This Day in Black History: Oct. 16, 1859

Abolitionist John Brown overtakes weapons arsenal in Harper's Ferry, Virginia. 

Posted: 10/16/2012 07:00 AM EDT

(Photo: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs)

On the night of Oct. 16, 1859, abolitionist John Brown led a revolt of 21 men—including three free Blacks, one freed slave and one fugitive slave—of Harper's Ferry, Virginia (now presently West Virginia). Brown and his supporters aimed to spark a slave rebellion of freed slaves and raided the town's artillery and took 60 of the town's most prominent residents hostage.


Among the dead were Harper's Ferry Mayor Fountain Beckham and two of Brown's sons. The following morning, marines under Col. Robert E. Lee stormed the arsenal and Brown was apprehended. He was tried and convicted of murder, slave insurrection, and treason against the state and sentenced to death by hanging.

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