Vermont declares holiday to honor famed abolitionist
MONTPELIER, Vt. — As some communities consider removing Confederate monuments, Vermont is formally honoring abolitionist John Brown, whose 1859 raid was an important step in the events that led to the Civil War.
The state legislature approved a resolution this spring sought by a Woodstock high school teacher designating John Brown Day in Vermont on Oct. 16, 2017. That’s the anniversary of the raid Brown led on a federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, in what is now West Virginia, hoping to start an armed slave rebellion. The rebellion didn’t happen, and Brown was hanged two months later for treason.
In recognition of Brown, who is both venerated and much maligned, the Woodstock Social Justice Initiative is holding an anti-racism symposium Saturday at Woodstock Union High School, where Brown will also be discussed with students on Oct. 16.
Bradley Archer, a teacher who has admired Brown for some time and is a member of the initiative, said he was pleased the state was recognizing Brown in a time of tension “over which people we should celebrate and which we should condemn.”
Before the raid, Brown and a group of abolitionist settlers killed five pro-slavery settlers in Kansas in the Pottawatomie massacre.
Days before the massacre, Lawrence, Kansas, was sacked by pro-slavery associates of Brown’s five victims, Archer said.