40 episodes

John Brown Today is a podcast devoted to historical and contemporary themes relating to the abolitionist John Brown (1800-59), the controversial antislavery and antiracist freedom fighter. John Brown Today is hosted by Louis A. DeCaro Jr., a Brown biographer and researcher, the most prolific author on the John Brown theme since the abolitionist's death in 1859. John Brown Today engages a range of themes from history and biography to popular culture and other contemporary themes.

John Brown Today Louis DeCaro Jr.

    • History
    • 5.0 • 27 Ratings

John Brown Today is a podcast devoted to historical and contemporary themes relating to the abolitionist John Brown (1800-59), the controversial antislavery and antiracist freedom fighter. John Brown Today is hosted by Louis A. DeCaro Jr., a Brown biographer and researcher, the most prolific author on the John Brown theme since the abolitionist's death in 1859. John Brown Today engages a range of themes from history and biography to popular culture and other contemporary themes.

    What Did Blacks Really Think of John Brown? The Question of "Sambo Mistakes" (Part 2)

    What Did Blacks Really Think of John Brown? The Question of "Sambo Mistakes" (Part 2)

    In Part 2 of this two-part episode, Lou reflects upon the question of white allies, particularly in the case of John Brown's story. What did black leaders and other associates really think of John Brown?  Recalling Brown's devotion to black liberation and notable devotion to human equality, Lou suggests nevertheless that human interaction is by nature complex and even Brown might grate upon his black associates. How should these tensions be understood? Was he a paternalistic racist as some have charged in recent times? Did he presume too much despite being a notable and respected white ally in the struggle for justice?  Regardless, would-be allies and those otherwise interested in the theme of black-white alliances and intercultural alliances, in general, may find this historical reflection of interest.

    Guest theme music: "Progressive Moments" by Ugonna Onyekwe (YouTube Audio Library)

    • 28 min
    What Did Blacks Really Think of John Brown? Kudos & Conflicts (Part 1)

    What Did Blacks Really Think of John Brown? Kudos & Conflicts (Part 1)

    In Part 1 of "What Did Blacks Really Think of John Brown?" Lou reflects upon the question of white allies, particularly in the case of John Brown's story. What did black leaders and other associates really think of John Brown?  Recalling Brown's devotion to black liberation and notable devotion to human equality, Lou suggests nevertheless that human interaction is by nature complex and even Brown might grate upon his black associates. How should these tensions be understood? Was he a paternalistic racist as some have charged in recent times? Did he presume too much despite being a notable and respected white ally in the struggle for justice?  Regardless, would-be allies and those otherwise interested in the theme of black-white alliances and intercultural alliances, in general, may find this historical reflection of interest.

    Guest theme music: "Progressive Moments" by Ugonna Onyekwe (YouTube Audio Library)

    • 30 min
    Questioning John Brown’s Sanity: A Historical Thread Considered

    Questioning John Brown’s Sanity: A Historical Thread Considered

    Many people in the United States, especially (but not exclusively) white people, tend to think of John Brown as someone who was "crazy." In this episode, Lou surveys what he calls a historical "thread" regarding the alleged insanity of Brown.  Beginning with affidavits filed in Virginia in 1859 in an attempt by friends and relatives in Ohio to spare Brown's life, as well as Republican insanity rhetoric designed to dissociate Brown from their party, it is clear there is otherwise no historical evidence for the insanity notion. In the twentieth century, however, academics promoted Brown's alleged insanity, and the notion was disseminated in popular culture.   In the late twentieth century, although scholars began to back away from this unwarranted notion, it was replaced by notions of Brown being manic. Lou traces this thread through three publications by Robert McGlone, Kenneth Carroll, and Tony Horwitz. He also suggests secular inclinations among scholars make them inclined to attribute mental instability to Brown's fundamentalist religious beliefs.

