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The Execution of John Brown - Essay Example

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The abolitionist John Brown was considered by the North as a Champion of the abolishment of slavery, but to the South, he was a criminal accused of treason, murder and fomenting insurrection. After being arrested by General Robert E. Lee of the South, Brown was tried in court and sentenced to death. …
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On the other hand, the statement of David Hunter Strother on the account of Brown’s execution described in full detail the final moments of John Brown before he was executed. The intended audience are the same – both Southerners and Northerners. The two documents have many parallelisms regarding John Brown’s character and beliefs, but they have a few noteworthy differences. The “Last Statement” and Strother’s Statement actually had parallelisms. Brown’s “Last Statement” is the final statement of Brown spoken after he was sentenced to death by the South. Whether it was Brown himself who wrote the speech or someone who simply noted down what he spoke, the speech seems to say one thing: the South has been wrong in its stance for slavery and the North, including Brown himself, is vindicated in their cause. The speech was wholly a denial of the charges and a testament that explained the basis of the abolition. One of the main points that Brown emphasized in his speech is a denial of the accusations previously hurled against him, and he did this with pride. He said, “I deny everything but what I have all along admitted of a design on my part to free slaves” (Author 148). For Brown, therefore, storming the armory at Harper’s Ferry was not at all a sign of rebellion but rather merely an act to free the slaves. Thus, for him, “It is unjust that I should suffer such a penalty” (149), and “I feel no consciousness of guilt”. ...
It is actually Brown’s pride that is being shown here, although Strother’s account somehow suggests that Brown died with so much display of haughtiness – as using the words “grim and grisly smirk,” “bravado,” and “alacrity” (300). Strother must have been a sympathizer of the South for him to write the execution account like this, especially as he described Brown as “notorious” (299). However, towards the second half of Strother’s report, somehow he changes his sentiments to that in favor of Brown. He describes him as rather waiting for his death “quietly and civilly” and “without impatience” for such choice of words – “quietly” and “civilly” – somehow shows that indeed, for Strother, Brown died with dignity and honor (301). In fact, when someone seated beside Strother told him that Brown was already starting to break down –“He trembles, his knees are shaking” – Strother rather dismissed it as false (301). For Strother, it is the scaffold that shakes and not Brown’s knees, thus making the other person feel that he was wrong and that Brown here was not the cowardly guilty criminal that the man thought he was but rather a man who is ready to face death and brave enough in accepting his fate (301). What happened then to the original sentiments of Strother at the first half of the article? Perhaps, the hatred in Strother was replaced by admiration for the unflinching manner by which Brown faced his execution. The “Last Statement” actually contained more information about Brown than Strother’s account of the former’s execution. While Strother only described a man of dignity and honor standing at the scaffold, Brown’s “Last ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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