David S. Reynolds, John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights, rev. ed. (New York: Vintage Books, 2005), x.
It may be discomfiting to think that some of America's greatest social liberties sprang in part from a man who can be viewed as a terrorist. But John Brown was a man not only of violence but of eloquence and firmness of principle. His widely reprinted declarations against slavery impressed the intellectual leaders Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said Brown's speech to Virginia court was as great as the Gettysburg Address, and Henry David Thoreau, who declared that Brown's words were more powerful than his rifles.