Maybe spring has at long last arrived, although some warm and sunny weather would be nice. Many thanks to the nine people who withstood a few sprinkles to attend the book discussion last night. Their presence, as always, was much appreciated.
Midnight Rising: John Brown and the raid that sparked the Civil War by Tony Horwitz. John Brown was a staunch abolitionist and had participated in the bloody fighting in Kansas that led to its admission to the union as a free state. On October 16, 1859, Brown and a handful of followers set out to capture the federal armory in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. Their goal was to use the captured weapons to arm slaves and instigate a general slave uprising across the South. It never happened. Alarms were sounded and federal troops and state militia rushed to the area. Brown and his followers, including his sons, were killed or captured. Brown himself was put on trial by Virginia for treason and was condemned to death and eventually hanged. Brown’s raid encapsulated the worst fears of the South, that of a slave insurrection and Northern invasion. Brown died a hero in the North and a traitor in the South. His actions increased the already severe divisions between the two regions. The author presents the factors in Brown’s life, including his belief in fundamental Calvinism and his many business failures, that led to his actions at Harper’s Ferry. The Civil War began just over a year later. We discussed many things last night, but centered mostly on whether Brown was a terrorist in our modern understanding of the word and the fluidity of morality, whether there concrete definitions of right and wrong.