Portrait of John Brown
David Hunter Strother, John Brown, Pierre Morand Memorial, Special Collections, Library of Virginia.
Artist David Hunter Strother made a drawing of John Brown in 1859, three years after Brown and a party of antislavery activists had killed several people in Kansas during a protracted and violent public controversy about slavery in the territory. On October 16, 1859, Brown and another party of opponents of slavery seized the United States arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia, hoping to arm enslaved men and lead a campaign to abolish slavery. United States Marines captured Brown, who was tried for treason and executed in Charles Town, Virginia, on December 2, 1859.
Born on September 26, 1816, at Martinsburg, Virginia, David Hunter Strother was one of the best-known illustrators in the United States by the eve of the Civil War. In 1853 he achieved fame as "Porte Crayon" for a series of illustrated articles on Virginia published by Harper's New Monthly Magazine. He served in the Union army during the Civil War. His memoirs of the war were published in eleven installments in Harper's Monthly between June 1866 and April 1868. Strother died at Charles Town, Jefferson County, West Virginia, on March 8, 1888.