I felt David Reynolds did not properly portray John Brown's raid and failed to realize the impact his raid had on the South. Here is my response to Freedom's Martyr:
A Response to Freedom’s Martyr
John Brown’s raid destroyed the unity of the nation and created extreme resentment and increased racism that is still present in the South. John Brown was a radical. At the time of his raid in 1859, abolitionists only accounted for a small minority of the population in the North. In the late 1950’s, even Abraham Lincoln did not care if slavery was “voted up, or voted down.” But, most southerners believed John Brown had the support of all northerners. The raid further isolated the South from the North and led southerners to believe that they could no longer live peacefully in the Union.
After the Civil War ended, Southerners began to romanticize life in the South during the antebellum period. In order to prevent the four million freedmen from upsetting the already established southern aristocratic hierarchy, southern state legislatures passed Jim Crow laws, which disenfranchised virtually all southern black men. The Jim Crow laws were not only a result of extreme racism, but also an attempt to keep African Americans in poverty and without a voice. Because of John Brown’s raid, southerners still feared the freedmen would rebel against white culture during the Reconstruction period. To many in the South, giving freedmen a voice in politics was no better than the slave insurrections John Brown hoped to create. Both had the power to destroy the culture of the Old South.
John Brown ultimately increased the prevalence of white supremacy ideology in the South. The raid of the United States arsenal in Harper’s Ferry and the Pottawatomie Massacre, which Brown also led, created a deep seeded resentment throughout the South that inflamed levels of segregation, lynching, and racism.
Although “John Brown did not have a shred of racism,” he helped preserve white supremacy ideology in the South. John Brown should not be pardoned because his raid was the catalyst of the Civil War, which took the most American lives of any other war in history, and a source of extreme resentment in the South.