Execution of John Brown. John Brown (1800-1859), a white abolitionist, attempted to start an armed slave revolt by seizing a military arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia in 1859. He was defeated by a detachment of Marines led by Colonel Robert E. Lee. John Brown was the first white man to use violence in an attempt to end slavery. The raid alarmed many in the South and led to militarization in preparation for a Northern invasion. Brown was tried and executed for treason, murder, and conspiracy.
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