John Brown's Spirit


Without his passionate, violent radicalism, slavery might have endured in America. Here's a fascinating article from the Atlantic that details the ways in which the abolitionist magazine covered the memory of Brown through the centuries. Check out Hitch's recent essay and an insightful memoir from one Gamaliel Bradford, from 1922. Money quote:

The influence of such a man and such a life and such a death flowed out and on, beyond the men who obeyed him, beyond the men who met him, to those who never knew him and had hardly even heard of him, to the whole country, to the wide world....

That is what Brown meant when he said, 'I am worth inconceivably more to hang than for any other purpose! That is what men of his type achieve by their fierce struggle and their bitter self-denial and their ardent sacrifice. They make others, long years after,others who know barely their names and nothing of their history,achieve also some little or mighty sacrifice, accomplish some vast and far-reaching self-denial, that so the world, through all its doubts and complications and perplexities, may be lifted just a little toward ideal felicity.