He became a conductor in the Underground Railroad and organized a self-protection league for freemen of color and fugitive slaves.
By the time he was 50 years old, Brown was convinced God had selected him as the champion to lead slaves into freedom, and if that required the use of force, well, that was God’s will, too.
After he married Dianthe Lusk, they moved to Pennsylvania, where he established a tannery of his own.
The couple wed in 1820; before Dianthe’s death in 1831, she bore him seven children.
He was hanged at Charles Town, the county seat near Harpers Ferry, on December 2.
Among those watching the execution, "with unlimited, undeniable contempt" for Brown, was the future assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth.
The "unjust enactments" included the Constitution, the Missouri Compromise of 1820, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Dred Scott decision of 1857.
Initial reports of the raid on Harpers Ferry in Southern newspapers tended to view it as an isolated incident, the work of a mad fanatic and his followers.
Whenever he was questioned about the events of that night, he was evasive.
The events at Lawrence and Pottawatomie caused the territory to erupt in guerrilla warfare, giving it the name "Bleeding Kansas." Brown’s name became known to the nation, a Christian warrior to many who opposed slavery and a demented murderer to many other people.