Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION – American history in VOA Special English. Throughout most of the eighteen fifties, war was a continual threat between the North and the South over the issue of slavery. Then, in the autumn of eighteen fifty-nine, the crisis seemed to calm. Anti-slavery extremists governed only a few states of the North. And pro-slavery extremists held power in only a few states of the deep South. There had been elections in most of the northern and southern states. Voters had rejected candidates with extremist ideas and elected moderates instead. The public saw the elections as a sign of hope that reasonable people might find a way to settle the bitter dispute over slavery. But these hopes fell apart on October seventeenth, eighteen fifty-nine. That day brought the news that a group of Abolitionists had attacked the town of Harpers Ferry. The town was then part of Virginia; today it is part of West Virginia. Now, Jack Moyles and Harry Monroe continue our story.
The attack was led by John Brown, an old anti-slavery extremist. Many believed him insane. He had gone to Kansas and fought bitterly against pro-slavery forces. Once, to answer an attack on the town of Lawrence, Brown and his men pulled five men and boys from their homes and murdered them. The wife of one of the men said Brown told her: "If a man stands between me and what I believe to be right, I will take his life as coolly as I would eat my breakfast." Brown lost a son in a pro-slavery attack on his home at Osawatomie, Kansas. Brown and his friends were forced to flee. They watched as the pro-slavery men burned the town. Brown shook with grief and anger. "I have only a short time to live," he said, "only one death to die. And I will die fighting for this cause. There will be no more peace in this land until slavery is done for. I will give them something else to do than to extend slave territory. I will carry this war into the South." To fight a war against slavery, Brown needed money and guns. He went to Massachusetts and New York. He spoke at town meetings and met privately with Abolitionist leaders.
In these private talks, Brown said it was too late to settle the slave question through politics or any other peaceful way. He said the only answer was a slave rebellion. It would be bloody, Brown said, and this was terrible. But slavery itself was a terrible wrong -- the same as murder. Only blood, he said, would wash away the wrongs of slavery. Brown said God meant for him to begin this rebellion by invading Virginia with a military force he already was organizing. Brown said even if the rebellion failed, it would probably lead to a civil war between North and South. In such a war, he said, the North would break the chains of the black man on the battlefield. Brown won the support of a group of Abolitionist leaders. They formed a secret committee and called themselves the "Secret Six." They agreed to advise Brown and, more importantly, to raise one thousand dollars for him. From New England, Brown went to Chatham, Canada. He went there for a secret convention he had called to form a revolutionary government. This government would rule all the slave territory that Brown and his men could capture. Forty-six representatives went to the convention -- thirty-four Negroes and twelve whites. Brown told them of his plan. He said he was sure that southern slaves were ready for rebellion. He said they would rise up at the first sign of a leader who wished to break their chains.
"But what if troops are brought against you?" one man asked. Brown answered that his men would fight in the mountains, where a small force could stop a much larger one. He said his men would be well-trained in mountain fighting. Brown said he expected his small force to grow much larger. He would invite the slaves he freed to join his army. And, he said he thought that all the free Negroes of the North would come to fight slavery with him. The representatives approved Brown's constitution. And they named him commander-in-chief. Brown had decided to strike at Harpers Ferry, a town of about twenty-five hundred people. It was in northern Virginia about one hundred kilometers north of Washington. Harpers Ferry was built on a narrow finger of land where the Shenandoah River flowed into the Potomac River. There were two bridges. One crossed the Shenandoah. The other, a railroad bridge, crossed the Potomac to Maryland. John Brown chose Harpers Ferry because there was a factory there that made guns for the army. There also was an arsenal where several million dollars worth of military equipment was kept. Brown needed the guns and equipment for the slave army he hoped to form.
Old Brown arrived at Harpers Ferry early in July, eighteen fifty-nine. Two of his sons, Owen and Oliver, and another man came with him. They rented an old house on a farm in Maryland not far from Harpers Ferry. Brown told people that he was a cattle buyer from New York. Brown's men joined him, one or two at a time, over the next several months. They traveled at night so no one would see them. Once they reached the farm house, they had to stay in hiding. Week by week, the little force grew. But it grew too slowly. By the end of summer, there were still less than twenty men hiding in the old house. Brown wrote letters to his supporters in the North. He asked for more money and more men. He got little of either. His supporters were afraid. Too many people knew of Brown's plans. The "Secret Six" feared they would face criminal charges if Brown attacked Harpers Ferry. Brown's men grew tired of the small, crowded rooms of the farm house. Brown knew he must act soon or his young men would begin leaving. On Saturday, October fifteenth, three men arrived to join the group. One of them brought six hundred dollars in gold for Brown's use. Brown saw the gold as a sign that God wanted him to act. He told his men they would strike the next night.
