John Brown

Where the myth and legend came to rest

John Browns Farm Historic Site, North Elba, New York

The USA has a race obsession issue

Victims memorialized at John Brown Farm Historic Site in North Elba
John Brown Farm State Historic Site. Abolitionists  Abolitionists
getting a glimpse of real American History

The USA does have a race obsession, mostly because its back-end history of stealing Indigenous Americans’ land over and over, reneging on promises, the enslavement of Africans, to enacting policies like Jim Crow to promote segregation and oppression to keep Blacks as a permanent underclass so they would never being equal to Whites… it’s just doesn’t reflect positively on the original European Settlers’ treatment of non-European descendants in the USA, and ultimately the offspring that exist today. This is American History, it’s not made-up propaganda, so there is almost a shame in telling American History, which is why we can’t even have open race-related discussions. No one alive today needs to be an apologist for the actions of the people in the past, no one needs to check their privilege and all of that crazy stuff we hear today, we just need to come to grips with American History, as it was NOT a long time ago, it is very recent relative to how long humans have lived, and the effects of it are still seen today. Along with enslavers there were Abolitionists, in case you didn’t know! Another problem is that important Black figures/progression aren’t a part of telling of “American History”, as if to say that Blacks in America aren’t AMERICAN. At one point, Blacks weren’t even considered but 3/5ths of a human being by Americans, and weren’t considered in that whole “all men are created equal” talk, as written in the Declaration of Independence. One would have to take a “BLACK HISTORY” course to learn about how Blacks could even possibly be a part of American History, and both in the USA and abroad, American History is missing Blacks (among other groups). This ‘subculture’ handling of American History is a major contributor to US racial problems, as it contributes to American ignorance about its own history and enforces the original idea of slavery, that Blacks are not citizens of America and their stories don’t count as American History. Sure, nobody is SAYING that out loud, but this is what is portrayed over and over by action of people recounting American History as if it is not Blacks’ history too. It means that if Blacks are associated with a piece of this American history, then Black History is an alternate story telling that runs parallel to the REAL American History, which would pertain to only Blacks, is written specifically for Blacks, as nobody else would be interested in knowing this history. That is terrible and many subscribe to this stupidity in modern, progressive times, which makes “Black History” or “Black History Month” a problem, as it appears separatist, not inclusive, but these are really only a result of being cut out of American History’s story-telling because that’s what American History is, story telling at its best, and not its worst.

Slavery? Walk it off… It’s in your mind!

John brown's farm site Abolitionists
In Abolitionist country, North Elba, New York

The problem we have in the USA is we have been programmed to only see American History as (White) Saviors/Heroes and tales of heroic figures ONLY, depicting Blacks are people who needed to be saved because they were inferior beings who just moped and plagued the land, and didn’t know how to better themselves, which is why so many Black folk today hate this depiction as told by non-Blacks! No one wants to see themselves depicted as helpless people who need saving because they can’t help themselves for being subservient, and at the same time we are told to completely ignore the mentalities of Americans and the entire topic of slavery that forced Blacks into being the subservient beings they were in the first place, for so long, in American History due to AMERICAN SLAVERY. We like to skip that topic and pretend like Blacks just showed up in America on their own one day, all subservient and whatnot, and could have changed their fates whenever but chose not to. You think I’m joking? Many people think like this as a result of bad mental programming about slavery because American likes to skip slavery or not talk about it in a real sense, which leads to watering down of it and over-simplifications of it as something Blacks could easily just walk away from and be free of. This was Kanye West’s dumb babble about “Slavery was a Choice. He needs cancelling! He is NOT alone in this thinking of simplistic-reductionist view of slavery and perception of how weak Blacks were in the time of slavery. If you constantly remind someone of the story of how terrible they were, they believe that at a certain point. Well so too is true non-Blacks who revisit American History.

