John Brown was a staunch abolitionist and a veteran of guerilla warfare in Kansas who alarmed even free soilers with his forceful assertions of African-American equality. On October 16, 1859 Brown, three of his sons, and 19 associates raided the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Planning to seize arms stored at the arsenal and set up a base to encourage and assist further slave insurrections, Brown and his men were trapped by U.S. marines, tried for treason, and hanged. Southerners saw in Brown’s raid the violent intentions of northerners, while many in the North mourned Brown’s death as a revolutionary martyr. A Harper’s Weekly artist sketched Brown and his co-conspirators as they were charged with treason and murder in a Charlestown, Virginia courtroom.
Source: Porte Crayon (David Hunter Strother), Harper’s Weekly, November 12, 1859—American Social History Project.