One-hundred and forty-nine years ago on this day in people’s history, militant abolitionist John Brown led a raid on Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia. On October 16th, 1859, Brown assembled a band of 22 men, including his own two sons, in an attempt to overtake the federal armory and arsenal. The plan centered on igniting an insurrection against slavery by taking arms and inspiring abolitionists and slaves to join the rebellion. Unfortunately, Brown’s men were pinned down by a local militia until Colonel Robert E. Lee’s men came to repress the raid. Ten days after the failure at Harper’s Ferry, Brown stood trial on charges of treason and was convicted five days later.
Before being executed, he presaged the coming of the Civil War in his final words saying, “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood!”