Story by Deborah R. Huso on

Few figures in American history remain as polarizing as John Brown, the leader of the raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry on Oct. 16, 1859. Often viewed by historians as one of the major precipitating events of the Civil War, John Brown’s raid continues to capture the imagination of visitors to this now-quiet town with its hilly cobblestone streets at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.

“Some people may think John Brown was a freedom fighter,” says Todd Bolton, branch chief of visitor services at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, “while others see him as a 19th-century terrorist.”…

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