James Buchanan, John Brown, & the 1859 Attack on Harper’s Ferry

James Buchanan, John Brown, & the 1859 Attack on Harper’s Ferry

On Thursday, May 16, join LancasterHistory as we welcome author and historian Dr. John Quist for a discussion of John Brown’s 1859 attack on the U.S. Armory at Harper’s Ferry and why then President Buchanan chose to hand Brown over to Virginia authorities for prosecution.

Headshot photograph of an older man with light skin. He has gray-white hair and a closely-kept beard.
Presenter Dr. John Quist

President James Buchanan’s domestic policy of peace and moderation derailed in October 1859 when radical abolitionist John Brown led 21 men on a raid of the U.S. Armory at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. Dr. John Quist of Shippensburg University joins us to discuss Buchanan, Brown, and the challenging questions Brown’s actions raised about slavery, violence, and obedience to the law.

John Quist, Ph.D. is a professor of history at Shippensburg University. He received his PhD from the University of Michigan. He is also the author or editor of several books, including Restless Visionaries: The Social Roots of Antebellum Reform in Alabama and Michigan (LSU Press, 1998), (with Michael J. Birkner) James Buchanan and the Coming of the Civil War (University Press of Florida, 2013), and (with Michael J. Birkner and Randall M. Miller) The Worlds of James Buchanan and Thaddeus Stevens.


This event will take place in person at LancasterHistory on Thursday, May 16, 2024. Doors open and a reception begins at 5pm. The lecture will begin at 5:30pm. The lecture will also be streamed to Zoom at 5:30pm for those who wish to join us virtually.

This program is free and open to the public. In-person attendance requires advance registration in order to guarantee a seat. Due to capacity restrictions, tickets may not be available at the door. Virtual attendance requires advance registration in order to receive the Zoom link. Register online by clicking the appropriate link below or by calling (717) 392-4633. Registration will close online on Thursday, May 16 at 5:30pm. The online version of this program will also be recorded and uploaded to LancasterHistory’s YouTube channel after the event.



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In-Person Event Lecture Online/Virtual Event Reception

May 16, 2024 In Person at LancasterHistory & Online via Zoom 5pm Reception | 5:30pm Lecture FREE | Registration Required