Slavery in the Nineteenth Century

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

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The raid at Harpers Ferry had several immediate effects which can be seen as not only causative with regard to the war, but also having a bearing on the way the war was fought and, possibly, its outcome.

Prior to Brown's raid, the Southern militia system barely existed. A man attempting to start a rising of enslaved people, though it was easily stopped, led the Southern states to expand and to organize their militias with large numbers of volunteers. These militias then became the nuclei of the Confederate armies when war broke out a year and a half later. The raid also convinced Southerners that not just John Brown but other Northerners intended to free the enslaved people and to abolish the institution of slavery, not merely to "contain" it by excluding it from the territories, as the platform of Lincoln and his party would be the following year (1860).

The reaction in the North to Brown's raid was that Brown began to be seen as a martyr even by people who were not especially committed...

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