Brown held religious services Sunday morning and prayed for God to help him free the slaves. Then he called his men around him to explain to them his battle plan. They would seize the two bridges at Harpers Ferry and close them. Next, they would capture the armory and the rifle factory. They would capture as many people as possible. They would use the people as hostages for protection against any soldiers that might be sent against them. The army had no men near Harpers Ferry. Brown believed he would have all the time he needed. He believed his only opposition might be local groups of militia. He did not fear these civilian soldiers. The old man thought he and his men could hold Harpers Ferry until slaves in the area rebelled and joined them. Brown knew that Maryland and western Virginia were full of people opposed to slavery. He expected many of them to come to his aid. The twenty-two men rested until dark, listening to rain hit the roof of the farm house. About eight o'clock, Brown called his group. "Men," he said, "get your weapons. We are going to the Ferry." A wagon was brought out and a horse tied to it. In the wagon were a few tools and some extra guns. Brown climbed into the wagon and started it toward town. Two of his men stepped out in front of the wagon, leading the way. The others walked behind. It was a dark and cold night. A light rain was falling. There was no one else on the road. After a time, they reached the high ground above the Potomac. Below them, across the river, lay the town of Harpers Ferry. Most of the town was sleeping. Only a few lights shone through the rain. John Brown was ready for his final struggle against slavery.
1.fall apart 崩溃；破碎
Others fall apart under pressure, while a few people do well despite the pressure.
2.wash away 洗掉；冲掉
Do you think you could wash away your sins?
3.what if 如果；如果......将会怎样
What if this doesn't work out?
4.pray for 祈求；为......而祈祷
Your wife and your children will pray for you.
