John Brown

It doesn’t get much better that spending five days with thirteen enthusiastic students at some of our most important Civil War battlefields. After flying into Washington, D.C. on Sunday we hit the ground running by heading directly to Fredericksburg, Virginia. Our tour began at Chatham, where we discussed the history of the town of Fredericksburg Read more

Today in my survey class we examined newspaper editorials from across the country in the wake of John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry in October 1859. The goal of the lesson was to learn how to interpret newspapers and to get a sense of the extent of the sectional divide over Brown’s actions. Students tracked Read more

Just returned from a weekend in Lake Placed, New York where I took part in a conference sponsored by a small grassroots organization called John Brown Lives!  The conference brought together historians, teachers, students, and activists working to end modern day slave trafficking.  It was an incredibly enjoyable and intellectually stimulating weekend.  Many of you Read more

John Brown Lives!

This event has been a long time in the making and I signed on to take part when I was still living in Virginia.  John Brown Lives! is a small organization led by Martha Swan, which focuses on public and educational outreach around issues related to freedom and oppression in history and in our world Read more

I am calling for a year-long moratorium on Civil War publishing from my favorite historians.  There is just too much to read. Give us a chance to catch up. William J. Cooper, We Have the War Upon Us: The Onset of the Civil War, November 1860-April 1861 (Knopf, 2012). Guy R. Hasegawa, Mending Broken Soldiers Read more

Choosing To Become a Slave

Every once in a while you will read about free blacks petitioning local or state government to become a slave.  In the wrong hands such accounts reflect a lingering Lost Cause view that slavery was benign.  Why else would a free black individual choose bondage?  Many of these requests were made in the late antebellum Read more

I guess we should have anticipated such a move on this sesquicentennial of John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry.  It’s an indication that Brown’s reputation has taken a significant turn since the end of the 1960s and that even Virginia may have a different outlook (at least northern Virginia) on this crucial moment on the Read more

If you happen to live in the vicinity of Harpers Ferry I encourage you to attend the inaugural event of West Virginia’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.  The event will include a panel discussion titled “Madman, Martyr, or Myth: John Brown’s Portrayal in Film” and will include clips from films and miniseries, including, among others, the Read more

Exploiting John Brown’s Body

I‘ve been thinking about the recent press release by the Sons of Confederate Veterans on the eve of the 150th anniversary of John Brown’s Raid at Harpers Ferry. If you remember, they have chosen to commemorate the death of Heyward Shepherd, who happened to be black and working at the local train station at the Read more

The Virginia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans has issued the following press release in recognition of “Hayward Shepherd Day”: PRESS RELEASE : SCV DECLARES HAYWARD SHEPHERD DAY The Army of Northern Virginia of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will kick off the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States on Saturday, October 3, in Harpers Read more