“Automobile Row on Bedford Avenue became almost as well known throughout the United States as Automobile Row on Broadway…In those days, Bedford Avenue was the Sunday afternoon walk of the most substantial portion of Brooklyn. It was the Easter Parade street, the auto parade street, the center of life and recreation. It was Automobile Row!”
These were the fond memories of Charles Bishop, one of the pioneers of Automobile Row in the first half of the 20th century. He and his father, Eli Bishop, were two-thirds of one of the most successful automobile dealerships in Brooklyn: Bishop, McCormick and Bishop, which operated out of a series of showrooms on the corner of Bedford Avenue and Halsey Street. Eli Bishop had started out in the real estate business, and was responsible for a great deal of the development of the Bedford area, but had turned to the automobile in the first years of the 1900s, realizing that this could be big, perhaps as big as real estate. He was right. (more…)
“As Brooklyn goes, so goes the world,” Charles Bishop told the Brooklyn Eagle in 1941. He was referring to the automobile industry in Brooklyn, a world he knew as well as anyone, being one of the pioneers in the industry that once dominated the core of the city along Bedford Avenue in Central Brooklyn. In the space of forty years, approximately between 1905 and 1945, the automobile industry took over Bedford Avenue and its environs, creating one of the most lucrative and far-reaching areas of business, the likes of which we will never see again.
It all begins with the road and the wheel. The road was Bedford Avenue, the main north-south roadway in Brooklyn, stretching the length of the city, a vital thoroughfare connecting the towns that make up the city of Brooklyn, running from Greenpoint, south to Sheepshead Bay. By the end of the 19th century, Bedford Avenue, between Grant Square in Bedford, and Williamsburg, was one of the busiest and most important streets in the city. There were blocks with fine homes, especially in Williamsburg and central Bedford, but it was also filled with large houses of worship, clubs, theaters, schools, restaurants and businesses. The street was connected by trolleys and omnibuses, and the Long Island Railroad stopped at Bedford, near Fulton and Atlantic, but in the mid-1880s, a new mode of transportation had also taken to the streets. No, not the car, I’m talking about the bicycle. (more…)
Unfortunately our columnist’s computer problems are continuing today so we are republishing a Walkabout from a few years ago.
Photo: First AME Zion Church, McDonough at Tompkins. Bedford Stuyvesant. Home of this congregation since 1947.
Sidney L. Painter was a well-known Negro band leader in turn of the 20th century Brooklyn. He hailed from the Wichita, Kansas area, but when he died in February of 1905; his funeral took place at the First African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church on Fleet Street, in downtown Brooklyn. Brooklyn’s had several large African-American communities, as Brooklyn has always had African-American residents, and at this time, one of the largest communities was centered in the area of downtown Brooklyn near Fleet and Concord Streets, near Hudson and Myrtle Avenues, in the area now occupied by Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and the northern part of MetroTech. The black community there had a long history of religious participation, and several of modern day Brooklyn’s largest black churches got their start in this community.
The First AME Zion Church on Fleet Street had originally been built as the Fleet Street Methodist Episcopal Church, in 1849. It was a large two story wooden structure with a gabled roof, but no steeple. Inside, it had a large open downstairs room that was used for Sunday school classes and church events, and upstairs was the church sanctuary, with two aisles, and three rows of benches. In order to get upstairs, people had to go up one of two stairways on the left and right of a hallway. These stairs were narrow, and about halfway up, turned on themselves, before continuing upstairs. The church had been sold to the black congregation about twenty years before, and was one of the more important houses of worship in this downtown black community. A celebrity like Sidney Painter would bring out a large crowd for his funeral. Unfortunately, death would be there to claim more than Mr. Painter that day. (more…)
Ever since Henry Ford’s assembly line made it possible for the average American to purchase a car, we’ve been in love with the automobile. But Ford was not the only automaker around, and no sooner than the first cars started to appear, than it seemed that every inventor and blacksmith with a knack for engines and enough money to go into business, was becoming a car maker. The beginning of the 20th century was a marvelous time for the automobile, and there were dozens of companies, long before the “Big Three” took over the industry. Most of these names are long forgotten. Some of the cars produced by these smaller companies no longer exist outside of photographs and drawings. But back then, they were all here, rolling down the streets of Brooklyn.
