Shit I Learned For Free: John Brown’s Holy War

I took the notes for this post January 10th. It has taken me this long to sit down and write it. It seemed daunting. “You’ve bitten off more than you can chew.” that awful voice boomed inside my head. I took tomorrow off work on a whim and decided that I would spend a chunk of this ‘extra’ time in my life working on ‘the blog’, as I refer to it.

I started this evening with my email account.

Anyone who has a blog knows that at least 80% of the experience is the networking. Like Facebook, Deviantart, and (remember?) Myspace, blogging is a lot about getting people to pet your pretty pretty ego.

To me, blogging is a little less honest about it, but this is made up for by what the stroker gets in exchange. When I hit like on a friend’s status about how yummy their brunch was I don’t get to eat a piece of that brunch. Which sucks, because I have the munchies most of the time I’m on Facebook. However, when I come begging for readers via Twitter, Facebook, or Bloglovin’ (which I barely understand) I’m offering you the best art I am able to give, and all I really want is a comment.

If this isn’t your first time reading you’ll know that I have a few basic blogging rules set up for myself this go ’round. I don’t want to write any half-assed posts and I don’t want to leave half-assed comments. In the end, to really network, this means a lot of reading. I read probably 25 blog posts tonight, of varying lengths. I enjoyed most of them and found a couple of blogs I will now be going out of my way to read. One of them is Reading Rambo. I read a post about these riots in England that killed 800+ people and there was a silly man involved named Gordon.

And I thought of the notes hidden in the coffee table.


I know, that’s disgusting.

The first thing that caught my attention when I watched this documentary by PBS Ameican Experience was that John Brown was competitive. So much so that when he was 17 he decided to open a tannery that would be in direct competition with his father.

I Googled “John Brown’s Tannery Site” and what came up blew my mind. The entirety of my teen age years were spent (according to Google Maps) 41 minutes from exactly what I entered into Google. There’s a museum. It has free admission and in the winter it will open on appointmentI have no idea how I didn’t know about this and how I haven’t been to this place. However, learning this place exists at all wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t like documentaries, didn’t like reading, and blogging, and didn’t push myself just a little to do the thing.

Now armed with at least one topic I could write about, I kept on Googling.

The Secret Six-

Fundraisers for John Brown. You can read more about them on the PBS website itself, which offers a blurb here. Once I started clicking on links, though, I found some pretty badass stuff.

If you click HERE you can read about each of the six individuals and HERE  you can read the testimony of Samuel Howe when he was grilled by the Senate Committee Investigating the Raid on Harper’s Ferry.

But wait! There’s MORE! I searched “samuel g howe testimony” and found THIS which is a Google Book titled “Senate Documents Volume 130: Volume 22. Here you can just read the documents from the case, and I believe as much testimony as you can handle. For free.


Tragic Prelude by John Steuart Curry

I’m still no artist or art history professor but I noticed this painting  while flying around the internet and the colors really caught my eye. This is beautiful and if you know anything about John Brown and his fight to end slavery the painting is breathtaking. There is Old John Brown, bigger than life, bigger than everyone else. He holds a gun in one and hand and what I would assume is the bible in his other. I think you can even see a silk page marker in the book itself. He stands with the sons of the north and south dead at his feet. At his back is a tornado which I believe (all assumption here) would represent the dangerous area of prewar Kansas.  To the right you’ll notice the world seems to be on fire which is beyond fitting, because during the Civil War it sort of was.

If you want to read an actual analysis of the painting you can go here, however, if you click HERE you can print out a symbolism worksheet and coloring page!

The documentary itself is great. It’s an hour and twenty minutes long and I’m not going to tell you how many times I (and my wonderful and patient husband) have watched it, but I would recommend at least one viewing. John Brown was one major catalyst of the war, he turned Frederick Douglas a little violent in a time when abolitionists were still a peaceful group, and he was willing to sacrifice not only his life but the lives of his family for the cause he died for. Brown, unlike so many others of his time, did not write newsletters and pamphlets (though those who did were taking their lives into their own hands as well) but he took action. Any time I read or watch anything about John Brown I always feel a little sad that he didn’t get to see that his cause won in the end. Or that his predictions for the future were on point. Instead, he died a man of his cause, thought to be crazy and definitely a zealot. The federal government who tried and hanged him would eventually (and not long after) take up his cause and lose more lives than anyone could have predicted.

I’ll leave you with this:

Max (the cat) and I snuggling

Max (the cat) and I snuggling

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2 Responses to Shit I Learned For Free: John Brown’s Holy War

  1. annette says:

    I was so glad to see the link for the documentary. I’ll definitely be watching that. Good stuff(great writing and great art) Sharyla, thanks.

  2. Every “Shit I Learned For Free” post will come with a documentary! 😀 Thanks for stopping by and of course for the lovely comment!

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