[Marxism] Assessing John Brown

DCQ davecq at yahoo.com
Fri Apr 19 13:00:11 MDT 2013

I'm just getting started on my John Brown studies, but I'm getting the sense that John Brown's idea was never the "spontaneous mass uprising" that continually gets repeated. In fact, my understanding--and again, I'm just getting into the more recent bios--is that what you mention as Forbes' plan is precisely what he wanted to do: not a mass, spontaneous rebellion, but a hit-and-run guerrilla war of attrition, strike and fade away into the Appalachian mountains, provide a psychological hope and a practical mobile base of support for slaves who did run away and rise up, when rumor spread of Brown's army coming, all to increase significantly the cost of maintaining slavery and slowly make slavery much less tenable, and force the Northern opposition to take a serious (military rather than moral) stand.

My sense has been this was his plan before he brought Hughes on board, and old idea inspired by Nat Turner's rebellion and his own experiences in Kansas. Am I wrong on that?



On Apr 19, 2013, at 12:34 PM, Mark Lause wrote:

> ======================================================================
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> The primarily black "Underground Railroad" had the right approach.
> Colonel  Hugh Forbes' counterproposal to John Brown's was to extend this by
> organizing and supporting scores of series of raiding parties along the
> border of the slave states and making slavery too unsustainable where it
> was weakest and most likely to create frictions about whites about how much
> they wanted to invest in trying to sustain.  Forbes and others were
> particularly adamant about what would be the likely result of an attack on
> a Federal arsenal within reach of troops at the national capital.
> John Brown, however, wanted the elimination of slavery a national
> decision.  Blacks at the Chatham convention before the Harpers Ferry raid
> were perplexed by Brown's insistence that the US flag be on the platform
> for the proceedings.  He had no faith in politics, including in the new
> Republican Party, but he wanted to force the nation as a whole to confront
> the realities of slavery and the system sustaining it.
> ML
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