Tom Wilson: Knox student involved in Harper’s Ferry attack

From the Register-Mail:

One hundred fifty years ago on Oct.15, 1859, radical abolitionist John Brown led a group of 21 men in a raid on the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry in Virginia. Brown’s main objective was to arm Southern slaves and begin to free them…..

One of Brown’s most trusted aides on the invasion was 26-year old abolitionist Jeremiah Goldsmith Anderson who was an 1852 graduate of the Academy at Knox College. Anderson came to Knox at the age of 18 with a brother and sister from Yellow Springs, Iowa. The Johnson clan came to Galesburg because Milton Comstock who had previously run an academy in Iowa was the principal of Knox Academy.

Jeremiah Anderson experienced an unhappy attempt to become a minister after graduating from Knox Academy. He spent time working in a sawmill and eventually moved to Kansas. At this point he became involved over “free soil” in a battle with “bloody ruffians” from Missouri and was arrested for his stand against slavery. After escaping from prison he joined John Brown’s band of anti-slavery soldiers who conducted several raids in Missouri, liberating slaves.

John Brown became very warmly attached to Anderson and had him along with two of his sons comprise the advance party that established a base of operations on a farm near Harper’s Ferry. Prior to the famous raid at Harper’s Ferry Anderson wrote a letter to his brother who had attended Knox Academy with him explaining the anti-slavery cause he was involved in. Jeremiah asked his brother, “Whose duty is it to help them? Is it yours, is it mine? It is every man’s; but how few who dare to answer this call … in a manner that will make this land of Liberty and Equality shake to the center. If my life is sacrificed, it can’t be lost in a better cause!”