American History’s Public-Relations campaign needed

A look at his farm site Abolitionists
The simply-complicated life of the 1850s

In modern times, to combat this, Americans tell revisionist history where we are all force-fed White Saviors in the form of movies where the White Saviors save non-Whites and are therefore HEROs. Then, to shove the American savior/hero-complex narrative down our throats, over and over, is a constant campaign of “good guy” revisionist American history created to counter some of the more horrific events in American History that have led to the Birth of a Nation (pun intended). It’s good for virtual signaling, it’s good American History PR but it leaves many annoyed as they keep seeing this savior image over and over, ad nauseum. The other part to the argument is the American History ignorance of Americans. Seriously, Americans were not taught American History as factual events, it’s told with slants to make some Americans look more favorably than others through this hero-making story telling business. This point is wonderfully detailed in a very good book that I recommend called “LIES MY TEACHER TOLD ME” by top-historian James W. Loewen. To add to that, the blocking out of Blacks, Latins, Asians, Indigenous Americans, from American History is how American History is told largely in the world. So, when I learned that it was recently proposed that Julia Roberts play a major Black figure in American History, Harriet Tubman (Julia Roberts being a White woman, and Harriet Tubman being a Black woman who was a key figure in the Underground Railroad to free slaves, I was not surprised that the major Hollywood director proposing this idea would be so ignorant! This event made my point about how dumb Americans are when it comes to American History, otherwise it would be widely known that Harriet Tubman was Black, and to white-wash that character wouldn’t be a good idea, is just an insane thought. That director isn’t racist, he is IGNORANT!! This is HANLON’S RAZOR, “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity”. That director really didn’t know who Harriet Tubman was, how hard is that to imagine given that we aren’t taught and aren’t included in American History equally? Most people today only learned of Harriet Tubman from the controversy to put her on a $20 bill as the first AMERICAN WOMAN to be on a bill. If Black History isn’t American History, and it’s alternative history, then you can see why this director wouldn’t know the race of a major figure, from a major group in American history.

Why we fight… Self-inflicted SHAME

grave site Abolitionists
Here he lay at his farm house

Harriet Tubman was an Abolitionist, which is a word that many in America have never even heard of, and if they did, they certainly didn’t know that there were Black Abolitionists, which naturally Blacks whom had freedom would be because this lot wanted to rid the US of slavery. The story of the Abolitionists is not one that is well told, and therefor not well known, and this is a good avenue to explore for people who wish to satiate all crowds. The Abolitionists should focus on telling the story of Abolitionists in American History if really hoping to make a good PR spin and avoid the made up hero complex stories. Promote and tell the REAL American savior stories, this is how we fix the future. This is much better than telling these half-truth stories where ALL White Americans are supposed to feel complete guilt because they are taught that ALL of their ancestors were enslavers of Black people, which is clearly NOT even true. Remember Ben Affleck being ashamed and going nuts when learning his family was a bunch of slave owners and then demanding that PBS pull the documentary they made? Nobody asked him to flip out, he did it himself after doing the DNA tests. But that could be YOU too if you received those results. How would you feel? How would you alter your behavior from that point on? Well can I get videos of celebrities celebrating that their families were a bunch of Abolitionists and NOT slave owners instead, to counter the ancestral slave-owner stereotype??? NO, I can’t, but you’d think that today’s liberals would be front and center on such a movement to chase clout and the finger-point or finger-wag, but nope, they’re no up on Abolitionists. Well part of the problem is where the families resided during the times of slavery, especially in the antebellum south. The claims (by people opposed to details in the 1619 project ) that only a small percentage of the US owned slaves is misleading and they derive their numbers by counting the northern states that outlawed slavery as part of their number claim, then they use states’ numbers to show that the larger population didn’t own slaves as if to say they DIDN’T want to own slavers where it was legal, which is false. People aspired to own slaves, it was a status symbol to own slaves, where it was legal! Sure, most of the population was poor and couldn’t afford slaves, but slave ownership was your way out of poverty for these people, which is why they fought to maintain it. So, there is a greater chance that many Americans do NOT have slave owners in their families, based on the 1860 census data here. This is what people should be leaning on rather than using guilt on current day people who likely don’t have slave masters in their family history. That guilt nonsense has to stop! I can’t even have a HISTORY discussion with my friends because they’re too scared to offend me. That’s a huge problem!

