A Nation Divided
Black Moderates And Black Militants
On the eve of the Revolution there was justification for assuming that slavery in the Northern states was withering away. By 1800 most of the Northern states had either done away with slavery or had made provision for its gradual abolition. Although this might not change the status of an adult slave, he knew his children, when they reached maturity, would be free. This meant that the important issue in the North was that of identity. What would be the place of Negroes who were not fully accepted as Americans? While Northern states were willing to grant freedom to the Afro-Americans, they continued to view them as inferiors. Many observers remarked that race prejudice actually increased with the abolition of slavery. Northern freedmen concluded, like their slave brothers in the South, that they would have to work out their own salvation. This left them to wrestle with such questions as: "Am I an American?" "Am I an African?" "Am I inferior"?" "How can I establish my manhood and gain acceptance?"
In the years immediately preceding the Revolution, there were slaves who had wrestled with some of these questions: Jupiter Hammon and Phillis Wheatley. They tried to establish their claim to manhood through literary ability. Both were poets and wrote romantic poetry in the spirit of the day. In 1761 Jupiter Hammon, a Long Island slave, published his poem: "An Evening Thought. Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries". Twelve years later Phillis Wheatley published a slim volume of poetry which was written in a style much like that of Alexander Pope. Born in Africa in 1753, she had been brought to America as a child and had served in the Wheatley home in Boston. When she displayed some literary ability, her master granted freedom to her and, to some extent, became her patron. Her volume of poetry was published while she was visiting England and is generally considered superior to the poetry of Jupiter Hammon. Although on one occasion Hammon did suggest that slavery was evil, he instructed slaves to bear it with patience. Neither he nor Phillis Wheatley made any direct challenge to race prejudice. Instead, they strove to gain acceptance as talented individuals who might help others of their race to improve their situation. Unfortunately, white society regarded them only as unusual individual exceptions and continued to maintain its racial views.
Gustavus Vassa was born in Africa in 1745 and was brought to America as a slave. Eventually, after serving several masters, he became the property of a Philadelphia merchant who let him buy his own freedom. After working for some time as a sailor, he settled in England, where he felt he would encounter less racial discrimination. There he became an active worker in the British anti-slavery movement. In 1789 he published his autobiography, "The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Oloudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa", in which he bitterly attacked Christians for participating in the slave trade.
In 1792, Benjamin Banneker, a freedman from Maryland, wrote to Thomas Jefferson complaining that it was time to eradicate false racial stereotypes. While expressing doubts regarding the merits of slavery in his "Notes on Virginia", Jefferson had expressed his belief in the inferiority of the African. Banneker had educated himself, especially in mathematics and astronomy, and in 1789 he was one of those who helped to survey the District of Columbia. Later, he predicted a solar eclipse. In 1791 he had begun the publication of a series of almanacs, and the next year he sent one of these to Jefferson in an attempt to challenge his racial views. Jefferson was so impressed with the work that he sent it to the French Academy of Science. However, he seemed to view Banneker as an exception rather than fresh evidence undermining white stereotypes.
In Massachusetts Paul Cuffe was rapidly becoming a black capitalist. After having worked as a sailor, he managed to buy a business of his own. Over the years, he came to own considerable property in Boston, and eventually he had an entire fleet of ships sailing along the Atlantic coast, visiting the Caribbean and crossing the ocean to Africa. During the Revolution, he and his brother, both of whom owned property and paid taxes, raised the question of political rights. Claiming "no taxation without representation", they both refused to pay their taxes because they were denied the ballot. Their protest led Massachusetts to permit blacks to vote on the same basis as whites. Nevertheless, over the years Cuffe developed reservations about the future of the African in America. In 1815, at his own expense, he transported thirty-eight blacks back to Africa. This was one of the first attempts at African colonization. Apparently the costs and other problems surrounding the project were so great that he never pursued it further.
As it became increasingly apparent that the end of slavery would not mean the end of discrimination, cooperative action by Afro-Americans seemed to be the only basis from which to gain acceptance, and in 1775 the African Lodge No. 459, the first Afro-American Masonic lodge in America, was founded. Prince Hall, its founder, was born in Barbados and came to America with the idea of identifying himself with Afro-Americans. He became a minister in the Methodist Church, where he dedicated himself to their advancement. However, he concluded that only through working together through black cooperation, could any progress be made. After being refused recognition by the American masons, his lodge was legitimized by a branch of the British Masons connected with army stationed in Boston. Before long African lodges as well as other fraternal organizations sprang up all across the country. Denied access to white society, blacks found it necessary to form various kinds of organizations for their own welfare.
