Alliance Theological Seminary Associate Professor Dr. Louis A. DeCaro, Jr. has explored the life of American abolitionist John Brown and the 1859 Harper’s Ferry Raid in several of his published books, the first, Fire From the Midst of You: A Religious Life of John Brown, in 2002.
Dr. DeCaro’s latest book, The Untold Story of Shields Green: The Life and Death of a Harper’s Ferry Raider, will be released this month. Green, an ex-slave who joined Brown’s raid, was the subject of the summer 2020 movie, “Emperor.”
“When I heard in 2018 that a movie was under production about him,” he says, “I decided to prepare an article that I thought might be published when the movie was released. Instead, I ended up finding things that prompted me to look deeper, and a book came from that research. Green, who liked to call himself ‘Emperor,’ is the least known figure of John Brown’s men. He was hanged on Dec. 16, 1859.”
The ATS professor of Church History adds, “I became interested in John Brown over twenty years ago in the process of studying issues of “race and faith,” my interest in black history and the critique of history by Malcolm X. This pointed me toward a reassessment of Brown, whose legacy was driven to the margins by many 20th century historians and completely disowned by his own evangelical community because of his use of violence and his radical antislavery stance.”
“In today’s climate, I’d venture that John Brown is the only white evangelical from the 19th century whose statue will not be torn down by antiracists! I would like to think that Brown, as an evangelical, may yet prove meaningful for our contemporary discussions and debates, especially in regard to the nature of U.S. history, “race relations” and “racial reconciliation,” and what evangelicals need to consider specifically, given what “evangelical” has come to represent in the broader culture.”
Other books on this subject by Dr. DeCaro include, Freedom’s Dawn: The Last Days of John Brown in Virginia (2015); John Brown Speaks: Letters and Statements from Charlestown (2015) and John Brown: The Man Who Lived: Essays In Honor of the Harper’s Ferry Raid Sesquicentennial (2008).