Academy News Program

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

It is to society’s general knowledge that controversy and conflict are to be avoided. We see it as our responsibility to uphold the morals and ethics of the outdated institutions whose purpose for existence should be for the people, yet often prove to be in a plight between balancing their personal interests and their service. To give in to these themes would be to succumb to tenebrosity. In a traditional history curriculum, students are taught to celebrate individuals introduced to them through a single story. These characters are presented to them on a pedestal in an unrealistic and idealized manner.

In this list is the abolitionist John Brown, who sparked a revolution at Harpers Ferry in West Virginia. Fortunately, we were gifted with taking a tour with Denis Frye, the previous Director of Interpretation for the national park. From the start, He used humor and interactive stories not only to transmit Brown’s story, but the place’s as well. He transmitted the story by removing his personal opinion about this individual, rather fostering an environment where us, students, felt free to debate. He not only encouraged civil disputes but also honored our individual opinions. Emphasizing the importance of expressing our opinions and perspectives by doing away with words such as “right” or “wrong”.

Me. Frye transmitted his passion for the story through quotes and speeches. He embodied what “history in the present” should be. It was evident in his eloquent vocabulary and numerical data that he is extremely well version history, specifically related to Brown. He took us through the area while he delivered speeches playing the role of John Brown. This helped us enjoy the beautiful scenery of the area and rich history, focused on the raid itself and the context of the era. The tour was intellectually challenging which forced us to employ our critical thinking and previous historical knowledge. We received information about slave auctions and abolitionists as well as proslavery arguments and constitutional law. We recognized Brown’s Raid or Revolution consisted of radical ideas for the time period, bloodshed, and treason to our motherland.

After properly considering the data provided to us by the tour, we were allowed to decide if we believed he was a hero or a misguided fanatic. To reach a response each one of had to analyze this multidimensional issue, placing weight on the information that spoke the most to us. For some the solution lacked non-violent resistance, while others believed the cause outweighed the casualties. In the end he quoted Brown’s last words, connecting them to the United States Civil War. Even with his last words, the tour was open to interpretation, acknowledging the controversy in history. Because of the way our contemporary world functions, an alternative form of fostering movements and setting precedents is through actively pushing people to express their opinions on subjects that are multifaceted. Our visit to Harper’s Ferry emphasized this principle and allowed us to put it into practice. From this site, we came out with a more complete understanding of the history and our role in preserving and adapting it.