Even within the church which supposedly stressed brotherhood, separate African organizations were emerging. During the revolution, George Liele founded a black Baptist church in Savannah, Georgia. Although similar churches sprang up throughout the South, the independent church movement progressed more rapidly in the Northern states. In 1786 Richard Allen, who had previously purchased his freedom from his Delaware master, began similar meetings among his own people in Philadelphia. He wanted to found a separate black church, but he was opposed by Blacks and whites alike. However, when the officials of St. George's Methodist Church proposed segregating the congregation, events came to a head. Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and others went to the gallery as directed, but the ushers even objected to their sitting in the front seats of the gallery. When they were pulled from their knees during prayer, Allen and his friends left the church, never to return. They immediately formed the Free African Society and began collecting funds to build a church. This resulted in the founding of St. Thomas' African Protestant Episcopal Church headed by Absalom Jones. In spite of the behavior of the Methodists, Allen believed that Methodism was better suited to his people's style of worship and gradually he collected a community of followers. In 1794 the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church was opened in Philadelphia. In 1816 several A.M.E. congregations met together to form a national organization with Allen as its bishop. Similar events in New York City led to the establishment of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Early in 1807 a black Baptist Church was founded in Philadelphia, and later in that same year congregations were established in Boston and New York. The New York congregation developed into the Abyssinian Baptist Church.
The African church became the most important organization within the Afro-American community. Besides providing spiritual strength and comfort, it became a community institution, a center for social, political, and economic life. The minister became the most important leader of his people. However, the full potential for organizing protest was overlooked. For the most part, the church taught an other-worldly religion which strove to provide strength with which to endure the sorrows of this life, but it did not try too actively to change the situation. Richard Allen, for example, counseled patience and caution, advising his people to wait for God to work in His own way. In the meantime, the Christian was to practice obedience to God and to his master. Most of the clergy stuck to religious matters and avoided political questions. However, there were those who took an active part in politics, and they became leaders in the abolition movement and in the Negro Convention movement. They included men like Samuel Ringgold Ward and Henry Highland Garnet.
Another manifestation of group solidarity occurred in the Negro Convention Movement which began in 1830 and continued until the Civil War. These meetings brought together leaders from Afro-American communities throughout the North. They debated important problems, developed common policies, and spoke out with a united voice. They consistently urged the abolition of slavery in the Southern states, and they condemned the legal and social discrimination which was rampant throughout the North. At the 1843 convention in Buffalo, N.Y., Henry Highland Garnet tried to persuade the movement to declare violence an acceptable tool in the destruction of slavery. However, by a vote of 19 to 15, the movement continued to oppose violence and to limit its power to an appeal based on moral persuasion.
Besides the Convention Movement, there were two other means of achieving broad leadership. This was still an age of oratory. Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown, Sojourner Truth, and many others traveled from town to town and state to state giving lectures to both black and white audiences. Also, they exploited the press to reach even larger numbers. Some of the more famous autobiographies written at this time were those of Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown, Austin Steward, and Josiah Henson, all of whom recorded the horrors of slavery as well as the humiliations of racial discrimination.
One of the most vehement attacks against slavery and discrimination was "Walker's Appeal in Four Articles Together with a Preamble to the Colored Citizens of the World But in Particular and Very Particularly to those of the United States of America". Although his father had been a slave, David Walker himself was born free in North Carolina. His hatred of slavery drove him to Boston, where he became a clothing merchant, but he was unable to forget his brethren who were still in bondage. The result was that in 1829, he published a pamphlet which was both a vehement attack against the institution of slavery and an open invitation for the slaves to rise up in arms.
First, he pointed out that all races of the earth were called men and assumed to be free with the sole exception of the Africans. He denied that his people wished to be white, insisting rather that they preferred to be just as their creator had made them. Urging his brothers not to show fear because God was on their side, Walker contended that any man who was not willing to fight for his freedom deserved to remain in slavery and to be butchered by his captors. Insisting that death was preferable to slavery, he insisted that, if an uprising occurred, the slaves would have to be willing to kill or be killed. Moreover, he urged that it was no worse to kill a man in self-defense than it was to take a drink of water when thirsty. Rather, a man who would not defend himself was worse than an infidel, and not deserving of pity.
