One Who Lived

Osborne Perry Anderson was one of five blacks to join John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859. He is the only black raider to have survived–the others were either killed during the raid or in its immediate aftermath.

Anderson was born free in Pennsylvania in 1830. He attended Oberlin College and subsequently emigrated to Chatham, Canada, very possibly the unofficial capital of black America at the time. There he apprenticed as and became a printer.

Anderson met John Brown during the Constitutional Convention that Brown arranged in Chatham in 1858. He was immediately attracted to Brown, both by his radical commitment to action in order to free the slaves and by his love of words.

Anderson managed to evade capture after the raid. In 1861, he wrote an account of the raid, A Voice from Harper’s Ferry, and went on to enlist in the Union Army. He died in 1872.

We still struggle to preserve and broaden liberty, which Osborne Anderson helped bring to birth in the United States. For his insight, his eloquence, and his courage, he deserves a distinguished place in our memory. Happy Black History Month!          RT


Photo: Osborne P. Anderson; WikiCmns; Public Domain.

  1. February 28, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    Awesome! Someone I’d never heard of. You might be interested in the life of Alexander Clark. They recently did a documentary on him ( and I heard that the desegregation case of the school system from him was referenced in the decision to legalize gay marriage. Pretty cool!

    • February 29, 2012 at 5:31 am

      CI: thanks for the link! Another incredible person (& yes, I’d never heard of him before). Talk about guts! Hats off to Mr. Clark! RT

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