The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Remembering John Brown

On the 150th anniversary of John Brown's execution (2 December 1859), a reminder that you can visit our current exhibition, "John Brown: Martyr to Freedom or American Terrorist - Or Both?" through 23 December, Monday - Saturday from 1-4 p.m. The exhibit includes personal papers, photographs, broadsides, engravings, weapons, and artifacts that illuminate Brown's life together with evidence of the continuing arguments about the morality and meaning of his actions.

And since there are a number of interesting columns about Brown and his legacy in the newspapers today I thought I'd link to those: at History News Network, David Blight's essay "'He Knew How to Die": John Brown on the Gallows, December 2, 1859" examines the difficult lessons of Brown's life and actions, concluding "John Brown should confound and trouble us.  Martyrs are made by history; people choose their martyrs just as we choose to define good and evil.  And we will be forever making and unmaking John Brown as Americans face not only their own racial past, but the ever changing reputation of violence in the present."

In the New York Times, Tony Horwitz calls Brown's raid "The 9/11 of 1859," and points out parallels he sees between Brown's raid and the attacks made on 11 September 2001 (and between Brown's trial and the upcoming trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed).

Also in the Times, David Reynolds argues in "Freedom's Martyr" that Brown should be remembered as an "American hero," and suggests that Virginia governor Tim Kaine and President Barack Obama should posthumously pardon Brown.

permalink | Published: Wednesday, 2 December, 2009, 9:05 AM


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