University Archives


Abolitionist John Brown 3 Relics from His Execution

A set of three relics from the execution of John Brown on December 2, 1859 at Charles Town, Virginia, recovered by Captain Richard Adams. The group includes:

1) A swatch of Brown's black wool coat, measuring 0.5" x 0.25", that he wore when captured at Harper's Ferry. Pieces of the coat had become tangled in the noose.

2) Several strands of the rope used, the longest strand measuring 1". Taken from the noose used to hang Brown.

3) A few pieces of Brown's coffin, the largest sliver measuring 0.375". Four pieces in total.

All three relics are presented in small plastic sleeves, mounted on a paper display with copies of the original notes of provenance. The note reads: "John Brown (ossawatomio) Pieces of his coat and rope with which he was hung, coffin in which he was first put in after he was hunt at Charlestown, VA Dec 2, 1859. Pres by Capt Richard Adams 1860." Very fine.

John Brown (1800-1859) was an abolitionist best known for leading an unsuccessful armed raid at a federal armory in Harpers Ferry, Virginia in October 1859. The goal of the raid was to start a liberation movement among slaves in that area. The raid failed, and Brown was found guilty of treason by the Commonwealth of Virginia. He was hanged in front of a crowd of nearly 2,000; notables in the audience were future Confederate Stonewall Jackson, John Wilkes Booth, and poet Walt Whitman. Many historians now believe that John Brown's raid and death played a key role in starting the Civil War.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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