RECOGNIZING 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF JOHN BROWN'S RAID IN HARPERS FERRY, WEST VIRGINIA; Congressional Record Vol. 155, No. 158
(House of Representatives - October 28, 2009)

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[Pages H11995-H11997]
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 RECOGNIZING 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF JOHN BROWN'S RAID IN HARPERS FERRY, 
                             WEST VIRGINIA

  Mr. LYNCH. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the 
resolution (H. Res. 568) recognizing the 150th anniversary of John 
Brown's raid in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, as amended.
  The Clerk read the title of the resolution.
  The text of the resolution is as follows:

                              H. Res. 568

       Whereas Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, located at the 
     confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers was first 
     noted for its beauty by our Founding Father, Thomas 
     Jefferson;
       Whereas it was designated by George Washington as a site 
     for a Federal armory and arsenal that helped it grow into a 
     bustling factory town where the first interchangeable parts 
     for guns were created that supplied Lewis and Clark on their 
     journey of westward expansion;
       Whereas Harpers Ferry, best known as the site of John 
     Brown's Raid on October 16-18, 1859, was targeted as an ideal 
     location for initiating an uprising in the South that would 
     end slavery because of its Federal armory and arsenal;
       Whereas John Brown and his provisional army of 21 men 
     captured the bridge, arsenal, armory, Hall's Rifle Works, 
     along with hostages, and slave owners John Allstadt and Lewis 
     Washington;
       Whereas the fighting continued and on the morning of 
     October 18, 1859, Lt. Col. Robert E. Lee and Lt. J.E.B. 
     Stuart ordered 90 Marines to storm the engine house and 
     captured John Brown and his 4 remaining men after they 
     refused to surrender;
       Whereas a total of 16 men were killed or mortally wounded 
     in John Brown's Raid including, an unidentified slave, Thomas 
     Boerly, George W. Turner, Mayor Fontaine Beckham, Heyward 
     Shepherd, Luke Quinn, and 10 of Brown's men, William Leeman, 
     John H. Kagi, Jeremiah G. Anderson, William Thompson, Dauphin 
     Thompson, Brown's sons Oliver and Watson, Stewart Taylor, 
     Lewis S. Leary, and Dangerfield Newby;
       Whereas Brown and his men were tried in Charles Town, 
     Virginia (present day West Virginia), and were convicted to 
     death by hanging for the charges of murder, conspiring with 
     slaves to rebel, and treason against the State of Virginia, 
     however, their actions ultimately forced the Nation to 
     consider the future of slavery in a turn of events that would 
     lead to the Civil War and the freedom of 4,000,000 slaves;
       Whereas Harpers Ferry stands as a testament to the 
     antislavery and civil rights movements with the establishment 
     of Storer College, created to educate newly freed slaves and 
     later became the site of the Nation's first Niagara Movement 
     meeting with an address delivered by African-American leader 
     and scholar, W.E.B. Du Bois whose speech inspired the civil 
     rights movement and the creation of the National Association 
     for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909; and
       Whereas in a year when we celebrate the 150th anniversary 
     of John Brown's raid and the outbreak of America's Civil War, 
     let us recognize the important role Harpers Ferry has played 
     in our Nation's history: Now, therefore, be it
       Resolved, That the House of Representatives recognizes the 
     150th anniversary of John Brown's raid in Harpers Ferry, West 
     Virginia.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Massachusetts (Mr. Lynch) and the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Jordan) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Massachusetts.


                             General Leave

  Mr. LYNCH. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may

[[Page H11996]]

