John Brown was hailed as a heroic martyr by the North and a dangerous traitor by the south. Read about his life and biography and the events that lead to these massive differences of opinion regarding the actions of this famous man.
His early life, his religious beliefs and his strong Abolitionist sentiments shaped his life. Discover facts about his family, his involvement in the violent conflict referred to as "Bleeding Kansas" and the famous John Brown raid on the armory at Harpers Ferry and his subsequent death by hanging.
John Brown Biography for kids
Facts, Biography and Timeline for kids
1800: John Brown was born on May 9, 1800, in Torrington, Connecticut, his mother was Ruth Mills and his father was Owen Brown
1800: John Brown's father was a strict Calvinist who hated slavery and raised his son to believe that slavery was a sin against God
1812: At the age of 12 years old he was herding cattle through during which time he lodged with a vicious slave-owner who beat a young slave with an iron shovel. The memory of the beating together with his religious believe led to his strong Abolitionist ideas.
1820: On June 21, 1820 he marries marries Dianthe Lusk
1826: The couple and their family move to Pennsylvania, where he builds a tannery
1830: Ohio's "Black Laws" encourage African-Americans to migrate to Canada, establishing free colonies that became important on the Underground Railroad
1830: The Second Great Awakening encouraging the establishment of reform movements in which people advocated for emancipation on religious grounds.
1830: The Abolitionist Movement is established and keeps a 'station' on the "Underground Railroad" at Richmond, Pennsylvania helping slaves to escape. He goes on to become a prominent and fanatical Abolitionist
1831: Nat Turner's Rebellion took place in Southampton County, Virginia
1832: His wife dies following the death of her newborn baby, leaving five other children
1833: He marries sixteen-year-old Mary Day who helps raise his children. His second marriage produces another thirteen children
1836: The family move to Franklin Mills, Ohio and John Brown borrows money for land speculation
1837: Like so many others, he is badly hit by the Panic of 1837 his investment and business is lost and his creditors demand money
1842: September 28, 1842: A federal court decides John Brown's bankruptcy case and the family are left with essentials needed to live and try to start again in Massachusetts, and New York during the 1850's
1852: Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe is published, fueling anti-slavery fervor
1854: Following the Kansas-Nebraska Act the pro-slavery "Sons of the South" flooded across the border of Missouri to Kansas to acquire lands and vote for the expansion of slavery.
1854/5: Anti-slavery supporters from the North and the east, called "Border Ruffians", also headed for Kansas to vote against slavery. The opponents clashed in the violent conflict known as "Bleeding Kansas"
1854 - 1861: The conflict known as 'Bleeding Kansas' involved conflicts between Anti-slavery and Pro-slavery militant activists that reached a state of a low intensity civil war
June 1854: Abolitionist preacher Henry Ward Beecher collected money to arm anti-slavery settlers with Sharps rifles, that became known as "Beecher's Bibles".
1855: October 1855: John Brown arrives in Kansas with five of his sons to acquire new lands and to fight against slavery, supporting the Free-Soilers
1855: He became "captain" of the colony on the Osawatomie River
1856: May 24, 1856, the Pottawatomie Massacre: John Brown and his company of Free State volunteers murder five men settled along the Pottawatomie Creek in Franklin County, southeastern Kansas in revenge for the pro-slavery sack of Lawrence
1856: A United States congressional committee investigating the troubles in Kansas Territory identified John Brown as the chief perpetrator
1856: His exploits as a leader of an anti-slavery group receives widespread publicity, especially in abolitionist journals, and he becomes known nationally as "Old Brown of Osawatomie"
1857: John Brown is introduce to influential abolitionists in the Boston area who later became known as the members of the "Secret Six."
1858: January 1858: John
Brown leads a raiding party into Missouri and attacks
1858: He travels for 82 days, covering over a 1000 miles to deliver the slaves to freedom in Canada
1858: He starts making plans to capture weapons from a federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), and lead a slave rebellion in the South
1858/9: :The "Secret Six" abolitionists secretly supply funds for the Harper's Ferry Raid
1859 July 3: John Brown rents a farm a few miles outside the town of Harpers Ferry, under the name of "Isaac Smith"
1859: He is joined by a band of followers carrying arms ready to make the raid on Harper Ferry
1859: October 16, 1859: The date of John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry, in which he leads a group of 21 men in an attack on the U.S. arsenal.
1859: Raid on Harpers Ferry: One of the men was a fugitive slave and at this time in US history assisting fugitive slaves was illegal under the Fugitive Slave Act.
1859: Raid on Harpers Ferry: The militant group of abolitionists captured the armory at Harpers Ferry, took the inhabitants prisoner and general possession of the town
1859: Raid on Harpers Ferry: The local militia blocked his escape from the arsenal at Harpers Ferry.
1859: October 18, 1859: U.S. marines led by Colonel Robert E. Lee and and Lieutenant J.E.B. Stuart joined the battle at Harpers Ferry. Ten of the militant abolitionists were killed by the militia, John Brown was wounded and, together with the rest of his followers, were arrested
1859: Aftermath of the Raid on Harpers Ferry: News of the raid came as a great shock to the North and provoked wild fears in the South. This event was one of the Causes of the Civil War
1859: Members of the "Secret Six" identified by letters found at the Harpers Ferry farm. They were never arrested
1859: November 2, 1859: A Virginia jury find John Brown guilty of murder, treason, and inciting a slave insurrection and Judge Andrew Parker sentenced him to death
1859: December 2, 1859: On the day of his execution he wrote prophetically that "The crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood."
1859: December 2, 1859: John Brown was hanged, 16 months before the outbreak of the Civil War. He body was claimed by his wife and he was buried in North Elba, N. Y. near Lake Placid
1859: December 16, 1859: Following additional trials, Shields Green, John A. Copeland, John E. Cook, and Edwin Coppoc were also hanged for their part in the Raid on Harpers Ferry
1860: March 16, 1860: Aaron D. Stevens and Albert Hazlett were hung for their part in the Raid on Harpers Ferry
1861: The famous song "John Brown's Body Lies A-Mouldering in the Grave" was written in 1861 originating with soldiers of the Massachusetts 12th Regiment. The song become a popular anthem of Union soldiers during the Civil War that raged from April 12, 1861 - May 10, 1865
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