civil Wa, i i whwhil  mmb,ad cmpla, h m impa g i h gglagai lavy immdialy b h wa: Jh Bw. Wh Bw wa hagd i 1859  hi aid  HapFy, Vigiia, may aw him a h habig  h .F Sh, h wa h mbdim  all hi a—a whi ma willig  di  d lavy—ad h m pymbl y  aggiv Nh ailavy im. Fmay Nh, h wa a pph  igh, bigigdw a ibl wi wd agai h immaliy  lavy ad h haghi  h Sh ma cla.I 2000, h Uid Sa makd h bicial Bw’ bih. A ha im, dmic im wa agwig pblm. Bmbig, ambh, ad aaiaihad b dicd a wm’ cliic ad phyicia i amb  plac; a bmb plad i Alaa’ CialOlympic Pak dig h 1996 mm Olympic had killd p ad wdd m ha a hdd ppl; i1995 a pai  igh-wig xmi had plad a bmb ah Ald A. Mah Fdal Bildig i Oklahma Ciy,killig 168 ppl ad ijig m ha 680 h.Dig ha bicial ya, a mb  hiiaad h alkd ab whh Jh Bw wa Amica’  i. Wa h a mdl  h cwad wh plad bmb a cliic, i pblic pak,  ibildig? Sigicaly, a la  md i,Pal Hill, cmpad himl  Jh Bw a h wa ad  mdig w ppl wh wkd a a wm’ cliic i Flida.
On the morning o October 18, 1859, marines stormed the engine house o thearmory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, capturing Brown and a ew o his raiders andkilling the rest. By the end o the raid, o the 22 who had been involved in the plot,10, including his sons Watson and Oliver, were dead or mortally wounded; fve,including Brown, had been captured.
 A 
 
18
Prologue
Spring 2011
 A ya a Bw’ bicial, hUid Sa wa acd wih mlipli aack  Spmb 11, 2001.T maig  im had chagd. I wa  lg h l  adm aackby a idividal  w. Nw i wa id  a wldwid cpiacy, cdiad vaad miclly plad. T Amicap wa a “wa  .” I a ag iig icid  im, mchla, ad m impa, mch  hgal pblic, hav agai akd i JhBw wa Amica’ “ i.”
Some Defnitions o Terrorism
T a  cmpl  cai d-iii  im. i k “iy” ppl ad ik a i hmid  h a whm hi  idicd. Ti, hwv, i  a cmpldii. A all, w wld cidldi i waa i, y ly hy y  mak hi my “al”  hm. Saig wih Wld Wa II, lag-cal bmbig ha b a ac  md waa, b bmbig  miliay ag ily  a ac  im, v hghh civilia pplai may b hamd izd.Ti apc  waa i hadly w. Sig waa  h aci ad mdival wldly izd h iid cal w. Similaly, h lg ig  h Civil Wa, a wll a dcii by bh id ik a civilia ag ha aidd h wa, ly izd pplai. Tch waa ad ailly dl  Wld Wa I izd milli  civilia, bhi wa  ially im.S, wha byd caig  ighigppl ci im? Hw d wd h “i?”F i, h “” il, h ac  vilc, i h gal ah ha imply hma  a d. i may hp pliical chag, b wha hy  wai  imply ik back a ad ham hhy pp. T ac   bcm hgal, wih  xpcai ha ayhig l will llw.Ti mak im di m
A mural titled
The Tragic Prelude
(1941) depicts John Brown’s antislavery battles in the Kansas Territory in 1856. At the end o the year, he was one o the mostrenowned fgures in “Bleeding Kansas.” The painting takes artistic license by portraying Brown with a beard; he was cleanshaven while in Kansas.

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