This year marks the 150th anniversary of John Brown's Raid at Harper's Ferry. For those unfamiliar with John Brown, he was a religious fanatic who was also a staunch abolitionist. He killed a bunch of slave owners in Kansas, and that is how it became known as "Bleeding Kansas." From there, he took his posse to Virginia, where he attempted to start an uprising. However, his plans backfired, as no slaves revolted. The U.S. Marines closed in, and captured John Brown. Sadly, the first man to die in the raid was a freed slave. Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart participated in the capture at the arsenal building. Strangely, those men would end up fighting for the Confederacy only two years later.
As John Brown was led to the gallows, he is quoted as predicting the bloody days to come: "I, John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood." Ominous, to say the least! One of the spectators to witness the hanging was John Wilkes Booth, who was Abraham Lincoln's assassin. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was also in attendance.
In honor of the anniversary of this profound event that some say started the Civil War, historians from Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland formed the John Brown Sesquicentennial Quad-State Committee to promote the event. They even staged a mock hanging!Events also included re-enactments, dramatic productions, art exhibits, academic lectures, and special tours. If you ever have the opportunity to see this historical town, I strongly recommend it.