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John Brown: A Hero or a Terrorist, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 581

Essay

October 16th, 1859, the day when John Brown raided a U.S military arsenal located at the Harper’s Ferry in Virginia in anticipation of provoking a slave insurgence to free the African Americans. His plan was to use the weapons from the arsenal to launch a war against the South and end the slavery trade. In the course of this action, John Brown and his men killed 7 people. However, in the end, the raid was not successful and John Brown was hanged later on. John Brown was a known abolitionist. He fought hard to end the slavery and free the African-Americans from the hands of their masters. Even after the failed raid of the Harper’s Ferry, such actions from him and his men encouraged other abolitionist to continue the battle that ultimately led to a civil war (Barney, 112). Yet, people are asking whether or not his actions can be considered heroic or an act of terrorism.

The answer to this question is tricky by virtue of two opposing views. The North viewed John Brown as a hero while the South looked at him as a terrorist. It cannot be denied that his quest to abolish slavery was for a good cause. Not because it exhibited unequal rights among the people in the society but because it is an evil crime to interfere one’s right to freedom. Slavery did not just limit the right to freedom of the slaves but also encouraged lack of education, poverty and oppression. To fight for slavery in such a time was truly heroic. It meant freeing the people from oppression and giving them hope for a better future. However, a line should have been drawn when John Brown and his men started killing people who did not share the same idealism and views as with them. When he was planning the attack, it is important to note that no slaves joined him when he actually launched the attack. This can be rooted from the fact that the slaves knew that killing will not solve any problem. As a matter of fact, it only created fear and more chaos.

The end does not justify the means. For if it is, people will just keep killing each other due to differences in beliefs, race, religion and political affiliations. Although his contributions to the enlightenment of the people to defend for their own freedom cannot be disregarded, the means by which he conducted his ideologies constitute that of a terrorist act. There is no contesting that he inspired people to fight for their own freedom but it could have been done in a peaceful way. Even in the present day, does society encourages war? Does it encourage killing by virtue of religion? The answer is no.  It is understandable to fight for what someone believes in. But it should not be in the form of violence as it will just drag on until such time where innocent civilians who refused other beliefs and support their own will have to die to prove a point. It might sound idealistic but there is more than one way in solving conflicts than violence and killing. If only John Brown chose the other ways such as a peaceful revolt, then that would have made him a full blown hero and no one can ever argue that fact.

Work Cited

Barney, William. The Civil War and Reconstruction: A Student Companion. New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2001.

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