Although there were dealerships, garages and suppliers all over the borough, Bedford Avenue, especially between Malbone Street (now Empire Boulevard) and Fulton Street, a long stretch of road starting in Flatbush, through the entirety of Crown Heights, and on into Bedford Stuyvesant, became known as “Automobile Row.” Residential development in this area had been slowed down by the looming and forbidding presence of the Brooklyn Penitentiary on Bedford and Union, but as soon as that structure was torn down in 1907, things started to take off. (more…)
Brooklyn’s housing stock is comprised of thousands of buildings, some designed by Brooklyn’s finest architects; some of whom trained in Paris, London and Germany, as well as in the universities and the most prestigious architects’ offices here in the United States. Even more buildings were designed by those not touched by greatness, but nonetheless, talented and competent, men who more or less anonymously went about building our great city block by block.
This second group comprised all kinds of men, and as far as we know, they were all men, who came from many lands, many backgrounds, and had many different kind of skills. Most came up in the building trades, many had fathers and grandfathers who were architects, carpenters, masons and builders, and they learned at their side, apprenticing with their elders until they could go out on their own. As they became successful, many of these men became developers as well, buying plots of land in growing Brooklyn neighborhoods, and building houses which they then sold to eager buyers.
Building can be a high calling, but many people feel that there is an even higher calling, that of the ministry, and while many in the building trade had strong religious convictions, I have learned of only one man whose building skills encompassed both heaven and earth. That would be different enough, but the fact that he was also African American puts him in a category all his own in Brooklyn’s architectural pantheon. This is the story of Essex Roberts, perhaps Brooklyn’s first named black architect and builder. (more…)
Big trials got big press, especially in the days before 24/7 news coverage. Newspapers lived for circus-like trials, when everyone, high and low, spent their three cents on a paper to see what was going on in the courtroom. Dirty deeds had no place to hide. No one knew that better than the good people of Remsen Street in Brooklyn Heights, because in 1901, the trial de jour, which captured the front pages of local newspapers, was all about dirty rugs and a self-righteous wealthy housewife named Leila Wunderlich.
She was one of their own, a wealthy homeowner; wife to a rich and prominent doctor named Frederick Wunderlich. Leila was a perfect wife, born in Massachusetts, raised in New Orleans, and was beautiful, fashionable and educated. She ran a tight ship at home, with a staff of servants that she worked all day, every day, in order to achieve a home that was so clean and perfect that her husband could have operated on the floor. Her house was her pride and joy; her house was a reflection of herself, as perfect as was humanly possible in a dirty and uncivilized Brooklyn world. (more…)
Officers Grant, McKee, Donlin and Sullivan were part of a special unit – the Sanitary Squad. The year was 1901, and the place was Remsen Street in tony Brooklyn Heights. In June of that year, these officers were doing what they had been assigned to do for close to a year: they were looking for the serial rug beater who was terrorizing Remsen Street. The cops knew where the miscreants lived, but the perps were crafty, and they could never catch them in the act. So they patrolled the roof of the Title and Guarantee Building, on Montague Street, a tall office building that overlooked the backyards of Remsen Street. Next door, in the Garfield Building, an office building on the corner of Court and Remsen, where the Temple Bar Building stands today, the office workers, architects, lawyers, secretaries and other tenants of the building could see these plainclothes officers peering over the parapet, looking for something. They were obviously some kind of police, but whatever they were looking for was eluding them. But that would soon change.
Everyone on this block of Remsen Street knew who the perpetrator was. Everyone, especially the neighbors on either side of 165 Remsen, had been the victims. This block was populated by some of the wealthiest and most important people in the city. This was Remsen Street, one of the premiere blocks of Brooklyn Heights, home to doctors, politicians, financiers, lawyers, and well-paid professionals. 165 Remsen belonged to Dr. Frederick Wunderlich, a distinguished, well-known and highly regarded medical doctor. He had lived in this house for about six years when the trouble went down, with his wife, children and a staff of several servants. (more…)
Brooklyn Heights has long been home to some of the city’s elite, and that was never more true than in the latter half of the 19th century. Some of Brooklyn’s most important and influential people lived in the Heights, those who were kings and royal families of finance, commerce and political power. The Heights was also home to wealthy professionals: doctors, lawyers, and others who worked hard to achieve great success and wealth in their professions. Put all of these people together, and you have… well, you have people who acted like everyone else who lived in less exalted stations, just with better wardrobes and perhaps a greater chance of getting their business in the paper. Take the case of Mrs. Leila Wunderlich and her neighbor, Hugh McLaughlin, and the offending rugs that landed her in court.
