His Brothers' Keeper: John Brown, Moral Stewardship, and Interracial Abolitionism
This is an electronic, post-print version of an article published in the journal _Slavery and Abolition_ 32, no. 1 (March 2011), 27-52. To cite the article, please consult the final published version available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0144039X.2011.538197
Recent biographies of abolitionist John Brown emphasize his uniqueness and cast him as an anomalous figure in the antislavery movement. This article, however, makes the case for Brown’s representativeness by connecting his career to his formative years in northeastern Ohio, a geographical and cultural context that shaped Brown’s lifelong image of himself as an advisor and manager of wilderness communities. That self-image made Brown similar to white ‘moral stewards’ in many reform movements. Even Brown’s interracial relationships, though difficult to interpret because of sparse documentary evidence, were shaped partly by the culture of moral stewardship in which Brown’s career began.
abolitionism; race; Brown, John