John Brown and Frederick Douglass Had a Complicated Friendship


The debut meeting of two of the nineteenth century’s most popular abolitionists, Frederick Douglass and John Brown, occurred at Brown’s home in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1847.

Douglass was at that point generally known for his subjugated childhood and departure from bondage in the last part of the 1830s, his record caught in 1845’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, and every now and again reiterated in his public addresses.

However it was Brown, a white man with a record of bombed business interests and resolute strict conviction, who apparently put on a show of being the one more resolved to end the unfeeling establishment of subjugation that day.

Earthy colored intrigued Douglass with an early arrangement to free the subjugated

As he reviewed in 1881’s Life and seasons of Frederick Douglass, Brown promptly intrigued his visitor with his “lean, solid and strong build” and the way “his youngsters watched him with love.”

In any case, it was Brown’s energetic words that made the greatest imprint, as he discussed an arrangement to free the oppressed and squirrel them to opportunity through the Alleghany Mountains.

His deliberate reactions to Douglass’ inquiries demonstrated he had given the issue cautious idea. Furnished men would be positioned at key checkpoints, he clarified, from where they would descend to towns to energize the subjugated and get arrangements. Also, regardless of whether specialists figured out how to corner them, what preferable approach to bite the dust over for such a respectable purpose?

Douglass was then an advocate of William Lloyd Garrison’s “non-obstruction” type of abolitionism, however he started to reevaluate his convictions after the night at Brown’s home. “While I kept on composing and criticize subjection, I turned into in no way different less confident of its quiet annulment,” he composed. “My articulations turned out to be increasingly more touched by the shade of this present man’s solid impressions.”

By the mid-1850s, Brown had become a public figure in his own appropriate for his association in the brutal “Draining Kansas” outskirt clashes, his activities celebrated by the individuals who felt that subjugation would just end through gore. “I met him frequently during this battle,” Douglass stated, “and all I saw of him gave me a more good impression of the man, and roused me with a higher regard for his character.”

Earthy colored much of the time remained with Douglass during his excursions back east to secure cash and arms during these years, one such visit caught by their joint letter to Brown’s better half in January 1858.

Be that as it may, regardless of his own uplifted hostility, Douglass had confidence in the significance of political activity to stop subjugation, putting him at chances with the expanding radicalism of Brown. The two men joined other abolitionist pioneers at the Detroit home of William Wells in March 1859 yet couldn’t resolve the impasse over their contrasting perspectives.

Douglass would not join Brown’s Harpers Ferry assault

Earthy colored and Douglass met for the last time at a quarry near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, in August 1859. This time, Brown introduced the full extent of his arrangement to catch the government arsenal at the Harpers Ferry, Virginia, and arm the subjugated for a significant uprising.

In Douglass’ memory, Brown got over the notice that he was “going into an ideal steel trap” from which “he could never get out alive” and squeezed forward with the endeavor to enroll his companion: “When I strike the honey bees will start to crowd, and I will need you to help hive them.”

Regardless of whether it was because of “my circumspection or my weakness,” Douglass composed, he declined to join what turned into the doomed Harpers Ferry strike on October 16, 1859 – nearly every individual from the affecting party was either caught or murdered, and Brown was held tight December 2.

There is some question about whether Douglass’ form of occasions is precise. One of Brown’s caught men, John E. Cook, asserted that the speaker had retreated from a guarantee to carry more men to the attack. What’s more, Brown, who attracted acclaim for declining to ensnare partners while anticipating his capital punishment, allegedly griped to a companion about the “extraordinary open door lost” at Harpers Ferry, including, “that we owe to the well known Mr. Frederick Douglass.”

The allegations incited Douglass to shield himself in an October 31 letter to the Rochester Democrat and American, in which he demanded that he “never made a guarantee” to join the assault and that the “taking of Harpers Ferry was a measure never empowered by my promise or by my vote.” Regardless, he realized he was in a difficult situation for his public connections to a man being pursued for injustice, and by November he had headed out for England.

Douglass summoned Brown as a saint to the reason

Restoring the accompanying summer to a nation on the cusp of common war, Douglass understood the estimation of summoning Brown as a saint for abolitionist subjugation endeavors and as an enrolling instrument for Union warriors.

His job well done with the Union triumph, Douglass later praised his fallen companion through a discourse conveyed various occasions, including at Harpers Ferry’s Storer College in 1881, in which he portrayed the ordnance strike as a “thunderbolt” that started an ethically rotting country without hesitation.

“At the point when John Brown extended forward his arm, the sky was cleared,” he announced in the discourse’s incredible decision. “The ideal opportunity for bargains was gone, and to the equipped hosts of opportunity, remaining over the abyss of a messed up Union, was submitted the choice of the blade. … furthermore, in this way made her own, and not John Brown’s, the act of futility.”