The Year of Lincoln -- and John Brown
February 11, 2009
DAVID S. REYNOLDS
Distinguished professor at the
He said today: "This is a year for Americans to remember not only Abraham Lincoln but also his great antislavery contemporary, John Brown. This bicentennial year of
"John Brown, in contrast, wanted to stamp out slavery immediately. He had no racial prejudice. He called for the complete integration of blacks into society. As his contemporary Frederick Douglass remarked, Brown felt that the black person was 'entitled to all the rights claimed by the whitest man on earth.' Brown was a white man descended from the Mayflower, but he chose to live among fugitive slaves who had formed an African American colony in upstate
"When in 1859 he led 21 devoted followers (five of them black) in an attack on
"John Brown's reputation suffered during the decades of Jim Crow and racism that followed the end of Reconstruction in 1876. His vision of racial togetherness was shrugged off, and he came to be seen as a violent fanatic. He has made a modest comeback since the civil rights agitation of the 60s, but even today most Americans tend to forget or ignore him.
"Now is the time to make his comeback complete. Let's put John Brown back where he belongs: on the national pedestal, along with other freedom-fighters in our history."
Reynolds' latest book is Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson.
The Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167