John Brown's Raid

National History Standards

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following National History Standards for Grades 5-12:

Era 5: Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)

STANDARD 1: The causes of the Civil War 

Standard 1A: The student understands how the North and South differed and how politics and ideologies led to the Civil War.

7-12: Explain how events after the Compromise of 1850 and the Dred Scott decision in 1857 contributed to increasing sectional polarization. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
5-12: Explain the causes of the Civil War and evaluate the importance of slavery as a principal cause of the conflict. [Compare competing historical narratives] 

Primary Resources

  1. DESCRIPTION: John Brown's fort, Harper's Ferry from Md. Hts. [Stereograph]
    [ca. 1861-ca. 1865]
    NOTES: Exterior of brick building with lookout tower, two men stand next to doorway.
    SOURCE: Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
    REPOSITORY: New York Historical Society

  2. DESCRIPTION: John Brown Fort, Shenandoah St., Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, WV
    ALTERNATE TITLE: Armory Fire Engine House Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: Documentation compiled after 1933.
    SOURCE: Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress

  3. DESCRIPTION: Storming of the Engine-House by the United States Marines
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: November 5, 1859 in Harper's Weekly
    SOURCE: HarpWeek

  4. DESCRIPTION: Prisoner Brown And His Boston Counsel, Mr. Hoyt
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: November 12, 1859 in Harper's Weekly
    SOURCE: HarpWeek

  5. DESCRIPTION: The Arraignment
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: November 12, 1859 in Harper's Weekly
    SOURCE: HarpWeek

  6. DESCRIPTION: A Southern Planter Arming His Slaves To Resist Invasion
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: November 19, 1859 in Harper's Weekly
    SOURCE: HarpWeek

  7. DESCRIPTION: North and South (editorial)
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: December 17, 1859 in Harper's Weekly
    SOURCE: HarpWeek

  8. DESCRIPTION: John Brown's Raid [Academic Search Premier]
    Presents newspaper accounts of abolitionist John Brown's raid at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, on October 17, 1859. Deaths surrounding the insurrection; Soldiers' storming of the captured Armory; Eyewitness descriptions of the circumstances surrounding the raid; Short biography of John Brown; Further testimony.
    NOTES: See below for information about access to password protected materials
    Essential Documents in American History, Essential Documents, 1492-Present, p1, 18p

  9. DESCRIPTION: [Unpublished report], Col. Edward Shriver to Brig. Gen. James M. Coale
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: October 22, 1859
    NOTES: Col. Edward Shriver was a Frederick lawyer and the commander of the 16th Regiment. The report detailed his men’s role in ending John Brown’s Harper's Ferry raid. Brig. Gen. James M. Coale was the commanding officer of all the Frederick infantry regiments.
    SOURCE: GOVERNOR (Miscellaneous Papers), 1859, MSA S1274-37-1.
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

  10. DESCRIPTION:  John Brown's Raid: How I Got Into It and How I Got Out of It. 
    AUTHOR: John G. Rosengarten
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: [The Atlantic monthly. / Volume 15, Issue 92, June 1865]
    SOURCE: The Nineteenth Century in Print: Periodicals
    REPOSITORY: Cornell University

  11. DESCRIPTION: The John Brown Raid. I. Recollections by a Virginian who witnessed the Fight. 
    AUTHOR: Alexander R. Boteler
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: [The Century; a popular quarterly. / Volume 26, Issue 3, July 1883]
    SOURCE: The Nineteenth Century in Print: Periodicals
    REPOSITORY: Cornell University

  12. DESCRIPTION: The Life, trial, and execution of Captain John Brown, known as "Old Brown of Ossawatomie," with a full account of the attempted insurrection at Harper's Ferry. Compiled from official and authentic sources. Including Cooke's confession, and all the incidents of the execution.
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: New York, R. M. DeWitt [c1859]
    SOURCE: Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress

  13. DESCRIPTION: Address of John Brown to the Virginia Court, when about to receive the sentence of death, for his heroic attempt at Harper's Ferry to give deliverance to the captives, and to let the oppressed go free ... Boston. 
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: Boston: C.C. Mead. Broadside. [1859]
    SOURCE: African American Odyssey
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division

  14. DESCRIPTION: Report [of] the Select committee of the Senate appointed to inquire into the late invasion and seizure of the public property at Harper's Ferry.
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: [Washington, 1860]
    AUTHOR: United States. Congress. Senate. Select Committee on the Harper's Ferry Invasion
    NOTES: Submitted by J. M. Mason, chairman. Caption: In the Senate of the United States. June 15, 1860.--Ordered to be printed. Includes, also, "Views of the minority," prepared by Mr. Collamer, journal of the Committee, appendix of documents, and testimony taken before the committee.
    SOURCE: The Nineteenth Century in Print: Periodicals
    REPOSITORY: University of Michigan Library

See also: 

Additional Media Resources

John Brown's Holy War. From PBS's American Experience.

Additional Instructional Resources

In Readiness To Do Every Duty Assigned, MSA SC 2221-1-30
The Frederick Militia and John Brown's Raid on Harper's Ferry, October 17-18, 1859. Edited with an Introduction by Gregory A. Stiverson. A Jacobsen Conference On Maryland History document.

Secondary Resources

Brugger, Robert. "Suspended between Memory and Hope (1816-1865)." In Maryland: A Middle Temperament. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press in association with the Maryland Historical Society, 1988.

Brugger, Robert. "A House Divided (1850-1865)." In Maryland: A Middle Temperament. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press in association with the Maryland Historical Society, 1988.

Drescher, Seymour. "Servile Insurrection and John Brown's Body in Europe" The Journal of American History (September 1993), pp. 499-524.

McGlone, Robert E. "Forgotten surrender: John Brown's Raid and the Cult of Martial Virtues"  Civil War History (September 1994): 185.

McGlone, Robert E. "Rescripting a Troubled Past: John Brown's Family and the Harpers Ferry Conspiracy" The Journal of American History, Vol. 75, No. 4. (March 1989), pp. 1179-1200. 

Robinson, Armstead L. "In the Shadow of Old John Brown: Insurrection Anxiety and Confederate Mobilization, 1861-1863" The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 65, No. 4. (Autumn, 1980) pp. 279-297. 

Associated Heritage and Preservation Organizations

Harper's Ferry National Historical Park 
P.O. Box 65
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425
Visitor Information: 304-535-6298

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Teaching American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.

Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

This document packet was researched and developed by Nancy Bramucci.


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