Dr. Frederick W. Wunderlich was a prominent physician. He and his wife and family lived at 165 Remsen Street, between Court and Clinton Streets, in Brooklyn Heights. Their house was a five story brownstone with a large extension in the back, like many of the other large, mid-19th century townhouses that line Remsen on the other side of Clinton. Today, this block is more commercial, and the Wunderlich house is gone, replaced by an office building that was the choice for a BOTD last week. (more…)
After spending three weeks with Edward Linton of East New York, it’s time to end his story. He was such a major figure in the history of the 26th Ward, I’ve really only touched the surface in relating what a larger-than-life and influential man he was in his day. Any neighborhood would be glad to have such an advocate. True, a lot of what he worked so hard to get for East New York also enriched his own coffers, because as the largest of the area’s landowners and landlords, what was good for the 26th Ward was good for Edward Linton. Fortunately, his was a benevolent despotism. Most of what he lobbied for in the halls of city and state power was necessary for the community as a whole. Transportation, public services and economic opportunities: These were the things that moved Linton to action.
Many of his contemporaries were extremely jealous of him, especially local political functionaries. They managed to keep him out of public office, but they couldn’t keep him off committees and commissions put together by mayors or state officials. Linton didn’t need to be in politics; the politicians were going to come to him, regardless. If they weren’t coming to his door, he would be banging on theirs. And no fight would be bigger than Linton’s to get a sewer system in East New York. (more…)
Believe it or not, it was not easy being Edward F. Linton. It was hard work building an empire in East New York, building a new Brooklyn neighborhood in a town that wasn’t even part of the City of Brooklyn until 1886. When the former town of New Lots became Brooklyn’s 26th Ward, Linton was front and center as head of the powerful Atlantic Avenue Improvement Committee, lobbying hard for improved transportation and infrastructure. He was also amassing a fortune, buying up as many of the old Dutch farms as possible, and reselling the lots, or selling the houses he built on many of those lots. He invested in a baseball club, built a stadium for his club, and rented the field out for other sporting events. Like many wealthy men, he was drawn to the ultimate rich man’s sport, and bought himself a yacht, and a membership in a yacht club.
Linton had a loving wife and children, and a fine home, a former Dutch farmhouse that he had had enlarged and modernized. His real estate and development business had grown to the point that he started his own bank, in order to control his mortgages and real estate investments. He also had a business partner he trusted, William Winberg, his CFO, a man he regarded as a friend as well as former employee. In 1895, Winberg, had tragically tried to kill his wife, and succeeded in killing himself in a drunken jealous rage which may have been exacerbated by an undiagnosed brain tumor. That story and further background can be read in the previous chapters of our story, linked at the end of this chapter. With his death, Linton lost a fine financial mind, and a good friend. (more…)
On November 23, 1889, at three in the afternoon, a group of East New York dignitaries, Brooklyn officials, and well-wishers stood on the corner of Atlantic and Pennsylvania Avenues to watch East New York’s first bank have its cornerstone laid in the ground for its new building. The architect, Richard Upjohn, Jr. did the honors, and the venture was celebrated with speeches, prayers, and well wishes. The keynote speaker, Gustaf Dettloff, reminded his audience of how far East New York had come; from a small town called New Lots, inhabited by Dutch farmers, to the bustling community it was that day. He spoke about how a group of these Dutch farmers and businessmen, whose names read like a map of the city’s streets, had gotten together in 1868 to form the East New York Savings Bank. Most of the men were now gone, but they weren’t forgotten.
One of the East New York dignitaries at the front of the crowd was Edward F. Linton, the president of the Atlantic Avenue Improvement Commission, the local business improvement organization that had lobbied to get the bank built, as well as other amenities and services in the 26th Ward. As Linton listened to the early families being remembered: Schenck, Remsen, Stoothoff, Rapelye, Vanderveer, Lott, Palmer, Wyckoff and others, he must have chuckled to himself. Most of those names were very familiar to him, he had bought their farms, mostly from their heirs, and he was now the largest landowner in the 26th Ward. (more…)
The life and career of Edward F. Linton seemed to be heaven blessed. In the years following the Civil War, he came to Brooklyn by way of Massachusetts and Manhattan, and every endeavor he attempted seemed to be successful. He started his business career as a fireworks company president, and the money amassed from that business enabled him to buy land in the growing community formerly called New Lots, now the 26th Ward of Brooklyn: East New York. Through some canny and fortuitous purchases of old Dutch farmsteads, he rapidly became one of the largest landowners, developers and landlords in East New York. As his power and influence grew, so did his presence in local politics and community planning. Edward Linton had great plans for East New York, and in order to do what he wanted to do, he needed the ears and attention of city and state government. So he did what many wealthy men do, even today, he jumped into politics.