In addressing the American people, Walker foresaw that if they would treat Africans as men, they could all live together in harmony. Georgia offered $10,000 for Walker if taken alive and $1,000 for him dead. A year later Walker died under somewhat mysterious circumstances, and some claimed that he had been murdered. His pamphlet circulated widely throughout the North and the South, and many believed that it helped to encourage slave insurrections.
"Freedoms Journal", which had been founded in 1827 by Samuel E. Cornish and John B. Russwurm, was the first in a long series of Afro-American newspapers. Russwurm had been the first of his race to receive a college degree in America. In their first editorial, they proclaimed what was becoming a growing conviction. They said that others had spoken for the black man for too long. It was time that he spoke for himself. They also attacked slavery and racial prejudice. They strove to make the paper a medium for communication and debate within the Afro-American community. They also intended to use the paper to clarify misconceptions about Africa. Like many of their contemporaries, Cornish and Russwurm believed that even those who were friendly to their race were unconsciously steeped in prejudice. Therefore, it was doubly necessary for Afro-Americans to speak out for themselves, to expose the prejudices of bigots and liberals. However, by 1829 Russwurm had become increasingly bitter about the future of his race in America and came to believe that returning to Africa was the only way to escape prejudice. He believed that the colony which had been established in Liberia was in need of educated leadership, and he went there to become its superintendent of education. Cornish remained behind and continued to work as a minister and as a newspaper editor.
The "North Star", later known as Frederick Douglass's paper, was the best known of the black journals. Its editor, Frederick Douglass, was born a slave in Maryland in 1817. His mother was a slave named Harriet Bailey, and the identity of his white father remains unknown. He was raised by his maternal grandmother on a distant farm and almost never saw his mother. Like many slaves, he was denied a father, almost denied a mother, and largely denied any meaningful identity. After working for several years as a slave both on the plantation and in the city, he determined to run away. Although an earlier attempt had failed, he now made his way north to New Bedford, Massachusetts. There he was shocked to discover that, while some whites gave him protection and help, race prejudice was still rampant. A skilled craftsman, he was unable to find work. When an employer was willing to accept him, his fellow workers threatened to walk off the job. For the next three years, he worked as servant, coachman, and common laborer earning about a dollar a day.
Then, he met William Lloyd Garrison, the famous white abolitionist, who was impressed with his slave experiences and his ability to describe them. At one meeting, after Douglass had spoken, Garrison asked the audience whether this was a beast or a man. Douglass soon became a regular lecturer in the abolitionist movement. As he traveled throughout the North, he was continually harassed by racial discrimination in trains, coaches, boats, restaurants hotels, and other public places. In contrast, when he went to England to raise funds for the movement, he was struck by the fact that he could go any place, including places frequented by the aristocracy, and be accepted as a man. He said that wherever he went in England he could always identify an American because his race prejudice clung to him like clothing. While in England, abolitionists raised funds which allowed him to purchase his freedom.
When he returned to America, Douglass settled in Rochester, New York, where he began publication of "The North Star". Rochester was a thriving city on the Erie Canal, and, because it also had a port on Lake Ontario, it became an important terminal on the Underground Railroad. While many runaways settled in Rochester, others boarded steamers for Canada where they would be beyond the reach of the law. Douglass came to play an important role on the Underground Railroad, in the life of Rochester and, through "The North Star", among Northern freedmen. Garrison felt double-crossed when his most important cohort in the Afro-American community struck out on his own. Douglass, in agreement with the position previously taken by Cornish and Russwurm, believed that blacks must assume leadership in their own cause.
Before long, "The North Star" was recognized as the voice of the black man in America. Douglass spoke out on all issues through its pages, and he continued to tour the country lecturing before audiences of both colors and discussing matters of policy with other abolitionists. He did not believe in merely exercising patience and obedience. Rather, he believed it was necessary to prick the white man's conscience with moral persuasion. His tactics combined nonviolence with self-assertion. Although the Constitution had indirectly recognized slavery, Douglass believed that its spirit, as well as that of the American Revolution, implied the eventual destruction of that institution. Therefore, political action was a legitimate and necessary tool with which to attack slavery and racial discrimination. From his knowledge of the South, he was convinced that slavery could not be overthrown without violence. However, he insisted that the black man was in no position to take the leadership in the use of physical force. At the same time, he was increasingly aware of the depth of racial prejudice of Northern whites, and he knew that there was a long struggle ahead to gain political, social, and economic freedom.
