Harpers Ferry in Jefferson County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
Harpers Ferry History
Heyward Shepherd — Another Perspective
On October 17, 1859, abolitionist John Brown attacked Harpers Ferry to launch a war against slavery, Heyward Shepherd, a free African American railroad baggage master, was shot and killed by Brown’s men shortly after midnight.
Seventy-two years later, on October 10, 1931, a crowd estimated to include 300 Whites and 100 Blacks gathered to unveil and dedicate the Heyward Shepard monument.
During the ceremony, voices raised to praise and denounce the monument. Conceived around the turn of the century, the monument has endured controversy. In 1905, the United Daughters of the Confederacy stated that “erecting the monument would influence for good the present and coming generations, and prove that the people of the South who owned slaves valued and respected their good qualities as no one else ever did or will do.”
In 1932, W.E.B. DuBois founder of the Niagara Movement and a founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), responded to the Shepard monument by penning these words:
A blow that woke a guilty nation
With him fought
Seven slaves and sons of slaves.
Over his crucified corpse
Marched 200,000 Black soldiers
and 4,000,000 freedmen
Singing: “John Brown’s body lies a mouldering in the grave,
But his Soul Goes Marching on!”
Erected 2006 by National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RR • Parks & Recreational Areas • War, US Civil. A significant historical month for this entry is October 1942.
Location. 39° 19.399′ N, 77° 43.805′ W. Marker is in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, in Jefferson County. Marker is on Potomac Street 0 miles west of Shenandoah Street (U.S. 340), on the right when traveling east. The marker is adjacent to the "Heyward Shepherd" monument. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 31 Potomac Street, Harpers Ferry WV 25425, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Heyward Shepherd (here, next to this marker); White Hall Tavern (a few steps from this marker); John Brown Monument (a few steps from this marker); Lewis and Clark (within shouting distance of this marker); Armory Grounds (within shouting distance of this marker); Short-lived SanctuaryJohn Brown's Last Stand (within shouting distance of this marker); Federal Armory (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Harpers Ferry.
Also see . . . 1. Wikipedia entry for Heyward Shepherd Monument. (Submitted on January 9, 2019.)
1. Du Bois’s words
The public posting of Du Bois’s 1932 words — he intended them to be posted immediately — was prohibited until 2006, first by Storer College, then by the National Park Service. See “Also See” link No. 1 for more information.
— Submitted January 9, 2019, by Daniel Eisenberg of Boca Raton, Florida.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 10, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 31, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,605 times since then and 13 times this year. Last updated on April 25, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. Photos: 1. submitted on August 31, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 2. submitted on September 2, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 3, 4, 5. submitted on October 12, 2018, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 6. submitted on October 25, 2020, by Daniel Eisenberg of Boca Raton, Florida. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.