Black People’s Ally, White People’s Bogeyman: A John Brown Story

  • Louis A. DeCaroJr.


John Brown is one of the most vexing figures in American history,” writes historian William McFeely. Interestingly, he makes this declaration in the first line of an introduction written especially for the reissue of Benjamin Quarles’s classic study of African Americans and John Brown, Allies for Freedom (1974). But if Brown seemed austere, reticent, and even humorless to many of his black associates, probably none of them would have shared McFeely’s opinion. The divided opinion regarding Brown has often been a matter of black and white. Malcolm X recognized this in 1964 when he concluded that white society had unfairly portrayed Brown as a “nut.” 1 As seen in this essay, from the time of his death in 1859 until the present, John Brown has often been rejected by many white Americans because he does not conform to the accepted paradigm of national virtue: he was too close to blacks, and all too eager to win for them by force what many of their forefathers had withheld from them by force.


Assure Defend Editing Dispatch Lost 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Andrew Taylor and Eldrid Herrington 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis A. DeCaroJr.

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations