Many different views and ideas about John Brown flew around the North before the Civil War. Debates and arguments sprung up about whether Brown’s actions and means could or should be justified. Some agreed only partially with Brown. Document A proves that with Horace Greeley’s statement “And, while we heartily wish every slave in the world would run away from his master tomorrow and never be retaken, we should not feel justified in entering a slave state to incite them to do so, even if we were sure to succeed in the enterprise.
Greeley is merely saying that he approves of Browns means but not his violent way of going about accomplishing those means. Some others, though, fully agreed with Browns actions and means. Document B shows how Thoreau endorsed Brown. Thoreau probably agreed with Browns decision because he was known to be a disobedient rebel in a way. He refers to transcendentalism and higher law appeal. All these views show dispute between an incident that occurred between the north and south. Tensions were building between the two sides of the country.
These tensions are shown in document C. Seeing as the tribune was published in Kansas, and there was much bleeding in Kansas, it came from a high tension part of the country. It shows the degree in which a pro-slavery writer is upset. The author refers to two kinds of people who apologize for Brown. The first group praises Brown openly (just like Thoreau). The second group called themselves “law and order men, lovers of peace- Republicans”. The published other people’s words that praised Brown (just like Greeley).
The author of this tribune is upset with people who praise Brown, which shows more of the changing relations of north and south. Now the pro-slavery people weren’t the only ones building tension. Even Honest Abe can’t say he didn’t have a role in diminishing the north and south relations. As shown in document E, Abraham Lincoln complains about Democrats charging Republicans with supporting Brown just to win over votes in the up incoming election between Lincoln and Seward. Lincoln says that Democrats are “bushwhacking” Republicans.
Document C is a perfect example of what Lincoln was referring too. Lincoln, and the Republicans, tried to stay moderates during their campaign to win the nomination. This platform is huge for them in winning the nomination later that year. Also because of this platform, Lincoln suggests that he disagrees with Browns means and actions. More tension builds. Fredrick Douglass, being a black abolitionist escaped slave, supports Browns means and actions as shown in document F. Douglass wrote this letter to a group of abolitionists on July 4, 1860, which was an election year.
His letter of support for Brown placed him in the Topeka tribunes’ first class of man. This proved to be more of the changing relations. Also note that Douglass agrees with Thoreau’s endorsement of Brown. The huge, major, largest change over time is shown in document G. This song is dated in 1861, during the Civil War time. Browns song was sung by Union soldiers as they went in to battle. This shows that Brown is now seen as a hero. This shows that once the war is under way, the people who once criticized Brown now unite to agree with Thoreau and Douglass who always saw him as a hero.
Lastly was the widespread news about Brown. Document H shows how this happened. It is a Currier and Ives lithograph of Brown heading to the gallows. Brown is shown to be calm, gentle looking, and notice how he is the tallest figure in the room. This was probably done on purpose, like in document G, to show Brown as a hero figure. Notice that the soldiers around Brown look evil and how Virginia’s flag hangs above Browns head. This may suggest that the south is evil to even calm, gentle people.
Also the statue of justice in the bottom left corner is blindfolded to suggest that there was no real justice involved. Since this lithograph is a Currier and Ives print, it could be seen by many because it was rather cheap. All in all John Brown had been an extremist in changing the north and south relations between 1859 and 1863, when the war became a war to end slavery, as well as for the union. This happened when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Brown became a hero and martyr to all.