Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Part 1: 1450-1750
Part 2: 1750-1805
Part 3: 1791-1831
<---Part 4: 1831-1865

Narrative | Resource Bank | Teacher's Guide



Historical Document
John Brown's address to the court
1859

Resource Bank Contents



Click here for the text of this historical document.

Charged with murder, insurrection, and treason against the state of Virginia, John Brown -- leader of the raid on Harpers Ferry -- lay wounded on a cot in the courtroom. He had requested that the proceedings be delayed by one day to allow time for his lawyer to arrive. The request was denied, and he was assigned a lawyer who, against Brown's wishes, set out to prove his client insane.

The court found Brown guilty and asked if there was any reason why a sentence of death should not be pronounced. Although not prepared to make a statement, Brown stood up and, in a mild and composed manner, addressed the court.

He stated that he had never intended to kill, or destroy property, or incite slaves to rebellion. He referred to the Bible. "[T]o have interfered as I have done," he stated, ". . . in behalf of His despied poor, was not wrong, but right."

John Brown was hanged one month later, on December 2, 1859.




previous | next


Related Entries:
John Brown
The raid on Harpers Ferry





Part 4: Narrative | Resource Bank Contents | Teacher's Guide

Africans in America: Home | Resource Bank Index | Search | Shop


WGBH | PBS Online | ©