John Brown – 1800-1859
Brown was active in the vicious guerrilla war between antislavery and proslavery settlers in Kansas. On May 24, 1856, he led a raid against a proslavery settlement at Pottawatomie Creek, in which five men were hacked to death with sabers. After this, he came east, and on October 16, 1859, raided the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now in West Virginia), intending to arm local slaves for an uprising he hoped would trigger a universal slave rebellion. A small force of U.S. Marines (led by army officer Robert E. Lee) attacked the raiders on the 17th, wounding Brown and killing two of his sons as well as eight other followers. Brown was tried for murder, inciting a slave insurrection, and treason. He was hanged on December 2, 1859. Abolitionists regarded him as a martyr, and the raid, trial, and punishment hastened the coming of the Civil War.