Picture of the Day: October 16

6/12/2006 • Civil War Causes, John Browns Raid On Harpers Ferry, Picture of the Day

On Sunday evening, October 16, 1859, radical abolitionist John Brown and a tiny army of five black and 13 white supporters seized the Federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia). Convinced that local slaves would rise up behind him, Brown planned to establish a new republic of fugitives in the Appalachian Mountains. Brown’s plans immediately went awry when the expected slave rebellion did not happen and the townspeople trapped Brown’s men inside the engine house at the Federal arsenal. Within 24 hours, Brown and his four surviving men were captured by a force of 90 U.S. Marines under the command of Lt. Col. Robert E. Lee. Brown, pictured here, was quickly convicted of criminal conspiracy and treason and sentenced to death. He was hanged on December 2, 1859. As he went to the gallows, Brown handed a note to one of his guards: ‘I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.’

Photo: Library of Congress