Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Letter to the Editor: "Freedom's Martyr"-Natalie S.

To Whom It May Concern:

            I am in absolute agreement with David Reynolds' article, "Freedom's Martyr," a plea for the posthumous pardon of John Brown on the 150th anniversary of Brown's hanging. While Brown was a bit of a zealous extremist when it came to slavery (he often said he was an instrument of God's will sent to destroy slavery), his actions were extremely significant.  "His plan was not absurd," says Reynolds, and indeed it was not. I believe that at the core of the slavery (for which Brown was in extreme opposition) is fear.  President Franklin Roosevelt said in his first inaugural address that, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Brown merely wanted, "to create panic by arousing fears."  By inflaming the fears embedded in the institution of slavery, Brown helped contribute to the necessary sectional tensions between the North and South, which eventually lead to the abolishing of slavery at the end of the Civil War. Therefore, I strongly believe Brown deserves a posthumous pardon for his courageous acts.

However, his actions were extreme for his time and the only way for the government established in the nineteenth century to deal with Brown was to hang him—to silence these treasonous actions. Although he was a bit of a nut, the heightened sectional tensions resulting from his actions at Harper's Ferry Arsenal eventually erupted into the Civil War, which, in the long run, destroyed the establishment of slavery.  Brown wanted to bring slaves into the light of racial equality, a principal many Americans highly regard today.  He should be posthumously pardoned on the basis that his actions were necessary and significant to the abolishing of slavery, recognizing his sacrifice for the greater cause of racial equality. As the soldiers of the Civil War would say, "John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave, but his soul keeps marching on."

Natalie S.

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