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John Brown and the Harpers Ferry Raid The actions of abolitionist John Brown and his followers on October 16 1859 brought national attention to the emotional divisions concerning slavery Brown and his men siezed the United States Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry in an effort to help free the slaves John Brown was born in 1800 in Conneticut Around 1835 he became interested in the abolotionist movement Brown and several of his sons moved to Kansas in 1855 At the time it was a territory deeply divided by the slavery issue On the night of May 24 1856 at Pottawotamie Creek Brown and his sons murdered three men who supported slavery although none of them actually owned any slaves The Brown men managed to escape Brown then spent much of the next three years collecting money from several wealthy abolitionists He did this in order to help establish a colony for any runaway slaves that were interested In order to accomplish this goal he needed many many weapons and therefore decided to capture the arsenal located in Harpers Ferry President George Washington had selected Springfield Massachusetts and Harpers Ferry Virginia now West Virginia as the two sites of the new national armories in 1794 He noted that the benefit in choosing Harpers Ferry was the great source of water power generated by the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers In 1796 production of weapons began The federal government contracted with John H Hall in 1817 to manufacture his patented rifles Up until its destruction at the outbreak of the Civil War the armory and arsenal continued to produce weapons Under the pseudonym of Isaac Smith John Brown took up residence in the summer of 1859 at a small farm in Maryland near to Harpers Ferry He then trained a group of twenty-two men in military maneuvers Among these men were three of his sons Oliver Owen and Watson On Sunday October 16 Brown and
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