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Fri, 10.04.2013

Osbourne Anderson, Abolitionist born

*Osborne Perry Anderson was born on this date in 1830.  He was a Black abolitionist.

From West Fallow Field, Pennsylvania, Anderson, and John Anthony Copeland Jr., attended Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.  He later moved to Chatham, Canada, where he worked as a printer for Mary Ann Shadd's newspaper, The Provincial Freeman.

In 1858 Anderson met John Brown and eventually became persuaded to join his band of men determined to attack Harpers Ferry. He was one of the five Black men to accompany John Brown in the raid on the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) in October 1859.  This was Brown’s radical scheme to free the United States of slavery.

Like Brown and the other followers, Anderson believed that if the group seized weapons at Harpers Ferry and then marched south, they would create a massive slave uprising that would liberate all of the nearly four million African Americans in bondage.   He was the only Black to escape capture.  In 1861 Anderson, now safely in the North, wrote A Voice From Harper’s Ferry with assistance from Mary Ann Shadd.

Here he described his role in the raid and argued that many local slaves would have welcomed their liberation and some had helped Brown and his men.  Anderson's account was the only one published by a member of Brown's party and provided a rare first-hand description of these abolitionists' events and motivation.  In 1864, five years after the Harpers Ferry Raid, Anderson enlisted in the Union Army, serving as a recruitment officer in Indiana and Arkansas.

Osborne Anderson died on December 13, 1872, in Washington, D.C., at forty-two.

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Black is what the prisons are, The stagnant vortex of the hours Swept into totality, Creeping in the perjured heart, Bitter in the vulgar rhyme, Bitter on the walls; Black is where the devils... THE AFRICAN AFFAIR by Bruce M. Wright.
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