Harpers Ferry Monument to Free Black Man Killed in John Brown's Raid Vandalized With What Appears to Be Feces

Harpers Ferry Monument to Free Black Man Killed in John Brown’s Raid Vandalized With What Appears to Be Feces

The Heyward Shepherd monument in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, was smeared with what appeared to be feces on Tuesday morning.

There have been many calls on social media for the statue, which sits nearby John Brown’s Fort, to be removed or vandalized in recent weeks.

Shepherd was a free black man and the first person killed during John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry.

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The monument was placed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans in 1931. It has been highly controversial due to their praise of black people who fought with the Confederate Army during the Civil War and the fact that there are arguments, with both sides basing their beliefs on anecdotal information, about whether he was a freed slave or had been born free.

According to West Virginia historians, in the aftermath of Shepherd’s death “some writers did not hesitate to speculate about or elaborate on Shepherd’s role in the raid. Immediately after the raid, one newspaper reported Shepherd was told of John Brown’s purpose but refused to join the raiders, thus suggesting his refusal to heed their orders showed his opposition to their goals. In a different vein, years later, a former resident of Harpers Ferry suggested Shepherd may have helped the raiders initially but later changed his mind when the danger and likelihood of failure became clear. Shepherd’s deathbed explanation that he went to the bridge in search of a missing railroad watchman suggests he was shot by men he did not recognize and whose purpose he did not know.”

The monument reads as follows:

“On the night of October 16, 1859, Heyward Shepherd, an industrious and respected colored freeman, was mortally wounded by John Brown’s raiders. In pursuance of his duties as an employee of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, he became the first victim of this attempted insurrection,” the text begins. “This boulder is erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans as a memorial to Heyward Shepherd, exemplifying the character and faithfulness of thousands of negros who, under many temptations throughout subsequent years of war, so conducted themselves that no stain was left upon a record which is the peculiar heritage of the American people, and an everlasting tribute to the best in both races.”

Smeared over the words “erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans” appeared to be excrement. It did not look like the clay soil throughout the area.

Statues and reminders of our nation’s history have been destroyed all over the nation as part of the ongoing race riots, and many liberals on Twitter have been seeking to remind vandals that this statue exists. They have seemingly got, at least part of, the results that they were looking for.

It does not appear that the vast majority of the activists calling for the statue’s removal live in West Virginia, let alone Harpers Ferry.

Other statues in the area, including one dedicated to John Brown that overlooks the Shepherd monument, were untouched.



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