June 12, 2021
Lawrence, US 86 F
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Meet The Lawrence Times, part II: Why John Brown?

Note: Please see these related intro posts for information about the Times, what we’re doing and why:

Part I: A note from the founder

Part II: Why John Brown?

Part III: Frequently asked questions

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John Brown — the man whose famous silhouette is featured in The Lawrence Times’ logo and imagery — was a radical abolitionist who fought against one of the most evil institutions in the history of this nation and of this world. Brown did what he could in his time to bring an end to slavery, and to prevent Kansas from becoming a slave state. 

Lawrence was founded by antislavery settlers from Massachusetts. The town was raided and devastated by white supremacists on May 21, 1856. Among other things, two presses that printed antislavery publications were destroyed. Just a couple of days later, Brown led a band of like-minded individuals, who killed five proslavery men in Pottawatomie. 

In 1859, Brown led a raid on Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. Following that, a grand jury convicted him of treason against the Commonwealth of Virginia, murder, and inciting a slave insurrection, and he was sentenced to death by hanging. 

Thomas Hovenden/Public Domain The Last Moments of John Brown, circa 1884. “If it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I submit; so let it be done!”

In a statement in court, Brown said, “Had I so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of any of their friends … every man in this court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment.”

“… Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I submit; so let it be done!” 

Other notes of interest:

  • Brown dubbed famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who risked her life on numerous missions to rescue about 70 people from slavery, “General Tubman.” 
  • In Brown’s “Provisional Constitution and Ordinances for the People of the United States,” Brown wrote that prisoners should be treated with respect. 
  • Brown wrote in one article that “Persons convicted of the forcible violation of any female prisoner shall be put to death.” 

All of this history is also deeply intertwined with newspapers. For instance, journalist William Allen White began the campaign that resulted in other newspapers forming the Kansas Murals Commission. That group raised the funds to hire the artist who gave us “Tragic Prelude.” 

But we’d rather save all the details of that in hopes that a local historian might want to write about it for the Times.

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