The Secret Six: The True Tale of the Men Who Conspired with John Brown

Edward J. Renehan, Jr., Author Crown Publishing Group (NY) $25 (308p) ISBN 978-0-517-59028-7
Renehan provides a significant addition to the literature on abolitionism in this study of six prominent Northerners who supported and financed John Brown's 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry, Va. (now W.Va.). Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Theodore Parker, Samuel Howe, Gerrit Smith, Franklin Sanborn and George Luther Stearns were all men of learning, wealth and status who seemed to inhabit a different world than the rough-hewn Brown. They shared with him, however, an idealistic hatred of slavery and the growing belief that the evil could be purged only by direct action. In the aftermath of the mission's failure, they successfully distanced themselves from the venture, at least publicly. Nevertheless, Renehan establishes the abolitionist movement's essential unity and how Brown and his advocates, willing to use violence, helped push the country toward civil war. Photos. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
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