John Brown Junior

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John Brown Jr., the eldest son of the abolitionist John Brown, was born in Ohio in July 1821. Along with four brothers, John Jr. moved out west to Kansas in 1854.[1] After his father’s actions in “Bloody Kansas”, John Jr. was arrested, mistreated while in prison, and later released.[2] Shortly after this, John Jr. left Kansas with his father. John Jr. might have been aware of the plans for the raid at Harpers Ferry in Virginia. He was not a part of the raid itself, yet he knew all the details and even was part of the process.

Intelligence Agent and Liaison[edit]

Because of tensions between John Brown and other members of the plans and cause, John Brown appointed John Jr. as the intelligence agent and liaison.[3] This meant that John Jr. would be the go between for John Brown and other members. This provided safety for John Brown and secrecy.

Knowledge of the Virginia Raid[edit]

It is possible that John Jr. was aware of his father’s plans to raid the arsenal in Virginia. This plan was addressed to several men, although the definite position and location of attack might not have been as widely known except to those closest to Brown.[4] It is said that John Jr. was well aware of the plans for the Virginia arsenal [5] John Jr. received word from his father to move the “tools” for the raid.[6] The letter told John Jr. to do this “with perfect quiet” and to move only the tools, “not the other stuff” to a safe place where only Jr. and “the keeper” would know where they were. This cryptic message was received and Jr. travelled to Conneaut Ohio where the weapons had been secretly shipped, and moved then to Cherry Valle Village. [7]

Scouting and Recruiting[edit]

Recruiting John Brown sent John Jr. on a journey throughout the state of Pennsylvania, wanting him to acquaint himself with men “of the right stripe” [8] John Jr. was to travel through the state of Pennsylvania and covertly find men willing to join John Brown’s cause. The areas that John Jr. was ordered to visit, specifically, were Gettysburg, Bedford, Chambersburg and Uniontown.[9] John Jr. spent time visiting Massachusetts, New York and Canada to enlist black supporters. These missions did not produce the desired results, as the army attacking the arsenal was merely twenty-one men. Scouting around Harper’s Ferry John Jr. acted as his father’s liaison for the raid in Virginia.[10] In 1858, John Brown sent John Jr. to Virginia. This mission was to survey the area surrounding Harper’s Ferry[11]

Civil War and Jennison’s Jayhawkers[edit]

In July 1861, Brown decided to recruit a company of soldiers that would travel to Kansas and enlist with Kansas volunteer forces then operating in Missouri under the auspices of Kansas Senator James H. Lane. His intention was to enlist "abolitionists of the intense sort"[12] and muster them under Colonel James Montgomery, one of Lane’s three Lieutenants.[13] John Brown’s “Sharpshooters” garnered significant press attention as they traveled from Ohio to Kansas.[14][15] However, on its arrival, the company had only signed 66 men. On November 9, 1861, while Brown was still recruiting in Michigan, the company elected to join Colonel Charles R. Jennison’s First Kansas Cavalry, later designated the Kansas Seventh Volunteer Cavalry, and known in Missouri as Jennison’s Jayhawkers.[16] Upon his own arrival in December, Brown was mustered in as the captain of Company K of the Kansas Seventh. Brown served as captain of the company until May 1862, when he resigned because of his rheumatoid arthritis.[17] He was succeeded as captain of the company by his second lieutenant, George H. Hoyt, who had been one of his father’s lawyers following the Harpers Ferry attack.[18]

Post War[edit]

Following his resignation, Brown purchased 10 acres on the south shore of South Bass Island at Put-in-Bay, Ohio.[19] He remained there until his death on May 3, 1895.[20]


  1. ^ Richard Warch and Jonathan Fanton, Great Lives Observed: John Brown, p. 8.
  2. ^ Richard Warch and Jonathan Fanton, Great Lives Observed: John Brown, p 10.
  3. ^ Oates, Stephen, p.223
  4. ^ Franklin Sanborn, The Life and Letters of John Brown, p.450
  5. ^ Ables, Jules, p. 150
  6. ^ Oates, Stephen, p.252
  7. ^ Oates, Stephen, p.252
  8. ^ Oates, Stephen, p.226
  9. ^ Oates, Stephen, p.226
  10. ^ Lousi Decaro,
  11. ^
  12. ^ Simeon M. Fox, Story of the Seventh Kansas, (Topeka: Kansas State Historical Society), 1902, page 14.
  13. ^ John Brown, Jr. to Wealthy Brown, Dec. 13, 1861, John Brown, Jr. Correspondence, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka, KS.
  14. ^ “John Brown Jr.'s Company,” Liberator, Nov 8, 1861.
  15. ^ “A Significant Letter,” Daily True Delta, Sep. 25, 1861.
  16. ^ John Brown, Jr. to Wealthy Brown, Nov. 9, 1861, John Brown, Jr. Correspondence.
  17. ^ Simeon M. Fox, Story of the Seventh Kansas, (Topeka: Kansas State Historical Society), 1902, page 14.
  18. ^ Simeon M. Fox, Story of the Seventh Kansas, (Topeka: Kansas State Historical Society), 1902, page 14.
  19. ^ Hinton, Richard J. John Brown and His Men. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1894, page 14.
  20. ^ "John Brown, Jr., eldest son of 'Osawatomie Brown'",Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), May 4, 1895.


  • Ables, Jules. Man On Fire: John Brown and the Cause of Liberty. 1971
  • Fox, Simeon M. Story of the Seventh Kansas. Topeka: Kansas State Historical Society. 1902.
  • Hoyt, Bill. Good Hater: George Henry Hoyt's War on Slavery. Garland, KS: Bill Hoyt. 2012.
  • Oates, Stephen B. To Purge this Land with Blood. New York: Harper & Rowe, 1970.
  • Sanborn, Franklin. ed. The Life and Letters of John Brown. 1891.
  • Warch, Richard & Jonathan Fanton, ed. Great Lives Observed: John Brown. 1973.