They are already fighting in Kansas and Nebraska territories. Slaveowners and abolitionists have attempted to live together, but it isn't working. As early as 1856 the territory has two governmentsone for slavery and one against. Then a posse of about 800 pro-slavery men head for the free town of Lawrence, Kansas, and destroy it. It is guerrilla warfare. One of the soldiers in that war in bloody Kansas is a fierce-eyed white abolitionist named John Brown. He says things like this: "We must fight fire with fire and strike terror in their hearts."
Brown and his followers use axes to murder five pro-slavery settlers. That starts things. Brown burns with religious fire. He believes he is acting for God. He decides to lead a revolution. He thinks blacks will rise up and follow him. On a dark night in 1859, he and a few followers capture a government arsenal and armory in the pretty little West Virginia town of Harper's Ferry , where two rivers come together, slash the hills, and create spectacular scenery. But Brown isn't interested in the scenery. He needs help and it never comes . He is soon capturedby a military officer named Robert E. Leeand given a trial that all the nation follows. He puts on a performance few will forget, and his words inflame the North: "I deny everything but a design on my part to free slaves. I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away, but with blood ."
He is right. John Brown stuck his head in a noose made of South Carolina cotton. His words will soon haunt both North and South .