The Abolitionist’s Wife

Written by Deanna Edens
Category: · History

When seventeen-year-old Mary Ann Day married the legendary abolitionist, John Brown, she could not have foreseen the journey upon which she was about to embark. Her devotion to her husband, family, and the militant abolitionist cause would lead to much poverty, heartbreak, and eventually, celebrity status among abolitionists and the American public.
Although many have portrayed her as a blind follower of her husband and his cause, this tale relays events in the life of a noble, hardworking, faithful woman who played a crucial role in preserving John Brown’s legacy after his death at Harper’s Ferry. It further recounts Mary’s efforts in securing racial equality throughout her lifetime.
This story was written during the summer of 2017 after spending a few glorious afternoons speaking with my neighbor, Mamie, and her friend, Terri, who both claimed they were related to the famous abolitionist. Mamie’s tales were centered more on Mary Brown than those of her husband, John—well, kind of. It is virtually impossible to entirely separate the tales of John from Mary Brown, because when two become united their lives are forever intertwined. The story of Mary Brown would be nothing without including the life and times of her husband, John, and most likely vice-versa.
This work, which incorporates photographs, newspaper clippings, telegrams and correspondence is a testimony to the indomitable strength of an ordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life as The Abolitionist’s Wife.


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