John Brown is remembered as a revolutionary abolitionist who engineered a slave rebellion and tried to capture the armory at Harper's Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia). At the time his efforts electrified the nation.
Southerners alleged that his rebellion was the tip of the abolitionist iceberg and that it represented the wishes of the Republican party to end slavery. Historians agree that the Harper's Ferry raid in 1859 escalated tensions that a year later, led to secession and the American Civil War.
First he was involved with the "Bleeding Kansas" crisis; later he conceived a plan to lead a slave insurrection in the South and start a republic of free blacks in Virginia's Appalachian Mountains. On October 16, 1859, he and 22 followers rode into Harper's Ferry. They planned to take the federal arsenal and armory there and use the weapons to arm slaves in a rebellion they hoped would spread throughout the South.
The plan did not work and Brown and his men were trapped. The residents began firing on them and two of his sons were killed. A company of marines, led by Colonel Robert E. Lee soon arrived to put down the insurrection. Brown and his followers were charged with murder, treason and inciting insurrection, and were sentenced to hanging. He was executed on December 2, 1859.
According to Wikipedia, he is known as: "at certain times, a great man", but also "the father of American terrorism". The song "John Brown's Body" became a Yankee marching song during the War. I have been to Harper's Ferry. Today it is a peaceful and tranquil place!