John Brown

A seminal event in the years leading up to the Civil War was John Brown’s attack on Harper’s Ferry. In this episode, we’ll travel to Harper’s Ferry, where Brown planned to start a slave insurrection by seizing the United States’ Arsenal.  We explore the story of John Brown, the “Secret Six” who funded him, the fate of his daring raid, and the monumental impact it had on the nation.

The Secret Six by Otto Scott

Otto Scott wrote a good history of John Brown’s raid and the men behind it in his book, The Secret Six. It’s main failing is it at times is a bit hard to follow because it does not go through the history in a chronological order. Buy it on

The Life and Letters of John Brown by Franklin Benjamin Sanborn

Franklin Benjamin Sanborn, one of the Secret Six, was an author after the war who wrote biographies of many of the leading men of the time. He wrote one of John Brown containing a history of his life as well as many of his letters. Do note that as Sanborn was one of Brown’s supporters, he presented an extremely favorable view of John Brown. Download it for free as a PDF, or read in an online interface.

Provisional Constitution by John Brown

Much can be learned of John Brown and his abolitionist plans by examining his provisional constitution he wrote for the government he hoped to form with the slaves freed in his raid. Read it here on

John Brown’s Letters