Tony Horwitz’s Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War

by | Apr 14, 2022 | History

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First, read Tony Horwitz’s Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War. Horwitz, a journalist and popular historian, wrote this book for the general public. In no more than about three (3) pages, what are the central ideas in this book? In the 1850s, the sectional crisis was growing in intensity, and violence became widespread. John Brown was a native of Connecticut. In 1856, at Pottawatomie Creek, Kansas Territory, and at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in 1859, what did Brown and his followers do? What was their purpose? What was the American public’s reaction to these events? Did Brown’s violence make it more or less likely that slavery’s abolition would be achieved? Please note that on the day he was executed, Brown wrote: “The crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.”
Second, what have academic historians written recently about Brown? Do they agree or disagree with Horwitz’s interpretation of the Brown controversies? Explain.
Third, after doing appropriate research, examine the reaction of two of Brown’s most famous contemporaries, anti-slavery activist Abraham Lincoln and radical abolitionist Frederick Douglass, to Brown’s revolutionary methods. Did they approve of Brown’s raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry? If not, how did they propose to end slavery?

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