Stephen Vincent Benet Books

Easton Press Stephen Vincent Benet books:
John Brown's Body - Library of Famous Editions - 1994

Franklin Library Stephen Vincent Benet books:
John Brown's Body - 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature - 1976
Thirteen O'clock and stories of Several Worlds - Collected Stories of the World's Greatest Writers - 1982
John Brown's Body - Pulitzer Prize Classics - 1986
John Brown's Body - Greatest Books of the World's Greatest Writers (imitation leather) - 1986

Stephen Vincent Benet (1898-1943), was an American poet and novelist, born in Bethlehem, Pa., and educated at Yale University. He was the brother of William Rose Benet. Stephen Vincent Benet's works are highly imaginative and show an absorbing interest in the American scene. While a student at Yale, he wrote two books of poetry, Five Men and Pompey (1915) and Young Adventure (1918). Among Stephen Vincent Benet's other works the volume of poetry Heavens and Earth (1920); the novels Young Peoples Pride (1922), Jean Huguenot (1923), and Spanish Bayonet (1926); John Brown's Body (1928), a narrative poem of the Civil War, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize; The Devil and Daniel Webster (1937), one of the best American short stories, later made into the motion picture All That Money Can Buy and into libretto for a folk opera with the original title; and Western Star (1943), an unfinished narrative poem. Stephen Vincent Benet was also noted for his radio dramas, which include Listen to the People. In 1938 he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

John Brown called Old Brown of Osawatomie (1800-59) was an American abolitionist, born in Torrington, Connecticut. John Brown's family moved to Ohio when he was five years old. He acquired, early in life, the hatred of slavery which marked his subsequent career, his father having been actively hostile to the institution. John Brown initiated (1834) in Pennsylvania, where he was then living, a project among sympathetic abolitionists to educate young Negros. The next twenty years of his life were largely dedicated to the furtherance of this and similar abolitionist ventures, a course that entailed many sacrifices for himself and his large family. In 1855, he followed five of his sons to Kansas Territory, then a center of struggle between the antislavery and pro slavery forces. Under the leadership, the Brown boys became active participants in the fight against marauding pro slavery terrorists from Missouri, whose activities culminated in the murder of a number of abolitionists at Lawrence, Kansas. John Brown and his sons avenged this crime, on May 24, 1856, at Pottawatomie, killing five pro slavery adherents. This act and his success, in August, at Osawatomie, in withstanding a large party of attacking Missourians, made him nationally famous as an irreconcilable foe of slavery.

Aided by increased financial support from the abolitionists in the northeastern States, John Brown began, in 1857, the start of a plan, which he had long entertained, to free the slaves by armed force. He secretly recruited a small band of supporters for this project, which included the establishment of a refuge for fugitive slaves in the mountains of Virginia. After several setbacks, he finally launched on the night of October 16, 1859, with a force of 18 men (including several of his sons), seizing the U.S. Arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Va., and winning control of the town. He made no attempt at offensive action, however, following this initial success, occupying instead, defensive positions within the arsenal. His force was surrounded by local militia, which was reinforced, on October 17, by a company of U.S. Marines under the command of Colonel Robert E. Lee. Ten of Browns men, including two of his sons, were killed in the ensuing battle, and he was wounded and forced to capitulate. He was arrested and charged with various crimes, including treason and murder. He distinguished himself during his trial, which took place before a Virginia court, by his eloquent defense of his efforts in behalf of his slaves. Convicted, he was hanged (December 2) at Charlestown, Va.. For many years after his death John Brown was generally regarded among abolitionists as a martyr to the cause of human freedom. He became the subject of a famous song, known generally by the first line as "John Brown’s body lies a-mouldring in the grave".

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