North Elba (Lake Placid), December 4-8, 2009


Symposium: John Brown: Slavery and the Legacy of Violence in Our Time

Dubbed one of the most controversial figures in American history, John Brown, 150 years after his death, remains a stimulant to discussion on the subject of slavery and the use of violence to achieve political and social change. Who was John Brown?  To some, he was a terrorist, to others a martyr and the first to stand against the violence of slavery. To many, his words and actions set our nation on the path to Civil War which reunified the nation with federal laws that abolished slavery.

The abolitionist John Brown moved his family to North Elba (Lake Placid) in 1849 to assist with the free black settlement called "Timbucto". Ten years later, John Brown and his followers attacked the U.S. Arsenal at Harper's Ferry in an ill-fated attempt to incite a slave revolt. He was subsequently tried, convicted and executed, and Brown's body was transported back to his home in Lake Placid, New York in the Adirondacks, and laid to rest.

Join the discussion From December 4-8, 2009. Be part of the John Brown Coming Home Commemoration, which includes a series of events that will examine John Brown's impact on the country leading up to the civil war, the use of violence, and on the ongoing efforts to end slavery and human rights abuses in this country and worldwide; and re-enactments of his cortege home, body laying in state at the Essex County Courthouse, burial at his farm, and memorial service.

Distinguished presenters include:

  • Kevin Bales, president of Free the Slaves
  • Russell Banks, author of Cloudsplitter
  • Bernardine Dohrn, activist & co-founder of the Weather Underground
  • George Holmes, executive director of CORE
  • John Brown descendant Alice Keesey Mecoy
  • Maria Suarez, sold into slavery at age 16
  • Margaret Washington, author of Sojourner Truth's America
  • Louis DeCaro, Jr., author John Brown the Cost of Freedom


Reenactments and Memorial Service
Lake Placid/North Elba, Westport, Elizabethtown, NY

Events include:

December 6

  • 12 Noon, Arrival of John Brown's cortege at the shores of Lake Champlain, Westport, NY

  • 1:00 PM, Readings from Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks, and a presentation on the Underground Railroad in the North Country by Don Papson, Heritage Community Center, Westport

  • 3:00 PM, Arrival of John Brown's cortege by horse drawn wagon to the Old Stone Church in Elizabethtown

  • 4:00 PM, John Brown's coffin being Laid in State at the Essex County Courthouse

Reception at the Deer's Head Inn, where Mary Brown and friends stayed

December 7

  • 3:30 PM, Arrival of John Brown's cortege by horse drawn wagon at his Farm in Lake Placid (North Elba)

December 8

  • 11:00 AM, Memorial Service, John Brown's Farm


For more information and registration, go to www.johnbrowncominghome.com.