Concord Transcendentalists and the Legacy of John Brown


Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) [Civil disobedience]: autograph manuscript fragment, undated.

Thoreau admired Brown from the moment he met him in 1857. Viewing him as a principled warrior, he raised money for Brown's war on slavery and invited him to stay in his home. In this journal entry, he writes of Brown, who was 57 in 1857, as a venerable sage: "I have faith that he will be 'Old Brown' wherever he goes, whether I and the President or the newspapers countenance him or not." Thoreau uses the same phrase in "A Plea for Captain John Brown," stating "He is not Old Brown any longer; he is an angel of light."

bMS Am 278.5 (14) – Gift of William Augustus White, 1919.