Secession and Civil War

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Compare Northern and Southern reactions to John Brown's raid at Harper's Ferry.

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First of all, we must remember that not everyone (particularly in the North) reacted to John Brown’s raid in the same way.  That said, we can make some comparisons.

In the South, the reaction to the raid was almost completely negative.  The raid caused a great deal of fear in the South.  In that section of the country, the idea of a slave rebellion was cause for a great deal of alarm.  There were many places where slaves were plentiful and a slave rebellion in which the slaves were actually well-armed (as Brown intended) could be extremely deadly.

By contrast, some in the North applauded Brown.  We must note that the vast majority of people in the North did not condone what Brown did.  But there were some, the most radical of the abolitionists, who lionized Brown.  They mourned his death and held him up as a hero.  Not surprisingly, this antagonized the South greatly.  Southerners tended to focus on the small group who celebrated Brown instead of understanding that most Northerners did not approve of what he had done.

The differences in the reactions to the raid helped to drive the North and South further apart, making the Civil War more inevitable.

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