John Brown’s “Madness”

  title={John Brown’s “Madness”},
  author={Charles J. G. Griffin},
  journal={Rhetoric \& Public Affairs},
  pages={369 - 388}
This essay explores how divergent interpretations of John Brown’s alleged “madness” in the aftermath of the Harper’s Ferry Raid defined the meaning and import of his actions for the Republic’s increasingly unstable social and political order. It argues that popular characterizations of Brown illustrate that “madness” can serve a number of rhetorical functions in the civic sphere. The essay first explores the popular etiology of insanity in antebellum America. It then argues that prevailing… 
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