Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
A New York Times Notable Book for 2011
A Library Journal Top Ten Best Books of 2011
A Boston Globe Best Nonfiction Book of 2011
Late on the night of October 16, 1859, John Brown launched a surprise raid on the slaveholding South. Leading a biracial band of militant idealists, he seized the massive armory at Harpers Ferry, freed and armed slaves, and vowed to liberate every bondsman in America.
Brown's daring strike sparked a savage street fight and a counterattack by U.S. Marines under Robert E. Lee. The bloodshed and court drama that followed also shocked a divided nation and propelled it toward civil war. Tony Horwitz's Midnight Rising brings Brown and his uprising vividly to life and charts America's descent into explosive conflict. The result is a taut and indispensable history of a man and a time that still resonate in our own.
Adams, quoted in Sanborn, Recollections, 177. “tall,” “fine-looking,” and so forth: Sanborn, Recollections, 177; Annie Brown Adams to Richard Hinton, May 23, 1893, KSHS; statement of Annie Brown Adams, Chicago Historical Society; interview with Annie Brown Adams, OGV. “first lover”: Lou Chapin, “The Last Days of Old John Brown,” Overland Monthly, April 1899. “a perfect”: statement of Annie Brown Adams, Chicago Historical Society. “took a fancy”: undated note and letter from
Herald, Oct. 24, 1859. “I was nearly”: Daniel Whelan testimony, Mason Report, A021. “I knew Cook well”: ibid, A022. “The head”: ibid. “I want to free”: ibid. “by the servants”: Washington is quoted from his testimony, Mason Report, A029–39, and in the Baltimore American, Oct. 25, 1859. Lewis Washington’s account books are at the Jefferson County (West Virginia) Museum, Charles “Murder!”: D. E. Henderson to David Strother, Oct. 19, 1859, RWL. See also testimony of
Johnson’s Mount Vernon (New York: Hill and Wang, 2008), 171—73. Harriett’s second husband, William Robinson, later worked at Mount Vernon, which was owned before the war by a cousin of Lewis Washington’s, whose plantation Brown’s men raided. See also, “The Life and Death of Dangerfield Newby,” Jefferson Co. Black History Preservation Society, 2005. “My grandmother”: Langston Hughes, The Big Sea (New York: Hill & Wang, 1967), 17. He recounts the story of the shawl on page 12 and says it was
edifice fronted by Doric columns and topped by a bell tower. At the time of Brown’s capture the circuit court for western Virginia was in autumn session; the session would end in another few weeks, not to resume until spring. If the insurgents weren’t tried quickly, they would have to be kept under guard for months, a prospect few Virginians relished. “There is danger on the one hand of a rescue by their friends, and on the other of Lynch-law from the indignant populace,” Governor Wise wrote on
lawyers who had been recruited by Brown’s supporters in the North. The trial had been so hasty that the attorneys arrived without having had a chance to so much as study the indictment. They’d also missed hearing the prosecution witnesses. But the judge was intent on forging ahead and allowed the prosecution to begin its closing arguments that same afternoon. When the defense’s turn came, it could do little but argue technical points about jurisdiction and appeal to the jury to show “moral