America has a slavery-fatigue issue

John brown and adopted son Abolitionists
John jumped at the chance to assist

American History is taught without 4 types of peoples’ proper representation: 1. Blacks (during and after slavery), 2. Women, 3. Indigenous Americans and 3. Whites whom were always opposed to slavery (Abolitionists). To make matters worse, we have the problem that nobody wants to hear about more discussions of slavery in America, it’s a hot-button topic. Hell, we couldn’t even put all AMERICANS in as all leads in 12 YEARS A SLAVE, as most of the leads were all-star BRITISH/European ( Ejiofor, Fassbender, Nyong’o, Cumberbatch and directed by British powerhouse Steve McQueen) and if the leads were all American, nobody would have seen it due to slavery fatigue), and it was a movie with high praise, but got a cold shoulder by a bunch of people until the Oscar buzz (slavery fatigue)… I’m not the only one who knows this dirty little American problem. ALTHOUGH IT WAS AN EXCELLENT MOVIE…. the White Savior is FROM CANADA (Brad Pitt) while the oppressive, abusive slave owners are FROM AMERICA, in the LAND OF THE FREE???!! NOOOOO… That doesn’t sound right to Americans who learned American History and about all of its FREE heroes, so this kind of story-telling irks many viewers. Mind you, to assist a slave in escape was a punishable law! Brad Pitt’s character was a guy who abandoned his wife and kids, back in Canada, and shacked up with a freed black woman in Louisiana. He didn’t want his real name to be revealed when exposing the story of Solomon but he took that chance of getting caught being a family deserter only AFTER he was searched for and located in hiding by the lawyer son of the slave owner of Solomon Northup’s father, Henry B. Northup. There was a lot of savior complex going on in that movie but it is the only way to make this kind of America History telling palatable to current day people, to put the self-reflecting savior character in there and to minimize the absolutely horror of slavery in America, which 12 years a slave bypassed too well, to be delicate to Americans, much to the delight of critics. Solomon was from an area that was heavily into Abolitionism. There were MANY Abolitionists in the North of New York, we have very good representation of that history in Upstate New York! Solomon Northrup was one of the Black Abolitionist from upstate New York, Essex County so the movie briefly highlighted that he was from New York, but the backstory of how he could be this free, accomplished musician in slave times should have been explored more in contrast to the environment he ended up in. It is a good way to stay in the “safe zone” with America, focus on the Abolitionists.

Abolitionists ??? A holy war brewing

heaven calling  Abolitionists
Shining from the heavens

Abolitionists occupied a huge chunk of New England especially but they rarely get the credit they deserve in American History. Many Americans don’t have a damn clue that many Freedmen were in Upstate New York because it was heavily in control of Abolitionists!!! That alone needs to be a story told. These were people who were ALWAYS against slavery from the start, and especially as it began to spread across to new areas, and were willing to put physical threats behind their opposition, REAL opposers of American Slavery who didn’t suddenly have a change of heart about slavery for movie-goers to cry to, like you see in many movies. These Abolitionists were God-praising/fearing people who felt slavery was immoral! Other religions groups in the US, like Mormons (Joseph Smith himself spending much time in Upstate New York) started out with this anti-slavery approach, but abandoned all of that “slavery is immoral” talk when they chickened out due to being scared of the physical retaliation by pro-slavery supporters, completely fabricated and published a dumb “curse of ham” story as an excuse for why they should ignore/participate in slavery, and made an explanation for why Blacks were enslaved by Whites in the USA, ultimately joining the pro-slavery movement altogether when Brigham Young took over. Southern religious people also turned a blind eye to slavery. Only a special group of people would be able to put their lives on the line for their anti-slavery sentiments, in public, Abolitionists! So you see, you don’t need to force-feed the idea of stories of white saviors, you only need to tell the true stories of more American Abolitionists, and how much they were a problem for the spread of slavery, which ultimately led to the US Civil War.

Abraham Linking

John Brown was HARD!  Abolitionists
John Brown went HARD!

