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John Brown

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During the mid 1800s, attitudes concerning slavery began to harden, with growing division between the North and South. On one hand, white southerners, who opposed violence, began to defend the institution of slavery; however, northern abolitionists decided on a new, more violent approach to voicing their opinion. Radical and pious abolitionist John Brown became a northern hero due to his involvement in "Bleeding Kansas" and the 1859 raid on Harper's Ferry, Virginia, which brought many social changes within the nation. Despite the fact that John Brown was unsuccessful in his attempt to seize Harper's Ferry, his actions distinctly changed the relationship between the North and South, for the northern abolitionists turned to more radical and forceful methods, while the south began to view the north, in its entirety, as a force determined to humiliate them.

John Brown was notoriously known throughout the South as a result of his involvement in "Bleeding Kansas," but southern white supremacists also partook in acts of violence against anti-slavery residents. After the raid on Harper's Ferry, however, many, including Horace Greeley and the prominent Abraham Lincoln, felt that Brown made a mistake (Doc. A and E). Conservative northerners and white southerners believed that John Brown had taken his good abolitionist intentions too far. Even newspapers, such as the Topeka Tribune of Kansas discussed the positive aspects of the unsuccessful raid sarcastically (Doc. C). Divisions between the North and the South began to grow and compromise over the issue of slavery was made almost impossible, for now, the South felt threatened. Rather than view the neighboring north as a region with differing opinions, the southerners were defensive and feared that the entirely radical north was going to attempt each and every drastic measure in order to end slavery.

While opinions in the South began to transform in the wake of John Brown's attack on Harper's Ferry, Virginia, the northerners also looked upon the south differently as well. Brown and other radical abolitionists similar to him became martyrs of the anti-slavery North. In a review of James Redpath's novel, The Public Life of Captain John Brown, the Atlantic Monthly magazine remained unimpressed



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