Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Julie Winch

Second Advisor

Paul Bookbinder

Third Advisor

Aminah Pilgrim


John Brown has often been characterized both as insane and as a terrorist. This thesis examines whether or not those characterizations are accurate. John Brown's America was bitterly divided over the institution of slavery. Many of the same events that led the United States into Civil War also affected John Brown and propelled him to oppose slavery and racial injustice with more than words alone. This thesis will also assess why and how John Brown's actions at Pottawatomie, Osawatomie and Harpers Ferry changed America forever by deepening the divisions between anti-slavery and pro-slavery factions. The America that John Brown knew was divided over the issue of slavery during his entire life. John Brown himself greatly deepened that chasm with his words and deeds. This thesis will examine John Brown the man in an effort to understand why he did what he did and why his actions had such profound consequences for this nation.


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