Mixing idealism with violence, abolitionist John Brown cut a wide swath across the United States before winding up in Virginia, where he led an attack on the U.S. armory and arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Supported by a "provisional army" of 21 men, Brown hoped to rouse the slaves in Virginia to rebellion. But he was quickly captured and, after a short but stormy trial, hanged on December 2, 1859. Brian McGinty provides the first comprehensive account of the trial, which raised important questions about jurisdiction, judicial fairness, and the nature of treason under the American constitutional system.
Even his abolitionist allies thought his attack on Harpers Ferry insane, but, as this short-form book by New York Times bestselling historian Thomas Fleming points out, John Brown sensed that his trial and death would ignite the nation's conscience.
The Adventurous Life and Tragic Confession of John E. Cook
Author: Steven Lubet
Publisher: Yale University Press
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Describes the story of the man who was entrusted with all of the details of John Brown's plans to capture the Harper's Ferry armory in 1859 and how he was hunted down for a $1,000 bounty and tried as a spy.
JOHN BROWN (1800-1859) John Brown was an American abolitionist, born in Connecticut and raised in Ohio. He felt passionately and violently that he must personally fight to end slavery. In 1856, in retaliation for the sack of Lawrence, he led the murder of five proslavery men on the banks of the Pottawatomie River. He stated that he was an instrument in the hand of God. Brown did not end there. On Oct. 16, 1859, Brown and 21 followers captured the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Brown planned the takeover as the first step in his liberation of the slaves, but it was taken the next morning by Robert E. Lee. Brown was hanged on Dec. 2, 1859. He became a martyr for many because of the dignity and sincerity that he displayed during his popular trial. Benet wrote "John Brown's Body," an epic about the Civil War. He framed his poem around the life and death of John Brown.
Paired with Louis DeCaro's narrative of the aftermath, trial, and execution of John Brown in Freedom's Dawn: The Last Days of John Brown in Virginia, this book preserves the first-hand experience of Brown as he gave his life for the abolitionist cause.
John Brown and his violent attacks on slavery have been romanticized through the years. Find out about the man behind the myth and learn about his contribution to the abolitionist movement. The book is complete with timeline, primary sources, photographs, and excerpts from the time period.
In a bravura performance that ranges from Aaron Burr to O. J. Simpson, Robert A. Ferguson traces the legal meaning and cultural implications of prominent American trials across the history of the nation. His interdisciplinary investigation carries him from courtroom transcripts to newspaper accounts, and on to the work of such imaginative writers as Emerson, Thoreau, William Dean Howells, and E. L. Doctorow. Ferguson shows how courtrooms are forced to cope with unresolved communal anxieties and how they sometimes make legal decisions that change the way Americans think about themselves. Burning questions control the narrative. How do such trials mushroom into major public dramas with fundamental ideas at stake? Why did outcomes that we now see as unjust enjoy such strong communal support at the time? At what point does overexposure undermine a trial’s role as a legal proceeding? Ultimately, such questions lead Ferguson to the issue of modern press coverage of courtrooms. While acknowledging that media accounts can skew perceptions, Ferguson argues forcefully in favor of full television coverage of them—and he takes the Supreme Court to task for its failure to grasp the importance of this issue. Trials must be seen to be understood, but Ferguson reminds us that we have a duty, currently ignored, to ensure that cameras serve the court rather than the media. The Trial in American Life weaves Ferguson’s deep knowledge of American history, law, and culture into a fascinating book of tremendous contemporary relevance. “A distinguished law professor, accomplished historian, and fine writer, Robert Ferguson is uniquely qualified to narrate and analyze high-profile trials in American history. This is a superb book and a tremendous achievement. The chapter on John Brown alone is worth the price of admission.”—Judge Richard Posner “A noted scholar of law and literature, [Ferguson] offers a work that is broad in scope yet focuses our attention on certain themes, notably the possibility of injustice, as illustrated by the Haymarket and Rosenberg prosecutions; the media’s obsession with pandering to baser instincts; and the future of televised trials. . . . One of the best books written on this subject in quite some time.”—Library Journal, starred review
Nearly one hundred fifty years after his epochal Harpers Ferry raid to free the slaves, John Brown is still one of the most controversial figures in American history. In 1970, Stephen B. Oates wrote what has come to be recognized as the definitive biography of Brown, a balanced assessment that captures the man in all his complexity. The book is now back in print in an updated edition with a new prologue by the author.