    Guest music: "Climbing" by Reed Mathis

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    • 48 min
    John Brown’s Trial: The “Lost” Narrative of George H. Hoyt

    John Brown’s Trial: The “Lost” Narrative of George H. Hoyt

    In this episode, Lou presents a narrative written by John Brown's young lawyer, George H. Hoyt, written only a few years after the abolitionist's hanging.  Hoyt went to join John Brown in Charlestown, Virginia (today West Va.) and support his lawyers, but really went as a spy for Brown's supporters in the North who wanted to launch a rescue. But not only was the rescue impossible by the time that Hoyt arrived in Virginia, but Brown did not want to escape.  Hoyt thus became part of the drama of Brown's trial and last days, a story that can be found in more detail in Lou's book, Freedom's Dawn: The Last Days of John Brown in Virginia (2015).

    The Hoyt narrative is provided in ten short segments that somewhat follow the serialized narrative that appeared in the Leavenworth Conservative in 1867, as well as a kind of epilogue that Hoyt published in The Kansas Weekly Tribune in 1870.  The narrative, written from a firsthand eyewitness reveals a great deal about Brown's trial and the supposed "fair trial" that he received at the hands of a court dominated by slaveholders and guided by Sen. James Mason of Virginia, the architect of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 and one of the ringleaders of the slaveholders' betrayal that would follow in 1861 following Lincoln's election.

    Guest music: "Bittersweet" by Silent Partner

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    • 57 min
    Why John Brown? A Biographer's Reflections in Response to a Thoughtful Critic

    Why John Brown? A Biographer's Reflections in Response to a Thoughtful Critic

    In this episode, Lou responds to the comments of a thoughtful but critical podcast listener who has well-stated reasons for asking, "why John Brown?"  The question is a good one and Lou starts with personal and scholarly reflections on a range of views of Brown that range from anti-Brown to non-admirer.  Then, Lou shares the podcast listener's comments and attempts to make a response that hopefully is helpful to this friendly critic as well as others with similar thoughts on the abolitionist and his legacy. 

    Guest music:

    "Climbing" by Reed Mathis
    "American Frontiers" by Aaron Kenny

    Hey friends, click on this link to get your JOHN BROWN TODAY Podcast Mug!

    • 44 min
    Good Boy with a Gun: The Tragic Story of Will Leeman, A Harper’s Ferry Raider

    Good Boy with a Gun: The Tragic Story of Will Leeman, A Harper’s Ferry Raider

    In this episode, Lou does a deep dive into the story of William Leeman, the youngest of John Brown's Harper's Ferry raiders.  From his origins in Maine to Kansas and his enlistment in John Brown's army, we look at the story of a young man with feet of iron and clay, whose death in Virginia in 1859 resonates with the racist gun violence and mass killings that grip our nation today.   

    A special note of thanks is due H. Scott Wolfe, for providing his extensive research on Leeman, the work of many years and many miles.  This episode is produced in his honor.

    Guest music by madIRFAN from Pixabay

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    • 48 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
27 Ratings

27 Ratings

Why John Brown? ,

Why John Brown Follow-Up

Hello Mr. Decaro,

Thank you very much for your recent show and discussing my questions and comments regarding John Brown! I was thrilled to see they inspired as you say this latest addition to John Brown Today. Funny, when I was at the bookstore at Harper’s Ferry I initially held Reynolds’s book in my hand but opted instead for Oates’s biography, more of a reflection on me than the NPS, lol! My years of interest and passion for American history and my graduate studies in US history at Rutgers-Newark, I am more familiar with Oates’s work. (I’ve wanted to read his, With Malice Toward None for quite some time now. I wonder if it’s fair to say that Oates being also a Lincoln biographer treated Brown more favorably than other Lincoln scholars.) I plan to read next your books on John Brown, starting with the 2002 biography, as well as Reynolds’s biography. I look forward to my journey in learning more about Brown and the historiography of John Brown while continuing of course to listen to the John Brown Today podcast. Finally, I found the ending of Why John Brown? so well-done and eloquent. The music and the Douglass quote were just perfect! Thank you for your contributions and exceptional work with all of this! All the best,
Lenny Bussanich

Twootwenty2 ,

Best Podcast Here

I wish we could make this podcast mandatory in our school system. Such a great podcast. Mr Decarlos research wow, just wow

MusashiG ,

Just great

The best damm John Brown podcast on the planet!!

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