John Brown routed 75 men with 14, defended Lawrence from raiders, wrote a manual for the Underground Railroad, and began the war that ended slavery.
Frederick Douglass, talking about Brown’s actions in Kansas, wrote that one could not read the history “without feeling that the man who in all this bewildering broil was least the puppet of circumstances – the man who most clearly saw the real crux of the conflict, most definitely knew his own convictions and was readiest at the crisis for decisive action, was a man whose leadership lay not in his office, wealth, or influence, but in the white flame of his utter devotion to an ideal.”
This episode of Civilizations is all about John Brown – relying on W.E.B. Du Bois’s 1909 biography. Du Bois’s maps of Harper’s Ferry and Brown’s strategy are on the Civilizations Resources page.