have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks 
and add any extraneous materials.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Massachusetts?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. LYNCH. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume
  Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Committee on Oversight and Government 
Reform, I am pleased to present House Resolution 568 for consideration. 
This resolution recognizes the 150th anniversary of John Brown's raid 
at Harpers Ferry in what is now West Virginia. The measure before us 
was introduced on June 19th, 2009, by my friend and colleague 
Representative Capito of West Virginia and enjoys the support of over 
50 Members of Congress.
  Mr. Speaker, the controversial but passionate abolitionist John Brown 
organized the raid in Harpers Ferry, which served as a precursor to the 
Civil War and as a driving force behind the abolishment of the unjust 
institution of slavery. This moment in our Nation's history also stands 
as a testament to the strength and courage of all of those Americans 
who have advanced the antislavery and civil rights movements, not only 
in our country, but beyond our borders as well.
  Intent on leading an uprising in the South that would end the 
practice of slavery in the summer of 1859, John Brown began to develop 
a plan to raid the Federal armory and arsenal in the small town of 
Harpers Ferry, located in present-day West Virginia. In preparation for 
the raid, Brown rented the nearby Kennedy farmhouse, and with his small 
provisional army of 21 men, with arms supplied by northern abolition 
groups, he took residence several miles from the arsenal site.
  On the night of October 16th, 1859, Brown and his men advanced 
towards Harpers Ferry and quickly succeeded in capturing both bridges 
along the Shenandoah River, the U.S. Armory and Arsenal, the U.S. Rifle 
Works on Hall's Island, and several hostages, including Lewis 
Washington, grand-nephew of John Washington, and John Allstadt.
  By the morning of October 17th, 1859, news of the raid had spread, 
and as a result, local farmers and militia swiftly descended on Brown 
and his men and surrounded the arsenal. A bloody battle thereafter 
ensued, and by the afternoon of October 17th, President James Buchanan 
had ordered a detachment of 90 United States Marines to march on 
Harpers Ferry under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Lee of 
the United States 2nd Calvary.
  On the morning of October 18th, 1859, Lee ordered his men to storm 
the engine house adjacent to the arsenal, resulting in the capture of 
John Brown and his remaining men. Sixteen men were killed in the raid 
at Harpers Ferry, including 10 of John Brown's men.
  Brown subsequently faced charges of murder, conspiring with slaves to 
rebel, and treason against the State of Virginia. On November 2nd, 
1859, following a 5-day trial, Brown was convicted of all charges and 
sentenced to hang on the gallows.
  Brown's address to the Virginia court on the last day of his trial 
evidenced his strong conviction regarding the justness of his actions 
at Harpers Ferry, when he said:
  ``Had I interfered in the manner which I admit, had I so interfered 
in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called 
great, or in behalf of any of their friends, and suffered and 
sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have been all 
right, and every man in this court would have deemed it an act worthy 
of reward rather than punishment.''

                              {time}  1145

  Brown was thereafter executed on December 2, 1859, and through his 
death, the slave liberation movement gained a hero.
  Mr. Speaker, the raid organized by John Brown at Harpers Ferry in 
October of 1859 was a critical moment in our Nation's history and 
served to move our country forward in its struggle to abolish slavery. 
As noted by his good friend, Frederick Douglass, who, while opposing 
Brown's violent tactics, said, ``If John Brown did not end the war that 
ended slavery, he did at least begin the war that ended slavery.''
  Let us recognize the important place in our history that John Brown 
and the raid on Harpers Ferry played in the history of our Nation's 
civil rights movement through the passage of House Resolution 568. I 
urge my colleagues to join myself and the lead sponsor of this measure, 
Mrs. Capito of West Virginia, in supporting this legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. JORDAN of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  I rise today in support of H. Res. 568, recognizing the 150th 
anniversary of John Brown's raid in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. And I 
will be brief because I want to save the bulk of our time for Mrs. 
Capito, who is the sponsor of this bill and has done a great job with 
it.
  John Brown's life should remind us all that freedom is priceless. He 
did what he saw was necessary to combat an inhuman evil, the 
enslavement of human beings. Although it did cost him his life, the 
memory of Harpers Ferry is a testimony to how strong action is 
sometimes necessary to protect what is honorable and what is right.
  John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry on October 16th through October 
18th, 1859, was an attempt by the part of John Brown to start an armed 
slave revolt.
  Harpers Ferry was the site for the federal arsenal and seizing the 
location would allow Brown and his men to arm thousands of Southern 
slaves. Out of context, Harpers Ferry may seem like a rash violent act. 
But in light of pre-Civil War tensions, the raid was the impassioned 
start of a larger battle where liberty was on the line.
  John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, although unsuccessful, helped 
galvanize the Northern abolitionist movement into stronger direct 
action.
  He was able to show them how morality would not be enough to persuade 
the South to abandon slavery--which was essential to their rural 
plantation economy.
  John Brown's life should remind us all that freedom is priceless. He 
did what he saw necessary to combat an inhuman evil--the enslavement of 
human beings. Although it did cost him his life, the memory of Harpers 
Ferry is a testimony to how strong action is sometimes necessary to 
protect what is honorable and what is right.
  After the Civil War, Frederick Douglass said in a lecture he gave 
honoring John Brown, ``His zeal in the cause of freedom was infinitely 
superior to mine. Mine was as the taper light; his was as the burning 
sun. I could speak for the slave. John Brown could fight for the slave. 
I could live for the slave; John Brown could die for him''. Passing the 
resolution to commemorate the 150th anniversary of John Brown's raid on 
Harpers Ferry honors what this man save his life to achieve--freedom 
for all peoples.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. LYNCH. I continue to reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. JORDAN of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as she may consume 
to a good friend, the distinguished gentlewoman from West Virginia 
(Mrs. Capito), the sponsor of this legislation.
  Mrs. CAPITO. I thank Mr. Lynch and Mr. Jordan for their great 
descriptions of John Brown's raid and the importance to our Nation's 
history. I'd also like to thank Chairman Towns and Ranking Member Issa 
for bringing this resolution forward.
  In my home State of West Virginia, we're very proud of our rich 
history and heritage. We proudly boast that ours is the only State 
formed as a result of the Civil War when we seceded from Virginia and 
joined the Union to become the 35th State. In 1863, we were signed into 
our statehood very proudly by President Abraham Lincoln. Yet, as any 
good history teacher will tell you, the abolitionist movement in our 
State has roots deeper than the Civil War itself.
  This month, we are celebrating the 150th anniversary of John Brown's 
historic raid on Harpers Ferry, which is just a short distance from our 
Nation's Capital, which helped to ignite the abolitionist movement and 
led to the War Between the States.
  Our State motto is ``Mountaineers are Always Free,'' and it is those 
principles that guided John Brown into his controversial raid. I rise 
today to note this year's anniversary and also celebrate the full 
heritage and history of this West Virginia town, Harpers Ferry, which 
is located beneath the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
  Long before its first settlement, Harpers Ferry's natural beauty 
caught

