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'Echoes of John Brown' premieres in Hagerstown

CVB sponsored production of film examining abolitionist's actions and thoughts

CVB sponsored production of film examining abolitionist's actions and thoughts

December 02, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION and TRISH RUDDER

HAGERSTOWN -- There have been many events this year commemorating the 150th anniversary of abolitionist John Brown's raid on a federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

But Tom Riford, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), wanted something people could "take away" to remember Brown.

As a result, the CVB sponsored the production of a film examining Brown's actions and thoughts.

A premiere of the 35-minute film, "Echoes of John Brown," was shown Wednesday night at the Bridge of Life Center on Potomac Street.

The film was shown 150 years to the day Brown was hanged in Charles Town, W.Va., after being convicted in a conspiracy case in the raid.


In a failed attempt to arm an uprising of slaves, Brown and others took possession of an armory in Harpers Ferry and the raid drew militia companies and federal troops from Maryland, Virginia and other areas.

The raid came to an end when 12 U.S. Marines broke down the door of a fire-engine house, capturing Brown and his group.

Brown was charged in with conspiracy, convicted and hanged in Charles Town on Dec. 2, 1859.

Brown registered at Hagerstown's Washington House Hotel on West Washington Street on June 30, 1859, and signed an alias -- I. Smith -- on a register. Brown was also in the Kennedy Farmhouse in the southern part of the county when he organized his raid.

"Echoes of John Brown" was filmed by Historical Entertainment of Cascade.

Not only did Brown understand the economics of slavery, but he had an economic plan behind his insurrection, according to Russell E. Richards Jr. and Steve Devoney, who produced the film.

The documentary explores those aspects, said Devoney and Richards, chief executive officer of Historical Entertainment.

The film also shows local scenes like the Kennedy Farmhouse, but it does not show everything pertaining to Brown.

"We don't want to tell them everything," Russell said of the film's viewers. "We want them to explore it themselves."

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