In this John Brown birthday episode, Lou presents a reflection upon the "reunion" meeting at John Brown's farm that took place on July 4, 1860, before the Brown family sold the property and relocated to California three years later. Based on an account published in William Lloyd Garrison's The Liberator (July 27, 1860), Lou reflects on this meeting--attended by as many as one thousand people--its leading spirits, its family significance, even the fact that Brown had both a grave mound and a grave marker. As Lou points out, when this meeting took place, only Brown was interred at the farm; the bodies of his sons Oliver and Watson, along with the bodies of many of his other Harper's Ferry raiders were not interred at the farm until the last twenty years of the nineteenth century. The July 4th 1860 meeting is a weighty and moving historical "snapshot"--the picture of a nation on the brink of civil conflict, a nation weighed down by injustice and the suffering of black millions at the hands of white supremacy, and the mediocrity of most of white society, including "moderate" anti-slavery people. Quite in contrast the abolitionists stand out, and yet themselves are divided between pacifist "moral suasionists," and political abolitionists--militants who called for violence, and the significance of John Brown, buried beneath the fresh mound at North Elba, NY. Yet, because of the ongoing struggle against racism, somehow the story of John Brown--in life and death--remains significant today, as it was in 1860.
This episode is introduced and closed by the wonderful song, "All the Brave Young Men," written and performed by Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino, known as Magpie. You can find this song on Magpie's CD, "The Civil War: Songs & Stories Untold." Also see Magpie's website at Magpiemusic.com.
May 9, 2021 is John Brown's 221st birthday. Hurrah for Old John Brown!