John Stauffer, The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002), 118-119.
John Brown was among the many reformers who considered Elijah Lovejoy's murder the spark that fired his fervent abolitionism. But Brown's reference to Lovejoy's martyrdom needs to be understood within the context of social and religious forces that transformed him into a militant abolitionist…Lovejoy's death certainly upset Brown, but it was not so much the event itself that led to Brown's oath. Rather, Lovejoy's death signified for Brown all that was wrong in the country, much the same way that the Slave Power later symbolized for Northerners the source of their fears and anxieties. Lovejoy's death coincided with a series of tragedies in Brown's life, culminating in the panic of 1837, that made him want to replace his existing world with his millennialist and perfectionist vision.