[[Page H11997]]

the attention of Thomas Jefferson, who stood above the confluence of 
the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers and noted that the region's beauty 
was ``worth a voyage across the Atlantic.'' And I must say, its 
splendor is equally as captivating today as it was more than 220 years 
ago, particularly at this time of year when visitors, thousands of 
visitors, are now flocking to Harpers Ferry National Park to take in 
the beautiful autumn colors.
  Jefferson's fellow statesman George Washington was similarly 
impressed with the community's strategic location and in 1794 
recommended that Congress designate Harpers Ferry, which was then in 
Virginia, as a site for a Federal Armory and Arsenal.
  With the establishment of the armory, the community grew into a 
bustling factory town, where John Hall created the first 
interchangeable parts for firearms. His inventions led to the mass 
production of thousands of muskets and rifles, many of which would 
supply Lewis and Clark on their journey of westward expansion.
  But as we all well know, it was John Brown's 1859 historic raid which 
truly established Harpers Ferry's place in our history. That summer, 
John Brown settled into a nearby farm in Maryland under the alias of 
Isaac Smith and laid plans to seize the armory and lead a revolt to 
spread across the South with hopes of ending slavery.
  As the gentleman from Massachusetts mentioned, on the night of 
October 16, 1859, 150 years ago, he gathered with his provisional army 
of 21 men and seized the town, taking the town's bridges, Halls Rifle 
Works, the Federal Armory and Arsenal, and several hostages. As the 
fighting continued, news of the revolt spread across the region until 
Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Lee and Lieutenant J.E.B. Stuart ordered 
90 marines to storm the engine house where John Brown and his men had 
taken refuge.
  Upon his capture, John Brown was tried and convicted of murder, 
conspiring to rebel, and treason. He was sentenced to death by hanging 
in another historic town just down the road from Harpers Ferry, in 
present-day Charles Town, where on the day of his death, in addition to 
what the gentleman said, he wrote, ``I am now quite certain that the 
crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.''
  Unfortunately, we now know that his words held true as it took the 
bloody and divisive struggle of the Civil War to finally bring freedom 
to a people long enslaved. John Brown's raid will forever be known as 
one of the seminal events which led to the Civil War. His death brought 
the slavery debate to the forefront of our Nation divided. In the 
North, Brown was considered a ``martyr,'' and in the South, he was a 
``terrorist.'' Yet, regardless of how he may be revered in history, his 
bold actions helped lead the fight for freedom and the end of slavery.
  After once again proving its geographic importance during the Civil 
War, Harpers Ferry became an epicenter for the fight for equality and 
civil rights movement. It became the home to Storer College, an 
integrated institution to educate newly freed slaves, with the campus 
later serving as the site of the Nation's first Niagara Movement 
meeting. It was at that meeting where the scholar W.E.B. Du Bois 
delivered his address which led to the creation of the NAACP, an 
organization which this year celebrated its 100th anniversary.
  Mr. Speaker, as you can see, Harpers Ferry is a town rich in history, 
and it is only fitting that during the 150th anniversary of John 
Brown's raid, the Harpers Ferry National Park has held several 
commemorative events, particularly last weekend to recognize the 
sesquicentennial and remember the contributions made by those who have 
come before us.
  I simply call on the rest of my colleagues to support the passage of 
H. Res. 568, and I would also encourage those near-and-far Americans to 
visit Harpers Ferry and the surrounding area to share in the deep 
history and tradition that we have in our State of West Virginia that's 
also part of what we will be commemorating later, that is, the 150-year 
anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War here in our Nation.
  Mr. LYNCH. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I 
continue to reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. JORDAN of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, 
and I yield back the balance of my time and urge passage.
  Mr. LYNCH. Mr. Speaker, in closing, we ask Members on both sides to 
support Mrs. Capito on her resolution, House Resolution 568.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Lynch) that the House suspend the 
rules and agree to the resolution, H. Res. 568.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the resolution, as amended, was agreed to.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

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