The Republicans ruled Brooklyn in the last quarter of the 19th century, so Linton ran as a Republican candidate for state office. Unfortunately, even though he was a powerful landowner and ENY fixture, he didn’t impress his fellow political animals. He was not liked by the powerful Republican committee heads of the 26th Ward, which was probably as much due to Linton’s own A-type personality and generally pushy manner, as it was to jealousy over his accomplishments and money. He was so disliked that at one point he was asked to leave their company. It took him two years to do so. In the meantime, he lost his bid for the state legislature.
His fellow Republicans may have been able to deny Linton a seat in Albany, but they couldn’t deny his influence with Brooklyn’s city government. Linton had the ears of the mayors of Brooklyn, whoever they might have been over the years. He was the head of the Atlantic Avenue Improvement Commission, a consortium of local business and civic leaders concerned with the business and social development of Atlantic Avenue, as it ran through the 26th Ward. And he was busy; there was a lot going on in the area in the late 1880s, as commerce, public transportation, amenities and people were pushing out towards the Queens border. (more…)
If you live in Brooklyn today, you know that the borough is sports crazy. Having a Brooklyn team means all kinds of city cred to many people, including some of the borough’s biggest and most well-known movers and shakers. That has been true not only recently with the Brooklyn Nets, but for the last century and a half with the Brooklyn Dodgers and, before them, the earliest of Brooklyn’s sports teams. Brooklyn baseball started in the 1850s. The first league club convention of early baseball teams had 16 participating clubs. Brooklyn sent eight of them. Brooklyn’s Eckford, Excelsior and Atlantic clubs dominated baseball for most of the 1860s, and Brooklyn led the way for establishing the first enclosed playing fields, and the first admission fees. But up until the 1870s, baseball was still balancing between being an amateur and a professional sport.
But professionalism eventually won out, especially when it was possible for teams and their owners to actually make money having fun like this, and professional baseball was born. I’m glossing over a lot of history here, because this story is not really about the history of baseball, it’s about the history of one of Brooklyn’s league owners, Edward F. Linton. As we saw in Chapter One, Linton was a wealthy and powerful landowner in the 26th Ward, the new Brooklyn neighborhood called East New York. He actually owned half of it, and was a force in the community when it came to politics, land use, and anything that had to do with his domain. He also liked baseball and other sports, so when professional baseball emerged, it was a gift from heaven, because who is more popular and influential than the guy who owns a baseball team? (more…)
East New York. For many who read these pages, or live in more affluent parts of Brooklyn, the neighborhood of East New York is terra incognita, the land not explored, or rather, the neighborhood passed through as fast as possible in the cab to the airport; that vast stretch of Atlantic Avenue between Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and the Conduit. If you take the subway a lot, you may have changed trains at the massive hub now called “Broadway Junction,” one of the few stations where three different lines of trains cross over each other, with the LIRR station not too far away, as well.
From the elevated station, one can see across to Jamaica Bay and Kennedy Airport. In the other direction, you can see the Victorian-era cottages and homes that make up the neighborhoods of Cypress Hills and Highland Park. You may even be able to catch a glimpse of Highland Park itself, one of Brooklyn’s larger neighborhood parks. What you may not realize is that practically everything I’ve mentioned was influenced in some way by a man named Edward F. Linton, an East New Yorker who was instrumental in turning much of the old town of New Lots into one of late 19th century Brooklyn’s nicest neighborhoods. This is his story. (more…)
Quite a few of Brooklyn’s most prolific and successful architects have a German background: the Berlenbach’s; father and son, Rudolph Daus, William Schickel, and the most prolific of all; Theobald Engelhardt. To this list, we can add another; Benjamin Dreisler. His work appears mostly in Flatbush and Long Island, and he was a busy man, designing hundreds of homes in those areas, while also contributing to the architectural landscape of Brownstone Brooklyn. He also was quite active in Brooklyn’s architectural enclaves, leading architectural organizations, and contributing to the general public’s knowledge of just what it was an architect did. This is his story.
