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John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights

David Reynolds

John Brown found it galling that Southerners thought abolitionists were soft. Brown, the son of a Connecticut tanner, was a believer in corporal punishment and predestination, and an admirer of the king-slayer Oliver Cromwell. Drawn to Kansas by his determination to halt the spread of slavery, Brown received word in May 1856 that a cane-wielding Southern congressman had beaten the abolitionist senator Charles Sumner nearly to death on the Senate floor. Two nights later, Brown and four of his sons led a retaliatory raid. Descending on a small Kansas settlement, Brown

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