Another God-fearing man might have balked at committing violence on the Sabbath, but not John Brown. After darkness cloaked the route to the Virginia town of Harpers Ferry on the evening of Oct. 16, 1859, he told his 21 recruits — 16 white, five black — to gather their arms. Brown’s wrathful God had given him a mission: Invade Harpers Ferry, equip a runaway slave army with the 100,000 rifles and muskets in the town armory, and wage holy war on the “great sin against God” — slavery.
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