The Imperative of Sedition (In Memoriam John Brown)
"Was John Brown simply an episode, or was he an eternal truth? And if a truth, how speaks that truth to-day? John Brown loved his neighbour as himself. He could not endure therefore to see his neighbour, poor, and unfortunate or oppressed. This natural sympathy was strengtHened by a saturation in Hebrew religion which stressed the personal responsibility of every human soul to a just God. To this religion of equality and sympathy with misfortune, was added the strong influence of the social doctrines of the French Revolution with its emphasis on freedom and power in political life. And on all this was built John Brown's own inchoate but growing belief in a more just and more equal distribution of property. From this he concluded - and acted on that conclusion - that all men are created free and equal, and that the cost of liberty is less than the price of repression."
W.E.B. Du Bois, John Brown (1909)
"We dream of foreign countries, of other times and races of men, placing them at a distance in history or space; but let some significant event like the present occur in our midst, and we discover, often, this distance and this strangeness between us and our nearest neighbours. They are our Austrias, and Chinas, and South Sea Islands. Our crowded society becomes well spaced all at once, clean and handsome to the eye, a city of magnificent distances."
Henry David Thoreau, A Plea for Captain John Brown (1859)