Object Image

John Brown 9 May 1800 - 2 Dec 1859

Born Torrington, Connecticut

Amid the festering hostilities between North and South in the 1850s, John Brown’s zealous opposition to slavery grew. After leading retaliatory strikes against proslavery mobs in Kansas in 1856, he began making plans for the 1859 raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Brown intended to commandeer firearms and initiate a slave rebellion. The plan failed, and Brown was captured, tried, and hanged. His insurrection found favor among many Northerners sympathetic to his cause. In the South, however, Brown’s actions signaled that slaveholding states must either face diminished power against an increasingly aboliti...

Oil on canvas
76.5 x 64.5 x 3.8 cm
Image and text © National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 2024

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