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The Harpers Ferry raid confirmed for many Southerners the existence of a widespread Northern plot against slavery. In fact, Brown had raised funds for his raid from Northern abolitionists. To arm the slaves, he ordered one thousand pikes from a Connecticut manufacturer. Letters to Governor Wise betrayed the mixed feelings people held for Brown. For some, he was simply insane and should not be hanged. For others, he was a martyr to the cause of abolition, and his quick trial and execution reflected the fear and arrogance of the Virginia slave-owning aristocracy. Many Northerners condemned Brown's actions but thought him right in his conviction that slavery had to end. John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry and his subsequent execution further polarized North and South and made a solution of the slavery issue central to the national debate which ultimately led to Civil War in 1861.
Ron Field was Head of History at the Cotswold School in Bourton-on-the-Water, until his retirement in 2007. Awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 1982, he taught History at Piedmont High School in California from 1982 to 1983. Ron was also associate editor of the Confederate Historical Society of Great Britain, from 1983 to 1992. He is an internationally acknowledged expert on US military history, and was elected a Fellow of the Company of Military Historians, based in Washington, DC, in 2005.