THE MADNESS OF JOHN BROWN
In understanding events that took place in the past, it is wise to consider the forces that led to their occurrence. The history of John Brown is not an exception in understanding his psychological orientation since his actions have faced criticism from the time he was hanged. Due to Brown’s extraordinary actions, he has been labelled a “lunatic” and an “idiot,” who was hardly in full possession of his faculty. The events leading to his untimely demise were characterized by violence and attempts to arm slaves in a move that was dubbed slavery rebellion. It is from this extraordinary event that Brown’s actions have been viewed from a perspective of an insane being, who tried to execute plans that were dead at birth.
However, a psychoanalytic look at Brown’s action tells that his doings emanated from what he had witnessed. Brown grew in a society embedded with racial prejudice and slave trade, where the whites subjected blacks to forced labour and corporal punishments. In a bid to free the slave from the yolk of agony and inhuman treatments, Brown engineered the uprising that sought to free and recruit slaves into an armed struggle that would engage the local authority in guerrilla warfare. The fact that Brown was a white makes his history to be viewed from an “insane” perspective considering that the whites were the masters in the slave trade. From this fact, Brown is seen as a historical traitor for having beat all odds and advocated for the abolition of the illegal slave trade. Owing to the pitiable conditions that the slaves had been conditioned to live, Brown saw it better to advocate for their freedom.
The most contentious debate comes in when historical pundits analyze Brown’s response at the court after being incarcerated for leading the botched resistance. Some argue that Brown refuted the accusation of having advocated for the freedom of the slaves. However, his response plainly reflected what he had stood when he said that: “I claim to be here in carrying out a measure I believe perfectly justifiable.” However, critics find him insane due to his stance when he adds that “ and not to act the part of an incendiary or ruffian, but to aid those suffering great wrong.” Therefore, Brown’s advocacy was a genuine reflection of what slaves underwent in the hands of a few whites in early America.
Caleb, McDaniel. “His Brothers’ Keeper: John Brown, Moral Stewardship and Interracial Abolitionism.” Slavery & Abolition, (Mar 2011), Vol. 32 Issue 1, p27-52, 26p.
Davidson, West & Lytle, Hamilton. After the fact: The art of historical detection. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1982.