The Execution Of John Brown, In A Stubble Field, Near Charlestown, Va.
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 10 December 1859
(Virginia Historical Society, Call no. AP2 .F82 o.s.)
To the consternation of many in the North and abroad, the state of Virginia ignored their humanitarian
protests and hanged John Brown, on December 2, 1859. The execution assured him martyrdom and victory for his cause.
Not a single slave had been freed by Brown, but Americans were forced by the raid and the execution to
reconsider the horrific institution of slavery. Southerners and northerners who had previously dismissed the idea of
secession and possible armed conflict moved rapidly toward the more militant positions that would bring war two years
later. It can be argued that if Brown had not invaded Virginia, the war might never have happened.