John Brown’s Raid 1856

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Map Code: Ax00785

The armed abolitionist John Brown espoused the anti-slavery cause as early as the 1830s, becoming increasingly militant after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850. When the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), provoked disturbances between pro- and anti-slavery factions, Brown, who had sons living in Kansas, gathered men, guns and funding and rushed to become involved. In May 1856, he perpetrated the Pottawatomie Massacre, where five pro-slavers were killed, and in June, at Black Jack, attacked a pro-slaver encampment, capturing 22 for ransom. At Osawatomie in September, Brown, though massively outnumbered, resisted a pro-slaver incursion from Missouri, killing 20. His exploits were fêted by abolitionists, and he moved back east to continue his campaign, culminating in the raid on Harper’s Ferry and his subsequent execution. After he left Kansas, pro-slavers massacred five anti-slavers at Marais des Cygnes in May 1858. Kansas would be admitted to the Union as a ‘free’ state in 1861.

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