They hanged John Brown for treason in Virginia two years before Fort Sumter, and he became a martyr and symbol to some in the North, but a maniacal traitor in the South. He laid down his life fighting for what he believed in and helped escalate tensions so much that the entire nation would be at war just 16 months after his execution.
In 1856, he looks so much like Johnny Cash, that we went and checked up on it to see if Cash was ever tapped to play him and he was — in the 1985 television miniseries, North and South.
Abraham Lincoln called John Brown a “misguided fanatic.” When the Civil War was over and Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on April 15, 1865, letters poured in to the White House from all over the world. Some even compared the death of Lincoln to the death of John Brown.
Paris, April 27, 1865.
I will express to you without delay the very sincere and profound sorrow at the news of the horrid catastrophe that reached us to-day.
The loss of a man like Lincoln is a cause of mourning for all in the world who have at heart the trinmph of liberty and democracy.
Mr. Seward’s death is a blow almost as terrible.
Allow me to inform you of a fact you will certainly be glad to learn. The different religious Protestant societies are now holding their public annual conferences. The Evangelic Society assembled yesterday evening. The Reverend William Monad announced the horrid news to the astounded assembly in these terms:
“The terrible manifestation of wickedness of which we have heard to-day has struck us all with consternation.
“President Lincoln has been assassinated.
“We cannot give full expression to our feelings at such a loss. We are not discouraged; it is even the abolition of slavery that God has sealed with Lincoln’s purest blood.
“Let it be known to our brethren in the United States that we mourn with them their greatest citizen.
“John Brown, Abraham Lincoln! both were martyrs to a holy cause.
“John Brown was the first, God grant that Lincoln may be the last !”
Accept the homage of my very sincere and respectful devotion.
A. Monod, The United States Minister