Benjamin Dreisler came from Bavaria, and was born there in 1849. He came to the United States in 1881. We don’t really know what he was up to until 1895, when his name appeared as a builder, with an office in Flatbush, on Avenue C and Flatbush Avenue. By 1896, his name starts appearing as an architect in the Real Estate Record and Builder’s Guide, which tracked the building trades in the New York City metropolitan area.
A great deal of Dreisler’s work was in Flatbush. Between 1899 and 1911 he designed sixteen homes in Dean Alvord’s Prospect Park South. His homes also appear in other parts of what we call Victorian Flatbush. In Midwood South alone, he designed 20 frame cottages, all typical of his suburban style, middle class housing work. In a newspaper advertisement, he wrote that he had designed over 400 such cottages across Flatbush, Long Island and New Jersey, all modest and modern suburban homes, reasonable in cost. A group of ten homes in Kensington was described as being for “clerks and other skilled workmen.” (more…)
This is the second of a series of articles about important and perhaps unknown craftspeople with a Brooklyn connection. The first article was about Sam Yellin, a master metal crafter who worked iron with a sculptor’s hand. There have been some amazing and incredibly talented people in Brooklyn’s history who have created beautiful works that we treasure today. Many aided the great architects who designed Brooklyn’s buildings, while others were born or raised here, and may have left for careers that have nothing more to do with Brooklyn. I especially want to bring to your attention those who may be relatively unknown. I hope these articles inspire you to seek out their works in architecture, museums, or just on line or in books. We have nurtured some amazing talent here in Brooklyn.
Even today, we generally regard metal working as a man’s art. Jewelry making is fine for a woman, it’s delicate and small, but working large objects in metal is hot, sweaty, heavy and often dangerous work, so even in 2013, we expect to see men. Think how difficult and unusual it must have been for a woman seeking to work in metal at the turn of the 20th century. But Marie Zimmermann didn’t care what people thought; she just wanted to create beautiful objects. And create, she did.
Marie Zimmermann was born in 1879 in Brooklyn, to Swiss-born parents. Her father had made a tidy fortune as a straw importer who sold his raw goods to hat makers. Her parents were highly educated people who believed in education in all forms, and encouraged their four children to follow their own paths. Young Marie had thought of becoming a doctor, and was enrolled at Packer, bound for Vassar, but then she decided to take courses at the Arts Students League, in Manhattan. It was there that she saw an advertisement for a course on metalworking at Pratt Institute. That year, in 1901, she took the metalworking course, and her path in life was set. (more…)
Brooklyn Height’s status as the “first suburb” is both a blessing to the neighborhood, and a curse. The blessings are rather obvious: proximity to Manhattan, lots of public transportation, and of course, great architecture, with beautiful homes and apartments. The curse is its proximity to Manhattan; ease of public transportation, and, of course, great architecture. Popularity was going to kill the Heights. Its homes and streetscapes have been re-invented so many times that many of its grand and humble homes have been changed, revamped, and changed yet again, sometimes not for the better.
When the city passed the landmarks law in 1965, Brooklyn Heights became the first landmarked district. And thank goodness, because at the time, this neighborhood was in the midst of two upheavals; with Robert Moses trying to reshape the Heights by tearing it down, and individual landlords seeking to turn what would be left into blocks of small apartment buildings, with new entrances created from removing the stoops and placing entrances on the ground floor.
But neither of these forces were the first to try to change the streetscapes. Back in the early 1920s, another man with big plans began to buy up houses in the Heights. His goal was not to tear them down, but to make those old row houses modern. The Victorian Age would meet the Flapper Age, and James Sarsfield Kennedy was the man to do the job right. (more…)
The Civil War was over. For the first time in living memory for Americans, the horrific institution of slavery no longer existed in the United States. By the 1870s, the soldiers had all gone home to restart their lives and careers. The Confederacy was beaten, Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated, but the country continued. Westward expansion was taking place, and the United States was filling in, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans, aided by a new expanse of railways. It was supposed to be a time of healing, as the United States tried to knit together the various fractured pieces of itself, and become one country again.
