Is Murder Ever Justified?

I’m reading March by Geraldine Brooks. John Brown is one of the characters in the book—or rather, the narrator (Mr. March from Little Women) meets John Brown and mentions Harper’s Ferry and its impact on him and his own struggle as an army chaplain during the the Civil War.

I don’t have enough of a grip on Brown’s influence to gauge how the tensions between the South and abolitionists would have unfolded without him.

I don’t know if he was right or wrong to respond to moral corruption with murder.

But I do know that he believed in a noble cause and I suspect that, when he was hanged, many more abolitionists were born. Here’s a moving painting of that day:

"The Last Moments of John Brown" by Thomas Hovenden

I’ve given John Brown some thought through the years. When I worked in Topeka, KS, I would often walk to the Kansas Statehouse (capitol building) over my lunch break, and wander around in the public area. I remember this large mural. As you can tell, this isn’t a mural you’d easily forget:

"John Brown" by John Steuart Curry

(I was also at the Texas Statehouse in Austin on the day that Ann Richards died. There was her portrait—right next to the current Idiot-in-Chief, the next governor of Texas. But I digress . . . )

a great woman

Anyway, here are some of John Brown’s words to the court when he was sentenced to hang:

Now if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel and unjust enactments, I say, let it be done.

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