Why Trial Lawyers Don't, Can't, and Shouldn't Have to Tell the Whole Truth
Author: Steven Lubet
Publisher: NYU Press
Lubet's Nothing But The Truth presents a novel and engaging analysis of the role of storytelling in trial advocacy. The best lawyers are storytellers, he explains, who take the raw and disjointed observations of witnesses and transform them into coherent and persuasive narratives. Critics of the adversary system, of course, have little patience for storytelling, regarding trial lawyers as flimflam artists who use sly means and cunning rhetoric to befuddle witnesses and bamboozle juries. Why not simply allow the witnesses to speak their minds, without the distorting influence of lawyers' stratagems and feints? But Lubet demonstrates that the craft of lawyer storytelling is a legitimate technique for determining the truth andnot at all coincidentallyfor providing the best defense for the attorney's client. Storytelling accomplishes three important purposes at trial. It helps to establish a "theory of the case," which is a plausible and reasonable explanation of the underlying events, presented in the light most favorable to the attorney's client. Storytelling also develops the "trial theme," which is the lawyer's way of adding moral force to the desired outcome. Most importantly, storytelling provides a coherent "story frame," which organizes all of the events, transactions, and other surrounding facts into an easily understandable narrative context. As with all powerful tools, storytelling may be misused to ill purposes. Therefore, as Lubet explains, lawyers do not have carte blanche to tell whatever stories they choose. It is a creative process to be sure, but every story must ultimately be based on "nothing but the truth." There is no room for lying. On the other hand, it is obvious that trial lawyers never tell "the whole truth," since life and experience are boundless and therefore not fully describable. No lawyer or court of law can ever get at the whole truth, but the attorney who effectively employs the techniques of storytelling will do the best job of sorting out competing claims and facts, thereby helping the court arrive at a decision that serves the goals of accuracy and justice. To illustrate the various challenges, benefits, and complexities of storytelling, Lubet elaborates the stories of six different trials. Some of the cases are real, including John Brown and Wyatt Earp, while some are fictional, including Atticus Finch and Liberty Valance. In each chapter, the emphasis is on the narrative itself, emphasizing the trial's rich context of facts and personalities. The overall conclusion, as Lubet puts it, is that "purposive storytelling provides a necessary dimension to our adversary system of justice."
John Brown’s father on the day of his birth, May 9, 1800, wrote “John was born one hundred years after his great grandfather. Nothing else very uncommon.” Many years later came the 1856 Pottawatomie Massacre, where his uncommon convictions led him and his band of abolitionists to kill five pro-slavery settlers in Franklin County, Kansas. Three years later, Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry and his subsequent trial and execution helped push an already divided nation inexorably toward civil war. This is the story of John Brown, the age he embodied and the myth he became, and how the tragic gravity of his actions transformed America’s past and future. Through biographical narrative, his life and legacy are discussed as a study in metaphor and power and the nature of historical memory.
The Encyclopedia of West Virginia contains detailed information on States: Symbols and Designations, Geography, Archaeology, State History, Local History on individual cities, towns and counties, Chronology of Historic Events in the State, Profiles of Governors, Political Directory, State Constitution, Bibliography of books about the state and an Index.
Winner of the Bancroft Prize: Through a gripping narrative based on massive new research, a leading historian reshapes our understanding of the Civil War. Our standard Civil War histories tell a reassuring story of the triumph, in an inevitable conflict, of the dynamic, free-labor North over the traditional, slave-based South, vindicating the freedom principles built into the nation's foundations. But at the time, on the borderlands of Pennsylvania and Virginia, no one expected war, and no one knew how it would turn out. The one certainty was that any war between the states would be fought in their fields and streets. Edward L. Ayers gives us a different Civil War, built on an intimate scale. He charts the descent into war in the Great Valley spanning Pennsylvania and Virginia. Connected by strong ties of every kind, including the tendrils of slavery, the people of this borderland sought alternatives to secession and war. When none remained, they took up war with startling intensity. As this book relays with a vivid immediacy, it came to their doorsteps in hunger, disease, and measureless death. Ayers's Civil War emerges from the lives of everyday people as well as those who helped shape history—John Brown and Frederick Douglass, Lincoln, Jackson, and Lee. His story ends with the valley ravaged, Lincoln's support fragmenting, and Confederate forces massing for a battle at Gettysburg.