In 1857, Abolitionist John Brown returned to the east to start raising money to carry out his vision of a mass uprising of slaves. He secured back up by six other abolitionists, known as the “Secret Six”. They formed an invasion force, this force included 20 men and three of Brown’s sons.
John Brown’s group rented a farm in Maryland near Harper’s Ferry to prepare for their assault.
On the night of October 16th 1859, Abolitionist John Brown and his band of men overran the federal arsenal. Some of his men rounded up a handful of hostages, including a few slaves.
“I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.”
Word of the raid spread and by the following day Brown and his men were surrounded. On October 18th, a company of U.S. Marines, led by Colonel Robert E. Lee and Lieutenant J. E. B. Stuart, overran Brown and his followers. Brown was wounded and captured, while 10 of his men were killed, including two of his sons.
Brown was tried by the state of Virginia for treason and murder, and found guilty on November 2nd.
The 59-year-old abolitionist went to the gallows on December 2nd, 1859. Before his execution, he handed his guard a slip of paper that read, “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.” This was powerful statement that foreshadowed the oncoming Civil War.