In 1832 William Lloyd Garrison and eleven other whites founded the New England Anti-Slavery Society which, besides working for the abolition of slavery, fought for the rights of freedmen. Garrison soon became the fiery and controversial leader of the abolitionist movement and the editor of "The Liberator". The movement included men like Wendell Phillips, Arthur and Lewis Tappan, Theodore Dwight Weld, Gerrit Smith, James Birney, and many others. They condemned the American Colonization Society for sharing the unchristian prejudices of the slaveholders. Although the Northern states had abolished slavery, most whites believed that it was not their business to interfere with the domestic affairs of the Southern states. They also held that freedmen in the North must be kept in their place, and they viewed the abolitionists as a dangerous and radical minority.
The abolition movement itself was weakened by internal fragmentation. Garrison was jealous of anyone who competed with him for leadership. His brand of abolitionism attacked the Constitution as a vicious document giving sanction to slavery. He advocated that the Northern states separate from the South as a means of removing federal protection from slavery. Because the government was based on an unholy document, he concluded that any kind of political action automatically enmeshed one in this evil system. He was vehemently against the use of violence to overthrow slavery and insisted that moral persuasion was the only legitimate tool in the cause. Anyone who did not support his doctrines faithfully was viewed as an enemy. This meant that he did not cooperate with abolitionists who condoned the use of violence or with those who were willing to accept the Constitution and engage in political action.
Ironically, the abolitionist movement was also divided by racial prejudice. While opposing slavery, some refused to believe in political equality. Others were willing to grant political equality, but resisted the idea of social mixing. The Philadelphia anti-slavery society spent many meetings debating whether it should extend membership to blacks, and, by a majority of two, it finally voted to drop its color bar.
Black abolitionists became increasingly irritated by the racial attitudes of their white colleagues. Many of the whites were influential businessmen, and they were attacked for their own hiring practices. It was claimed that, when they hired blacks at all, they hired them only in menial positions. Martin R. Delany, abolitionist, journalist, and physician, complained that the blacks had taken a back seat in the movement for too long. He also bitterly attacked whites for thinking that they knew best what was good for the African. He concluded that both friend and foe shared the same prejudices.
The Underground Railroad was another project which involved large numbers of whites. Besides providing financial backing for it, they worked as conductors and station masters. They helped runaways to safety, and they sheltered escapees. These men wanted to do more than speak out on the issue of slavery; they wanted to take action. Helping runaway slaves was against the law, and these men had such strong convictions that, while they did not think of themselves as criminals, they were willing to deliberately break the law. They participated in a kind of civil disobedience. However, the bravest workers on the underground railroad were black. If they were caught, especially in the South, they would have to pay the ultimate price for their heroism. The best known of all the black conductors was a brave runaway slave woman named Harriet Tubman. She ventured deep into the South on several occasions to lead large numbers of slaves to freedom, and she became a national legend. Several states put a price on her head. During the Civil War she served as a Union spy behind confederate lines.
Gradually the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad won the support of ever-increasing numbers of white Northerners. At the same time, the South became increasingly bitter. Abolitionist literature was banned throughout the South, and most of the abolitionist leaders, because they had circulated literature in violation of this ban, had a price put on their heads. The Underground Railroad was more than a symbolic attack on the institution of slavery. While there is no way of telling how many slaves traveled to freedom with its help, certainly the value of human property lost to the South was very high. A slave was worth about $1,000, and thousands of slaves escaped. The financial loss was very real. When Southern masters came north to recapture runaway slaves, Northern consciences were outraged.
Finally, as the new states from the West were being permitted to join the Union, the question as to whether slavery should be legalized in them became important. Even Northern white bigots opposed the extension of slavery into these states. From their point of view, slavery was unfair competition with free labor, and they wanted the new states for the purpose of expansion. As the middle of the century approached, dark clouds of crisis could be seen on the horizon.
