The most picturesque character, the bravest man and most self- sacrificing soul in American history, was hanged at Charleston, Va., December 2, 1859.
On that day Thoreau said: "Some eighteen hundred years ago Christ was crucified. This morning, perchance, Captain Brown was hung. These are the two ends of a chain which is not without its links. He is not 'Old Brown' any longer; he is an Angel of Light. I foresee the time when the painter will paint that scene, no longer going to Rome for a subject; the poet will sing it, the historian record it, and with the landing of the Pilgrims and the Declaration of Independence it will be the ornament of some future national gallery, when at least the present form of slavery shall be no more here. We shall then be at liberty to weep for Captain Brown."
Few people dared on that fateful day to breathe a sympathetic word for the grizzled old agitator. For years he had carried on his warfare against chattel slavery. He had only a handful of fanatical followers to support him. But to his mind his duty was clear, and that was enough. He would fight it out to the end, and if need be alone.
Old John Brown set an example of moral courage and of single- hearted devotion to an ideal for all men and for all ages.
With every drop of his honest blood he hated slavery, and in his early manhood he resolved to lay his life on Freedom's altar in wiping out that insufferable affliction. He never faltered. So God-like was his unconquerable soul that he dared to face the world alone.
How perfectly sublime!
He did not reckon the overwhelming numbers against him, nor the paltry few that were on his side. This grosser aspect of the issue found no lodgment in his mind or heart. He was right and Jehovah was with him. His was not to reckon consequences, but to strike the immortal blow and step from the gallows to the throne of God.
Not for earthly glory did John Brown wage his holy warfare; not for any recognition or reward the people had it in their power to bestow. His great heart was set upon a higher goal, animated by a loftier ambition. His grand soul was illumined by a sublimer ideal. A race of human beings, lowly and despised, were in chains, and this festering crime was eating out the heart of civilization.____________________