Temporary Suspension of Reference Collection Research
Due to preservation and maintenance work scheduled for the park archives and research room/library space, new public research requests will not be filled from June 1st to at least January 30th, 2014.
Change in Park Hours
Beginning November 1, the park will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last shuttle bus departing Lower Town at 5:15 p.m. More »
John Brown Raid
John Brown's Raid
John Brown believed he could free the slaves, and he selected Harpers Ferry as his starting point. Determined to seize the 100,000 weapons at the Arsenal and to use the Blue Ridge Mountains for guerrilla warfare, abolitionist Brown launched his raid on Sunday evening, October 16, 1859. His 21-man "army of liberation" seized the Armory and several other strategic points. Thirty-six hours after the raid begun, with most of his men killed or wounded, Brown was captured in the Armory fire enginehouse (now known as "John Brown's Fort") when U.S. Marines stormed the building.
Brought to trial at nearby Charles Town, Brown was found guilty of treason, of conspiring with slaves to rebel, and murder. He was hanged on December 2, 1859. John Brown's short-lived raid failed, but his trial and execution focused the nation's attention on the moral issue of slavery and headed the country toward civil war. [View video clips of Stephen Oates discussing John Brown].
Today John Brown's Fort and the Arsenal ruins are part of the legacy of our nation's struggle with slavery. [Learn more about John Brown's Fort].
Did You Know?
Robert Harper operated a ferry across the Potomac River in 1747. His heirs, the Wagers, maintained the operation until 1824 when a bridge was built across the Potomac.