John Brown vs Edmund Ruffin

HIS 226-2001
Oct. 26,2010
D. Stewart
John Brown and Edmund Ruffin Extremist or Visionaries
The comparisons between John Brown and Edmund Ruffin are remarkably similar, although the causes they represented couldn’t have been more different. Both great orators and passionate men, who were willing to go to extremes for what they believed, were good causes. John Brown was an abolitionist who openly opposed slavery, which was not common at this time. Having grown up with parents who raised him with the premise that slavery was an abomination, John was conflicted by the atrocities and treatment he saw black people receiving at the hands of the slave owners. Edmund Ruffin was also a very passionate for his cause, which was keeping the institution of slavery intact, being an agricultural scientist, who specialized in the study of replenishing soil depleteted by cotton crops; Ruffin felt that owning slaves was a God given right, and worried that abolishing slavery would cause the southern economy to crumble. Both were extreme zealots who felt it necessary to eventually take matters into their own hands. On October 16th, 1859 John Brown along with twenty-one men, six black men and three of his sons stormed the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia in a failed attempt to forcefully bring about change. John’s raid sent a shockwave of terror throughout the south as well as the north, which caused the secession in the south to grow in supporters, Edmund Ruffin a prominent Fire-Eater extremely outspoken and considered a zealot in his own right, a Virginia senator for three years he adamantly supported secession from the Union. According to a statement made by Edmund Ruffin in one of his writings in 1856 “Slavery is not intrinsically right, it is only circumstantially right under a set state of circumstances. The right rule is freedom, but slavery is an exception to that rule; and if right, right as all exceptions are, according to the circumstances which surround it.”...