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John Brown was a man of action -- a man who would not be deterred from his mission of abolishing slavery. On October 16, 1859, he led 21 men on a raid of the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. His plan to arm slaves with the weapons he and his men seized from the arsenal was thwarted, however, by local farmers, militiamen, and Marines led by Robert E. Lee. Within 36 hours of the attack, most of Brown's men had been killed or captured.
John Brown (May 9, 1800 – December 2, 1859) was an American abolitionist who believed armed insurrection was the only way to overthrow the institution of slavery in the United States . [ 1 ] During 1856 in Kansas , Brown commanded forces at the Battle of Black Jack and the Battle of Osawatomie . [ 1 ] Brown's followers also killed five pro-slavery supporters at Pottawatomie . [ 1 ] In 1859, Brown led an unsuccessful raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry that ended with his capture. [ 1 ] Brown's trial resulted in his conviction and a sentence of death by hanging. [ 1 ] Brown's attempt in 1859 to start a liberation movement among enslaved African Americans in Harpers Ferry, Virginia electrified the nation. He was tried for treason against the Commonwealth of Virginia, the murder of five men and inciting a slave insurrection.