Demand for John Brown’s surrender

10/18/1859

This is a formal summons by Colonel Robert E. Lee for the surrender of John Brown and his fellow insurgents barricaded in the armory at Harpers Ferry, located on the borders of Virginia and Maryland. John Brown was a radical abolitionist, willing to use violence to rid the nation of slavery. Brown considered Harpers Ferry a perfect location to launch an armed slave insurrection and guerilla war, using the 100,000 weapons stored in the armory. His 21-man “army of liberation” fought for 36 hours before capture by the U.S. Marines, who stormed the building. In December 1859, Brown was tried and hanged for treason, conspiring with slaves to rebel, and murder. Text adapted from “On the Other Side” in the October 2004 National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) publication Social Education.

National Archives, Records of the Adjutant General's Office


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