Sanborn, Franklin Benjamin

Life Span
Full name
Franklin Benjamin Sanborn
Place of Birth
Burial Place
Birth Date Certainty
Death Date Certainty
Sectional choice
Free State
No. of Spouses
No. of Children
Aaron Sanborn (father), Lydia Leavitt (mother), Louisa August Leavitt (wife, 1862)
Writer or Artist
Relation to Slavery
White non-slaveholder
Other Affiliations
Abolitionists (Anti-Slavery Society)

Franklin Benjamin Sanborn (American National Biography)

Sanborn was interested in abolitionist politics from an early age, and once settled in Concord he became actively involved in the organized abolitionist movement, developing acquaintances with leaders such as William Lloyd Garrison, Samuel Gridley Howe, Parker, and Wendell Phillips and serving on committees for the colonization and defense of Kansas. These associations led to Sanborn’s meeting John Brown (1800-1859) in late 1856 and to his involvement in Brown’s plot to capture the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Sanborn became a member of Brown’s “secret six,” members of the Massachusetts Kansas Committee engaged in raising financing for Brown’s abolitionist activities. When Brown’s attempt to capture the Harpers Ferry arsenal failed on 18 October 1859, Sanborn’s role came under the scrutiny of southern senators investigating Brown’s raid, which led to an attempt by federal marshals to capture Sanborn in Concord on 3 April 1860 and return him to Washington, D.C., to testify about his part in the affair. Sanborn was rescued by the townspeople of Concord, and the U.S. Senate warrant for his arrest was eventually declared illegal by the Massachusetts Supreme Court. Sanborn remained devoted to Brown’s memory for the rest of his life, and he published a biography of him, Life and Letters of John Brown, Liberator of Kansas, and Martyr of Virginia, in 1885. In 1862 Sanborn married Louisa Augusta Leavitt, his cousin; they had three children.
Robert E. Burkholder, "Sanborn, Franklin Benjamin," American National Biography Online, February 2000,
Chicago Style Entry Link
Mitchell, Betty L. "Realities Not Shadows: Franklin Benjamin Sanborn, the Early Years." Civil War History 20, no. 2 (1974): 101-117. view record
Renehan, Edward J., Jr. The Secret Six: The True Tale of the Men Who Conspired with John Brown. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1997. view record
Rossbach, Jeffery S. Ambivalent Conspirators: John Brown, the Secret Six, and a Theory of Slave Violence. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982. view record
Sanborn, Franklin Benjamin, ed. The Life and Letters of John Brown, Liberator of Kansas, and Martyr of Virginia. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1885. view record
Sanborn, Franklin Benjamin. "Comment by a Radical Abolitionist." Century Magazine 26 (1883): 411-415. view record
How to Cite This Page: "Sanborn, Franklin Benjamin," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,