The Trial of

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					                           The Trial of

                                         John Brown

 History of John Brown
   On the night of May 24, 1856, John Brown and his company of Free State volunteers murdered five men
settled along the Pottawatomie Creek in southeastern Kansas. All five men were decapitated execution style
The victims were prominently associated with the pro-slavery Law and Order Party, but were not
themselves slave owners. This assault occurred three days after Border Ruffians from Missouri burned and
pillaged the anti-slavery haven of Lawrence, Kansas.
In 1859, the militant abolitionist John Brown seized the U.S. arsenal at Harper's Ferry. He planned to end
slavery by massacring slave owners and freeing their slaves. He captured the arsenal and waited for slaves
to come to him for weapons but slaves either refused to come or were unaware of the events.

The Trial Simulation of John Brown
 In real life John Brown was tried and executed. His execution divided the nation and was one of the
leading causes of the civil war. We will be having our own SIMULATION TRIAL and although it is
based on the events of John Browns life it actually has very little to do with the real trial.

The two images of John Brown. One as hero the other as madman. Which is true???

           The Madman                                 The Martyr
   We will be looking at two specific charges or things that the Prosecution will be trying to prove.
       A. The Sanity of John Brown – Was John Brown sane? If he was insane then he would be found
            not guilty by reason of insanity.

        B.   The need for violence to end slavery. Was it necessary to resort to violence to end slavery?
             Was this the only way to end slavery? Could compromise have worked?

The Job of the Defense
The defense will try to prove that
        A. John Brown was insane and therefore not guilty of his actions
        B. The only way to end slavery was with violence. If this is proven true then most people would
            agree with John Brown’s actions

The Job of the Prosecution
The prosecution will try to prove
        A. John Brown was sane and therefore guilty

        B.   Slavery could have been ended with compromise and violence was not needed.

Surreal World
 It is important to note that this is a surreal trial, which means it is not really based on
reality, a Court in 1859 would have never examined the morality of John Brown or
the existence of slavery as a negative thing. In 1859 slavery was protected by law and
practice. We are, however, using these criteria and this history simulation as a learning
experience that I hope will help everyone better understand the causes of the civil war. I
also hope that this will be a lively and fun activity that will get us thinking.

Prosecuting Attorney (3 Students)
Defense Attorney (3 students)

Witnesses for the Prosecution
Mahala Doyle—Witness to the Pottawatomie massacre
Thomas Russell—Southern newspaper editor

Witnesses for the Defense
Frances Ellen Watkins—a free African-American
Henry David Thoreau—a pacifist and abolitionist philosopher
John Brown

Judge Richard Parker

Jurors (rest of class)
                 Freedom Fighter or Terrorist???
                               John Brown on Trial
Defendant—John Brown

Count 1—Was John Brown sane?
Count 2—Was violence necessary to end slavery?

   1) Judge reads counts
   2) Opening statement—Prosecution
   3) Opening statement—Defense
   4) Prosecution Witness—Russell*
   5) Prosecution Witness—Doyle*
   6) Defense Witness—Thoreau*
   7) Defense Witness—Watkins*
   8) Defense Witness—Brown*
   9) Closing statement—Prosecution
   10) Closing statement—Defense
   11) Jury deliberates
   12) Jury’s verdict
*Each witness will be examined and cross-examined

          -Attorney’s must plan their case: including examination and cross-
          examination questions; and opening and closing statements. Keep in mind
          the big questions.
          Was John Brown sane? If not, he would be found not guilty by reason of
          insanity. Can murder ever be justified? What are the limits of unjust laws?
          Was violence necessary to end slavery?

          -Witnesses must prepare to ―play‖ the part of their person to the best of your
          ability. Read your person’s quote and think about what they think about John
          Brown. What would they have said at his trial? Be prepared to be examined
          and cross-examined by the attorney’s.

          -Jury should pay very close attention and take part in a backchannel chat
          throughout the proceedings. Which side made the better, more logical case?
          Remember you are only considering the 2 counts against John Brown. Was
          he sane and responsible for his actions? Was it necessary to use violence to
          end slavery? Ultimately, was John Brown a terrorist or freedom fighter?

          An essay will follow the verdict where you will have a chance to agree or
          disagree with the verdict. To get a good grade in the essay it is important that
          you support your opinion with examples from the trial, video, and/or
          discussions from class.

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