More locally, New York welcomed home its war heroes. The generals and other officers went back to civilian work, many of them going back to their family businesses or to new opportunities. Many found that their rank and experience translated well into positions of leadership, and they were recruited for higher things, such as board memberships, positions in finance, or politics. Officers who came from immigrant backgrounds found the general society more welcoming. Even the rank and file soldier of humbler origins found that surviving the war had given him confidence and standing in his community, and the new post-war economy and veteran’s benefits helped him make his place in society.
Of course, there were thousands of wounded who couldn’t just return to society. Some were maimed in body, had lost limbs, or suffered great wounds, while others suffered from post-traumatic stress injuries that would take another hundred years and other wars to better understand. For these soldiers, the beginnings of a veteran’s administration would attempt to help. Everyone wanted to help somehow, somewhere, in putting the Union back together again, and improving the post war society. But there was no veteran’s administration, no welcome home parades for the Negro; the freedman and woman, or those who had been free for generations. Now there was only the Problem. What does the country do with the Negro? (more…)
I had planned to wrap up my series on Black Folks in 19th century Brooklyn this time, but came upon some new information that I want to include, and just didn’t have time to process it all in time. It’s important that this is done correctly, it’s such an untold and important part of American History. So the conclusion will be next Tuesday. In the meantime, in the course of some other research, I came across this goodie, so as a slight distraction, here’s an interesting tale of a songwriter and the song that gave him fame, a bit of fortune, and a whole lot of grief.
The end of the 19th and first decades of the 20th century saw a rise in popularity of popular songs and the sheet music that went with it. Manhattan’s 28th street, between 5th and 6th Avenues became the home to hundreds of music publishers; the facades of the buildings there covered with the names of companies that would publish and distribute songs. Each of the five story loft buildings lining both sides of the street could have dozens of publishers; all they seemed to need was an upright piano and a desk in order to go into business. The sound of all those pianos pounding out songs gave the street and the genre its name: Tin Pan Alley.
Even if you are only dimly aware of Tin Pan Alley, many of the songs that came from there are still in American repertoire, even if only as nostalgia. “In the Good Old Summertime,” “God Bless America,” “The Sidewalks of New York, and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” all are products of Tin Pan Alley composers, the most famous of which was Irving Berlin. Most of these songs are not masterpieces, some were downright awful, but all were catchy and simple, were churned out by the thousands, and printed up and sold to an eager market. If a composer were lucky, a famous performer would make the song their own, and that person’s picture on the cover of the sheet music made it an instant best seller. Everyone enjoyed playing and singing these songs, from vaudeville acts, to barbershop quartets, to amateur choruses, to the person on the street. Music was a part of most people’s lives, just as it is today. (more…)
“I consecrate my life to the destruction of slavery!” – John Brown, 1838.
John Brown hated slavery with every fiber of his being. For him, slavery was a capital offense against both God and man, and with the zeal of the true believer, he dedicated his life to seeing it destroyed. In his reckoning, it was not enough to just make impassioned speeches, or tell of the horrors of slavery, if American slavery was to end, men and women would have to rise up, and end it, through violence and death, if that’s what it took. Brown was a complicated and highly intelligent man, whose story is worthy of more detail. He came to believe that only violence could end slavery, and that realization took him to many places, and in the course of his life, he met and influenced many people.
He spoke in Brooklyn several times, raising money for his cause, and was friends with the Gloucester family of Brooklyn Heights. Reverend James Gloucester of Siloam Presbyterian Church was a friend, and James and Elizabeth Gloucester, Brooklyn’s wealthiest black family, were financial supporters. Like many abolitionists, both black and white, they had come to the conclusion that slavery in the South would have to be ended by some kind of violence. It would not simply dissolve on its own.
As the decade of the 1850s came to an end, so too did John Brown’s patience. In 1859, armed with “Beecher’s Bibles,” the rifles bought by Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, and smuggled to groups like John Brown’s raiders, Brown, his sons, and followers, both black and white, 18 men in total, attempted a raid on the Harper’s Ferry Armory, in Virginia, with the intention of gaining possession of the large cache of arms inside.
They intended to arm slave insurrections, and drive the slaveholders from their plantations, one by one, until slavery was abolished. As history tells us, the raid failed miserably. About half his men were killed in the battle and following siege, including two of his sons, several escaped, and the rest captured. Brown and seven others were executed for treason. This man, this event, and the aftermath are seen by many as the catalyst for the Civil War. (more…)