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Scholarly Essays

Bleeding Kansas: From the Kansas-Nebraska Act to Harpers Ferry

An essay by ,
Ball State University
John Brown in "The Tragic Prelude," displayed at the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka. Painted by John Stueart Curry, ca. 1938-1940.
In 1859, John Brown, a settler from Kansas Territory, invaded the state of Virginia with plans to raid the Harpers Ferry arsenal and incite a slave rebellion. Among his small band of insurgents were several young men who had also carried out vigilante violence in Kansas in hopes of abolishing slavery in that territory. The raid itself failed, and those who did not escape or die in the raid were later executed, including John Brown.