Return to Boston Abolitionists, 1831-1865
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On 17 October 1859, John Brown led an "army" of twenty-one white and black followers in a forlorn attempt to capture the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, and to instigate a slave rebellion. With financial support from leaders of the antislavery movement (five members of the "Secret Six" were from the Boston area), he planned a direct action against the South. As a military operation, the attack on Harper's Ferry was a fiasco, but Brown's stoical courage during his trial and at his execution made him an abolitionist martyr.