His barn in Pennsylvania was a station on the Underground Railroad, helping slaves escape to freedom. But on this day, Oct. 16, 1859, John Brown and 21 men raided Harper’s Ferry, Va., and seized the armory. He was captured, sentenced and hanged. Labeled insane by some, Louisa May Alcott, author of “Little Women,” called him Saint John the Just. Years before, after hearing the story of how abolitionist publisher Elijah Lovejoy was murdered, John Brown stood up in the back of church and declared: “Here, before God, in the presence of these witnesses, I consecrate my life to the destruction of slavery.”

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