John Brown: Martyr Or Terrorist?

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John Brown: Martyr or Terrorist? Katie Lenore Claflin History 17A December 2, 2010 They sat in silence, as the wagon carried them off to a field at the end of town. The Sheriff, his jailer, and their notorious prisoner, John Brown, escorted by rows of soldiers and riflemen marching shoulder-to-shoulder along the trail. Pickets stuck at different points, and the crowd was held nearly a quarter mile away. A group of soldiers surrounded the wagon when it came to a halt, disciplined and in unison. Brown gazed around him, the distraught crowd and their exhausted expressions, the unnecessary, elaborate security precautions, and the daunting scaffold, quiet underneath the morning sun light. Those in the crowds, were nearly as quiet and calm as the prisoner himself; they had not come to save him, they were there to watch him die. Brown ascended the steps of his fatality. If he was afraid, he certainly didn't show it. Instead, the expression he wore reflected that of melancholic serenity; acceptance of His will. He politely refused the handkerchief, no signal would be necessary, and no preacher spoke prayers for a dead man's soul. They put a white cap over his head, then helped him forward onto the trap door. The sheriff struck the rope with an ax and sprang the trap door, and John's body dropped. His pulse did not stop beating for thirty-five minutes. Just over a month earlier, John Brown had been tried and convicted of murdering four whites and a black man, conspiring with slaves to rebel, and with treason against Virginia. The sudden rush of the trial, it's ill-prepared counsel, Brown's suffering physical condition, being tried in a state court for a federal crime, and overall nature of the indictment fueled the fire of those who argued the fairness of the trial. To this day, Americans are divided on on the question: Was John Brown a martyr to be admired or a

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