Richard O. Boyer, The Legend of John Brown: A Biography and History (New York: Alfred A. Knoph, 1973), 127.
Virtually all of the testimony concerning him - save that which precedes his fame and the controversy it aroused - lies within this great national division. In general that testimony, despite many variations, was passionately for John Brown when offered by those who believed that slavery was killing the nation and that any sacrifice or any violence was justified in destroying it. It was equally passionate but vehemently against him when uttered by those favoring slavery, or who felt that civil war was too high a price to pay for its destruction, or that black freedom was not quite worth white men's blood, or that violence against slaves did not excuse John Brown's violence against slaveholders. Judgment usually had more to do with political conviction and political necessity, with sectional sympathy and party affiliation, than it did with the character of John Brown.