This online exhibition of letters and audio, created by the Gilder Lehrman Institute and the Legacy Project, features correspondence from over 200 years of American conflicts, ranging from the Revolution to the war in Iraq. This exhibition uses the words of famous generals and lesser-known troops, as well as parents, sweethearts, and children, to explore such themes as leaving home, life in the military, the pride and worries of those left behind, and ultimate sacrifice.
On October 16, 1859, John Brown and a band of followers, black and white, attacked the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. The raid was part of a larger plan to destroy the slave system by freeing and arming slaves. The raiders were captured and John Brown was executed on December 2, 1859. The unique documents discussed here examine John Brown’s beliefs and actions in the context of growing national divisions over slavery in the 1850s.