Pro-violence abolitionist John Brown studied in NY

By Chris Carola | 12/9/2009, 7:46 a.m.
John Brown, leader of the historic...

Brown went on trial that month, was convicted of treason and was executed. He had asked to be buried on his New York farm, and his body arrived in North Elba on Dec. 7. His body was laid out in a wooden coffin placed in his homestead’s front room, where the original floorboards and some furnishings remain today.

Two of his sons, both killed at Harpers Ferry, lie in adjacent graves, along with the remains of nine fellow raiders.

Northern abolitionists considered Brown a martyr, while in the South he was reviled as a fanatic who tried to foment a slave insurrection.

“He stands out in the pantheon of rare white people who managed to stand up, really, by putting their lives on the line in the name of black liberation — in this case, an end to slavery,’’ said Dohrn, who founded the Weathermen in the late 1960s with husband Bill Ayers.

The radical group claimed credit for explosions at the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon and more. In 1970, a bomb the group was making to use against an Army base exploded at a New York townhouse, killing three members. Dohrn surfaced in 1980 and later pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated battery and two counts of bail-jumping in connection with a 1969 anti-Vietnam War protest. She now heads the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University.

Symposium speaker Mecoy is a great-great-great-granddaughter of Brown, who fathered 20 children with two wives. The 50-year-old Texan said her family kept its link to Brown a secret while she was growing up.

“Our line is not real big on talking about the connection,’’ she said. “You either consider him an evil man or a saint.’’

The symposium and a burial re-enactment were among the final events marking the Harpers Ferry raid’s 150th anniversary in New York, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

On the Net:

John Brown commemoration: http://www.johnbrowncominghome.com

John Brown Farm: