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John Brown: Abolitionist

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 OKLAHOMA CITY -- One of my all-time favorite Americans is abolitionist, rabblerouser and patriot John Brown (1800-1859).

Interestingly, my alma mater is John Brown University and when I would tell people where I went to college I would add, "Not the abolitionist." At that point the person usually says "Ohhhh, okay."

But in the past month I've become increasingly interested in this fascinating man who basically ended slavery. Sure, he was a religious fanatic of the Calvinist persuasion but he also saw blacks and whites as equals and slavery as abhorrent and immoral and would go to great lengths to put an end to the institution.

This past week I spent several days in northeastern Kansas, largely in the Lawrence area (which explains my absence from RDR as of late - sorry!).

The highlight was visiting the John Brown Museum State Historic Site in Osawatomie, Kansas. This is where the cabin was located where Florella Adair - Brown's half-sister - would keep Brown during his anti-slavery exploits in Kansas. The curator, a Mr. Atwater, was very informative and talked about the cabin and Brown and showed off items from 1850's Kansas.

Another highlight was the site of the Battle of Black Jack near Baldwin City. This took place in June 1856 and was led by the shrewd Brown who used effective guerilla tactics. And because there were two organized groups fighting on opposite sides of the slavery issue, it is considered by many to be the first battle of the Civil War. This site is worth visiting.

Also visited the former Kansas Territorial capital and pro-slavery stronghold of Lecompton, between Topeka and Lawrence. The museum there was chock full of items, although Brown visited only once to check on his incarcerated sons one night.

I also went in the largely empty State Capitol building in Topeka. I hadn't been there since April 1983 when the boy's choir I was in performed in there. Anyway, I found the famous Curry painting of a bearded, wild-eyed Brown there in the Capitol. It takes your breath away.

And while in Lawrence, visiting an old high school friend, I made it to the Free State Brewery and picked up a "John Brown Ale" T-shirt. Very cool.

Also picked up "Patriotic Treason: John Brown and the Soul of America" by Eric Carton. Looks good. Now, why hasn't there been an epic film done on John Brown? Have heard that Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino want to do a film on this great American hero. I sure hope somebody does and does a good job on it.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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