Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Was Youth a Factor in John Brown's Raid?

George Bernard Shaw is quoted as having said or wrote something to the effect that youth is a gift wasted on the young. I suppose what he meant is that when we are young we don't appreciate all the greatness of life due to inexperience. Much along the same lines, but in a somewhat different context, is the thought that youth make the best soldiers. Being young often means being impetuous. Sometimes being young means being daring. Being young can mean acting without thinking. And, being young often means carrying through on a cause when self preservation is whispering in your ear.

Could there be something to the fact, that of the twenty-one men who went with John Brown to Harpers Ferry, only Brown and two others were older than thirty-four years old? Could youthful enthusiasm have blinded these young men from thoughts of deadly repercussions? Or, was it commitment to their leader and cause that made them seemingly ignore that clear and present danger and rush into history?

For your consideration, here is a roll of the raiders, and their ages, that followed Brown:
Jeremiah Anderson, 26 years old
Osborne Perry Anderson, 29 years old
Oliver Brown, 21 years old
Owen Brown, 34 years old
Watson Brown, 24 years old
John E. Cook, 30 years old
John Anthony Copeland, Jr., 25 years old
Barclay Coppoc, 20 years old
Edwin Coppoc, 24 years old
Shields Green, approx. 23 years old
Albert Hazlett, 22 years old
John Henry Kagi, 24 years old
Lewis Leary, 24 years old
William Leeman, 20 years old
Francis Jackson Meriam, 21 years old
Dangerfield Newby, approximately 35 years old
Aaron Stephens, approximately 26 years old
Stewart Taylor, 22 years old
Dauphin Thompson, 21 years old
William Thompson, 26 years old
Charles Plummer Tidd, 25 years old
Of the raiders, sixteen were white men, three were free African Americans, one was a freed slave, and one was a fugitive slave. Five of the men escaped the raid and pursuit dragnet. Four of the five that escaped later fought for the Union in the Civil War.

1 comment:

  1. What struck me on this page ( about John Brown's Provisional Army was Edwin Coppoc, who wrote his mother and said "he had not understood what the full consequences of the raid would be." Everyone else seems to have gone into it with eyes reasonably open, which I think lends credence to your theory about youth.