Black Voices From Harpers Ferry
Walton Stowell, February 20, 1990
Banner Book Report, 8th Grade Reading
“Black Voices From Harpers Ferry” is a book from Osborne Anderson’s version of John Brown’s Raid. It is an account of the events from the Kennedy Farmhouse, the Potomac River, and his own escape. Anderson’s story is brought together in this book by Jean Libby.
Osborne Anderson was a negro (African-American) who participated in John Brown’s Raid as one of the 18 raiders. When they first arrived in Harpers Ferry, Brown and the crew rented an old farmhouse from the local Kennedy family. Osborne describes Brown as being a firm figure, like a ‘modern Quaker’. To Osborne his ways could be described as those of a religious business man, but undoubtedly a true philanthropist. Life at the Kennedy Farmhouse was an adventure. Osborne was a truthful, honorable, brave, and loyal man who looked up to Brown, who he saw as a distinguished leader.
One of Osborn’s raider friends, Dangerfield Newby, was shot down by a local slave owning sniper. Another friend and fellow raider, Shields Green, he described as “the bravest man that ever lived”. His best friend, whom he escaped with, was Hazlett. After the capture of John Brown, Anderson and Hazlett escaped across the Potomac to Halltown where a friend gave them room and board.
A few years after John Brown’s Raid, Osborne Anderson was outraged at having found out that the southern slave owners had changed the story around. They said that all the slaves were afraid to join Brown; but in truth many slaves did join the Raiders in hopes of winning their freedom. Osborne Anderson’s factual manuscripts pay off for historians. If not for his lifelong association with abolition, we may not have this valuable information we have now. Osborne spent most of his time after the Raid, in Canada. When he joined the US Army in the Civil War, he wrote his narrative.