Growth of Extremism
During the 1850s American racial attitudes grew more extreme. While slavery continued to flourish throughout the South, discrimination was rampant throughout the North. Instead of gradually withering away as some had expected, the peculiar institution had been thriving and spreading into the Southwest ever since Eli Whitney's discovery of the cotton gin in 1793 had given new life to the growing of cotton. Slavery was booming in Alabama and spreading into Louisiana, Mississippi, and even Texas. At the same time, the North, after experiencing a full decade without slavery, was still steeped in discrimination and prejudice. After several years of freedom, Northern blacks still were not gaining economic advancement, political rights, or social acceptance. As the numbers of European immigrants had increased, job discrimination grew. The Northern states were, at the same time, abolishing the political rights of Afro-Americans. The hopes which had accompanied the end of slavery in those states were fading into despair. The relentless struggle for advancement apparently had failed, and increasing numbers became convinced that more radical action was necessary.
At the same time White supremacy advocates were uneasy because their views had not been universally accepted, and they were adopting a stronger defense. The Southern justification of slavery was based on four main arguments. First, it was claimed that slavery was indispensable to its economy and that every society, whether slave or free, needed those who must do its menial labor. Although many Northerners might not agree that the need for labor was a justification for slavery, many would concur with second argument, which was that the Negro was destined for a position of inferiority. Here the racial prejudices of North and the South overlapped. The third argument was that Christianity had sanctioned slavery throughout all of history as a means for conversion. This contention had more justification than the religious colonists would care to admit. Finally, the South argued that white civilization had developed a unique high culture precisely because slavery removed the burden from the white citizens. Again, while Northerners might not totally agree with this point, many of them did believe in the superiority of white civilization. Although these points convinced few outsiders of the necessity for the existence of slavery, they did underline the widespread belief in black inferiority and white superiority. From this point of view, the necessity for defending the glories of white civilization against the corruption of racial degeneration justified more and more radical action.
Besides mounting this vigorous vocal defense of slavery, the South stiffened its resistance to the circulation of anti-slavery propaganda. State laws were passed banning the publication and circulation of abolitionist materials, and mobs broke into post offices, confiscated literature from the U.S. mail, and publicly burned it. The Compromise of 1850, at the urging of the South, included the Fugitive Slave Act which vastly increased the powers of the slave owner to pursue runaway slaves throughout the North. The law also required that Northern officials cooperate in this process. Afro-Americans who had been living in Northern communities for years and who were accepted as respected citizens were now threatened with recapture by their previous masters. Many of these leaders were forced to flee. Freedmen who lacked adequate identification were also endangered by legal kidnapping and enslavement.
Throughout the North both blacks and whites, with the aid of the Federal Government, were alienated by this new long arm of the peculiar institution which reached deep into their communities. In fact many felt, like Frederick Douglass, that this law made the Federal Government an agent of slavery, and they believed that it forced local governments to become its co-conspirators. Several Northern states passed new civil rights laws in an attempt to protect their citizens. Frequently local vigilance committees tried to prevent the arrest of blacks in their midst. On other occasions mobs tried and sometimes succeeded in freeing those already arrested, In Boston, for example, a federal marshal was killed in a clash with one such mob. The Fugitive Slave Act was a powerful blow at the Afro-American communities in the North. It has been estimated that between 1850 and 1860 some twenty thousand fled to Canada. In the face of this reversal moderation became meaningless.
The involvement of the Federal Government in supporting slavery led to a growing alienation within the Afro-American community. Increasingly, militant leaders reevaluated their position on colonization. Henry Highland Garnet and Martin R. Delany, both workers in the abolition movement, reversed their positions and became proponents of emigration. While Garnet favored emigration to Liberia, Delany became an advocate of moving to Central and South America. He said that the United States had violated its own principles of republicanism and equality and that it was keeping Negroes in economic and political bondage. He concluded that Negroes were left with a choice between continued degradation in America or emigration. By 1852 he had come to prefer the latter choice.
In 1854 a colonization convention was held in Cleveland for those who were interested in emigration within the boundaries of the western hemisphere. The convention noted that the Afro-American community was developing a growing sense of racial consciousness and pride. Although blacks were in the minority in Europe and America, it pointed out that most of the world's population was colored. Integration into the mainstream of American life, besides appearing to be impossible, seemed to demand the denial of selfhood for the black man. Therefore, black separatism grew in popularity and became a platform from which to maintain a sense of identity and individual worth.
