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2009 Exhibit

John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry

2009 marks the 150th anniversary of John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry. On October 16, 1859, Brown and a band of followers seized control of the Harpers Ferry Armory in a plot to build an army to overthrow the South and free the slaves. "John Brown's Raid is one of the most poignant events in American history," said John Cuthbert, curator of the WVRHC. "Perhaps more than any other single act, it led to the outbreak of the Civil War. John Brown has been cited as the person who contributed more than any other to the start of the Civil War." The exhibit focuses on David Hunter Strother's sketches of Brown's Raid and the aftermath. Strother was one of the most outstanding primary resources in terms of eyewitness accounts. Arriving in Harpers Ferry within 36 hours of the raid, Strother saw Brown and some of his co-conspirators lying wounded on the floor of a makeshift jail, before they received medical attention. Even before authorities had the chance to extensively question Brown, Strother talked with him about his failed plot. Strother also made many sketches of Brown and co-conspirators at that time and then later during Brown's trial and execution.