Thoreau’s “Plea for John Brown”

FRI, NOV 3, 2017

On November 1, 1859, Henry Thoreau delivered a speech in Boston that sparked the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator to comment that John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia “seems to have awakened the hermit of Concord.”

Delivered at Tremont Temple, Thoreau's speech praised Brown’s character in the aftermath of his attempt to incite an armed slave revolt in Harpers Ferry. Thoreau described Brown as “an old-fashioned man in respect for the Constitution,” “a man of great common sense,” even “an angel of light.”

Thoreau is portrayed by historian Richard Smith.

Photo: Public Domain

+ BIO: Richard Smith

Richard Smith is an independent historian. For more than a decade he has been “becoming” Thoreau: dressing up in meticulous 19th-century regalia, reading his essays in front of crowds, fielding questions (in the first person) from the public, about the man’s personal life and politics.

Partner
Old South Meeting House
Series
Boston Is Thoreau Country
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