The Civil War

Misguided Fanatic or Hero? John Brown

Misguided Fanatic or Hero? John Brown
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.05

     challenging words:    lovejoy, nonpayment, pro-slave, pro-slavery, slavery-free, hacked, bankruptcy, rallying, sacked, tannery, consecrate, preparatory, militant, fatality, unprepared, publicly
     content words:    John Brown, Morris Academy, Dianthe Lusk, New Richmond, Then Brown, Elijah P., Wool Commission, New York, Kansas Territory, Free State Hotel

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Misguided Fanatic or Hero? John Brown
By Joyce Furstenau

1     John Brown was a nineteenth century American abolitionist. That means he was against slavery. He wanted it abolished using any means possible. He has been called "the most controversial figure of all 19th century Americans."
2     John Brown was born on May 9, 1800, in Torrington, Connecticut. He grew up in a deeply religious family. At the age of sixteen, he went to Massachusetts to attend a preparatory school there. He briefly attended Morris Academy with intentions of become a minister. His funds ran out. He also began suffering from eye infections, so he returned home to Ohio.
3     He married Dianthe Lusk in 1820 and soon began a family. Five years later, Brown and his family moved to New Richmond, Pennsylvania, where he bought two hundred acres. He opened his own tannery business here. Things went well for several years, but in 1831, one of his sons died. Then Brown became ill. His business began to suffer. He was in terrible debt. Things went from bad to worse when his wife and another newborn son died in 1832.
4     In 1833, he married again. He and his new wife moved back to Ohio in 1836. He borrowed money there to buy land to build another tannery. He struggled to make ends meet, but times were tough.
5     In 1837, a Presbyterian minister by the name of Elijah P. Lovejoy was murdered by a mob for his abolitionist views. This event appeared to have a lasting affect on John Brown. We are told that he publicly vowed, "Here, before God, in the presence of these witnesses, from this time, I consecrate my life to the destruction of slavery!"

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