Film Clips

John Brown’s Last Speech

Film clip. Voices of a People’s History.
Dramatic reading John Brown’s Last Speech delivered on November 2, 1859, by Josh Brolin.

Time Periods: 19th Century, 1850
Themes: Organizing, Slavery and Resistance
John Brown’s Last Speech

Abolitionist John Brown delivered his last speech in a courtroom in Charles Town, West Virginia on November 2, 1859. The speech, given one month before his execution, defended his role in the action at Harper’s Ferry.

He said: “…I believe that to have interfered as I have done — as I have always freely admitted I have done — in behalf of His despised poor, was not wrong, but right. Now if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments. — I submit; so let it be done! . . .”

Full text of speech.
Film Clip

The film clip below is of Josh Brolin reading the speech on October 5, 2005, at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center George and Sakaye Aratani Japan America Theatre, Los Angeles, Calif. The excerpt is from Voices from the People’s History of the United States edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove.

Many more video clips can be found at the Voices of a People’s History website and in the film The People Speak.


“Glory, Glory” is a ballad in tribute to John Brown written by Joe DeFilippo and performed by the R.J. Phillips Band, a group of Baltimore musicians. Listen here.

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