John Brown BY Jruss09695 John Brown the Freedom Fighter Terrorism is described as the unlawful use of threat of violence against people or property to further political or social awareness. In the case of John Brown, several historians have argued wether he falls under the category of a terrorist due to his actions or if he could be considered a hero. After examining different arguments amongst historians and reviewing sources of his trial it is appropriate to state that John Brown was a freedom fghter.
By studying the actions of John Brown we can acknowledge that not all of his efforts to secure racial Justice were violent. By analyzing Brown’s trial after the attack at Harper’s Ferry, and reviewing the testimonies given by hostages we learn that Brown never had malicious intentions. James N. Gilbert’s argument supports the idea that Brown was a terrorist but after properly studying the life and trial of John Brown marking him as a terrorist would be inappropriate.
John Brown has been considered a terrorist by historians due to his use of violence in his efforts to secure racial Justice. However, these historians are obviously oblivious to the many non-violent actions which John Brown executed in his attempt o create a racial-balanced nation. Brown had various ways of approaching the situation, “He promoted a school for blacks. He insisted that his two hired black employees be allowed to sit in his pew at his Congregational Church–an unprecedented demand that led to his expulsion from the church.
He became a stationmaster in the Underground Railroad, constructing a hiding place in his barn and taking fugitive slaves on nocturnal rides north to the next station. “l Brown started his attempt at racial equality at a very young age and it is certain that they were not all violence driven. Brown’s acceptance to the idea that violence was necessary was only embraced due to his admiration towards both, Nat Turner, and Cinque, who both led successful rebellions against slavery. 2 However, Brown never did harm anyone unless it was caused by self-defense and his actions were mostly religious-driven.
During John Browns interview in the Charlestown prison, he responds the question of who sent him with the following; “No man sent me here; it was my own prompting and that of my Maker, or that of the Devil,-whichever you please to ascribe it to. I acknowledge no master in human form. “3 This shows that Brown was driven by his religious beliefs, rather than violence. Brown could not be considered a terrorist if he was executing non-violent attempts to create a racially- balanced America.
By studying John Brown’s trial after the Attack at Harper’s Ferry and reviewing the testimonies given by the hostages we could conclude that Brown had only one objective, to free the slaves. Colonel Lewis W. Washington, who was a prosecution witness and a hostage states that Brown allowed the prisoners to go out and assure the families of their safety, that Brown frequently gave orders not to fire at unarmed itizens and that his men walked around with a flag of truce. He finally states that Brown had not, “uttered any vindictiveness against the people. 4 Brown’s hostages state tnat at no polnt aurlng tne attack on tne Terry were tnelr lives or saTety threatened due to Browns continuous reassurance that they will not be harmed. mfour own citizens who where my prisoners will tell you that every possible means was taken to prevent it. I did not allow my men to fire when there was danger of killing those we regarded as innocent persons, if I could help it. They will tell you that e allowed ourselves to be fired at repeatedly, and did not return it. 5 John Brown defense himself against the accusations of him killing innocent people and uses the support of his hostages testimonies to prove it. He then continuous the interview by claiming that his only goal was to free the slaves. A terrorist terrorizes people or property, as it has been proven, Brown did not terrorize his prisoners at any point, therefor arguing that he was a terrorist would be senseless. James N. Gilbert argues that John Brown was indeed a terrorist. Gilbert uses the efinition of a terrorist as someone who uses violence to threaten people or property to further political or social awareness.
Gilbert argues that a terrorist could be described as somewhat psychotic but during his trial Brown refused to plead insanity, “In fact, the best evidence is that Brown did not suffer from insanity, as he showed none of its classic symptoms–swings of mood, delusions, disengagement, inability to sleep or concentrate. “6 Gilbert also argues that, “terrorist ideology streams from a conviction that one has special insight that produces an individual tate of enlightenment. “7 Even though Brown states his motivations to be religious- based he never claims to be above everyone else in god’s eyes or anything related.
Gilbert’s foundation to his argument is that a terrorist uses the threat of violence against people, and as previously stated Brown never made his hostages at Harper’s Ferry feel like their safety was at stake. It is impossible to claim Brown as a terrorist if he doesn’t categorize into any of Gilbert’s definition of a terrorist. By using James N. Gilbert’s definition of a terrorism; using the threat of violence gainst people or property to further political or social awareness, it would be inappropriate to label John Brown as a terrorist.
By studying Brown’s trial after the attack on Harper’s ferry, and reviewing his hostages testimony we could claim that John Brown never had malicious intentions. He executed many non-violent attempts at achieving a racially-balanced nation that has become oblivious to those historians to argue that Brown was a terrorist. It is only after studying his life, his intentions, the Attack on Harper’s Ferry and the trial that follows that one can claim John Brown to be a freedom fghter.