Hero or Villain? Claims and Counterclaims
Reading Level: 8
Interest Level: 7-12
To some, John Brown was a hero and a martyr to the abolitionist cause. To others, he was a treasonous murderer operating outside the law. Unlike most mainstream abolitionists, Brown believed that slavery would never end without the use of violence, and he was more than willing to take up arms against anyone who stood in his way. His ill-fated raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in 1859, which resulted in his execution, was merely the final chapter in his history of using violent means to fight slavery. The question of whether violence is ever acceptable as a form of protest is one that Brown's contemporaries asked themselves and one we are still asking today. Through this book, students can contemplate that same question as they examine the facts of John Brown's life, the historical context in which he lived, and the legacy he left behind.