Thursday, April 06, 2006

Jewish Abolitionist Who Fought Alongside John Brown

Becky Tanner had a nice short write-up in Monday's Wichita Eagle on August Bondi, a Jewish abolitionist who fought alongside John Brown.

A more detailed biographical sketch was presented by Jewish Currents.

David Reynolds in his outstanding biography John Brown: Abolitionist notes that the ultra-Calvinist John Brown was tolerant about everything except slavery. Another of his comrades was Aaron Dwight Stevens, a Connecticut native who had fought in the Mexican war and against Indians before deserting after coming into conflict with a harsh officer. Stevens, is described by Reynolds as a agnostic and deist, who liked to read from Paine's The Age of Reason.

Like many others of his era who rejected Christianity, he became a devot spiritualist, discovering in seances and table-rappings evidence of an afterlife. Although John Brown hated both deism and spiritualism, he prized Stevens because of his antislavery militancy. ...hatred of slavery became a higher religions that bonded Brown to a person of utterly different beliefs. (p. 194)

Bondi was not the only Jewish pioneer in frontier Kansas. There is a on-line book by Lloyd David Harris, Sod Jerusalems that recounts that forgotten history.

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