Friday, December 11, 2009

Letter to the Editor

        Although John Brown's heart and spirit were in the right place, his actions were not. He wanted blacks to be quickly integrated into American society, but like many radicals the society would not accept his actions. Many saw his freeing of slaves heroic but just as many saw the same action as villainous.

       Today there is no question as to what is right, but one must recall all of John Brown's deed's to access his actions properly. His slaying of five pro-slavery settlers and leaving their mutilated bodies for discouragement is not an acceptable way to approach the issue of slavery. The most he could hope for was to deter slave owners from entering Kansas. Murdering five men for such a small outcome is unjustifiable. While some of John Brown's actions are valiant there are not enough to overcome this felony. John Brown does not deserve a presidential pardon, and as of now not even a gubernatorial pardon.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor:

John Brown is not a widely revered figure of the African American rights movement.  John Brown was a man with unfailing loyalty to his cause, and like Martin Luther King, it cost him his life.  It is true that before the Jim Crow era, many great men, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson highly respected Brown and his actions.  Indeed, as "Freedom's Martyr" states, W.E.B. Du Bois said Brown was the white American who had "come nearest to touching the real souls of black folk." 

Brown's violent approach ultimately led to his downfall.  The radical actions he took got the attention of the nation, but what light did his actions shed on the issue?  John Brown advocated violence as the solution to the country's division over slavery, and in doing so he exacerbated the tensions that led to secession and civil war.  Brown's tendency to violence increased sectionalist tensions and aggression. 

The fact is that John Brown's massacres and acts of violence cannot be ignored.  His cause was just, but does the ends justify the means?  David S. Reynolds, author of "Freedom's Martyr" would say yes.  But John Brown was swept away by the bloody tides of the era and contributed to his state's unsavory nickname, "Bleeding Kansas," an unauthorized precursor to the civil war. 

The decision to posthumously pardon someone  is difficult.  It is important to recognize the merit of the just cause Brown fought for, and his bravery in defending it until death.  However, a presidential pardon sends the message that the massacre of people with opposite beliefs is justified in the name of cause.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Letter to the Editor

In response to David Reynold's Op-Ed "Freedom's Martyr": (


The author of this Op-Ed, David Reynolds, exaggeratedly describes John Brown as a martyr for freedom.  However, John Brown was also an odious murderer, who cannot have a gubernatorial or presidential pardon.

I agree with David Reynolds following arguments:


1) John Brown had good intentions in acting out in the name of abolition and freedom.

2) John Brown was not alone in his opinions as he had abolitionist supporters in the north.

3) John Brown's murders and skirmishes escalated sectional tensions that eventually led to the Civil War that ended slavery.

3) John Brown fought against pro-slavery forces like to the Yankees forces fought against the Confederates during the Civil War.


Here is where I disagree:


1) While John Brown had good intentions he was also a zealot. In response to the pro-slavery posse that sacked, burned, and destroyed Lawrence, KS, Brown engaged the Pottawatomie Massacre in 1856, murdering and mutilating five pro-slavery settlers and leaving their bodies to ward off more pro-slavery settlers.  Although in the name of slavery, Brown took the skirmish from the level of vandalism to that of murder.  Although some argue that the violent Civil War was necessary to abolish slavery, Martin Luther King showed America that justice could be achieve through nonviolent protest as well.  Taking a life in place of another's is not just, it is unethical.  While I am not arguing that the Civil War was not necessary to achieve abolition, I am arguing that had not John Brown instigated such violence, the country possibly could have settled the matter in an alternative nonviolent way.


2) In the Pottawatomie Massacre John Brown murdered five innocent settlers.  This is known today as second degree murder.  In the Harper's Ferry Raid, Brown and his fellow conspirators attempted to seize a federal arsenal.  This is known today as conspiracy to overthrow the government.  Just as in the 1850s, today both second degree murder and conspiracy to overthrow the government are illegal and can result in either imprisonment or the death penalty.  Although presidents can and have pardoned men who have murdered and attempted to overthrow the government, they typically do not pardon men or women who have done so recently.  Neither President Obama or Tim Kaine should grant Brown a posthumous pardon, because if they would not grant a man or woman who committed these crimes presently, they should not pardon and thereby glorify a man who has done these things in the past.

Thank you,

Jackie S.

Letter to the Editor regarding "Freedom's Martyr"

To the Editor:


            John Brown is a terrorist. With many similarities, including brutal killings, detailed plans and a strong cause, Brown can be compared to twenty-first century terrorists like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. On October 16, 1859, John Brown, with a group of young followers, raided Harper's Ferry, slaying southern whites to cause chaos and free slaves from bondage. On September 11, 2001, several Al-Qaeda men hijacked and crashed American airplanes to urge America to "[get] out of the Arabian Peninsula, and [stop] its support of Israel" (Osama Bin Lade, October 2001). These two events have many parallels, proving to be very similar.


John Brown does not deserve a pardon. After countless raids and slayings, Brown is a federal criminal and does not deserve the title of "martyr." Even though he killed for the worthy cause of abolition, being one of the most dedicated abolitionists of his era, he should not have killed southern citizens as viciously and as randomly as he did.


 John Brown deserved his hanging because he was a murderer. No matter how justified his actions seemed, working to free slaves from the harsh and unfair treatment placed on them by white southerners, the bottom line is that with the option of being a civilized activist, or not, he chose not.



Beverly Jiang

Letter to the Editor: Response to "The 9/11 of 1859"

To call John Brown's raid the "9/11 of 1859" is ridiculous. While John Brown did kill many in the South, the Al Qaeda assaults resulted in the deaths of many more innocent people. The loss of thousands of men during this eight-year war could have been prevented had these attacks never occurred. John Brown was fighting for what he believed was right: equality for all, no exceptions – a necessary cause to fight for. The Civil War was already on its way. Even if John Brown didn't lead that raid, the tensions between the North and South had been culminating for years and a war seemed to be the only solution. And that is the difference: while John Brown played a part in the Civil War, he did not cause a long, grueling war – it was already coming; the attacks in 2001 led to a war that could have been prevented.

Thanks for your time.

-Sayeh B.

Letter to the Editor - Sophie K

I disagree with David Reynold's opinion in "Freedom's Martyr" that John Brown should be pardoned. Although currently everyone agrees that John Brown was fighting for a just cause, pardoning him when his actions led to the deaths of innocent people would spread the wrong message. While there is now universal opposition to slavery, other divisive issues, such as same-sex marriage, cause bitter conflict between different groups of people. By excusing John Brown, the government would be saying that it's okay to use violence to fight for something you believe in. This pardon could potentially lead to an outbreak of small-scale attacks by people who disagree with others' religious, political, and moral views. So while I believe that John Brown was fighting for a noble cause in seeking to end slavery and racism, pardoning him would in effect be endorsing the use of violence in fighting for one's own beliefs.  

Thank you,

Sophie K

Freedom's Martyr

John Locke's social contract theory states that individuals in a society have a duty to rebel against unjust governance.  Our nation was founded by men who believed in this individual prerogative.  John Brown's actions demonstrate an impassioned attempted to correct what he saw as a fundamental wrong; when he saw that the Supreme Court was dealing unfairly with oppressed people, he was left with no choice but to fight.  As a man who carried on the legacy of our Constitution's framers by fighting against illegitimate government, he deserves the honor of a pardon.

- Virginia P.