John Brown

John Brown’ s body


John Brown was a fervent supporter of slavery abolition.


He was a strange figure. He was persuaded he had a divine mission.


He was born in 1800 in a very religious family in Connecticut. When he was 58 he planned to build a kind ofshelter-fortress, in the Maryland and Virginia mountains.

In this fortress slaves, escaped from the southern USA plantation, could find shelter and could defend themselvesfighting against their ennemies.


In the summer of 1859 he settled his army “headquarter” in a farm near a southern America Army arsenal (Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia). they were 16 white men and 5 black people.  His first enterprise was totake possession of this American arsenal.


On 16 October he attacked the arsenal and took almost 60 hostages. They resisted one day and one night to the local troops who wanted to regain their arms, but at the end they surrendered.


On 2 Decembre 1859 John Brown was sentenced to be hanged and was executed together with 6 of his men.


Before hearing his sentence he was allowed to make an address to the court


“… I believe to have interfered as I have done,…in behalf of His despised poor, was not wrong, but right.


Now, if it is judged necessary that I should forfeit my life for the help of ends of justice, and mix my blood with the blood of my children, and with the blood of  millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel and unjust enactments (decreti), I submit: so let it be done.”


Some considered him a full, but he was exalted by H. Melville and other writers as a symbol of abolitionism fight, and he is almost considered a martyr. The Harper’s Ferry event contributed to rouse the debate between abolitionists and anti-abolitionists, which ended with the outbreack of the Civil War (from 1861 to 1865)


The soldiers of the northern troops fighting against the southern troops used John Brown’s body as a
Exercise n.1


Translate the following words


1.      Supporter: person who helps someone in difficulty              a. pianificare

2.      Divine: adj. from God                                                                           b. lottare contro

3.      to plan:  an intention                                                                             c. quartier generale

4.      shelter:  to be protected                                                                       d. divino

5.      fighting against:  to use force                                                              e. tifoso

6.      headquarter: a place from which an organization is controlled       f. rifugio

1.      take (took) possession: to control                                                                  a. scoppio

2.      to regain: to obtain or to win something                                                         b. impiccare

3.      surrendered: to stop resisting an ennemy                                                     c. riguadagnare

4.      to hang: to kill someone by tying a rope (corda) around the neck   d. arrendersi

5.      to rouse:  to stimulate                                                                           e.prendere possesso

6.      outbreak: a sudden start                                                                      f. sollevare, stimolare




exercise 2


answer the following questions


1.      Did John Brown accept slavery?

2.      What did he plan to do?

3.      Who did he want to give shelter to?

4.      Where did he settle his headquarter?

5.      Did he succeed in settling his headquarter?

6.      Why did he consider human rights were disregarded?