However, many militants like Frederick Douglass did not approve of black nationalism and colonization. They claimeed that they were still Americans and did not constitute a separate nation. Leaders who were not black nationalists, however, could still be militant. Although Douglass did not actively support John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, the reason for his decision was that he doubted its effectiveness and not because he opposed its violent technique. In fact, Douglass applauded the attack. He said that Brown had attacked slavery "with the weapons precisely adapted to bring it to the death," and he contended that, since slavery existed by "brute force," then it was legitimate to turn its own weapons against it. Previously the Reverend Moses Dixon had established two fraternal organizations to train blacks for military action. Although nothing substantial came from them, the idea of developing guerrilla forces as the only remaining tool against slavery was gaining support.
Another militant, H. Ford Douglass, concluded that the government had become so tyrannical that it was possible for him to engage in military action against it without his becoming a traitor to his country. He said, "I can hate this government without becoming disloyal because it has stricken down my manhood, and treated me as a salable commodity. I can join a foreign enemy and fight against it, without being a traitor, because it treats me as an ALIEN and a STRANGER, and I am free to avow that should such a contingency arise I should not hesitate to take any advantage in order to procure such indemnity for the future."
Robert Purvis, a Philadelphian, also agreed that revolution might be the only tool left with which to secure redress for grievances. He contended that to support the government and the constitution on which it was based was to endorse a despotic state, and he went on to express his abhorrence for the system which destroyed him and his people. Purvis said that he could welcome the overthrow of this government and he could hope that it would be replaced by a better one.
The alienation of the Afro-American from his government was dramatically underscored and justified in 1857 by the Dred Scott Decision which was handed down by the Supreme Court. A slave who had resided with his master in a territory where slavery was forbidden by act of Congress had claimed his freedom. After returning to slave territory, he sued his master on the grounds that residence in a non-slave territory had made him free. The court said that the Missouri Compromise which had established slave-free territories was unconstitutional, and it went on to state that blacks were not citizens of the United States and therefore could not bring a suit in court. In one single decision the court had lashed out at the Afro-American with two blows. Besides justifying slavery, it had openly supported the spread of the peculiar institution into the West. Then, it castrated the freedmen by denying any political rights to them. They were left with four alternatives: slavery, a freedom rooted in poverty and prejudice, emigration abroad, or revolution.
Suddenly, the terms of the equation were dramatically altered by an obscure white man named John Brown. After beginning his public career in New England as a participant in the abolitionist struggle, Brown became absolutely outraged by the apparent success that the South was having in spreading slavery into the new territories. He became one of the most active leaders in Kansas and rallied support to prevent that state from falling into the hands of proslavery factions. The slavery debates in Kansas exploded into open combat. Brown's outrage became a fiery conviction that God had chosen him to be one of the leaders in the righteous struggle against slavery. He also came to believe that, if God had justified violence in defending righteousness in the Old Testament, it could be used in other places and on a wider scale to topple the peculiar institution.
Brown spent several weeks in Rochester, New York, at the home of Frederick Douglass, planning what amounted to a guerrilla campaign against the South. Despite Brown's urging, Douglass refused to join in what he believed to be a futile and desperate gesture. However, he wished Brown the best of luck. The plan was to establish a center of operation in the Virginia hills. Brown did not expect to defeat the South by force of arms. Instead, he believed that he could establish a mountain refuge which would attract ever-increasing numbers of slaves. His hope was that the drain on the slave system, coupled with the masters' fear of attack, would so strain the peculiar institution that, bit by bit, the South would be forced to negotiate some kind of settlement.
However, Brown had to obtain arms and ammunition, and, to keep the operation going he and his men needed food and other supplies. The result was the raid on the government arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. The attacking party included five blacks: Lewis Sheridan Leary, Dangerfield Newly, John Anthony Copeland, Osborn Perry Anderson, and Shields Green. Two of them were killed in the attack, two more were later executed, and one escaped. The attack failed, and Brown and several others were executed. Before his execution Brown said that, while they might dispose of him quite easily, the Negro question itself could not be easily dismissed. His prediction proved correct, Brown's execution made him a martyr and at the end led to the victory for which he had yearned.