This is the image of John Brown the revolutionary abolitionist, the violent crusader against slavery. He led much of the battle in Bloody Kansas in the 1850’s when it was being decided whether Kansas would enter the Union as a Free State or a Slave State. Many historians feel that Brown’s actions and his failed raid on Harper’s Ferry had more to do with the start of the Civil War than the Lincoln-Douglas debates. He was soon hanged and is seen as America’s first domestic terrorist.
The above painting is hanging in the Kansas state capitol building. I’ve seen it there in Topeka. The Kansas Governor recently pointed to it and to Brown as an example of great individual initiative founded on principle.
You can tell it is Kansas by the tornado in the background. That is always a dead giveaway. But, look at John Brown’s face and eyes! His cause is great, his methods effective – and he is crazy as a loon.
I’ll be damned if I’d want to have anything to do with the nutcase. Zealots are a pure pain in the patoot and they will distort any argument they join, but you have to give them their due. They will win an argument or a battle just by willingness to commit anything to the cause, even the bodies, minds and hearts of their fellow man.
I wonder: Is it possible to make that level of commitment to sanity? The great American lab experiment is trying to figure that out.