I cannot agree that John Brown should be a celebrated figure in American history. Mister Brown was zealous in his quest against slavery and didn’t cease fighting for this cause until he died, but because he resorted to malicious violence in this quest, I cannot commend him. The figures who have left such an everlasting impression on our people, whose fights will continue to be revered for many years to come, are those who fought peaceful battles. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi are two figures who will eternally be remembered for their bravery, strength and unyielding determination.
You mention the fact that Brown may have “blotches on his record,” and make the point that other men who we consider “heroes” are flawed as well. While Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson may have been flawed, they did not ruthlessly murder their opponents. Known today as the Pottawattamie Creek Massacre, a small group of men lead by John Brown decided to murder five pro-slavery southerners. This act didn’t help the African-Americans bound by slavery, it just aggravated the growing sectionalism between the North and the South.
John Brown may have died for the slaves, but by living for them and not using petty violence, Frederick Douglas more effectively benefitted African-Americans. Douglas advocated for African-American slaves throughout his entire life, and used the press to speak out against slavery and spread awareness. Even though Brown’s rash attempts to fight for abolition seemingly overshadow the work of Douglas, these acts ceased to be successful in ameliorating the situation. Neither the Massacre at Pottawattamie Creek nor his Harper’s Ferry Raid—where he hoped to reap a slave insurrection in the Appalachians—effectively helped the slaves or the abolitionist movement. John Brown may be applauded for his sincere and indefinite passion about abolition, but his acts do not deserve the same noteworthiness that Americans place on leaders such as Abraham Lincoln.