Along with American Blacks, White, RADICAL American Abolitionists are missing from textbooks in our schools and in History that foreigners learn about the USA. Talk to any American, regardless of race, most don’t even know who the Abolitionists were, where they existed, nor their impact on American History like.. oh I don’t know… their importance in convincing Abraham Lincoln to due away with slavery in the USA and fighting the Civli War? Abolitionists were the original civil rights support group in the USA. Abraham Lincoln didn’t just suddenly have a change of heart about slavery, and when he initially took actions against slavery, it was only as a tool to bankrupt his enemies in the Confederate states, as a financial attack on them, while at the same time not abolishing slavery in states he backed in the Union (Northern states). Lincoln was opposed to the SPREAD OF SLAVERY into new areas, that’s it, he didn’t fight the Civil War because of how he felt about slavery! Another dumb thing Americans learned in American History classes. He wanted the country to stay together, not be divided, he didn’t care if slaves were free or not, said HERE in his own words to New York Tribune editor/creator Horace Greeley. Even if a state didn’t allow slavery, that didn’t mean they were ANTI-SLAVERY in terms of the treatment of Blacks, they just didn’t want slave labor in their state because many northern states didn’t want Blacks in their state at all (see OREGON in this piece I wrote) and freed slaves support made Republican (Lincoln’s party at the time) white northerners lose prior elections! Abolitionists forced Lincoln’s hand in the Emancipation Proclamation and Abolitionists actions were a major catalyst for the Civil War, especially the ones I’ve mentioned here, because New England had a huge Abolitionist Movement and they refused to give the escaped slaves back to the southern states, making slaves FREE where a states’ rights dictated that slavery was not permitted. The southern states felt not returning escaped slaves was a violation of their own states’ rights to own slaves, so they seceded from the Union! FACTS! People incorrectly argue that the Civil War was about states rights only and not about slavery, but again, it’s trying to bypass slavery as American History. The south cared about its own “states’ rights” not a northern states’ rights, for instance, when it came to northern states that opposed slavery. Yes, the Civil War was fought over slavery as it relates to states’ rights to have them and not give back the Blacks southern states labeled as their property! You’d figure Lincoln would completely eliminate it where he fully had control first, no? Well he didn’t! He did have a “to work is Godly” and “all men are equal under God” mentality that existed for many very religious folks, but opposition to slavery was something many said privately but didn’t act on publicly. The biggest problem was that with slavery, YOU the individual are not doing your own work, a slave is doing it, so that is twice as un-Godly to do, which was the prevailing mentality in the northern states leading to many states outlawing slavery, meaning you’re in violation of God’s law of honor to support slavery. This is the angle Lincoln did oppose of slavery publicly with. These are all the Puritans Work Ethics, Calvinist work ethics aka the Protestant work ethics values of the time. Lincoln almost lost his congressional bid by not pandering to Protestant values and was seen as un-Christian by making some of his comments casting doubt on his seriousness to Christianity, and his supporters turned on him for that, so he made sure to return to the religion HIS FAMIILY raised him with under Calvinism!!! So, the Civil War was a culture clash, religious-values-led, with slavery as the focus due to the Puritanical values being diminished by these southerners and their lazy, slavery-propaganda spreading across the country, dividing the country- not because anyone was thinking “oh those poor slaves, I have to help them they’re weak!” This needs to be the proper sentiment conveyed to avoid this savior story telling American Hollywood keeps making, which makes us shut down entirely today.

Upstate New York History of Gerrit Smith's progressive views  Abolitionists
Gerrit’s influenced all Abolitionists in Upstate New York

One major figure in the Abolitionist movement was John Brown, a white American originally from a heavily religious, Calvinist family in Connecticut, USA, born in 1800. John Brown was described by Frederick Douglas himself saying “though a white gentleman, (Brown) is in sympathy a black man, and as deeply interested in our cause, as though his own soul had been pierced with the iron of slavery”.  By today’s terms, John Brown WAS HARD, and that was a hard BAR by Frederick Douglas!  He was emotionally moved when, as a kid, he witnessed young slaves being beaten, severely. His father was his anti-slavery motivation, as his father took the fight to the masses in Ohio and changed people’s mentalities there. John, when he became an adult, took his movement, and all 20 of his kids, all over our eastern part of the country, like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, and unfortunately, ultimately, Virginia. The site I visited was where he stayed in New York, the town of North Elba where many people vacation at, the Lake Placid / Adirondacks area. John was not a wealthy guy, he was actually broke, bankrupt, despite being skilled in many manual-labor fields. This didn’t stop him from his very-public mission of anti-slavery with such acts as actively participating in the Underground Railroad, being the founder of United League of Gileadites, a group which would protest returning escaped slaves to “owners”.

