Admiring John Brown as a Pacifist

“John Brown was a deeply religious man who took gospel teachings to heart,” says Michael Levi. “[He] saw unsustainable, unacceptable violations of justice, of humanity, of decency, of every gospel teaching in the institution of slavery, and devoted his life to ending it in a way that few White people did at the time.”

His radical path, however, included an armed rebellion, to which end he led a raid on a federal armory at Harpers Ferry in 1859 that resulted in seven deaths. That would seem to make him an unlikely figure for Friends to admire—and yet, as Levi explains, Lucretia Mott was able to recognize Brown as a “moral hero.”

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