I have several
reasons to include it that include these four:
Indeed, you may well ask why I
am concerned with the clothing, especially as there is not much
clothing in the above picture. I'll come to that in a moment, after
dealing with the other points.
- It's over 150 years old.
- There are not many
photographs as old.
- He was an extra-ordinary man.
- The clothing.
Clearly, since he died on December 2, 1859, the picture must be over a
150 years old, but more importantly, also since - Wikipedia - "Daguerre took the first ever photo of a
person in 1838", this is really
is a quite early instance of photography (a word dating back to 1839).
Indeed, there is a daguerro-type of John
Brown dating back to 1846.
That he was an extra-ordinary man I illustrated yesterday. So now the
Actually, this has little to do with John Brown, but much with his
time: When you look carefully at the clothes people wore in the 19th
Century, you'll find these were somewhat different from what clothes
are now, though men's clothing did not differ that much in cutting.
But there were no artificial threads (nylon etc.) and especially the
washing must have been a lot more difficult to do, and probably
happened rather less, which is the reason that, when well considered,
even the clothes of noble gentlemen of the 1870ies, say, often look
I don't mind in the least: I merely remark upon it because I noticed it
and never saw it remarked upon before.
2. John Brown's last recorded speech
It still is discussed whether John
Brown was "a terrorist", which is another reason to pay attention
Here are his final words to the court that had sentenced him to die:
I have, may it please the
court, a few words to say. In the first place, I deny everything but
what I have all along admitted -- the design on my part to free the
slaves. I intended certainly to have made a clean thing of that matter,
as I did last winter when I went into Missouri and there took slaves
without the snapping of a gun on either side, moved them through the
country, and finally left them in Canada. I designed to have done the
same thing again on a larger scale. That was all I intended. I never
did intend murder, or treason, or the destruction of property, or to
excite or incite slaves to rebellion, or to make insurrection.
I have another objection;
and that is, it is unjust that I should suffer such a penalty. Had I
interfered in the manner which I admit, and which I admit has been
fairly proved (for I admire the truthfulness and candor of the greater
portion of the witnesses who have testified in this case)--had I so
interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the
so-called great, or in behalf of any of their friends--either father,
mother, brother, sister, wife, or children, or any of that class--and
suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have
been all right; and every man in this court would have deemed it an act
worthy of reward rather than punishment. 
This court acknowledges,
as I suppose, the validity of the law of God. I see a book kissed here
which I suppose to be the Bible, or at least the New Testament. That
teaches me that all things whatsoever I would that men should do to me,
I should do even so to them. It teaches me, further, to "remember them
that are in bonds, as bound with them." I endeavored to act up to that
instruction.  I say I am yet too young to
understand that God is any respecter of persons. I believe that to have
interfered as I have done--as I have always freely admitted I have
done--in behalf of His despised poor was not wrong, but right. Now, if
it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the
furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with
the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave
country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust
enactments--I submit; so let it be done! 
Let me say one word
I feel entirely satisfied
with the treatment I have received on my trial. Considering all the
circumstances it has been more generous than I expected. 
But I feel no consciousness of guilt. I have stated that from the first
what was my intention and what was not. I never had any design against
the life of any person, nor any disposition to commit treason, or
excite slaves to rebel, or make any general insurrection. I never
encouraged any man to do so, but always discouraged any idea of that
Let me say also a word in
regard to the statements made by some of those connected with me. I
hear it has been stated by some of them that I have induced them to
join me. But the contrary is true. I do not say this to injure them,
but as regretting their weakness. There is not one of them but joined
me of his own accord, and the greater part of them at their own
expense. A number of them I never saw, and never had a word of
conversation with till the day they came to me; and that was for the
purpose I have stated. 
Now I have done.
 I think he was quite right.
also seems quite right to me: "That
[Bible - MM] teaches me that all things whatsoever I would that men
should do to me, I should do even so to them. It teaches me, further,
to "remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them." I endeavored
to act up to that instruction."
Then again, it is true that
it is doubtful Jesus would have agreed, but not impossible, seeing
there was continuous slavery in the United States, for 83 years since
1776 at that point in time.
of his sons had been killed besides him, during their last fight.
seems to me that John Brown, had he lived today, probably would have
been treated worse, if he had tried to do anything comparable.
seems - more likely than not - not quite true. He killed people or had
people killed, and the other parts of the statement - "I never had any design against the life of
any person, nor any disposition to commit treason, or excite slaves to
rebel, or make any general insurrection" - likewise may be doubted, though indeed he may have been
speaking the strict truth with regards to the events of Harper's Ferry,
for whiich he was hanged.
As far as I recall, everyone on Brown's site who survived, was killed
judicially, though not on the same day as Brown.
Finally... where do I
stand in this, one may ask. Before I answer this, there is this final
While John Brown died
this year 154 years ago, his fate is quite contemporary, seeing the
decline of civilization, of equity, of justtice and of law in the
But I make no predictions, and conclude that I am mostly but not wholly
with Henry David Thoreau:
One may disagree with
Brown, but it surely is riight that it is probable millions
people would have been in slavery for a longer time had he not acted as
he did (there were 4 million slaves then, in the US, "home of the
free": within 1 1/2 years of Brown's hanging, the US civil war
started); that he acted as he did because he saw that neither the
Constitution of the US nor the central teachings of the Bible had been
practised for 83 years with regard to black people; that one
must weigh his acts relative to the slavery of 4 million men that he
opposed; and that those who classify him with McVeigh or Bin Laden seem
quite deluded, if honest: He did not kill innocent men and he did not
kill - by far - as many men, to quote just two of many relevant