December 2, 2008

There Is Such A Fact As Death

149 years ago today, at 11:15 in the morning John Brown was hanged by the neck until dead in Charles Town, Virginia, for the crime of trying to start a slave insurrection.

Henry David Thoreau said in his breathtaking A Plea for Captain John Brown:

This event advertises to me that there is such a fact as death; the possibility of a man's dying. It seems as if no man had ever died in America before; for in order to die you must first have lived.
I read Thoreau’s piece this morning. Rather than quote it at length, or editorialize about John Brown, I encourage you to take a little time today and read it yourself.

Today, as in 1859, there are great crimes being committed on our soil and around the world by the rulers of these United States, committed in our name, with our taxes.

Let John Brown’s example encourage us to try and stand, like him, "with the oppressed and the wronged, that are as good as you."

3 comments:

mike ely said...

thanks for this. there is much to learn from and remember in the life and passion of john brown.

Rahim on the Docks said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I think only of the Oct. 16 anniversary, the Dec. 1 date is equally significant. Oh, and next year is the sesquicentennial.

NobodyToToyWith said...

Certainly the Thoreau piece is worth reading, I hope people spend enough time paying attention thinking about all he had to say, found a lot there pertinent. No offense intended, certainly not to John Brown, but spent much of my life listening to the glories of death and dying, when in fact perhaps it is life and the connections built between living people which is more important. Have to wonder about this, what it would have been if he had been able to reach out to more people. And wonder how people read the message of his life, whether it would spur people to take lone isolated actions to bring glory to themselves as heroes, or perhaps to stand smugly as unwavering and somehow more moral than others. A lesson from the abolitionists is also their isolation, their inability to reach out effectively. Perhaps now I am thinking more of Garrison, so unbending. And for those many who held themselves up as morally superior--but could not truly include free coloreds and escaped slaves to work beside them as equals, people who were more practical perhaps out of necessity. A lot to think about here Dennis, thanks for posting.