Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Pardon for John Brown, Hero of the Civil War

Today, December 2, marks the sesquicentennial of the hanging of John Brown, the abolitionist who led a multiracial group of freedom fighters in a raid on the arsenal at Harpers Ferry in Virginia in 1859. Many were killed, some were captured and later hanged, and some escaped and were never captured (most notably African American abolitionist Osborne Perry Anderson, who later wrote a book on his experiences, titled A Voice from Harper's Ferry, published in 1861.)

Below is an email sent to the Grad Center's American Studies list-serv by David S. Reynolds, Distinguished Professor of English and American Studies at the Graduate Center and Baruch College of the CIty University of New York. Professor Reynolds is also serving as my dissertation director.
He is the author of numerous books on antebellum literature and culture, including John Brown, Abolitionist, Beneath The American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville, Walt Whitman's
America: A Cultural Biography, and others. His most recent book is Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson (available at the Plainfield Public Library).

Fellow Americanists,

Today is the 150th anniversary of the hanging of the Abolitionist,John Brown. In today’s New York Times, I make a plea on the op ed page for President Obama or Gov. Tim Kaine to posthumously pardon John Brown:

If you agree with me, please add your name to the online Pardon John Brown petition at:

Forward this note to your friends and encourage them to join this worthy cause by signing the petition too.

Let’s act in the spirit of Emerson, Thoreau, Douglass, and DuBois. Let’s make Pardon John Brown a national movement!

--David Reynolds

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