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Midnight Rising

The bloody raid which propelled the civil war

An interview with Tony Horwitz, author of Midnight Rising, a book about the Civil War, John Brown and the roots of domestic terrorism.

John Brown played a major role in the Civil War, leading the fight against slavery. — Art by Chris Wormell/MENDOLA

In his new book, Midnight Rising, award-winning journalist Tony Horwitz takes us deep inside the mind of the controversial abolitionist John Brown. Brown was prepared to fight to his death to start a revolution that would end slavery.


See also: 50 ways the Civil War changed American life.


Although he had already planned and executed several successful skirmishes across the country, Brown believed an already polarized America needed a shocking event that would start a civil liberation movement. One skirmish in Kansas, known as the Pottawatomie Massacre, caught the attention of other abolitionists who secretly started to supply Brown with weapons and money to continue his campaign.

In 1859, Brown had planned a raid on the Armory at Harpers Ferry in Virginia, which if successful, would have allowed him to arm many slaves. Secretly planned and executed at night; John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry ruptured the union between North and South.

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