He could be a right bastard if you stood in his way. Taller than most, but it wasn’t his height, nor his gray beard, nor even his stiff and lordly manner. No, it was them eyes. Never was there eyes like that in a mortal man. What color, you ask? Why, perhaps gray or blue. But the color had nothing to do with what I mean. No, it was the heat from them eyes, white as a forge-fire, quick as lightning. Yes, he carried him a saber and brace of pistols, but it was the eyes was his real weapon.
In the words of Frederick Douglass, John Brown was “built for times of trouble and fitted to grapple with the flintiest hardships.” Brown felt a profound and lifelong empathy with the plight of slaves, his views differing gravely from every other white man of his time. Blacks were among his closest friends, and in some respects he felt more comfortable around them than he did around whites.
In October of 1859, Brown led a troop of armed former slaves, free blacks, and white abolitionists on a raid of the Harper’s Ferry arsenal. Though they successfully took and briefly held the fort, Brown was captured. He was convicted of treason and hanged, but the raid inflamed white Southern fears of slave rebellions ushered in the American Civil War