17. John Brown Memorial Service, 1859
During the 1850s, Kansas was a hotbed of conflict over the extension of slavery. In 1855, militant abolitionist John Brown went there to keep Kansas free by any means, armed violence included. Frank Sanborn (1831-1917), who ran a progressive private school in Concord, became deeply involved in raising money for Kansas relief and for Brown's forces. Drawn to Concord by Sanborn, Brown spoke in the Town House in March of 1857. In May of 1859, planning an armed slave uprising, Brown returned to Concord and spoke again in the Town House. Five months later, he led an unsuccessful raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Tried and found guilty, he was executed on December 2, 1859. Henry David Thoreau, Bronson Alcott, and Ralph Waldo Emerson participated in the service publicized in this broadside and held in Concord's Town Hall on the day of his execution.