John Brown Daguerreotype
c. 1846-47, Portrait Gallery
The fearsome abolitionist helped push the nation into the Civil War
John Brown felt the first stirrings of his “Eternal war with Slavery” years before he led the bloody raid of the Harpers Ferry federal arsenal in 1859. At age 12, he had seen an enslaved boy beaten with iron shovels. In this daguerreotype—taken by Augustus Washington, the son of a former slave, in his studio in Hartford—Brown raises his right hand as if to dramatize his antislavery pledge.