Reference Entry

Brown, John

in American National Biography Online


Published online February 2000 | e-ISBN: 9780198606697

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abolitionist, also known as Old Brown of Osawatomie, was born in Torrington, Connecticut, the son of Owen Brown, a tanner and farmer, and Ruth Mills. Brown believed that the American republic was to be God’s instrument for the return of Christ to earth and that, as the “embodiment of all that is evil,” slavery alone stood in the way. That millennial vision was a legacy of Brown’s formative years in Hudson, Ohio, as the first surviving son of pious “Squire” Brown, an early settler, prominent landowner, and zealous reformer. The father of sixteen children by two wives, Owen Brown claimed descent from Peter Browne of the Mayflower company, a claim (now believed doubtful) that John Brown exploited in seeking financial contributions for the cause of antislavery among New Englanders who revered the “Pilgrim Fathers.”

Reference Entry.  2977 words.  Illustrated.

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