How did John Brown's raid at Harpers Ferry affect the outcome of the Civil War?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry helped lead to the Civil War. There had been a series of events in the 1850s that pushed the United States closer to a civil war. When John Brown attacked a federal arsenal in the hope of starting a slave revolt, southerners were concerned. When some northerners praised him and viewed him as a martyr, southerners were dismayed. For some southerners, this was another sign that a civil war was unavoidable. After this raid failed, the voices of people who were promoting a compromise solution to the issues affecting the North and the South began to fade. After Abraham Lincoln won the election of 1860, secession was a reality for many southern states.

John Brown’s raid affected the outcome of the Civil War because it showed the North was becoming increasingly in favor of ending slavery completely. Even though Abraham Lincoln said he would allow slavery to remain where it already existed in order to keep the country united, many southerners believed this promise would not be kept. After the Civil War began, the Union became more focused on ending slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation, issued on January 1, 1863, freed the slaves in the South. The North was now fighting to end slavery as well as to preserve the Union. European countries, which had recently ended slavery, now knew the United States was serious about ending slavery.

John Brown’s raid was an important event in pushing the United States closer to a civil war.

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