Abolitionism quickly gained popularity since 1821 when William Lloyd Garrison assisted in writing an anti-slavery newspaper, The Genius of Universal Emancipation, with Benjamin Lundy. In 1831, abolitionism continued to grow in popularity when William Lloyd Garrison started The Liberator. Although there remained not a need for slaves in the North, slavery remained very big in the South for growing “cash crops.” The majority of the abolitionists who inhabited the North organized speeches, meetings, and newspapers to spread their cause. Initially, only small revolts and fights occurred. However, major events along the way led to the Harpers Ferry Raid. For example, with Kansas choosing whether or not to become a free or slave state. That became the biggest event up until John Brown’s Raid. John Brown had always despised slavery, and this enhanced his chance as an organized revolt. The effect of his raid on Harpers Ferry affected what the South thought about abolitionists and the power that they held.
In the 1850’s the Kansas Civil War, known as “Bleeding Kansas,” started and John Brown started becoming involved in this war leading a small group of men. He had remained fighting to create Kansas as a free state and led a raid known as the Pottawatomie Massacre in May 1856. This event turned into more of a show of their power than for getting revenge. With the involvement people changed their views on the abolition of slavery, “... many were losing faith in the electoral process as a means of destroying slavery- The Civil War was to prove them right- while some were increasingly inclined to believe that John Brown’s projected invasion...must be tried” (Boyer 7-8). He returned to Iowa and started on his next project, launching an attack on the government for the abolition of slavery. Presenting “Provisional Constitution and Ordinances for the People of the United States” he based this document on the United States Constitution outlining the reasons slaves should become free. The South did not appreciate Brown’s latest document because of what it represented.
John Brown went to Kansas in 1857 seeking recruit soldiers for his plan. John Cook Jr. happened to catch his eye and got sought out as the first Yankee. In the next couple of months Brown continued recruiting and ended up with a small group of 22 men. It included 16 white men, three free blacks, one freed slave, and one fugitive slave. June of 1858 Cook got sent on a solo mission to analyze Harpers Ferry and gain information. As described, “Brown had qualms about his plan, and cautioned his cocky and garrulous scout to say nothing of their ultimate objective” (Horwitz 85). Brown did have a lot of power which Southerners did not take much notice of.
With the information and the help of Hugh Forbes in 1859 Brown rented the Kennedy Farmhouse to house the men and supplies in preparation of the attack. The farm house stood four miles north of Harpers Ferry. While in the area Brown took up the name of...