[Marxism] John Brown, presente!
markalause at gmail.com
Fri Oct 16 11:35:22 MDT 2009
Great stuff. The subject of John Brown raises an entire missing chapter in
the history of American socialism and radicalism. One of the most
objectionable featrues of a lot of what's written on Brown is the lack of
context...a genuine radical movement.
William Addison Phillips' interview about John Brown's radicalism should be
included in the archives... It's in the public domain and documents how
Brown's views went way beyond abolitionism. It's also appended to Richard
J. Hinton's biography of Brown.
Phillips, a radical land reformer, rode with Brown in Kansas. So did Dick
Hinton, who could rightly be called a founder of the postwar socialist
movement. With them was John Ritchie, a pistol-packing western abolitionist
had a shootout with--and gunned down--a Federal marshal who tried to arrest
him; Ritchie became a future leader of Greenbackism in Kansas. Other allies
of Brown out there included Augustus and John O. Wattles, two brothers whose
community at Utopia, Ohio had been washed out by floods a few years before
they went west. Both pop up regularly in histories of Fourierism, the
latter also having a reputation among anarchists. The abolitionists back
east decided Brown needed a military advisor, so they sent Hugh Forbes, an
English veteran of the Italian revolutionary movement who was, at the time,
serving as secretary of the NYC coalition that became the First
Interntational after the war. Forbes was, in turn, connected to Dr. James
Macune Smith and his circle/
Dr. Smith was one of the most brilliant, if usually neglected antebellum
black leaders. A young Peter H. Clark, later the first prominent African
American advocate of socialism had also long been associated with the
Wattles. Both Smith and Clark deserve a solid biography. I'm pleased to
note that the latter will hopefully get one soon...I'll keep the list
I should add that those folks identified with Brown in Kansas also launched
the Territorial Women's Rights League. ...And, when the war started, they
became key figures in putting together a tri-racial Union Army...Indians as
well as blacks and whites.
A missing chapter indeed....
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