Thursday, April 9, 2009
'Through-out the 1840's while trying to establish 'a community plan of cooperative industry' among American wool producers and in his English venture John Brown showed one weakness of his character: he did not know or recognize the subtler twistings of human nature. He judged it ever from his own simple, clear standpoint and so had a sort of prophetic vision of the vaster and eternal aspects of the human soul. But of its kinks and prejudices, its little selfishness and jealousies and dishonesty, he knew nothing. They always came to him as a surprise, un-calculated for and but partially comprehended. He could fight the devil and his angels, and he did, but he could not cope with the million mis-births that hover between heaven and hell.
But the men he brought together for the raid on Harper's Ferry were idealists, dreamers, soldiers and avengers, varying from the silent and thoughtful to the quick and impulsive. They believed in God, in spirits, in fate, in liberty. To them the world was a wild, young unregulated thing, and they were born to set it right. It was a veritable band of crusaders and while it had much weakness and extravagance, it had nothing nasty or unclean...They were not men of culture or great education, nearly all were skeptical of the world's social conventions. John Brown narrowed their dreaming to one intense deed.'
-W.E.B. Du Bois-