Give Gerrit Smith his flowers

Gerrit Smith's country  Abolitionists
Gerrit Smith was one of the wealthy Abolitionists giving out his land to help Blacks buck the voting system in New York.

John Brown, when he arrived in New York, partnered up with another major anti-slavery figure, Gerrit Smith, who helped establish several townships like North Elba, as truly anti-slavery areas, filled with people who were against slavery. Smith even went as far as to acquire the land and allow Blacks to have any land they were able to clear and establish living space on themselves. Most people don’t know about any Blacks who lived in the North before the Civil War, they only know about Blacks who lived in the South and migrated later to the North, well after slavery ended (on paper). You can read all about split in Black habits, education, life and more in the work by Thomas Sowell, BLACK REDNECK WHITE LIBERAL (I don’t agree with Sowell on a lot of topics but that book was on the button for a lot of things you can see today, but he’s still mostly WRONG about Black behavior which he can’t explain after 1960s being drastically different from before 1960s and how you can’t blame that on copycatting white people, which logically doesn’t make sense). Sowell clearly wasn’t spending time around Blacks and today, a lot of proof completely debunks MOST of his conservative talking points. So it shocks me that nobody knows of Gerrit Smith or his tremendously generous and important contributions to American History, yet he was another HUGE player in the Abolitionist movement, despite being a Presidential candidate several times and being in government, although brief. Smith was wealthy and created several communities for escaped or freed Black people to live, most notably TIMBUCTOO in North Elba, New York, as the set out to make a bunch of safe areas for Blacks to live. Smith came up with his ideas after New York State passed a law that prohibited Blacks from voting unless they owned at least $250 dollars worth of property, which is $8,248.27 in 2019 dollar value. There wasn’t that much employment nor money being awarded for employment to be able to afford such a thing for Blacks, plus the land was next to impossible to clear, but if it could be done, Smith gave it to them. He owned the 12,000 acre area of land and couldn’t clear it himself so gave it away if it could be cleared. Timbuctoo doesn’t exist today, that area has been entirely erased, but it still exists in the American History books (check the inset image). It was an experiment that didn’t last but Smith though it was worth trying. If you make your way to North Elba, you can find the attraction as I did, to learn more about this area. Fredrick Douglas, Willis A. Hodges and John Brown also helped with the attempt to tame that land. John Brown, a major land surveyor and speculator immediately took to the project and helped Blacks learn how to proof land to live there, until it it couldn’t be maintained.

Timbuctoo Abolitionists
The mythical land of Timbuctoo protected by Abolitionists

In 1855, Brown left New York, after 6 years there and went to Kansas, where the militance really took off. Brown, his sons, and a small team went on several raids to take on pro-slavery supporters, but this was not protesting with words, Brown went out to go KILL slavery supporters! He was not playing games and took this militance on the road from Kansas and Missouri. The reason this idea became a stronger mission was the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, and whether Kansas would be a free-state (Union) or slave-state (Confederacy) was the main issue at that time. Brown’s sons were living in Kansas and sent word of what was going on, so he joined them. Pro-slavery people flocked to Kansas and Nebraska to beef up their numbers there to get the vote to be PRO-SLAVERY and to box out any anti-slavery representation from populating the land. When anti-slavery towns were being attacked by pro-slavery white militias, John rounded up the team and struck back violently with his own raid of a pro-slavery town Pottawatomie Creek, dragging people out of their homes and chopping them to death, killing 5 people, in retribution. This attack fueled Brown to continue, but what he wanted was to fight on a bigger scale, as in having an army behind him, freeing Blacks to come fight with him, but was lacking the funds to pull this off. This really set Brown off, and if you know the reference “Bleeding Kansas” (coined by Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune) when mentioning Kansas, well Brown was a major part in that saying being created, due to those slavery conflicts. This violent pre-Civil War battle, and many others like it, ended up leading into what would become the Civil War as Kansas conflicts ran from 1854 to 1861 – Civil War ifself starting in 1861! Along his path to his destiny was him freeing slaves in Missouri, taking them to Canada safely, and there hatched his plan to make free slave territories in Maryland and lastly, Virginia. He was always out-gunned by opposition, he needed more weapons, but this never stopped him from waging his wars. Brown was broke so he couldn’t do all of of this with no money. Enter a small group of secret financial backers, from New England and New York, to get him the funds he would need to execute his plan, the SECRET SIX, with one of those members later being revealed as none other than Gerrit Smith, the rest being prominent rich people from Boston.

