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Iowa History Daily: October 16 - John Brown, Abolition, & Iowa

Iowa History Daily: On October 16, 1859, Abolitionist John Brown and 20 additional men, including six Iowans, invaded the Federal Armory at Harpers Ferry. Hoping to initiate a revolt of enslaved people throughout the United States, Brown’s raid stands in American history as a monumental shift from compromise toward war.

Three years prior in late 1856, Brown arrived near West Branch, Iowa, at Traveler’s Rest and met the Quaker John Townsend. Returning to Iowa from participating in the slavery and abolition motivated violence in ‘Bleeding Kansas’ during December of 1857, Brown and over a dozen men, both free and enslaved, arrived in Tabor in Western Iowa to pick up a shipment containing 20 boxes of Sharps rifles sent to support their cause.

Pressing on the Quaker town of Cedar County’s settlement of Peedee, a popular stop in the Underground Railroad, the band eventually ended up back near West Branch at the Springdale home of William Maxson to spend the winter. When the group headed out east for the raid on Harpers Ferry, six Iowans could be counted in their number: Steward Taylor, Jeremiah Anderson George Gill, Charles Moffat and two Springdale brothers, Edwin and Barclay Coppock.

Steward Taylor and Jeremiah Anderson died in the raid, while George Gill and Charles Moffat did not take part. Edwin Coppock, captured by authorities, hung alongside Brown during the aftermath. Barclay Coppock escaped to make his way back to the Hawkeye State before temporarily bolting across the border into Canada, and Governor Kirkwood refused to sign requisition papers when authorities came to collect the young man. He eventually returned to the United States, and died while serving the American Army during the Civil War. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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