The Hanging of Old Brown: A Story of Slaves, Statesmen, and Redemption

The Hanging of Old Brown: A Story of Slaves, Statesmen, and Redemption

The Hanging of Old Brown: A Story of Slaves, Statesmen, and Redemption

The Hanging of Old Brown: A Story of Slaves, Statesmen, and Redemption

Excerpt

Torrington, Connecticut. Not far from the Naugatuck River that hurries its way through the center of town is a lonely country road in the western part of the Litchfield Hills. A few houses are strewn along either side, sitting shyly in their places, perhaps a stone's throw from where the sojourner strolls; from where I strolled years ago and often since whenever the spirit of New England compels me. The road rises and dips with the hills, and the branches on the lanky trees crowding either side point in every direction. Morning mists seem to rise from the cracks in the road like incense, as if this is a holy place, a place of birth and rebirth. Little woodland gods and feathery beacons watch from their posts and keep the silence undisturbed.

Eventually, a clearing appears, heralded by an amass of rocks and stones piled into a three-foot parapet. It looks like a poor man's Stonehenge. On the clearing there are traces of a home's foundation still visible, protruding just under the tangled grass. An engraved boulder stands on what was the front step and with a voice in the breeze, announces a statement with rustic simplicity:

IN A HOUSE
ON THIS SITE
JOHN BROWN
WAS BORN
MAY 9 1800

Verdant moss encircles the base of the boulder like a wreath.

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