The good John Brown  Abolitionists
John Brown is always portrayed as a crazy, Bible-Thumping Abolitionists yet the whole country had a Civil War and mimicked what he did, on both sides of the argument!

Brown went back home and gathered a squad of 21 fighters and planned to take a fight to Virginia. This is the fight that was the most notable in the story of John Brown, the raid he made on the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, which he attempted on October 16, 1859. He wanted to raid the arsenal, then use those weapons to arm his squad and any slaves he could manage to recruit. The squad took people hostage in the area, which the word of spread rapidly to all neighboring areas. The raid was meant to gain attention of slaves, to get them to join the resistance, but it actually ended up gaining more attention of greater oppositional forces. This planned raid lasted 36 hours and was not successful, unfortunately it was a complete bust. Brown’s militant movement was easily squashed by none other than the Confederate hero Robert E. Lee, along with the marines, militia members and all the farmers for miles! He did not stand a chance against all of those people, far from home. This stoppage by Robert E. Lee is another reason that Robert E. Lee is hailed as a hero to the pro-slavery supporters, and their current-day offspring, even to this day. Brown’s squad was captured, and if not captured, were killed, along with 2 of his 5 kids he took on the raid, with Brown himself being severely injured in the battle.

The good John Brown  Abolitionists
John Brown and team of Abolitionists tried and hung on December 2, 1859

What is interesting is that the commitment of John Brown to the Abolitionist movement is almost completely removed from the typical American History. He should be a hero in the fight to end slavery, to allow Blacks to integrate so they could get jobs and get out from under oppressive controls, yet John Brown is ignored by this current “progressive” society. Perhaps this is why he doesn’t get his place in history. I only learned about John Brown in 2 separate Black History classes, led by Black professors! He never once came up in American History classes outside of those 2. There were a few movies I saw about Brown, most very dated black and white movies, nothing of major resonance with today’s culture, unfortunately. I’ve never heard of Brown being celebrated alongside popular figures in American History in my time learning in American schools, and I’ve quizzed MANY on his history- nobody knows, even in NYC. I took a trip and didn’t inform my party that WE would be stopping by the John Brown Historic Site, until I was like “SURPRISE”, and my party was very fascinated with the exhibit. Maybe he wasn’t the kind of hero the overly-liberal curriculum creators wanted to parade, due to his radical, violent Abolitionist approach that was not about just talking and not doing anything. Well, he got the financial backing of top Abolitionist of the time, so he was solid by their accounts. Brown was tired of sitting around and wanted to start a revolution. I am pretty disappointed in my previous, liberal American History teachers, especially at all the liberal schools that failed to teach me of he and other figures like him. Figures like Brown need to have a place in American history for their real commitment to ending slavery, despite his militant ideas, to run counter to this backwards argument that every descendant of European Settlers in the USA is the great-grandchild of slave owners and are therefor complicit in modern-day oppression. It would help to reduce this “liberal guilt” plague we see so much of, and will help Black people realize that they need to recognize the commitment of many non-Blacks to the various fights to empower Blacks, throughout the history of the USA. That will help ease tension, knowing and educating ourselves about our muddy past. New England has a very rich history in Anti-Slavery American History and I implore anyone to get their American History updates, starting with our rich New York contribution to it, despite current day references to John Brown coming primarily by way of movies, which depicted him as a psychotic, religious-nut, in modern times. I question, who is more psychotic, the guy who took to the streets, with his life, to demand the abolition of slavery in America, prior to the Civil War, or the MILLIONS of people who died fighting each other, on both sides of the argument, after Brown’s death, DURING the Civil War? How is John Brown a religious nut when the whole country fought and died for the very issue? If history only prints the winners, well the Union won, therefore so did John Brown, no? His movement was the catalyst to the Civil War.