这次袭击由约翰·布朗领导，他是一位反奴隶制极端分子 。许多人认为他疯了 。他去过堪萨斯州，与支持奴隶制的军队进行激烈的战斗 。有一次，为了回应对劳伦斯镇的袭击，布朗和其手下将五名男子和男孩从家中带走，并谋杀了他们 。其中一名男人的妻子说，布朗告诉她：“如果有一个人站在我和我认为正确的信仰之间，我会像吃早餐一样冷静地杀了他 。”布朗在堪萨斯州奥萨瓦托米的家中遭到支持奴隶制的人士袭击，他的一个儿子丧生 。布朗和他的朋友被迫逃跑 。他们看到支持奴隶制的人焚烧了整个城镇 。布朗因悲伤和愤怒而瑟瑟发抖 。“我的生命很短暂，”他说，“只能死一次 。我会为此事业而抗争 。只有结束奴隶制，这片土地才会有和平 。我会给他们找点别的事做，而不是扩大实施奴隶制的领地 。我要把这场战争打到南方去 。”为了反击有关奴隶制的纷争，布朗需要资金和枪支 。他前往马萨诸塞州和纽约州，在镇中的会议上发表讲话，并与废奴主义领导人私下会面 。
在这些私下会谈中，布朗说，通过政治或任何其他和平方式解决奴隶问题为时已晚 。唯一的解决办法是让奴隶叛乱 。那将会非常血腥，可怕至极 。但是，奴隶制本身就像谋杀一样，是一个可怕的错误，只有鲜血才能洗去奴隶制的罪恶 。布朗说，上帝的旨意是要他带领已经组织好的军事力量入侵维吉尼亚州，开始这场叛乱 。即使叛乱失败，也可能导致南北之间发生内战 。在这样一场战争中，北方将割断战场上黑人的锁链 。布朗赢得了一批废奴主义领袖的支持，他们成立了一个秘密委员会，自称“六号秘密” 。他们同意为布朗献计献策，更重要的是，为他筹集一千美元的资金 。布朗从新英格兰来到加拿大的查塔姆，去参加他为召集组建革命政府的秘密会议 。该政府将管理布朗和其手下攻占的所有奴隶制领地 。46名代表参加了会议，其中34名为黑人，还有12名白人 。布朗把自己的计划告诉他们 。他说他确信南方奴隶已经准备好叛乱 。当一位希望打破他们枷锁的领导人出现时，他们就会挺身而战 。
“但是如果军队前来阻挠怎么办？”一个人问 。布朗回答说，他的部下会在山区作战，在那里一支小部队可以阻止一支庞大的军队 。他的部下将接受良好的山区作战训练，预计他的小部队会不断扩大 。他会邀请由他释放的奴隶加入自己的部队 。他认为北方所有的自由黑人都会和他一道对抗奴隶制 。代表们批准了布朗的章程，并将他称作总司令 。布朗决定袭击哈珀斯镇，这是一个拥有大约2500人口的小镇，位于弗吉尼亚州北部，距离华盛顿以北大约一百公里 。哈珀斯镇建在一块狭长的土地上，谢南多阿河在那流入波托马克河 。那里有两座桥，其中一条横跨谢南多阿河 。另一座桥横跨波托马克河，桥上建有铁路，通向马里兰州 。约翰·布朗选择哈珀斯镇，因为那里有一家为军队制造枪支的工厂 。还有一个军火库，里面存有价值数百万美元的军事装备 。布朗需要为他希望组建的奴隶军提供枪支和装备 。
老布朗于1859年7月初到达哈珀斯镇，一同前往的还有他的两个儿子欧文和奥利弗，以及另外一个男人 。他们在马里兰州的一个农场租了一栋老房子，离哈珀斯镇很近 。布朗告诉人们，他从纽约州来，到这里买牛 。接下来的几个月里，布朗的手下前来与他会合，每次来一或两人 。他们在夜间行进，所以没人看到他们 。他们到达农舍后，就得躲藏起来 。时间一周周过去，小部队在不断增长 。但增长速度太慢，到了夏末，那件老旧的房子里才藏了不到二十人 。布朗给北方的支持者写信，请求要更多的资金和人员 。但他两个都没有得到 。他的支持者们很害怕 。太多人知道布朗的计划 。“秘密六号”担心如果布朗袭击哈珀斯镇，他们将面临刑事指控 。布朗的手下对待在农舍拥挤的小房间里感到厌倦 。布朗知道他必须尽快采取行动，否则他那些年轻的手下就要离开了 。10月15日，星期六，三个人来加入这个小队 。其中一个人带来600美元的黄金给布朗使用 。布朗认为，黄金标志着上帝希望他采取行动 。他告诉手下，他们要在第二天夜间发动袭击 。
星期天上午，布朗举行了宗教仪式，祈求上帝帮助他释放奴隶 。随后，他把手下召集到身边，向他们解释作战计划 。他们将攻占并封锁哈珀斯镇的两座桥梁 。接下来，占领军械库和步枪厂，捉获尽可能多的人 。他们要把这些人当作人质，以防可能被派来对付他们的士兵 。哈珀斯镇附近没有军队，布朗相信他拥有足够的时间 。他认为，自己唯一的反对者可能是当地的民兵组织 。他不怕这些民兵 。布朗想他和手下可以占据哈珀斯镇，直到该地区的奴隶反叛并加入到他们的队伍 。布朗知道，马里兰州和西弗吉尼亚州到处都是反对奴隶制的人 。他希望许多人会来助他一臂之力 。22名男子一直休息到天黑，他们听着雨滴打在农舍的屋顶上 。大约八点钟时，布朗召唤他的小队 。“伙计们，”他说，“拿上武器，我们要去镇上了 。”有人拉来一辆马车，有匹马拴在车上 。马车里是一些工具和富余的枪支 。布朗爬上马车，向小镇驶去 。他的两个手下在马车前带路，其他人跟在后面 。那天晚上，阴暗、寒冷，还下着小雨 。路上没有其他人 。过了一会，他们到达波托马克河上方的高地 。跨过河流，在他们脚下就是哈珀斯镇 。镇上大部分人都在睡觉，只有几盏灯在雨夜中闪烁 。约翰·布朗准备好与奴隶制进行最后的抗争 。