by Charles Mombo
Dallas based Heritage Auction Galleries prides itself as the largest collectibles auctioneer and third largest auction house of rare fine & decorative art.
On Saturday, June 22, Heritage auctioned the leg irons or shackles allegedly used on John Brown for $13,145. The winning bidder declined to be identified. Brown was a white FREEDOM FIGHTER and an independent thinker who opposed the primitive and barbaric act of slavery. There are no politically-correct euphemisms I could use to sugarcoat the sins of the so-called fathers.
John Boling whose family has long owned the shackles, said his family hopes that whoever buys it will put it on display for the public Boling also added, "We believe that history should be learned and understood," said Boling. His great-great-great-grandfather, Hezekiah Atwood Jr., apparently obtained them shortly after Brown was
hanged in December 2, 1859.
Who Was John Brown?
Born on May 9, 1800, John Brown came from a very religious family in Torrington, Connecticut. Led by his father who was intensely opposed to slavery, the family moved to northern Ohio when John was five, to a district that would become known for its antislavery views.
Brown, who later became the father of 21 children, was an abolitionist determined to eradicate America’s evil institution of slavery “by any means necessary”.
In 1849, Brown moved to North Elba, New York, a black community. The community had been established thanks to the philanthropy of Gerrit Smith, who donated 50 acres of land to black families willing to farm the land. Brown, knowing that many of the families were finding life in this isolated area difficult, offered to establish his own farm there as well, in order to lead the blacks by his example and to act as a "kind father to them."
Despite the sacrifices and his contributions to the antislavery cause, Brown did not emerge as a figure of major significance until 1855 after he followed five of his sons to the Kansas territory. There, he became the leader of antislavery guerillas and fought a proslavery attack against the antislavery town of Lawrence. The following year, in retribution for another attack, Brown went to a proslavery town and brutally killed five of its settlers. Brown and his sons would continue to fight in the territory and in Missouri for the rest of the year.
On October 16, 1859, Brown bravely led 21 men (5 blacks and 16 whites) and raided the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. His plan was to arm slaves with the weapons seized from the arsenal. Brown’s plan was thwarted by local farmers, militiamen, and Marines led by Robert E. Lee. Within 36 hours of the attack, most of Brown's men had been killed or captured. Brown was hanged on December 2, 1859.
Does John Brown’s shackles’ have historical value?
Do John Brown’s shackles, despite their disgusting reminders, have some historical value? Certainly.
Pardon me while I puke; but, slavery is one of the darkest realities of America's past. It is a subject not often comfortably or openly discussed. That said, the sale of any slave-related memorabilia is a cynical act of exploitation aimed at profiting from the most heinous crime against humanity. The auctioning of any slave-related memorabilia for profit should be banned. If anything, the sale should benefit the black or non-black descendants of those freedom fighters – such as the families of John Brown and those 21 brave men (5 blacks and 16 whites) who were executed alone with him.
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