John Brown Analysis

Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Lorenz Graham’s biography John Brown: A Cry for Freedom is chronologically presented, from Brown’s birth in 1800 to his death by hanging in 1859. The book is divided into nineteen chapters, with a short introduction where the author professes his admiration for his subject. An appendix contains the famous song about Brown (“John Brown’s Body”), and a series of suggested readings on the abolitionist is provided for those who are interested in pursuing further studies on Brown’s life. The book is illustrated with several photographs and sketches, both of which enhance the appeal of the story. John Brown is mainly a historical account based on available primary sources: newspaper accounts and the writings of Brown, his family, and his friends, such as Frederick Douglass. Because Graham considers the Harpers Ferry raid to be the most significant act by his subject, the discussion of the raid occupies most of the book’s chapters.

Graham tells the reader that Brown was born in the free state of Massachusetts and moved to Ohio at the age of four. His father was a leather tanner and a farmer who was imbued with a very deep religious conviction. Early in his life, young John learned to fear God, and later he would become a self-declared preacher and see every human being as a child of God, regardless of color. As far as Brown was concerned, slavery was evil and ought to be eliminated by all means available, including violence. In Ohio, he befriended a...

(The entire section is 607 words.)