David W. Blight, a professor of American history at Yale University, is the author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American
Memory and Beyond the Battlefield: Race, Memory, and the American Civil War.
"John Brown taught us that the cheapest price to pay for liberty is its cost today."
--W.E.B. Du Bois
In his 1928 epic poem John Brown's Body, Stephen Vincent Benét named the problem of John Brown in America's historical memory:
The law's our hardstick, and it measures well, Or well enough when there are yards to measure. Measure a wave with it, measure a fire, Cut sorrow up in inches, weigh content. You can weigh John Brown's body well enough, But how and in what balance weigh John Brown?
He had no gift for life, no gift to bring Life but his body and a cutting edge, But he knew how to die.